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THE TRUCK

Starts Here!

One of the great advantages of our Engaged Ethics programme in Ghana is that, through our hands-on approach, we see for ourselves what needs to be done. And this year’s big project is already making a huge difference.

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few months ago we revealed that this year’s exciting new project is to provide a truck for our partners on the ground in Ghana – Bob, Stephen and Isaac of the Green Tropics Group. This month we’re delighted to announce that the truck has been bought and is already proving to be worth its own weight in gold – or should that be cocoa?

Almost there! Members frequently write to ask if there is anything more they can do to help with our Engaged Ethics programmes in Ghana (other than being a member of the Tasting Club

that is!). Which is why, in the past, we have opened up specific projects to donations from members. The last one, over three years ago, was so overwhelmingly popular that we had enough left over to sink a borehole too! But because a truck is an expensive acquisition, we launched this project on the basis that we’ll buy the truck and guarantee at least half of the £15,000 purchase price. So confident were we that members would contribute the second half that we thought why wait and purchased the truck early. And contribute you have – to date members have generously donated £5,925 so far! Thank you to everyone for your kind generosity – and there’s still time to donate if you would like to, see the end of this article for details. Loaded up with precious seedlings and ready to roll. continued on page 3...


Dear Club Members

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elcome to your latest edition of Club News. This month’s big news is clearly the new truck that has now been delivered to our partners in Ghana. Bob, Stephen and Isaac are delighted and, as you can see from the images they sent over, they wasted no time in putting it to work! But it’s much more than merely a means of transport. So many more remote areas will now be accessible to us – and so many more farmers will now be able to improve their farms and their livelihoods with new seedlings. At the time of writing we are just shy of the members’ target of £7,500, but by the time you read this we could well have reached (or passed it). Thank you once again for your generosity, which, in these uncertain economic times, means all the more.

Stuck for gift ideas – why not let them into your exciting world of chocolate? See page 11 for more.

Also this month we expose the personalities behind the names in your monthly menu, there’s news of our European activities and we reveal that next month there’ll be an exciting new look for Club News – as well as for the menu and scorecard too. And finally, with British summers being notoriously unpredictable, we’ve come up with a way to guarantee some sunshine this summer – the special edition Summer Desserts. Don’t miss this gorgeous ray of sunshine on page 12. 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... Getting the show on the road This project all started as a result of our last visit to the Osuben Basin, when we witnessed first hand the problems faced by Bob, Stephen and Isaac in trying to reach cocoa farms – treacherous muddy tracks, pot holes the size of a small car, debris, flash floods… To make matters worse, their trusty old pick-up truck had given up the ghost and they were relying on a less appropriate vehicle that, without four-wheel drive,

was just not safe or effective. So what difference will this truck make? As you can see from the photos, it’s already making a massive difference – being able to transport large numbers of seedlings quickly and efficiently. Many cocoa farmers have never been able to take advantage of our seedlings programme to rejuvenate their farms because they live too far away from the nearest nursery. And other farmers were severely limited in the scope of the improvements they

could make by the amount of seedlings they could carry back to their farms. What’s more, this truck won’t just allow them to get around safely in all conditions; it will also greatly expand their operating area. They’ll be able to reach more farmers in more remote areas and, crucially, deliver significant quantities of seedlings. They estimate that they can now reach 26 additional villages at the very least – so it looks like Bob, Stephen and Isaac have a very busy time ahead of them! If you’d like to donate something and you haven’t already, then there’s still time to get involved by sending a cheque or postal order to: Cocoa Farmers, The Chocolate Tasting Club, Royston, SG8 5HL.

With the new truck there’ll be no more sticky situations like this one!

NB: please make cheques payable to: Ghana Cocoa Farmers’ Fund and to minimise administration costs we request a minimum donation of £5.

Last year this lady cocoa farmer could only plant as many seedlings as she could carry home with her – our new truck means we can now help her plant as many as she needs.

