A Northern Ireland Chocolate Quest

When you’re asked by the Academy of Chocolate to attend and speak at the Finnebrougue Fine Food Fair in Killyleagh Castle, Northern Ireland, courtesy of Food NI 2016 – the obvious answer to this request is ‘yes’.

The trip was all planned out by Food NI, and after an exhilaratingly turbulent 55 minute flight from Gatwick, I touched down in Belfast City Airport, greeted at the airport by Sharon Machala of Food NI – my chauffeur for the next 28 hours (this was very much a flying visit).

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How to Know if you’re a Chocoholic

…and what to do about it.

This article will not tell you how to to give up chocolate.

The “Chocoholic”, as defined by Google and the English Oxford Dictionary reads: ‘A person who is addicted to, or very fond of, chocolate’, Wikipedia goes on to state: ‘A chocoholic is a person who craves or compulsively consumes chocolate.’ Sound familiar? There is even evidence to support this theory.

Now the drugs don't work, they just make you worse. But I know you should eat chocolate instead.
Now the drugs don’t work, they just make you worse. But I know you should eat chocolate instead.

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The Science of Tasting Chocolate

Our tongue is an amazing muscular organ, capable of detecting a range of different flavours on its taste buds. Until fairly recently it was believed the tongue resembled a ‘map’ of regions that detected these different flavours in groups – salty, sweet, sour, bitter etc as presented by German scientist David P. Hanig. Recent findings show this was in fact, a miss translation. But it’s not just the tongue and its taste buds that is important when it comes to taste and flavour detection, the nose plays an equally, if not more important role. Without your sense of smell, the range of different flavours that your tongue can detect is dampened by a staggering 60%, that’s why when you are sick you can’t taste your food much.

The Map of the tongue - actually shows areas that pick up on flavours more quickly than others.
The Map of the tongue – 1. bitter, 2. sour, 3. salty, 4. sweet – actually shows areas that pick up on flavours more quickly than others.

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The Flavour of Eco Chocolate

Alter Eco – Dark Salted Brown Butter Organic Chocolate

Alter Eco’s Organic Dark Salted Brown Butter chocolate is something every chocolate lover should have in their cacao library.

But it’s not just the silky melt-in-your-mouth texture, or the invitingly intense flavour of this fine Ecuadorian chocolate expertly blended with dark salted brown butter that should get you excited, it’s the ethos, and the story behind the company that makes this bar equally exciting.

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Island Hopping the Venetian Lagoon

Well, Taverna el Remer had certainly left its mark on me, in the form of one hell of a hangover! I mean, as I mentioned previously, the blues band was amazing and the drinks (extra strong and expertly crafted) went down all too quickly, to the point where I recall little of the night before – but my phone has managed to help me out; apparently on the way back we came across a variety of little glass sculptures which I’m sure you’ll agree are beautiful!

Glass blown bees, they are actually about the size of a real bee – amazing talent!

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Chocolate on the streets of Venice

August Bank Holiday weekend saw the boy whisk me off to Venice for a belated birthday surprise! Arriving close to midnight, we stayed in the San Sebastiano Garden Hotel; a little out of the centre, but easy walking distance to the action.

Like most trips, I like to research the destination as much as I can, and create a little map with timings and things to do at each location. Very geeky, I know, but it means that if time and/or funds are not on your side, you can still let the place get under your skin, just about.

Geeky Venice Map
Geeky Venice Map

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Chocolate Bars with a Conscience

 Equal Exchange Chocolates

These guys source from small farmer organizations and each bar has it’s own deep intense flavour profile, as well as enlightening stories about the farmers who produce their ingredients, AND a map of where it’s all from on the inside of the wrapper!

Each origin bar details the individual community who have harvested the beans as well as the co op information and a photograph of everyone! Just one step closer to bringing people closer to their food producers, even if they are on the other side of the world.

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Flavours from Eastern Europe

Kehrwieder Chocolates – Tallinn, Estonia

Chocolate runs in my veins, which means whenever I am out and about – whether in my hometown, or a new city or village, I always have to find chocolate in some form. I wouldn’t call it an addiction, more a necessity, like breathing.

Last year my partner and I took a trip to Finland, and, realising Estonia was only a short ferry ride away, decided to hop across to Old Town Tallinn to do some exploring. For a full debrief on Tallinn, please click HERE, or to read up on my Finnish adventures, hope over to this LINK.

This post is dedicated entirely to flavoured chocolate bars, using unusual flavours I came across whilst in Tallinn.

Down a small alleyway near a church right in the middle of Old Town Tallinn we discover Kehrwieder, a delightful little coffee shop who also make their own chocolates.

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Join the Cocoa Revolution

Did you know chocolate grows on trees? Have you ever wondered how fruit from this magical tree  gets turned into chocolate and how you can make your own delicious creations from it?

Join me this September 10th at one of London’s most exciting foodie venues, Carousel in Marylebone as I share my passion for chocolate with you. Here you can discover chocolate and learn the magic of making it yourself. Over 2.5 hours you’ll be taken on a delicious journey of the history of chocolate, its origins and processing methods, and after a quick demo be guided in making your own delectable fresh cream chocolate truffles to take home and wow your friends and family.

Chocolate Workshop
Chocolate Workshop in progress

Tickets are going quick, so grab yours HERE and master the magic.

The workshop includes all your ingredients, equipment, everything you make (as long as you don’t eat all of it), and a two course dinner and drinks in Carousel’s award-winning restaurant!

Chocolate truffles
Chocolate truffles

This is an event you would be sad to miss.

See you there!


Coco x

Rummy Yummy Hot chocolate

Hotel Chocolat Hot Chocolate:

Hotel Chocolat are probably what most people think of when considering well-known chocolatiers in London, and although they are a ‘highstreet chain’, their chocolates (and hot chocolates) are not only divine award winners, but also inventive! My favourite is their classic hot chocolate, with a bit of a twist. Whilst a classic hot chocolate with chocolate shavings on top is an option, there’s something really special and a bit naughty about adding a shot (or two) of rum into the mix, and topping it off with the extremely flavourful cacao whip.

Rum Yummy Hot Chocolate
Rum Yummy Hot Chocolate

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