Mostly About Chocolate is a blog that is (yep you guessed it) mostly about one of the world’s most favorite treats. The long running blog is a project of devoted passion for Judith Lewis. If you’re planning any trips (just about anywhere) and would like to include a few chocolate escapades, her blog is an excellent resource to keep in mind. And if you’re a chocolate lover coming soon to London, Judith has some especially delicious news for you! See for yourself at mostlyaboutchocolate.com.
I sat down with Judith recently to chat about her blog and see if I could get some chocolaty tips. Here’s that interview.
Can you describe your blog? How long have you had it and why did you start it?
My blog is called “Mostly About Chocolate” because it is mostly about chocolate. But it is also covers wine, spirits, coffee, tea and desserts. There is so much deliciousness in the world, and I love testing it and seeing what it’s like. It’s a blog where I try things so you don’t have to take a risk plus if you’re looking for a recipe to make something like espresso cupcakes or a rum and chocolate cocktail.
I started it in 2009 but I’d been keeping a personal site with chocolate recommendations for years. I started researching chocolate in 1998 and after I kept getting hassled for recommendations. I kept directing people to places like Paul A Young and Askinosie but finally got fed up and started the blog. So I guess the blog was born out of friend pressure.
What do you do when you’re not blogging about chocolate?
When I’m not blogging about chocolate, I’m either running my digital marketing consultancy, running London Girl Geek Dinners, volunteering on the committee of Dysprosium the 2015 Eastercon SFF convention or working on my new foodie jewellery range (coming soon because sleep is for the weak).
How’s the chocolate scene in London and the UK?
Surprisingly, the chocolate scene in the UK is fairly awesome. While the US exceeds the UK for bean-to-bar chocolate makers, the UK has some of the best chocolatiers in the world. In London we have Alexeeva & Jones who have chocolates from Paul Wayne Gregory and amazingly innovative UK chocolatier, Damian Allsop who has only just relocated to Spain, along with other amazing chocolatiers and chocolate makers like Duffy and Akesson. That is just one shop – multi award-winning chocolatier William Curley is in Belgravia, Paul A Young is all over London and his salted caramels are to DIE for. Melt is in Little Venice and has some great mud pie and a fab place to hang out for chocolate as well as delicious chocolates but they also have a concession in Selfridges who also have the amazing Chocolate Library. In addition to the chocolate library they have some additional concessions like a Willie’s Delectable Cacao stand with all his caramels (there are three) and all his bars (there are many) all made in Devon. In addition to the British chocolate, Selfridges also has Maison du Chocolat and my favourite Belgian Pierre Marcolini.
In fact, besides Selfridges and their chocolate library, Fortnum & Mason has its own milk chocolate blend made for them from quality chocolate. When I quizzed their chocolate buyer about use of West African beans the answer was a resounding no. Ethical and delicious with just their bulk standard milk, Fortnum’s also have amazing British bean-to-bar chocolate maker Pump Street Bakery and ethical tree-planting company Original Beans. Fortnum’s massive chocolate collection is carefully curated and deliciously eccentric. Around the corner is Prestat chocolates and across the road is La Maison du Chocolat but a little further afield is Hotel Chocolat’s School of Chocolate where you can learn all about the process of making chocolate. Of course, the royal warrant holders Charbonnel et Walker are also a tourist favourite. I like their milk chocolate salted caramels though they are heavy on the chocolate it does mean they travel well. The chocolate fish at Easter were amazing and they have some very exotic boxes.
As you can see, I’m super keen on the London chocolate scene and oh my goodness don’t get me started on the areas outside London as we’ll be here all day!
Do you have any must see/do/eat recommendations for chocolate lovers planning trips to London or the UK?
My “must do” chocolate experience has to be William Curley weekend dessert bar. Absolutely fantastic experience for anyone. Make sure you grab a seat at the bar in the back so you can watch each of the different courses created freshly for you by the pastry chef. Opt for tea but start with a hot chocolate if you can. First give yourself about 25 minutes for the hot chocolate. Then order the dessert bar and book around 2 hours for it because it is such a pleasure to relax and enjoy. Also, you *have* to try Paul A Young’s sea salt caramel chocolates. They are multi-award-winning domes of heaven. Paul has several shops through London. Lastly go to La Maison du Chocolat for an indulgent pastry and eat in. Have a Nespresso coffee and go for my favourite a rectangular tart of buttery pastry and dark chocolate ganache. Poshly delicious pastry.
Do you travel much outside England? Is Mostly about Chocolate a good resource for people looking for chocolaty travel tips?
I actually travel quite extensively but usually for work. I’m actually working on redoing my city guides to chocolate in places like Berlin, San Francisco, Toronto and elsewhere. I do have a lot of non-London chocolate tips like York Cocoa House for excellent chocolate or Toot Sweets in Shrewsbury. I often plan trips to chocolate shops when I visit somewhere for work like Paris or New York. So I have a lot of top tips for non-UK chocolate shops.
What’s your chocolate lover’s dream destination?
At the moment, and it may seem odd but I feel like LONDON is a top chocolate Lover’s destination. Unlike Paris, London has a lot of new and exciting chocolatiers as well as old favourites. In the US there are a lot of bean-to-bar makers like Askinosie and others, but they are spread out whereas London has everything concentrated in one place. While Paris has many chocolatiers, so many of them are still stuck in the last century, while London chocolatiers are constantly pushing the boundaries of great taste. In addition to pushing great taste, Paris and Brussels have come to London and set up shops here. So why travel hither and yon when everything is in London?
For those deeply into chocolate making, St Lucia is my dream destination. I would absolutely love to be able to visit the Hotel Chocolat actual hotel in St Lucia and follow the process of making chocolate from the trees and their fruit, through fermentation, drying and to processing. That would be the ultimate experience and an absolute dream destination.