Chocolate - thick, creamy, wickedly sensual - melting on the tongue until its solidity disappears, leaving only its lingering taste and a memory... Have I caught your attention?
Chocolate has been the mainstay of my adult life. Seriously, I kid you not. Men have come and gone but chocolate has remained my constant companion, always there when I needed a moment of comfort, a little bit of escapism. That was why I was intrigued when I attended a workshop on chocolate making last week.
Let me be perfectly honest, I eat chocolate every single day. I don't eat cakes [unless someone gives me one], I don't eat biscuits or sweets or desserts of any form. But chocolate, now that's a different matter.
Up until the workshop I consumed chocolate with abandon. Dark, milk, somewhere in between - all of it tasted good and the differences between them remained a mystery. Until Chocolate Alchemy and its knowledgeable chocolatier, Isaac, came into my world. Alchemy, the medieval forerunner of chemistry, was concerned with the transforming of matter, in particular with attempts to convert base metals into gold. It was half science, half wizardry. Perhaps because of that, it is a particularly apt name, for Isaac takes dull, bitter cocoa beans and almost magically transforms them into chocolate concoctions which have a depth of flavour I hadn't previously encountered.
Isaac educated me in the geography and history of chocolate, explaining where the different cocoa beans were grown and the distinct individual flavours they produced. He showed me cocoa pods the size of small coconuts and produced samples of chocolate made from single varieties of beans to try and then samples of chocolate from different combinations of beans. If you haven't tried this before you may be sceptical - chocolate is chocolate right? I can tell you now that the chocolate from some of the beans packed a real punch, whilst others were more subtle and they were all different.
But in watching Isaac, whose face lit up when he spoke of making chocolate, I realised something else too. Here was a young man who was passionate about what he did, who strove to create chocolate perfection which was not just delicious but aesthetically pleasing too. I saw in him what I feel every time I begin a new chapter, or introduce a new character into my books, that longing to create and blend and strive for my creation to be the best it can possibly be, the most enlivened, entertaining and downright engaging I can make it for its intended audience.
And that, I think, sums up the whole essence of Chocolate Alchemy. Perhaps it could be no other way due to the people who remain largely behind the scenes, ex-professional athletes and big names in the world of athletics. These are people who are intrinsically dedicated and determined, who are never, ever, satisfied with sitting on their laurels but who continue to push forward with relentless enthusiasm.
Having only recently taken over the company, its directors are now intent on expanding from the small original venue to a national scale. And they are achieving their goal! Not just rapidly but with a surefootedness that took my breath away. Able to produce bespoke creations in an eye blink, they are looking to bigger markets whilst also maintaining that individual quality which sets them apart. Their chocolate remains hand made, produced by the clever Isaac himself and whatever your preferred taste, it can be created for you. And they are not greedy either - it is not their intent to fleece you of your hard earned cash. Indeed their products are very reasonably priced, especially when you consider the care and quality of them. And you do know how I love a bargain!
I was lucky enough to be able to partake in the truffle making workshop and the very next day I sat down and wrote a new chapter as I nibbled on the truffles. Ok maybe there wasn't much nibbling going on, it was more of a devouring thing really, but what the heck, they were great!
So if like me, chocolate is an enduring passion, here is their website. www.chocolate-alchemy.co.uk
In the meantime I will keep you up to date with my writing and with all the various new things I get to experience in my research. How I love this job!