Last weekend, I attended the Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon, a totally insane event filled with all kinds of chocolate products that basically turned the Pasadena Conference Center into a crack house for chocoholics. You think I’m exaggerating? I was hip checked at one point by an overzealous chocolate grabber, pushing me out of contention for a piece of something or other, which at this point, is mostly a blur. But some chocolate stood out more to me than others, so here were my favorites.
First of all, I attended the event as a panelist, which meant I was charged with voting for the best in a number of categories, including best dark chocolate, best milk chocolate, best chocolate bar, best flavored chocolate, best truffle, etc. So I had to taste as much as I physically could without throwing up. I did the best I could, but admittedly I didn’t taste everything because the sugar and caffeine got to me, and I had to fight people who had paid up to $25 to taste to get samples (more on this later).
Anyway, there were some really good tasting and creative chocolates at the salon. My favorite was Marti Chocolatt‘s chevre bon bon, with goat cheese, some kind of herb (rosemary, maybe?), dark and white chocolate. It was heavenly and like nothing I had ever tasted before. The buko pandan, or young coconut, chocolate was good, too. I tried to find out how much they were charging, but it was madness with all the people trying to fight their way in to the samples, so I gave up. Looks like a 4 piece box goes for $9 online. Ouch!
My second favorite chocolate was The Tea Room‘s green earl grey tea dark chocolate bar. The tea flavors are just present enough to make the dark chocolate seem smoother. The Tea Room’s black masala chai milk chocolate bar was good, too, but I prefer dark chocolate in general. Since they were selling two bars for $5, my friend and I got a couple of the green earl grey to take home.
I also liked Sterling Confections‘ truffle bar, which are huge triangular logs of truffle that come in all kinds of flavors. I tasted the pineapple ginger macadamia nut truffle and the banana honey caramel truffle, and I liked both a lot. It’s just really indulgent to imagine having a whole log of the stuff, though I imagine they would make good party food since they’re cool-looking, too.
XT Patisserie was a big hit at the salon, and the cinnamon chocolate I tasted had a nice kick to it. My friend liked XT’s ginger chocolate, too. XT definitely had some of the prettiest goodies at the salon.
Clarine’s Florentines were one of my favorites, too, even though it wasn’t traditional chocolate. But the sliced almonds on bittersweet chocolate were really satisfying, so you couldn’t really go wrong here.
There was much, much more, including a bon bon from Choclatique that tasted just like a root beer float and a milk chocolate bar with bacon, sea salt and “popping candy” from Christopher Michael Chocolatier, which I didn’t taste because the line was ridiculous.
So back to having the fight attendees for samples: Having to compete with those who had actually paid to attend the event is no way to judge anything. The event would be better served if panelists were given their own table and samples were brought to them, ensuring that everything was tasted and got a fair shot at winning an award (here’s the complete list of winners). That’s my two cents.