I was lucky enough to go to a cheese and chocolate pairing run by Louise and it was absolutely fantastic. Louise really knows her stuff and she is full of passion and drive.
If you are looking for something to do with your company that is a bit different, give her chocolate pairings a try. I really highly recommend her!
I've always loved chocolate and after getting a taste of some Valrhona and Charbonel et Walker chocolate a few years ago, there was no going back to Cadbury's (akin to a sin where I'm from - B'ham).
So when the opportunity arose to attend the Qype chocolate tasting with The Chocolate Consultant and learn all about what makes great chocolate, I was ecstatic. Louise, the founder of The Chocolate Consultant is clearly passionate about chocolate and her expertise and knowledge on the subject shone through as she educated us on the history of chocolate, where good cacao comes from and what exactly makes good chocolate.
Did you know that much of the chocolate we eat is made using diseased and mouldy cacao beans?? Just like bad coffee, the cacao beans for such chocolate is roasted at very high temperatures to remove the disease/mould and purify it, giving it a bitter, cardboard-ey taste. Often these chocolate companies also substitute cocoa butter for palm oil, which not only gives the chocolate an inferior taste, but is also detrimental to the rainforest.
As well as being extremely informative, the event involved tasting some of the most gorgeous chocolate I've tasted. Some of the names I remember are, Valrhona and Amado. Of course, to get the full benefit of the consultation, you really must book a session yourself. It's an absolute treat and Louise is a fantastic teacher!
Damn you Louise and your delicious chocolatey treats! No more will I be able to duck out to Tesco mid-afternoon for an unhealthy snack to help me through the rest of the working day, now that I know what real chocolate can taste like, and the dubious practices that go in to keeping mass-produced chocs so cheap.
The qype tasting event was akin to a wine sampling, learning about the history, cultivation and production of chocolate, then letting our tastebuds loose on samples from around the world. An informatinve and delicious way to spend an evening - but could lead to expensive habits!
Now, to call Louise a chocolate fanatic would almost be an understatement - we are talking about a lady who owns 700 bars of chocolate, which are kept in a fridge specially rigged to have a constant temperature of 16C, which is apparently the ideal temperature for choc.
Besides having an impressive chocolate stash, Louise also knows just about everything there is to know about chocolate, and on this particular evening we learned how top quality chocolate is made and why cheap chocolate bars should be shunned (with the exception of KitKats).
And to round off the evening she of course had a few chocolate delights for us to taste.
Altogether a very enjoyable evening with a very charismatic host.
The Chocolate Consultant was amazing, and after an evening spent sampling some of the world's most decadent chocolate, I don't think I'll be able to look a Dairy Milk in the eye again.
Louise certainly knows her stuff and the evening was an assortment of interesting facts about the chocolate industry, peppered with sampling sessions.
We were told about the difference between cocoa pods from South America and those from Africa and encouraged to look for different flavours inside chocolate. We were also shown the correct way to sample chocolate, which involves breaking the bar, checking for bubbles and letting the delicious chocolate taste hit the roof of your mouth. The highlight for me was trying a square of valrhona, which is quite simply the nicest chocolate in the world. Louise had plenty of insider secrets for chocoholics like myself, from where to get the best salted caramels (Melt) to the best chocolate to use in a desert (Valrhona, of course).
Thank you Louise for all interesting information you shared with us. I am a chocolate addict and I really appreciate taste the best chocolate and learn from you. We could fell your passion for chocolate that you share with us. That was really a great time. Thank you for the last chocolate given. It was absolutely delicous! maybe the best. :)
So last night a band of intrepid qypers battled through monsoon like rain to The Drawing Room. But it was totally worth it because there awaited us... the Chocolate Consultant herself, Louise. After a really interesting talk on the origins of cocoa beans and how they vary depending on factors such as soil and climate, we moved on to my favourite part of the evening-tasting!! Turns out the best method is not the chomp chomp gulp barely touching the sides technique I've been employing for most of my life but letting it melt slowly on your tongue and move through your mouth to allow the flavours to develop. I look at chocolate in a whole new light after Louise's talk and frankly the next best thing to raiding Louise's special chocolate fridge (in a top secret location!) is to book a tasting session with her!