Believe it or not, London is probably the most dynamic city on the planet for chocolate It's hard to overstate just how much creativity and interesting work is going on here.
My plane arrived about 15 minutes ahead of schedule and the best thing that can be said for the flight was that it was uneventful. The only downside is arriving at a sleepy 7:30 am (2:30 am New York time). I sailed through immigration, customs, and baggage claim, and found my way to the Underground - Piccaddilly line to Earl's Court and transfer to the District Line for Sloane Square. I am staying at the Sloane Club, a charming private club with rooms in a very comfortable single en-suite.
Fortunately the room was ready when I arrived so I was able to relax into the typical early fall London day - overcast, chilly, and intermittent rain ranging from a light drizzle to a persistent nuisance.
My schedule today includes two activities a crossover tasting event for London Cocktail Week - Choc Tales - and London Chocolate Week and a dinner for the speakers at tomorrow's Academy of Chocolate Meeting.
It's raining rather heavily as I head out to the former of the two events, on Dean Street in Soho. (Note to self and others — in London odd and even numbers can be on the same side of the street. 68 Dean is across from 48 Dean. I got quite wet discovering this fact and locating the event.)
Choc Tales featured five confectioners (Rococo/Grenada Chocolate, Artisan du Chocolate, William Curley, Damian Alsop, and Paul A Young) paired with five spirits (Ron Santa Teresa; Aperol, Johnny Walker, Martin Miller's Gin, and AquaRiva Tequila). Noted London mixologist, Felix Cohen/Manhattan Projects created a cocktail for most of the spirits, paired with the chocolates.
Rococo's offering was a rum-scented ganache made with dark Grenadan chocolate paired with a warm buttered rum made with the Santa Teresa añejo, apple cider, treacle, butter, and spices. Paul A Young offered a chocolate bar with grated parmesan inclusion (as the salty/savory/sweet accompaniment) to a disarmingly straightforward margarita made with AquaRiva tequila. Also notable was the combination of Aperol and Prosecco (which made me think about taking it up one more level to make a sparkling Negroni).
For me the event was not just a chance to catch up with friends - Maricel Presilla, Martin Christy, Santiago Peralta, Bertil Akesson, Kate Johns, and more - but also a chance to finally meet in person people whose names I have come to know very well, William Curley and Damian Alsop. (I told you in my last post that I was going to name drop shamelessly.) Though the chocolate world seems very small at times, the Atlantic is a not-inconsequential hindrance to international relations.
After Choc Tales, and around the corner from Dean St at Kettner's Restaurant, it was time to meet some of the other speakers at the Academy of Chocolate conference tomorrow.
After a short time to mingle I had the great pleasure to sit at the same table as Robin Dand (author of the book, The International Cocoa Trade) and Tony Lass along with Bertil Akesson and Sara Jayne Stanes of the Academy.
It's now about 1:30 London time (only 8:30 NY time) but it's been a very long day. Tomorrow morning it's off early to take part of the annual conference of the Academy of Chocolate. I will check back tomorrow, after the day's activities.