Sophie Farrah goes in search of our best local chocolatiers... it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it
The way to my heart is most definitely through my stomach... and nothing hits the spot quite like chocolate. It’s got to be the good stuff though, and luckily there seems to be no shortage of it locally. So if you’re thinking about spoiling yourself or a loved one this Valentine’s Day, even bad present buyers can’t go far wrong with gourmet chocs.
Nestled in St Margarets is the award-winning Urban Village Chocolates, and when I say award-winning, we’re talking a whopping five Great Taste Awards. Its intricate handcrafted designs are edible works of art, and they taste as good as they look. Beautiful buttons and bars are flavoured in mouthwatering combinations such as strawberry and vanilla, rose and bergamot, and lemon and lime to name just a few, and its inventive champagne and popping candy truffles are a fun twist on a traditional favourite.
Venture to Tooting Market and you will find the Willy Wonka of South West London in the form of Harry’s Chocolate Emporium. Tooting resident and owner Melanie (with help from her Cavapoo, Harry) has a wide and wonderful selection of rare, gourmet chocolate from across the UK and beyond. Welsh chocolatiers NOMNOM’s Love and Lust bars make a perfect Valentine’s treat, and Mel also stocks her very own homemade range, aptly named For the Love Of Chocolate, featuring daring flavours such as liquorice and coconut, white chocolate and ginger.
For the dark chocolate purists out there – visit Gusto and Relish on White Hart Lane in Barnes, pick up a box of their award-winning dark chocolate truffles, and life will never be the same again. Handcrafted by owners Richard and Sally using 70% cocoa chocolate from São Tomé, which is renowned for its exquisite balance of intense dark flavours and floral, fruity aromas, these mouth-watering morsels are guaranteed to get hearts racing.
And finally, tucked in a quiet corner of Southfields lies DeRosier, a heavenly chocolate café. Its impressive boxes are a feast for the eyes, filled with jewel-like treats decorated in vibrant, colourful patterns and all carefully handcrafted from top-quality single origin chocolate. Temptations include passion fruit, lemongrass, lime and chilli and my personal favourite, sea-salted caramel (hint hint). For serious brownie (or should I say chocolate?) points, opt for the largest box, filled with 77 delicious moments of joy.
DeRosier, 81 Revelstoke Rd, London SW18 5NL
Harry’s Chocolate Emporium, 22 Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SN
Gusto & Relish, 56 White Hart Lane, Barnes, SW13 0PZ
Urban Village Chocolates. Stockists include Richmond Hill Bakery, Friars Stile Rd, Richmond TW10 6NQ and Church Street Food Hall, 44-45 Church St, Twickenham TW1 3NT
Sophie's picks for the month
Paul Winch-Furness Paul Winch-Furness / Photographer
The Ivy comes to town
Big news – the West End’s legendary showbiz hangout, The Ivy is to open a stylish café in the heart of Richmond this spring. The new venue, which comes in the icon’s centenary year, will be in the spot previously occupied by All Bar One on Hill Street and will feature an all-day dining menu, open seven days a week. Watch this space for more news in the coming months.
It’s Pancake Day!
If you fancy a change from the usual homemade lemon and sugar creations, then head to charming French bistro, Chez Lindsay for gourmet buckwheat pancakes, with fabulous sweet and savoury fillings, including its pièce de résistance – a fresh seafood and fish pancake, with tomato and cognac sauce, topped with a langoustine. Délicieux!
Looking for something closer to the Clapham & Tooting area? Head to the homemade lemon and sugar creations, at trendy Aussie-style brunch café Mud in Tooting Broadway to sample its sensational stack of buckwheat pancakes served with caramelized pear purée, toasted pecans, lemon balm and maple crème fraîche.
Ming Tang-Evans ©Ming Tang-Evans
Passion is in the air
For romance, you can’t beat Petersham Nurseries’ beautiful greenhouse café with its trailing scented flowers, stylish antiques and twinkling fairy lights. Although normally only open for lunch, this month sees the return of its hugely popular Valentine’s Supper Club, featuring a four-course seasonal menu.
- 10 & 11 Feb only; £75 pp; petershamnurseries.com
There’s a new star in town
There’s cause for celebration as Clapham gains its first Michelin star. Trinity, run by chef Adam Byatt, has been awarded one star in the 2017 Michelin Guide, and Upstairs at Trinity, the restaurant space above picks up a Bib Gourmand award for ‘exceptional good food at moderate prices’. Congratulations to the team!
- Trinity, 4 The Polygon Clapham, London SW4 0JG; trinityrestaurant.co.uk
Speaking of Michelin stars
...dine at Chez Bruce (voted London’s Favourite Restaurant for an incredible 11th year running in the 2016 edition of foodie bible Harden’s) and you will receive a voucher entitling you to 25% off the usual food price at its Kew sister restaurant, The Glasshouse. Both restaurants hold one Michelin star each.
- One voucher per table; chezbruce.co.uk
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