The weeklong yoga workshop with yogi David Swenson – the rockstar of Ashtanga yoga — and his equally fabulous wife, Shelley Washington, behind me, I returned to Paris, unpacked, repacked, and immediately hopped the 6:43 a.m. Eurostar to London, naturally first grabbing a croissant and café at Paul at the Gare du Nord for the 2:29 hour journey.
After dropping off my suitcase at my hotel, I headed to Notting Hill, and went straight to Melt, where they make fresh, handmade chocolates each day.
I’m no pushover when it comes to chocolate, and living in Paris, I’m surrounded by more than a few not too shabby chocolate shops.
But there is nothing like Melt in Paris.
The Sea Salted Praline (shown above) is the best chocolate that I’ve ever tasted. You bite into its crisp dark chocolate shell, crunch down on the hazelnut, and into the the dark chocolate ganache.
There’s also this other little chocolate, the award-winning Sea Salt Caramel, a round bon bon that once you bite into its hard dark chocolate shell reveals a creamy, caramelly, salty center that’s pretty fab.
But that’s really only part of the chocolate story here. There are Chili Cubes, dark chocolates spiked with Bird’s Eye chiles; Green Tea Bon Bons, and chocolates with rosemary, jasmine, bits of raspberry, cinnamon, blueberry, and fresh coconut, too. And many, many others, including chocolate cubes on sticks, meant to be dunked into hot milk, to make your very own hot chocolate. As if you won’t eat the hunk of chocolate before you get home.
Melt makes small batches of around 18 different chocolates daily in an open kitchen in the back, which gives the little store a very homey feel. There are square teak trays and tongs for you to pick your very own mix. (In other words, none of that French chocolate shop elitism – Don’t touch the chocolates! Let the uniformed sales people do that! – going on here.)
Louise Nason, a former print specialist at Christie’s, opened Melt three years ago when she realized that the gastronomic scene in London lacked a good, handmade chocolate shop. Her idea was an instant hit, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s located in one of London’s coolest neighborhoods (Sienna Miller, Elle MacPherson, Stella McCartney, Bjork, and Robbie Williams live here).
“Literally, we have people knocking on our doors for caramels,” she says.
Before the caramel-hoarders arrived, I stuffed my pockets with the gooey palm-sized dark chocolate ones, and still have two left. However, my box of chocolates is already empty. I’m planning another trip London soon.
59 Ledbury Rd., London