SAY the word chocolate and 99 per cent of the population will probably start salivating just at the mere thought of it.
So you can only imagine the response that the words “chocolate week” elicit.
Chocoholics the UK over will be foaming at the mouth between October 14 and 20 as the country joins forces to celebrate its love for the white, milk and dark treats.
And the calendar of special Chocolate Week-themed events would not be complete without an offering from the Capital – one which will see those with a sweet tooth firmly placed in chocolate heaven.
One Square at The Sheraton has devised a special sweet and savoury afternoon tea designed to tickle the tastebuds of chocolate lovers.
“There are a lot of chocoholics out there so there are definitely going to be people who really like this concept,” says Ryan Macfarlane, executive sous chef at One Square. “We have really pushed the boat out with this menu – even the sandwiches have chocolate in them.”
Using luxury French chocolate-maker Valrhona, the pastry team at One Square has created sandwiches including Scottish smoked salmon served with orange, chilli and white chocolate mayonnaise on a Viennoise roll.
“Afternoon tea is quite a big thing,” Ryan adds. “It’s very popular and less about rushing and more about people sitting for a few hours. Sometimes they sit for longer than they would during an evening meal – it’s a great thing for people to do when they’re out having a catch-up.
“Preparing this menu for Chocolate Week has been a great opportunity for us to showcase what we do here.”
So proud are Ryan and his team of the themed afternoon tea, it will be offered well past Chocolate Week, up until the end of November.
The Whiski Rooms, on North Bank Street, is hosting its own sampling session on October 19 but – as you might expect – this comes with an added kick.
Four chocolates made by a local chocolatier – Bruntsfield’s Coco Chocolate – will be paired with four malt whiskies, after “painstaking” research carried out by the restaurant staff.
“That was a lot of fun,” laughs general manager Gareth van Rooyen. “We were sitting round a table with a whole bunch of whiskies and a whole bunch of chocolate – it was a hard job! We tried various contributions until we felt that we got a good matching that would suit a wide variety of tastes.”
Although whisky and chocolate are often paired together, Gareth explains that the selection he and his staff plumped for is a unique take on the norm.
“Whisky is something which is often perceived as an old man’s drink,” he says.
“Garry [the assistant manager] and myself do all we can to break this image – we joke with our groups and get the banter going to ensure our customers have a good time, whilst getting all the info required.
“Most people when they pair chocolate with whisky choose a heavy cocoa dark chocolate. We wanted to be a bit different so we have mixed that up.”
Pairings include a 10-year-old Glencadam single malt and white chocolate with raspberry infusion, and a 10-year-old Talisker single malt with dark chocolate with haggis spices infusion.
Over in Bruntsfield, chocolatiers The Chocolate Tree and Coco Chocolate are also holding special events.
At Coco Chocolate on October 18, author Luba Lesychyn will be reading from her book, Theft By Chocolate, a museum heist mystery about a woman looking for chocolate, love and an international art thief.
Free talks and tastings will be held on October 15 and 16 at The Chocolate Tree where chocolate fanatics can learn all about the production process “from bean to bar”.
“Chocolate makes people feel great instantly,” says Ali Gower, owner of The Chocolate Tree, which has been operating in Bruntsfield for the past four years. “That’s what’s given us the motivation to do what we do. That and the fact that we can have a really positive impact on the people making the cocoa.
“It’s a sweet food that has a lot of health giving properties, as well as the feel-good factor.
“The serotonin levels in chocolate are similar to the kind of chemistry you feel when you fall in love.”
For more information about all the Chocolate Week events, and to book tickets, visit www.chocolateweek.co.uk.