A hot and sunny day in early July may not be the obvious time to launch your Christmas range to the press, but that’s exactly what Hotel Chocolat chose to do yesterday.
After having hired (or broken into, we’re not quite sure which) a swanky penthouse apartment in central London, the Hotel Chocolat team hid all the furniture and decorated the place with chocolate. Given the amount of chocolate in the goody bags invitees were handed on leaving, that’s something I’m sure many of us will be doing with their own places too.
The reason we were invited, of course, was to get a sneak peek at Hotel Chocolat’s Christmas Range. I was slightly confused then, when I was told that I shouldn’t photograph any of the range close up. It was all very friendly, but it’s a little odd to invite the press and bloggers to a product launch, but expect them not to talk about what they’ve seen. I think it’s unlikely any of us are secret spies for the competition.
Quick note to Keith, Peter, Emma & the gang at Thorntons: Hotel Chocolat have truffle filled advent calendars, 580g dark truffle Christmas trees, solid festive wreaths (large fruit & nut, small cookie & caramel), tiddly reindeers, mini Christmas dinners, and of course, chilli penguins. If you want more information, please arrange to leave payment in a suitcase under Waterloo bridge this Friday at 7pm. Thanks.
But the Christmas collection was just a small part of what was on display. Of much greater interest to us was the revamped Purist range. This is Hotel Chocolat’s high end range of products, much of which comes from beans grown on St. Lucia where the company have their own estate.
The new range comes in simple, attractive, colour coded packaging, which Angus Thirlwell, Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder, hopes will make it a little more accessible to those who are new to higher end chocolates. The strategy seems to be a winning one; use the fun, sweeter, seasonal ranges to draw people in, then gently direct them to the good stuff without scaring them away.
The products looked and tasted great. Simon has already reviewed the 50% Island Growers bar and we’ll be reviewing much more of the range soon.
While we were hearing about all this the exciting new chocolate, the team were busy in the kitchen preparing a range of chocolate-based dishes. These are the kind of things you can find at the company’s Rabot Estate shop in Borough Market, and they were, without exception, delicious.
The were salads, meringue sticks and gazpacho, all made with nibs for flavour and texture, but my favourite was the beautifully smooth ice cream, made in minutes with a little help from some liquid nitrogen.
All in all, a great event. Founders Angus & Peter were both there and happy to talk about the company and the direction they’re headed. I’m quite certain being asked not to photograph the range we had been invited to see and report on was simply a minor miscommunication and although it looked like a lot of fun, we were actually more interested in other things – The Purist range, the people… and the ice cream.
Check out the gallery below to share in our joy.