News The Monthly newsletter from the Tasting Club
Win a Just Truffles Selection!
We’ve devised an intriguing new competition for you this month. So sharpen up your geography skills and turn to page 15 to take on our Treasure Island challenge.
They’re at it Again… Once again it seems that there’s mystery, mayhem and deliciously dastardly deeds in the world of chocolate – get your sneak preview of our brand new tasting game, The Chocolatier’s Mystery. See page 12
Just a few of the 110,000 seedlings raised this year
Have Seedlings, Will Travel
As we approach the latter stages of 2010, it’s time we looked back on another busy year in Ghana’s Osuben Basin – both for the cocoa farmers and for our partners in Ghana, Bob, Stephen and Isaac. D128 R34 K61 S39 015512
It has been another good year for our cocoa seedlings scheme, producing a whopping 110,000 plants. What’s more, the survival rate for seedlings has remained high this year, at 94%, which is testament to the ever improving know-how and increasing experience of our nursery managers.The main nursery in Osuben Village remains very much at the centre of things, however, the continued on page 8...
Cacao Gazpacho? Secretive tastings, exciting new menu ideas and an arduous working holiday for some – find out all the latest developments from the real Hotel Chocolat on page 14 this month.
Letter from the
elcome to your latest edition of Club News. This month we lead with a round up of what’s been happening in Ghana this year. As always, it has been a busy time for us and for Bob, Stephen and Isaac – our partners in Ghana. And it’s fantastic to see that, although they’ve only had the new truck a matter of months, it has made an enormous impact. Also this month we bring you the shocking news that there’s been another instance of chocolatier mischief. Yes, following on from last year’s highly successful Murder, Mystery and Chocolate, we bring you a brand new case of dastardly deeds and delicious intrigue in The Chocolatier’s Mystery!
This month we bring you the shocking news that there’s been another instance of chocolatier mischief...
Elsewhere, there’s news of a link up between Saint Lucian and Welsh primary schools, a look at what the Swedes think of their Introductory Selections and a sneak peek at what will be on the menu at the Boucan Restaurant at Rabot Estate. And finally, following in a similar vein to our Spot the Pod Competition, which attracted the most entries we’ve ever had, there’s a brand new competition for you this month – Treasure Island. Don’t forget your Excellence Collection – see 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 email@example.com We are waiting to hear from you!
Improve your chocolate knowledge
Editor Not so foolish now! Ganache is one of the all time classics and a staple for both chocolatiers and patissiers alike, said to have originated in France during the 1850s. At its most simple it is a mixture of cream and chocolate, to which you can add any number of flavours.
In French, the word ganache can mean ‘fool’ and legend has it that it was created when a clumsy chocolatier’s assistant spilled cream into a bowl of chocolate he was mixing. “Ganache!” the chocolatier bellowed at him…
This month’s Prize Draw
D124 Classic Selection
– make sure you get yours!
prize draw winner is Mr J Preston from Fakenham who wins a Sleekster Cocktail Selection. Next month’s prize is a Midnight Mints Selection.
K57 Dark Selection prize draw winner is Mr I Glendinning from Lytham St Annes who wins a selection of Dark Adventure Slabs.
Next month’s prize is a Le Grand Crunch Dark Giant Slab.
S35 Elements prize
draw winner is Mr J Dwane from Lincoln who wins a White & Caramel Cookies Giant Slab.
xcellence is our annual collection of the very best of the best – with nothing but the true chocolate superstars of the year. So get set for a dazzling display of chocolatier flair, this is not one to miss! By popular demand, Excellence has moved to a new autumn spot in the tasting calendar – as many members felt its previous home in February was too close to both Christmas and Easter. Autumn is, after all, the start of the serious chocolate season, so it will feel right at home! Most members are automatically eligible to receive The Excellence Collection and you will receive postcard notification before we send your Collection. To check yours is reserved, please go to www.chocs.co.uk/excellence or call 08444 933 933.
