I spotted the purple building on the corner of Broadwick and Wardour Street in Soho. I had read that the best hot chocolate was served at Paul A. Young, and here I was. I eyed the hot chocolate as I walked in the door. The dark liquid simmered as the chocolatier stirred it. Onlookers peered through the window – in awe of what was brewing.
As I stepped in I was reminded of a scene from the movie Chocolat (2000). The room was decked with chocolate. It made me think of Johnny Depp’s character – his favourite treat had been the chocolatier’s hot chocolate.
I tentatively surveyed the pot of chocolate. A curious customer ordered a hot chocolate with a sprinkle of cardamon. I watched as the woman behind the counter smiled and walked over to scoop up the sweet liquid. After several spoonfuls the cup was full. She opened up the jar of cardamon and sprinkled the light brown spice delicately onto the hot chocolate before stirring it.
It was my turn next.
I placed my order and watched closely as she stirred the liquid before scooping it up with the silver ladle.
“Would you like some spices in your hot chocolate?” she asked in a sweet British accent.
I asked what she would recommend. “There are a few popular combinations. Ginger and cayenne pepper chilli, otherwise cinnamon and nutmeg for a Christmassy warmer feel. I suggest you mix it up – try the cinnamon and cayenne.”
I happily obliged. A few minutes (and £ 3.95 later) I took a gulp of the warm liquid. I could immediately taste the spices which danced on the roof of my mouth. The hot chocolate was thick and intense. It’s made the way traditional Aztec’s did – with no dairy added. Instead, it is powdered chocolate mixed with hot water and other spices. No artificial preservatives added.
It is so worth it! It warmed me up immediately on such a cool day. I started stripping my multiple layers off in the shop. The conversation was hearty. I got a few good hints of what more to do in London.
I waltzed out of Paul.A.Young – sated with life.