San Churro is an Australian-based chocolateria that owes its origins to Spanish chocolate as well as their relaxed, sociable way of life. San Churro was the head monk for the Queen of Spain in the sixteenth century and saw the happiness and health that chocolate provided the aristocrats. He was dismayed that this magical food was denied the general population and made it his life’s work to make it available to all. Bless him!
I recently met up with Mark Attard from San Churro (www.sanchurro.com) and discussed our mutual admiration for Spanish chocolate genius Ramon Morato (“he’s as nice as he seems, there’s no ‘act’ in his friendly public persona”), why there are other top notch chocolatiers in countries other than Belgium and how San Churro wants to make great chocolate but without the ‘wank factor’ that sometimes intimidates people.
What impressed me most is that San Churro only have eight handmade chocolates available at any given time to celebrate the season and the effort put into sourcing top quality ingredients and creating wonderful flavours. As it is now winter here in Australia, their latest batch of eight is the ‘El Fuego Dentro’, meaning ‘The Fire Within.’ They had me at ‘El’…..
Time for sampling! The Pachamama is a combination of milk chocolate, peanut butter and sea salt and is, in Mark’s words, “like a grown up version of peanut butter cups.” The salt adds a delicious additional layer of flavour and just made me want to reach for another and another and another. This is definitely the best peanut-butter chocolate I’ve ever had.
The Avellana is a milk chocolate and hazelnut praline with tiny crunchy nougatine pieces sprinked over the top. This is intended for traditional gianduja lovers but has more depth and interest than that. Mark says it’s “like a comforting friend in a time of need” (yes, can you guess he’s a marketer as well as café owner?) but if so, this one’s a truly top mate that’ll not only provide a shoulder to cry on but also give up their bed so you don’t have to sleep on the lounge and insist on you having the last of the boutique beers in their fridge. Superb.
Ginger Choc Man is that revered combination of dark chocolate and ginger but reminds me more of gingerbread than the usual crystallised ginger. It has a slight ‘kick’ to it which just makes it go down even better with a cup of hot black tea. Nicely done.
Caramelo Latte. This heavenly blendn of milk chocolate, caramel and coffee is a dessert, morning tea, afternoon tea and late night supper treat all in one. The coffee isn’t too strong, the caramel isn’t too sickly and the milk chocolate sings to them both. Beautiful. Beautiful, Beautiful!
The only white in their current batch, the Besos Del Amor is a decadent mix of milk chocolate and Baileys covered in white chocolate. The Baileys liqueur is easy to spot without being overpowering and the overall sweetly creamy effect is dreamy rather than icky. It’s a rare day when I can say that this is a WHITE chocolate that I’d gladly have more of.
The Pear Perfecta is the closest, most dazzlingly delicious pear-filled chocolate I’ve ever eaten (sorry, Lindt). The confident fruit flavour oozes into your mouth as soon as the soft dark chocolate shell cracks open, with a teasing hint of cinnamon creeping in before blending into a chocolately pear dessert in one heavenly mouthful. If only they grew on trees….!
Jamaican Heat is the ideal way to introduce folk previously afraid of chilli in chocolate towards the warmer side of the spectrum. This is a Gianduja (milk chocolate and hazelnut blend) with some smooth Jamaican pepper. You’ll notice a pleasant tingle but not a mean bite and will want to eat another one. Or two.
The Azteca was left until the end so that my tastebuds wouldn’t be too overwhelmed to fully appreciate the other seven. This dark chocolate and chilli starts off as a tingle before working its way along the tongue towards the back of the throat and becoming a more insistent hot force. It’s not unpleasant but certainly makes its presence felt. Chilli heads will love it.
San Churro the monk would most definitely approve of all of these. It is a privilege to be able to chat to someone with a real commitment and enthusiasm for their product and then also to be able to genuinely say that the chocolates are all sensational flavours with not a dud amongst them. Cielo en la tierra!