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Club News

The monthly newsletter from the Tasting Club

Issue 1205


THE SUN! There’s only one way to guarantee yourself some sunshine this year – reserve the sizzling Summer Desserts! Page 5

What’s up with

the scores? We’re changing the way we display the chocolate score charts – see the new charts on page 10.

Find out why on page 14

Harvest time at Delcer Estate will soon look like this taken at Rabot Estate

More Saint Lucian cocoa on the way! The exciting news from Saint Lucia is that we’ve expanded our cocoa growing capabilities over the summer and it’s all thanks to a Tasting Club member – again!


The Delcer Estate is a 90-acre plantation situated in the south west of the island not far from Rabot Estate, the original cocoa estate purchased six years ago. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this story for Club members is that it was a Club member who paved the way. Gina Griffiths’ family have owned the estate since 1927 and as a member she has followed closely our adventures at Rabot Estate and the rejuvenation in the island’s cocoa sector that our Cocoa Programme has brought. continued on page 8...



You’ll never guess what we found in a distant corner of our storeroom – a secret stash of our limited edition Steiff bears! Meet them on page 14

Letter from the



ightning really can strike twice – and you only need to look into the front page article for proof. It’s the story of Delcer Estate on Saint Lucia, which is now owned by Hotel Chocolat, courtesy of a Tasting Club member, whose family have owned it since the 1920s. Having followed the rejuvenation of Rabot Estate and the read about the benefits we have brought to the community, Gina Griffiths knew exactly who to recommend when her family decided to sell their Delcer Estate. It’s an echo of the cocoa quest that ended with the purchase of Rabot Estate over six years ago, which was sparked by a Tasting Club member sending Angus a book about cocoa. What wonderfully hands-on members we have! Also in this issue you’ll find another story about cocoa, this time from a remarkable cooperative in Ecuador. We were delighted to receive an email from them recently, asking for club members’ feedback on their chocolate – which we were more than happy to supply. The good news is that we’ll be tasting their chocolate again soon. Plus, if you haven’t had your fill of cocoa yet, you can get an update on the Great Rabot Estate Cocoa Race on Page 13.

It’s an echo of the cocoa quest that ended with the purchase of Rabot Estate over six years ago, which was sparked by a Tasting Club member…

And finally this month, you’ll notice that we have changed the way we are displaying our chocolate scores. All is explained on page 14, but we think this is a more representative method of ranking – but do let us know what you think!

If you love chocolate and cooking, then don’t miss the last chance for our recipe book and apron offer on page 4!

Until next month, happy tasting!

Simon Thirlwell Club News Editor Send your letters to The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston SG8 5HL, or simply email me on or via our website: We are waiting to hear from you! Club News Editor: Simon Thirlwell; Contributors: Simon Thirlwell, Terry Waters.


© The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2012



here are many key moments in the making of

chocolate, but it is only after roasting and winnowing that cocoa beans really begin to smell and taste like chocolate. The beans are roasted to develop their flavour at temperatures of around 150ºC inside large rotating cylinders, for anything between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on the depth of flavours required. Different types of cocoa require different roasting times – for example, fine cocoa like Criollo or Trinitario beans tend to require shorter, cooler roasts to preserve their flavours, while bulk cocoa, like Forastero, tends to be roasted hotter and for longer to develop flavours. Over roasting is the big concern here as it results in very bitter tasting beans. Roasting also serves to sterilise the beans and make

the next step, winnowing, easier. Winnowing is the process by which the shell is removed and the important part of the bean is revealed – we don’t use the whole of the cocoa bean to make chocolate, it’s only the nib in the centre that we are interested in. So, after roasting, the beans are cracked by sending them at high speed onto impact plates and then they are winnowed, to sieve the nibs from the shells – the wheat from the chaff – through large vibrating sieves. You are then left with the nothing but the beautifully roasted nibs – all ready to ground into chocolate. If you’re visiting London, you can see both of these processes in action as part of the small batch chocolate making at Hotel Chocolat’s Roast+Conch store in Monmouth Street Covent Garden.

This month’s Prize Draw


Classic Selection

prize draw winner is Mrs Joan Holton from Exeter who wins a Truffles Sleekster Selection. Next month’s prize is an Exuberantly Fruity Sleekster Selection.

