I think what the world needs is a taste test of hot chocolate in Brussels. By someone who knows virtually nothing about chocolate and likes the stuff made out of horses hooves and corn syrup and plague. Accompanied by shitty, unappealing photographs. Right? Right! On we go with part 1: Pierre Marcolini.
It’s cold outside. Actually, it’s Jack l’Eventreur foggy outside and my traditional cycle of repetitive winter thoughts has set in, sending my feeble attempts at productivity skittering. They go: cashmere, blanket, fire, hot water bottle, Scandinavian crime, hot chocolate, cashmere, blanket, fire, hot water bottle, Scandinavian crime, hot chocolate, round and round until approximately March 28th, when I emerge, wild eyed and blinking into the spring, three stone heavier with skin the colour and texture of porridge. I do not actually commit the Scandinavian crimes, mainly. I have dulled the winter repetitive thinking with my first hot chocolate of the season, from Marcolini (wow, that is a bad website).
I once met Pierre Marcolini. It was at a press conference at his shop for the launch of some Nespresso-Marcolini tie in book and it was great. We each got 4 teeny puddings prepared by the man himself and a copy of the book (I tried one recipe out of it and gave myself a nervous breakdown) and Monsieur Marcolini was charming and impressive and just a tiny tiny bit scary, like if you worked in his kitchen and gilded a praline wrong, he might crush you like a twig. Which I imagine is necessary if you’re a super top chocolatier and so on. Anyway. I remain slightly intimidated by him.
The Marcolini hot chocolate is only available in his cake shop on the Place du Grand Sablon, I believe, the tiny white one where nine thousand people cram in to 2 square metres on a Sunday and try and buy macarons in 180 languages. It costs €2,50, but you get a speculoos with it. Not the normal speculoos you get with your coffee in a tiny plastic sachet, the ones that sit in the bottom of your handbag disintegrating until you get abnormally hungry one day, but a Pierre Marcolini speculoos, which is square and soft and quite peppy with the spicing: nutmeg, cinnamon and clove all very much in evidence.
Of course the speculoos is but a sideshow. The hot chocolate is thick and dark and not very sweet and it has an acidic edge. Not in a bad way, but in an “if you don’t like this it’s because your palate has been destroyed by your Cadbury’s Caramel and Peanut Butter Chunky KitKat habit” way. I drank it reverently, but not with greedy enjoyment. You have waited long enough for the shitty photograph. Here it is:
And here are the entirely arbitrary scores out of ten:
Appearance: 7 (that is a pretty dull cup)
Taste: 8 (too good for the likes of me)
Treatiness: 7 (free biscuit bonus marks, but I would rather have one of his delectable vanilla eclairs).
Giving Marcolini a respectable 22/30. “Mention“.
More palpitating hot chocolate adventures the next time I can drag my hibernating carcass out of the house. Please recommend any you think I should make an effort to try.