artisan chocolates london
I plan on giving chocolates as a very important thank you gift. It is very important that the chocolates are exquisite looking and tasting, and the packaging is sumptious. I thinking more along the lines of flavoured truffles rather than single plantation samplings. I tried Paul Young in Camden Passage yesterday, and thought they were delicious, but maybe not pretty enough or had sumptious enough packaging. Has anybody tried L'Artisan au Chocolate or the Chocolate Society in Mayfair or Fortnum & Mason? Or can recommend any where else?
I'm not much of a chocolate eater, but I've gotten some Valrhona chocolates at Selfridge's. They got a quite large chocolate department there but I'm not sure if the packaging will be as posh as you'd like. There's also Maison du Chocolat on Piccadilly - their NY shop was one of my favorites when I lived back home. Fortnum & Mason is right across the street for a comparison. :-)
You probably want to check out William Curley in Richmond. Although his background is more patisserie (used to be pastry chef at the Savoy) than chocolate (as, indeed, is Paul Young) there are some exquisite chocolates there. Also everything very well presented - hence extensive following from local Japanese clientale who care about these sort of things.
Wouldn't bother with Fornum & Masons - too much of a dept. store for really artisan stuff. Maison du Choc is worth a look if you can't be arsed to schlep out to Richmond. It has a stellar reputation from its Paris roots, but I always find the London shop a little soulless and pricy, although the chocolate macaron box is excellent.
If you're interested in exotic flavours and spectacular packaging you can't do better than Rococo Chocolates on either the Kings Road or Marylebone High Street (the Euston Road end). They do beautiful gift selections and the owner Chantal (I think that's her name) is a mine of information on where it all comes from. You may think it sounds disgusting but their sea salt chocolate is astonishing, in a good way. Prestat in Princes Arcade in St James' also does beautiful packaging in jewel colours but I have never tried the chocolate so couldn't speak for the quality. I think, for what it's worth, that Charbonnel et Walker (Royal Arcade, Mayfair) is a bit overrated.
I've purchased chocolates from L'Artisan du Chocolat several times, and have always been very pleased. The chocolates are fresh, beautiful and come in a range of flavors from the classic to the highly unusual. You get to select which ones to put in a gift box (I'd recommend also including a copy of the brochure, so the recipient can tell them apart). I had heard that L'Artisan du Chocolat had been named (can't remember by whom) as the best chocolatier in the UK, and on that rec I haven't been anywhere else!
is there still a pierre marcolini in kensington?
otherwise, i prefer l'artisan du chocolat over maison du chocolat.
in the end, i went to l'artisan du chocolat. it was pretty good. their packaging was a little to froufy suburban and 90s for my taste, but the actual chocolates were a big hit. a bit cheaper than i anticipated which was good as well.
You should try Paul A Young Chocolates. Its very close to Angel Tube in Camden Passage. Very small shop, everything made right there in their little kitchen, with the best chocolate (Valrhona Crus or Amedei.) Fanciful flavours, and brownies that redefine the word. They also do a very nice box, which is now my standard hostess/host gift. Definately worth a try.