Dark Selection

prize draw winner is Mr Andrew Cadbury from Devon who wins a Serious Dark Fix Sleekster Selection. Next month’s prize is a Midnight Mints Sleekster Selection.


prize draw winner is Miss Ailsa Malone from Newton Stewart who wins a White & Caramel Cookies Giant Slab. Next month’s prize is a Triple Chocolate Wham Bam Giant Slab.

Purist Selection

Last call…

For morning to midnight Don’t miss the must-have recipe book and Tasting Club apron offer – and save £10!


ur expanded and updated recipe book, Morning to Midnight, is here to set free your inner foodie with 112 sweet and savoury recipes for all occasions. From casual lunches and delicious dinners, to dishes with real wow factor, cocktails and more, there’s something for cooks of every level. And with 130 beautiful photographs, it will also make a stylish coffee table book – when you’re not using it in the kitchen that is! Order this 216-page recipe book and the exclusive Tasting Club Apron together for just £32.95 (including delivery). Saving £10! or call 08444 72 70 70.

prize draw winner is Mr Steven Barbaglia from West Hampstead who wins a Rare Collection. Next month’s prize is a selection of Purist Bars.

Don’t forget


– score by post or online at and you’ll be automatically entered into this prize draw.

Summer DESSERTS Bursting with bright, uplifting recipes to make your summer sizzle!

Now into its third delicious year, it just wouldn’t be summer without this irrepressibly uplifting collection – featuring two each of 18 dessert-inspired recipes created to make your summer shine, from zingy summer berries and zesty oranges and lemons, to laid back caramel, mellow chocolate and much more.

Plus there’s an exclusive set of 10 recipe cards! Created especially for members by Cacao Cuisine Chef, David Demaison – featuring Mango Crème Brûlée, the iconic Eton Mess, a Lemon Meringue Pie like never before, irresistible Chocolate & Orange Mousse Pot, mellow Caramel Cheesecake and much more. They’re not to be missed!

Reserve yours today for just £22 (plus £4.95 postage & handling) including your FREE set of exclusive recipe cards! or call 08444 72 70 70

You can often find your Club favourites in the Hotel Chocolat Selector range – if they scored highly enough!

Why can’t I choose my own chocolates? Every so often we receive letters from members who ask that very question. Surely it’s not beyond the capability of the Tasting Club to offer customised boxes of chocolates?


nd the short answer is no, it is not beyond the realms of possibility. However, it is beyond the realms of feasibility. At present, because of the way the Club works, we know pretty much exactly how many of each type of chocolate to make every month and we can plan accordingly. That helps us to keep a lid on costs and, therefore, the price of your regular tasting selections. If we were to introduce an element of choice into each selection, then the cost implications for staffing, packaging, delivery and more would quickly make a ‘bespoke’ selection unfeasible. Plus, there’s also the fact that the Tasting Club exists to explore and discover different

chocolates every month. Our voyages of discovery just wouldn’t be the same if we could to choose our own chocolates because, human nature being as it is, we would no doubt end up choosing our favourites! Our voyages of discovery would turn into repeat visits, which would be a shame because every month numerous members comment that they thought they wouldn’t like a recipe but ended up loving it. And that’s the very essence of our Club, some recipes you’ll love, one or two might not be your cup of tea at all and others will utterly surprise you. And finally, we end on the best news because, if you really love a chocolate then there is a place you can probably find more – Hotel Chocolat’s Selector Range. When Tasting Club members have given their stamp of approval for new recipes through good scores and comments, the chocolates then go on to star in the Selector Range. And the even better news is that they can now be found online, just in case you haven’t got a Hotel Chocolat store near. – don’t forget you’ll receive a 5% discount as a Tasting Club member!


