I went to another of those fancy gourmet chocolate shows today. This one was called a “Chocolate Salon,” and featured about 40 booths of chocolate makers vending their signature chocolates and offering several experimental chocolates for public opinion.
There was an abundance of the antioxidant dark chocolate shown, some good, some not so good. The worst was an 85% cocoa bar that was so bitter and burnt tasting that the seller, who was asking for written opinions of three chocolate flavors, will probably not merchandise the product. No one within earshot of myself and members of my group had much good to say about it. The one highly favored flavor this same vendor offered was an intense orange in milk chocolate. Quite lovely.
Many of the vendors were experimenting with salt/savory flavors blended with chocolate. A Tabasco-laced chocolate got some interest (a slight burn manifested approximately 30 seconds after chewing, with no vinegar taste to interrupt the sensation). Other vendors were content to offer chili, coriander praline, jasmine citron, lavender, mojito, wasabi, and zinfandel.
One of the foremost chocolatiers at the fancy chocolate show, one who services many of Hollywood’s elite and televised awards programs, discussed his newest potential offering with me: a chocolate with fig and prosciutto. Following his highly successful bacon and chocolate creation, he suggested that his only delay to introduce this new fig and prosciutto chocolate confection was in securing a year-round provider of juicy figs that can be dried to just the moisture content he desires (dried yet moist).
In the same creative vein, another vendor at the show had a fig and sesame bon bon that was very tasty. The fig flavor complemented the chocolate quite nicely.
One organic chocolatier reported to a higher chakra authority with her chai, tangerine, green tea and ginger lemongrass flavors. By the time I was able to taste the pomegranate and chocolate flavor, my taste buds were overcome and the “elevated consciousness” I reportedly was to experience was little more than a wispy tang. Another chocolate, called Divine, was devoted to Fair Trade chocolate products from Ghana.
There were regular chocolate and nut offerings too, including almond Florentines, dark chocolate coated butter toffees (with hazelnuts, macadamias or almonds), and a ball of creamy peanut butter and pretzel chips enrobed in milk, dark, or white chocolate.
A chocolate from the Philippines had great texture and was exquisitely truffly, but the exotic tastes such as durian fruit and Asian five spice fell short of the strong chocolate used.
By far my favorite chocolate flavor, and one I purchased, was a white chocolate banana rum truffle that to me was the most awesome chocolate at the show. It contained lots of Mexican vanilla and was covered in a dark chocolate coating and a touch of almond brittle. With a cup of strong coffee, these light, near-liquid center chocolates would constitute a perfect dessert. This same chocolatier also had an unusual chocolate combination, called Tunisian Beta 3, consisting of sun dried tomatoes, salted capers, dried miso paste, and cumin that I’ll have to try sometime.
I’m always fascinated by the fancy gourmet chocolate shows because the creativity is cutting edge and it is so much fun to speak with the proprietors who strive to please with their signature chocolate creations. Also, these fancy gourmet chocolate shows allow the luxury of taste testing some very expensive chocolates that otherwise would go unknown. And you know me, I am always content to try before I buy.