On September 7, 2008, TasteTV brought the First Annual CHICAGO LUXURY CHOCOLATE SALON to the elegant Grainger Ballroom at Symphony Center on Michigan Avenue. There have been chocolate salons in San Francisco, Boston, LA, and more, but this one highlighted chocolatiers in the Chicago area.
After a little taste here and a little more there, I visited the Mayana Chocolates table. The beautiful artisan chocolates are created and made by Daniel Herskovic. He and Jeremy Bringardner are the caterers behind Chicago’s Sakura Private Dining. Herskovic trained at the California Culinary Academy and studied with chocolatiers Jacques Torres, Andrew Shotts, and Norman Love. Creating signature desserts of his own for Sakura led him into making chocolates, and his clients responded warmly, encouraging him to found Mayana. At this time, Mayana Chocolates are only available by order, but Herskovic is looking for a retail location in Chicago’s West Rogers Park.
These chocolates were the stars of the show. Gorgeous tiles with colorful decorations, the chocolates have an initial snap, then a velvety texture. Each flavor is clear but never overwhelms the chocolate itself. The heart-shaped Passion Fruit’s assertive fruit flavor is followed by the taste of white and dark chocolate, and chocolate and fruit blend beautifully. My favorite is a savory chocolate, Mayan Spice. Layers of flavors – cinnamon, chipotle, adobo – are followed by a smooth, lingering finish leaving just a bit of chili at the back of the throat.
Randall Raaflaub of rr Chocolats presented the most unusual flavor combinations – a chocolate curry truffle and a basil chocolate topped with black sesame seeds. The curry overpowered the chocolate, but the idea is interesting. Soon, Raaflaub will be producing Earl Grey and honey-fennel chocolates as well.
Sweet Margy’s milk and dark chocolate toffees are, as promised, light and melting. Chocolate bars were represented by Divine. The 70% dark chocolate is delicious with a distinct fruity taste. If I had one of the bars in my kitchen, it would disappear in a day of “just one more square . . .“ A dark chocolate with small chips of hazelnut is very nice, but not as interesting as the plain dark. At the next table, Katherine Anne Confections’ chocolates were presented in charming round blue and white tambour boxes; their hazelnut truffle is lush and soft. Ugly Truffles “Put Your Clothes On” truffle has a lingering deeper chocolate flavor.
A California company, Coco Délice’s chocolates are a little less sweet than most. The cognac truffle taste of chocolate up front, followed by a soft flavor of cognac. The standout was a chocolate-covered caramelized hazelnut, rolled in cocoa. The nut was slightly soft, blending with the texture of the chocolate – great with good vanilla ice cream.
Because I was a childhood fan of Chicago’s Fannie May’s wonderful creams, I looked forward to tasting Cyndy Sweet Treats’ cream centers such as black cherry, lime, and strawberry-banana. The candies taste mostly of their large, very sweet centers with a little taste of their thin chocolate shells. Cyndy will make any combination of chocolate (dark, milk) and cream center to order.
I left with this lovely box of Mayana to enjoy one by one. Maybe half by half, to make the pleasure last a little longer. TasteTV will be presenting the Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon at the Pasadena Center on October 5, 2008. For more information, go to www.LAChocolateSalon.com. Many of the Chicago chocolates are available at fine foodstores in the Chicago area or on line as noted below.
Mayana Chocolate - You can email Mayana at: [email protected] or call
773-301-3850. The website will be up soon.
Sakura Private Dining: www.SakuraPrivateDining.com
(enjoy this beautiful website)
Sweet Margy Confection Diva: www.confectiondiva.com
Cyndy’s Sweet Treats: www.cyndysweettreats.com
Divine Chocolate: www.divinechocolateusa.com
Katherine Anne Confections: www.katherine-anne.com
Coco Delice Fine Chocolates: www.cocodelice.com
Ugly Truffles: www.chocolategourmet.com