Monday, December 03, 2007

chocolate show

Uh, hello Chocolate Show. You are like a month old. You can gurgle and coo. And focus with your cacao bean eyes. Except you are over. Ok, metaphor gone wild. Wooo, show your words! Hahahaha.

Ah, brain, who needs one? So I guess this was a "trade show," so it's for vendors to get the word out about their products and pique some media and public interest blahblahblah? Or it's an opportunity for the mere mortals to pay $20-something to devour "free" samples in Augustus Gloop-like fashion, except you can't really do that because there is a huge crowd of people and also there aren't troughs of samples for chocolate piggies to snuffle around (or drown) in. I have to admit, it's all sort of a weird concept to me, but after making the rounds and sampling enough chocs to actually make me dizzy, I thought it was definitely fun times.

Su Good Sweets highlights some valid gripes about the show, which include charging for sweet, sweet, palate-cleansing bottles of water, needless booths for credit cards and hotels, and paying more for certain booths' samples. She also points out two booths that offered French truffles made with hydrogenated vegetable oil. I believe I bought one of those boxes of truffles for my officemates. Whoops! No wonder they were smoothilicious. But it's actually quite funny because as we were invited to try these samples, the lady with a very Frenchie accent was so threateningly severe: "DON'T CHEW EET. Let eet melt on your tongue! Eet iz an old French family recipe!" Was it all just bollocks? Was that a real accent? No wonder a box only cost like $7.

More than not, I intentionally passed on the NY-centric tables, like Chocolate Bar and stuff I saw all the time, like Lindt, Sweetriot cocoa nibs and Chocolove bars, though I couldn't resist me some Jacques Torres ménage à trois truffles. Sounds saucy doesn't it? They're truffles with three mystery flavors and the ones we tried were super yummy and I had NO idea what the flavors were. Me and my champion palate win gold medals from the supermarket quarter toy machines.
Some of my favorite parts of the day were trying chocolates — I think, at the Michel Cluizel booth — from different places and getting that duh! realization that they actually do taste different even with the same percentage of cocoa content. I hadn't really forayed into the whole origin-focused chocolate consuming thing — because of the plastic ball enclosed champion-ness of my palate — but now I'm more willing to give it a whirl.
The Japanese Mary's Chocolate had strikingly beautiful sweets and works in progress — the dude in the picture above is from that booth — but they were charging for everything and also there was a huge crowd. All in all, the different aesthetics and packaging choices of the companies were very interesting to note because they did have an effect on whether I was prompted to try or pass on them.

Bloomsberry, for example, went for the humorous packaging, which I thought was pretty cute, but it didn't get my tastebuds crying out for cocoa.
My other actual purchases were some chocolate lip balm from Sweet Beauty Spa, out of Seattle. The lip balms are made from all natural ingredients with good stuff like beeswax and babassu seed, aloe vera and avocado oils, etc., plus various strengths of organic/fair trade chocolate. It actually stays on pretty well if you can resist just eating it which is the point where you should just eat some regular non-oil-infused chocolate, but I've found the smell of putting some on is effective when I need a little psychological uplift or if I'm hungry.
I also got some bars of chocolate from Romanicos Chocolate, out of Florida. They had huge lines forming to try their 38 calorie truffles, which actually tasted pretty yummy to me. Their shtick is no preservatives and top notch fresh ingredients so no worries about partially hydrogenated oils there. I'm a little confused about how they don't use any (cocoa?) butter or sugar at all, so it's all cocoa solids... and how all that works. But I got two bars — Mission Fig and Sea Salt Soy Bean. I like the mission fig a lot — it's a nice balance between the really sweet fig and bittersweet dark chocolate. The sea salt soy bean is a little too overpowered by the extreme nuttiness of the soy bean for me, but of course I'm going to finish it, hello. In both cases though, the star doesn't seem to be the chocolate. Maybe it's all about the combination, or maybe there are "hundreds" of results in my gmail when you search "chocolate," maybe I have four different kinds of chocolate bars in my desk drawers. "Whatevers."
I did fail in my attempt to find a nice salted caramel chocolate. I tried Charles chocolates' version but the flavors were way too muted for my liking, though I did enjoy their raspberry truffle which tasted like actual fresh raspberries. I've become a little obsessed with that salty-sweet caramel flavor combination and my favorite in chocolate terms so far has been Fran's and I should have picked up some of Recchiuti's when I was in SF.
Why is this so long? I should have just posted ZOMGOGGOWQWE_E!!! I love chocolate wheeee!
There was an interesting piece about chocolate and the company Dagoba, specifically, in the New Yorker by Bill Buford but that's not available so look at the pictures! And here's a chocolate blog! And here's robyn's flickr set of the chocolate show!
This is no fun when you can't taste the things.


Robyn said...

Oh my god, I forgot to write about this...
...cos I am SOOO BEHIND. And currently updating at the rate of one post a week.
ANND the chocolatey memories come flooding back! Sweet! You tried a lot of things! Like whoa. I forgot so much already. Oops.

janet said...

Wah. Typekey isn't working. Roar!
It was sad reaching into memory and not being able to eat a chocolate thing every other minute.