I write a weekly food column called ‘Hoovering’ for the mighty Standard Issue Magazine. Within these columns I began a mini-series called ‘My Chocolate Column’, because I have the sense of humour of a 9 year old.
The idea is I using highly unscientific tests (eating loads of different chocolate from around the world AND from him) to see if the UK has the best chocolate in the world. And we’re talking about supermarket chocolate, not swanky boutique chocolate. I mean chocolate for the normal human.
Here’s the inaugural article incase you wanted to read it http://standardissuemagazine.com/food/hoovering-chocolate-column/
If you can’t be anussed, that’s fine – basically Belgium turned out to have RUBBISH chocolate compared to the UK’s mighty galaxy.
Those hoovering articles have become swept up into a busy adventure in themselves so I’m moving my chocolate columns back to here, my very own blog. This will be the first (technically second) of some. Enjoy.
ENGLAND v FRANCE
My experiment came on a French holiday with me and my family. A trip full of rainy afternoons and board games: perfect chocolate scoffing terrain.
France might be better than us at cooking. And at kissing. And at sport; work-life-balance; academia; sex; wine; ageing; affairs; perfume; not being obese and naps. But we’ve got better chocolate than them, right?
I brought the entire new Cadbury’s Dairy Milk ‘Marvellous Creations’ range with me. We compared it to a small hillock of French chocolate, bought from the nearest hypermarché.
First, the testing crew and their vital stats:
Hatty – my 15 year old sister. Keen reader, blogger and chocolate hooverer.
Nana – age: 85. Big into lace. Huge Francophile, expect heavy unpatriotic bias.
Ollie – my 15 year old cousin. Splendid at tennis, expect good appetite.
Gary – my lovely step-Dad. Usual weapon of choice? Dark chocolate Toblerone.
Cathy – my Aunt. Hates being called ‘Aunty Cathy’.
Mikey – my chap. The sweeter and creamier the food, the more he loves it. Achilles heel? The dentist. Especially if the dentist also comes wielding a kidney stone.
Mum – My Mum. Was never that fussed about chocolate until she got diabetes. She loves it now.
Here are the highlights of our findings:
Cadbury’s Marvelous ‘Creations Mix Ups’ (Blue Bag)
There were giant milk chocolate buttons, which won our affections. White chocolate buttons joined in, adding nothing but sugar. There were ‘pebbles’, which were giant, oblong smarties full of dairy milk. They had colour, crunch and the middle was reliably excellent. Finally there were ‘Mini-Oreos’, bringing creamy crumbliness.
I was skeptical about how much was going on at once. Too many great performers thrown together can be awful, see the film ‘Love Actually’.
All my testers said was ‘mmm’ and ‘yeah, these are nice’. To my surprise, this was a multi-sensory triumph.
Casino Les Desserts du Chocolatier – Gout Creme Brûlée
A huge hit. Silky chocolate encased delicious, solid condensed milk, full of crystals of burnt sugar. On quizzing my team, though, I found further cause to doubt their objective reliability:
Mikey: “Nice, because it doesn’t taste of creme brûlée”
Nana: “Lovely. It tastes just like creme brûlée”
A sugar-free choice, bought with Mum in mind. It was full of synthetic sweeteners which were so sickly, it almost tasted fizzy. In a word: rank.
Mikey: It doesn’t really taste of chocolate, more like chocolate flavoured lard
Nana: Far too sweet.
Mum: I hate it most.
Cadbury’s Marvelous Creation’s ‘Cola Pretzel Honeycomb’
A huge slab of dairy milk filled with undetectable honeycomb; shards of soggy, over-salty pretzel and great slicks of cola-flavoured jelly. Too many things. It glacked up our mouths. Why would you put all those gorgeous things in such proximity? I like babies and I like bonfires, it doesn’t mean I want to see them share a lift.
Mum: Eating this has made me never want to eat chocolate again.
Hatty: A disaster.
Cathy: I’m not even trying it.
Cite D’or Citron Gingembre
A gorgeous dark chocolate full of crystalised lemon and ginger. It took you on a fairy tale adventure full of brave and wonderful tastes. This was one of my riskier buys which in my opinion it was the best of the lot.
Gary: Zingy. That’s great.
Mikey: Nice, because it just hints at those flavours, subtle.
Mum: A bit like Jamaica Rum. Real layers of flavour. The best.
Did I mention that Hatty is a teenager?
Hatty: It tastes just really, really dark.
Finally Nana, who had gone quiet for some time, eyes and lips pursed with joy, like Yoda.
Nana: Oh yes.
Milka – In Color
Milka filled with a rainbow of toddler’s eye-catching mini-smarties. I’ve always loved the light, malty flavour of Milka. Sadly, the crew didn’t all go in for this new incarnation of it:
Mum: It’s got a pop and a crunch
Hatty: Ugh, Mum! It’s just a pop.
There were no nuts in it, just chocolate filled shells.
Nana: The nuts get in my teeth
Finally, on team-Jess…
Ollie: Delicious. More please.
Hatty: Yeah, we’ll finish that.
Villars Larmes de Poires Williams
Milk chocolate tears full of (apparently pear-flavoured) meths. A horror show. I had to spit it out.
Cathy: It just tastes of alcohol.
Mum: It’s burning me. You’re not allowed this one, Hatty.
Gary: I like it. I’ve had four bits. Turn up the music. Just leave this song on repeat. I love you guys.
The rest of the UK chocolate was clunky and unremarkable. The French have access to better chocolate than us in their day-to-day shops. On mass, theirs was simultaneously braver yet more delicate than ours.
France win. Again.