Monday, October 12, 2009

35 Chocolatiers Later: L.A Chocolate Salon (Taste Panel & Hanging)

Oh, how stoked I was, to find out that after two years of consecutively covering the Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon, I was finally elected to become part of the tasting panel.

I thought "cool", then I got there and has more than doubled in size-- both vendors and space--since the first one.

crowd shot

With categories such as "Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience" and "Best Dark Chocolate", this was going to be the utmost test of my high threshold for indulgence.

First up was my annual favorite: Amano Chocolates

amano assortment

A Utah based company, Art Pollard of Amano is the most serious purveyor of chocolate I have ever met, strictly poignant in his entire chocolate fruition process: guaranteed single sourcing, small batches, figuring exact fermenting times for different beans etc.

(this picture from site)
Montanya: Rare cacao that grows on the Venezuelan mountain range, "the only way to get there is by horseback".

Tcho: Technology + Chocolate was actually founded by a Space Shuttle technologist turned chocolate maker.

An impressive new addition to this years salon, incorporating pre-set flavor profiles on single source cacao, tasted out to be pretty accurate.

There is just something about single source chocolates, might sound dumb but it somehow has a more condensed, pronounced flavor than typical chocolate, as if each molecule was integrated perfectly alongside each other or something.

And then there were the chocolate products:

bacon bar
BACON: Christopher Michael Chocolates brought home the bacon, along with pop rocks and smoked sea salt, a lot going on, kind of underminded the bacon-age factor of it.

truffle bar
Sterling Confections

Purveyors of the "Truffle Bar", an unfair favorite really with probably quadruple the amount of ganache to chocolate exterior ratio...won my vote for "Most Luxurious Chocolate Experience" on the ballot.

Now for the non-chocolates:


a stand was handing out complete samples of fresh caramel crusted with whole roasted almonds...nice palate cleanser and change of flavor finally.

And last but not least:


Plush Puffs artisinal marshmallows, yup, made with high quality ingredients, not usual by-products. Their little gas roaster added a terrific toasty, burnt sugar taste, reminded me of my wannabe s'more's I used to make at home since I never got to camp out and do it, vs. Jet Puffed? No comparison man.

Not even one fourth of what I tasted today really, but I will admit by the 27th sample--I was chocolated the hell out. Kept on telling myself "alright, this is my last" but you all know me.

I saw a stand called Marti Chocolatt--actually a Filipino Chocolatier-- slanging something interestingly different, revamping my taste buds with a lovely potent Chevre Truffle and dare I say it...a Durian Truffle?! Filipino variety Durian to be exact, even more onion-y than other Durian's I've had before, hitting you hugely at first bite, letting no chocolate flavor pass through it whatsoever, it wasn't until a couple of seconds later that the chocolate whimpered a little aftertaste.

By huge bias, this was my favorite of show. Even chose to enjoy it wholly, and blogger-duty free; no picture sorry!

Every year this gets bigger and better, I'm already looking forward to next years! eat ENTIRELY salty and savory for the rest of the week.

Other bloggers that joined in on the gorging and fun:

Gastronomy Blog
Kung Food Panda
Food She Thought
Diana Takes A Bite


gourmetpigs said...

durian chocolate? And no one bothered to save me one, dangit :P

Gastronomer said...

Dude, the salon ROCKED! Great seeing you there! Have the winners been announced, Mr. Tasting Panel?

Christina said...

First I read about marmite truffles, and now durian chocolate! I remember being shocked at bacon chocolate. Where will it end!!!

Awesome experience. Even if you do get chocolated out, I can't imagine that really being much of a problem!

jjenvy said...

omg chocolate!,but bacon chocolate?? ill try that someday,your a very lucky person :)surrounded with chocolate at every corner!!