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Classic

Dark

Selection – D121

Solid

Selection – K54

Selection – S32

1. Raspberry Praline by G Pereira 8.46 (28% scored it 10/10)

1. Cherry Surprise by J Child & E Desmet 8.73 (32% scored it 10/10)

1. Caramel Milk Tasting Batons 8.52 (28% scored it 10/10)

2. Caramel Crisp by K Kalenko 8.37 (26% scored it 10/10)

2. Manhattan by K Kalenko 8.32 (31% scored it 10/10)

3. Caramel Passion by O Nicod 8.33 (31% scored it 10/10)

3. Florentine Dream by R Macfadyen 8.26 (21% scored it 10/10)

4. Manhattan by K Kalenko 8.30 (28% scored it 10/10) 5. Cherry Surprise by J Child & E Desmet 8.29 (33% scored it 10/10) 6. Walnut Lullaby by E Desmet 8.26 (23% scored 10/10) 7. Melting Mousse by R Macfadyen 8.22 (26% scored it 10/10) 8. Florentine Dream by R Macfadyen 8.19 (31% scored it 10/10) 9. Peach Brandy by M Meier 8.14 (30% scored it 10/10) 10. Pick-Me-Up by JC Vandenberghe 8.10 (24% scored it 10/10) 11. Rhubarb Bombe by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 7.94 (23% scored it 10/10)

4. Walnut Lullaby by E Desmet 8.24 (25% scored 10/10) 5. Raspberry Praline by G Pereira 8.21 (23% scored it 10/10) 6. Peach Brandy by M Meier 8.21 (23% scored it 10/10) 7. Rhubarb Bombe by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.17 (22% scored it 10/10) 8. Caramel Crisp by K Kalenko 8.15 (19% scored it 10/10) 9. Pick-Me-Up by JC Vandenberghe 8.12 (22% scored it 10/10) 10. Compare & Contrast 58% Dark Batons 8.05 (17% scored it 10/10)

3. Rocky Road 8.29 (31% scored it 10/10) 4. Florentine Dream by R Macfadyen 8.22 (35% scored it 10/10) 5. Caramel Passion by O Nicod 8.15 (33% scored it 10/10) 6. Raspberry Praline by G Pereira 8.02 (28% scored it 10/10) 7. Macho Milk Chocolate 7.89 (25% scored it 10/10) 8. Caramel Crisp by K Kalenko 8.85 (19% scored it 10/10) 9. 70% Dark Tasting Batons 7.34 (19% scored it 10/10) 10. Coconut Lime Pie by K Kalenko 7.03 (20% scored it 10/10)

11. Bärenfang Truffle by M Meier 7.98 (25% scored it 10/10)

12. West African Milk Tasting Batons 7.93 (20% scored it 10/10)

12. Melting Mousse by R Macfadyen 7.92 (25% scored it 10/10)

13. Bärenfang Truffle by M Meier 7.92 (28% scored it 10/10)

13. Caramel Passion by O Nicod 7.84 (17% scored it 10/10)

14. St Lucia 50% Milk Tasting Batons 7.64 (17% scored it 10/10)

14. Coconut Lime Pie by K Kalenko 7.44 (13% scored it 10/10)

15. Coconut Lime Pie by K Kalenko 7.49 (17% scored it 10/10)

15. Compare & Contrast 96% Dark Batons 7.04 (10% scored it 10/10)

Bouquet Raspberry Praline – Classic It’s for chocs like this that you need to introduce a score of 11! Jenny Kartupelis, Cambridge 4

2. Melting Mousse by R Macfadyen 8.30 (25% scored it 10/10)

Bouquet Walnut Lullaby – Classic Very lovely, stopped me in my tracks for an ‘ooh aah’ moment Helen Grover, Burgess Hill Brickbat Rhubarb Bombe – Classic Just one flavour here – SOUR!! This is the lowest score we have ever given. This one certainly bombed. Madeline Cutting, London


Homegrown Talent

On Top

Elsewhere in Club News this month you’ll find a piece entitled ‘Who’s Who in the Menu’ – a handy run down of the chocolatiers whose chocolate creations regularly appear in tasting boxes. It includes our partner chocolatiers from Europe as well as our own, based here in Britain. Bouquet Caramel Tasting Batons – Elements Could have eaten these all day – melt in the mouth with a delicious balance of chocolate and caramel. Matthew Edwards, Maidenhead Which, as it turns out, is just as well! This month our team of chocolatiers based in Huntingdon seem to have taken the charts by storm. A quick look at the Classic score chart will reveal that all four of the highest scoring chocolates were created by our very own Tasting Club chocolatiers. In the Dark

Selection second and third places went the same way. So congratulations to Olivier, Kiri, Rhona and Gabriela! Congratulations are also due to one of our members too, because first place in the Dark Selection was not without a Club connection. Cherry Surprise is a Create

Brickbat Compare & Contrast 96% Dark Batons – Dark A cocoa bean too far. Too dry and bitter. Christine Bee, Whitley Bay

NOW SCORE US! You might have noticed a small, but significant addition to the current score cards – both the printed and online versions. It’s an extra question that gives you the chance to rate the service that we provide:

Based on your experiences with The Chocolate Tasting Club, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends and family?

