Thursday 17 September 2009

Paul A Young - Revisited

I've posted about London based artisan chocolatier, Paul A Young's offerings before, when I purchased some as a Valentines present for my Girlfriend. But, after recently attending a chocolate tasting session at Paul's Camden Passage shop I now realise how utterly lacking my knowledge was on the product I had helped the GF demolish back in February.
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

Camden Passage,


N1 8EA

Tel: +44 (0)20 7424 5750


Graphic Foodie said...

Wow. That sounded really interesting. Great combinations - I really love kooky chocolate flavours that make no sense on paper but total sense in taste.

The Ample Cook said...

Cor, what a fantastic opportunity Dan and very well blogged.

I knew of him but hadn't realised until I read this how he operated and what a 'maverick' he was.

Yes, they're a lot of money, but you have to pay for good quality and expertise don't you?

Does he do mail order?

James Cronin said...

I really enjoyed reading your post Dan, thank you for coming along to our tasting.

The Ample Cook: We can ship our chocolates easily within London, but for longer journeys it's a little more weather dependent. In the heights of summer (not that we have a very high summer in the UK!) they would be destroyed if they spent a day on the floor in a sorting office.

So.. give us a ring in either of our shops (Islington is open Tuesday to Sunday, The Royal Exchange is open Monday to Friday) and have a chat with one of our team and we'll see what we can do for you.

Contact details on the website:


Paul A Young Fine Chocolates

Dan said...

Fran, honestly it was incredibly interesting and entertaining.
Some of the other flavours on offer were just as 'kooky'. There's a signature selection of award winning chocolates and in addition to this they make different flavours everyday. So, if you went in there two days in a row you could try something different each time.

Thanks Jan. Apparently Paul's got a book which has just been released in which he explains how to really taste chocolate and which to use in cookery etc. Considering how interesting the evening was, and that he was Marco Pierre Whites head pastry chef, I think I'll be buying it.

As for mail order, I've just seen James's reply above. If you really wanted some, I could pick some up when Im at work and you could collect them from Leigh.

James, thanks a lot for hosting the evening - think I've probably been gushing enough in my praise. But as you can see, I was completely blown away by your chocolates.

Kavey said...

I agree completely on how fabulous an evening this was, I think it ranks amongst the very best foodie events I've had the fortune of attending for a long time!
I first tried Paul's chocolates at the WoM's chocolate tasting event at easter, infact I created my blog that night on getting home.
And one of my earliest posts was photos and reviews of the box I then went to buy shortly afterwards.
So I really, really relished the generous opportunity to find out so much more about what Paul and James do, about chocolate itself and about their unique approach.
Wonderful evening!

Anonymous said...

Marmite chocolate ... You like it or you hate it, I guess.. Not sure I would be a big fan of this one but the other ones looks absolutely delicious. There is so much to learn about chocolate and more than cooking, I think chocolate is an art. Pierre Marcolini in Belgium is a great example but England should be proud of their chocolate masters.

LisaRubin said...

one question... Why is he so thin?!

Dan said...

Thanks for the comment Kavey, I agree entirely...err...on your agreeing :) Nice to meet you too, albeit briefly.

Mathilde - Ah, I'm a fan of Marmite and the chocolate is more subtle than you'd think. I agree with you on chocolate at this level being an art.

LisaRubin - bloody good question, I have no idea how he manages that.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

What an evening! As you know, I was gutted not to be able to make it, and now am even more so...

I've had his Stilton and Port, and Marmite chocolates - but it sounds as though I need to get hold of those salted caramels asap.

Glad you've been converted to the top-notch stuff. Onwards and upwards!

Helen said...

I couldn't attend either - gutted! It sounds amazing. I could really do with learning more about proper chocolate too and I've always wanted to try his salty caramel truffle and marmite truffle.

Boo said...

Wow! Jealous. I'm so keen to try these, salted caramel anything is a winner in my opinion and I'm a huge fan of marmite. Can't wait to try some of these, roll on Valentines Day! Actually, sod, it, I'll buy my own!

Helen @ World Foodie Guide said...

What fun! I wish I'd known about it. I tried some chocolates at Taste of London and they were delicious...

Dan said...

Aforkfulofspaghetti/Helen - shame you both couldn't make it, really was an excellent evening. Hopefully you'll get the chance to go again.

Boo, hahaha yeah why wait for Valentines day eh?

Helen, oooh Taste of London, never been - I'll have to go next year.

Anonymous said...

What a fab post - am truly gutted I missed this! The passion that goes into the chocolates is just astonishing, and those salted caramels are too, too addictive.

tamara said...

Great Post - has struck a cord as I recently visited Brussels and was taken to a wonderful chocolate shop by Pierre Marcolini

It would have been nice to spend some time there like you did to truly appreciate the chocolates; I know the flavours are complex and expensive but that's like drinking a fine wine when you don't have much knowledge in viticulture. If you’re spending that kind of money on a chocolate it’s worth investing some time in learning about the product and you’ll enjoy it so much more.

Dan said...

Reginald, hopefully you can make it next time they have a tasting. It's definitely worth it!

Tamara, Thanks for the comment. I Agree entirely, I feel that I'll savour and enjoy good chocolate so much more now that I know the effort etc that goes into making it.

Dan said...

BTW Tamara, Ive not heard of the Chocolatier Pierre Marcolini before, (But haven't heard of many chocolatier's at all to be honest).
The link you provided is certainly fascinating.
When I visit Brussels I'll have to check out his shop.

Alex said...

I never know if it's a good or bad thing that one of his branches is within hopping distance of my house...

Dan said...

Alex - Good thing!!!!

goodshoeday said...

Almost two weeks later I'm still reeling from the 100% cacao stuff I can't get my head straight enough to write the blog post. For now lets just say it was brilliant......

TCake said...

Great blog and feature... did you get the metro today?.....this fab place was featured, ready for London Food & Resaurant week next week.

Dan said...

Tcake, thanks. I did get The Metro yesterday and read the feature on Paul A Young. Great stuff, thanks for the heads up.