I didn’t eat dessert after attending the Korean Festival last Saturday, which is unusual for me, because even if it’s just a small square of chocolate I like to end the day with something sweet. Never fear though, I made up for it and then some the next day when I attend the Luxury Chocolate Salon in Pasadena.
Entrance to the Salon was a bit pricey at $20 for the early bird online special (it cost more if you bought at the door), and it was so crowded in the ballroom of the Pasadena Convention Center that some of the lines snaked almost all the way around the room.
Still, the hours spent battling the chocolate-crazed mob was worth it for the sugar coma alone, plus I got to try some unusual treats and ogle some pretty gorgeous creations. Join me for some photo memories, won’t you?
I was amazed by how artistic some of the designs were on the chocolate. I mean look at these:
There was alot of chocolate to try, as you can imagine, so I'll just give a rundown of the most interesting/delicious things I tried. There were some intriguing combinations, along with the classics, of course. Fruit, flowers, spice, booze, and tea were popular inclusions, though often in unexpected ways.
I tried Ciel's Thyme & Lemon, it was great. Didn't try any of these tea flavors, but did buy two bars from another vendor, The Tea Room, one a dark chocolate infused with mate, another a masala chai-infused milk chocolate.
My first taste of Durian from Marti Chocolatt! I didn't really know what to make of it - my first thought was "ew," but I think if I tried it enough it might grow on me. I washed it down with their other samples, including Mango Caramel (awesome), Rose Raspberry (ditto), and Pandan (don't really remember it, except that it was green on the inside).
Ah, now these were interesting! Bootleg Chocolates in flavors like Salted Caramel & Hibiscus, Pineapple & Hibiscus, Lime with Spiced Rum, and Goat Pepper & Balsamic Caramel. I'd never heard of goat pepper - apparently their so spicy they make habaneros seem tame, but this just left a subtle burn going down, tempered by the sweet tang of the balsamic. Fantastic, and the other flavors were excellent, too. I had tasted so much chocolate by now I should have been suffering from palate fatigue, but the flavors of these truffles really exploded.
Same goes for the chocolates from Cocotutti, particularly this Raspberry Truffle - made from their homemade raspberry jam, this little bite seemed to contain equal parts jam and chocolate, allowing the raspberry flavor to really dominate. Their Orange Confit also used homemade orange jam, but was a bit too sweet.
Carrot Cake Caramels from Amella. Really tasted like carrot cake, in a good way. Other flavors: passionfruit, black forest.
The Choclatique booth might have been my favorite bites of the event, mostly because of the look of the two chocolate I tried:
They had some more sophisticated creations using champagne, but come on, how cute are those, made for their Halloween and Doughnut collections.
Gooey green innards! Lime-caramel. The doughnut truffle had a fudgy, almost brownie-like interior. Wish I could have tried all of them.
Seattle Chocolates came in typical flavors like salted caramel, mint and coconut, but then they had some interesting ones like Margarita, Mimosa, Lemon Drop, and Blackberry. You could take as many as you wanted and they were wrapped (the only vendor do wrap their chocolates as far as I could tell), so technically you could grab a handful to munch on later if you were experiencing chocolate overload. I meant to do that with the few I took but, umm...I ate them there instead. Hey, I was there for five hours, this was my lunch!
While chocolate vendors obviously dominated the event, there were other offerings as well. In keeping with current trends, there were macarons for sale:
(To my extreme surprise, however - no cupcakes! What's up with that??)
I kept sneaking back to Toffeebox's booth, as did many others - something about that salty sweet combo is just irresistible.
There was also alcohol - tequila and wine, to be more specific, which I think might have gone a long way in keeping people patient on the long lines. I tried a very sweet Orange Muscat, and some of this:
Not terrible, but...not exactly good either. Kind of like boozy fruit punch with a hint of chocolate. What I want to know is, is there actually chocolate in the wine, or do they just do something to it to bring out the "chocolate notes" that are apparently found in some red wines (not that I know anything at all about wine-tasting).
There were chef demonstrations and talks, too, including, to my delight, an interview with Top Chef Just Desserts contestant Danielle Keene:
(Hard to see, but it's her, I swear.)
After that I figured my afternoon was complete (and I could feel a sugar coma coming on and figured I should try to make the train home before it hit), so I headed out, promising myself I wouldn't have any more chocolate...for 24 hours at least.