Last weekend in London, I made a long-awaited trip to Artisan du chocolat's shop and chocolateria in Notting Hill. With a total of three shops in the city, the Notting Hill branch was top of my list as it is the only one that serves their chocolate and salted caramel tart, cold cacao pulp juice and a selection of chocolate cocktails. Not sickly sweet, cloying affairs, but four classics reworked into perfectly balanced, chocolatey sophistication.
The mission was born last Christmas when, hunting for family gifts, I discovered Artisan's original salted caramels, created in 2003 for Gordon Ramsay’s menu at Claridges: a sweet liquid caramel with a pinch of untreated grey salt from the French island of Noirmoutier (harvested by hand from clay marshes since medieval times), captured in a cocoa dusted shell of intense dark chocolate. They remain the company's bestselling chocolate. And deservedly so. Much copied, but not equalled.