Today I attended the 4th Annual International Chocolate Salon at Fort Mason in San Francisco. There were approximately 70 vendors showcasing their artisan chocolates. The admission fee was $25/advance and $30/door. I paid a discounted $17.95 for an early bird special because I bought them almost 2 months ago. The vendors provided samples while selling their products.
The event opened at 10am and unless they were putting chocolate in a croissant and serving it up, that was way too early for me. I arrived with two friends after 2pm. The first stop was a vendor selling chocolate lavender ice cream from Maui. Who would’ve known Maui had lavender farms? It was $1 per scoop (original price was $4). My friends and I each got a scoop. The lavender was so overpowering that it was inedible. We all threw it out. Looking inside the garbage can, we were not the only ones. What a bad start!
We jumped from table to table sampling bite sized pieces of a variety of chocolates. There was dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate. There were beautiful chocolates. There was chocolate with caramel sea salt, there was chocolate with flavored teas, and chocolate with bacon just to name a few of the more interesting selections. Prior to this event, I’ve tasted a chocolate bar with bacon pieces before and really liked it. I heart the sweet and salt flavors. A chocolateer Christopher Michael had a booth featuring the “sizzling bacon bar” which won “best flavored bar” and “new product award.” I had my $7 ready to buy a bar, but he sold out. I’m sure I would’ve liked it, but I guess I can spend that $7 on a pound of bacon instead.
All in all, this event to me was quite disappointing. Maybe I wasn’t the right audience. I like chocolate, but I don’t love it. I like to eat chocolate truffles now and then, but not a lot of it. If I have a box of chocolate in front of me, I take one piece and I’ve had enough. But put a chocolate pot de creme in front of me or a molten chocolate cake, I can probably eat the whole thing with a glass of milk or a cup of coffee. Another thing they were missing at this event… something that actually helps you get that chocolate down. Yes, I saw a few vendors serving sample drinks of port and liqueur, but it was not a good mix. If you are a chocolate lover, and I mean like to eat chocolate truffles at any time (even at 10am) and a whole lot of it, maybe you should visit the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon. But if you had $25-$30, you can probably get enough high end truffles to last you a few days.
I will leave this on a positive note. There was a non-profit company that had a table called the Bread Project. I’m not sure if any of the admission fees were donated to them, I hope so, but I think they were able to at least get a booth for free. The mission is to promote self-sufficiency in the Bay Area by providing job training and support to help those with low income to gain entry into the food industry. I bought some cookies from them. I can’t eat anymore chocolate today, but I’ll let you know how it is when I finally eat them.