Gorvett & Stone
PUBLISHED: 09:44 19 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 20 February 2013
Elinor Gorvett and Matthew Stone swapped wine for chocolate and now win awards for their hand-made creations.
How long have you been making chocolates?
We opened the shop nine days before Easter in 2004. I had attended a short course on making chocolates which provided us with basic knowledge and then spent lots of time practising, experimenting with different flavours and learning via trial and error until we were happy with the results. The more we work with chocolate, the more fascinating it becomes. Originally we were planning to buy in loose Valrhona truffles and sell those until we had a bit more experience but rapidly realised the reaction from our customers to our own chocolates was far more rewarding.
What first made you go into the business?
We had both given up jobs in the wine industry to go travelling for a few months. We decided to do something ourselves and were thinking of opening a café but I came across an article about chocolate in the newspaper and that's where it all started. It discussed the various types of chocolate being produced in relation to vintage and terroir - both crucial to the individuality and quality in wine production. So the leap from wine to chocolate wasn't that great and that was what piqued my interest.
Tell us about your chocolates
Our chocolates are made by hand in a tiny kitchen at the back of our shop. We make all our truffles using fresh cream, fresh herbs and Valrhona chocolate from the Rhône Valley in the south of France - renownd as one of the best chocolate makers in the world. Fresh cream truffles are our best seller - at Christmas we can't keep up with demand. For Valentines, we make boxes of our gold medal winning rose and violet fondants as well as very dark chocolate hearts filled with Argentine dulce de leche. Our pink champagne truffles and large solid chocolate hearts decorated with intricate cocoa butter patterns are also very popular.
What's the philosophy behind your products?
The main tenet of our chocolates is that they are made on site, by hand, using the best ingredients available, minimising the use of preservatives. Our fresh cream comes from a local dairy and we use local herbs when in season. The mint leaves in our mint truffles are picked from our colleague's garden in the morning and infused in fresh cream that afternoon, ready for sale the following day. We also stock a range of high quality chocolate bars. We wanted to provide an environment where customers feel relaxed, have the opportunity to taste what they're buying and learn about the provenance of the ingredients. This is especially important with our more unusually flavoured truffles, such as basil, which may sound odd but is actually a light and delicate confection and one of our most popular truffles.
What makes you different from other chocolate makers?
Being mostly self taught has meant that although we don't have the skills of top pastry chefs we have had to be extra careful in ensuring we use the best quality ingredients. By keeping it simple, the attributes of the ingredients are allowed to shine through.
Who are your customers?
Footfall is mostly local customers with lots of regulars. We sell over the internet and have a number of large corporate clients as well as supplying delis and the National Trust properties within our region.
Have you won any awards?
We entered the Great Taste Awards for the first time in 2006 and won a gold medal for fresh mint truffles, silver for house truffles and sSpiced dice and bronze for Japanese green tTea and milk truffles with sea salt. This year we won a two star Gold for basil truffles and four one star Golds for Californian walnuts in milk chocolate, Argentine pears in dark chocolate, rose fondant and violet fondant. We were recommended in the Guardian Food Monthly last November by the chocolate expert Paul A.Young as, "ones to watch".
Where can we buy your products?
At our shop, via our website and through a few local delicatessens; Sweet Chocolate in Abingdon, Burford Garden Company, Cotswold Delicatessen, Chipping Norton, Down to Earth, Wallingford.
Can you supply a recipe using your product?
Chilli with chocolate
1 finely chopped onion,
2 cloves of finely sliced garlic
2 fresh red chilli peppers finely chopped
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
500g of minced pork or beef
1 jar of passata or 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 bouquet garni
half a stick of cinnamon
20g good very dark chocolate; Valrhona is ideal
salt and pepper to taste
Heat one tablespoon of sunflower oil. Add garlic slices and fry until golden and slightly sticky. Add onions, ground cumin and chilli and fry until soft.
Then add mince and cook until brown.
Add passata, and bouquet garni. Cook over a low heat for 1 ½ hours. Add half stick of cinnamon. Cook for further 30 minutes, remove cinnamon stick and stir in the dark chocolate until melted. I like with brown basmati rice. You don't taste the chocolate - it adds depth and a velvety texture.
For more information go to www.gorvettandstone.co.uk