I interrupt my (ir)regularly (un)scheduled posts to bring you this newsflash. Today we found a treasure, a true gem in the most unlikely of places. It must be what Columbus felt when he discovered America, or Alexander Graham Bell when the telephone finally worked. Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but still, I stepped off a pavement in Peckham, London and into a Chocolaterie in France.
Stepping in to The Melange Chocolate Shop, our senses were enveloped by a heady aroma which immediately made me think of Chocolat and the magical way the character Vianne used her chocolate to reform and unite a French village.
The dÃ©cor is simple, rustic and there are very few tables, with space for no more than about ten people. The intimate interior affords customers the opportunity to converse with each other, yet still allows private conversations huddled over steaming mugs of exceptional hot chocolate.
Time Out recently mentioned The Melange as having one of the best hot chocolates in London, and I cannot argue. And I’ve tried a few hot chocolates in my time. Hot, thick and rich, this chocolate doesn’t disappoint.
And the owner, a lovely French lady, Isabelle Alaya, knows it. We ordered some chocolate cake, and she recommended we share. Not desperate to push sales, she suggested that a drink and cake might be too much.
She was right. Halfway through our hot chocolate we decided to just take the slice of cake home with us. She wrapped it in brown paper and seemed pleased.
The Melange also sells beautiful bars of Belgian chocolate and is not afraid to try different flavours. We sampled the Basil and Lemon, Ginger and Lime and my personal favourite, the Cinnamon and Bergamot. And at Â£6 per 100g it was hard to walk out without one of each!
Isabelle has such a welcoming, conversational manner that it’s easy to forget you’re in a cafÃ© and not in a friend’s living room.
I am really glad that The Melange is not at the bottom of my street. My waistline just wouldn’t cope.