Monday, 6 April 2009

Choctastic at the Guardian

When I read on Twitter that there was to be a chocolate tasting at the Guardian I was in like Flynn on signing up. All manner of chocolate would be representing its Easterly wares and it sounded like there was a bit of a scramble for the 75 spots allocated. I thought, what with all the egg action going on, it might be good to bring along some ultra fudge brownie alleviate the glut. I sallied forth on the train and strided up York Way in the biscuity late afternoon sun, my brownie cutting knife carefully wrapped so as not to involuntarily expose myself as a Kings Cross blade loon.

En route my eye was caught by this pair of extraordinary pins up ahead - like that of Barbie, replete with 'flesh-coloured' plasticky sheen. They really didn't look real. Who could sport legs like that? I pondered, quickening my pace a tad. Soon enough it dawned on me that somewhere in my distant TV viewing past I'd seen them before. A glance at this woman's profile confirmed it - Su Pollard. I'd only been looking at a terrible pic of her in the paper earlier that day. I approached her and was thrilled to here those raspy, excitable tones. I loved you in Hi-de-Hi! I told her. We chatted about holiday camps and mini-skirts and stage shows, then into the Guardian HQ I went with a 'ta-ra lov' ana birrova wink.

The new building is a great, aspirational space - alll floor to ceiling windows and escalators and viewing zones. I was shown to my set-up room via the horseshoe shaped swoop of chocolate zones. In one room was lovely Henrietta Lovall of The Rare Tea Company, making alchemy of silver tipped leaves and hot water, Andrew of Gonzalez Byass was standing by in another room - oloroso at the ready. Then there was Paul A Young, resplendent behind a table decorated with his wonderful chocs.

Continuing round I came upon Kieron of Mayan Magic who I'd had contact with last year on my tour. More chocolate, more tables - and on to a whole giant boardroom heaving with smashed up Easter eggs - from Godiva, Daylesford Organic, Divine, Thorntons, Lidl, Hotel Chocolat. Fine, very nice. But what really got me going was when we finally arrived at 'my room' - specially reserved for me to perform the important task of cutting up brownies. What a view! I could have stayed in there all evening with maybe the odd dash for supplies. But those fudgey little bites needed to be circulated.

I quite liked being an itinerant producer. I got to float about, waitress style with my tray of joy. They all did seem quite taken by the smashed up eggs, yet when I swooped along there would be this inner ambivalence going on in the choc fans minds. But we've eaten so much already...yet we haven't had any brownies...I don't want to be sick all over this nice could I turn them down though? And on it went until the tray was empty and I had to go back to my gorgeous refuge to replenish.

It was really fun - all types of people from old guard bloggers to new on the scenes. I talked birthday parties with Silverbrow and bicep exercises with Jay Rayner (he's got to come and scoop in the van if he really wants guns to be proud of).

As for the taste of the chocolate, it was a bit of a one man race. I tried a little bit of the rest but how could it ever be any kind of competition when Paul was there with that quality and those flavours?


Kavey said...

Thanks for the link to my blog and sorry I didn't realise until afterwards that you were one of the suppliers rather than one of us lucky guests!
I am hugely regretful that I missed your brownies and hugely grateful for the link to my newbie blog!

Petra Barran said...

No sweat Kavey - hope the blogosphere is treating you well.

See you next time!

Unknown said...

Thanks for the link as well, Petra! It was because of your Twitter than I found out about Chocs Away, and for that, I will be eternally grateful!

Unknown said...

Ooh missed that! I should follow your twitters more to find out whats happening.