I made a special trip up to my local M&S because I found out that the inner tray is made from Plantic which is a material which looks like plantic but actually made directly from plant material, rather than several thousand year old plant material in the form of oil. I had the choice of a larger £13.99 box or this 250g box that cost £7.99 and offered twelve different chocolate types and twenty-seven individual chocolates. Everything I ever buy from M&S has always been great quality - apart from some honeycomb biscuits which I just couldn't bring myself to reviewing. I'm hoping that my last chocolate encounter isn't repeated.
One thing I did like was the menu - it was clear with pictures of the chocolates that you just couldn't mix up which was which, unlike the Paul Wayne Gregory Pure Indulgence Chocolates which only Ikea instruction experts could decipher!
The selection didn't look too bad, although they did look like they were made out of plastic and had just come out of the Coronation Street prop cupboard. The Alletto did remind me of the Jeff de Bruges Les Caracas though.
The first I tried was the Alletto which has a walnut filling with crunchy roasted nibbed hazelnuts in a creamy milk chocolate. But I got a complete and utter lack of flavour. What I do get is a flavour that reminded me of my brother's clothes when he used to work in a milk packing facility. There's this horrible, acidic, salty flavour against an overly sweet background and little, or no nutty flavour. Very disappointing.
Next up it was the 'Prestige' which came labelled as 'extra fine truffle centre in rich dark chocolate topped with a creamy white chocolate plaque'. Again this was very disappointing. At first I struggled to think what it reminded me of; finally I realised it was fly spray. I know that sounds overly dramatic, but there was a chemical presence that just stood out for me. The texture wasn't the worst I'd ever had but I think they've tried to go down a honey route and it just misses the mark completely.
The third was the Sienna which is a 'smooth almond & pistachio filling in dark chocolate' which left me in two minds. I'm not sure if I liked it as I'm just a huge fan of pistachio or if it’s because it also felt of chemicals, perhaps dishwasher tablets crossed with field mushrooms with a sprinkling sugar on top.
I next approached the 'white chocolate with almond cream filling and hazelnut crocante' that left me gasping for water as it was exceptionally sweet. There was the slighest of hazelnut flavour there but no almond. The whole experience was dominated by the sugariness and it actually felt that the back of my throat was burning. Of course it wasn't but there was an unpleasant feeling back there.
Do you mind if I stop there? I can't manage the other eight flavours. I'd say this box is alright if you're addicted to sugar, almonds or hazelnuts. If you're tried fresh chocolates from Paul A. Young, William Curley, Matcha you'll be feeling inclined for your money back. Even some of the grannies that loved the old style Thorntons Continentals would smash their cuppa's down in disgust, knock on next door and start a riot.
The problem is that you can't move in M&S stores for these 'chocolates'. They're plugging them like crazy because the 'plastic' tray in the box is actually made from plant material that decomposes on compost heaps and dissolves in water. There are so many quips and overly-used puns that could be inserted into this review, but I'll resist temptation.
Overall the M&S Swiss collection is like a visit to your local NHS walk-in centre, clinical and devoid of passion. Unfortunately, however, I've finished my experience with these chocolates in a worst state than I started - the complete opposite to what chocolate should do.
I won't grace these chocolates with a complete summary. I'd give them 10% because the menu was clear and they're tried hard to cut down the environmental impact of their production and presentation. Another way to have done that would not to have bothered in the first place!