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London Chocolate Festival 2013

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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Learn How to at Chocolate the Right Way
chocolate festival

Say hi to high chocolate. We all love to gorge on massed produced brands such as Cadbury and Nestle, but this month why not treat your taste buds to some proper chocolate? When I say proper chocolate, I mean that the cocoa is the main ingredient. The sugar laden confectionery is cheap and readily available from any high street, but the real stuff is far healthier. Granted it is more expensive, and not as easy to find, but the quality is much more superior and will leave you feeling satisfied sooner.

Apart from Hotel Chocolat, a lot of artisan chocolatiers only have a few shops located sparsely around the country, and you are one of the lucky ones if you live near by. If you want to buy from them then you have to order from their online store. For me that is fine if I know exactly what I want, but if it is my first experience with a particular brand, I like to see (and preferably taste) the chocolate before I start spending. With some artisans charging 4.50 for 100g bar, I want to know that I am going to like what I am getting.

So how do you do this when you are miles away from any outlet? For the last two years my answer has been Chocolate Unwrapped, which takes place in autumn. The event brings dozens of artisan chocolatiers under one roof, where they give tastings, talks, and demonstrations.

Just recently I have discovered another very similar event: The London Chocolate Festival. Taking place on the weekend of the 22nd - 24th March at the Southbank Centre, it is the perfect time to stock up on some unique Easter gifts, and discover what kind of chocolate you really like.

chocolate festival, william curly
William Curly

Exhibitors will include Britain's best chocolatiers such as the well known Paul A. Young, and William Curly, but also some of the lesser known (but equally as good) artisans such as Paul Wayne Gregory. One of my personal favourites is Pistachio Rose, a boutique bakery that infuses chocolate into its products, including the most delicious naan bread you'll ever taste. Chocome offer a unique service that allows you to design your very own chocolate slab. First choose between white, milk, or dark chocolate, then decorate it with whatever you like - freeze dried fruit, nuts, Haribo sweets, and even edible gold.

As well as exploring the stalls, you can book tickets at their Cookery Theatre, where will experience a tasting tutorial on how to eat chocolate. I know it sounds silly, but I've been to this talk a few times, and it really helps you differentiate the different types of flavours, and teaches you how to appreciate chocolate to its full potential by using all your senses, and eating it slowly.

There will also be hands-on workshops for 20. Classes include truffle making, baking the ultimate chocolate cake, and making savoury dishes like almond & chocolate stuffed tortellini.

If you don't live in London as the festival will also be in Bristol, Birmingham, and Oxford this month.
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Why? Discover proper chocolate
When: 22nd March - 24th March
Where: Southbank Centre
Cost: 2-20 for workshops and demonstrations
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