Next month’s prize is Le Grand Crunch Milk Giant Slab.
Don’t forget – score by post or online at www.chocs.co.uk 4
and you’ll be automatically entered into the prize draw
Is that the Sound of Jingle Bells? Christmas is an undeniably exciting time, when family and friends gather to celebrate with some of life’s festive luxuries – which is exactly why our Christmas Collection is our biggest, most exciting special edition of the year. And it’s not just our biggest collection of the year either, it’s one of our most striking too – just lift the lid and you’ll feel Christmassy all over, with reds and greens, twinkling stars and sprinkles of seasonal sparkle. Coming soon!
News from the Hub S
As revealed a couple of months ago, we’re currently in the midst of testing out deliveries from a European hub. The idea is that, with a clutch of countries now on board and more to follow, a centrally located European hub will be the most efficient way to despatch tasting boxes.
Mr M Davis 123 The Street Anytown AnyShire ABC 123
60100 Member No: 12345678 Date: 25 August 2010
Dear Mr Davis
Reserve your Fortified 5-Star Collection – SEND NO MONEY NOW!
Welcome to your latest adventure in chocolate tasting. With the gradual move into a new season, we’re featuring recipes to both cheer – with zippy cranberry & orange, strawberry and blueberry – and comfort – with heady calvados, eggnog and creamy vanilla to name but a few.
The Fortified Collection is back and to celebrate a fifth stunning year it is full of boozy recipes with 5-star wines, spirits and liqueurs. A must-have collection for anyone who likes alcohol and chocolate, released ultra fresh in September.
Bonds & Trucks The big news this month is that you, our members, have really surpassed yourselves this time! The results of our Chocolate Bond issue and the Truck Appeal for Ghana are both in this issue of Club News – and let me say that the results for each one make for an extremely interesting read...
18 deliciously tipsy recipes Enjoy the ultimate match made in heaven as authentic chocolate and premium liqueurs are mingled to create our booziest selection yet. The 2010 vintage includes tipsy recipes such as Speyside Smoothie, Rum Melter, Vodkatini, Poire William, Gin & Tonic, Tuscan Grappa, and many more...
And finally, don’t miss next month’s selection when we’ll be tasting a gorgeous new take on the coconut slice, as well as a new recipe inspired by an old favourite, lemon curd. Bon appétit
See the NEW Tasting Club catalogue enclosed for more details
Angus Thirlwell Club Founder
To Order the Fortified 5-Star Collection for just £22.95 (incl. P&P) just complete the section below, go to www.chocs.co.uk/FORTIFIED or phone 08444 933 933.
PS: Please note that the Trio selection is now £22.95.
INVOICE/PAYMENT FORM Please return this section with your payment. Envelope enclosed for your convenience.
STATEMENT OF ACCOuNT Reserve your Fortified 5-Star collection
Membership No: 12345678 Online Activation Key: 101010101
Mr M Davis 123 The Street ABC 123
This Shipment R33
Postage & Handling
Your next delivery is scheduled for despatch in 4 weeks. If you'd like to change this please let us know. 015464
£PAID IN FULL NO PAYMENT REQUIRED
SEND NO MONEY NOW - Payment is only due on receipt [ ] YES! Please reserve my Fortified 5Star Collection for £22.95 Incl. P&P. SAVE £2 ON EXTRA COLLECTIONS. You can order extras for less - go to www.chocs.co.uk/fortified or call us on 08444 933 933 Code: FT201
The Chocolate Tasting Club plc Registered in England No. 4745935 VAT No. 842 6140 44
All of the usual invoice information, now including the box number for easy reference 6
£PAID IN FULL
A new statement of account, prominently displayed for maximum clarity
o, having identified a suitable area, Basle in Switzerland, and a distribution centre appropriately equipped to keep our chocolates in pristine condition, we began. Initial tests proved to be successful, so we gradually increased the number of boxes being sent this way. Now all Dark Selections and Trios are being sent via the new distribution hub. What’s more, over the next few months we’ll start trying some of the Classic Selections and Elements too. Have you, or will you notice the difference? Absolutely not, from our extensive testing it’s clear that your chocolates will arrive in perfect condition and ready to enjoy as usual – courtesy of your familiar Royal Mail postie!
