Make every mouthful count. Experience the unique complexity of chocolate
At Hotel Chocolat, our talented chocolatiers work hard to craft the most interesting tastes and textures for our chocolates. As our chocolate is for nibbling slowly and enjoying in its entirety, we love to promote mindful eating and chocolate sampling.
What is mindful eating?
The concept of mindful eating has roots in Buddhist teachings. It can be viewed as a form of meditation with food, as it encourages you to pay close attention to each mouthful. It’s food for thought in the purest way possible.
While many people practice mindful eating to reduce their food consumption, manage daily stress, and engage with their food choices, it’s also a great way to just enjoy food. Simply, fully, and actively.
How to practice mindful chocolate sampling
Whether you want to mindfully enjoy chocolate on your own in a peaceful environment or invite friends over for a chocolate sampling session, there are various ways to practice this considered way of eating.
We find the easiest and simplest way to approach mindful eating is to base it around our senses. Engage each one to fully tune into our chocolate and its wonderful flavours.
The five senses
Here’s how we engage the five senses: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
Take a moment to truly observe your chocolate. What information can you gain from its appearance?
If you’re trying our Pistachio & Honey Chocolate Slab, you’ll notice a scattering of pastel yellows, pinks, and greens encased in silky honey-caramel-milk chocolate. In an anonymous chocolate tasting, it may not be immediately clear what flavours to expect. You’ll get to enjoy its artistic design before entering a world of Lebanese flavours, mellow and earthy pistachio, and delicately sweet honey.
And if you’re sampling chocolate truffles, their flavours may be even more disguised. With truffles, a hard decorated chocolate shell often gives way to another flavour or filling within its core. See if you can guess what lurks beneath. Will it be a nutty ganache, a fruity patisserie centre, or some tipple-infused chocolate?
When eating mindfully, it’s important to remove any distractions from your tasting area. Turn the TV off, put your phone in another room, and tidy your space. You don’t want anything to detract your attraction away from enjoying all aspects of your chocolate.
In general, the recommendation is to eat in silence when eating mindfully. This is so you can experience what you’re tasting for exactly what it is, all on its own. It helps to remove other stimuli that could interfere with your opinions and sensations during your sampling.
If you’d rather play music during your tasting session, choose your playlist wisely. Curate a line-up of songs that won’t distract you from your mindful session. Hand-selecting the songs on your playlist will also ensure that you won’t experience any surprise songs or sudden genre changes. Your concentration should always remain on your chocolate tasting.
Hosting a mindful dinner party? Ask your guests whether they’d prefer to chat during the sampling, only after each sample, or not at all. For some people, a clatter of voices can bring them out of their mindful zone. However, others will want to hear other people’s opinions on the chocolates.
If you want to explore the sound of your chocolate (yes, you read that correctly), pay attention to how things like chocolate slabs and batons snap. A satisfying snap is often an indication of high-quality chocolate!
Smell and taste are intimately entwined. In fact, a significant amount of what you think of as taste actually comes from smell. With this in mind, take a minute to smell your chocolate before tasting it. You can then compare scent to taste. Does each chocolate’s taste match up to what you thought it would be from smell alone?
If you’re sampling fruity chocolate, you might be able to smell some delicate natural fragrances. The characteristic aroma of coffee chocolate should be instantly recognisable. Spiced chocolates like ginger chocolate will tickle some seasoned samplers’ taste buds. And the nutty notes in marzipan chocolate might be easily identifiable for those with a keen nose for almonds.
The important sense of touch can be explored with your hands or in your mouth during the tasting. Some chocolates, like our Hazelnut 70% Dark Chocolate, heavenly Macarons, and Eton Mess Slab, have intriguing textures that bring fabulous new levels of culinary sophistication to each mouthful.
Now onto tasting. The great thing about chocolate is that most people know how to enjoy it (we never find it a difficult task). However, we do have some tips for experiencing it as mindfully as possible.
Only taste a limited number of chocolate varieties during each session so you don’t overwhelm your palate. Just ibble a small piece of chocolate to taste it. This will ensure you chew slowly and appreciate each flavour the first time round.
Drink water between each new chocolate type to remove any remaining flavours that could mingle with the next ones. Take it slow and steady.
Mindful eating and knowing your food’s origin
It’s important to note that eating mindfully has strong connections with understanding the origin of your food. If you’ll be sampling some of our irresistible chocolates, we encourage you to read about our ethical business practices and cocoa estate in beautiful Saint Lucia. Sustainability and ethics is at the heart of our chocolate — we couldn’t enjoy what we do without it.
Chocolate tasting with Hotel Chocolat
We hope you enjoy mindful eating as much as we do. Looking for more chocolate sampling inspiration? Take a look at our tips on hosting a chocolate tasting with your friends. You could also try mindfully sampling our coffee blends, drinking chocolates, and cacao-infused tipples.
And if you really want to get the insider knowledge, why not take a look at our School of Chocolate Tasting Adventures? Our cacao experts will guide you through the nuanced flavour profiles of different chocolates. You’ll learn the best ways of tasting and enjoying it as well as what to pair different chocolate varieties with and how to the distinctive flavours of fine cacao from around the world — all with a delicious glass of our house Prosecco! Explore our Experience options in London, Cambridge, Copenhagen and Leeds.