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 September 18th 2012
Best Chocs in London
I'm an unashamed chocoholic. Dark, milk, white, I love them all. But while Dairy Milk and Kit-Kats are fine if you're in need of an instant sugar rush, nothing compares to proper chocolate made by experienced chocolatiers.
I think Thortons is a good choice when looking for a balance between quality and price. They might not be to the standards of Artisan du Chocolat but they are at a much more affordable price, and are far better than the sugary snacks from Mars, Cadbury, and Nestle.
Their best chocolates are probably their Continental Selection, with pralines and truffles that evoke thoughts of the Swiss Alps, and the Italian countryside. My favourites from this selection are the Sicilian Lemon Mousse, Cappuccino, and Alpini.
They also have a nice Premium Selection, which includes dark, milk, and white truffles. I get a large box of these chocolates every year for Christmas, and they don't last long.
For a day to day basis, I really like their 70-90g block bars. My two favourites are Banana & Custard, and their Strawberry Milk bar, which won the 'Great Taste 2009' award. The bars are on a really good deal at 3 for £5. Out of my top three chocolate shops, Thortons do give you the best value for money, and their sales always make big knock downs.
As well as chocolate, Montezumas in Kingston sell sweets, ice cream, and have an upstairs cafe. They pride themselves on being British,and celebrate with with their British Pudding bar range. These happen to be my favourite, particularly the 'Spotted Dick': Venezuelan milk chocolate with raisins and hazelnuts. There are plenty other types of bars with fun innovative names like the 'Gourmet Gorilla', as well as high quality children's chocolates like chocolate pops and Tiny Turtles.
Montezumas's packaging is fun, practical, and elegant. Their Take Away range is cunningly disguised to look like a cup of coffee, while their jar bars make a perfect gift.
You can join their club for and get a box of chocolates delivered right to your door for £19.99 a month, hold children's parties in their shops, and book indulgence evening for an in-store tasting with friends. There is also a chance to earn money with Montezumas by becoming their ambassador and running tasting parties from home.
I discovered Hotel Chocolat at one of their shop launches. They have stores all over London, other areas of the UK, and abroad. The company is founded by Angus Thirlwell, who runs an ethical bean to bar business, working directly with the cacao growers on their Rabot Estate, to make sure they get a fair wage and working conditions.
Hotel Chocolat have their very own tasting club, where you can get monthly boxes sent to your door for £19.95, and your first order is half price. There are a number of different boxes to choose from, and you get to rate each chocolate. Hotel Chocolat then take this information, and the most popular chocolates are made available for their Selectors range in store. The Selectors range consists of a packet of six beautiful chocolates, my favourite being 'Dizzy', which is the best praline ever. They also do intensely fruity ganaches, using real fruit and high quality ingredients.
Their highest quality items are from the Purist range, which uses rare and vintage cacao to make deep flavours. Hotel Chocolat also sell enrobed fruit and cuisine products from chocolate sauces to chocolate penne pasta, and they have their very own recipe book.
Hotel Chocolat is the priciest of these three shops, but the quality is second to none. If you want to get the best deal from them, it is best to buy in bulk. For example, the Selectors range is £3.50 each, but goes down to £2.95 if you buy 3. It is a bad idea to go for some of their smaller gift range as it is ridiculously priced. For example, an individual truffle costs £1.50, whereas if you buy it in a Sleekstar box of 30, then it comes 73p per chocolate.
The best time to go to their shops is at the end of season, where many of their products are half price. Also, if you are a student, or become a member of their Tasting Club, you get a 5% discount.
As well as their shops, Hotel Chocolat have cafes and restaurants. The Roast & Conch cafe in Covent Gardens prepare their coco beans in store, so you get a luxurious scent of chocolate. They have a sweet and savoury menu all based around cacao. If you fancy going further afield, you can visit their Boucan Hotel & Restaurant in St. Lucia, which is sure to be a holiday to remember.