Chocolate Judging with Bean to Bar Britain

Now I have a very very sweet tooth, and I do like chocolate.  I sometimes think my specialised subject on Mastermind would be chocolate bars - from Cadbury's Boost to Nestle's Yorkie, Rococo's Violet Chocolate Bar to Bendick's Bittermints, Lindt's Dark Chilli Chocolate to Willie's Cacao Luscious Orange, I am a fan of chocolate in all shapes, sizes and flavours.And, as this week is Chocolate Week (it really is, look it up), it seemed an appropriate time to seek out some new sweet stuff.So off I trundled to the Bean to Bar Britain pop-up shop in Southwark which is open for just this week.I was particularly interested in this pop-up as it is dedicated to raising the profile of craft chocolate makers in the UK, so all the chocolate is made in Britain, with some very familiar names including Willie's Cacao, to others I had never heard of such as Dormouse chocolate.The pop-up shop is tucked away just off Marshalsea Road, and I was completely enchanted. Matthew Lindley has put the shop together himself, and prior to this week he has travelled all over the UK visiting chocolate makers, learning about their particular craft. For this week he is selling their chocolate in the shop and hosting chocolate themed events.I went along for the 'Just For Fun Judging' event in which we tried 12 anonymous squares of award winning chocolate from different makers, and rated them one by one on their appearance, aroma, texture, finish and most importantly flavour.It was great fun, and Matt is hugely knowledgeable, he explained all about tasting chocolate, and what you should be looking for whilst judging, and we all got into the swing of it.  I loved the anonymous element to it, with no pre-concieved judgements on a brand, we tried all sorts from bitter darks, to carmelly milk chocolate, to a delicious unroasted dark bar.  The only information he gave us was whether it was a milk or dark, if it was over 80%, if it was 'unroasted' and if it had had flavours specifically added to it, ie coffee or mint.We judged and with lots of discussion decided as a group whether each chocolate was worthy of a bronze, silver or gold award and at the end Matt gave us some surprising results - our palettes are perhaps not yet as finely tuned as the official chocolate judgers!  My favourite was the 85% Porcelana bar by Chocolate Tree, a really (I think!) smooth dark chocolate bar, which is made in Scotland.The shop is open for this weekend, so do pop along, you will learn lots! There are lots of chocolate bars to buy and they have hot chocolate on offer too, so there is something for everyone.Thank you very much for having me along Matt!Alice xxx

The pop-up is at 14 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL