Shopping in London: Paul A. Young
Paul A. Young is one of London’s leading chocolatiers, with his City shop winning Best New Chocolate Shop in this year’s Academy of Chocolate awards. His 20 years’ experience as a high-profile chef, patissiere and chocolatier reflects his sophisticated understanding of the subtle intricacies of flavour and texture. This has led to the creation of best-sellers like port and stilton truffles and Marmite ganaches. No wonder he’s regularly referred to as the Heston Blumenthal of chocolate. His range is free from preservatives and additives, using only the finest chocolate including Valrhona, Michel Cluizel and Amadei.
Paul is incredibly hands-on and on any day you’ll find him beavering away at either one of his two chocolate boutiques, located in Islington and Bank. With ginger hair and an affable Northern demeanour, he’s not hard to miss. At his boutique in Bank, right in the heart of the City’s financial district, I find him upbeat and positive about the outlook for business. History shows that chocolate sales, like lipstick, actually boom during times of economic depression. People will treat themselves to fine chocolate because it’s a small, affordable luxury.
The shop itself is part of the Royal Exchange, and the location is steeped in London’s incredible 1000 year history. Fragments of Roman stucco, lamps and coins found on the site reveal that it was the centre of Roman Londinium. The shop itself dates back to the Victorian period, when it was a chemist. All of the original features remain, including handsome marble bench tops, wooden shelves and cabinets. Paul takes me on a behind-the-scenes tour of the shop, including the fully customised basement kitchen, where all his fresh, hand-made chocolates are made every day.
Upstairs, Paul’s collection of loose chocolates are displayed like glittering jewels, which is a comparison that isn’t far removed from the truth, considering that edible platinum and gold leaf can be found amongst the ingredients. Single pieces start at £1.75, going up to £50 for a hand-picked box of 40. His house collection includes the silver award-winning raspberry ganache and gold award-winning sea salted caramel, with stock constantly updated, so there’s always an element of surprise. On my visit there's a London Pride Ale truffle and a Winter Pimms ganache with apple and ginger.
Then there’s his signature chocolate brownies, which are extra-gooey, with a fudgey (rather than cakey) consistency. You know they’re good because they specifically lack that gritty saccharine-sweetness of lesser versions. They’re also big – and rich – enough to cut into quarters, so they can shared (or not) back at the office, making the £2.95 price point stretch even further.
The hot chocolate is also a best-seller, made Aztec-style using 100 per cent cocoa and hot water instead of milk. The £2.95 rich concoction is a warming winter drink, with a choice of spices such as ginger, smokey cardamom and two different types of chilli. So good, it's my new favourite London beverage. And that's saying a lot.
Monday to Wednesday 10am – 6:30pm
Thursday 10am – 7pm
Friday 10am – 6:30pm
The Islington boutique can be found at:
33 Camden Passage
London N1 8EA
Tel. 020 7424 5750
Nearest tube: Angel
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.
Wednesday and Thursday 11am – 6pm
Friday 11am – 7pm
Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12 – 5pm