New Invoices Indeed, the only change you might have already noticed is that we’ve taken the opportunity to make your monthly invoice even clearer – adding the number of the box you’re receiving and a statement of account, so you’ll know exactly how your account stands. Just one thing, members who pay by auto debit, with the cost charged to their credit card, will now see the price of the box in the invoice section, but the statement section will show the words – ‘Nothing to pay’.
The chocolate batons certainly went down well!
School of Choc? One group of lucky schoolchildren in Wales found that having Saint Lucia on the curriculum could have its benefits… It so happens that Saint Lucia figures on the primary school curriculum these days. So when Judy Buckley, Human Resources & Quality Manager at Rabot Estate, heard about this, she knew just what to do. She went to her local school in Saint Lucia, Les Etangs, and put them in contact with a Welsh primary school where one of her friends teaches. “It just seemed like a great opportunity for both groups of children,” Judy told us.
But there was more to come because recently Judy dropped in to Ysgol Maes y Mynydd in the village of Rhosllanerchrugog near Wrexham. The children really enjoyed her talk about Saint Lucia, cocoa and, above all, chocolate. As Judy explained, “All of the kids thought I was the real life Mrs Willy Wonker and they were amazed at the Rabot Estate cocoa pods and beans that I brought.” 7
continued from page 3
Have Seedlings, Will Travel
growing network of smaller satellite nurseries is playing an increasingly vital role – with two more added to the family this year.These mini nurseries and their managers not only increase the number of seedlings that can be physically grown, but they also allow farmers who do not live near the main nursery to access our seedling scheme.
for crops planted on that land.What’s more, this programme will now be self-sustaining as six acres of mucuna have been planted for the harvesting of seeds.Which is just as well, because word of their stunning success is spreading as quickly as the mucuna plants!
One of last year’s initiatives was to educate cocoa farmers in the ways of plantain and it has continued this year. Cocoa seedlings need constant shade and many farmers combine shade trees with food crops, but plantain stands head and shoulders above the alternatives because it not only provides food, but the plant itself actually enhances the soil. Unfortunately, plantain plants are expensive, but an ingenious method has been developed to split one plant into as many as 20 seedlings. We’re now spreading this know-how to farmers, who can also sell plantain seedlings to provide additional income. Already this year, plantain nurseries are up and running in five new locations.
Which leads us nicely onto this year’s main project, the supply of a truck that has already allowed us to reach cocoa farmers even further afield. Just about every one of the 110,000 seedlings has now been snapped up, with some going as far as 120km away – areas that previously would have been unreachable. Isaac estimates that we are now supplying 25 communities with cocoa seedlings.
Mucuna Blanket This year we are also continuing the degraded lands scheme, whereby soil that has had all nutrients leached from it is made fertile once again. How is that done? By growing a blanket of mucuna bean plants that actually return vital nutrients to the soil – a tried and tested method that has been in use for centuries. Many farmers have tracts of land they believe are useless but, by rejuvenating them with mucuna, they can once again be a productive part of the farm.This year we have treated five farms with mucuna and we’re delighted to report that all five farmers now report good yields
And the winner is… Helping cocoa farmers to improve their own livelihoods is the crux of our Engaged Ethics initiative in Ghana. And every year we have a programme of farmers’ awards – to incentivise well-kept farms, the planting of new seedlings and other best practice farming techniques.This year we’re hoping to send our winners to the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana – we’ll keep you informed!
It has been another good year for our cocoa seedlings scheme, producing a whopping 110,000 plants.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14.
