Saturday’s chocolate tour with Nina was quite a delight! Naturally, the constant stream of chocs we were fed was a delicious treat, but the titbits of London history were an added bonus.
Elle Coco (yes, that’s her name) explained the process the leads cocoa beans from the tropical fields to my mouth. We learned to ‘appreciate’ chocolate properly: looking at the shine, listening to its sharp snap, letting it melt at the touch of our fingers, smelling it then letting it settle seductively on our tongues. As it happens, Gill and I did all that in Switzerland, but we rushed the process far too quickly in our excitement to greedily munch the elegant samples.
Anyway, Saturday morning began with breakfast at Sketch, one of London’s trendiest restaurants. Sketch has five separate dining areas and bars, each unique and stylish. Its wonderful, quirky parlour was the opening venue for the chocolate tour, with bohemian furnishings and Louis XV chairs which we sat on to sip frothy grated hot chocolate.
Before we left for our walk around Mayfair though, we popped into the loos – one being black and shiny with a huge diamanté spider’s web adoring the wall, the other an open space of futuristic, intergalactic-style pods. Worth taking photos! Elle told us you can actually book on a – wait for it – London toilet tour!! How funny is that?! (Gill – your birthday treat??)
So we learned some interesting facts about Mayfair. Saville Row was originally the home of London doctors before the fields of Harley Street were urbanised and tailors replaced them. Burlington Arcade was built for Lady Cavendish by her husband in an attempt to protect her from the drunks and prostitutes of the day. Two ‘Beadles’ (police to you and me) enforce some ancient rules, including no singing or whistling in the arcade. This dates to the times when brothels operated in the basements and young boys ran through whistling warnings of an impending arrest.
We visited three fantastic chocolate shops – Charbonnel et Walker (from where I coincidentally recently enjoyed a box of pink champagne truffles); Prestat (the pink branded heart-shaped boxes from which I matched my bathroom paint colour – Ooh, perhaps I could include my house in the toilet tour!!); and Paul A Young (whom I met last week at a chocolate-tasting event at the top of the Shard). So it’s official – I have eaten ALL of the chocolate available in the capital city!!
I can’t recommend the Chocolate Ecstasy Tour highly enough. If you decide to book, ask for Elle Coco, she was fabulous. On a separate note, we spent a while discussing healthy chocolate – and no, it’s not an oxymoron. Eating a square of dark chocolate each day is a good preventative measure for avoiding a stroke. This benefit is magnified if eaten with a slice of fresh apple.
So here we are, another week of blogging about nothing but chocolate! I’ve run out of time to talk about the business networking event I attended at Bank and the brilliant people I met. I’m left with no space to tell you about my night at Fredericks in Islington – one of my new favourite restaurants. And it’s too late to discuss this week’s training sessions on plain English. Oh well, another day, another blog.
I do like the six degrees of separation thing. The chocolate tour took us down Regent Street, where I first worked with Marion. She once bought me a Doris Day CD. Doris sang today’s lyrics: ‘Couples swayin’ to a nickel machine, there’s a corner where we’ll never be seen. It’s lovely to share that lover’s delight: a chocolate sundae on a Saturday night.’
The person I’d like to share my chocolate sundae with is abroad tonight but he left behind a packet of chocolate beans that I can use to make my Sundae once this blog is posted. I’ll drink that and be back on-line in no time – still eating chocolate probably, but ready to chat – right here: @WeekendWitch.