I knew they were good, that's why I bought them. But was oblivious to just quite how high the level of quality was. Blind to the effort, thought and sheer passion that goes into making them. The chocolate tasting evening really was an eye opening experience.
Paul's chocolates are completely handmade in the traditional sense, using the very finest quality natural ingredients. There are no preservatives or nasties used in their making at all, they are freshly made each day in the kitchen beneath the Islington shop and therefore have a shelf life of only 7 days. What became very clear to me as the evening progressed is that there is a yawning chasm between the quality of Paul's offerings, and the 'luxury' chocolate brands you may have sampled on the high street.
What also became clear was how much thought goes into their creation, I really was surprised to find that chocolate from Madagascar always has a fruity taste or that the defining characteristic of Ivory Coast chocolate was a tang of coconut.
I learnt that to eat fine chocolate, you should allow the chocolate to melt slowly on the tongue, breathing deeply which helps the flavours develop and after sampling a range of different chocolate I was amazed at what flavours became apparent:- Liquorice, brown sugar, maltiness, smokiness, even a not unpleasant musty taste.
Some chocolate hits the taste buds on the front of the tongue first, some the taste buds at the back, some suddenly floods your mouth with flavor and some are more subtle or long lasting. It's very like wine-tasting.
There are limitless possibilities available and what is truly amazing is that Paul takes all of this information, and then blends different types of chocolate and tastes together to create exactly the flavour needed. I was truly astounded by this, I had no idea so much thought and planning went into making his chocolates.
It also became apparent how passionate Paul and his business partner James are about what they're doing. It was stressed that they're making the very best chocolates money can buy, the hard way, no shortcuts no mass-production, no selling out. The quality and integrity of what they're doing is paramount to them and it was fantastic to hear. I came away impressed beyond measure. I should also add, that both Paul and James are very entertaining, friendly and humorous guys.
Paul stocks a selection of premium chocolate in bars from producers such as Amedei, Valrhona and Michel Cluizel these are serious bars of chocolate with serious prices to match. Among the best chocolate available to buy anywhere in the world.
Paul and James also unveiled that they are the first people anywhere in the world outside the US to stock a new artisan chocolate called 'Tcho' which is a real coup for them, they were extremely excited about it. The production methods involved being innovative and described by James as 'tearing up the rulebook'.
But what I really wanted to try were Paul's own handmade chocolates and was lucky enough to sample a selection of the more unusual and popular flavours, Stilton and Port chocolate (very nice, rich with, as expected a very pleasant Port and Stilton creaminess ), A Marmite chocolate (If anything, even better, a rich sweet hit of Marmite, quite subtle, not too extreme, surprising), and last but not least a multi award winning Salted Caramel (off the chart, incredible,full to the brim with an impossible amount of rich salted caramel filling - the mark of an excellent chocolate).
All the chocolates I sampled were seriously good, extremely rich and decadent, you couldn't eat more than a couple in one sitting.
How much do they cost?
Individual chocolates are priced at £1.75, and boxes start with a 4 piece box at £6, a 9 piece box at £13, an 18 piece box at £25 to a whopping 40 piece box at £50, none of which is actually that bad price wise when you consider the quality of the chocolate your purchasing.
So, in conclusion this was one of the best evenings I've attended as a food blogger, I learnt to really appreciate how to taste chocolate, and I also learned how much effort goes into making high quality products such as Paul's. I think it's fantastic that London has an artisan chocolatier of this quality working in the city and I can think of no better treat or present for a chocolate lover than a box of Paul's creations.
I will certainly be purchasing some again the first chance I get.
Paul A Young Fine Chocolates
Tel: +44 (0)20 7424 5750