It’s Chocolate Noodle time! Valentine’s Day Chocolate Tsukemen at Menya Musashi

Is that some chocolate in my noodles?
Is that some chocolate in my noodles?

Yes, that is a piece of chocolate sitting casually nestled among some noodles and vegetables. Popular ramen restaurant Menya Musashi in Shinjuku may be famed for its huge chunks of juicy kakuni pork but it’s not opposed to branching out for a special occasion. Continue reading “It’s Chocolate Noodle time! Valentine’s Day Chocolate Tsukemen at Menya Musashi”

Sarabeth’s Valentine’s Day Chocolate Explosion


Sadly, one thing that Japan does not do very well is chocolate. If you lust over gooey, stodgy brownies that are almost molten in the middle, and eating one leaves you in a near-orgasmic coma for an hour or two, then you’re probably going to be dissatisfied by the average cocoa offering over here. (Of course, everything can be obtained for a price and if you’re prepared to seek it out!)

An abundance of chocolate can be found, however, just before Valentine’s Day. This is a celebration in which, conversely to Western practices, women give chocolate to men. Given that when I have visited any dessert or chocolate cafés/shops, they are almost always exclusively populated by females, I wonder if this practice acts as a form of cultural legitimation that permits men to enjoy chocolate at least once a year.

They say ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’. Well, I can tell you straight away that there is no way in hell (or the entire universe) that I’m giving chocolate away. Oh no, it’s going to go gliding down my greedy gobbling throat. With emphasis on the glugging noises. Continue reading “Sarabeth’s Valentine’s Day Chocolate Explosion”

Choccywoccydoodah, off Carnaby Street

BrownieHow many of you will be giving or given chocolate this Valentine’s Day? It’s a pretty standard gift that ensures that February 14th is sickly sweet in more ways than one. Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate, of course. Just why not give your special someone a little bit more of an imaginative, full-on chocolate experience? You know, a bit of a cocoa thingamabob? Or a sugary whatsit?  Or maybe, some… Choccywoccydoodah?

Yes, Choccywoccydoodah does exist and it will excite even the most chocolate-apathetic among us. Hailing from Brighton, they have now set up a shop and café just off London’s Carnaby Street.

Bunny girl bath
Imagine what would happen if Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory got it on with a fine lady’s boudoir. You get extravagance, flamboyance, weirdness and wackiness all rolled into one. In fact, entering Choccywoccydoodah for the first time will visually overwhelm you. There is too much to take in – it’s an Aladdin’s Cave of all things yummy.

Cartoonish models of bunny girls are interspersed with giant marshmallow lollies, strawberry chocolates, hearts and flowers. It’s so over-the-top and playful that I defy you not to grin and squeal, and start examining all the treasures.

Up the stairs, you will find a small café split on two levels. The centrepiece is a table covered with cakes that are just as extravagant as the décor. At Choccywoccydoodah, the request of ‘just a small slice, please’ is seriously frowned upon. At Choccywoccydoodah, size is everything.

Now that you’ve impressed your loved one with such opulent and ogle-worthy offerings, take a table and order the hot chocolate (£3.50). This is one of London’s best – you can choose from milk, dark or white and it comes with marshmallows, plenty of cream and a chocolate straw. Also on the menu are milkshakes, chocolate fondue and the dangerously sumptuous Choccywoccydoodah sundae.

Hello hot chocolate
There is enough here for your love affair to weather several repeat visit – and it may also be a teeny-weeny bit addictive. A word of caution: the café does get busy so allow yourself plenty of time as you may have to queue. Just remember that all good and pleasurable things are worth waiting for.

So if you really want to impress your loved one for Valentine’s Day, off you trot to Carnaby Street. Choccywoccydoodah will give you all the choccy woccy you need… please save the doodah for later 😉

Where: 30-32 Fouberts Place, off Carnaby St, London,W1F 7PS
When: Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm; Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Article originally published on, which you check out for loads more London food news.


Happy New Year & Festive Food (incl. Paul A Young + Konditor & Cook)

Got beef?
Got beef?

Happy New Year! Hope that you’ve all had a lovely time and – most importantly – that you’ve all eaten lots of delicious food!

