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Bia Sasta

Delicious addition to the choc scene

Thursday, 31st January, 2019 8:44am

Chocolate! Who doesn’t like chocolate?

I used to buy chocolates for my mum from The Chocolate Shop in the English Market for many years. Back then, it was the only proper chocolate shop until O’Connaill’s Chocolate Shop opened in Cork.

When we look around now, we have Leonidos and Butlers and others while O’Connaills has two shops now, as well as still operating The Chocolate Shop in the English Market.

The latest addition to the choccy landscape is Cocoa by Brendan Cashman. You might remember Brendan from the award-winning restaurant Augustine’s – the closure leaving a huge gap in the fine dining offerings of the city.

Now he is following his love for chocolate, creating delicious truffles like rum and raisins, orange, raspberry, Baileys, crunchy hazelnut to name but a few. My personal favourite is his orange flavoured truffles, which are made with concentrated oil from orange zest.

My dad loves dark chocolate – his favourite is 99 per cent, way too bitter for me but it might be just the healthiest option of chocolate. The higher the cocoa content is, the lower the sugar amount, hence it being better for you.

Never buy chocolate that is called ‘chocolate flavoured’ as it has never seen cocoa and is mainly vegetable fat. Not sure about you but I don’t like vegetable fat that much.

Proper white chocolate has no cocoa but is made – or should be – of cocoa butter. I am not asking you to buy chocolate from a specialized shop but to read the label when you buy it in the supermarket.

If the first ingredient is sugar and vegetable fat – step away slowly and get a bag of carrots. But if the label showcases the percentage of cocoa, please go ahead.

So, why do I like Cocoa by Brendan Cashman? Because you step into a relaxed little shop with a bit of Parisian chic and the best hot chocolate I have tasted in a long time.

The Winthrop Arcade is simply the best frame for such a shop with a few seats outside – so even when it rains, you still have the al fresco feel.

Paul A Young in the UK has led the way to a quality chocolate revival, using terroir chocolate – similar to wine, using only specific country produced chocolate. That might be a tad too fancy for you but the hot chocolate I had proves the point.

Originally, chocolate was a thick, highly sugared drink and only available in specialized shops, expensively priced of course. Powder had to be pounded into a paste that was so bitter and grainy that no one would enjoy it.

Thanks to some clever chemist, the method of creating the very smooth chocolate we know today ensured that these lovely treats are easily available. Qualities varies and if you spend some of your hard earned cash, why not spend it in a local shop where the chocolate is handmade by a local man?

I went home with a large box of these little beauties and had to fight Mr T for the last one.


Upcoming food events:

31 Jan – 2 Feb. Cask Ales & Strange Brew Fest

12 February Parent – Child Valentine’s Wooden Spoons Cookery School

18 – 24 Feb Kinsale Restaurant Week 2019

21 February The Cork Beer Mile

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