This column runs to about 500 words, but I would need ten times that to communicate my love of chocolate – the dark variety especially.
We are very lucky in the Aylesbury Vale that we have a number of fantastic chocolateries.
Mary and Nigel Rumsey have two – one in Wendover and one in Thame, both of which are well worth a visit.
Inspired by the film Chocolat, they serve up a feast of beautiful homemade chocolates which can be taken away or enjoyed in the shops with a slice of delicious cake, coffee or special hot chocolate.
School of chocolate
Nigel has been making exquisite handmade chocolates since 1991. A pastry chef by trade, he worked at Hartwell House in Aylesbury, The Bear in Woodstock and The Olde Bell in Hurley before eventually deciding he wanted to be in charge of what he created. The decision to open the shop in Wendover in 2004 was a major commitment, but one that paid off.
Thame opened in 2007 and there is also now a ‘school of chocolate’ in Stone.
Mary was born in Aylesbury, worked as a special needs teacher and in sales at Rothmans in Oxford Road.
She met Nigel in a bar in London’s fashionable King’s Road, knowing he was a chef.
Whisky and honey
When we spoke, Mary was in the process of preparing some tasting sheets for Nigel’s new recipes for the handmade chocolates, including a new whisky and honey flavour.
While not wishing the summer away, Mary and Nigel look forward to the autumn, when the cooler weather tends to bring a boost in sales.
Thoughts are already turning to Christmas, which always excites Mary, who says: “The shops look so magical at that time of year. I love it.”
Amazingly, the big chocolate companies will already have made their Christmas products and possibly those for Easter 2012 and will already be planning for the end of next year.
“That’s the difference between the artisan chocolate makers like us and the big producers,” she tells me. “We’re only just finalising the moulds for this year!”
The School of Chocolate was an inspired concept that has really caught the public and corporate imagination.
Unilever are holding a sales meeting there soon, where immediately after the hard work is over they can retire to the kitchens to make their own chocolates. Mary is already planning copies of the company’s products that they can make, including a Marmite jar! The school is available for special events – for details see www.rumseys.co.uk or call 01296 625060.
Did you know?
Rumsey’s in Thame featured as a camera shop in an episode of Midsomer Murders – one of a number of local locations in the series.