Saturday, March 26, 2005

Max Brenner Chocolates

Max Brenner Chocolates is "creating a new chocolate culture". It certainly has - Cadbury Dairy Milk just doesn't cut it for me any more. It's got to be 70% cocoa solids or nothing, baby.

Max Brenner Chocolate Bars are located in Oxford St, Paddington as well as, quirkily enough, the Manly ferry terminal. This I only discovered by accident when I took my visiting mother to see The Other Side of Sydney. It was uncomfortably windy and cold and with half an hour to kill before our ferry left we resorted to investigating the sheltered ferry terminal as a last resort for some interesting shops. Our huddled windswept selves browsed amongst the overpriced made-in-china koalas and I avoided looking at the grease-pit chicken kebab onna sticks. But lo and behold this chocolate oasis appeared in my view.

My first experience with Max Brenner was serendipitous as well. I found the Oxford St store, usually jam-packed with young Asian females, stylish shopping ladies and young couples on dates, during a shopping expedition in Sydney. It is a small location and usually has a queue of people waiting for their delicious hot chocolate and other dessert treats on cold days. I was doing my usual Paddington shopping-crawl, it was a hot summer's day and I was feeling a little exhausted from the incessant fashion value analysis. A glass pane and a white plate on an old window-seat table caught my eye. I looked closely and discovered a perfectly formed strawberry, some sort of heart-shaped chocolate and some other kinds of small desserts. The woman partaking of this plate of luxury was eating it with a knife and fork. The ultimate in gastronomic indulgence - dessert eaten with two implements.

I resolved to check out this place. I went into the narrow shop, avoiding the shelves of display chocolates overflowing their tins - ample granules of dark, milk and white beans spread out with so much abandon.

The shop has a front café section and a back retail part. The back has handmade Israeli chocolates for sale in gift boxes as well as all the implements for their signature hot drink - the suckao. My first taste of Max Brenner magic was their dark chocolate espresso frappe. A chilled blend of ice, dark chocolate and espresso. Just the thing to perk one up on a hot summer's day.

At Manly, Max Brenner has obviously anticipated its demand and created ample and roomy seating. My mother and friend ordered a milk chocolate suckao.
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The large ovoid vessels contain a metal insert that is heated with a tea light. To commence hot chocolate imbibation one pours milk from the milk jugs into the heated insert then gently spoons in the chocolate granules; you can see these lazily spread out on their little platters. The metal spoon doubles as a straw as the long stem is hollow. So one can spoon in chocolate, sip the velvety smooth drink and eat the melted chocolate, in whatever order one wishes - this is surely the only way to partake of hot chocolate.

I ordered a hazelnut hug mug: hot chocolate prepared for me by the expert chocolatiers and whipped to a light froth. Incorporating air into chocolate beverages enhances the flavour I was told.
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We couldn't resist their dessert menu and also ordered a sunken chocolate souffle cake.
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For balance we included the strawberry Belgian waffle. We all need some fruit you know.
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My mother was so impressed with her chocolate experience that she wanted to take away a memento. We bought her a suckao gift set and a tin of chocolate beans so she could enjoy the experience at home.

I love indulging in my mother (and my father) when I can. They've scrimped and saved all their lives to raise my sister and myself and it's only now, close to their retirement and the kids supporting themselves, that they are allowing themselves to enjoy life's little luxuries.

Later that week whilst checking into their flight home I had a horrible thought: those metal suckao straws were very knitting needle-like; and we all know that those crafty weapons of personal destruction are definitely not allowed on carry-on luggage. There was a mad rush at check-in to remove the straws and quickly insert them into their check-in luggage. Phew.


Santos said...

i just found your blog through julia's aromacookery, and i'm enjoying reading through your archives. i've only been to the max brenner in manila, and it's crazy--all the male waitstaff are bald or have closely shaved heads, is this true of max brenners everywhere?

David said...

Santos, incredible! The sub-name is "Chocolates by the Bald Man" so I guess that is appropriate. The Max Brenners in Sydney are usually staffed by attractive young girls, probably university students, usually with dark hair and eyes.

Tseen said...

great pics. great, conniving pics that now make me want to dash out for a fix.

have you ever been to koko's in Melb (in Royal Arcade)? aside from the funster value of watching the chocolate chefs at work through a glass window, there's a chocolate lounge upstairs where one can kick back with a traditional belgian hot chocolate (in a normal mug, alas). I'd recommend it as a comparison to your brenner exp. I don't think I can go back there for at least another year, though. there's rich and there's RICH.

pinkcocoa said...

hey lucky you, get to snap up those choccie pics. I was told to delete my pics when I was in the Chatswood store last week. They said even photos of the food we had alone are forbidden for copyright reason! *yikes*

*sigh* shouldnt have spent all that money to find I couldnt take photos to show you guys *sob*

David said...

tseen: chocolate is a drug. Drugs Drag you Dead (seen on a poster in the Philippines). I'm filing 'koko Royal Arcade' in 'Melbourne Eats'.

pinkcocoa: hmmm, I was sneaky and didn't use the flash. We were also sitting in the corner and I pretended to take photos of my family. Next time, you can quote the copyright act and say that the photos are for private study. Besides, they mean Trade Mark, not copyright. No one is going to put their desserts through a fax machine or photocopier.

Jean-Claude said...

Great pictures and story! As a French who is always looking for darker chocolate (at least 85 % cocao I mean...), Max Brenner seams a good beginning ... Will experiment soon, when in Sydney ... Thanks.

David said...

Hey JC, glad to see you commenting. Wish more of my friends would do so too! 85% cocoa solids is far too rich for me. It's like a meal after eating some. Mind you, one's not supposed to eat 100g of chocolate at a time.

Nic said...

I love Max Brenner chocolates and have been to the Oxford St store several times. I always stop by when I'm in Sydney. Of course, the only thing I can manage to take home with me is the hot chocolate. Everything else melts or gets eaten (or both!) on the way to the airport.

David said...

Hey nic. They are quite delicious. As a matter of fact, I'm going to their chocolate bar in Double Bay on Saturday. There is some mail order on the internet, but it looked dubious.

Andrew said...

we have a couple of Max Brenner's here in Melbourne, I didn't have any problem getting photos, but for less hype and more serious chocolate, I recommend koko black next time you're in Melbourne.

kristin & mike said...

Hi David, I just bought some Max Brenner Hug Mugs online. I stumbled across the hug mug one day while browsing hot chocolate recipes in an image search. Love at first sight! I haven't even tasted the chocolates yet, so it must be good if I've snapped up a mug without trying :) The site has all the custom Max Brenner products. If you, or anyone is interested, the site I bought from is:

The best part is - express post, they deliver the next day! Make sure you put postal insurance on in case of breakages! :) Shame they don't have a Max Brenner in Adelaide yet, or New Zealand as I've just moved here. Happy chocolate drinking!