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San Francisco Eats – SF International Chocolate Salon

San Francisco is home to many great food, wine and beer festivals. This year I had the chance to enjoy the one day San Francisco International Chocolate Salon on my visit to Japantown at Hotel Kabuki. This year’s Chocolate Salon featured over 25+ chocolate, wine, tea, and other chocolate related vendors, and chocolate themed seminars. It is a chocolate lover’s destination!

Thanks to Taste TV for organizing this event and for my media passes, the various chocolate vendors were all prepared to dish out samples of chocolates, drinking chocolates, toffees, cacao beans, and much more. I haven’t had so much chocolate since I was in university! The endless flavours of chocolates, white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, extra dark chocolate, 54%, 72%, 74%, 82%, and the list keeps going. Mint flavoured toffee, Cayenne spice toffee, graham cracker crunch, smores toffee, rose petals & bee pollen – there were so many different toffees to sample.

Caramels, wines, teas, and even artisan olive oils and balsamic vinegars to sample, our palettes were hit with salty, sweet, sour, bitter and any other flavours in between. Luckily there were water stations outside the room for chocoholics to cleanse their palates.

Some chocolate highlights of the Chocolate Salon included:

1. William Dean Chocolates from Florida – these full size samples and beautiful works of art had fillings that exploded in my mouth. My favourite was the Earl Grey tea chocolate.

2. Basel B Inc. chocolates were by far my favourite in terms of design. These gourmet chocolates were designed and sculpted using 3D technology and look too pretty to eat. Luckily their samples were small bite size pieces that didn’t require me to bite into these gorgeous creations.

3. Drinking chocolates – I love hot chocolate, but drinking chocolates is on a whole new level! This is basically liquid chocolate, thick strong flavours with some mixed with herbal flavours, others with spice. Although my palate wasn’t enjoying the strong bitter flavours of the extra dark drinking chocolates, it was something worth trying out in between the toffees and the pieces of chocolates.

4. Highly educated chocolatiers who were eager to share their knowledge of their trade – how chocolate is made, where they find their cacao beans, what’s the difference between Peruvian chocolate vs. Ecuadorian chocolate, and so forth. For those who think chocolate is just chocolate, you’ll be in for quite a learning experience at Chocolate Salon.

On a sugar high, and possible chocolate crash, I left the Chocolate Salon after 2 1/2 hours of sampling and listening to seminars to put some real food into my stomach and much needed green tea to help digest all the delicious gourmet chocolates I had enjoyed. I really enjoyed being able to  to pick up some California or US based gourmet chocolates to buy and bring home with me to share with family and friends. The show offered some great discounts for those who wanting to buy after sampling.

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