Leader of the Kallari Cooperative, Carlos Pozo, pictured with our Purist box and his chocolate (above and right) – delighted that his cocoa scored so highly

The power of cocoa – kallari chocolate You might remember Kallari chocolate from one of your recent Tasting Selections, not least because it’s a superb chocolate – but also because it has an interesting story behind it.


his fascinating chocolate is made by a cooperative of 850 farmers in the Napo region of the Ecuadorian Amazon. What makes it even more unusual and gives it unique flavours is the sheer variety of bean types found on their small farms. They are primarily Ecuadorian Arriba, but mixed with Trinitario and Criollo too. The chocolate itself starts off with sweet caramel, then the rich chocolaty cocoa flavours kick in and it fades away with hints of vanilla – and we’ve featured it as solid chocolate batons and in a super premium praline recipe too. So, we were delighted when a member of the cooperative contacted us recently to ask how their chocolate scored with members – and we were pleased to report that it had done well, with Kallari 70% Batons coming second in the Purist Selection with a score of 8.13. The Kallari Association began in 1997 with less than 50 families and has now grown to over 850 families. Recently they started to make their own chocolate too, making them the only farmers’ cooperative in the world to

harvest, market and enjoy all the profits from its own cocoa and chocolate. The unique flavour of the chocolate comes from a form of ‘natural blending’ due to the wide range of cocoa strains found on the hundreds of small, family-owned farms – from prized Arriba beans, to rare Venezuelan Criollo and Trinitario. The Napo region is an ecological treasure, home to 17% of the world’s bird species. The rainforests also convert large quantities of Earth’s carbon dioxide emissions into clean breathable air. And the cooperative’s success is helping to protect this environment, by offering sustainable economic alternatives to families who might otherwise abandon their farms, or sell their land for logging or development. With 100% of the profits returning to the farmers’ cooperative to support education, health and sustainabledevelopment initiatives – this is definitely a chocolate that chimes with our own Engaged Ethics initiatives in Ghana and Saint Lucia. We look forward to tasting it again soon! 7


Rabot Estate Delcer Estate

continued from page 1

More Saint Lucian cocoa on the way!

This also furthers our investment in the regeneration of cocoa growing across Saint Lucia through our highly successful Engaged Ethics Cocoa Programme

So, when the family’s thoughts turned to selling their estate, Gina immediately thought of us – because she was sure that we would bring the same benefits to their estate and the community as she has seen from the our activities at Rabot Estate over the last six years. To date, 141 farmers have joined our Cocoa Programme, through which we guarantee to buy the farmer’s entire crop at prices substantially higher than the market rate. They also have access to the high quality Trinitario seedlings we propagate at Rabot Estate, as well as technical support and advice. The guarantee to buy a farmer’s whole crop is a key aspect of the programme’s success, because it provides a stability of income that was lacking before, which in turn gives farmers the confidence to invest in their farms to improve and expand them. Club Founder, Angus Thirlwell, told us, “I’m very excited about what we can do at Delcer Estate. We plan to plant it out with rare, fine cocoa from which we’ll make equally premium chocolate. The fact that Delcer is set away from Rabot means that we have the opportunity to perhaps bring in some superb Criollo seedlings from Central America, without the danger of them cross-breeding. Or we could grow more of our rare Rabot Estate Trinitario cocoa of which I’m so fond – we haven’t quite decided yet! This also furthers our investment in the regeneration of cocoa growing across Saint Lucia through our highly successful Engaged

Ethics Cocoa Programme – which enables local growers to make their farms sustainable and has attracted new farmers into the cocoa sector.” The purchase of Delcer Estate is in many ways a case of history repeating itself. Six years ago it was another Tasting Club member who helped confirm Angus’s interest in growing cocoa. As she was tidying out her husband’s office she found a 1920 copy of Cocoa & Chocolate, Their History from Plantation to Consumer and sent it to Angus with the note – I thought you might like to see this. He did! The book itself recounted the days when quite a few chocolate makers had a real link to the cocoa they used. It also told of the how important the West Indies used to be in growing fine cocoa. It wasn’t long afterwards that Hotel Chocolat bought Rabot Estate. Delcer Estate will be managed by Hotel Chocolat’s Executive Estates Director, Phil Buckley. Phil has already led the regeneration of Rabot Estate and directs the cocoa growing, the Hotel and Boucan restaurant. Phil told us, “The addition of Delcer to our cocoa estate ties in very well with the next exciting project we have planned, the building of a small batch chocolate factory here on Rabot Estate. The plans have been approved and we’re ready to get moving on that very soon.” We can’t wait to hear more about that – but it will have to be for a future edition!

