Gorge-a-thon at the Chocolate Salon

Kshocolat's chocolate-covered nuts and honeycomb bits.

Chocolate in vodka.

Chocolate in cake.

Chocolate in custard tarts.

Chocolate in fanciful bonbons.

Chocolate, chocolate, everywhere.

That was the scene at last Saturday’s San Francisco International Chocolate Salon at Herbst Pavillion, where 30,000-square-feet of space was devoted to all things chocolate. Yours truly was lucky enough to be a judge for the chocolate competition. I think chocolate is still coursing through my veins from all that nibbling.

San Francisco's Neococoa truffles made with organic, fair trade, and local ingredients.

Hundreds of chocoholics made the rounds to taste samples at more than 50 booths. Here were some of my favorites:

* Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka: Think the taste of chocolate milk, but in the form of clear vodka. This is one smooth operator, even when tasted straight. It goes down easy, with no serious burn. A truly elegant and polished spirit. A 750ml bottle is about $30.

* William Dean Chocolates: Bold colors (green, fuchsia, azure, bright orange) and unique shapes make these truffles extremely eye-catching. The Largo, Fla. chocolates are all made by hand. The PB&J is a masterpiece: milk chocolate and peanut butter with the crunch of peanut brittle, and a sweet, complex jelly made from three different fruits. A nine-piece box of assorted chocolates is $18.

Fun colors from William Dean Chocolates of Florida.

* Marti Chocolatt: Filipino-American Tonet Tibay studied the art of chocolate making at Ecole Lenotre in Paris. These exquisite creations explode on your tongue with the assertive flavors of pandan, ginger, rose-raspberry, and even goat cheese. The durian is creamy, bold and complex. Made in Los Angeles, these are chocolates that grab your senses. A box of six bonbons is $13.50.

* Loft Organic Liqueurs: Inspired by Italian limoncello, these organic, kosher, handcrafted spirits are made with fresh fruit and botanicals, and sweetened with agave nectar. The Emeryville company makes such flavors as lavender, lemongrass, and spicy ginger year-round, and seasonal ones such as tangerine in the summer and blueberry in the fall. Being the ginger addict that I am, I tried the spicy ginger. I loved its pronounced fresh ginger flavor and medium heat at the back of the throat. The liqueurs retail for about $30 a bottle.

* Kika’s Treats: The San Francisco company turns out bite-sized treats (shortbread, honey cake, and graham crackers) covered in chocolate. The caramelized graham crackers dipped in dark chocolate are a grown-up treat you won’t be able to stop reaching for. They’re crispy, and just sweet enough. A bag is $7.50.

* The Bread Project: In collaboration with the Berkeley Adult School, this organization teaches on-the-job-skills for entry-level positions in the food industry. At the Chocolate Salon, pieces of heavenly chocolate loaf cake were being passed around for sampling. The light, moist cake with a big chocolate taste was made by the students. It had the comfort of homemade, along with a heap of finesse.

Print This Post


  • Gorgeous! There will also be a chocolate salon this weekend in Geneva…



  • I am so jealous that you went! I considered going, but for some reason decided against it (I have no idea why!). At least I can live vicariously through you 🙂

  • That is awesome that you were able to be a judge. That must be one of those moments when you sit back and realize how good your life is. Although I am sure you have worked incredibly hard to get to where you are. That sounds absolutely amazing. I love chocolate and wish I had been in the area to go. To Boston’s credit one of our local hotels does a fantastic Chocolate Bar, which is a buffet of all things chocolate, which is pretty amazing. As always I am envious of your fantastic life!

  • What a great chocolate experience! The chocolate vodka sounds very interesting – my dad and my husband enjoy Van Gough vodka so we’ll have to look for the chocolate one. How neat!

  • Thanks for your report Food Gal! I sat out this year’s chocolate salon so it was nice to get your perspective on all things chocolate.

  • I knew I should have went! You can’t really go wrong with a chocolate buzz for the entire day. The William Dean Chocolates look too beautiful to eat though.

  • Chocolate Salon!! Those are all gorgeous. I think I am a bigger fan of the look of fancy chocolates than eating them.

  • thanks for the report. can we buy the ones u like in the Bay Area?

  • oooh le judge! how many chocolates did you taste? I couldn’t make it to the salon either, so I’m glad to get your summarized digest of the best of the best. The Marti Chocolates look so gorgeous and such intriguing flavors!

  • So, where did you stop for french fries afterwards?

  • It pains me to read your review of this event and see your photos. I was actually in the Bay Area over the weekend and debated going to this, but ultimately decided it would not be wise since I was running a race in Mountain View Sunday morning. I’m starting to regret my decision!!!!!!!!! With the windchill factor, it was about 30 degrees outside, my hands were numb, I was dressed in shorts and a thin long sleeved running shirt, running partially uphill, against the wind (a losing battle), off and on struck by rain, and I chose THAT over the Chocolate Salon? WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY?

  • Marni: Girl, you should be commended for doing that. It was a very chilly, wet day. I can’t imagine running in that. Well, I can’t even imagine running in a race, but that’s another story. You could have jammed to San Francisco after the race. Lord knows, you deserved some major chocolate sustenance after all those miles you logged.

    Carroll: No French fries afterwards. But my friend Elizabeth and I stopped at the Ferry Building for big bowls of Japanese noodles. It was just the ticket — salty, savory, warm, nourishing — after all that sugar. 😉

  • Darn. Why don’t they have something like this near me? If these kinds of judging duties are ever too much trouble for you, please consider me a most willing substitute! 😎

  • Sounds like a fantastic event!

  • Thank you for the fabulous review! I was crabby when I realized I would be in New York during the event but now I get to live vicariously through you. Great pictures and descriptions!

  • I’m going to have to look for that vodka the next time I’m at the liquor shop, that sounds awesome. I love making chocolate “martinis” with chocolate milk, vodka and some grand marnier.

  • Pingback: Tweets that mention Food Gal » Blog Archive » Gorge-a-thon at the Chocolate Salon -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *