Easter is coming, and that, of course, means that many of us will consume our own body weight in chocolate eggs. So I was thrilled when I received a recent invite to attend a tasting evening at the Demarquette chocolate boutique in Chelsea. A chic part of London that I don’t get to that often, so all the more incentive to attend.
As regular readers might have realised, I have a penchant for nice chocolates from my time in Brussels, and this little place surely did not disappoint. Greeted with a glass of fizz, we then got to sample a variety of the goodies on offer. The selection was great – showcasing the range of what they did, so a glimpse into everything from the classical to the contemporary, old favourites and new twists. There were delectable candied clementines dipped in dark chocolate, which were sweet, plump and conveyed all the flavours of Christmas. There was an utterly delicious salted caramel spread made with Cornish clotted cream. What struck me was that while this clearly contained heroic quantities of dairy and sugar, it had a rich, smooth buttery quality, rather than just cloying sweetness, so it might be appearing in a few gift packs rather soon. The two others that stood out for me were the caramel miniature eggs (of which more later) and mint and green tea chocolates. These were, without doubt, the nicest mint chocolates I have had in quite some time. Forget white fondant filled sweets, these had a rich, smooth ganache filling and tasted just like they had fresh mint leaves in them – this flavour was real, bright and fresh. Absolutely superb.
I was also intrigued by some of the flavours that I saw but did not get the chance to taste – the English Garden Collection (with a range floral flavours – rose, violet, elderflower – and aptly launched during the 2009 Chelsea Flower Show) and the British Summer Fruits (rhubarb! pear! blackcurrant! raspberries!) stood out, and I look forward to getting round to trying these in due course.
We were also treated to a little live demonstration of making ganache, where the owner, Marc Demarquette, shared his technique. This differs from the way in which I have made ganache in the past – he uses warmed cream with melted chocolate – so I will be giving this a try very soon. Needless to say, it was delicious and we were allowed to dip strawberries and brioche in the mixture to our heart’s content, subject to a strict no-double-dipping rule. All this was topped off with the chance to test some of their new creations, including some cloud-like whipped ganache chocolates. I could go on, and on, and on, but suffice to say: lovely shop, lovely staff, and delicious, innovative, creative chocolates. As if all that were not enough reason to head down there, they are also working cocoa growers in Vietnam to source great beans and do a little good for the local community. Sold yet?
Now, from the night, I have to ‘fess up and say that I expected to be more occupied with guzzling sweets and discussing exactly which type of chocolate I liked, so the camera stayed at home and the iPhone firmly in pocket. However, we were also kindly given a little goody bag, so I have used that as the basis of a few pics to share.
Without doubt, my complete, utter and total favourite where the salted caramel chocolate eggs. They had a rich, biting caramel which worked beautifully with the dark, rather fruity chocolate that encased them. I rationed them to one a day, both a massive exercise in self-control and testament to the fact that I did not think it fitting to snaffle them all in one go.
I also loved the two little Easter chicks made of chocolate, and a small gift box of six individual chocolates. In each case, the flavour was just right – just the right strength, and rather impressively, even the banana chocolate tasted pretty good, which I think is something very tricky to pull off.
In short, this was a great evening, and I am so happy to have found this store. I look forward to buying a few more goodies in the future, and popping back to the shop to take in what they have on offer. And if you find yourself in that part of London, I can assure you that it’s worth it.
And just to show a little humour – here are the chocolate Easter chickens!
Demarquette Fine Chocolates, 285 Fulham Road, London SW10 9PZ. Tel: 020 7351 5467. Tube: Gloucester Road or South Kensington.
LondonEats locations map here.