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Chocolate Fest at the Royal Garden Hotel to celebrate Chocolate Week

What is it about chocolate that everyone loves a little piece? From the white milky bar kid to ‘… all because the lady loves ….’white, milk or dark chocolate. A recent evening at the Park Terrace Restaurant at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington proved that chocolate in whatever guise, Easter egg, truffle, filled with gnache, or produced as a hot chocolate soufflé still has that allure that most cannot deny.

In front of their chocaholic audience, the two chefs, Head Chef Steve Munkley and Pastry Chef Nick Hollands demonstrated (in many examples) a ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’ to show how easy it is to make chocolate cases, Easter eggs, chocolate sauce, chocolate ribbons to decorate Easter eggs or extremely fragile stick chocolate lattices (actually, like most things in life, once you were shown how to do this, it was remarkably easy – but since this was not the Generation Game and we didn’t actually have to do anything apart from eat, I can say this with confidence). As suspected there is a chocolate which could be deemed ‘good for you’ and that is the dark chocolate, especially the 100%, due to the lower sugar content. The worst for you, (with apologies to the Milky Bar Kid) is the white chocolate as too much sugar is added. The stronger the cocoa percentage the better for you.
After our 1.5 hours of instruction on all things chocolate we went through to the dining room for our four course chocolate extravaganza. This comprised …..yes, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. This was definitely not the place for the diabetic. Fabulous evening as it was, I did wonder if it should come with a hotel health warning – ‘not suitable for those with high regard for insulin levels, or those intending to fit into a wedding dress in the near future. For everyone else, this evening is highly recommended’.

The courses comprised Milk Chocolate Parfait, Raspberry and Chocolate Macaroon; White Chocolate and Coffee Tart with marbled Chocolate Ice-cream; Dark Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Flake and Orange Mascarpone and the most sublime Hot Chocolate Soufflé with warm Cherry Bakewell. I had this years ago at Reids Hotel in Madeira, and have never found another which came close, but on this occasion it reminded me of that glorious evening many years ago.

I hope the Royal Garden Hotel repeats this chocolate extravaganza event – the chefs, extremely experienced and willing to share their professional tips were excellent as a double act, the audience who started the evening upon arrival with one of the strongest chocolate cocktails I’ve ever tasted, all thoroughly enjoyed both the presentation and the dinner afterwards.

Chocolates are not just for Valentines – as was (apparently) proved by Casanova who preferred chocolate to champagne. Eat your heart out Charlie.

The Chocolate Dessert menu is available in Park Terrace Restaurant until the 14th October for dinner only.
Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, London W8 4PT
www.royalgardenhotel.co.uk / 020 7937 8000

Images & copyright:  Lucy Elliott, www.lucyelliottphotography.com

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Fireworks

Sadly Kensington doesn’t put on a public pyromaniacs delight for Fireworks, so we went to a friends flat in a large garden square in Maida Vale. A fantastic display accompanied by the requisite ooohs and aaaahs from both children and adults alike. It’s the one evening where adults can legitimately pretend to be children again (albeit with a flask of whiskey rather than coke).

Adventure in W8: Abseiling from the Roof Gardens

Today eight intrepid folk from Kensington’s networking group, BNI Kensington, abseiled from the Roof Gardens in a bid to raise money for Elizabeth Finn, a charity devoted to helping to alleviate poverty. Sam Branson (son of) led the way, looking very confident. He is however, apparently, used to rock climbing. Some of the others though clearly were not. Emotions ranged from very confident – ‘I’m just going for a quick sail down to M&S’, to others who were truly terrified. Legs shaking. My legs were also shaking, being a further one storey up from the abseilers and let me tell you, this is a tall building – amazing views over Kensington, but the expressions on their faces were equally amazing……

Raising money from BNI Kensington were Jo Eccles (legs really were shaking), Tom Simnet and Jason Cobine (joking with SB), Mike Kammerling, Matthew Woodthorpe (just checking to see how far down it was), Bernd Radashitzk, Andrew Lamont (interviewed by the press as he landed) and Karen Haller (interviewed/photographed by other local press).

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