Why chocolate for your Valentine?
So, why do we give chocolate to our Valentine?
Well, firstly a snippet of history…
To understand why chocolate is important to our modern Valentine, we should look at a little history. Chocolate was prized luxury for millennia by ancient tribes in Mesoamerica. As legend goes, the cacao tree was brought to earth by the god Quetzalcoatl from heaven, on the beam of light from the morning star, after stealing the plant from paradise. The drink was so worshipped as heaven sent, it was said to have been served to the emperor in golden goblets that were thrown away after one use. Food of the gods indeed….
By the 15th century, cacao was important enough to be used as currency by the Aztecs as well as for culinary purposes as luxurious drinks. The cacao was blended with musk and spices and known as Chocolatl (meaning bitter water) and the sticky white outer pod fermented into an alcoholic drink. Christopher Columbus brought beans back to Spain in the 16th Century and within 100 years, it captivated the whole of Europe. Even the Bishop of Rome decreeing that religious fasts were not broken if chocolate was drunk.
However, the bitterness of chocolate was less appealing to sweet European tastes, so honey, vanilla and black pepper were added to make a richly potent mix. In 1815, a Dutch chemist, Coenraad van Houten, created new methods of chocolate production and this was the springboard for our modern flourishing chocolate industry. The British now spend more on chocolate than any other country in Europe.
Our national love of chocolate…
In our cultural psyche, chocolate has long symbolised affection, love, luxury and passion – but also friendship, warmth and partnership. Clearly, it’s the natural Valentine’s gift for the person you love. Being British, there is a deeply nostalgic well of love for purple wrapped bars at your local newsagent. But these are reserved to satisfy naughty treats and sugar fixes. The taste is the memory of childhood and the comforting familiarity of each wrapper. But as adults, we show our love through thoughtfulness, quality and individuality of gifts. The same definitely applies to giving chocolate.
Importantly, the source of the gift is as important as the quality….
In the same way that a plastic wrapped bouquet of flowers from the garage up the road is not going to cut the mustard in the charm stakes…however pretty the bouquet. Magic is woven by buying chocolate made by real people who use their skill and imagination to make exquisite delights.
So, over to Mike Noble of expert chocolatiers, Noble and Stace….
Mike and his partner, Mike, are thoughtful creatives who ran a delightful B & B where they specialised in home baked bread, pastries and cak
es for breakfasts and afternoon teas. After stepping back in 2015, they settled in the small village of Easebourne, West Sussex. Inspired by their love of chocolate, they retrained as chocolatiers and carefully developed their craft. From there, they tested their learning on lucky friends and family until they were happy with their creations.
For Noble & Stace, the chocolate experience is about giving something unique. The unique factor is that each chocolate variety is hand-crafted in small batches, which really is the true meaning of artisan. The fillings are perfected using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible, which creates interesting food partnerships in the local food and drink community.
Mike Noble is passionate about his craft and combining the need to support local producers…
Locally crafted produce sometimes attracts comparisons between the cost of handmade chocolates and global brands but as Mike points out ‘they can’t make a box of truffles on Monday for a customer to buy….in their local shop on Tuesday!’ Freshness is key to vibrant flavour and paying a little more means the gift is so much more personal than pleasing international shareholders; you’re giving an inventive, fresh produce that you won’t find in any supermarket, which is also the combination of years of development from each producer involved in each part of the ingredients.
For Mike and Mike, Valentine’s Day being one of their most important days, then they have produced a new range of exciting heart-shaped chocolates.
- Sussex Sparkling Wine Truffles
- Salted Caramel and Honeycomb
- Classic Dark Chocolate Orange Confit
Find these tucked into our Valentine’s Hampers or to buy individually for a discerning chocolate lover.