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August 16, 2006

Would you eat a garlic chocolate?


How about chocolate blended with Stilton cheese?

Or Marmite?

If you visit Paul A. Young's chocolaterie (above) at 33 Camden Passage in the heart of Islington in London (England), you can.

Young appears to be the world of fine chocolate's 2006 poster boy for Jeff Bezos's memorable words from back in the day on how Amazon would succeed, to wit: "Get big fast."

He only opened his shop four months ago, in April of this year, and already he's succeeded in getting serious ink, for example being featured in this past Sunday's New York Times "Foraging" feature by Colin Cameron.

Here's the Times story.

    Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates

    “There’s nothing you cannot mix with chocolate,” says the owner of Paul A. Young’s chocolatiers in London. In the basement of a Georgian house on Islington’s Camden Passage, a stretch long synonymous with antiques, Mr. Young blends 15 varieties of chocolate with the unexpected — garlic, for example, or Stilton cheese — to produce bespoke treats. And then there are the brownies — always on offer are classic fudge and pecan mainstays, complemented in season by fruit flavors like summer or winter berries or caramelized pears.

    Before opening his shop in April, Mr. Young, 33, worked as a pastry chef at the fashionable Quo Vadis restaurant in Soho. He then served as a consultant to the nationwide chains, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. He decided the space on Camden Passage, surrounded by shops selling vintage clothes and antiques, was meant for chocolates.

    His blends are similarly instinctive. Mr. Young taps the unusual, such as London Ale, to broaden the appeal of his creations. Perfecting a combination of chocolate and garlic took, he confesses, months of trial and error, as did one of chocolate and Marmite, the yeasty breakfast spread that the British either love or hate.


    Mr. Young lives above the ground-floor showroom, which has wooden floors stained the color of chocolate. The interior reflects the shop’s location. The flowers are from adjacent Essex Road or, farther afield, the flower market on Columbia Road. The marble serving slabs are from nearby ceramics shops. A chandelier dates from a previous antique lighting store on the premises.

    Mr. Young uses spices such as rose petal masala and black cardamom; their essential oils help in the blending with French Valrhona and Italian Amedei chocolate (Mr. Young argues that there is too much sugar in Belgian chocolates). Out back, rare herbs like sweet Aztec mint grow in the courtyard. “Maybe the basis for the ultimate chocolate, the one,” Mr. Young says.

    The busiest time for chocolatiers is Christmas to Easter. In summer the shop sells ice cream, including cinnamon, served with — what else? — chocolate sauce in plastic bowls to take away. Fall and winter bring chocolat chaud, a soothing mixture of water, cocoa powder, melted dark chocolate and, sometimes, spices.

    Signature handmade chocolates begin at £4.95 for four, or $9.42 at $1.90 to the pound; varieties change every three days. Recipes are secret. Displays are not labeled, though Mr. Young does identify the Marmite variety — round chocolates dusted with an edible bronze mix.


Below, Young's


Chocolate Pearl Necklace.


Though probably best suited for Hitchcock blonds and their ilk.

FunFact: Once upon a time back in the day Candice Bergen accompanied Alice Cooper's band on tour, taking pictures for Rolling Stone or some such publication.

The band, awed at her icy, jaw-dropping beauty, nicknamed her "Hard Candy."


You can see how that could happen.

August 16, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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I have had garlic and chocolate combined, at the Garlic Festival here in Central VA in the mid-90s. I don't recall hating it.

Posted by: Waldo Jaquith | Aug 17, 2006 1:27:31 PM

Garlic and chocolate are two of my favorite things. Eat them together? Sure I would!! That sounds great. Maybe I oughta try it . . .

Posted by: mandy | Aug 16, 2006 5:48:19 PM

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