What’s on: Norwich Chocolate Festival


orwich, my darling hometown, is a weird and beautiful little jigsaw of terrible 1960s architecture and hidden cobbled streets, of modern malls just a hop, skip, and a jump away from a cathedral and a castle. It’s cute independents and funny accents and surprises at every turn. It’s not really home anymore, but it’s still a sanctuary, only two hours and yet a whole world away from London. And next month, it’s going to be even better, as it hosts a chocolate festival. 

It’s easy to miss the hints these days, now that Norwich is known more for mustard and popping in and out of the Premier League, but for 100 years Norwich produced chocolate which rivalled Swiss products and was sent to British troops on the frontline during the First World War. The first Rolos, Munchies, and Caramacs even dropped off the belts at the Chapelfield factory, which changed hands from Caley’s, to The African and Eastern Trade Corporation, then to John Mackintosh & Sons, and finally to Nestle, in the 1980s.

Caley’s is still going to this day, 158 years after Albert Jarman Caley opened a chemist’s business in London Street, but for two days the city will also play host to chocolatiers from across the UK and the world, championing not just quality but also Fairtrade, vegan, and free-from treats.

IMG_20150819_083035Pump Street Bakery

We’ll set aside the Norfolk-Suffolk rivalry for this – the chocolatiers at Suffolk’s Pump Street Bakery seriously know their stuff, and have the awards to prove it. Using single origin beans from Venezuela, Ecuador, Madagascar, Grenada, and Honduras, Pump Street offers high cocoa content chocolate as well as flavours influenced by their bakery, like the sourdough and sea salt bar and the rye crumb, milk, and sea salt. Find out more about Pump Street Bakery here.

Coeur de Xocolat

Keeping on British innovation, David Greenwood-Haigh uses single-origin Colombian beans to create chocolate and award-winning jam in the heart of Yorkshire. On top of a collection of dark, milk, and white bars, he’s created a range of unusual and regional pralines, including rhubarb triangle, piccalilli, and Yorkshire lavender pralines. This year, he was also alongside Pump Street Bakery as a winner of a Great Taste award, for his raspberry jam with 70% Aruca dark chocolate. You can read more about Coeur de Xocolat here.

Cocoa Runners

Cocoa Runners is absolutely a chocolate lover’s heaven, all about savouring quality and delicate flavours, not just wolfing down a bar in front of the telly. Sourcing small-batch bars made from premium quality beans around the world, they offer carefully-curated gift and subscription boxes, alongside an extensive chocolate library which includes vegan treats. The boxes, which come with tasting cards, can be selected by chocolate preference, or – and this is my favourite bit – by interest, so you can narrow down depending on whether you’re into wine or tea, coffee or reading. Find out more here!

Other exhibitors

Whether you’re into nature or shopping, food or sport, history or just a spot of leisure, Norwich and Norfolk have a little bit of something for everyone. Don’t believe me? Have a read of Lela London’s post on her trip to that fine city, or check out local bloggers Jenny, Amber and Ruth,  and Emily.