Me in the “Szalon” at Mámor Chocolates. Tres glam.
Ah, Australia. The country I spent most of my school years in. Where I grew up drinking Cadbury hot chocolate for breakfast every morning and Milo after school, and eating plenty of Dairy Milk, Old Gold (Bourneville), Mars, Twix and more, in between. It was also the place where, on a school trip to Melbourne, I first tasted Lindt Lindor milk chocolate squares and was hooked on this amazingly, smooth, rich chocolate.
When I moved back to the UK, many years later, I quickly discovered that there was an even wider and more delicious world of chocolate in Europe. Australian cities in the past ten years have been sprouting chocolate shops in a similar manner to London, but with a focus more on chocolate cafes and chocolatiers and, by and large, every chocolatier uses the same Belgian couveture to make their chocolates.
Fresh chocolate truffles at Monsieur Truffe
Last year I visited most of the Melbourne chocolatiers, but I missed a couple and so this March I made it my mission to get to those too. Sadly I was a month too early for the opening of Melbourne’s first bean-to-bar operation by Thibauld Fregoni of Monsiuer Truffe. I did spend a wonderful afternoon with Dr Hanna Frederick of Mámor Chocolates, just around the corner, and popped in to the shiny Shocolate on the same day. It appears the Inner North East is where it’s at for interesting and delicious chocolate in Melbourne.
Shocolate make their chocolates on site and have no plans yet to expand, for now they love being able to keep everything unique and special. They have a range of about twenty chocolates and a handful of patisserie. The chocolate truffles include a vegemite ganache (it didn’t hold a candle to Paul A Young’s Marmite truffle – maybe because I like Marmite and don’t like vegemite? See, I am English). It was still a nice chocolate, the vegemite being extremely subtle, just lending a gentle savouriness to the chocolate. The passionfruit centre of their hard shell truffle was superb, zingy and fresh. The staff are lovely, the making of the chocolates is a great show and it’s a comfortable, modern and clean cafe to while away some time, with good coffee by the looks of things, too.
Mámor Chocolates, where I spent the first few hours of my day (after a morning coffee and Bircher Muesli at the excellent Proud Mary Cafe in Collingwood) is completely unique from any other chocolatier I have been to, and totally gorgeous. Rather than a shop open every day, Mámor is a salon available for private afternoon tea bookings and Hanna will make chocolates for private and corporate clients as well.
For now the shop is open to the public for a few hours on Friday and Saturday. It is secreted away off the main shopping drags of Collingwood amongst some unassuming buildings. It is definitely worth seeking out during their limited opening hours to try a couple of Hanna’s delicious chocolates. These were the nicest truffles I tasted in Melbourne. I’m not sure quite how she does it, given she appears to be using the same couverture chocolate as all the other Melbourne chocolatiers. It could be the fastidious cleanliness and organization of her chocolate room out the back, or perhaps it’s some magic in the love and care that goes into making each piece. I don’t know, but somehow the shells seemed to better complement the centres. Hanna gave us a selection to take away, as well as some delicious strawberry muffins. The salon is glamourously decorated in gold and red, the perfect private boudoir to book for a civilized (or not so!) party. Hanna herself is a fascinating host with hundreds of stories to tell but, if you prefer, she will stay out of your way, just making sure your cups and trays stay topped up. Her strawberry muffins were particularly delicious, too.
There are a million more shops I could talk to you about, but for now I would really love to hear what resident Melburnians have to say as it’s not always fair to judge places on quick visits and limited sampling. Please look around the site and add your comments to the shops we have listed or let us know if we’ve missed any!
One last exciting thing to look forward to: a few weeks ago in London I met up and had dinner with Grant, the Head of Operations at Koko Black and he kindly invited me to visit the factory when I’m back Down Under next, so that should be another fun insight that’ll I’ll be sure to blog about. It sounds like there’s some fascinating things going on in their head office and in their kitchens. I can’t wait.