Images left – the view from Delcer Estate, situated to the south of Rabot Estate, is spectacular; we plan to plant up the 90 acres with carefully chosen strains of the rare Trinitario cocoa identified and propagated on Rabot Estate.



Classic 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Dark 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

Selection – D145

Coffee Buttercream by JC Vandenberghe 36% scored it 10/10 (8.5) Peach & Amaretto by R Macfadyen 36% scored it 10/10 (8.4) Grandma’s Cheesecake by E Desmet 35% scored it 10/10 (8.6) Classic Praline by O Nicod 35% scored it 10/10 (8.5) Scrumpy Crunchy by L Leary & E Desmet 33% scored it 10/10 (8.5) Whisky Caramel by O Coppeneur 31% scored it 10/10 (8.5) Coffee Buttercream 39% Italian Blend Milk Batons 31% scored it 10/10 (8.4) Lemon & Nougat by O Coppeneur 29% scored it 10/10 (8.4) Salted Soft Caramels by O Nicod 29% scored it 10/10 (8.3) Mango Crème Brûlée by G Pereira 28% scored it 10/10 (8.4)

Selection – K78

Classic Praline by O Nicod 30% scored it 10/10 (8.6) Gianduja by K Kalenko 29% scored it 10/10 (8.2) Grandma’s Cheesecake by E Desmet 28% scored it 10/10 (8.5) Feisty Jagermeister by K Kalenko 26% scored it 10/10 (8.3) Salted Soft Caramels by O Nicod 23% scored it 10/10 (8.3) 72% Dark Batons, Madagascar 24% scored it 10/10 (8.3) Mango Crème Brûlée by G Pereira 19% scored it 10/10 (8.2) Lemon & Nougat by O Coppeneur 17% scored it 10/10 (8.2) Peach & Amaretto by R Macfadyen 18% scored it 10/10 (8.2) Coffee Buttercream by JC Vandenberghe 15% scored it 10/10 (8.1)

Elements 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.


Selection – S56

Classic Praline by O Nicod 36% scored it 10/10 (8.7) 39% Italian Blend Milk Batons 33% scored it 10/10 (8.4) Salted Peanut Crunch 28% scored it 10/10 (8.3) Mango Crème Brûlée by G Pereira 26% scored it 10/10 (7.9) Coffee Buttercream by JC Vandenberghe 23% scored it 10/10 (7.4) Soft Salted Caramel by O Nicod 22% scored it 10/10 (7.8) 52% Milk Chocolate, Dominican Republic 17% scored it 10/10 (7.5) 72% Dark Batons, Madagascar 17% scored it 10/10 (6.2) Gianduja by K Kalenko 15% scored it 10/10 (7.8) Rhubarb Rhubarb by K Kalenko 13% scored it 10/10 (7.1)


Classic Praline

Classic Praline

Selection – P09

65% Island Growers Truffle 36% scored it 10/10 (8.20) 72% Ocumare Dark, Venezuela 28% scored it 10/10 (8.00) Panned Zesty Lemon 30% scored it 10/10 (8.00) 66% Sambirano Truffle 27% scored it 10/10 (8.00) Pistachio & Cranberry Bûche 22% scored it 10/10 (8.00) 64% Dark Chocolate, Papua New Guinea 18% scored it 10/10 (7.60)

65% Island Growers Truffle

You’ll notice we’ve changed the way we are ranking the chocolates this month – all is revealed on page 14!


Have Your Say! This month – what our US tasters are saying Bouquet Blueberry Truffle – Classic Intro The flavour just burst into the mouth, I couldn’t even share. Change the name to Blueberry WOW or Blueberry explosion.

Mary Mullett

Brickbat  Blueberry Truffle – Classic Intro Wasn’t flavourful enough needed more blueberry taste.

Janice & David Jerome

Bouquet Caramel Cheesecake – Classic Intro Like a real cheesecake and the caramel was an absolute dream, together it was like a trip to heaven to have dessert.

Crystal Barthelemy

Bouquet General – Classic D143 This 2nd box was the best chocolate I have ever tasted, I got sick eating the whole box in 4 hours!

