Come the first day of the year, every year, it is impossible to escape the barrage of detox, veganuary, dry January and the likes that fill up social media timelines, TV and magazines. Not to mention restaurant menus that jump on the bandwagon of the widespread healthy push for the new year.
We have never been particularly keen to follow the trend, partly because the festivities are never a binge of drinking or eating (but that is a totally personal choice) but also because one month of healthy eating doesn’t really do much good. Might as well enjoy ourselves with some treats in what is otherwise a pretty depressing, usually cold and grey, long month.
And a treat was indeed offered by Gelupo Gelato who, against the detoxing efforts of their competitors, hosted a month-long chocolate extravaganza called Chocolate Sagra which runs until 5 February, turning their already delectable products into a chocolate themed feast.
Launched in June 2010, Gelupo is the second venture from chef Jacob Kenedy and Victor Hugo, also behind Bocca di Lupo, the award-winning Italian restaurant in Soho. A traditional Italian gelateria, delicatessen and espresso bar, Gelupo is located opposite Kenedy’s trattoria on Archer Street.
We had the tough job of trying pretty much the entire range. Chocolate, under many guises: hot and drinkable; ice cream flavours; cakes and so forth.
We worked our way through the various ice cream flavours created for the Sagra first: creamy, freshly made on the premises daily with the finest Italian ingredients, one spoonful after the other. They included Dark Chocolate with Earl Grey & Biscuit, Milk Chocolate with Vanilla and Sea salt plus some of their regular options (Bitter Chocolate sorbet and bonet, which is dark chocolate with rum and amaretto).
We then enjoyed sipping the most luxurious, decadent hot chocolate,the Italian style (thick, dark), which Gelupo offers spiced too: the cardamom version we tried was simply divine, served with a dollop of fresh cream on the side.
We then could not say no to a Bonet having loved the ice cream version; this is an incredible, intense pudding from Piedmont region, where the dark chocolate is moistened by rum, then covered in amaretto crumbs, an absolutely delight to eat, it is as good as it sounds.
Amongst the other things we managed to try before being too full, an amaretto biscuit coated in hot chocolate, a cantuccini biscotto with dark chocolate chips and an indulgent, moorish brownie crammed with the most delicious toasted hazelnuts.
Do yourself a favour, stop the detox right now and enjoy the Chocolate Sagra while it it’s on (or if you’re still thinking of a January without fun, wait for February and catch the last few days of the event).