Food is the most important aspect of family life in my household and it takes on extra importance at Christmas. Our meal isn’t the traditional turkey: my parents did make turkey one year and I was mildly (read: very) disappointed, not because they’d cooked it badly, but because turkey just isn’t beef. And if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know how much I love beef.

So our Christmas dinner, cooked by Dad, looked like this:

Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

That’s a whole lot of beef, seven vegetables, Yorkshire pudding and lashings of gravy and horseradish sauce. Incidentally, the dinner prompted a discussion about some really great home-made horseradish that we’d had recently… and that would be from Beard to Tail. Worth ordering).

Roast ham with parsley sauce
Roast ham with parsley sauce

On boxing day, our tradition is to have roast ham. With a sugar, mustard coating with cloves. And parsley sauce. All prepared by Mum (yes, my parents take turns at cooking if they aren’t doing a kitchen double act).

I love my parents’ cooking but there’s one thing they don’t do – dessert. But this is no problem at all – not when there are so many tasty sweet treats to be had. I was lucky enough to win some Konditor and Cook goodies from The Little Loaf, a beautiful baking blog where every recipe looks so edible I want to gnaw the screen (seriously, you should check it out). You may know I’m a big fan of Konditor and Cook’s brownies so I was thrilled to try their mince pies, which had gorgeously firm pastry and a rich filling.

Cinnamon stars
Cinnamon stars

Big loves goes to their cinnamon stars. Imagine eating a hot cross bun in a soft biscuit format. That’s what their cinnamon stars are like. They’re probably all off the shelves by now, but if not, go grab yourself a packet and try to stop yourself from eating them all at once.


This Christmas, I was also lucky enough to be given some Paul A Young chocolates. I have been wanting to try these for ages so discovering the box sent me jumping around the room with excitement.

Admire them
Admire them some more!

Paul A Young is particularly famous for his salted caramel chocolates and I can confirm that yes, they are very good. You want to eat them now. Oh yes you do.

I also very enjoyed this cinnamon chocolate, which was beautifully smooth (possibly the orange and cinnamon dark muscovado caramel and gold).

Cinnamon choc
What a cheeky little poser
Cinnamon choc
Cinnamon yummyness

But my heart fell for the Marmite truffle. You read that right – Marmite. I was actually sceptical about the flavour combination because Marmite is not something I’ve ever wanted to put with chocolate. However, Mr. Young’s recipe dispelled all doubts – the Marmite’s tangyness blended seamlessly  with the dark chocolate. So addictively good. I guess you either love it or you hate it 😉

Marmite truffle - love it or hate it
Marmite truffle – love it or hate it

That wasn’t the end of my food-related Christmas presents. My mother bought me a fantastic, top-notch casserole dish from Le Creuset. So far, I’ve only made sweet potato and red pepper soup in it but I’m hoping to branch out and bring you some more recipes soon.

Le Creuset casserole dish with sweet potato & red pepper soup
Le Creuset casserole dish with sweet potato & red pepper soup

I also took a very disturbing selfie with a Heston Blumenthal meat thermometer in which I look like I want to insert it into humans.

Helloooo. I'll take your temperature.....
Helloooo. I’ll take your temperature…..

And aside from being creepy, admiring kitchen equipment and stuffing my face, I did all the usual things such as…

…danced badly round my house to dubstep with my ultimate geek T-shirt – ‘What does the Vulpix say?’…

What does the Vulpix say?
What does the Vulpix say?

…shot a short film in which I aptly played a mad woman with a labradoodle…

My name's Elaine and I love my doggie, Princess Primrose
My name’s Elaine and I love my doggie, Princess Primrose

…and just generally admired nature in the beautiful New Forest.







Review: Verde & Co, Spitalfields AKA That Famous Hot Chocolate Place

The most expensive hot chocolate in London <3
The most expensive hot chocolate in London ❤

Just on Brushfield Street, which runs along the south side of Spitalfields market, is an old-fashioned shop with a wooden front, hanging wicker baskets, and a small bench where weary shoppers can rest themselves… and recharge their batteries with some rather tasty things.

