Paul A Young Chocolates, Islington, London
Amazing tempering -- every piece of chocolate gives off a brilliant and immensely satisfying snap. Interesting fillings with complex, intense flavours that in some cases have a tendency to reduce the chocolate to a supporting role. But even in the worst cases, the pairings are fairly harmonous and nothing clashes with the chocolate.
The Glenmorangie is my favourite -- balancing golden scotch, deep but limber, with the suave chocolate.
Rose blossoms brightly, concentrated but not cloying.
Geranium is also flowery, but less bosomy and more subtle.
Lavander is quite strong but because of its sweetness, successfully avoids tasting like soap.
Salted caramel is on the sweet side, but the underlying richness carries the salt well against the chocolate.
Stilton and port -- the cheese is more nuanced, and it's hard to taste the port, perhaps it lingers in the background. But the combination of cheese with chocolate is excellent.
Guinness is also on the mild side, a tony nuttiness beneath the chocolate.
Kalamansi lime is artful -- citrusy, bright and sour, but manages play nicely against the chocolate.
Grapefruit doesn't have much of that bitter vein of the fruit, emphasizing only the sweet and sour.
Honey and saffron shows more honey than saffron, the honeyed sweetness coming first, and only later does the chocolate catch up.
Marmite still needs tweaking. I could see how the salty flavour could pair well with chocolate, but it needs more sweetness to counteract the bitter filling that is emphasized by the chocolate.
The basic truffle is pretty good, although I prefer the delicacy of the ones at La Maison du Chocolat.
The hot chocolate is very good, and I love the fact that you can choose your own spices to add to the mix. My choice: cayenne and cardamom.
I went to loads of the really posh chocolatiers last year in search of the best chocolates in London and I have to say I thought Paul A Young's were good but not a patch on William Curley's. I'm sure it's a highly personal thing and I'll try and dig out my tasting notes (no promises), Paul A Young's fruit ones came out well but the 'chocolate' ones just weren't there, I also didn't think they had been all that well tempered as the ones I had didn't snap, so maybe it was a batching problem.
Anyway, thought you might find this of interest... http://www.academyofchocolate.org.uk/...
Got to say, I now go to PAY in order to purchase amedei chocolates and go to John Lewis food hall if I want a mixed box.
Yes, tried them all on the same day (with pauses to make sure I taste the chocolates). They also sell a variety of flavoured and unflavoured chocolate bars, easter eggs, and several bars from Amadei and Valrhona. The Amadei Porceleana (a rare Criollo varetal) is probably worth trying.