It’s far too difficult for new chocolatiers to get the attention of people given the mega millions that many international chocolatiers spend on marketing. For me, the future of the British (and international) chocolate market is dependent on new, young “up starts” managing to swim against the tide of commercialisation. So often talent loses out to eye-watering budgets resulting in chocolate being a largely homogeneous product. That’s why I’m pleased to see former Head Chef of The Harp Inn, Old Radford seeing gap in the market in his native Ludlow and deciding to start his own enterprise and a bit more variety.
At just 24 it must be a daunting challenge to leave his job and set up as a chocolatier given that there are a number of other chocolate shops in the area. Being one that tries to promote new chocolate businesses I thought I’d buy a couple of bars from his Daniel Jones Chocolatier website to see what they’re like. Although I do contend that the full test of his talents would be when I get to review his filled chocolates.
Of course Daniel isn’t a chocolate maker, but a “just” a chocolatier so he uses couverture chocolate that I believe to be the well-respected Michel Cluizel in this Orange & Bee Pollen – which was the most unusual of the variety of bars he had listed. Also available is the Tonka Bean (which I’ve got to review later), a 73% Dominican Republic, a Nuts and Seeds, Cookies and Cream, and a Smoked Cocoa Nibs.
One of the biggest challenges I’d say for chocolatiers is often that of the packaging. Even Marc Demarquette admitted that this is the area where he has fallen down on (I believe he’s got some funky plans though). So it’s no surprise that Daniel hasn’t gone down the route of bespoke, professional packaging and instead improvises and has sourced some “wrap-around” card. If this was a well-established chocolatier then I would be critical. But this is a new, young chocolatier trying to make his mark in the world, so I’ll focus more on the chocolate.
It’d be a challenge to make me enjoy milk chocolate with orange flavour, but I actually did like it. The orange flavour is significant but natural-tasting whilst the bee pollen has a musty taste when consumed on its own, but combined with the sweet milk chocolate and the fresh orange zest then it’s certainly not all that pronounced.
There may not be rolling notes of acidity and the milk chocolate in itself may not be something I’d rave about, but when combined with the other two ingredients I found it very enjoyable – it’s the sort of chocolate I’d consume if I’d like to gorge myself on rather than savour every mouthful. If you compare it to the woeful Terry’s Chocolate Orange you’ll be able to tell the two apart. The Terry’s orange has a very faux taste, whilst this bar has a much more, organic, natural flavour which I’m sure would chime with many of you.
I could have mentioned the use of bee pollen as a natural remedy, but seeing as there’s been a big debate about the validity of any claims made, I’ll put any potential commentary to one side, but if anybody has any experience of bee pollen and health then I’d love to hear about it.