Verde & Co
Verde & Co

Verde & Co is somewhat legendary in London for serving the priciest hot chocolate around. Whilst the store’s quaint charm definitely warrants a perusal,  its fame stems from the cocoa beverage priced at a hefty £5.50 a cup . The hot chocolate is made from Pierre Marcolini chocolate, a luxurious offering from Belgium.

It just so happened that I lived about 30 seconds walk from this store. And it just so happened that my friend, who was recuperating after a stint in hospital, required some quick breakfast magic. The plan was hatched, but the quest short; in under 2 minutes, we were standing outside, peering through the windows.

Verde and Co is deceptive. From the outside, it always looks shut. It’s hard to see through the windows and no light seems to emanate. Yet the inside, despite being small, is bright and not nearly as cramped as this Aladdin’s cave should be.


To say the inside is well-stocked with goodies would be an understatement (scroll down for more pics). The shelves are laden with jams, confectionery, sweets, old-fashioned teapots and beautiful cakes. It is almost too much to take in and requires a leisurely browse – if you can contain your excitement and refrain from trying to examine everything at once.

My friend and I clumsily squeezed ourselves onto tall seats at a wooden counter. In fact, a less generous but more accurate description would be that we groaned, creaked, shuffled and heaved ourselves onto the stalls in a most unladylike fashion. She had an excuse from recent hospitalisation; I was just being… Phoebe. The man behind the counter observed us with concern and bemusement.

“Are you all right?” the man asked.

My friend and I looked at each other and doubled over in fits of manic laughter. We threatened to fall back off the chairs again.

“We’re probably not the best people to ask…”

Bewildered, the man took our orders, which, unsurprisingly, featured two hot chocolates.

The hot chocolate comes in two sizes, which are both priced at £5.50. There is a ‘small’, which is very thick and gives a very intense chocolate flavour, or a ‘large’, which has more milk in it and is slightly milder as a result.

I can verify that both are extremely chocolatey, but if you’re a passionate chocolate fiend such as myself, you should be drinking your chocolate neat 😉

The 'longer' hot chocolate with artful croissant in the background...
The ‘longer’ hot chocolate with artful croissant in the background…

It may have been breakfast but I was not going to be deterred from ordering something to eat. Whilst my friend worked her way through a lovely, light croissant, I ordered a suckling pig and balsamic onion sandwich (medium £6.25) because I can eat absolutely anything in the morning.

I couldn’t verify just how much ‘suckling’ this pig had had, but the sandwich was served on beautifully fresh bread and had that homemade taste that…well, that you really only get at home. So comforting.

Gimme a suckling pig sandwich in the morning!
Gimme a suckling pig sandwich in the morning!

We sat on the bench outside in a cocoa coma, and watched shoppers dip in and out of Spitalfields market. A very good breakfast indeed, and definitely worth splashing out on.

Verde & Co 4.5/5 – Charming, quaint and serving up a pricey, but smooth, rich and delicious hot chocolate.

Where: 40 Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, London, E1 6AG
When: Mon – Thurs 9am – 9pm; Friday 8am – 6pm; Sat & Sun 10am – 7pm.







Salon du Chocolat, Olympia, London October 18 – 20th

Salon du Chocolat

There are very few people in this world who don’t like chocolate. I look at those people with pity, probably much like people look at me when I say I don’t like sweets (yes, I’ve never eaten Haribo or wine gums).

This week has seen Chocolate Week in the UK with many restaurants offering special chocolate menus chocolate afternoon teas and even some chocolate-making classes. To round of this cocoa celebration, Salon du Chocolat, a yearly chocolate show made its début in London at Olympia National Hall in Kensington.

Helloooooooo chocolates
Helloooooooo chocolates
Yes, they are all chocolate
Yes, they are all chocolate

As might be expected, this meant three days of chocolate tastings, demonstrations and classes, and complete chocolate overload. As might not be expected, this involved a chocolate fashion show.

Now, I was sceptical. First of all, chocolate sometimes doesn’t look very attractive. I had a conversation with a friend just the other day about the practice of smearing chocolate sauce in an ‘artistic way’ on dessert plates. He had had hysterics whilst out dining with his girlfriend and her family because it just looked like… well, I’m sure you don’t need a great imagination to determine that.

