The great Sydney chocolate tour
This is a Sydney chocolate tour without the need for a golden ticket and certainly not limited to five people. Being Augustus Gloop may help.
And it has been crafted by self-confessed foodie Myriam Conrie who, since arriving from Paris five years ago, has made a point of finding the best culinary experiences in Sydney.
Her “haut” Sydney Chocolate Tours have more than a little je ne sais quoi.
Quite simply, Conrie gathers small groups to sample Sydney's finest chocolates. Her clients vary from couples wanting a date with a different take, corporate groups or international visitors who are whisked around in mini-vans and chauffered cars.
"Many of my clients are overseas visitors who just want to discover some of Sydney's exciting precincts in a different way, and explore our city's food culture," she says.
“But I also get many people from Sydney who are surprised to discover all these exciting foodie hotspots they didn't know about, right on their doorstep.”
The first stop on this whirlwind Sydney chocolate tour is Coco Chocolate in Kirribilli, surely one of the sweetest secrets in Sydney.
Chocolatier Rebecca Kerswell started out as a graphic designer -- and her illustrative touches are on everything from blocks of its best-selling caramel, sea salt and pine nut chocolate to beautiful gift boxes.
Some chocolates have hand-painted colored cocoa butter designs.
Tasting starts with a small cup of dark drinking chocolate with rose and black pepper. It’s thick and warming -- not too sweet and the pepper gives it a nice kick.
A sample plate of their all-organic chocolates includes hazelnut and sea salt, and some cocoa-powdery chocolate almonds.
Recommended is one of Coco Chocolate’s signature delights -- liqueur cherries. The cherries (real ones, not glacé) are soaked in kirsch for at least six months, then rolled in sugar fondant before being double-dipped in dark chocolate.
Coco Chocolate, Shop 12, 3a-9b Broughton St. Kirribilli, +61 (0)2 9922 4998, www.cocochocolate.com.au
Coffee connoisseurs have been banging on about single origin for some time now. Well, at Kakawa in Darlinghurst, it’s all about single origin chocolate.
Chocolatier David Ralph takes chocolate-hunters through a tasting of some of their prized offerings. First, a smooth and malty milk chocolate made in Belgium, from Indonesian beans.
Next, a dark chocolate from Venezuela via France, which is quite fruity and not at all bitter.
Last but not least tasty, is a lighter dark chocolate from Belgium made with beans from Papua New Guinea -- it tastes of smoked truffles.
Kakawa is one of the only places in Sydney where you can buy single-origin chocolate off the shelf, and they match the different chocolates with other flavors to create truffles, moulded chocolates and pralines.
The top three best sellers at Kakawa are sea-salted caramel truffles, the peanut butter triangle and a strawberry and balsamic vinegar chocolate.
Kakawa, 147 William St. Darlinghurst, +61 (0)2 9331 8818, www.kakawachocolates.com.au
A short walk away on this Sydney chocolate tour, Boon is run by the brother and sister duo of Alex and Fanny Chan, who grew up in the Philippines and moved to Australia in 1990.
Alex is a food scientist and Fanny is the chocolatier.
You can spot their signature chocolate a mile off -- the Mira -- which is a glossy red dome of white chocolate, topped with pepper berries from Tasmania. It looks exquisite and once the sweetness has melted away you’re left with a peppery bite that really lingers.
But the real drawcard here is the upstairs salon, where you can sit and enjoy the Connoisseur Chocolate Set -- a hot chocolate with a matching praline and a glass of chocolate mousse.
Myriam Conrie calls Alex “the intellectual chocolatier," and after reading the descriptions for the sets, you can see why.
The “Caballeros de Manila” is a sweet case in point. According to the menu, it's “Inspired from the famous 19th Century Illustrados, Filipino expats who studied in Europe and integrated the ideas of nationalism in the Philippines.”
Flavor-wise, the hot chocolate has notes of tobacco, coffee, lapsang souchong tea and paprika. It’s so dark and so thick that if you put a spoon in, it actually stands upright -- momentarily.
It’s almost savoury, and tastes as if it would go very well with duck.
Alex describes the sets as a mini-theatre on a plate -- three acts of flavor.
Which rounds out nicely three epic acts of indulgence on this Sydney chocolate tour.
Boon, 251 Victoria St. Darlinghurst, +61 (0)2 9356 8876, www.boonchocolates.com.au
The tours are $199 per person, which includes transport (chauffeured cars or minivans, depending on numbers), chocolate sampling at each destination, chocolates to take home and a light lunch.
For more on Myriam’s Chocolate Tours, see www.mytinerary.com.au