chocolate tour

Here is a tour I ran in 2010. The idea behind this is the re-awakening of work i did for a year on medieval vegan food, thus re-ignited i intend to develop and create some extrodinary dishes and discover a past worth bring to our futures!

The London Chocolate Group

A Chocolate Voyage of Discovery

The inspiration for this walk begins with the unfolding, intriguing connections and stories that surround this amazing plant. We only have to consider for a moment the early Mayan and Aztec civilizations. Their legends, some of them very dark, of cocoa and its perceived magical powers; for war, strength, virility and honor. How many plants can claim this as an opener!

In this narrative the later European experience is coupled with the personal, local history (as Draeyk lives in Vauxhall) led to the inevitable desire to explore this in context of the Pleasure Gardens. In this case, the ones at Vauxhall; A place synonymous with lecherous and licentious living; where chocolate houses served up a recipe that to many were as closely associated with the debauched times of Hogarth, Walpole and Fielding as to the questionable politics of the day! so how could we not explore this line of thought? This evolving story also explores our love of sweets; a pleasure tinged with guilt; be it the stern virtuous warnings from the Victorians that it would overwhelm the working class or our modern concerns with the "waistline". 

Today through science, we have proven its health benefits and through sugar; its less than healthy reputation. We are treated to it in its raw form; beloved of the über healthy raw food movement. We see it turned into dishes as far removed from simple bars of chocolate as is imaginable. At the Garden History Museum we endeavor to explore this further!

However, for its future, perhaps we worry about fair trade and sustainability in a food impoverished world? So at the allotments we pause to consider where cocoa comes from, how we use it and where those ingredients hail from. Can we be more considerate about our food? The reason all the donations go to Incredible Edible Lambeth, is that, as a local initiative that represents over 100 food growers,  it helps us understand that what we eat is also means caring how food arrives on our plate, or indeed, as our bar of chocolate!

and yet and yet... we ever turn to its associations with pleasure, with love and the foods of the gods. How can we not yield to this Divine Creation and partake of its life giving essence!?

Guiding you on your magical journey are:
Sela Yair of London Chocolate meetup group and Chef Dræyk van der Hørn, food and community activist.

Limited to 20 people, donations welcome and go to Incredible Edible Lambeth; a community inspired collective of over 100 growing groups in the borough.

Contact: or call 07595 434624

Embark at Vauxhall underground entrance/bus concourse, we leave at 1pm sharp, towards Spring Gardens; once the sight of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens; for two hundred years one the most famous gardens in Europe. Here you will discover the underbelly of chocolate; pleasure and aphrodisiac: “Twill make Old Women Young and Fresh; Create New Motions of the Flesh. And cause them long for you know what, If they but taste of chocolate.” "A History of the Nature and Quality of Chocolate", James Wadworth (1768-1844)  

At this point we taste some Rococo Chocolate flavours that invoke “dreams of the gardens”. at this point we will also call in at The Teahouse Theatre for some tea parings. Perhaps we will try cocoa dusted almonds? for pleasure and love, is there a story here?: 

It seems that the association of almonds with love dates back to a Greek legend. The story is that a young man named Demofone met the princess Phylis, and fell hopelessly in love with her and asked her to marry him. However, before the wedding could take place, Demofone heard that his father had died in Athens and he had to return home for the funeral. He promised to return for the wedding within a certain date but he miscalculated the time necessary for the journey and arrived three months late. Phylis, meanwhile, convinced that she would never see her loved-one again, hanged herself.

The gods, touched by her love, transformed her into a splendid almond tree. Crushed by his grief, Demofone offered a sacrifice to the tree, declaring his everlasting love for the woman who had killed herself: in reply to his words, the almond tree suddenly burst into flower. Ever since then, impetuous youth and eternal love have been symbolised by the almond tree.

Claremont's Chestnut Trees
We aim to share this and other stories; In the story of "Pleasure Gardens"  Draeyk has collected chestnuts to be used in the truffle demonstration from Claremont Landscape Gardens. These beloved pleasure gardens of Leopold and Princess Charlotte, a creation borne of love and celebration? pleasure gardens aside, a further connection is to Chandlers of Vauxhall who supplied some one of the varieties of the Camellia for Charlottes Camellia Glasshouse. Indeed Vauxhall's Pleasure Gardens reflect these stories of royal love and more. Continuing our historical foray, have we used tales from classical history and the foods of the gods to weave a spell in our love of chocolate? let us explore the playful meanings that are layered into the history of chocolate and how we relate to each other through this talisman of sensory and emotional joy.

Then onwards to Vauxhall City Farm and allotments:  here we will discuss how local produce as ingredients can create sustainable and playful chocolate dishes. here we try some of the above and share a chance to visit allotments and more.

Tasting, at this port, a new recipe of  Haws, collected at Kew and combined with 100% Venezuelan Black Chocolate to create “Hawberry Black” Sauce.

We finally disembark at the Garden Museum: resting place of Captain William Bligh, a poignant historical reference for us as we consider the discoveries of the Caribbean and learn more about Theobroma cacao, the miracle plant!

This final end to the day will include an open presentation by Dræyk van der Hørn in the main museum space, Divine Chocolate and the “five-minute truffle!” Followed by tastings and questions.