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D122 R28 K55 S33 012974

A Decade of Winners

– Revealed!

Following his recent daredevil exposé of the Easter Collection, our intrepid editor, Simon, has been at it again – although much more stealth was required this time. Here’s what he’s been up to… There I was quietly minding my own business at Tasting Club HQ when, passing Angus’s office, I heard the sound of a ‘frank exchange of views’ taking place. I would, of course, have walked on if I hadn’t heard the name of the legendary chocolate, Griotte Deluxe, being bandied about.

Clearly this was something that was in the members’ interest to know, so, settling into a chair by the open office door, I took out my notebook and waited. It turned out that Angus was meeting with Club chocolate developer, Gabriela Pereira, and I had stumbled upon the scoop of the decade.They were discussing the up coming No 1 Collection, a special edition that had previously only been mentioned in hushed tones.

Gabriela was determined to keep the No 1 Collection under wraps!

First seen four years ago, the No 1 Collection was quite simply the Tasting Club’s greatest hits – featuring the best of the winning chocolates from 1999 to 2006. Four years on and we can now celebrate a full decade of those winning chocolates.The question is, which of those originals would make it back this time and how many of the new crop of winners? Which brings me back to the ‘frank exchange of views’ between Angus and Gabriela. Angus was digging his heels in over Griotte Deluxe (quite rightly in my opinion), while Gabriela was arguing for a newcomer, Drunken Raspberry. Surely nobody should have to choose between those two chocolates, I thought – and thankfully we won’t have to as they both made it in. continued on page 3...


Dear Club Members

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Welcome to your latest, hot off the press edition of Club News. This month we lead with my latest undercover operation. I say undercover, it was more eavesdropping… but it was all in the interests of Club members. I managed to get a scoop on the up coming No 1 Collection, which will celebrate a whole decade of winning chocolates. I just hope Angus will understand that it was not a story I could keep a lid on. Also this month, we’ve got news from Europe where the Club is reaching out into the chilly northern countries of Sweden and Norway as well making plans a little further south too. And on page 10 you’ll see that we’re on the hunt for recipes again and you could win 3 free tasting boxes. This time we’re after the unusual and the original, preferably with a photo of the finished article please.

Beyond the call of duty? We reveal the winning postman in this month’s Postbag on page 7

Elsewhere, you’ll see that there’s been an addition to the scorecard that will help us gauge how you rate our service and we reveal the results of the recent Angus Asks survey. Finally, if you have a spare moment or two, you might like to give our word search on the back cover a go. But be warned – it almost had me beaten and I was the one who made it! Until next month, happy tasting!

Simon Thirlwell Editor

Send your letters to The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston SG8 5HL, or simply email me on simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk We are waiting to hear from you!

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Continued from page one... An old timer from the year 2000, Elegance, next came under scrutiny. Not being the world’s biggest manon fan, Angus had his doubts. But Gabriela mounted a sturdy defence pointing out that, although it might not be his favourite, there’s no doubt it’s a superb example of its genre. Elegance passed. And so the inquisition went on… Is Calvados Truffle from 2002 boozy enough? You bet it is! Is that Champagne Truffle the best we’ve ever tasted in the Club? Just look at the members’ scores. Is there a nut ganache that can beat Macadamia Smoothie? Not in this decade! Did Poire Belle William really score 8.84 and get half of members to give it top marks? Then there’s no way we can leave it out. Chocolate after chocolate was brought up, thoroughly

considered, sometimes argued over and then either accepted or declined. Which, when you think we’ve tasted close to 2,000 chocolates and have had over 130 winners in the last decade, is quite an achievement! Finally, a collection of 18 of the very best were chosen from those winners, with an all-important balance of chocolate genres, flavours and textures.

The No 1 Collection certainly is an exciting prospect and a fascinating look at how the Tasting Club has developed over the last 10 years. How will those earlier chocolate superstars compare to their newer counterparts? I for one can’t wait to find out – now all I have to do is sit tight and wait for them!

Griotte Deluxe has an assured place in the new No.1 Collection – but what about Dizzy?

Can’t wait? You can find out more about The No 1 Collection at www.chocs.co.uk/numberone

Scored the Chocolates? NOW SCORE US!

