It wouldn’t be a Runawaykiwi holiday without some completely bizarre experience … so let me introduce you to the chocolate butt plug exhibition I went to while in Paris. If your mother is reading over your shoulder it may be a good time to suggest she makes a cup of tea otherwise things could get a bit *awks* #blush.
When I was riding the metro I saw a poster for what I thought was an exhibition called the Chocolate Factory by Paul McCartney. Now I love chocolate, and I don’t find the music of the Beatles offensive so it sounded like something that I would enjoy. I didn’t think much more of it until I was walking off my éclairs and stumbled upon the exhibition.
When I walked up the stairs of the gorgeous Paris mint that housed the exhibition I was confronted by a forest of giant inflatable butt plugs. At this point I began to think that I may have misunderstood the poster. Yeah, not Paul McCartney, but Paul McCarthy the controversial artist. Remember the Christmas tree that got put up outside the Louvre? The one that the worlds media giggled over and said oh those silly French, don’t they know that the tree looks like a sex toy? Well, turns out the French did know, and for Paul McCarthy that was the entire point.
So after the forest of ‘trees’ it was on to the chocolate factory proper, and boy could you smell it. As soon as you walked through the door the smell of coco smacked you in the face and left your mouth watering. The first room is where the assistants (all dressed in red with blond bob wigs) made the chocolate; melting down, tempering and then cooling into molds. Then yet more assistants would take the chocolate…shapes…and move them to shelves in other parts of the exhibition.
Day after day of making and moving 3D chocolate butt plugs and chocolate Santas holding butt plugs. The best part of it was that because this was France there was everyone from children to grandmothers viewing the exhibition and considering its artistic merits, anywhere else in the world those hallowed halls would just have been filled with giggles.
There wasn’t much else to it really, just room after room of shelved chocolate Santas holding their presents for naughty adults. Or good adults depending on your point of view. Some of the rooms also had an audio visual components with a projection over the space showing the artist sketching his Santas and planning the shelves and chocolate making machines.
I was totally down with the quirky art, with the deliberate flirting with controversy, but one thing I could never forgive the Chocolate Factory for is that they didn’t give out any damn chocolate. I was even willing to buy and eat a chocolate butt plug I was so desperate for chocolate, but the only one they had for sale in the gift shop was a full sized one for €80ish. Even after driven mad smelling chocolate for an hour that is too much to spend on a chocolate butt plug. And that ladies and gentlemen is a sentence I never thought I would write.
The lovely people at Lindt sent me a selection box for Christmas, and I….well, I had a few issues. My first was that it was wrapped in heart wrapping paper, which meant I had to create an admirer and now everyone at work is expecting me to bring a broodingly handsome mustachioed graphic designer named Ben to the Christmas party* (I have an overactive imagination when put on the spot).
My second issues is that being a good little blogger I needed to photograph the selection box before I tucked in. But such is my love for Lindt that half the box was gone before I got home. I can’t even blame my co-workers, I fed them the ‘sorry guys, I have to photograph these before they are eaten’ line before secretly scoffing them myself. I can only apologise, and promise that next time I will share**.
But my love for Lindt makes all my issues totally and completely worth it. As well as being my favorite chocolate (and facing the challenge of eating the shell before enjoying the amazing center) it also reminds me of so many good times…
- One of the book shops in Auckland being the only place to stock Lindt when I was a kid, every time we went past Dad would sneak in and buy me just one of the little beauties.
- When I was six asking my Mum for some money to buy Lindt as a Christmas present for ‘someone special’, she thought it was for her and was mighty surprised to see ‘To Rebecca, Love Rebecca’ written on it on Christmas morning!
- Going crazy at all the new flavors when I went on holiday to Sydney, turns out that when you leave them out in the Australian sun they make one hell of a mess when you bite into them.
- Last Christmas when I was feeling down, opening the Lindt chocolate that my parents had sent from New Zealand and feeling instantly at home.
Thank you Lindt for my Christmas present, it was perfect. xx
* If anyone knows a broodingly handsome mustachioed graphic designer named Ben please let me know
**Fair warning, I might not…
Easter eggs are potentially the best invention ever. Who needs sliced bread when you can have the pleasure of cracking a thin chocolate shell and then eating it in one sitting. As a special Easter treat to myself I wandered down to Hotel Chocolat to try one of their gourmet chocolate creations. And that is when I discovered the salted caramel Easter egg sandwich.
Imagine a normal Easter egg (one made of decadent dark and milk chocolate) but sandwiched in between the two halves is another block of chocolate. All studded with salt caramel pieces and drizzled with more salted caramel. Even if we ignore the incredible chocolate, the egg sandwich solves the one problem I have with normal eggs – there isn’t enough chocolate. But with this little treat you get the satisfying crack of the egg with all the chocolate you could ask for.
Words can’t even describe how amazing it was. If you are quick you might even be able to get one in a post-Easter sale. RUN!
Easter is right around the corner, which means one thing … CHOCOLATE. Through some sort of twist of fate, this weekend is the London Chocolate Festival, run by the same kids at the Real Bread Festival. I wandered down to Southbank Centre Square yesterday at lunchtime to check it out.
I assumed (quite cynically) that there would be lots too look at, but not much to eat. However as soon as I rounded the corner I was greeted by a man wearing a massive rabbit head who gave me a caramel and pecan easter egg. It was incredible.
One of the not to miss stall is by Choco Passion who created the works of art above. There were tools in chocolate. Cameras in chocolate Horseshoes in chocolate. Guitars in chocolate. EVERYTHING IN CHOCOLATE. There is always that person at Easter who eggs and bunnies are just not right for – buy them chocolate salad tongs instead.
Another favourite was the ChocoMe stand. On their website you can custom make your dream chocolate bar, but in the Festival they are showcasing some of their best selling and pretty combinations (below).
It was about this time that it started hailing. Three days into Spring and it is hailing on me while I am trying to savour the bitter notes in chocolate. So I rushed to the Rabot Estate stand to warm up. Rabot Estate is my long standing favourite coffee haunt in Borough Market, but for the festival they were rocking a chili hot chocolate. Suitably spiced up, I found some of the non-chocolate offerings including the massive nougat rounds below. Wow.
The festival is on for the rest of the weekend, get down and enjoy!
I saw a post about home made Nutella on Pinterest (sorry I can’t find the original pin!) and it piqued my interest. From my knowledge there isn’t any thing chemically horrendous in Nutella, however I do question the amount of sugar that is in it.
More than anything, it is the flavour that I want to play with. I can eat Nutella right from the jar, but I normally prefer dark chocolate to milk. Is is possible to make a dark chocolate Nutella at home? Yes. Oh my god yes.
I used 100g of hazelnuts and lightly roasted them. After waiting for them to cool I put them in the hand blender and whizzed them until they turned into butter. I know it will seem like it is never going to be more than crumbs, but trust runawaykiwi and keep going. Soon it will be beautiful hazelnut butter.
Melt your chocolate in a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water. I used 30g of 85% proof chocolate – beware only use chocolate that you like the taste of (if you like milk – use milk).
Then add the melted chocolate to the butter and whizz. It will be VERY liquid, but just throw it in the fridge for a bit and it turns into magic home-made Nutella. I.e. like Nutella except with chocolate flavour up the wazoo.
And yes, I totally put it in an old Nutella jar so NO ONE WILL KNOW.
The recipe I saw on Pinterest also added sweetened condensed milk, but I didn’t have any in the cupboard…so nope. To be honest, although it would make it more mourish, the current deep flavour is ideal.
My 100g of nuts made about this much of hazelnut goodness…