What can I say. Over 4,000 people attended the San Francisco Chocolate Salon this past Saturday. I'm so glad I got there early (note to self: remember to go early next year) before all those people arrived. There certainly was enough to satisfy even the most devoted chocoholic.
I was a Judge, so I picked up my form right away. I was surprised at all the categories. I'm a purist at heart and many of the categories had to do with what was added to the chocolate or how it was packaged, but that didn't daunt me. I was up to the challenge, and, after all, I should be expanding my horizons. Some of the categories ranged from best dark chocolate bar to best truffle to best new chocolate product, to most interesting ingredient. I'll let you know the categories and winners when I get them on Thursday.
So out I went ballot in hand. So many choices! There were Honey-vodka truffles from XOX. Beautifully shaped truffles and elegant boxes with great tasting cayene tequila truffles from Neo Cocoa, interesting flavored bars from Jade Chocolates including Dragon's Breath. Very hot and spicy! And so many more. I was taken by the Chocolate Guinness from Socola, a great accompaniment for my Chocolate Guinness cake last week. I enjoyed talking with the two sisters Wendy and Susan Leiu abut their hand-crafted truffles with local ingredients including Straus Cermery butter and cream.
Tcho was there, and they produce some of my favorites bars. Sterling Confections had the most incredible artistic 'loaves of many colors.' There were chocolates beautifully boxed in Tiffany colors. Poco Dolce had Tiles of chocolate. Interesting concept and great taste. Suggestion by the folks there was to break them up and do a tasting. Dolce Bella of Saratoga had my vote in several categories. Smooth, luxurious truffles. Divine Chocolate billed itself as Heavenly Chocolate with a Heart, and I certainly agreed.
I could go on and on, and probably will at another time when I go through all of the exhibitors at a later date. So I made my first pass, tasting small amounts, thinking of the categories. Although I thought I had taken good notes, I found I had to go around a second and even to some chocolatiers a third time, in order to reach a decision. This judging was much harder than I thought it would be.
I reached my own conclusions and handed in my ballot, but I look forward to Thursday and finding out what the consensus of all the judges was. I'll post as soon as I know. In the meantime, I have some very sweet memories of a great hall of chocolate! The International Chocolate Salon goes to other cities. Be sure and put it on your calendar if they come your way. I particularly liked that so many local chocolatiers were included at the San Francisco Salon. I loved meeting new chocolatiers and tasting new chocolate!
It was an event to die for......