Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Paul A. Young fine chocolates

Wandering along the rather lovely pedestrian area of Camden Passage in Islington a few weekends ago I found myself outside one of Paul A. Young's three London shops. Rude not to go in and have a quick mosey round, I thought; after all, this is where London learned what 'fine chocolates' really meant and where the master chocolatier's rise to culinary stardom truly began in 2006.

Named as one of the most influential male foodies under 40 by Channel 4 Food and variously described as 'a modern day Willy Wonka', 'an incredibly creative flavour alchemist' and 'the Heston Blumenthal of chocolate', Paul A. Young creates some of the most unusual and borderline bizarre flavours of chocolate out there. Probably most famous for his Marmite (or perhaps his Christmas Port and Stilton) truffles, recent tweets about new truffle flavours in the pipeline include Stichelton (a traditional English blue cheese) with Bramble, and Black Pudding, Calvados and Caramelised Apple.

A visit to the Wardour Street shop later that week resulted in the purchase of one cheesecakey Goat's Cheese, Lemon and Thyme, one Miso and Seaweed with Toasted Sesame Seeds, one Tomato, Basil and Olive Oil and one Thai-flavoured Tom Yum truffle. All fabulous and all purely in the the interests of research you understand, nothing to do with gluttony whatsoever. No sir. The things I do for my readers.

You don't have to have adventurous tastebuds to share in the chocolate blissfulness; flavours do vary with the seasons (and with whatever new combo has sprung to mind) but on my visit they included a delectable Banoffee Pie, an unexpectedly green-tasting Pimms (fabulous - try one, you'll see what I mean), a zingy Raspberry Ganache, a perfect Bakewell Tart and a classic Champagne. Whatever you go for, do not under any circumstances miss the award-winning Sea Salted Caramels; these are quite possibly my favourite chocolates in the world, ever. The silky smooth near-liquid caramel centre is a deliriously good combination of sweet and salty in perfect balance, encased in top-quality chocolate. 

Truly artisan, all the chocolates are hand-made in small batches on the premises using only fresh ingredients and must be eaten within seven days. Seven days?? Hah - you'll be lucky if they last seven minutes. As if that wasn't enough, the shops also sell his deservedly legendary brownies - unbelievably rich and very much at the fudgy rather than cakey end of the scale - and now the new awesome Billionaires Salted Caramel Shortbread. You can also buy jars of salted caramel sauce and chocolate in bars, some made here and some artisan bars only available in the UK in Paul's shops.

National Chocolate Week 2012 runs from 8th-14th October and sees a range of special events including new products in his existing shops and a pop-up store at The Folly in Gracechurch Street that will be there all month; check out his website for details:

Now this is really HOT chocolate.

Yours, seriously sugar-rushed,
Girl About Town xx 

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