In the New Forest in Hampshire, southern England, it’s the norm to find ponies, cows and many a grookle with camera in hand, wandering across the roads and along village streets. In fact free roaming ponies, donkeys and cows are everywhere and are a real delight to see.
So when this grookle (the term used by locals for tourists) visited the New Forest last weekend I wasn’t surprised by the numerous animals I had to drive around or by the goose that was causing havoc with the traffic. We tried (but failed) to herd her out of the road back into a garden but she was having none of it and insisted on following my Dad wherever he went for the next hour or so! I was surprised, however, when walking through the very pretty village of Beaulieu to see a herd of cows and sheep in a shop window. Not real ones of course. These were made of chocolate!
I had stumbled upon a delightful little chocolate shop filled from floor to ceiling with every size, shape and flavour of home-made chocolates known to woman (or man) kind. Beaulieu Chocolate Studio has been making contemporary hand-crafted chocolates, as well as local specialities, since 2006 carrying on the tradition of hand-made chocolates established in the village in the eighties. Chocolates for every occasion festooned every nook and cranny and with Easter just a week away delightfully decorated white, milk and dark chocolate eggs filled many of the shelves.
There were New Forest Heather Honey Truffles, made with fresh double cream ganache, sweetened with local New Forest honey and covered in milk chocolate or maybe you’d prefer the finest quality Australian Stem Ginger encased in 70% bitter Dark chocolate shell or the Epernay Champagne Truffles made with Marc de champagne and fresh double cream, moulded in white chocolate or perhaps the studio’s speciality, New Forest Bark, a sweet dark chocolate with toasted almonds. Heaven!
To one side of the shop front there is a large picture window through which you can watch the chocolates being made. I was lucky enough to be allowed into the workshop itself to meet chocolatiere, Trevor and when I stepped inside the most delicious smell of the darkest chocolate enveloped me! Of course this is their busiest time of the year and Trevor had been rushing around making the chocolate eggs that so many of us enjoy each Easter. He showed me how this was done by filling a mould with melted chocolate, tapping out the excess and tipping out the chocolate eggs, which are then allowed to cool.
I wish I could post a sample to each and everyone of you so that you too could taste just how delicious these chocolates are but alas, I can’t. So I will simply wish you all a very ‘Happy Easter‘ and if, like me, you live in a country that takes a few days off work to celebrate, enjoy your Easter break (and your chocolate be it egg shaped, rabbit shaped or indeed cow or even sheep shaped.)
This weekend my Jewish friends will also be celebrating ‘Passover‘ and I believe Hindus will be observing ‘Hanuman Jayanti‘ and Japanese Buddhists the flower festival of ‘Hana Matsuri‘. I wish you all a very happy weekend.
I’d love to hear how you celebrate Easter (or indeed any of these festivals) in your country. Here’s a link to an Austrian Easter.
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