There was no better way to start reporting for the blog, than my visit to the 2005 San Francisco Fancy Food Show. I found several fantastic new treats that I’d like to share with you:
If you get as far as San Francisco and don't have time to make it to Napa: Champagne Truffles are always a terrific way to pretend you're in the wine country. My personal favorite has been Teuscher's version (www.teuscher.com), now I have another to look for: L'Estasi Dolce (www.decadenttastes.com). Founder Rose Ramos-Benzel has taken secret family recipes and turned them into one great chocolate company. I met Rose at the show and was blown away by her passion for her family business and her marketing savvy. Her Cabernet Truffles are as good as the Champagne Truffles- both obviously are made by someone who cares.
Also from the grape section: B.T. McElrath Chocolatier (www.btmcelrath.com) creates artisan chocolate that is gorgeous. I sampled a little of everything and was drawn to the Zinfandel-Balsamic Dark Chocolate truffle. Sounds strange but tastes good.
Hot Chocolate: Schokinag's "Triple Chocolate Drinking Chocolate" (www.schokinagna.com). This is a fairly large family owned business from Europe that has been around since 1923. They certainly have perfected a great Hot Chocolate drink.
Companies are really beginning to show greatness in the way they package their chocolate:
Up and Coming Chef Hilly from Atlanta (www.chefhilly.com) has created a line of dessert products that is to die for. Chocolate Crème Brulee kits (which include the blow-torch), Chocolate Chip Cookie mix in a mason jar and a new Chocolate Fountain-- you will see more of Hilly on the Food Network and in the press. Chef Hilly even gives a portion of the proceeds to charity. Both of our mothers are Breast Cancer Survivors, so I am very excited about his mission! Go Chef H!
Cocoa Pete’s Chocolate Adventure Company (www.cocoapetes.com) has “boxes of chocolate” that I would pay extra for at a movie theater. The boxes come in four flavors, sold 4 chocolate pieces in a box and they look great. Caramel Knowledge and MaltImus MaxImus were terrific.
Chocolove XOXOX (www.chocolove.com) has large gourmet candy bars that come in 10 different flavors. Very original and a rich taste, too! Several of their bars are made in a limited production so check the website often and buy when it is in stock.
"Chick Chocolates" from Seattle Chocolates (www.chickchocolates.com) offers a cute marketing of good chocolate bars: Extreme Chick, Nutty Chick and Strong Chick are a great present for that independent friend that needs to be reminded every once in a while about how you feel about her.
San Francisco Chocolate Factory (www.sfchocolate.com) has always been a favorite of mine. The 1st time I ran across these guys, I bought a tin of chocolates (looks like an altoid box filled with big flat chocolate chips). I have kept this tin in my brief case for emergencies for more than 2 years now (refilling often).
Charlotte’s Confection Company (www.charlottesconfections.com) has done it again! A few years back, they made candy for William’s Sonoma and I believe Restoration Hardware- available during the Holiday Season. Peppermint Bark is always a personal favorite but the Smores that they created one year (but not brought back this past year) was to die for. I was very upset w/ my favorite stores for not ordering them in 2004, but I happen to bump into the Charlotte's guys at their booth and WHOA they now have an individual portion Smores Bar. Great Marshmallow, real graham cracker and excellent chocolate: Pop this treasure in the microwave for a few seconds and you've got... The Real Deal!
Quality Candy (www.qcbs.com) has been around forever, 1916 to be exact. We don't have their stores in Texas, but I have received boxes of their chocolate as gifts. It wasn't until the show that I learned to truly appreciate how hard they must work on the Marshmallow. The Marshmallow Egg they sampled was as if they made it in front of me!
Shari's Berries (www.berries.com) Chocolates and Strawberries are an amazing combination. Shari's has just about the best Chocolate-dipped Strawberries I have ever sampled. I went back here for seconds. The rest of her expanded dessert line looked great as well.
Hagensborg didn't have a big booth or a big website (www.hagensborg.com), but the "Kiss Me" Frog chocolates certainly caught my attention. One kiss of these chocolates is forever bliss- as the marketing suggests. The "Truffle Pig" peanut butter bar looked good (though I didn’t sample it).
As for Peanut Butter, several like-minded lawyers should be commended for taking time off their busy schedules of chasing accidents to create very unique Peanut Butter Flavors. They loaded me up with samples of each chocolate type (they have 5, I think) and each was equally terrific. The PB w/ Dutch Dark Chocolate is simple and excellent! Find there stuff on the web (www.pbloco.com), at a specialty store near you, or in their store, "P.B. Loco", in the Minneapolis Mall of America. I'll wait till winter breaks, then I'm off to Minnesota to check out the store myself!
Chocoholics Devine Desserts (www.gourmetchocolate.com) has given me many a fun night to remember. Known originally for their "Body Frostings” that comes with paintbrushes, these sharp creators have now developed a new board game that promises to be equally fun. The entire line is well thought out. I need to use their "chocolate" Patch, as do most of us who visited the show...
Well there will be more later- let me know your thoughts,
and continue to EatMoreChocolate!