During half term Rosie the teen and I took a drive along the blustery Welsh coast to visit Street Food vendor Jon from Providero coffee.
We bought coffee, cake and a minted hot chocolate for the teen and stood chatting about the wonderful local produce we get to source from. We discovered that his chocolate sticks are from somewhere not that far up the road, so decided to drop in and see the suppliers, Welsh chocolatiers Baravelli’s,on our drive back home along the coast.
Our first mistake was going to visit a chocolatiers on Valentines Day…what was I thinking!!? As Rosie and I opened the door of their workshop in Conwy Industrial Park (not the most glamorous place) the smell of sweet cocoa filled our senses. Our eyes lit up as we spied the array of chocolate hearts, truffles, chocolate sticks and cakes laid out around us. Suddenly the teen wrenched the camera from my hand stating firmly that she HAD to take some pictures of their amazing cakes. I let her get on with it as I chatted to Mark, the owner.
I have to admit I was slightly embarrassed. Mark and Emma remembered me from a brief meeting we had a couple of years before at Conwy Honey Fair….my only excuse for not recalling the earlier encounter is that I have a memory like a sieve. When Jon had mentioned Baravelli’s I didn’t make the connection as back then they ran a small delicatessen.
Since that first meeting the deli has closed but the chocolate business which they started in 2010 has grown into the ‘bean to bar’ operation (the first in Wales) and in 2012 they moved into their new premises. Now they are firmly focused on full-time chocolatiering.
Trademarking their Chocstix product (extra-large chocolate shots for stirring into hot milk) is their first priority and rightly so. Although there are other people doing similar products, theirs are larger shots and come in a range of flavours from the straight up milk, white and dark chocolate to all kinds of strange and wonderful combinations…mint, strawberry, caramel, mocha, spiced orange, hazelnut and white rice pudding.
Hhhmmm…well, it did get me thinking about my market stall and whether people might buy proper hot chocolate and I’d prefer to sell the locally made stuff! My customers are a discerning bunch and love to try new local products, so to help me decide what to go for Mark gave me some samples to take home.
The following afternoon my avid team of taste testers had a great time trying our six samples which included, a spiced orange, hazelnut, dark chocolate, white rice pudding, milk chocolate and strawberry.
We all loved the milk chocolate, hazelnut and orange. They were rich and creamy, the flavours were not too intense and they had just the right level of sweetness. Rosie the teen snuck off with the strawberry later that day so I didn’t get a taste…but she declared it delicious. Only two failed to hit the spot. The dark chocolate was rather bitter and not sweet enough for our tastes, but then none of us are big dark chocolate fans and we really weren’t keen on the white rice pudding which had an overpowering nutmeg flavour and was quite sickly. It turned out this view was unanimous, none of my taste test team were very keen.
As for the rest of their products, well I didn’t get to test their truffles or preserves while we were there but if they are half as good as the Chocstix i’d highly recommend them…also, you can call me a silly romantic but a girl could just fall in love with someone who presented her with one of those Valentines creations (instead I spent two days making heart-shaped cupcakes and biscuits with my ten-year old son…at least he’s in tune with his romantic side!)
Baravelli’s website is still under construction but they do have an online shop up and running. You can also call to discuss their products (especially if you want something special for Easter).
They are also planning chocolate making courses…so keep an eye on the website for details (as I will be!)