"It's not much but it's ours"

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Alongside the shallow search for the perfect Martini, I am also on the prowl for the perfect hot chocolate.

I have tried just about everywhere I come across from the grim chains ( Starbucks is, unsurprisingly the most disgusting tasting how I imagine rancid milk served with road sweepings from a leper colony might. Their new US only offering Chiantico, an attempt at thick hot chocolate should come with a hyperdermic of insulin ) to most of the small coffee bars and bakeries in a huge area of London.

So far, there is little to recommend. The chocolate at the Apostrophe chain can be pretty good, although they have stopped serving it topped with spice mix and they have whacked the price up. You also have to go through that tiresome ritual

Me - " Hot chocolate please "

Them - Are you sure you want hot chocolate? Do you know what it is?"

Me - "yes it's hot chocolate, that's why I asked for it. Otherwise, I would not have used the words hot chocolate"

Them " but this hot chocolate is very thick"

Me - "it's not the only one. Yes, I know it is thick. I like it that way."

Them - " do you want spice on it?"

Me - "yes Please"

Them - "We don't have any"

And on and on. It is no wonder that it takes over 20 minutes to get served in any one of their branches and they are to be avoided if there is more than one person to be served in front of you. Unless that is, you have all day to spare and don't mind re-enacting Monty Python's Cheese shop sketch.

If only we had places like Chocolat in Madrid. No muss, No fuss. Hot, thick, steaming chocolate served with a plate of light crisp churros. Ho hum.

Anyway, today, after my run ( 12 miles for the record ) I was doing my normal peramublation along Brick Lane and, after scoping out the hookey knock off gear at the market, sauntered down Brick Lane itself.

Just past 93 feet East on the left hand side was a small converted ice cream van with a sign reading Choc Star on it. A blackboard in front on the open window offered " Italian Hot CHocolate-£2" and even more temptingly "Venezuelan Hot Chocolate-£1.60"

A lovely woman called Petra Barran ( who, on doing some research, it appears, trained with Pierre Marcolini ) explained that the latter was like an expresso shot of pure chocolate from a farm in Venezuela mixed with chilli, spices and a little milk and sugar. It was, making no bones about it, fantastic. Certainly the best I have tried in London and just the sugar buzz I needed after my run. The short measure was just enough as anymore would push you over the edge I suspect.

Choc Star is a new venture for Petra ( going for a couple of months, I think ) and, from the look of the other things on offer, a very worthwhile one. I trust she wont mind me posting a link to her nascent website.

At last. I know where I will be going when I need my chocolate fix and I urge you to try the same.
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Blogger Scott McLean said...

The foods look very delicious. It's going to be difficult to keep writing now because the cuisine pics are making me hungry. Anyway, thanks and take care, Scott

Sunday, March 19, 2006 12:25:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leon do pretty good hot chocolate as well. It's not the super-thick Italian type but neither is it Cadbury's. They take some Vahlrona, chop it up and whisk it with boiling milk. For an ideal sugar/caffeine kick, their mocha is pretty tough to beat.

Great to see the blog.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 5:03:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you tried the hot chocolate at La Maison du Chocolate? I haven't been to the branch in London, but the New York outpost has a cafe and they serve hot chocoate as it should be (just melted chocolate in some sugar). They had 2 different ones on the menu (2 different types of dark chocolate).

Monday, April 10, 2006 6:54:00 pm  

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