Quite strangely ‘5th Dimension’ was the name of the second internet company I set up – way back in 1998 (yes I am getting on a bit). Back then my focus was firmly on making as much money from the t’interweb (as it was called in Somerset then) as I possibly could. Today my goals may have softened but my ambitions are firmly focused in the world of chocolate: exploring and appreciating as much great chocolate as I can. I am part way there, and thankfully further down the ‘would like to try more’ path with these chocolates.
Russell, the man behind the 5 Dimension Chocolatierie, has had a similar route – also being drawn into chocolate after doing other things. So it’s great to see what people who haven’t started at a young age, can actually achieve. When I talk to chocolatiers I always stress the importance, I believe, in being unique but not so outlandish that people see you, or your chocolates as a gimmick – be inventive but not unapproachable. And that’s what I believe Russell has nailed here. His chocolates have a futuristic appeal with the angular shapes accompanying classic domes and spheres.
I began my exploration through the 5th dimension with the ‘Venice’ – a combination with cinnamon and hazelnut. The issue is here that I’m eternally tainted by Cadbury’s hazelnut whirl – especially this time of year. I just can’t go near them. The cinnamon certainly played its part to markedly differentiate this creation with that archetypal mass-market affair but I was left chomping at the bit to try the other chocolates – especially as I had a sneaky taste of the ‘Reims’ – the Marc de Champagne truffle earlier on which was full of flavour and utterly delightful.
Earlier in the day I had knocked back a couple of Booja Booja Marc de Champagne truffles to sweep away the cobwebs, but what it actually did was prove how superior Russell’s were. Of course there was a prominent sweetness, but the freshness and clarity of flavour is what really made these stand out.
The ‘Reykjavik’ was the perfect foil for the previous two. The flavours were mellow, like low-lying winter mist gently moving up from a gently flowing river. It also has the smoothness of texture, together with that pristine, melted-snow, flavour that was just perfect.
From the other selection we had a ‘Meaux’ which was a sublime whole-grain mustard ganache. I’m an absolutely huge fan of mustard as it is, and I’m afraid but our East-Anglian friends must admit that the French make better mustard than over that side of the country – at least from what I’ve tasted. At first your taste buds go searching for the flavour than it sneaks up on you like Assassin’s Creed. Simply wonderful.
At first I thought the ‘Penang’ was Stilton chocolate, but actually it’s a reed grown in South East Asia (so the brilliant menu informed me). But that’s just my taste buds playing tricks on me. The combination of the Grenada chocolate and its spice notes combined with unusual ingredient made it taste that way.
The ‘Bangkok’ was bloody amazing. If you wanted to know what it was, it’s a caramel incorporating mango and passion fruit and is actually one of very few caramels that I’ve actually very much enjoyed this year. There’s this balance of sweet, fruity and some direct spice which actually leads me back into the box looking for another. Damn, I NEED another!
The ‘Marrakesh’ is a combination of mint and lemon and, ooh I love it. I really do wish the mint lasted longer as it’s just an utterly fantastic herb. For me the chocolate kicked in too early. I know others would be appreciative of that, but I just adore mint. The lemon, actually, was a touch muted in comparison. Again, I’d love a box of these!
Basil is another fantastic herb and here it’s combined with lemon to form the ‘Genoa’ and just so brilliantly refreshes the palette. It really is wonderful. The unusual basil flavours hangs in the air and pulls the socks of the lemon/sugar combination up – but it never actually makes it. The basil dominates – and it’s all the better for it.
And lastly I finish on the raspberry liqueur which really provides the ‘pudding’ to the whole affair. If chocolate could be an experience this is it. You’ve got the apéritif in the form of the Marc de Champagne, the starters, with the spruce served with wholegrain mustard and Penang then the main course with the mint and basil then the pudding and digestif all rolled into one with the raspberry liqueur.
The issue I feel many people have is that if you don’t see a chocolatier mentioned in the Observer Food Monthly or in the Times, or wherever, then they can’t be good. This is utter rubbish. There are so many fantastic chocolatiers about that don’t get the attention, and plenty that do but don’t deserve it. 5th Dimension does. Not only because they’re imaginative, informative, but also because they taste so good.