While only two weeks ago the media was awash with diet and health products, the first mention of Valentine’s Day sees us quickly turn our attention to chocolate. A much more pleasant experience indeed. London may not be a city with a particularly sweet tooth but it does have its fair share of decadent chocolate stores. Marie Teather sources out her top five.
1 William Curley
Acclaimed chocolatier William Curley first opened his shop with his wife Suzue (a respected patissier who met William when working alongside him The Savoy) in 2004 in Richmond. Since then the awards have continued to flood in including the Best British Chocolatier for 2007, 2008, and again for 2009, as well many others including the British Dessert of the Year.
Chocolate and desserts at William Curley are rich, intricately designed, and almost a shame to have to break into. But you will be glad you did. There is plenty to try too. In their chocolate collection alone you will find creations such as Rosemary and Olive Oil, Japanese Black Vinegar, Scottish Heather Honey, and Apricot and Wasabi. Classic Truffles include House Dark, Framboise, Noval Vintage Port and Malt Whiskey.
198 Ebury Street, Belgravia, London, SW1W 8UN
020 7730 5522
2 Paul A Young
One of the UK's most talented chocolatiers and best loved artisan food personalities, Paul Young, has been creating award-winning chocolates since he worked his way through the ranks of establishments such as Marco Pierre White. Paul's modern chocolate creations delight the more traditional chocolate lovers as well as those who prefer a more unique sweet treat. His infamous Marmite truffles may have brought in a lot of curious attention but the brownies, decadent chocolate bars, and truffles such as the Champagne Truffle are what keep his loyal fans going back for more.
33 Camden Passage, N1 8EA
Demarquette Fine Chocolates is a family run, independent enterprise established by Master Chocolatier Marc Demarquette in 2005. The store specializes in luxury hand-made fine chocolates and based in the heart of Chelsea you can guarantee a mouthwatering and personable boutique chocolate experience.
Marc strives for both taste and visual perfection, consistently making the finest chocolates with a contemporary twist. Every step of the chocolate making process is completed by hand as he ardently believes that no machine can replace the art of a master craftsman. The individual chocolates each have the their flavor decoratively embedded on the top while the selection boxes, such as The Orient Collection which includes a selection a Jasmine and Matcha Green Tea, Szechuan Pepper, and a Lemongrass and Lime chocolate, make for wonderful gifts.
285 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London, SW10 9PZ
4 Hotel Chocolat
Founders Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris set up Hotel Chocolat 15 years ago with the goal of making quality chocolate available in the UK. Since then there are now dozens of Hotel Chocolat stores in the UK and the reputation of British chocolate has been dutifully restored. Expect authentic, wholesome ingredients, and chocolates made with an exclusive cocoa grown on their West Indian cocoa plantation, Rabot Estate. The choice is extensive and includes Chocograms, luxury boxes, gift bags, and the iconic giant slabs.
5 La Maison du Chocolat
For the past thirty years, La Maison du Chocolat has been creating exquisite chocolates and truffles with excellence as its trademark. Each new chocolate creation is selected by master chocolatiers, some of who have been with La Maison du Chocolat for 15 years. The current collection includes a range of Praline selection boxes such as the dark chocolate ganache connoisseur's box, truffles boxes that include the Champagne Cognac Truffles, chocolate hampers and even luxury boxes of Amandas for something a little lighter.