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A Brilliant Little Chocolate Shop... in the Mountains of Cyprus?
Platres Chocolate Workshop (Platres, Cyprus)
Member Name: Hishyeness
Platres Chocolate Workshop (Platres, Cyprus)
Date: 19/07/09, updated on 19/07/09 (387 review reads)
Advantages: Lovely chocolate creations. Friendly proprietor and staff. Superb products.
Disadvantages: A little off the beaten track. Nothing else to speak of.
On our almost annual Summer visits to Cyprus, we always take some time out from our self-catering holiday to stay a few days in Platres - a romantic and picturesque town on the slopes of the Troodos mountains. The air is a fair bit cooler than on the coast, and provides a welcome relief from the humidity and 40 degree plus temperatures in the beach resorts.
As we drove up to the road toward the Forest Park Hotel where we usually stay, we passed an unfamiliar shop, and a new smell wafted its way through the rolled down windows of our hire car, cutting through the sharp fresh scent of the pine forest - it was the unmistakable sweet and tantalising aroma of chocolate.
We did a double-take. Finding a quality chocolatier in the mountain villages of Cyprus is a little unexpected, so much so in fact, that my usual ability to find an analogy to describe our surprise has completely deserted me. Suffice it to say, we resolved to have a closer look once we were checked in and sorted, and managed to visit three times in the three days we stayed.
The Platres Chocolate Workshop, in the heart of the village of Pano Platres, is run by the very friendly and affable John Adams - a native of Greenwich in southeast London, who eschewed his government desk job in favour of a number of different enterprises, the most pertinent of which was to train as a chocolatier in the south of France.
His Nicosia-born Cypriot wife, Praxi, convinced John to split time between the UK and Cyprus and they struck upon the idea of opening a chocolate shop in Platres. The temperature-controlled shop, which opened its doors around a year and a half ago, has been an unqualified success and offers various chocolate products (more on this later) and a chocolate workshop.
They recently made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for producing the world's most expensive Easter Egg - a modest little number studded with precious gems. There is a picture of it taking pride of place on the shop wall.
John and his staff make the chocolates fresh every day in the workshop from quality Venezuelan cocoa that is imported specially. What makes his product unique is that the hand-made chocolate cups he produces all have a local flavour and a connection to Cyprus.
There are ten varieties: Aphrodite Cream, Lemon, Kommandaria Cream, Cherry, Cyprus Coffee, Orange, Zivania Fondant, Almond, Walnut and Platres Loukoumia (made from Cyprus Delight). I can personally attest to having tried at least five of these varieties, and the taste and quality is simply amazing.
Of these varieties, the local favourite seems to be the Aphrodite Cream - named in honour of the Greek goddess of love, because this mouth-watering honey-based concotion contains a small amount of Royal Jelly, which is thought to be an aphrodisiac.
The chocolates are sold individually for 2 Euro each - which may seem a tad expensive, but then this really is premium quality chocolate. They are packaged up for you in bespoke cardboard boxes, as you would expect from a proper chocolatier. Gift selections of various sizes are also available.
John sometimes has "rejects" - chocolate cups that don't meet his eagle-eyed and thoroughly exacting standards - available at 1 Euro each, and we happily scoffed a few of these - which he declined to charge us for - while taxing our brains with the impossible task of balancing our insatiable desire for more against the lightening of our wallets and burgeoning of waistlines.
There is also a pot of velvety, warmed, liquid chocolate next to the counter with little plain breadsticks for dipping, and you are encouraged to sample it when you visit. Having just the one is virtually impossible.
Also on offer are excellent dark chocolate covered coffee beans which John originally developed for up-market restaurants to use in place of mints or after dinner chocolates. These delectable little morsels are available in multiples of ten in little drawstring bags. Chocolate bars (dark and milk) are also available if you prefer things a little more plain. There is also a line of chocolate bath salts, which to be frank, I paid very little attention to, as chocolate that is not edible seems a little pointless to me!
Happily for my four year old daughter, the place also serves a limited range of freshly made ice creams (chocolate and a fruit based one) and judging by the relish and speed with which these were consumed my wife and daughter respectively, they were a great success. I tried a spoonful of the chocolate (naturally) and found it as rich, luxurious and with a depth of flavour that put most major premium brands in the shade. John also does a chocolate milkshake, but we sadly never had a chance to try it.
There is a small shaded porch area in front of the shop with a few tables and chairs where you can enjoy your ice cream and shakes, but this is almost an afterthought as it's not really the main focus or business of the shop.
John, who is almost worth the visit all by himself (well, chocolate is kind of a big draw!), is around most days, usually in the mornings, but we visited at various times and he wasn't too far away. He has a few, very helpful and friendly staff who all speak good English.
If you can plan ahead or are in the happy position of being in Cyprus for a decent length of time, John runs a chocolate workshop for 50 Euro a head (minimum of two people). This involves two to three hours of instruction and hands-on experience in small classes.
You are given an insight into the techniques of making premium chocolate, given an opportunity to sample the raw ingredients, and then given the hands on experience of making your own solid chocolate bars. Following a tutorial on fillings and toppings, you then get to make your own selection of chocolate cups, which are wrapped and boxed for you to take home. The idea is that you are given enough tuition and hands-on practice to have a proper go at making your own at home.
Courses are available seven days a week for most of the year, but contact the shop for details. Booking well in advance is advisable, as the summer high season gets booked very quickly. The course is not suitable for under-16's.
John Adams & Efpraxia Perdiou Adams
The Platres Chocolate Workshop
29 Archbishop Markarios Avenue
Pano Platres 4820
Finding this place was a lovely and wholly unexpected surprise. It's definitely worth a visit and a detour if you are up in the Troodos area, and I defy anyone to leave without a boxful (and bellyful) of the best home-made chocolate in all of Cyprus. Superb.
© Hishyeness 2009
Summary: A wonderful little chocolate shop in the most unexpected of places....
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