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YOUR TASTING SCORECARD

ur Club is based on the vital feedback that you, our members, provide.Your views on – D122/R28 Tasting Club chocolates let us know exactly WHAT you think of what we do! But now we’d also like you to tell us your views on HOW we do it – the service we provide. My favourite chocolate was: ______________________ So, we’re making a small, but significant addition to the current score cards – both the because: ______________________________________ printed and online versions. So when you come to score this month and in the coming months, ______________________________________________ you’ll find the following extra question: My least favourite chocolate was: __________________ because: ______________________________________ ______________________________________________ You’ve scored the chocolates – now please score us

/10

How good is the service we provide? Based on your current experience with The Club, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family? Please rate us on a scale from 1 to 10 – with 1 being ‘you’ll have to try very much harder’ and 10 being ‘I sing like a canary about the Club’. We look forward to hearing what you think!

Other comments/suggestions Please include your name and membership no. or postcode

______________________________________________

Based on your experiences with the Chocolate Tasting Club, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family? You’ll be able to rate us on a scale from 1 to 10 – with 1 being ‘you’ll have to try very much harder’ and 10 being ‘I sing like a canary about the Club’. We look forward to hearing what you think!

______________________________________________ All comments are read and logged by a senior member of The Tasting Club team, although we regret that we are just not able to make a personal reply to all comments. If you do need a reply, please just make a note for us and be sure to include your details below. Sometimes we may comment upon and publish members’ comments and names in Club News and other

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Classic

Selection – D119 1. Caramel Cheesecake by E Desmet 8.77 (42% scored it 10/10) 2. Czarina by K Kalenko 8.38 (31% scored it 10/10)

3. Lemon Mousse by K Kalenko 8.37 (28% scored it 10/10) 4. Champagne Truffle by M Meier 8.29 (29% scored it 10/10) 5. Blackberry Bombe by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.28 (36% scored it 10/10) 6. Walnut Hamper by JC Vandenberghe 8.21 (27% scored 10/10) 7. Sunshine by E Desmet 8.16 (24% scored it 10/10) 8. Love Me Do by R Macfadyen 8.14 (23% scored it 10/10) 9. Coconut Kiss by K Kalenko 8.14 (29% scored it 10/10) 10. Elderflower & Orange Tasting Batons 8.10 (26% scored it 10/10) 11. English Rose by M Meier 8.06 (34% scored it 10/10) 12. Coffee Crisp by R Macfadyen 8.04 (24% scored it 10/10) 13. Pistachio & Honey by K Kalenko 8.03 (24% scored it 10/10) 14. Oh Pear by R Macfadyen 7.98 (29% scored it 10/10) 15. Arriba Blend Tasting Batons 7.83 (18% scored it 10/10)

Dark

Selection – K52

Selection – S30

1. Coffee Crisp by R Macfadyen 8.55 (34% scored it 10/10)

1. Praline Sandwich 8.91 (46% scored it 10/10)

2. Champagne Truffle by M Meier 8.53 (31% scored it 10/10)

2. Cinder Toffee Crunch 8.82 (50% scored it 10/10)

3. Caramel Cheesecake by E Desmet 8.45 (42% scored it 10/10) 4. Blackberry Bombe by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.43 (34% scored it 10/10) 5. Czarina by K Kalenko 8.36 (26% scored it 10/10) 6. Coconut Kiss by K Kalenko 8.26 (20% scored it 10/10) 7. Lemon Mousse by K Kalenko 8.22 (21% scored it 10/10)

3. Elderflower & Orange Tasting Batons 8.24 (31% scored it 10/10) 4. Nutty Mania 8.03 (27% scored it 10/10) 5. Arriba Blend Tasting Batons 7.70 (15% scored it 10/10) 6. Honey & Salted Almond Bites 7.67 (15% scored it 10/10) 7. Coconut Puddles 7.66 (24% scored it 10/10)

