Simon and I celebrated Chocablog’s third birthday on Tuesday by visiting one of the UK’s top chocolatiers in his Islington shop. Paul A. Young started out as a pastry chef but now has two shops in London and plans to expand further.
The shop itself is small and unassuming, tucked away down an alley that only the locals (and chocolate addicts) would know about. But the purple exterior grabs your attention and the moment you open the door, you enter a chocolate wonderland.
The interior of the shop is simple but stylish. It’s a strange mix of country kitchen and gothic. Bars of chocolate are arranged neatly on a welsh dresser while large gilt frames house photographs of chocolate cakes and desserts. It’s a little surreal, but welcoming and friendly.
As the door closes, the real world quickly fades and the sumptuous aroma of quality handmade chocolates permeates the air.
By the door there is a small table with a large pan of thick, dairy free Aztec hot chocolate warming on a hot plate and an array of brightly coloured spice jars. We are immediately welcomed and offered a cup. And, of course, it’s divine.
A large counter toward the rear of the shop is covered in neatly ordered ranks of ganaches and truffles, some subtly decorated in burnished metallics (both coatings and foils). The range is interesting and exciting, with everything from simple caramels to more adventurous creations like Marmite truffles (which I’ll be reviewing later!)
Paul clearly loves what he does – as I write this, I’m watching the man himself on TV making truffles – but he seems most at home in his own shop, producing wonderfully fresh chocolate creations on the premises every day.
If you’re in the area, I highly recommend paying a visit yourself.