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Cocoa-Crazy



I’m making (eating is more like it) my way through Fort Mason. First it was the Slow Food event, next was Pinot Days and just this past weekend was the Chocolate Salon—the first major chocolate show to take place on the West Coast in years.

It was certainly well attended—both by chocolate makers and eaters alike—all connoisseurs of the “chocolate lifestyle.” Needless to say, the quality of the chocolate being presented at 30-odd tables was some of the best in the country.


NewTree

We sampled an Asian-fusion lemongrass ginger truffle from L’Estasi Dolce (“sweet ecstasy”), Belgian milk chocolate with bits of orange from NewTree and even chocolate with smoked blue cheese and roasted almonds from Lillie Belles Farm. Unfortunately after just a few tastes, I was OD-ing (antioxidant overload perhaps?), so I started window-shopping instead.

  
L'Artisan du Chocolat

The packaging alone was eye-candy. Some of the prettiest chocolates came from the L.A.-based husband-and-wife team of L’Artisan du Chocolat—the Korean-born wife being the chocolatier and the French-born husband doing the business-side. He handed me a hot chili pepper chocolate that took its sweet time before hitting my palate with its spicy kick.

My civic-minded side came through towards the end as I stopped at the Divine Chocolate table. The sign said it was farmer-owned and fair trade, with the cocoa farmers being the company’s biggest group of shareholders. It’s rare to hear about the cocoa farmers—who are mostly in West Africa, where, according to an April 2007 Economist article, about 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown. I didn’t try the chocolate, but I’ll buy some next time I see it.