8. Oh Pear by R Macfadyen 8.21 (22% scored it 10/10)

8. Lemon & Ginger Tasting Batons 7.63 (19% scored it 10/10)

9. Love Me Do by R Macfadyen 8.15 (19% scored it 10/10)

9. Bresilienne Canapés 7.46 (8% scored it 10/10)

10. Walnut Hamper by JC Vandenberghe 8.08 (12% scored 10/10) 11. Sunshine by E Desmet 8.06 (20% scored it 10/10) 12. English Rose by M Meier 8.02 (23% scored it 10/10) 13. Pistachio & Honey by K Kalenko 7.98 (14% scored it 10/10) 14. Arriba Blend Tasting Batons 7.81 (29% scored it 10/10) 15. Elderflower & Orange Tasting Batons 7.73 (20% scored it 10/10)

Bouquet Caramel Cheesecake “I’d do absolutely ANYTHING for a whole box of these!” Susan Robinson, Cheltenham 4

Solid

Bouquet Coffee Crisp “I could quite cheerfully nibble these after, or instead of any meal.” Barbara Wooding, Gravesend

Brickbat Czarina “The other half reckoned it was too strong... there’s no pleasing him!” Ruth Latchford, Chigwell


Interesting similarity between the top three Classics: Caramel Cheesecake, Czarina and Lemon Mousse

THE TIMELESS Champagne There really is no end to the rivalry between chocolatiers when it comes to Champagne Truffles. It’s one of those absolute classics that all strive to perfect, so inevitably it’s also a convenient yardstick by which they can measure their chocolate creating prowess! It was interesting to note, from the unprecedented amount of comments this month, that members have enthusiastically joined the ongoing and endless

Bouquet Blackberry Bombe “Totally mind blowing flavour, so fruity and rich. A totally winning combination in my books.” Carol Robertson, St Helens Champagne Truffle debate.The Champagne Truffle in question came from Matthias Meier. Being a truffle specialist, he has more than one champagne recipe up his sleeve – this one departed from the more usual creamy milk chocolate path and set off down a more intense route, with

dark chocolate, a dash of cream and plenty of marc de champagne. Finishing 4th in the Classic box and 2nd with Dark tasters, it clearly went down well. However, one needs to delve into your comments to get the full story of the debate that went on… Well made but too intense… Very bland… Not quite the best ever, but the best for a very long time… Nothing beats the white chocolate champagne truffle we had 18 months ago… Nice to have a non-dusted

Debate

Bouquet Pistachio & Honey “Devine! The taste of sweet honey mixed with the crunch of my favourite nuts. I could eat these until they came out of my ears!” Fiona Parkinson, Knottingley Champagne Truffle… Dark, heavy, good champagne and not too bitter, yum… Could really taste champagne, not just alcohol… The rich chocolate drowned the champagne… Dark chocolate with deep flavours – all champagne chocs should be like this… Best ever Champagne Truffle and I’ve had a few in my lifetime so I should know…

Brickbat English Rose “It was as if you were eating a chocolate filled with your Nan’s old perfume…” Suzi Farrant, Linlithgow

The good news is that the fierce competition amongst chocolatiers is never likely to subside, so this delicious debate is sure to continue! 5


Angus Asked…

And You Responded!

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hank you to everyone who took time to help Angus out with his recent members’ survey. As you’ll no doubt recall, enthused by a ‘Fine Wine & Fine Chocolate’ evening at which he hosted the chocolate tasting, he wondered if members would be similarly enthusiastic for wine and chocolate tasting.

We asked if you would be interested in a series of suggested events and here’s what you said. As you’ll see by the results, you couldn’t have been clearer in your response if you’d tried! The vast majority of respondents are interested in just about everything we suggested! In particular, the three most popular choices are learning about tasting chocolate, cooking with chocolate and Angus’ initial suggestion, tasting wine and chocolate together.The least popular was an Engaged Ethics event (Lynn really won’t be impressed!) – but we rather think that is because our Engaged Ethics programme is clearly covered so well in Club News. Respondents weren’t backward in putting forward their own suggestions either. We have over 100 to pass onto Angus – ranging from chocolate tasting with real ale or rare coffees, to a nationwide tour to include local chefs and the opportunity to create your own experimental recipes. Clearly you have all given Angus food for thought, so to speak. And you can rest assured that you’ll read news of any new developments right here. 6

Very interested/could be interested Chocolate tasting education

85%

Cooking with chocolate

84%

Fine chocolate & fine wine tasting

83%

A meal with all dishes including chocolate

80%

How to make chocolate

76%

International chocolate seminar

49%

Engaged Ethics seminar

45%

Given the success of chocolates with alcohol in the Club it’s no surprise that chocolate and wine tasting was a popular choice among members.


in the POSTBAG… This month’s Postbag is devoted to a subject that we raised quite a few months ago. But for one reason or another, we’ve delayed picking it up again, until now.

