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 goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published August 23rd 2015
125 Kinds of Chocolate
Everyone knows that Kendal is famous for its mint cake, but the town is also home to another famous delight, and that is The Famous 1657 Chocolate House. Built in the 1630s as a private home, from 1657 the building then became a public home to many business, including an antiques shop, travel agents, and ladies' fashion shop; it did not actually become a popular chocolate tourist destination until 1984. Devoted to keeping fast disappearing English traditions alive, the owners retained all the building's best features of the seventeenth century, and many of their speciality chocolate drinks and dishes are named after things and people from that era.
I paid my first visit several years ago and had a delicious iced 'hot' chocolate. Looking on the menu this time, it appears to have disappeared, but there were many other uniquely flavoured hot chocolates to tempt the palate. My favourite sounding one is Tropical Galleon - pineapple flavoured chocolate, finished with cream and pineapple. Other flavours include rose, almond, strawberry, rum, coffee, and more. These can be enjoyed with an array of different chocolate gateaus, such as the Merry Monarch - dark chocolate, cherries, cream, and brandy.
If you're not a chocolate lover and are just being dragged along for the ride, don't worry. There are plenty of non-chocolate meals and drinks too. All their coffee is made using beans from Farrer's of Kendal, they provide Lakeland special tea, scones, crumpets, toast, homemade soup of the day, sandwiches, wraps, etc.
On this particular occasion, I was not there for lunch as I had just dined at the previously mentioned Farrer's. However, The Famous 1657 Chocolate House is not just a cafe; they also teach the ways of chocolate, and have a chocolate shop on their lower floor. The shop has marvellous things from experimental and fantastic flavours to novelty designs. The one that really grabbed my attention was a chocolate CD album with full artwork.
Most of their chocolate is own brand made on site, such as their house truffles, which you can build into a hamper or gift box. They also sell a number of other couture brands like Willie's Cacao.
There was also a 'very peculiar' Marmite bar. Free samples of this were available because, I expect, a lot of people would be hesitant to buy it otherwise. I tried a piece and it was incredible. The chocolate had a slight saltiness and a bit of a malty flavour. The balance of Marmite was spot on; enough to taste, but not in anyway overpowering. Instead it complemented the chocolate so beautifully that it was a match made in heaven.
As well as chocolate, other sweets include marzipan, fudge, marshmallows, candy canes, biscuits, and boiled sweets. One thing that took me right back to childhood was their homemade pink and white sugar mice.
It is very hard to walk out of The Famous 1657 Chocolate House without buying anything, so if you are trying to resist temptation after an indulgent lunch, leave through the main exit, and avoid the stairs that lead down to their 'Aladdin's Cave'.