Today was the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon and since I have fond memories of last year’s festival on this very same date, I thought I’d post my blog from that experience.
Since I’ve sampled chocolates in Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, the Bay Area, New England, and the Pacific Northwest, I decided it was time to test my endurance and attend the San Francisco Chocolate Salon.
The event started at 10 a.m., and I arrived at 9:40. When it was time to go in, I was as excited as Charlie visiting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for the first time. Chocolate vendors had arranged their displays throughout Fort Mason’s Festival Pavilion, the size of a football field.
About a week before the event, I had seen an interview with one of the chocolatiers, and he said there would be 300 kinds of chocolate at the salon. I wanted to try every one and sampled with gusto. The sample sizes ranged from — to ( ).
I started with Fera’wyn’s and tried raspberry and lime chambord, limoncello (my favorite), milk chocolate with salted caramel, dark chocolate with salted caramel, and naga chili (too spicy).
Next, I sampled Saratoga chocolates: five spice (my favorite), salted caramel, very dark, and toffee almond caramel.
I moved on to Cocotutti and had lavender coconut, liquid vanilla caramel, hot (chipotle) chocolate, ginger peanut Thai chili, blackberry (nondairy), peanut butter cup, and citrus infused with almond; my favorite of these was a tie between the liquid vanilla, the Thai chili, and the blackberry.
Next were La Châtelaine’s dark chocolate and raspberry and white chocolate with lime and cardamon (I liked this one), followed by Toffee Talk’s almond and pecan chocolate toffee (both delish).
Neo Cocoa’s ganache-based truffles were also fabulous. I particularly liked the warm ginger root, but also enjoyed the toasted coconut, zested lime, salted caramel, almond butter with smoked sea salt, smoked chili, and cool peppermint.
Taza’s was too dark for me, and I found that the dark chocolate overpowered the two flavors I sampled–salt and pepper and ginger.
Next I had Amella’s vegan grey sea salt, then CaCoco’s raw vegan drinking chocolate, which I learned, is high in antioxidants, magnesium, calcium, and has a lot of amino acids.
After getting my vitamins and minerals, I moved on to Nuttyness Marzipan’s almond, almond pistachio (my favorite), almond hazelnut, lemon ginger, and orange cayenne (spicy). Shokomonk offered tastes of white chocolate with blueberry (my favorite), 50% dark chocolate with coconut, dark chocolate with peppermint, and dark chocolate with orange.
The Tea Room’s organic chocolates came next. I had white chocolate infused with chamomile and wild honey, milk chocolate with mint, ginger and orange peel (my favorite), milk chocolate with tropical fruit blend of pineapple, banana, mango, and other tropical island fruits, dark chocolate with chai and Mayan chili pepper, dark chocolate with raspberry rooiboos (nice raspberry flavor) as well as their nutty truffles — pistachio rose (outstanding) and raspberry hazelnut.
I sampled Kika’s Treats–Brazilian honey cakes, coconut shortbread in dark chocolate, peanut caramel, and chocolate caramel with coconut.
Sacred Chocolate featured raw chocolate also. The chocolate maker prays over each chocolate, which explains the sacredness. I tried coconut lemon with maple sugar and Himalayan pink salt, peppermint, ormus gold for healing and spiritual wellness, xanthohumol to protect hormones and metabolize cells, one with eleven kinds of mushrooms, including maitake, shiitake, and oyster, and another made with 22 herbs, nuts and berries from the Amazon.
At Socola, I had the dark chocolate with sriracha hot chili sauce, and at Flying Noir I had Sevilla with dark milk chocolate, seville orange pimenton ahumado (aka paprika), and Saigon cinnamon, Tangelina with gianduja, honey tangerine, and piemonte hazelnuts, manda quata truffle with silver glitter, dark ganache mandarinquat, and chili, and cara cantara with bittersweet ganache, cara cara orange, and cardamon.
At Kindred Cooks Caramel I tried a chocolate surprise caramel that didn’t surprise me.
William Dean gave me peanut butter crunch.
Saint & Olive seemed to specialize in biscotti, but I tried a new item and liked it: chocolate balsamic fig.
Sadly, I didn’t reach my goal of 300. I hit my max with my 68th sample–Marich’s coconut curry cashew chocolate.
As for arriving twenty minutes ahead of time, I can honestly say, tis better to be choco-early than be choco-late.