A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published April 10th 2014
Sometimes writers set themselves arduous tasks. This was one such task: imagine, visiting various chocolate shops and sampling delectable hand made chocolates! It was tough. But after a bit of deliberation, here are some suggestions as to where to buy the best chocolate in Melbourne's inner east - for those occasions when you want something better than your standard supermarket favourite.
1. The best tasting chocolate and the friendliest welcome: Sisko Chocolate - 330 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn East
I've lived in the inner east for about 7 years now, not too far from Sisko Chocolate. I've walked and driven past it hundreds of times, but for some reason, had never called in. I'm pleased this article prompted me to do so!
Sisko's currently has a competition - guess the weight of this big egg and you could win a $500 Easter hamper!
It impressed me that when I walked into the store, I was met by owner and manager Christina Tantsis. And it didn't take long for her passion for chocolate to shine through! Sisko has been operating since 2007. Christina has always had a passion for chocolate, and finally this prompted her to switch careers from floral designer to chocolatier. Traces of her former career can be seen in the store, however; in particular, these beautiful lotus flower centrepieces are a signature product.
Christina's enthusiasm for her product was infectious, and I couldn't help but share her excitement for the samples of chocolate she offered me - particularly the Madagascar 66% and the Hawaiian single origin. All chocolates are made on the premises, and in fact if you peer through from the front of the store, you can see the kitchen and work in progress.
Sisko's has a delightful range of chocolate 'orbs', which are designed to fit perfectly into your mouth. They come in such flavours as Cashew Cardamon and Sesame Ginger and retail at $1.80 each. Sisko's also has a great range of decorated 'flat Easter eggs' which can be customised with a name.
2. The most impressive range and most unusual chocolate: Xocolatl - 11 Strathalbyn Street, Kew East and 123 Maling Road, Canterbury
I'm sure it's just me, but when I look at the name - Xocolatl - I can't help but think of 'axolotl'! But it turns out that the name is the Spanish word for chocolate, and is pronounced Sho-ko-la-tl.
Xocolatl is a family owned business which has been operating since 2005. All the chocolates are made at their Kew East premises.
The amazing selection of yummy chocolates in Xocolatl
I visited Xocolatl's Canterbury store, and was extremely impressed with the range of exquisite, home made chocolates. It was difficult to decide which ones to select! I ordered a cardamom dark chocolate to have with my coffee, and was also kindly given a macadamia and wasabi dark chocolate to try. The cardamom was great, and I'd definitely order it again; the macadamia and wasabi was interesting, perhaps not quite such a hit with me, mainly because I felt the flavour of the wasabi competed with the flavour of the chocolate a bit too much. However, it definitely gets my prize as the most unusual chocolate I sampled.
Individual chocolates retail for $2.20 each.
3. The best hot chocolate: Choclatte - 827 Burke Road (rear), Camberwell
Choclatte does a great hot chocolate - and of course, you get the option of white, milk or dark chocolate.
They have a reasonably limited range of attractive hand made chocolates which retail for $2 each, and which you can buy beautifully boxed (or individually). I greatly enjoyed their Blood Orange chocolate.
Pana Chocolate is locally made in Richmond. It contains only natural ingredients such as raw organic nuts, organic goji berries, organic coconut flakes and pure 100% essential oils. All Pana Chocolate is low GI, vegan and gluten free and has no dairy or soy. It contains no preservatives and is sweetened with low GI natural sweetener.
So, Pana Chocolate is as close as you can get to a healthy chocolate! But what does it taste like? Well I really enjoyed the flavour. Don't expect creamy richness (because there's no cream/dairy in the chocolate). But the fruit flavourings are great, and I would happily eat this as a substitute for dairy-based chocolate.
You can buy Pana Chocolate online or at a large number of local stockists. I found it at Evergrin Organics, 499 Riversdale Road, Camberwell. Be warned, at $6.95 for six squares of chocolate, it's not cheap.
So what's your favourite place to buy chocolate in Melbourne?
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery is a nice place to taste, buy, indulge in a vast variety of chocolates and hang around with friends and family. Marvelous location among the wineries. You can also have a peek on the kitchen while they busily transform streams of chocolate in to yummy treats.
Thank you Fiona. It was a pleasure to meet you and we love it when people pop into the studio and discover us for the first time. We often hear many oohs and aaahs and we can guess immediately. Happy Easter everyone!