Selection – D125
Cranachan by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.50 (33% scored it 10/10) Mango & Peach Mousse by E Desmet 8.45 (37% scored it 10/10) Caramelised Cherry Tasting Batons 8.44 (26% scored it 10/10) Mexican Manon by JC Vandenberghe 8.39 (36% scored it 10/10) London Bus by M Meier 8.35 (26% scored it 10/10) Crêpes Suzette by R Macfadyen 8.34 (25% scored 10/10) Dark Star by O Nicod 8.34 (23% scored it 10/10) Chocolate Brownie by K Kalenko 8.33 (26% scored it 10/10) Raspberry Romp by G Pereira 8.24 (32% scored it 10/10) Feuilletine Crisp by R Macfadyen 8.24 (24% scored it 10/10) Tipsy Cheesecake by E Desmet 8.29 (25% scored it 10/10) 40% Milk Chocolate Tasting Batons 8.09 (16% scored it 10/10) Coconapple by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.04 (24% scored it 10/10) Malt Whisky Melters by O Nicod 7.95 (19% scored it 10/10) Zesty Toffee by K Kalenko 7.91 (40% scored it 10/10)
Selection – K58
Chocolate Brownie by K Kalenko 8.35 (26% scored it 10/10) Mexican Manon by JC Vandenberghe 8.35 (36% scored it 10/10) Tipsy Cheesecake by E Desmet 8.34 (25% scored it 10/10) Zesty Toffee by K Kalenko 8.32 (40% scored it 10/10) Dark Star by O Nicod 8.27 (23% scored it 10/10) Mango & Peach Mousse by E Desmet 8.25 (37% scored it 10/10) Cranachan by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 8.21 (33% scored it 10/10) London Bus by M Meier 8.10 (26% scored it 10/10) 64% Papua New Guinea Tasting Batons 8.07 (26% scored it 10/10) Feuilletine Crisp by R Macfadyen 8.06 (24% scored it 10/10) Crêpes Suzette by R Macfadyen 8.05 (25% scored 10/10) Coconapple by O Coppeneur & G Bernardini 7.91 (24% scored it 10/10) Raspberry Romp by G Pereira 7.79 (32% scored it 10/10) Malt Whisky Melters by O Nicod 7.75 (19% scored it 10/10)
Elements 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 10
Caramelised Cherry Tasting Batons 8.32 (24% scored it 10/10) Feuilletine Crisp by R Macfadyen 8.31 (36% scored it 10/10) Crêpes Suzette by R Macfadyen 8.30 (32% scored 10/10) Fruit & Nut 8.21 (50% scored it 10/10) Chocolate Brownie by K Kalenko 8.17 (23% scored it 10/10) 40% Milk Chocolate 8.15 (29% scored it 10/10) Mango & Peach Mousse by E Desmet 7.93 (36% scored it 10/10) Dark Star by O Nicod 7.79 (25% scored it 10/10) Raspberry Romp by G Pereira 7.71 (18% scored it 10/10) Papua New Guinea Tasting Batons 7.21 (25% scored it 10/10)
Caramelised Cherry Tasting Batons
What You Say! Bouquet Raspberry Romp – Classic Lovely texture and beautifully balanced, neither flavour swamps the other. Divine, I could happily romp my way through a whole box of these. CF Shield, Stocksfield
Bouquet Mango & Peach Mousse – Classic Wow! The crunchy biscuit is a stroke of genius! Gordon Smith, Machynlleth
Brickbat Coconapple – Classic I gave it a two because it was nice looking, but eurgh! Why put coconut into a chocolate? Someone is trying to poison me! Barbara Higgs, Doncaster
Bouquet Coconapple – Classic Really thought I wouldn’t like this one but it was a complete taste of the Caribbean.All I needed to go with it was a glass of Malibu! Hannah Rayner, Bury St Edmonds
Bouquet 64% Papua New Guinea Batons – Dark The first time we have given a 10 to batons.Tastes like Islay whisky, lovely smoky flavour. Anne Patterson, Coventry
Brickbat 64% Papua New Guinea Batons – Elements Haddock is for smoking, chocolate is not.A very unpleasant taste. Michelle Teale, Kenilworth
Bouquet Feuilletine Crisp – Dark I never thought texture could rival alcohol for enjoyment in a chocolate – but this one showed it could!
