CHAMPAGNE, CHOCOLATE AND ROMANCE

The clock has just turned to midnight and it is officially Valentine's Day. Cupid has begun his longest day of the year making Santa look lazy: one pair of wings, one bow, and flying around semi-naked in the depths of winter versus an entire company of elves, a fur-lined suit and a troupe of reindeer!
Valentine's Day, despite being about connecting people, often divides opinion. Some are entirely gung-ho about it, furnishing their homes with hearts and feeling so loved-up they look liable to pop, while others seem to harbour a hatred of it, akin to a snowman's emotions towards a hairdryer. I have to admit, I'm somewhere in the middle. I agree that while going about your life the last thing you want to be is surrounded by loved-up couples gurning at each other.But, equally, we are so busy getting on with our everyday lives (for me mostly making chocolates) that sometimes we forget to show gratitude to our loved ones. Don't we all deserve some romance after all, even if it is only on a prescribed day, once a year? The idea that this special person in our lives has taken the time to choose a gift, just because they think fondly of us, warms my heart. It conjures up images of old-school Hollywood romance: Rex Harrison standing at the front door with a bottle of champagne, two glasses dangling from his fingers and a huge box of chocolates under his arm? Yes please - I will have some of that!
The holy trinity of chocolate, champagne and Valentine's Day is not one to be sniffed at and merely cast aside, as understood by the founders of Voltaire, a new champagne bar in the City that opens today. We provided chocolates for their pre-opening night and dutifully accepted their invitation to join in. What a duty: attending a night of free-flowing chocolate and champagne and a rest from moulding Easter eggs for me! Voltaire bar, although part of Crowne Plaza - City hotel, is actually a stand-alone destination venue, on the site of an old prison and, later, a bank. The outside vaults have been turned into gorgeous VIP celebration spaces that can be hired out and, to my great delight on a cold, winter's night, they come complete with heaters and soft, furry cushions and blankets. A definite recommendation if you happen to be looking for somewhere swanky and gorgeous to quaff champagne in the City tonight or any other special night. Also, keep an eye out for our showcase in the corridor: Artisan du Chocolat goodies galore, including opulent piles of pearls, pyramids of caramels and even a large chocolate teddy. For the launch night, Voltaire chose our tobacco barswhich followed, by a few years, the creation of our famous tobacco ganache. The unusual ganache was originally created for molecular gastronomy pioneer Heston Blumenthal and featured on his Fat Duck menu for many years.
So whether you are a smug-married, or in the throes of that glorious honeymoon-period at the beginning of a relationship, or like me happily single, love is a notion well worth celebrating- Valentine's Day or not. I for one cannot think of a better way to celebrate than with mouthfuls of artisan chocolates. As someone very wise once said, "Flowers and champagne may set the stage, but it's chocolate that steals the show." I hope our chocolates achieved just that tonight.
Happy chocolatey Valentine's Day
Miss Anne xxx