Monday 17 January 2011

Gracious living

'Basil and I will meet you at Oxford. 
Could you bring a box of Charbonel's chocolates - chiefly No.9's.
Put it down to Mother. I'll pay her.'

But Easter has forgotten them.

'Well what was to be done? 
A thousand times over would she have exchanged 
her new dressing-case 
for a brown papered parcel of chocolates.'
No matter -
'If I wire for them,' Easter thought,
'they'd be here in the morning.' 

from Mad Puppetstown by Molly Keane.

Then of course I had to know -
what flavour is a No.9?
And Victoria Leadbitter at Charbonnel et Walker
was happy to help.
It is the Café Charbonnel a coffee flavoured dark chocolate.

Is it still available and what are the other flavours?
She wrote again from her splendid address:
1 Royal Arcade,
28 Old Bond Street,

'The chocolates are not really numbered anymore,' but
Many of them are still made today; 
we just tend to refer to them as their names rather than their numbers. 
Although plenty of our customers who have been shopping with us 
for many years still refer to them in numbers. 
We often receive handwritten notes
 from customers requesting boxes filled with 
certain numbers to be sent to their homes.
 We still custom fill boxes for our customers all the time. 
Customers can call, email and drop in store 
to have a box filled with whatever they prefer.
 We can keep a record of your purchase and preferred chocolates 
so you just need to give your name and ask for a repeat order.
We pride ourselves on our personal service
and remembering our customers by name.
Our most popular chocolate today 
is our Pink Marc de Champagne Truffle.
Although this one is only six years old.
Our most popular traditional chocolates are our English Rose
& Violet Creams which we have been making 
since 1875, to Madame  Charbonnel's original recipe.

As soon as the list arrives I will place my hand-written order.
The large crocodile dressing case with gold fittings from Asprey
with its legion of gold-topped boxes
 may be a superfluous accoutrement these days
but chocolates will never date.


  1. Once had an enormous and very beautiful box of their chocolates for a birthday present, which put me off inferior chocolates for a long time. You will never want Thorntons again ...

  2. How very wonderful - Purveyors of fine English chocolates since 1875. I would love to try their chocolates ven though I am not a chocolate lover. It would be like sampling a piece of history.

  3. "The large crocodile dressing case with gold fittings from Asprey
    with its legion of gold-topped boxes
    may be a superfluous accoutrement these days
    Speak for yourself, you young whippersnapper! Some of us continue to travel in appropriate style...

  4. This post just oozes delicious decadence.............

  5. Mmmm, I would order the No. 9s too.....

  6. The tins, the wrappings, the history, and the idea of these sensory delights- wonderful!

  7. hmmmm ... worthy of savoring no doubt ... with all of the senses

  8. Very pretty boxes! My friend who came to stay last Thursday night with a group of teenagers brought me a box of handmade truffles from a favourite chocolatier on Vancouver Island. They are (were)so good and they have a champagne truffle, too, but my favourites will always be the coffee flavoured ones or the ginger.