Updated: Jan 28
When Annalisa emailed me 3 weeks ago to tell me she had loved the caramel medium bar l had sent her as part of a little thank you hamper for Christmas and said ‘l would like to review it in my next column’, l cried: ‘But l have no stock left, and l am on holiday!’.
The cry soon died down, and we politely agreed l would get off my backside and my ‘chocolate-free January’ for now, to do a bit of work to satisfy her discerning, intelligent and well groomed readers.
l am pleased she writes for a nice centre-left newspaper, which is very acceptable and my good friend Neil, with whom l started making chocolates with in 2003 for fun, used to read the Guardian; as he is a nice person, l adopted his views at the time and enjoyed reading it also. It is with great delight l see my chocolates in a newspaper bought by the Guardian, and published on the Guardian online, today, for the second time!
As Annalisa had given me warning, my friend Barry who helps me every so often in busy times, came to help me to make a batch of caramel bars and tablettes, which we finished yesterday. It is only a small batch: 60 tablettes were made, and about 100 medium bars, of both milk and dark chocolates as l know many of you wonderful chocolate connaisseurs do favour dark over milk. Personally, l like both, even white which is delicious with extra vanilla.
It is all there is, and the tablettes, which are better value per kilo than the bars, all sold within 3h.
Fortunately l had only put 10 bars of each dark and milk on, as late last night, when l was preparing the website pages, l mis-counted the weight of the bars and got confused with the zeros, setting their postal weight at 0.5, instead of 0.05 kg. I did only realise this a few minutes ago, and l had wondered why one lady order this morning was so expensive in postage. No wonder!
I will spend some time when they have been posted to refund the customers who have overpaid postage, as l do not agree to making money on that despite it taking a long time and using resources. In this case, it is a huge administrative error and l shall tell my marketing team off. Selling online, at least, means l am not standing in a drafty, windy, cold market twiddling my thumb for hours, waiting for the good will of loving, kind and hungry discerning customers, while wishing l was home. (of course, this is the worst of the markets. The best ones are full of joyful communication, hot cups of tea, and lovely, smiley customers)
Let us get back to the article...Annalisa’s review charmed me. The description of Mrs Greville stately home, the puzzles, the gardens, the weekend, the mad Christmas decorations, and a random chocolate bar taken on the trip: it sounds like poetry to my eyes which are tired to read agressive, over-the-top, ‘look how clever l am’ articles. A refreshing, beautiful Ode.
When she mentions Continuum Conceits And the whole column (‘It is only going to be a mention’, she said to me at first) dedicated to the caramel bar, l felt l was being treated like royalty. A gorgeous review which will make it in a frame, next to the other review, and next to the photocopy of The Queen's letter, in the chocolate shop corner in the Barn. (l put a capital letter as this Barn represents years of wishes as l used to work for 7.5 years in my own kitchen!!)
Thank you Annalisa, and thank you everyone of you reading this - thank you for every customer who has enjoyed the chocolates and told your friends. Please don't tell too many, there are only limited amounts of stock, and there are still no plans to expand. As l only have so much stock this time of year, there will only be a limited amount of orders, so l look forward to catching up with a day or two of holiday before starting to think about the coming wonders of Easter! Happy browsing to all, Alexandra
Did l forget to put the online link... ? No, surely not. https://www.theguardian.com/food/2022/jan/23/annalisa-barbieri-notes-on-chocolate-a-perfect-day-in-a-surrey-stately-home