Greg Blankenship

Brickbat  Cinnamon Orange Crush – Dark K76 Gave us the feeling we were eating cinnamon and orange coated chow main noodles. It was ALMOST nice to finally taste something we didn’t like. Danny Bistons

Bouquet General – Dark Intro I’ve had boxes of chocolate but not like this, awesome!

In The Postbag… Dear Simon I was very interested to read the Spring 2012 update of your work in Ghana. In particular, you mention the unique programme through which you visit the region to talk to cocoa farmers about how best to help them help themselves. I thought you might be interested to know that my Grandfather, William SD Tudhope, was Director of Agriculture in Aburi and Ashanti for the Gold Coast Colony from 1908 to 1924. In his first year of office the Gold Coast (now Ghana) exported 13,000 tons of cocoa and in his last year over 200,000 tons. At that time, cocoa was grown by the farmer on his own small holding and my Grandfather and his staff worked with the farmers, pioneering improvements in husbandry, crop production and disease control. It is most encouraging to know that the work in which he was involved a century ago continues today through your programme. Yours sincerely Diana M Tudhope

June Toler Editor – I really enjoyed reading

Bouquet Rum & Raisin – Dark K76 Out of this world delicious! Ecstasy in chocolate. Elizabeth Anderson

about your Grandfather’s work. The fact that Ghanaian cocoa is so highly rated is a tribute to and a lasting legacy of such work.


One small step for Tasting Club members, one giant leap for chocolate-kind!


ou already know that we’re not averse to doing things a little bit differently… However, only the Chocolate Tasting Club could possibly have the creative freedom and the wherewithal to produce such an out-ofthis-world concept – a collection in celebration of the planets that blends chocolate and music, astrology and astronomy. At its heart is Gustav Holst’s masterpiece, the Planets, his musical interpretation of the influence that each planet has over mankind, matched with a collection of chocolates for each planet of our Solar System – because we believe that chocolate has a similar power over our moods! Our collection is also inspired by the more earthly European Extremely Large Telescope, which this year gets under way high in Chile’s Atacama Desert.

Rare Recording - The limited edition CD of Gustav Holst’s The Planets is a re-mastered version of one the world’s first stereo recordings ever made – conducted by Britain’s best-known and most successful conductor, Sir Malcolm Sargent.

The Planets Collection is an amazing one-off in true Tasting Club style – with 18 chocolates, 2 hefty 220g chocolate slabs, a CD of The Planets and a guide to the heavenly bodies in our Solar System. Join us for this unique and delicious trip to the final chocolate frontier for just £22 (plus £4.95 p & h)

Reserve now at or call 08444 72 70 70


Great Rabot Cocoa Race

Shock Result!

Pod update

With the closing date for the competition now passed and the entries all in, it’s time we called into Rabot Estate for our first update. How has your tree fared over the last few months? Read on and find out! The good news is that growing conditions have been excellent in Saint Lucia, with plenty of rain and sunshine. There have been three mini harvests on Rabot Estate since our Cocoa Race began in January and here’s what we have harvested so far. Tree Name

No. of pods

TREE ONE – Cuthbert ICS39




TREE TWO – Murray ICS95


TREE THREE – Simon Trinitario 5




It’s still all to play for, however, because each tree could be at a different stage in their pod production. For example, Freda’s tree could well be gearing up to produce a bumper crop in November, while Cuthbert’s tree might have already peaked. It’s not over until the last pod is counted – we’ll bring you more updates as the year progresses.

Thanks to everyone who sent us their scores for this very special collection. It seems that the seemingly impossible has happened… the cult chocolate, Griotte Deluxe, has finally been knocked of its perch! And it will come as no surprise to anyone that the chocolate to do the knocking is Caramel Cheesecake, clearly a chocolate legend in the making – although the scores are very close! Indeed, all six chocolate scores are close – proving that this really was a collection of chocolate icons! 1. Caramel Cheesecake by E Desmet 9.23 (59% scored it 10/10) 2. Griotte Deluxe by E Desmet 9.19 (56% scored it 10/10) 3. Billionaire’s Shortbread by R Macfadyen 8.94 (47% scored it 10/10) 4. Dizzy by G Pereira 8.82 (45% scored it 10/10) 5. Blackcurrant Bombe by K Kalenko 8.77 (44% scored it 10/10) 6. Champagne Truffle by O Nicod 8.73 (42% scored it 10/10)



Can you give one of our ‘lost’ bears a home? If you go down to the storeroom today, you’re sure of a big surprise… And that’s exactly what we got when we discovered these rather special bears hiding in a little used area! Back in 2009, we created these limited edition collectors’ Steiff bears, which are sought-after the world over as the most collectible bear of all. Ours are made from super soft mohair in an irresistible, mellow milk chocolate colour with the unique Button-In-Ear as a telltale mark of authenticity. So, you can imagine our surprise when we discovered a secret cache of 92 bears, hidden away in our storeroom.