PostIES – going beyond the call of duty? You might remember that our Great Letterbox Debate raised a few grumbles about some postmen and post ladies who were reluctant to push tasting boxes through letterboxes. In order to redress the balance, we asked to hear about those unsung heroes amongst postmen, who went beyond the call of duty to deliver tasting boxes – and we’ve had a good number of entries. With the industrial action before Christmas, we thought it diplomatic to let the dust settle before announcing our winner. But first our runners up – thank you to Marina Wood who nominated her postman Ian Leader, Clare Wheatley who nominated postman (and Club member) Chris Sagar and finally, Ann Clenaghan and her postwoman Catherine Carville. We’re delighted to say that the winning postwoman, who will receive a 3-Month Gift Membership of the Tasting Club, is Jane from Newark Post Office. Here’s why Anita Asher nominated her.

When I had a new door and the chocolate box no longer fitted the letterbox, she knocked and from then we have had several chats, not only about the chocolates but all manner of subjects. I don’t know if the new box fits my letterbox as she still knocks so we can have our little natter.We have arranged that, if I should be out, she will leave the chocolates in a safe place. Jane really is a lovely, friendly girl and always cheerful. I would be so pleased if she could have the chance to taste the chocolates she delivers to several people on her round. We’ll be sending the prize direct to Anita so she can present it herself.

Contact us by email – simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk or by post at The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston, SG8 5HL. 7


God Dag

NORGE!

Last month we reported that the first of Swedish Tasting Club boxes had been despatched and we’re happy to say that all is going well – we hope to bring you news of the scores from the Swedish jury in a future edition. Meanwhile, hot on those frosty Swedish heels, we’re delighted to announce that preparations for our launch in Norway are well under way. Hence our headline which, for any nonNorwegian speakers, simply translates as Hello Norway! Unfortunately, that’s the extent of our Norwegian here, so we may have to look elsewhere to translate our menus! And that’s not all, because a little further south there’s news of another European country succumbing to the Tasting Club. Plans are being made to introduce our Club to Austria in the very near future.

Onwards to the home of chocolate? With Germany and Sweden up and running and Norway and Austria on the way, you might not be surprised to hear that the next stop could well be Switzerland – and we promise it has nothing to do with a love of skiing! With a clutch of European countries to despatch boxes to, we’re considering setting up a European hub to help with that. Switzerland, being centrally placed seems to be the ideal location at the moment. It also has the added advantage of being the home to several chocolatiers that we would like to work with in the future. This would only be an aid to the distribution of our chocolates, we remain passionately committed to making our own chocolates here in the UK with our team of chocolatiers based at Hadley Park. Switzerland is, of course, a historical power house of chocolate and is indeed the cradle of milk chocolate – ever since Daniel Peters first perfected the art of blending chocolate and milk in 1875. So these are clearly exciting times for The Chocolate Tasting Club, taking our own exclusive British chocolates to our European neighbours and further afield – when was the last time that happened?

The incredible view from one of the distribution centres in Switzerland under consideration. 8


Chocolate Word Search C

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We’ve set you a chocolate-themed word search as a little diversion this month.To help you we’ve printed 10 of the words below – but there are

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more and we’re not telling you how many! Look for them all in any direction – backwards or forwards.We’ll print the solution next month.  Good luck!

Cocoa, Ganache, Praline, Forastero, Criollo, Trinitario, Pod, Conching, Blend, Gianduja, Bean, Truffle, Chocolatier, Manon, Caramel.