Bouquet Cherry Surprise – Dark I have never scored a 10 before but this was perfect on so many levels. I could happily eat a whole box of these. Rhona Jenking-Rees, Plymouth a Chocolate Competition winner from Club member Jenny Child – albeit in collaboration with Eric Desmet, a veteran of many, many tasting selections. This month also sees the first scores and comments for our new Elements Selection. What did members make of it? Well, turn to page 10 YOUR SCORECARD and TASTING you’ll find a selection of – D122/R28 members’ comments. My favourite chocolate was: ______________________ because: ______________________________________ ______________________________________________ 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

______________________________________________ ______________________________________________

We’ve had a few scores in already, but there’s one problem… they’re too good! We think it’s down to the fact that there are too few scores to reflect the views of the membership as a whole. And we’re not suggesting it’s just Angus’ relatives who have scored us so far…

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 material. If you would prefer us not to include yours please tick this box 

PRIZE DRAW Everyone who sends scores by post or internet

So come on, tell us what you think – good or bad, your feedback is vital. is automatically entered. Prize details in the Club News.

Name: ________________________________________

Membership no. or postcode: ________________________

POST: just pop this scorecard into your payment envelope.

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Who’s Who In The Menu?

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very month as you peruse your menu you don’t just come across an array of chocolates, there’s also an array of people who made those chocolates. So here’s a quick who’s who guide to the names that regularly feature – including our European chocolatier partners and our own chocolate makers based here in Britain.

JC Vandenberghe – Jean Claude has been contributing chocolates to monthly tasting selections since the very early days of the Tasting Club. And he got off to a flying start, with his first creation, Elegance, winning first place! His father before him was a patissier and chocolatier, so when Jean Claude took over the family business, based in the Southern Flanders region of Belgium, he was already enthused with a real passion for traditional chocolate making. So it’s no surprise that Jean Claude’s specialities include light and airy buttercreams as well as deep and earthy hazelnut pralines. M Meier – Matthias has twice been national patissier champion in Germany, he’s a qualified chef, a Master Patissier and a Master Chocolatier. No wonder then that his speciality, truffles, are so eagerly anticipated by members. He’s very creative with new mixtures and flavours thanks, no doubt, to his chef background. And this allows him to do things others wouldn’t contemplate – he was the first to bring Club members a ganache blended with white wine, a very difficult feat to pull off! 6

E Desmet – Eric hasn’t just been one of our partner chocolatiers since the very beginning, he was also the recipient of the very first Chocolatier of Month Award. That winning chocolate was Wafeltje Melk, which you can taste it for yourself in the No 1 Collection by the way. Based in Belgium, just south of the Dutch border, Eric spent the beginning of his career making and selling chocolates part time, while working as an engineer for General Motors. His small shop back then was called Aramis, which is quite apt – Aramis was the musketeer that used to be a priest. Erik is the chocolatier who used to be an engineer.

W Roelandts – back in 2001 when Willy Roelandts made his debut, he just couldn’t secure first place. There were plenty of second places, which prompted one member to comment, “Try again Willy!” That’s exactly what he did, getting his coveted first place soon after and creating chocolates to wow members ever since – just taste Drunken Raspberry (also featuring in the No.1 Collection) and you will be sure to agree! Willy started his career in advertising but embraced his passion for chocolate over 30 years ago and has never looked back.

All smiles in the development kitchen with (from left) Kiri, Rhona and Olivier.