We’re delighted to say that we can now make an unexpected special offer to members and you can have one of these excusive bears at half the original price for just £89.95 (including delivery). So, if you’d like to give one of these exclusive bears a good home, please hurry as only 92 remain! Get yours now at or call 08444 72 70 70.

So which chocolate is –

Simply the best? It’s been said many times, but it’s worth repeating – our members’ scores are the lifeblood of this Club. They dominate our chocolate development, affecting future Tasting Club selections and, just as importantly, what is adopted into the Hotel Chocolat range. As far as we are aware, no other chocolate maker has this level of interaction with its customers.


ow we’re making a slight change, but only of presentation. From the outset we recognised that you effectively give us “two scores” – the average score and the percentage 10/10. And we have always reported both in the Club News – with the chocolates ranked in the order of the average score. No doubt you too have noticed that some chocolates can score very high 10/10 and yet finish up mid-table. Very often these are our most adventurous chocolates – the ones that push the boundaries and create excitement. As a result the top spot or two in the chart


can be taken by great chocolates, but not necessarily the best chocolates in our opinion. Which is why we are going to rank the chocolates in order of 10/10 scores and this issue of Club News features the first chart in this form. As we need to give some members a little more time to get their scores to us, we are repeating last month’s scores in the new way. There’s no need to change the way you score – just keep on doing what you’re doing and that will keep us heading in the right direction!


Summer Desserts recipe preview

Strawberry Cheesecake Serves: 8 Ease of preparation: Moderately Difficult Preparation time: 25 minutes (plus cooling and chilling) Cooking time: 45 minutes

Method 1. Butter and line the loose-bottomed tins with baking parchment. 2. Place the biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush to crumbs using a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, then pour over the melted butter. Mix thoroughly until the crumbs are completely coated. Tip them into the prepared tins and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for 1 hr to set firmly. 3. Slice the vanilla pod in half lengthways, leaving the tip intact, so that the two halves are still joined. Holding onto the tip of the pod, scrape out the seeds using the back of a kitchen knife.

Equipment: 7.5cm loose bottomed tins lined with baking parchment Ingredients: 250g digestive biscuits 100g butter, melted 1 vanilla pod 600g soft cheese 100g icing sugar 284ml pot double cream For the topping: 400g punnet strawberries, hulled and halved 100g Hotel Chocolat Classic Smudge 25g icing sugar

4. Place the soft cheese, icing sugar and vanilla seeds in a bowl, then beat (with an electric mixer if possible) until smooth. Tip in the cream and continue beating until the mixture is completely combined. Now spoon the cream mixture onto the biscuit bases, working from the edges inwards, making sure that there are no air bubbles. Smooth the top of the cheesecake down with the back of a dessert spoon or spatula. Leave to set in the fridge overnight. 5. Remove them from fridge about 30 mins before serving. 6. Slip the cakes onto a serving plate, removing the lining paper and base. 7. Purée half the strawberries in a blender or food processor with the icing sugar and 1 tsp water, then sieve. Spread a layer of Classic Smudge over the cheescake and then a layer of strawberry purée. Arrange the remaining strawberries onto the cake and finish with a drizzle of Classic Smudge.

This is just one of the 10 deliciously exclusive recipes included FREE with this year’s Summer Desserts – see page 5 for more 15

The Queen’s Diamond

JUBILEE 1952-2012

Embrace this season of celebration with the jewels in the crown of our summer range – specially created to mark 60 sparkling years! Exclusively available in-store and online at

The Chocolate Tasting Club News D149 2012  

The latest edition of Club News.

The Chocolate Tasting Club News D149 2012  

The latest edition of Club News.