Sean Conlin, Walderton
Brickbat Feuilletine Crisp – Dark Too much like another famous chocolate.The one that comes wrapped in gold paper and is spherical. Bev Butler, Petersfield
In The Postbag… After last month’s Limerick competition, the postbag this month has been overflowing with your own creations – here are two more for your delectation! Club members are a very fine breed With tastes wide and varied indeed Each month they all chill As they practice their skill Of devouring chocolates at speed! Ian Campbell A Tasting Club member from Hastings Had trouble in trying to taste things: He still bought HC And was voted MP As he canvassed at give-away tastings. Ian Hiscock
General Comments Love the new menu & score card – made comments a lot easier as memory jogged with the menu descriptions still attached. Alison French, Warsop All round one of the best boxes I’ve had in a while, so good I ordered a repeat! (But don’t tell the Mrs!). Mr Webster, Cambridge Normally I share my Tasting Club box with my boyfriend but, because the chocolates in the box were exceptional, he missed out this time! Julie Hutchings, Chelmsford 11
Mystery, Mischief... and Chocolate! One victim, who managed to arrange five chocolates on the table in front of him in his final moments, and a house full of suspects… Thankfully you’ll have the help of the notorious detective, Hercule Praline, as well as the chocolates of course, to taste your way to solving this dastardly crime.
es, it’s time to polish your magnifying glasses once again and immerse yourself in our brand new game of The Chocolatier’s Mystery! The action takes place on Christmas Eve at the home of one of the world’s greatest chocolatiers. However, this would not be a Christmas he would remember…. for Jan Duya lay slumped over his chocolatier’s table – DEAD! Hercule Praline, the renowned chocolate detective, is on the scene within the hour. But which of the six people in the house that
night had a motive? Who had the means? And did any have the opportunity? There’s only one way to find out – taste the chocolates and investigate the suspects. Could the elderly Reverend Bloomsworthy really have done it? What about the respected Vice Admiral John Waterstone? Victoria, the long-suffering first wife definitely deserves a second look… But what about Victor, the painfully shy nephew? He could barely pluck up the courage to say boo to a goose! The beautiful new wife, Micah, is a different kettle of fish altogether and then there’s Richard… Surely the butler didn’t do it this time! Specially created for the fast approaching Christmas season, it’s the perfect game for friends and family to indulge in a little mystery, mischief and chocolate – with 30 chocolates, a menu, exclusive CD and an array of suspect cards. Plus there’s the chance to win a year’s worth of FREE chocolate tasting!
For more details and to place your order please see www.chocs.co.uk/mystery or call us on 08444 933 933. 12
THE SCORES FROM THE SWEDISH JURY ARE… Peter Harris in the midst of his Novelli masterclass
Back to SCHOOL Hotel Chocolat co-founder, Peter Harris, took himself back to school recently and, we’re pleased to report, he passed with flying colours!
The school in question, however, was none other than Jean-Christophe Novelli’s Academy, set in the gorgeous surroundings of a 14th century Hertfordshire farmhouse – and which has been voted one of the top 25 cookery schools in the world. Peter told us,“The experience I’ve had helping to create our own Boucan Restaurant at Rabot Estate awakened an even deeper interest in food in me. So when the opportunity to attend Novelli’s Academy presented itself, I jumped at it!” The day’s course included an expert’s guide to using fresh herbs, de-boning a chicken leg (which Peter tells us is immeasurably more difficult than it sounds), making risotto, creating dessert tarts and baking their own bread.
It was a real eye-opener to spend the day with a chef so passionate about passing on his love of food and I left with quite a few tricks of the trade – something my family will be very pleased about!
