We’re fast approaching the time of the year when it’s totally acceptable to eat chocolate for breakfast (if you disagree then we’re probably not friends), so what better excuse to check out the new home of Zara’s chocolate shop? Zara’s used to nestle in the centre of North Street and share a shop with Ivory flowers (who incidentally did a lovely job on our wedding flowers 3 years ago). Both Mr TGE and I would pop in from time to time to pick up a little box of salted caramels (they really are to die for. Or kill for. I would probably do both.) But Zara’s has recently moved to it’s own premises a little further down the road and expanded to become a hot chocolate haven. No really, they have a three page hot chocolate menu. So as the weather turned colder it seemed only sensible to pop along and try it out.
Back in October I enlisted the help of a fellow Mum pal and her tiny person to come and give the menu a try. Much as I hate to admit it, three pages of hot chocolate options is a bit too much just for me, backup was needed. The shop is attractively lined with tempting treats and you can peek into the chocolate workshop at the back to see them being made. We settled ourselves into the window seats where our offspring immediately began trying to destroy anything within reach but eventually settled for leaving tiny hand prints all over the window. This gave us time to peruse the menu. Mum pal opted for one of the classic options from the ‘long’ section of the menu (£4 for a pot for one or £7 for a pot for 2) and went for the spiced orange. I couldn’t resist the lure of the slightly pricier ‘specialities’ menu and chose the ‘dark caramel crush’ for £5.
Both came presented beautifully and with ceremony in hand-made pots with bowl like mugs that ached to be filled. Alongside the drinks we were given sides of chocolate pieces (you can never have too much chocolate), a jug of water and pillow like marshmallows. After swiftly moving everything out of smashing distance of tiny hands (which proved easier said than done) we set about pouring the thick chocolate out and dipping the marshmallows. As you can imagine, the smell was heavenly. The spiced chocolate option (described as dark & warming blend of chocolate with organic orange oil, cinnamon & a touch of chilli) certainly smelled of a perfect chocolate orange and was beautifully smooth and indulgent. However I found that the touch of chilli was too heavy handed and unbalanced the drink -that jug of water proved necessary! Though it worked nicely with the sweetness of the accompanying marshmallow.
My dark chocolate crush (also available as a milk chocolate) was far more to my taste – hot Madagascan dark chocolate served with a jug of homemade salted caramel sauce on the side. Just gorgeous! The chocolate was deliciously intense and warming while the caramel sauce added that extra hint of sweetness – I was in chocolate heaven and will struggle not to just keep ordering the same thing every time I go back now as it was so lovely.
After suitably destroying their window seats we gathered our offspring, said a cheery goodbye to the lovely staff and strolled off into the chilly autumn air full of chocolate and thoughts of advent calendars… and then swiftly returned to pay as we had forgotten to actually do that bit.
Overall it’s a lovely little shop and the perfect spot to stop for a hot chocolate that’s just that little bit more special than you expect.