Secondly, how does one wear something that melts with body heat? I did have a fleeting fantasy of women coated in the stuff, in a purposefully ‘dirty’ way, but my vision was hardly PG.

Cupcake girl

Cupcake girl

As it turned out, there was a fair amount of artistic licence. Each model wore garments that were made of more than chocolate, even if there was a fair amount of chocolate coating (how they solved the melting problem remains a mystery).

I must admit there was something fairly perverse about watching very skinny women parade around in chocolate, but in retrospect, it would be even more perverse if they were humongous. 

Reservations aside, the girls looked gorgeous and maybe just a little lickable. The creativity that had gone into the costumes was fantastic and included not only a cupcake princess but a steampunk-inspired outfit.

Cupcake princess


The range of chocolate and chocolatey products available at the show was impressive. Here are a just a few shout-outs for some of the brilliant things I sampled.

Iain Burnett: The Highland Chocolatier – Velvet Truffle


This is a fresh cream chocolate truffle without a shell and is soooo smooth it could be described as – cliché ahoy – velvet! This creation is guaranteed to unleash a lot of endorphins. For anyone who has tried Japanese ‘nama chocolate’, the taste and texture will be immediately familiar – that’s because Iain spent some time out in Japan and was inspired by these godly creations. They’ve won an Academy of Chocolate Gold Award in 2011 and were finalists in the International Chocolate Awards 2012. Watch this space – nama chocolate is going to take over the world!

Antlers covered in chocolate...
Antlers covered in chocolate…

Melange Chocolate – Raspberry-Rosemary Chocolate Bar

Rosemary goes well with sweet flavours. I love to eat it with butternut squash for example. So why, oh why, has it not been added to chocolate more often? And why not contrast it with the tangy-sharpness of raspberry? Well, Melange Chocolate are geniuses for this one.

Lauden Chocolate – Marc de Champagne and Passion Fruit Chocolates

No preservatives or artificial flavours, these chocolates hit you with pure flavours that are purely overwhelming in depth and subtlety. The Passion Fruit chocolate won Gold at the Great Taste Awards 2010 and I can understand why (I don’t even like passion fruit)!

Ernst Knam – Salted Caramels

It may be hard to go wrong with salted caramels but equally it’s hard to make salted caramels that stand out from the swathes swamping the market. Ernst Knam managed it with these dangerously addictive little numbers. I just destroyed £5 worth of expensive chocolate in under 5 minutes. Such a shame. But so worth it. I think salted caramel should be illegal.

Ernst Knam

Ernst Knam


There were so many traders that this list is definitely not exclusive. Just check out the variety of temptations out below. If you want to visit Salon du Chocolat, make an excuse to go travelling as the fair is touring the world, with dates set for various locations in France, but also Seoul, Tokyo and Lima. More info on their website.

Diving into chocolate
Diving into chocolate
Just me or do these look like condom boxes?!
Seriously delish and very ethical – for every bar purchased, a local farmer plants a tree to increase rainforest diversity. And they pay more than Fair Trade 🙂











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Review: Cocoa Kitchen, Pop-up Tapas Event, September 14th

White choc pesto

Welcome to the age of pop-ups and what a fun age it is. No longer tied to locations, rents, fixed times and dates, anyone with an idea for an event and a good amount of enthusiasm can start entertaining. This means themed events, ranging from Jamaican supper clubs to breakfasts on rooftops. Yet we are also in an age of experimentation, pushing the boundaries of what could be considered food, of what flavours go together. Out of this innovative gastronomic climate, Cocoa Kitchen was born – a pop-up that focuses on using chocolate in all dishes, both savoury and sweet.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, founders Annette Boraks and Jeremy Wickremer met through their shared passion for food. In the winter of 2010, Jeremy was organising a food festival and advertised on Gumtree for event organisers. “I responded on the spot,” explains Annette, “as it was the ideal combination: events, something I am experienced in and enjoy, and food – my true passion!  We met and became friends on the spot.”

This led to a friendship firmly founded in food, but it wasn’t until early 2013 that they decided to organise pop-ups themselves. Their inspiration stemmed from an event on how to organise pop-up restaurants where four entrepreneurs from the dining industry shared their experiences.

