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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Schoc Chocolates at Ciocco Chocolaterie, Wellington, New Zealand

"I'm going to Wellington!" I told Divemummy.

"So you're going to Schoc?" she'd replied at once.

The last time I'd visited Wellington, my Schoc Chocolate tablet souvenirs had been a huge hit. It's not just the pleasant bitter cocoa of the dark chocolate, or the smooth sweetness of the milk, but the fact that the tablets comes in 60 different flavour varieties sends the mind boggling and excites the tastebuds.

Ciocco Chocolaterie and Espresso Bar

The Schoc Chocolate sign at their downtown Wellington cafe has been changed to Ciocco Chocolaterie and Espresso Bar although the set-up remains the same. At the back of the store is the chocolate shop, a glass display counter filled with handmade chocolates and shelves of chocolate tablets lined up against the wall.

Schoc Chocolates counter

Kiwifruit vodka chocolates

Martinborough Vineyard 2004 Pinot Noir

I'm more interested in the tablets than the handmade chocolates, a cacophony of flavours that don't seem possible with chocolate. I'm talking white chocolate with cardamom, milk chocolate with sea salt and dark chocolate with geranium, lemongrass, smoked paprika or sweet basil.

Schoc Chocolate tablets NZ$9.90 (at the Wellington City Markets - to be posted shortly!)

Unfortunately many of the flavours I'm after are sold out, but I do manage to get my hands on pink peppercorn milk, sea salt milk, lime chilli dark, tangerine dark, Earl Grey tea dark and toasted sesame dark.

Orange and brown espresso cups

The cafe at the front of the store has a similarly intriguing dark hot chocolate menu, one that includes chilli, lavendar, orange, cardamom, tangerine and peppermint. There's one white chocolate version in cardamom orange but I order the Earl Grey tea dark instead.

I watch as the barista grabs a huge white bucket from beneath the counter and scoops out a hunk of chocolate paste.

"Would you like a spoonful?" he asks with a knowing smile.

I nod, and then add "and can I take a photo?"

Chocolate ganache

It's like a thick chocolate ganache, deep and rich and velvety and melting lazily on the tongue.

Earl Grey tea dark hot chocolate $5.00

The Earl Grey tea flavour comes from a bottle but you wouldn't know it from the taste. The Earl Grey tea dark hot chocolate is sweet and cocoa-y with the citrus tones of bergamot coming through. It's deeply satisfying, a chocolate hit without any cloying sweetness.

My stomach lined with chocolate goodness, I find myself at the Museum of Wellington less than 30 minutes later, ready to partake in the Big Wine & Cheese, a wine and cheese matching class conducted by Feast & Vine as part of Wellington on a Plate.

Wine and cheese matching class

Whilst I've attended a number of wine tastings before, it's the first time I've attended a wine and cheese pairing class. The purpose of the evening was to taste the wines, as well as understand how different wines can be used to match and enhance various cheeses.

  1. Brunton Road Gisborne Chardonnay 2008 matched with Kaimai havarti
  2. Chardonnay matched with a Kaimai washed rouge
  3. Anchorage Nelson Pinot Noir 2008 matched with Kaimai brie
  4. Lava Rock Northland Syrah 2008 matched with Kaimai mature cheddar
  5. Wishart Dessert Hawke's Bay Merlot New Vintage matched with Kaimai crumbly blue

The act of matching wines and cheeses added a new dimension to each, amplifying their flavours. It was actually quite fascinating to see how the acidity of different wines affected the sharpness, creamines or saltiness of the cheeses. We tasted the recommended pairings and were then encouraged to mix up the pairings to see what happened. This tended to create quite strange flavour combinations, and reinforced the logic of the recommended pairing. The impact of different matchings did remind me a little of our flavour tripping party with miracle fruit tablets - you weren't quite sure what the cheese would taste like with different wines.

We were reminded that everyone does has a unique palate with varying taste sensitivities and flavour preferences. There was also some discussion about what made a good match - apparently chefs usually try to complement the flavours of the wine and the cheese so there's a common theme running between the two; wine people often prefer to do a deliberate contrast so the wine and the cheese are each more pronounced in flavour.

Suggested overall guidelines to pairing wines and cheeses:

  • Soft cheeses, like brie and camembert go well with light fruity reds and whites (or an aged red if the cheese has been aged)
  • Hard cheeses, like cheddar, gouda, emmenthal and gruyere go well with mature Bordeaux, Cotes due Rhome and full body chardonnays
  • Blue cheeses, like stilton and gorgonzola, go well with sweet wines such as Sauternes, Barsac and ports.

Grab Your Fork attended the The Big Wine & Cheese as a guest of Positively Wellington Tourism for Wellington on a Plate. Schoc Chocolates was visited anonymously and paid for personally. For more information on Wellington, check out http://www.wellingtonnz.com.

Wellington on a Plate runs from 17-30 August 2009. Next year's festival dates have already been confirmed as 14-29 August 2010.

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Ciocco Chocolaterie and Espresso Bar
11 Tory Street, Wellington, New Zealand
Tel: +64 (04) 382 8907

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday 7.30am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 12pm - 5pm

Standard delivery charge to Australia is $NZ19. Rest of the world is $NZ50.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Schoc Chocolates, Wellington 2007

Open seven days a week, 9am - 5.30pm

Go back to Wellington on a Plate Day OneRead the next Wellington on a Plate entry
Read about my Wellington eats in 2007
6 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/30/2009 01:28:00 am


  • At 8/30/2009 9:52 pm, Blogger Yas @ hungry.digital.elf. said…

    Oh my god, chocolate heaven!!
    Also, I'm such a branding whore - anything that has a solid branding for the products/business always gets my attention. Love the orange & brown theme!

    Earl Grey tea dark hot chocolate sounds very interesting!

  • At 8/31/2009 12:43 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Yas - Ha, I think that's cool that you are so attuned to branding and visual design.

    It's chocolate heaven indeed and the Earl Grey tea dark chocolate was really really good!

  • At 8/31/2009 4:10 pm, Anonymous Amrita said…

    Kiwifruit Vodka? Wow...now I want to go to Wellington!

  • At 8/31/2009 8:48 pm, Anonymous divemummy said…

    should I confess we've nearly munched through 3 Schoc tablets already - still not a fan of the sea-salt chocolate but the lime-chilli is damn fine.

    Good wine and cheese - sounds like heaven.

  • At 9/01/2009 1:20 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Amrita - They had lots of amazing chocolates, and yes, Wellington has lots of great eats!

    Hi divemummy - You guys have done well. I still haven't gotten into mine!

  • At 9/01/2009 4:25 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    You should have brought home a bucket of that ganache! I love the sound of the flavoured blocks.


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