Monday, November 12, 2012

SF Chocolate Salon - Nov. 11, '12

San Francisco Fall Chocolate Salon
Nov. 11, 2012

Yesterday I spent hunting for new chocolates at the Fall Chocolate Salon in San Francisco. This event, one of two annual Chocolate Salons in the city, was held at Fort Mason. We were so focused on tasting, we scarcely gazed up at the sailboats and blue sky outside. Such is the power of chocolate.

I enjoyed attending parts of three talks. The first talk was about decorating chocolates, followed by Art Pollard (Amano Chocolate) speaking about Organic and Fair Trade. Pollard shared some of the challenges associated with certification and pricing.

Third, Elyce Zahn (CocoTutti) demonstrated the significance of ingredients in fresh and flavorful truffles/bonbons by handing out small tasting experience kits with starter components such as small discs of dark and milk chocolate, a fresh raspberry, a dab of sweet raspberry puree (yum); and finished raspberry and coffee flavored truffles.

Speaking of fruit, we marveled at some giant caramel and chocolate covered apples from Rachel Dunn Chocolates (Concord, CA), and some beautifully decorated, sizable dessert bowls made entirely of chocolate.

Newcomers to this Fall Show included Smitten Truffles (Portland, OR) and Marti Chocolatt (Los Angeles, CA).

Otho at Smitten handed us samples from 4 tiny vats of ganache used to fill 4 different truffles: Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean; Water Avenue Brazilian Coffee; Kalamansi (Lime) and Creme Honey; and Vanilla Caramel and Tahitian Vanilla Sea Salt.

Marti Chocolatt Chocolatier, Tonet Tibay, presided over a variety of exotic and well-executed flavored truffles -- that included Durian, Ube, Pandan, Pina, and Calamansi lime.

Socola delivered a few wonderful new flavors, as always. Their mint truffles were the epitome of fresh and natural tasting mint leaves harvested from the garden.

Snake and Butterfly (a Bay Area bean-to-bar maker) and Tea Room Chocolates (organic, tea infused bars, based in Novato, CA) had tables full of good chocolate choices, as did Amano Chocolate (single origin bars and drinking chocolate).

Saratoga Chocolates (Saratoga, CA) had a good line-up, including their Blueberry-tini chocolates (blueberries infused with blueberry vodka and coated with dark chocolate), and assorted truffles, dipped apricots and toffee squares.

Sixth Course's Wine and Spirits collection (sold out) was wonderful, as were their caramels, with skillful incorporation of local ingredients (St. George Single Malt whiskey), herbs (rosemary, and sage and brown butter caramels). A new line of candy bars will incorporate favorite flavors.

The selections at the Feve Chocolatier (San Francisco) table looked great, but at least 3 of their truffles contained wheat (a lovely thin wafer) -- that I can't have; so I had to pass on these.

Attractive bags of fresh toffee were available from several vendors -- such as Toffeeology and Toffee Talk, most with nuts, some with nibs.

Thank you to organizers and vendors and local chocolate Meetup group. Those chocolatiers mentioned above were a small sampling of the total; apologies to those I've not mentioned by name. Thank you to Elise for tasting company and good conversation throughout the day.

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