“I remember my favourite speaker was Ceviche’s owner, Martin Morales, a Peruvian who came to London and put almost everything he had at stake to open his first restaurant, “ Annette recounts. “His funny and touching life story was what made me believe that anyone can do it. You just need to do it! After the event, Jeremy and I were exploding with excitement and energy. We didn’t even have to say it – it was already obvious we had to do something with that energy.”

Jeremy had already founded Ubuntu Chocolate, and given the general absence of any savoury chocolate dishes, the duo quickly spied a niche. They then invited Rado Andrian to join the team, bringing wine and cocktail expertise to the project. Just four months later, in July 2013, Cocoa Kitchen launched their first event, a three-course dinner. This included Michel Bras’ dark chocolate and blue cheese aperitif and the tantalisingly intriguing combination of white chocolate mashed potato with dark chocolate and sesame tiger prawns.

The chocolate tapas dining event, however, was a more casual affair to match the style of dining. We went along to Kingly Court, Soho, to find an open kitchen with stalls scattered around worktop tables.  Several appetising plates were crammed next to bottles of various beverages and glasses. It was clear that this evening was not purely about the food: it would be an opportunity to talk with other foodies and acknowledge that you were all eyeing up the large saucepan of chocolate melting on the stove.


After some drinks, chit-chat and a lot of self-restraint, we were presented with a bowl of different types of chocolate and Jeremy talked us through the tasting. Needless to say this just whetted our appetites, and we soon were diving into the other tapas dishes.

Some of our favourites included:

White choc pesto

Cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil with white chocolate pesto
The pesto was simply stunning. The chocolate not only sweetened the flavour but added a smoothness that meant it could have been eaten by the spoonful without anything else.


186 edit

Butternut squash, red onion and feta, drizzled with chocolate
Butternut squash and feta is simply one of the best flavour combinations that exists – sweetness and tanginess rolled into one, but the chocolate brought these flavours out even more clearly on the tongue.

Roasted peppers

Roasted peppers stuffed with ricotta, white chocolate, garlic and other secret ingredients
This could never fail as who could resist garlicky, cheesiness with a mild sweetness inside perfectly cooked peppers?

Dates with goats cheese and choc

Perhaps not surprisingly given that their event was attended by some serious chocolate lovers, but the star of the evening was the sweetest: dates stuffed with goats’ cheese, drizzled in chocolate. There is no way that words can do justice to the flavour experience but they almost dispelled the warm, sociable atmosphere as we snatched them off the plates in a desperate frenzy.

The chocolate raspberry and chocolate orange cocktails were equally praiseworthy. They provided the most intense chocolate flavour of the evening – warm, rich and too thick to gulp quickly, tempting though that was. We mingled whilst sipping these, and happily chatted among the embarrassingly numerous piles of discarded cocktail sticks, a testament to just how much everyone enjoyed the food.

People stayed late and the question on their lips on leaving was what would be coming up next. Fortunately, there will be no-one suffering from chocolate withdrawal symptoms: Cocoa Kitchen have big ambitions for the future. As Annette explains, “We would like to regularly host events that gather inspiring and wonderful people, to create a cocoa community, where we share experiences and cool stuff. Practically speaking, we would like to challenge the limited the cooking presents us with, explore new ways of cooking, new ways of using chocolate in our everyday lives.

And who wouldn’t raise a chocolate cocktail to that?

For more information and for future events, head to:

Mushrooms stuffed with parmesan, cocoa powder, rosemary, breadcrumbs
Mushrooms stuffed with parmesan, cocoa powder, rosemary, breadcrumbs
Avocado, chocolate and agave syrup
Avocado, chocolate and agave syrup

Review: Hot Chocolate at Butlers Chocolates, Westfield

Hot choc

Basically this post is just an excuse for some chocolate porn. I stumbled across Butlers Chocolates in Westfield Shepherd’s Bush whilst waiting for a friend and something about the word “chocolate” drew me in – can’t think why! Their hot chocolate was pleasingly thick and not too milky and it comes with a mini-chocolate on the side. I’ve heard the gelato is amazing so I’ll stop by again next time I’m in Westfield!

