This weekend we have been playing tour guide to Mr Cake's brother and sister-in-law, and Ciocco was definitely a necessary stop. They are the Wellington stockists of the beautiful Schoc chocolates (made in Greytown), and have incredible hot chocolates.
The menu is very alluring with options for hot chocolate including chilli dark, cardamom/orange white and Earl Grey tea (yes, tea-flavoured hot chocolate). The thing that caught my eye, though, was the note in the bottom right corner that says "tasting plates available - ask us." I ask and am offered a menu with four options of plates, at $10-$12 each.
The other three ordered hot chocolates - Mr Cake had the cardamom dark, which he wasn't totally thrilled by; it was chocolatey but the cardamom didn't really come through and he felt it was a bit too cool. His brother had the lavender/orange dark, and sadly really didn't like it - he found the lavender overwhelming and didn't finish it. His wife had the regular dark chocolate and it seemed to be enjoyed but again it was a bit on the cool side. Pretty, though:
They definitely fared better on the tasting plate; it was a pretty well constructed platter. I chose the strawberry option, which included dehydrated strawberry, a bittersweet caramel chocolate, some cheese (tasted like stilton but my cheese-identifying palate may leave some amount to be desired) with crackers, strawberry and black pepper chocolate squares, and a strawberry chocolate milkshake (not shown).
This was great fun and really interesting. I felt everything complemented everything else quite well - except the milkshake but more on that in a moment - and all the elements were pretty tasty individually anyway. The cheese was deliciously sharp and crumbly, with a fruity background flavour; the dehydrated strawberry was flavoursome and texturally interesting; the strawberry black pepper chocolate was (as always) great; and the bitter caramel chocolate is definitely one of my favourites, and went well with the fruity flavours. After I had paid and sat down the server came out and told me there was no strawberry flavour for the milkshake and asked if I'd rather have an espresso. I don't drink coffee so asked that it just be plain chocolate; I'm not sure if the strawberry would have given it wow factor and it was nice enough but in a place like Ciocco you kind of expect the crazy hit of chocolate! I had already been told it was small and if I'd want another drink but it came out in a regular sized glass so I was glad I hadn't gotten anything else.
Apart from the slightly lacking milkshake (a powerful shot of dark, rich chocolat probably would have rounded out the plate a little better) I thoroughly enjoyed my tasting platter, and will happily try another of those sometime - but our party was saddened by the disappointing hot chocolates. I wonder if we just got an off day - has anyone else been there lately?
Ciocco is located at 11 Tory Street, Wellington, ph 04 382 8907, www.chocolatetherapy.com