ST LUCIA PRIZE DRAW WINNER ANNOUNCED! We’re delighted to announce that Zoe Phillips from Kidderminster has won the January prize draw – hopefully Zoe will let us have a photograph with a big smile in time for next month’s Club News. 9


SHARE YOUR RECIPES… and you could win THREE tasting boxes!

All of us here in the Tasting Club have at least one thing in common – a love of exciting chocolate. And if you’re anything like us, your love of chocolate goes beyond tasting it, which is exactly why we’d love to know what you get up to in your kitchen… So, if you have a particularly exciting, original or unusual recipe, we’d love to hear about it. We’ve had the usual chocolate mousses, brownies and cake recipes, what we’d really like is something to really knock our socks off – sweet, savoury or even a bit of both!

And for every recipe we print right here in Club News you will receive your next THREE tasting boxes free, as a thank you! All we need is: • Full ingredients listings • Preparation instructions • Photo of the end result Send them to: Email: simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk Post:Tasting Club Recipes, Mint House, Royston SG8 5HL

Look out for your

members only catalogue

NEW

TAS CataloTING CL gue UB

We’ve just put the finishing touches to a brand new catalogue created exclusively for Club members. It’s the first that has been tailor made for you and has been designed to combine the very best of two delicious worlds – The Chocolate Tasting Club and Hotel Chocolat. So, inside you’ll find the latest, exciting Tasting Club special editions that you can reserve right now at members-only prices. Plus, you’ll also find a handpicked selection of seasonal chocolate goodies from Hotel Chocolat – all available with your 5% members’ discount. Keep a look out!

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Choco D: late the de of cade

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Your R GIFT P ecommende d RODU CTS YOU

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The Name’s Bond… Chocolate Bond You don’t have to be a member in the Chocolate Tasting Club for long to realise that we like to do things in a different and, we like to think, a better way.

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o when it came to figuring out how we could finance our ambitious plans for the future – expansion of our chocolate making facilities, development of Rabot Estate in St Lucia, shops and more – our thoughts moved away from the big banks and turned instead, towards our members. Why not, we thought, offer members Chocolate Bonds? A bond is simply a loan that’s normally repayable after a fixed period and often carries a fixed rate of return. All very conventional.The twist we are planning is that the return is paid in… yes you’ve guessed it – chocolate! Now some of you already know about this because we carried out a bit of research a few months ago.The results were very positive indeed and we can now say that we are definitely looking to launch our Chocolate Bonds. Hopefully it will all be worked out in time for full details to appear in next month’s Club News.

The Bond will help speed up our development plans in St Lucia

Chocolate Bond 11


This month’s Prize Draw winners Classic Selection prize draw winner is

Mrs Simone Linney from London who wins a Your Eggsellency Extra Thick Easter Egg.

Fancy an

extra nibble

or two?

– one-off Mini Selection offer

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Next month’s prize is an Exuberantly Fruity Sleekster Selection – bursting with fresh fruitiness.

Dark Selection prize draw winner is

Miss Audrey Cave from Exmouth who wins a Serious Dark Fix Extra Thick Easter Egg.

e have a limited number of mini tasting boxes available based on this month’s D122 Classic box. They feature 14 chocolates (one each of 12 and two of a thirteenth) and four tasting batons – perfect if you fancy a little extra nibble between monthly tasting boxes, or as a unique little gift for chocolateloving friends and family.

Next month’s prize is a Fruit & Nut Dark Giant Slab – a gorgeous reinvention of a classic combination.

Solid Chocolate

prize draw winner is Mrs D Livingstone from Bolton who wins The Eggsibitionist Extra Thick Easter Egg. Next month’s prize is Caramelissimo Giant Slab – brimming with mellow flavours and gorgeous textures.

Available for £9.95 (including delivery) – but please order by 14th May at www.chocs. co.uk/membersonly or call 08444 933 933.

Don’t forget – you can score by post or online at www.chocs.co.uk Write to us at: The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston, SG8 5HL Email: simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk or via our website: www.chocs.co.uk Club News: Editor: Simon Thirlwell; Contributors: Simon Thirlwell, Lynn Cunningham, Terry Waters. © The Chocolate Tasting Club Limited 2010

The Chocolate Tasting Club News - D122 April 2010  

The latest News from The Chocolate Tasting Club

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