Accompanying chocolate :)
Accompanying chocolate 🙂

Butlers Chocolates

Where: Westfield Shopping Centre, Shepherd’s Bush, W12 7GG
When: Monday – Tues 10am – 9pm; Wed – Friday 10am -10pm; Saturday 10am – 9pm; Sunday & Public Holidays 11pm – 6pm

Review: Konditor & Cook (Chocolate Brownies Alert!)

The Brownie Bar
The Brownie Bar

I first heard about Konditor & Cook when I spotted it on Time Out’s list of best hot chocolates in London. Being an avid food adventurer and chocoholic, I set off to try this fabled drink.

Hot choc at Curzon Soho branch
Hot choc at Curzon Soho branch

Now, I’ve tried the hot chocolate at both the Curzon Soho (Shaftesbury Avenue) branch and the Time Out-recommended St Mary’s Axe branch, but the hot chocolate didn’t seem particularly special. Maybe there is some other version that I haven’t been lucky enough to sample. What I tried was pleasing but distinctly average if you’re a hot chocolate fanatic.

Hot choc at the Gherkin branch
Hot choc at the Gherkin branch

The real reason why everyone should visit Konditor & Cook is for their brownie bar. You can choose from many different flavours, including the classic Chocolate Chip Brownies, Boston Brownies (cranberries), Fudgepacker Brownies (the frankly dangerous combination of vanilla fudge and salted caramel) and Curly Wurly Brownies (cream cheese and vanilla pods).

What’s more – you can take away THREE of these brownies for a reasonable £5! That’s 3 days of happiness. (HAHA who am I kidding – three hours more like!)

The Fudgepacker - vanilla fudge and salted caramel.  Life doesn't get any better.
The Fudgepacker – vanilla fudge and salted caramel. Life doesn’t get any better.

As for my favourites, this is a tricky one as I think the flavours vary between branches. I thought it was the Fudgepacker as the salted caramel gooeyness was nearly overwhelming when I bought one (or two or three) from the St Mary’s Axe branch. The cream cheese-vanilla was too mild.

However, in a recent visit to the Shaftesbury Avenue branch the Fudgepacker was mildly sticky whereas the creamy gooeyness of the Curly Wurly left me gasping with brownie pleasure.

My advice is…. try ’em all!

Because cream cheese is lethally good...
Because cream cheese is lethally good…

I should mention that Konditor & Cook have a lunch menu of salads, soup and one hot meat and veggie dish of the day. They also have a lot of other rather amazing looking cakes. I will investigate these one day…once I get past my brownie affair.

NB: In case you’re an idiot like me, 30 St Mary’s Axe is actually the Gherkin. So don’t stare at it in puzzlement and march up and down the street. Just walk round the Gherkin and you’ll find Konditor & Cook. And a giant ape might kidnap you. However, if that does happen, try and make sure you’ve got a brownie on you first. That way you can die happy.


Konditor & Cook – Brownies, brownies, brownies, brownies…

Where: Waterloo, Borough Market, Curzon Soho, Chancery Lane, Cake School (Stamfrod Street), The Gherkin
When: Store dependent – see here.

Review: Zaza Gelato Westfield

It was the last one and a little broken. But it was sooo good!
It was the last one and a little broken. But it was sooo good!

Just a quick post for today. I’d bought a Groupon voucher for Zaza Gelato as it offered cake, ice-cream and a hot drink for a bargain of £4.

Unfortunately, the “bargain” was somewhat marred by the fact that it was probably one of the worst ice-creams I’ve ever tried. I think I had stracciatella. I can’t quite remember because the gelato had actually no flavour. It was nothing more than cold sweetness. Mushy, sickly slush.

We were recommended the chocolate chai. Which was wonderful – if you like drinking hot watery milk. Eugh.

However, I can’t even begin to describe how intensely chocolatey and gooey this cake was. So if you’re in Westfield Shepherd’s Bush, pick up one of these for a chocolate kick to get you through your shopping 😉

Zaza Gelato

Where: Canada Place, Portobello Road, Westfield London

More stores opening soon according to their website.