Now in its second sticky-fingered year, Chocolate Week (October 11-17) is a celebration of Britain’s chocolatiers, with talks, tastings and demonstrations taking places all over the country.
Full details of the programme of events can be found on the Chocolate Week website (www.chocolate-week.co.uk), but below are some highlights. Could this become Britain’s favourite themed week? We vote yes.
At the flagship event ‘Chocolate Unwrapped‘ in London’s Vinopolis (16-17 October; www.chocolateunwrapped.co.uk), visitors can gaze longingly at an exhibition of chocolate sculptures, pick up top tips during talks by chocolate-makers and authors, try Sanguinaccio chocolate blood pudding and sample chocolate as it would have tasted 100 years ago. No need to feel guilty – it’s educational, after all.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the only thing better than chocolate is free chocolate. Throughout Chocolate Week, La Maison du Chocolat will be dishing out samples of its mouth-watering range (which includes an award-winning mint ganache) at its Piccadilly boutique and Harrods concession. True aficionados can book a two-hour tasting session for £50 (www.lamaisonduchocolat.co.uk; 020-7287 8500)
For the die-hard chocoholic, afternoon tea is always something of a let-down. Restricted to cucumber sandwiches and fruit scones, chocolate lovers have to pretend they’re enjoying themselves while fantasising about kilogram bars of Dairy Milk. But help is at hand – Brown’s Hotel will be serving a chocolate-themed version of their award-winning tea from October 11-17. Among the delights on offer are rich cupcakes and chocolate crumble profiteroles, with tea costing £37 per person. (020 7493 6020; www.roccofortecollection.com)
Not to be outdone, British patissier chocolatier William Curley will be setting up shop at Claridges from October 11-17. He’ll be whipping up his signature chocolate mousses and pastries every afternoon, which will then be incorporated into the hotel’s famous afternoon tea menu. Also available are chocolate masterclasses. For more information, visit www.williamcurley.co.uk.
Much-loved Yorkshire institution Bettys has put together a limited edition Chocolate Tasting Selection, which will be available in all six of its cafés across the county throughout the week. Priced at £4.95, the plate includes a miniature hot chocolate and brownie – just the thing for a chilly autumn afternoon. In-house confectioner Claire Gallagher will also be on hand at the Harrogate café to field questions from aspiring chocolatiers on October 12 and 15 (www.bettys.co.uk)
Meanwhile, Dorset-based Chococo will be launching their Wild Hedgerow Autumn Selection Box, which pairs Venezuelan chocolate with local blackberry, elderberry and sloe jellies and syrups (www.chococo.co.uk).
If your child has an October birthday, why not sign them and their friends up for a workshop at Le Salon Du Chocolat? At this Willy Wonka-style studio on the Hampshire/West Sussex border, children can each make a tray of chocolates using professional moulds. While the results are setting, they’ll enjoy a steaming mug of hot chocolate, and everything they’ve made is theirs to keep – along with some specially selected Divine chocolate goodies. (www.lesalonduchocolat.co.uk)