March 24, 2013
Good fun was had today at the annual Chocolate Salon, held at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, CA. I enjoyed saying hello to local favorites (Socola, Neo Cocoa, Jade Chocolates, Clarine's Florentines, and many others) as well as discovering new bars, truffles and flavor combinations.
Trends, What's New
New chocolatiers in this year's group of exhibitors included Marco Paolo Chocolates, Mission Blue Confections, Nosh This, Fab. At least one chocolate maker was missing who'd been attending in recent years, Dandelion Chocolate (the company was likely focusing on ramping up their new place on Valencia, in the Mission district of SF).
There also seemed to be more wine and spirits vendors this year. The first table in the hall was occupied by a sparkling wine vendor from Los Angeles. And TV host Leslie Sbrocco ("Check Please! Bay Area" on KQED/PBS Channel 9) gave a lively presentation with suggestions for wine pairings with Toffee Talk, Poco Dolce, and Marich chocolates. The audience enjoyed samples as well.
Speaking of presentations, this year's show had at least one, conveniently located separate break-out room (off the floor) for some sessions/talks -- an improvement from earlier years. And a well-done presentation schedule was posted at the entrance in a few places from the start. Hurray!
Presentations, Demos, Talks
I wasn't able to attend every event, but in addition to exhibitors, the show included a variety of talks and presentations, including a...
- Talk about orchids, vanilla and chocolate by Bruce Rogers (author of "The Orchid Whisperer," Chronicle Books), that included whiffs of lovely chocolate-smelling orchids, and vanilla beans
- Chocolate Meetup featuring a talk, given by Marcia Gagliardi of tablehopper, about great chocolate desserts in San Francisco, accompanied by mouth-watering photos
- Demonstration on how to make a world class chocolate mousse (on-site) from a distinguished chef and teacher, Stephen Durfee
- Panel discussion about where chocolate comes from, from farm to bar, with Art Pollard of Amano Chocolate (Orem, UT), and Gary Guittard of Guittard Chocolate (South San Francisco, CA), moderated by food writer, cookbook author and chocolate fan, Amy Sherman.
San Francisco was a great place for this show. When we needed a break from too much sugar and chocolate, we needed only to look out the window, or to step outside, to catch a little breeze, and to see sailboats scudding by on the San Francisco Bay, on a day so clear that Mt. Tamalpais (across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County) was visible in the distance.