The 6th Annual Los Angeles Chocolate Salon drummed up new interest on the weekend by hosting the cacao loving exhibition in Santa Monica for the first time. Despite the early morning heat, eager aficionados had lined up long before the doors opened. Though, I must admit once we entered, the venue set up was disappointing, did not do justice to the quality of the products represented, and the number of participants seemed low. But it doesn’t lessen the fact that there were some very good brands and products. As judge, I sampled it all while managing to escape the OD zone.
Brands To Watch and Buy
Kallari is a farmers’ cooperative company owned by 850 indigenous farmers in the Ecuadorian Amazon using highly sustainable practices, and organic cacao beans. On display was Kallari’s premium artisanal line Sacha. These are small dark chocolate bars, ranging from 60 to 80% cacao, infused with rich native flavourings such as lime essential oil, andean salt, aji chili, and wild cinnamon. Hands down my winning choice at The Salon. You can learn more from Kallari rep, Paul Piedrahita, in the video at the end of this article.
La Dolce Vita Gourmet. A new, truly gourmet line of cashew, almond, and peanut butter spreads in 21 flavours with 100% of the proceeds going towards helping neglected and abused dogs. I was an instant fan of co-owner Joanna Fiore’s Chocolate Hazelnut Spread. Talk about not being your everyday spread. Take cashews, pumpkin seeds, and almonds, roast them, then coat them with brown rice syrup and honey to caramelize, eventually to be combined with cocoa. You taste luxury in every bite.
cocotutti’s “Hot” Chocolate bon bon filled with a chipotle (in adobo sauce) chocolate ganache. After the milk chocolate meltdown, the spicy smokiness kind of comes around the corner at the end.
The Toffee Box brought about the most surprising experience of the day after sampling their all natural mocha hazelnut toffee infused with espresso. You couldn’t possibly imagine what it tasted like. In fact, even tasters hadn’t recognized it until I pointed it out. Drum roll... Close your eyes, and you would swear that you just took a bite into the most perfectly toasted buttered bread. So much so that we even found ourselves immediately conjuring up the image without realizing it.
Marti Chocolatt’s owner Tonet Tibay incorporates flavours from her Filipino heritage creating a range of exotic confections. Highlights were purple yam and white chocolate ganache enrobed in dark chocolate, and the offensively pungent durian fruit, turned odourless and sweet, in dark chocolate.
Tickets for The Salon included complimentary access to the 1st Annual LA Artisan Fragrance Salon held in an adjacent room. The idea of chocolates and perfumes seemed to pair well, complimenting both the senses, and fragrances and flavours.
Plenty of sales were taking place, and not only from the chocolatiers. Gourmet Blend, for example, who sell blends of olive oils and balsamic vinegars was making a killing! Businesses with quality products, especially ones that go hand in hand with chocolate, should take note, and would do well to have a presence at the LA Chocolate Salon in the future. These are attendees who are not only willing to pay a high ticket price to sample chocolates, but are also prepared to make premium purchases on the spot for what they like. And there was a wholllle llllot of liking going on...
Please visit their website for information on The Los Angeles Chocolate Salon,
and The Los Angeles Artisan Fragrance Salon
Please visit the following websites for more information:
La Dolce Vita Gourmet
Amano Artisan Chocolate
The Toffee Box
DEUVO Gourmet Sweets
Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories
Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
Marco Paolo Chocolates
Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate
Pure Swiss Water
Trade Office of Ecuador in Los Angeles (ProEcuador)