Attention-grabbing cocktails, a decadent menu + surprise performances
Torino turns Tamboerskloof chocolatey
Not only the taste, but the whole experience of chocolate can be found in Kloofnek Road
‘There it is!’ I exclaim like a gleeful five-year-old as The Chocolate House comes into view. Like all women, my life revolves around chocolate, so you can imagine my delight when a friend told me about this Kloof Nek gem. I’ve heard about this place via word of mouth and can find nothing but the address online, which adds to the mysticism. We can see an inviting sunshine yellow chocolate shop with a bicycle resting against it and a sign reading: ‘Chocolates’. We are secretly hoping to meet South Africa’s answer to Willy Wonka and a team of hardworking Oompa Loompas.
I feel as though I have stepped into a majestic chocolate lovers boudoir. Red and gold adorn the walls and mirrors (even the cash register is gold) and such rich colours are also thematic in the packaging. There are quaint touches which add to Torino’s authenticity such as old fashioned weighing scales.
Rows upon rows of decadent truffles and creams
Brenda isn’t Willy Wonka (lets be realistic), but she isn’t far off who I’d expect to see working at Chocolate House - a smiley bespectacled older lady, complete with a Torino apron and a soothing voice. We explain to her that we have come to buy some chocolates and she kindly offers to show us around. The artisan chocolates, of which there are 100 different varieties, are displayed in glass cases carrying Torino’s golden crest. Rows upon rows of decadent truffles and creams stare back at me invitingly. I fantasize about gorging on all of them at once. There are heart shaped and oblong boxes of chocolates, tied up with ribbons. Brenda tells me that corporations often buy these boxes during Christmas time and couples choose Torino for a romantic gift.
We decide on a pick-and-mix bag with four chocolates and Brenda tells us that the price of the chocolates is based on their weight. My partner has truffles in mind and selects rum, hazelnut, vanilla and coconut. I choose a mocca truffle, bouche (praline and hazelnut), champagne corks and marzipan. Brenda places them into a pretty floral bag and weighs them. I am surprised that the chocolates are so inexpensive, at R27 for four.
Despite the majestic décor, the atmosphere of this chocolate haven is rather unassuming. I notice that a young couple are helping their offspring to choose chocolates, whilst even some American tourists wander in and exclaim: ‘Wow! What is this place?’ (I would have thought it was obvious). Although the shop is a small space, there are so many unusual flavours of chocolate and stunning design features to take in that you could easily be lost in there for an hour. There are even inviting vintage arm chairs and Brenda is quite happy for us to sit for a while to savour our chocolate.
It’s just me and my mocca truffle
So, the décor and the chocolates are a feast for the eyes, but does the taste of the chocolate measure up? The mocca truffle goes down first – a velvety white chocolate exterior, followed by a melt in the mouth coffee cream centre that snaps my taste buds into life. For a brief moment, Brenda, my partner and the American tourists cease to exist and it’s just me and my mocca truffle. It’s quite the escapism you’d expect from fine wine or gourmet cuisine. My partner is equally impressed with his vanilla truffle and we marvel at my champagne cork (shaped like a champagne cork).
We notice a golden curtain, just behind the cash register. Behind that curtain must be where all the magic happens and we wonder which genius is behind these master chocolates. Regardless, if you want not only the taste, but the whole experience of chocolate, then Torino may grant your wish.
By Lisa Nevitt
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