G Bernardini & O Coppeneur – Georg and Olivier both knew they were destined to work with food. Georg’s father is a talented chef and Olivier spent his childhood dreaming of a career in food. They met while serving apprentiships for the same patissier, where they both discovered their love of chocolate and it wasn’t long before they decided to team up. Their commitment to creative new recipes is almost evangelical, which is why they and their chocolates have a loyal following amongst members. Their ground breaking Blueberry Bombe was so successful that it created a whole new genre of big, fruity chocolates in tasting boxes! O Nicod – our very own Master Chocolatier, Olivier, joined our team over three

years ago and from the word go his chocolates have enjoyed a warm welcome from Club members. He came to us via the kitchens of one the world’s most renowned chefs, Paul Bocuse. Olivier was also chosen to create a chocolate for the inauguration of the Scottish Parliament in 2004 – and delighted everyone with a whisky and heather honey creation that he still vividly recalls! R Macfadyen – assisting Olivier at our Huntingdon base is Rhona, who has previous experience with Olivier – she worked with him in Scotland. Enticed across the border to join the team, Rhona’s Masters Degree in Art & Design and her creative eye mean that she loves nothing better than creating new decoration, especially with exciting colours (all natural of course!).

K Kalenko – with a university background in food, Kiri started as a trainee assisting Olivier. But it wasn’t long before she found her feet in the development kitchen and soon found her chance to shine. Kiri’s big break came in creating a range of summer cocktails, which were so well received that she is now the go-to chocolatier for the development of boozy recipes! G Pereira – you’ll often find Gabriela’s name in your monthly menu because she’s the driving force behind the development of new recipes for the Tasting Club. So although not a chocolatier by trade, Gabriela is a vital part of chocolatier team – endlessly tasting new ingredients and finding inspiration where others would not!

Get set for the

NEW news We’re in the final stages of giving ourselves a little facelift! So next month you’ll not only see a smart new look for Club News, there are equally flattering new looks for the menus and scorecards too.

But don’t worry – Club News will continue to bring you interesting bits and pieces, members’ scores, letters and comments for you to read. We’ll just look better! And, of course, everything will still be printed on FSC approved paper. 7


EUROPEAN roundup Plötsligt befann jag mig i Inverness igen, där jag ätit världens godaste whiskypraliner och denna passade helt klart in där (…) Heaven in a bite!

Our preferred choice of hub is in Basle, Switzerland – and it’s not just because of the view!

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ot on the heels of the Swedish Chocolate Tasting Club, we’re delighted to say that Norway has now joined the family. It’s still too early to say how it’s going, but we do have high hopes, especially as their Swedish neighbours have welcomed us with open arms – there are already several thousand enthusiastic, chocolate-loving members in Sweden. As soon as we have gathered enough data, we’re looking forward to comparing the scores of our European cousins. It should be fascinating to see how German, Swedish, Norwegian and British preferences measure up! 8

As you can see from the quote above, one of our Swedish members was quite taken with Single Malt Smoothie. In case you haven’t had time to translate it yet, it means – “Suddenly I found myself back in Inverness, where I tasted the world’s most delicious whisky chocolates and this one fits right in there (…) Heaven in a bite!” Meanwhile, all of this new European activity has confirmed that we will be pushing forward with plans to create a European distribution hub in Switzerland – whose central location is ideal for despatching tasting boxes around Europe. More news on that exciting development in future issues.


Whose Leaflets

Are Those?

You’ll probably have noticed one or two non-Club leaflets in some of your Tasting Club despatches. So who are they and what the devil are they doing there? Firstly though, it’s important to reiterate that the Tasting Club does not pass your details to third parties. That’s a promise we make when you join, so please be assured your details continue to be safe with us – we insert the leaflets ourselves, here at the Club, so no details are passed on.

So who are these other companies? Well, they’re carefully chosen partners who share our ethos and who we think offer something of high quality that may be of interest to members. Laithwaites, for example, are well known for their dedication to wines brimming with authenticity and character many of which are from the smaller, independent growers. The butcher, Donald Russell, is committed to the traditional methods and animal welfare that produces the best meat. And you’ll be hard pressed to meet anyone more passionate about cheese than the people at Pong – though that’s probably a good thing!

UPDATE

CHOCOLATE BOND Our Chocolate Bonds Invitation Document is just having its finishing touches applied, so it’s on schedule to be published in June. And if you missed last month’s article then this, in a nutshell, is what they’re all about – we’ll soon be offering members two types of Chocolate Bond, either £2,000 or £4,000, to help finance our ambitious plans as a cocoa grower and a British chocolatier. The exciting twist is that the returns will be paid in chocolate. All being well, full details will be in next month’s Club News and the document itself released very shortly afterwards. Bond Invitation Cover

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What Do You Think Of The New Elements Selection? This month we see the publication of the first scores and comments for the new Elements Selection. But what do members think of it? Here’s a selection of members’ comments that reflect the balance of opinion. Really nice to finally try this new selection. Was worried I was going to miss my solid selection, but this was great and to hit a 10 choc in the first box was a great bonus for me. Amy Sheppard, Ely.

