Here in London, just about anything goes. You can dress like a glamazon or dress like you’ve just rolled out of bed; both will work and depending on the camps you mingle with and the part of the city you inhabit, one will seem decidedly inferior compared to the other. This is a city where you can find paintings in used chewing gum, spend an afternoon learning how to make doughnuts, become a whizz at ice sculpting or if, like me, you are rubbish at art, you can spend a freezing winter’s day at an ice sculpture festival instead.
In London, you’ll find a tour devoted to all things matcha (a Japanese green tea powder, which most of my friends and family have never even heard of let alone toured) and even a focused London walk specifically revolving around former serial killer, Jack the Ripper.
London is the place to look when you need something quirky and perfect for even the trickiest people to buy for (not mentioning any names Pumpkin), whose birthday we once spent competing on a London Underground Treasure Hunt and whose recent Christmas gift from me will soon see him playing pilot in a flight simulator. When a travel-addict has seen as much of the world as he has, a girl must deploy some lateral thinking…
Whatever your interests, there is something for just about everyone in London and no matter how niche, how specific and how bizarre a concept is, my guess is that if you can spread the word that it’s out there, you’ll find a few fanatics willing to cough up to enjoy it. The Crème Egg Pop Up Café that took place earlier in the year was a case in point. By the time I had come to hear of it, all the dates had fully sold out.
I had learned my lesson once so I when I caught the chocolate hazelnut whiff of the Ferrero Rocher Pop Up, I didn’t even read the blurb before I started texting the fellow chocoholics in my life….or Ferrero-Rolics to be precise, as we divas who lust after these decadent, gold-encased rounds are an entity in our own right.
The Dolce by Ferrero Rocher Pop Up, Covent Garden
Pumpkin is less of a diva but where chocolate is involved, he was never going to opt out and my sister and I have been nibbling on Ferrero Rochers the way timid squirrels ravenously nibble on nuts for as long as we can remember.
From the time I sent them both texts to the time I got the replies later that day, most of the time slots I had been eyeing up had already sold, which gives you an indication as to just how popular these niche pop ups really are.
Booking was not compulsory but life is too short to waste in a queue particularly with December’s climate in the UK (although those waiting in line were being rewarded by free Ferrero Rocher and if that’s not an incentive to stay patient, then I don’t know what is.) We rocked up to a little courtyard in Covent Garden, which bizarrely I hadn’t even realised existed until then, which was twinkling on that crisp and cold night with the warm, golden glows of the Christmas lights above.
Smugly armed with our printed tickets in hand, we joined a separate queue for those who had reserved ahead and little did I know that our seats at the chef’s table (which had been the only remaining tickets left when I booked) would turn out to be the best in the house, giving us an opportunity to talk directly with the head patisserie chef at the event and watching the treats being concocted in front of our eyes.
The Setting for the Ferrero Rocher Pop Up
Many similar pop ups that I have been to exude a more child-like fun-factor (for some serious whimsical madness, check out the Mad Hatter’s Brunch). Dolce by Ferrero Rocher, in contrast, felt very much like a seductive, opulent and grown up affair, the kind of place that would earn you some serious brownie points (mind the pun) on a first date and the kind of ambience that oozes elegance and glamour.
I am no branding expert (clearly evidenced by the facelift my blog is just calling out for) but even I could tell that the interiors of the pop up reflected the Ferrero brand down to a tee from the gold-tinted mood lighting, the sleek crockery and the platter of sparkling slender Prosecco filled glasses.
We took our seats in anticipation (but not before I had an opportunity to photograph the Ferrero Rocher Wall). Yes, a WHOLE WALL covered in Ferrero Rocher. Wall paper, paint and signature walls are so passe. 2017 will be all about the Ferrero Rocher Wall. You heard it here first.
The Concept at Dolce by Ferrero Rocher
The non-drinkers in the room could substitute the Dolce by Ferrero Rocher bubbles for a tea or coffee, which balanced out the collection of sweet treats that were about to come our way. But first, a little introduction into what the dessert tasting was about. Despite what one may expect, the principle behind this pop up was not to eat as many Ferrero Rocher as possible in a 90 minute window, nor was it to showcase a range of desserts in which Ferrero Rocher can be used. After all, we all know how well it works in chocolate cakes, brownies and cheesecakes (or is that just me?!)
No, the concept behind the dessert platter was actually about unfolding and unravelling the different elements of the humble Ferrero Rocher. Whilst most of us would ordinarily gobble down the Ferrero Rocher in an instant, let’s press pause to think about the fact that this little sphere of magic actually contains wafer, hazelnut, ganache to name but a few of the individual components, all lovingly packaged into a crispy golden wrapping. (I don’t work for Ferrero Rocher I promise, just a big fan!)
Each dessert we were served, which were thankfully in elf-sized portions to avoid feeling nauseated, were designed to reflect and pay homage to a different aspect of the Ferrero Rocher with the aim that hopefully, by the end of it, we would have a more holistic, multi-sensory approach to this chocolate that millions of us have enjoyed for so long.
The Desserts at the Ferrero Rocher Pop Up
The five miniature desserts were plated up in one go with a recommendation about the suggested order to eat them in, in order to get the greatest appreciation of the Ferrero Rocher. We had a cocoa-roasted hazelnut, cocooned snugly inside a praline mousse and a heavenly cloud of candy floss dusted with gold glitter, which represented the much-loved gold wrapping. It was the first time I had eaten candy floss in around two decades but I was SO #SorryNotSorry.
We sampled the wafer-encrusted ball of chocolate ganache as well as a chocolate case filled with ganache (someone pass me the diabetes drugs). My ultimate favourite dessert of the night, though, had to be the hazelnut-topped chocolate dome, its delicate ceiling opening up to the molten chocolate sauce poured by our waitress with orderly precision.
It wouldn’t be fitting, of course, to come to an event dedicated to the Ferrero Rocher without eating at least one actual Ferrero Rocher, particularly since I now had a newfound understanding of the different components that make up the chocolate. In truth, I was never someone who needed much persuading to eat them but this dessert platter may have swayed even the most hard-nosed chocolate snobs.
As with so many London pop ups, it came and went in an instant but hopefully, as with so many other London pop ups, one can only hope it may just return. Moral of the story – don’t dither and deliberate too long when a pop-up store or restaurant of your liking comes along. London is filled with avid diners, armed with their credit card and smart phones, ready to pounce whenever an exciting event comes up.
Are you a fellow Ferrero-Rolic?