Jess writes: Our family loves chocolate, and we could all happily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Naturally, when mum and I were given the option to go on a Chocolate Ecstasy Tour around Mayfair, we immediately said yes.
The three hour long tour started at 10am, when we all met at Sketch. This was possibly one of the coolest and strangest restaurants I’ve ever been to, as it consists of many different parts. There is a tea room, an enchanted forest, a large diner-style room and award winning toilets! These toilets were like little pods, and the ceiling had colourful glass. It certainly wasn’t something you see every day…
Our small group (only eleven people) sat at the back of the tea room, where our tour guide Lindsay taught us all about chocolate.
We learnt that the Mayans were the first group of people to use cocoa beans, but they made it into a drink which translates into “bitter water”. The drink was cold, and does not sound nice at all…
I was particularly interested that the Aztec Emperor Montezuma used to drink over 50 goblets of a hot chocolate drink every day. He mixed red berries into his drink to turn it into “blood” and told his subjects that he would drink them if they misbehaved – this was an unconventional but effective way to get them to do what he wanted!
We gradually went forward in time, to learn about the development of the first chocolate bar, and how milk chocolate was created. Next, we were told how chocolate is made, and how to tell if it is good quality or not.
We all got to touch cocoa beans, which have nibs inside once the outer shell is removed. These nibs have over 50,000 antioxidants – who knew eating chocolate was so healthy?
We were given a hot chocolate and a delicious apple pastry, and Mum and I agreed that the hot chocolate was the best we have ever tasted – it was even better than the ones in Vienna!
After sampling some Valrhona dark chocolate, it was time to leave. Our first stop on the tour was London’s oldest chocolate shop: Charbonnel et Walker. The company has been at this site since the 1970s but have been on Bond Street since the company was established in 1875.
Charbonnel et Walker provides chocolates to the Royal Family, and has some fascinating and very intimate pictures up on the walls – given to them by the Royal family. I particularly liked one of Princess Anne and Prince Charles, where Princess Anne is halfway out of the window!
We got to try the Queen’s favourite chocolates – rose and violet creams. I thought that these were utterly delicious, and could have happily eaten more. Next were Marc de Champagne truffles, the shop’s best-seller. Mum and I adored these, and they were not too alcoholic. As we were on the tour, we had a 10 per cent discount on the shop’s chocolates. Consequently, we bought some, and mum was even offered another free chocolate.
Next came Prestat, favourite of the Queen Mother and Roald Dahl alike. The shop was tiny, but it was full of loads and loads of chocolates. We were given a choice of four cocoa-dusted Napoleon truffles, which were fabulous. I chose the plain chocolate one as the others were alcoholic, and absolutely loved it. We were also allowed to choose any chocolate of our choice, which was a very hard decision indeed! I eventually decided on a honey nougat chocolate and was not disappointed.
Our third stop Carpo was definitely my favourite. It is a mixture of scrumptious chocolate, amazing nuts and dried fruit, which was amazing. We were given chocolate covered almonds, which were so good mum and I had to buy some to take home. We also bought salty macadamias, which we finished instantly when we got home as they were just too good…
The last shop we visited on our tour was Paul A Young, home of the best salted caramel chocolate in the world. We were allowed to choose any chocolate we wanted, which was a very difficult choice. Mum tried the salted caramel which she absolutely raved about afterwards (and then bought one for dad to try), whereas I braved the Marmite. It was mouth-watering, and I liked it more than I thought I would.
We left the store with a stick of marzipan, and a small bag of chocolates including salted caramels, peanut butter and raspberry truffles and banoffee pie truffles.
By the end of our tour, we were all thoroughly chocolated-out. Lindsay thanked us, gave us leaflets and even gave us chocolate hearts as a late Valentine’s day gift.
Mum and I had such a brilliant time, and learnt a lot. The small group size meant we all felt included, and Lindsay was really lovely and knowledgeable. All of the chocolate was delicious, and I liked how there wasn’t too much walking. I had a fantastic time, and would be more than happy to try another chocolate walking tour in the future!
Disclosure: The Mayfair Chocolate Ecstacy tour costs £40 per person, and includes the tastings (and hot chocolate!). The company also runs tours elsewhere in London and in Brighton. Check out their website for more. We took part in the tour on a complimentary basis, but all our views are our own.