December 9, 2009
My friend Katy Regan and I went on our second mini-break recently. Mini-break number one was to Barcelona in the summer of last year, this time we decided to take in Tallinn. In both cities we did hours of walking but Tallinn by comparison is much, much smaller and more compact than Barcelona and easier to navigate around, although I wish I hadn’t insisted on wearing heels all the time – not the best choice of footwear for cobbled streets, stylish but silly.
Luckily for my feet we took lots of minimini-breaks within our mini-break and stopped off for many hot chocolates. And when I say hot chocolate it really is chocolate – made from melted chocolate, thick and gloopy. Sensibly, when we visited the Chocolaterie Cafe in the tucked away courtyard off Vene street, we stuck to just eating chocolate – white, dark, chili, nutty, fruity plus a piece of (savoury) quiche thrown in – rather than eating and drinking chocolate, that would have been greedy. We sat (and ate) in the softly lit, cosy establishment, furnished with comfy sofas, velvet throws, burgundy tablecloths and tassled table lamps for quite a while – a great setting for writing one’s novel, Katy said (her second – we’re so proud – the first one is called ‘One Thing Led to Another’).
The first chocolate drink was consumed by the Mayans over 2,000 years ago – cocoa beans were ground and mixed with water, cornmeal and chili peppers.…….today there is a multitude of hot chocolates all around the world. You have the really thick cioccolata densa in Italy, Mexican hot chocolate made from semi-sweet chocolate, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla, there are particular brands of breakfast hot chocolate in France and a pudding-like consistency is traditionally favoured by the Spanish. Here in the UK, similar to the US, a thin version consisting of cocoa powder, sugar and dry milk made with hot water is prolific – in Starbucks you can get a ‘skinny hot chocolate’ – no fun hot chocolate, that’s what I call it and nowhere near as satisfying as the buttery liquid dessert we enjoyed at the New Art Museum Kumu in chic Tallinn, made directly from a bar of chocolate. I consumed 1.5 of these gluttonous treats, Katy just 0.5.
So where in the UK can you find equally decadent delights ? Coco Chocolate in Edinburgh produces a luxurious selection of organic chocolate and offers the delectable drink with high cocoa content and all of the necessary cocoa butter, the West Winds Yorkshire Tearooms serve frothy Green and Black’s hot chocolate, with milk, there’s the nationwide Hotel Chocolate whose motto is ‘Less sugar, more cocoa’ or if you pop into Travel PR, we can offer you a mug of hot chocolate, thanks to Galaxy! Mika Bishop.