This past weekend's Luxury Chocolate Salon, in which 35 chocolatiers and confectioners and bakers--and a lot of chocaholics--gathered at the Pasadena Convention Center, was more fun than you'd think you'd have under glaring fluorescent lights and in a space that resembled a Des Moines, Iowa, hotel banquet hall.
But there were some serious highlights--I do not count the caffeine-and-sugar buzz--including chocolate mustaches from an artisan chocolatier in Portland, the launch of a new cupcake shop in Sherman Oaks, a new fudge-maker in Studio City, and, my favorite, Equadorian chocolate with GPS coordinates. Your cacao farm, on Google Earth!
The chocolate mustaches-on-a-stick from Neapolitan Printing & Co., a Portland, Oregon, artisan chocolate-maker, were pretty awesome, as were the ants-on-a-log and chocolate-dipped dried mango slices. Somebody send Burt Reynolds a gift package.
Long lines formed to get the fudge from AF2 in Studio City. Christine Hanson, who started her confection business five years ago, launched her new line of fudge at the show on Sunday. (Her website, www.aahsomefudge.com, will be up soon.) And crowds gathered around the table with the bars of sizzling bacon chocolate from Christopher Michael in Newport Beach. Sizzling not because of the bacon, but because of the pop rocks candy in the recipe.
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Swirls Desserts had tiered stands of cupcakes that would have made a 7 year-old weep for joy. And for anyone not yet tired of the cupcake craze (your 7 year-old, for one) Swirls is opening a store in the Sherman Oaks Fashion Square Shopping Center at the end of the month. Details to follow.
Finally, one of the best chocolates in show was the 75% Equadorian single-origin organic bar at República del Cacao, whose US distribution and marketing offices are in Long Beach. The chocolate is rich, deeply flavorful and strikingly smooth, without the grit or muskiness that many organic chocolate bars can have. The company also takes the whole single-origin-where-is-your-chocolate-coming-from thing one step further. Every República del Cacao chocolate bar label is now being printed with the GPS location of the particular farm in Equador from which the cacao beans are sourced on the front. You can use Google Earth to actually see the cacao farm while you eat your chocolate. How cool is that.