I’d rather have the old Solid Collection back as I don’t like individual chocolates as much as the slabs. Christine Woolgar, Ashford. A very interesting box – I’m thinking of changing my regular I preferred the solid chocolate order. selection to the elements selection. Mary Pole-Baker, Although I do like the filled Farnborough. chocolates I prefer the slabs. I would rather have 3 slabs and less filled chocolates. Emma Polhill, Byram. The new Elements Selection is much improved, it really is great having more individual chocolates to taste. Can Our first Elements box, and a superb experience we have two big slabs it was too. Nice to taste all of the chocolate of something a bit more without the added influence of the alcohol. funky than milk chocolate We shall be swapping to elements for our regular next time please? delivery from now on. Sally Matthews, Nigel Stone, Winchester. Potters Bar. Tremendous for a starter! Can’t wait for the next one. Mrs, Navarro, Surrey. A good mixed box. Love that there is no alcohol and the solid chocs are great. Unsure of some of the fruity flavours though. A Johnson, Beeston.

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THE FATHER

OF ALL GIFTS?

It’s probably safe to say that we all know at least one of those difficult-to-buy-for people. And, on the whole they’re good company – somewhat discerning, possibly with strong opinions, but usually interesting to know. The only problem, of course, comes when it’s time to buy them a gift…

Why do we mention this now? Well, it’s because Father’s Day is fast approaching and it’s a fact that 82% of the world’s most difficult-tobuy-for people are fathers, probably. Thankfully there is a solution – a gift subscription to the Tasting Club.

How gift subscriptions work They’re extremely simple really and, importantly for a gift, they are beautifully presented in a stylish wallet so you’ll have something impressive to hand over. Inside is an activation card so recipients can select which selection they’d like and when to start their adventure. All you need do is choose from 3, 6 or 12-month subscriptions.

What’s going to wake him up on Father’s Day?

And they’re not just the perfect solution to Father’s Day gift dilemmas, because the chances are that if you love chocolate, then quite a few of your friends and family will too.

Tasting Club Gift Subscriptions are available online at www.chocs.co.uk/subscription or by calling 08444 933 933

THE IS BACK! Hotel Chocolat’s Purist range is back for a brand new season and it features some of the most sought after cocoa from the world’s cocoa growing hotspots. Including our very own Rabot Estate and our Island Grower partners on Saint Lucia (a result of our Engaged Ethics Cocoa Programme) – from excitingly different ‘dash of milk’ milk chocolates to stunningly deep dark chocolates. You can find the new season Purist online at www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/purist or in any of Hotel Chocolat’s stores now. 11


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

is Mrs P Garwood from Ipswich who wins This Season’s Goody Bag. Next month’s prize is a Hand Piped Sleekster Selection – brimming with all the family favourites.

Dark Selection prize draw winner is Mrs B Slater from Brigg who wins a Serious Dark Fix Sleekster Selection.

Don’t miss your

Just Desserts

this Summer!

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ho knows what this British Summer has in store for us. But come rain or shine there’s one thing that’s sure to brighten up any day, Summer Desserts. As we revealed last month, this special edition is set to be a real sizzler, featuring 18 chocolates all inspired by the gorgeous desserts we just can’t resist – from the classically British Eton Mess and the epitome of French style, Crème Brûlée, to an American favourite, Key Lime Pie and possibly the most popular dessert of all time, Tiramisu.

Next month’s prize is a Dark on Dark Slab – well balanced but uncompromisingly dark!

Solid Chocolate

prize draw winner is Mr M Clark from Lancing who wins a Rocky Road Giant Slab. Next month’s prize is a Caramelissimo Giant Slab – a classic best seller bursting with flavour and texture.

If you haven’t ordered yours yet, there’s still time, but please hurry. You can reserve yours now for the membersonly price of £18.00 (plus £4.95 post & packaging) at www.chocs.co.uk/desserts 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 plc 2010

The Chocolate Tasting Club News - D124 June 2010  

The latest News from The Chocolate Tasting Club