Posts Tagged ‘Paul A Young’
I met Paul A Young at a time when I was despairing for good chocolate in London. It is still clear in my mind – a workshop at Taste of London. Preparing chocolate brownies with goat’s cheese for that special creaminess. His boutique in Soho is a routine stop for me. I feel like a child with pocket money in there, choosing one treat after another, all different ones.
This master chocolatier has a new surprise for us – a cacao themed afternoon tea, served at the Grosvenor House. Be warned – mouthwatering pictures.
Forget Assam and Earl Grey for a minute. Yes, they are on the menu but try this, Madagascan Cocoa Nib Tea. No loose leaf, just an amazing infusion of cacao nibs. A nutty, buttery taste, a long, comforting, naturally sweet note. Silky. And calories wise – as satisfying as chocolate but guilt free! You can also upgrade to a glass of champagne. Being French I can be a bit blasé, but this Roederer Carte Blanche is a great brut, retaining a honeyish note, a sharp green apple touch too. Go for it. Life is worth celebrating, definitely with this one.
Sandwiches first stayed on a classic lines, with first class ingredients:
* Loch Fyne smoked Scottish salmon with cream cheese and dill *
* Chopped ham with Somerset cheddar, mustard mayonnaise *
* Clarence Court free range eggs with mayonnaise and cress *
* Coldwater prawns with Marie Rose sauce *
* Roast Scottish beef with creamed horseradish *
* Smoked chicken with tarragon *
…and suddenly, wow. It hits you. Butter, thin slices of cucumber and melt-in-the-mouth cacao nibs. Glorious. Refined, Refreshing. I would have traded all of the earlier ones for a mountain of these, seriously.
The pastries were quite a talking point. The chocolate shortcake with its luxurious Madagascan chocolate ganache, enchanting rose water and fresh raspberries reminded me of, what is it, oh, of course! Genius! This is an ode to Pierre Hermé, a chocolate Ispahan! Spoons were clinking happily in the glass filled with a wonderful Orange, English honey and (wait for it, very unusual) geranium ganache. It’s like summer in a spoonful of chocolate. What else? An intense Earl Grey chocolate tart decorated with a fun salted lemon truffle and crispy cacao nibs. A moist, delicious Battenberg. A pistachio and raspberry slice with a superb lemon curd. A tender chocolate cake topped with a light, cloud-like raspberry mousse. A sugary feast!
But do keep some space for the finale. Scones, for course. Just the way I like them, biscuity, crispy on the outside. With Devonshire clotted cream. No jam. Paul A Young’s signature – salted caramel spread. And that reinvents it completely. 5 star combination. It can’t even been described. It’s creamy and salty and sweet all at the same time. It’s happiness in a bite.
Book now! These will be served from April 14, 2014
£39.50 / person, £49.50 with a glass of champagne
Paul A Young Chocolate afternoon tea
Park Room at Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel
London, W1K 7TN
A little while back, two of my passions were celebrated together. Yes, chocolate week and cocktail week happen to fall the same time of the year in the UK. Of course, they do mix quite well too and so was born Choc Tales, taking place in an historical house of Soho, 68 Dean Street. The street is so buzzing with cafés and restaurants you probably haven’t noticed it but oh, inside is another universe, suspended in time, a gorgeous Georgian house from the 18th century and you almost expect to see ghosts in each room.
The delicious evening used three floors: one room – one chocolate paired with one cocktail. I started with Damian Allsop who made me reconsider ganache completely. He never uses milk nor cream, which he finds weigh the cacao too much. Instead, he prefers spring water and you will understand the difference immediately. The way it melts, the texture of it - no comparison. The little disks you see here are made with raw Pacari chocolate from Ecuador - fruity then a beautiful sour/bitterness that balances perfectly. Then comes the truffle with a soft ganache on top but oh, inside, sudden crunchiness, not one but two meringues – one of green tea, the other of blackberry. Full autumn flavour, making you want to sit in a leather armchair with a cup of tea, watching the rain fall outside. I love chocolates that bring out a full emotion.
With this was served a Deconstructed Bramble – made with Martin Miller gin (nice citrus and juniper notes, cristal like), green tea and gel balls filled with berry juice that explode in your mouth. Oh, did I mention chocolate on the rim of the glass?
A l’étage, on se laisse séduire par la truffe au rhum de Rococo Chocolates, coque fine sur ganache ultra-crémeuse, relevée d’une touche de sel, laissant s’ouvrir les épices. Quelle finesse! Saviez-vous que la compagnie possède une ferme bio à Grenade, Grococo qui produit la totalité de leur cacao Trinitario et plus encore très bientôt. A suivre de près. On the first floor, Rococo Chocolates had created a rum truffle, crunchiness then creamy ganache, a touch of salt to bring out the spices. So very refined! Did you know the company have their own organic farm in Grenada, producing their entire Trinitario cacao there? And hopefully even more soon.
The cocktail was seasonal, a hot buttered rum with Ron San Teresa, amber like, complex,a hint of vanilla, silky. Add butter, spices, served steaming still. Liquid apple tart. The brand also has a Rhum Orange that suddenly wakes you up and makes oyu lick your lips and a ron y caffé that makes Bayleys overrated. Great presents for Xmas, fantastic treat for parties - just saying.
