Paul A. Young Fine Chocolates has a branch on the corner of Wardour Street and Broadwick Street in London's Soho. I pass it regularly on my way to my other new obsession; the Savage Salads stall in Berwick Street market for lunch.
There is also a small branch at the entrance of Heal's on Tottenham Court Road, which means I can rarely avoid him regardless of the geography of my lunchtime errands.
Paul's shop is the reason I never have any change in my wallet, as I am entirely incapable of walking past the Willy Wonka purple facade without going in and buying a truffle – I say “a” as I rarely have more than £2 in my wallet and that buys me one truffle. Although I have to say, one banoffee pie truffle in that glorious gold wrapper is worth 4 dairy milk bars or whatever else £2 can buy you. I have never known anything come so close to the definition of “a tiny slice (or golden ball *ahem*) of heaven”…. Other than potentially arancini, or deep fried risotto balls, but still I think the truffle wins.
Paul Young is also the closest I have come across to a truly inspirational artisan chocolatier. He is an alchemist with flavours – some combinations are still too mind-boggling to tempt me but the majority I can happily be tempted to try. The flavours are all the more impressive as there are absolutely no concentrates, preservatives, additives etc. It's all fresh, and it's all made by hand.
I met Mr Young in the Wardour Street branch this week by chance. Willy Wonka in the flesh. I was one of those annoying fans who say things like “I'm such an admirer of your work” and then cringe. I couldn't help it. It's not often you meet chocolate geniuses – and I was sort of hoping for a free truffle.