When I was nine, I understood what heaven was. I was in Seville, travelling with my parents through southern Spain. It was almost 40 degrees, and we took shelter inside to get something to drink. I ordered my favourite beverage at the time -- chocolate milk. But what I didn't realise was that I was actually requesting hot chocolate (which accounted for the strange look the waiter gave me -- I'm guessing most Spaniards don't drink hot chocolate in the summer).
When it came, it was even better than the cool chocolate milk I'd been craving. This was hot chocolate unlike any other I'd tasted. In fact, I'm not even sure you could call the powdered variety 'hot chocolate' next to this. Oily and thick, you could practically feel it sliding down your throat, its richness coating your mouth.
For the next 20-odd years, I was destined to wander the world in search of hot chocolate that would measure up to my childhood experience. Nothing did -- until last weekend, when the hot chocolate of my dreams re-entered my life. And it was only been a ten-minute walk from my door-step.
Hotel Chocolat, on High Street Kensington, is a purveyor of all things chocolate, from olive oil to chocolate baguettes. After a walk through nearby Holland Park, The Man and I nipped in for our tea. Always cold, my eyes searched for something to warm me -- and fell upon the 'Liquid Chocolate'. I tried hard not to get excited; I'd been let down so many times before. But this looked promising. There were five varieties, from Valencian Orange to Azteca (with chili). Ever the traditionalist (when it comes to chocolate, anyway), I chose the Classic -- a dark chocolate version. I waited, trembling in anticipation. Mug in hand, I breathed in the heady aroma. So far, so good.
The first sip transported me back to Seville. As the liquid oozed down my throat, I knew the search was over.