Another room, another sweetness. But first, get your cheeks pinker with a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Never tried it? Dedicated to a 1827 whisky, it aims at recreated its exceptional taste barrel after barrel by blending old and young whiskies. And so it brings out two levels - the first sip reminds you of smokiness (that would be the old whiskies), the second is vibrant with orange zest and nuttiness (young whiskies, of course).
William Curley had matched it with one of his masterpieces. Art work, you spend as much time admiring it than enjoying it. Chocolate genoise, raisins soaked in whisky, vanilla crème brûlée mousse, a gorgeous powdery finish and an apricot and vanilla coulis… Divine, simply divine. You never know whether you should deconstruct it to taste layer after layer or select them all at once.
Until now, tequila meant “let’s get drunk quick” to me. Memories of uni - the quickest way to party. To be frank, I am more of a Vesper girl. And so AquaRiva comes into my life as some kind of revelation - smooth, velvety, warm, no agressivity at all, just pure cheerfulness. It just takes a few minutes with Cleo Rocos who produces it to fall under its charm. The secret? 100% agave when cheap brands add poor alcool to the mix. This one my friend will make you extra happy and garantees no hangover. Tested and approved. Get it at Harvey Nichols.
Paul A Young too has succumbed and even made a special truffle that suddenly melts in your mouth. Oh, I am sure you can get drunk on those. They are exquisite. But even better, you have to try the micro bars made with cacao and parmesan. yes, it does work! Cacao then suddenly saltiness, cheese. But ideally have the whole trio. You are sure to wow your guests.
Last but not least, we crunched happily in l’Artisan du Chocolat chocolate disks… to find a liquid heart of salted caramel. We did have to lick our fingers. Happily. We had to take a couple more to enjoy the quality of it. Only professional, you know. Just to be sure. yes, they are that good. And go quite well with n Aperol Spritz.
Taste of London opened its doors yesterday for 4 days dedicated to your tastebuds.
THE place were most London foodie lovers will meet.
I resisted a long time before buying my ticket. £23.50 to get in. Once there, you still have to buy. Oh, and wait. You have to get the festical currency – the crown – which you will not be able to exchange back to crowns if you are left with any. I am left with the uncomfortable impression that they are doing quite a margin on bothe visitors and restaurants. The idea, financial issue apart, was quite clever. You will of course see and taste the new trends. Even better though is the selection of key restaurants presenting signature dishes – smaller portions meaning smaller prices. All this in Regent’s Park setting - wonderful on a sunny day but do bring your wellies if it is a rainy one.
Why did I go? I’m French. Good food is like a magnet to me.
But mostly to listen to Paul A Young, one of the most famous British chocolatiers. A guy who can make you fall in love with Marmite truffles when you originally are more hate it than a love it. His boutiques (the latest opened in Soho this week and is ever so buzy with customers) are a temple filled with pepper, lavender, chai, lemongrass, passionfruit… treats.
His specialty? Daring. Rose petal masala or Stilton and porto – you’re always in for a delicious surprise.
Like Trish Deseine, this sweet creator is close to his public – a simple and friendly approach, an excellent sense of humour and a wonderful way of teaching. His book, Adventures with chocolate, is meant for everyone. Are you more Cadbury than Vailrhona? No worry. He gently introduces you to basics, will make you drool in seconds, can convince you that good cacao is, yes, good for you and will give you tips to make the recipe successful while not spending 3 hours on a desert. he can also take you on a culinary safari: add a little salt to chocolate or why not add it to your salad dressing?
Quite an artist, really. He loves to play with textures too. He presented on Thursday a lovely twist to his famous brownies (voted the best in London by Time Out). To modernise them, he proposed a lemon, white chocolate, goats cheese and rosemary icing. Wow. The chery on the cake? Dig a small well and add a spoonful of basalmic caramelised syrup.
Rush to taste his Pimm’s chocolates too (whether at the Taste of London stand or in one of his boutiques). the crunchiness opens on the lightest chocolate mousse, concentrated in top quality cacao yet fragrant with the summer aperitif. The perfect cocktail-sweet to keep in your handbag for tough days…
Know what I like best in London? The cheerful touch of crazyness, the freedom to be creative, different.
Example - this guy who decided one day to commute by canoe-kayak. Fabulous. I have been searching for an equivalent since (as there is no canal on my way to the office).
Meanwhile, here is a cocktail of plans to enjoy the so British city this week-end:
* David Lynch fan? Twin Peaks is back, just for one night this Thursday.
* Free ice-cream at Dri Dri on Friday. Come on, you can’t say no to this.
* Calling all chocaholics – check out those yummy walks!
* Wake up the sumo in you - it is all for a good cause.
* Get your ticket for Taste of London – quite expensive but you will not be able to resist the menus for long.
* Pretend you’re in Tokyo and have a karaoke party. This hotel dedicates rooms with cocktails and outfits.
* Black Peper? Lavander? Marmite? Paul A Young just opened his new Soho shop.
* Smile with this dog show. Lookalike competition: which 4-pawed-cutie will look the closest to Queen Victorias’ dog? Which other will be the best Victorian fashioned?
* Find happiness (and/or a good bargain) at Wimbledon’s car boot sale, the best around according to Time Out.
* Tea in a park? Yes, call it med-tea-tation.
* Ignore cinema chains. Independant ones have so much more charm.
* What if it rains? Have a virtual walk.