We are very fortunate in Birmingham to have such a thriving scene of independent businesses – a number of these can be found in the charming Great Western Arcade just a short stroll from Hotel La Tour. Among our favourite places to spend a little time here is the dainty and delicious Chouchoute Chocolaterie created by Frenchman Pierre Soualah. Over the last 11 years, Pierre has built a reputation for excellence and legions of fans for his fine quality chocolates, Champagnes and fine wines (all perfect with chocolate of course) plus an impressive range of artisanal French specialities such as jewel-bright preserved fruits, and diamond-shaped calissons.
The chocolates and other goodies are perfectly presented in a distinct boutique-style shop which truly elevates the gifting of chocolate to an art form. You’ll find the most gorgeous textured gift boxes ready to be filled with a selection of your choice and tied with an extravagant bow.
But how to choose and do you know your fine chocolate from your fun-sized Mars Bar? Read on to discover Pierre’s personal sensory guide on how to taste – yes really taste, not just eat – chocolate:
- Sight: the surface of your chocolate should be clear – if it is marbled or carries white patches, the quality will be diminished.
- Sound: break solid chocolate close to your ear before eating. A clear, crisp “snap” is an indicator of fine quality.
- Smell: fine chocolate should smell of cocoa and the aromas or any infusions or blends mixed with it, such as vanilla pod, coffee or cassis.
- Touch: fine chocolate has a smooth, even texture in comparison with mass-produced chocolate which is often rough to the touch.
- Taste: (surely the best of all so we’re going to linger over this one) For maximum enjoyment, enjoy your chocolate at room temperature (18 – 20°C) Let the chocolate melt on the tip of your tongue and experience the texture of the filling and the complementary aromas that fill your palate while you breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Whether fruity, spicy or delicate and floral, the chocolatier’s skill is to create subtle infusions without interfering with the depth and length of the cocoa – the most important ingredient in gourmet chocolate.
Clearly, we are a little bit in love with Chouchoute but don’t take our word for it – find a reason to visit and see what we mean. We are also proud to present all guests staying in our suites at Hotel La Tour with a complimentary box of specially-selected chocolates from Chouchoute.