Now that our Swedish cousins have been part of the Tasting Club family for a good few months, we thought it was a good time to have a quick look at their scores for the Introductory Selection. Do British and Swedish tasters share similar tastes, or are we at different ends of the spectrum?
t first glance it seems we are on the same page, with Florentine Dream placed in the top spot by both. And with a similar score too. However, after that things start to differ. At the top of the Swedish chart the first four places are all taken up by classically comforting, recipes – with three praline recipes and one caramel. Could that be a national preference, the result of a colder climate, or both? British tasters, meanwhile, seem to be more generous with their scores in general and with boozy recipes in particular, with Single Malt Smoothie second in our chart and a lowly sixth in Sweden. Could that be the famous Swedish reserve in action? Only time will tell! The Swedish Top 10 1. Florentine Dream 7.8 2. Sugar Cane Praline 7.6 3. Hazel McNutty 7.5 4. Caramel Hush 7.5 5. Poire Belle William 7.5 6. Single Malt Smoothie 7.5 7. Billionaire Shortbread 7.4 8. Brandy Bonanza 7.2 9. Tipsy Orange Truffle 7.1 10. Cocoa Pod Crisp 7.1 13
It’s a Tough Job… But, as they say, someone has to do it. And the prize for this month’s tough job must go to the directors of Hotel Chocolat.
hat’s because, with the opening of the real Hotel Chocolat fast approaching, someone needs to go to Saint Lucia and make sure that everything is in full working order. And who better to undertake such an arduous task? Joking aside, giving the hotel and all of its facilities a thorough testing is vital to a smooth
and successful opening – and the directors are uniquely placed to ensure that everything is finished to the high standards they themselves have set. So they won’t just be lazing by the pool, they’ll also be having massages, sampling the menu at the Boucan Restaurant (see below for more on that) and making sure all of the cocktails pass muster…
What’s on The Menu at Rabot Estate? O
ver the past few months they’d arrive just as the working day finished. Secretive figures who disappeared into the development kitchen for invitation-only meetings that went on long into the night… Just what were they up to?
It turns out that this was an elite group of tasters assembled to taste and assess recipes for the menu at the Boucan Restaurant. Club Founder, Angus Thirlwell, revealed,“The cuisine at Boucan draws on the amazing local ingredients available in Saint Lucia. And, as you’d expect, the menu also has strong connections with cocoa and chocolate. Some of my favourites so far include Cacao Gazpacho, Saint Lucian Fish Stew with coconut and cacao rice, our 65% dark chocolate mousse, the Rabot Estate tart… I could go on!”
Treasure Island The real Hotel Chocolat at Rabot Estate is on the beautiful West Indian island of Saint Lucia. But the question is – are you able to pinpoint the location our Treasure Island map?
s you can see, we’ve provided the latitude and longitude scales on our map of Saint Lucia. All you have to do is provide us with the co-ordinates of where you think Rabot Estate is and you could be our winner! And here are a couple of clues to send you in the right direction.
14˚06mins 5 4 14˚03mins 2 1
14˚00mins 59 58
1. S aint Lucia is divided in 11 regions, or quarters. You’ll find Rabot Estate in one that begins with ‘S’.
2. T he views from Rabot Estate are spectacular and as you look towards the sea there’s one of Saint Lucia’s famous mountains on either side.
55 13˚54mins 53
Quilesse Forest Reserve
Rabot Estate: NORTH ________° ________min WEST ________° ________min
Example: on our map, the answer for Castries would be NORTH 14° 1min WEST 60° 59mins
How to enter Decide where you think Rabot Estate is, then give us the co-ordinates of the nearest intersection of lines – as in the example for Castries. If you’re the nearest, or one of several picked out of the hat at random, then we’ll send you a Just Truffles Selection, it’s as simple as that! Please send your entry to Treasure Island Competition, The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston SG8 5HL, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org 15
Write to us at: The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston, SG8 5HL Email: email@example.com or via our website: www.chocs.co.uk Club News: Editor: Simon Thirlwell; Contributors: Simon Thirlwell, Terry Waters. ÂŠ The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2010
The latest News from The Chocolate Tasting Club