May 18, 2011, by CocoaZilla
Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon
At the Bell Harbor Conference Center on Saturday, May 14th, Cocoazilla sampled her way through at least 15 different luxury chocolatiers and chocolate makers, resulting in a few purchases, a sugar high and the best tummy ache. If you missed it or heard of one happening near you one of these days- it’s worth checking out. Here are the highs and lows of the 2011 Seattle Luxury Chocolate Salon.
First, let’s talk about the event itself. It wasn’t cheap- $21 per ticket for advance online sales. The good news was once you got in- samples galore (free!) and lots of water to wash it down. The down side was how crowded it was, often having to squeeze in or wait in line to get a sample or talk to a chocolatier. Talking to the booth owners was difficult because of the strain of space and other attendees wanting to do the same. And Cocoazilla was disappointed, while the Northwest Chocolate Festival was much smaller and less sample friendly- it was much easier to interview or at least ask a couple of questions on the spot of the vendors themselves.
The vendors were true luxury chocolate folks though, no cheap, weird or questionable items. Everything was unique, ingredient combinations were intriguing and the chocolate flowed freely. Cocoazilla ate at least the cost of the ticket in samples.
Now, the vendors.
Amano Chocolates– excellent placement right next to the door, poised to be one of the first booths you hit. Gorgeous looking pieces too- the sample truffle had gold dust mixed in and shone with a look of delicious.
And it was indeed delicious, enough so that my companion invested in their 12 piece truffle box, a show special steal at $20.
The bright green truffle, far right row, center- was a key lime of perfect sweetness and a little sour. Regular retail for the box is $25.
Amano also had several solid chocolate bars which were tasted briefly but our attentions were fiercely drawn to the gorgeous truffles and their unique style- they are chocolate makers. As in they make the chocolate from the raw cacao beans.
Next we had to retreat to the lesser crowded side of the room visiting Taza Chocolates– a stone ground style of chocolate that Cocoazilla had a hard time getting behind in Cinnamon Taza and Almond Taza flavors. Again, Cocoazilla is no quitter and went for another round, this time trying Ginger and Vanilla. They did have an impressive display after all:
Again, no go. Ginger made me want to spit it out, vanilla was OK- but that grainy texture just couldn’t be overcome. However, my companion (having been to Mexico several times) found it enjoyable and bought a disc. No price break, $4 a bar.
Intrigue Chocolates was there, but since Cocoazilla sampled at least 6 kinds at the Northwest Chocolate Festival, I restrained myself to just one this time. (It’s still good in case you were wondering.)
La Chatelaine from Bozeman, MT was next on the list and while I did not get a non-blurry picture of their truffles, and their website drove me nuts, I can highly recommend the surprisingly tasty and unusual: Montana Mint and Lime Tea Salt Caramel. A house made candied mint leaf with lime sea salt on a buttery and smooth caramel. Outstanding.
Vibrant Chocolates was next on our list and had the unique approach of chocolate truly being good for you, as in getting the daily recommended percentage of vitamins, minerals and so on. Cocoazilla sampled the Caramel Snap Attack piece – a french caramel over a flax nougatine wafer with bittersweet chocolate and Murray River salt. Nice crunch from the wafer and good flavor overall. I got my vitamins and didn’t even know it.
From there we made a quick stop at the Chocolate Shop which was offering tastings of their wine, fortified with chocolate, but they were out of tasting cups.
Seattle Chocolates was there, showing off their line of J Truffles. Cocoazilla already went through 6 kinds of J Truffles back in February and will stand by the original J Truffles chocolate review.
The Tea Room, out of Culver City, CA had about 8 different kinds of organic tea and chocolate blends. Cocoazilla must have sampled at least 6 before settling on buying two bars for a later review- White Chocolate Chamomile & Honey, Black Masala Chai and Milk Chocolate. Also tried Jasmine Milk Chocolate, Bedouin’s Mint Milk Chocolate and Raspberry Rooibos Dark Chocolate before settling on those two. All around a unique and tasty experience.
Forte Chocolates was also there and remembered well from the NW Chocolate Festival where Cocoazilla had the best white chocolate ever- White Chocolate Cloud. Since we were there, we also tried the Espresso Bar which is their white chocolate with Black Swan Roasting espresso ground so fine that it darkens the overall color of the bar. Absolutely freaking delicious and I don’t like coffee.
CocoTutti came next- a gorgeous array of bon bons, caramels and truffles. They actually had tiny samples that they created for sampling which made their liquid center style much easier for tasting and giving the full effect. The liquid caramel florentine and chocolate orange confit cause Cocoazilla to pull out her wallet and pick up a box of 4 truffles for a later review.
Returning back to the tables we had to skip to due to crowds, we found Hallett’s out Spokane. Hallett’s did not seem to be the “luxury” that the other vendors were, offering items like grey sea salt caramels (with too much salt on top) and orange gelle sticks. Not terrible tasting, just not much of a stand out.
Same with their neighbor, Posh Chocolates from Montana. The Flathead Cherry chocolate bar was good, but the basic chocolate itself wasn’t up to par with the other vendors. The bars reminded me a lot of Choc Create, a basic bar with add ons, studded on the back, only you don’t create it, the combinations are already chosen.
After them we saw Honest Tea and Divine Chocolates, stopping to nip at their classic milk and dark chocolates. As always, a pleasure.
MDP Chocolates followed, where the chef himself, Chef Michael Poole, constantly cut and doled out sample after sample. The French trained chef counts chocolate as one of his many talents and his chocolates speak for themselves. Cocoazilla only got one sample- the White Chocolate Lemon Meringue- a light, sweet and just sour enough confection that prompted her to pick up a card for later. Just in case.
And last but not least on the taste tour was French Quarter out of Spokane. One of the only tables we had to wait in an actual line for in order to get to the sampling area. They had about 10 flavors they were trying to sample, but they kept disappearing faster than they could cut and serve and had in fact run out of several. After waiting for about 6mins, Cocoazilla was able to try:
Star Anise and Pink Peppercorn- a little bit of a bite but sweet without being spicy.
Ruby Red Grapefruit- which was amazing. It really tasted like grapefruit without the sour and with smooth chocolate.
Fresh Lemon and Thyme- also a great flavor combo, riding up over the chocolate but without drowning it out at all.
And we loved that they listed out the ingredients with each type of chocolate.
That is how Cocoazilla spent 2 hours of her Saturday. Stay tuned for reviews on CocoTutti and The Tea Room!