Fate was definitely working when I noticed that there was a gorgeous chocolatier shop on the same street as our hotel in Wellington, New Zealand, going by the name ‘Melting Perfection’. We reached it as it was about to close but seeing my eager face threatening to spill over with tears, kindly shop assistant Filip let me in.
Not only was I struck by the wonderfully inventive selection on offer – try amaretto truffle, balsamic vinegar and honey, chilli ganache, ginger caramel and maple cream to name a few – but also by their huge, life-sized chocolate molds of cocoa pods and teddy bears in dark chocolate ‘wearing’ milk chocolate overalls.
Using Belgian chocolate, George Havlik the chocolatier hails from the Czech Republic with a pastry chef background that eventually led to his real love – chocolate. And ya gotta love a bloke who, on his website thanks his wife, Hana for her help and patience.
And thank goodness she stuck it out with him. My selection of chocolates were carefully carried through customs and sampled at home with my friend – and guest taster – Jill.
Firstly, the dark chocolate with the white ‘W’ on it – a deliciously dark coating that instantly melted to release a cool and creamy filling with the barest hint of wasabi. Unusual but not overpowering and rather refreshing.
The only white of the bunch gave another indication of the high quality chocolate used and housed a lemon and thyme cream filling. Jill liked this, even though she’s not a white chocolate fan and, before tasting said, “But these flavours should be on roast lamb, not chocolate.” She changed her mind immediately afterwards.
Pistacchio and marzipan. I adore marzipan and Jill has the same love for pistacchios. Her view was to “leave the pistacchio be, mean old marzipan”, but I loved this as a neat little move away from the usual almond concoction. Both of us agreed that the dark chocolate accompanied it beautifully.
The pineapple was a surprise – despite its rather kitsch seventies shape, it delivered a powerful hit of pineapple followed up by a cheeky dash of black pepper. More importantly, this combination works. Brilliantly.
The small praline cream held its own amongst the more creative flavours by relying on the dark chocolate to work its magic and melt away to reveal the softly creamy hazelnut; so light I wondered if it had been whipped with egg white. Simply the best praline I’ve ever tasted.
The final morsel was the love heart which was another revelation of top notch dark chocolate melting to reveal a tart passionfruit cream that held its own against the cocoa notes. “That’s absolutelyl beautiful,” Jill said, “This shows off the quality chocolate and ingredients.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
So if you’re ever in Wellington it’s the next best thing to discovering that Lord of the Rings’ director Peter Jackson calls it his creative home. These chocolates are as well.