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Last Friday night was an exciting evening as I kindly received two tickets from Nudge PR to attend the Salon Du Chocolat Gala event. A massive chocoholic, as I’m sure you can see from previous posts, I simply could not wait!! The event was held at the National Hall, Olympia, a close walk away from Olympia overground station or 8 minute walk from West Kensington. Upon arriving half of the building looked closed as all the lights were off which made me panic slightly as I thought I’d come to the wrong place! Luckily we hadn’t and arrived in plenty of time, giving the opportunity to explore the stands before the gala event.

The Salon Du Chocolat event took place from Friday 18th to Sunday 20th October and was the first ever London edition. The event had been in full swing earlier in the day with plenty of the UK’s best chocolate companies from Paul A Young to international brands such as Lindt. When we arrived some of the exhibitors had gone for the evening, most likely resting up or preparing for their second busy working day; however there was still plenty of opportunity to walk around and read about the companies as well as sample lots of chocolate from the exhibitors who were still around…always a bonus!

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My first stop was at chocopassion as their display was one not to be missed! Animals, pumpkins and ghosts all made out of chocolate, there were so many exciting chocolate sculptures to look at and be amazed by. Not only did they have little chocolates which would make for a fantastic present but they had life size chocolate cameras and towers. I had previously come across chocopassion on a trip to Brighton. It was during lent and I had given up chocolate so the day wasn’t as fun as it could’ve been if only I’d be able to try something from their incredible stand. This time there were no restrictions so I was rather content digging into a delicious solid milk chocolate pumpkin.

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We continued exploring and stopped by Lindt where there were flavours such as crème Brule and velvety vanilla almond. There were samples of several of the bars and many more on the shelves. The staff were lovely and said if there was any chocolate we wanted to try just to let them know and they would get it for us. There was one I hadn’t tried before which was the orange and pistachio. I’m not a lover of orange in chocolate, the only one I can just about manage is Terry’s chocolate orange, however I am a big fan of pistachio so though I’d give it a go. Surprisingly I really enjoyed it, the two flavours worked together to create a fresh nutty combination that left a zingy aftertaste.

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Next stop was Divine chocolate where there were lots of coins laid out as decoration and to try. They have a variety of flavours from dark chocolate with chilli and orange to the new one I received free in my Sainsbury’s recipe book last month which is mill chocolate with toffee and sea salt. I was pleasantly surprised to receive the chocolate bar with my magazine and yes it probably did entice me to buy it, however I have to say I’m not a big fan of the new sea salt flavour, it was just too salty for me. Milk and Dark Divine chocolate however is always a winner.

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There were two stands which stood out for me and they were Lauden Chocolate and Comptoir Du Cacao. Lauden Chocolate presented their chocolate beautifully and had the most exquisite flavours. Their packaging for the chocolate was colourful with incredible detail. They sold little squares of chocolate, each an individual flavour, in boxes of 12, 9 and 5. The passion fruit chocolate was probably the best chocolate I tasted that night and they have received a great taste award for it.

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Comptoir Du Cacao stand looked so inviting that I couldn’t help but stop by even though I was so full. I sampled the praline puff and it was melt in the mouth delicious, I wanted more straight after. The chocolate were packaged beautifully in little baskets or you could buy hampers and would really be a lovely present. You can find more of what they offer at their website here: http://www.comptoircacao.com/

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So after having a look around it was time to get excited for the evening event which was a Chocolate Fashion show! The seats got filled up pretty fast and the majority of press took their place at the end of the catwalk, ready to take pictures of the models as they walked down. I had spent a bit too much time wandering around the stalls so decided to stand near the front of the catwalk to take pictures of the models as they came out on the carpet. It was all very exciting and we were served delicious canapés of mackerel and goats cheese tarts as well as some of the most delicious brownies I had tasted.

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Before we knew, it was time for the fashion show to begin and it really was spectacular. Stunning models took it in turn to walk down the red carpet dressed in couture outfits made and inspired by chocolate. The outfits were designed by the country’s top chocolatiers and top fashion designers including Mark Tiling of Squires Kitchen and London Patisserie On Café.  The stand out ones were a steampunk dress from bridal wear designer Hannah Wilkins-Webb and award-winning Shropshire-based chocolatier Julia Wenlock (owner of Toot Sweets) as well as  a beautiful cupcake dress by French chocolatier and pâtisssier Madame Trignon. The model carried herself amazingly well and offered cupcakes to the crowd which caused a round of applause.

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There were ten models in total that all walked down the red carpet once before being joined by the creators of the dress to join them for a second walk. It was a spectacular sight and the models walked around after the fashion show to offer the chance to get some more pictures.

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All in all it was an extremely decadent, indulgent and entertaining evening. Not only did I get to sample some exciting new chocolates and find some fantastic places to buy Christmas presents, but I had the opportunity to meet other chocolate lovers, watch an incredible fashion show and even dip my finger in a chocolate filled bath. I’m sure this will be the first year of many that Salon Du Chocolat will be coming to London and shall look forward to the next one!

Chocolate Spa bath