A day without chocolate is a day without sunshine.
I feel extremely honored to have attended the 2012 Chocolate Show in New York City. Last Tuesday, I unexpectedly received an email about this event stating “You have been added to the media list“. I was overjoyed especially because I have been a lifelong fan of chocolate. (Writing food reviews for the past four years has turned me into somewhat of a chocolate snob, I apologize ahead of time.) I took advantage of this incredible opportunity by sampling seventeen vendors on a sunny fall Sunday morning at the Metropolitan Pavilion in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. (This happened to be the same location as the
Vegetarian Food Festival
Which I attended earlier this year.) While I could sense that this venue was quite crowded, there was a certain energy in the air, created when true fans of excellent chocolate gather to browse from among more than forty companies. The following represents what I consider to be the highlights of my day in chocolate heaven:
This was hands down my favorite vender of the day. After tasting a plethora of different chocolates, it was quite difficult to figure out which ones were transporting enough to stand out. Prestat, which is a British manufacturer of excellent chocolates, was an unfamiliar name to me, but their selection and customer service were both top notch. I was blown away by Prestat’s dark chocolate raspberry bar; the samples were little discs featuring the flavor of rich cocoa and fruity notes that lingered on my pallet. I was also impressed by their dark chocolate sea salt caramel truffles which consisted of a hard chocolate shell and were completely liquid on the inside. I definitely bought some of their creations for myself.
This company from Brazil was another winner. One sample that was exceptional was a small ball of literally creamy Dark Chocolate dipped in Belgian Dark Chocolate Flakes. I was also happily surprised by the pistachio variety, which was formed from a mix of pistachio cream and caramel cream covered in sliced pistachio nuts. Both samples were smooth and somehow light but also provided deeply defined flavors of each key ingredient. I also commend Brigadeiro on being one of the more affordable venders.
I was a fan of Valrhona way before the chocolate show, but their samples reinforced what I already knew. If you are looking for some of the best chocolate, from baking to eating to even making hot chocolate, I absolutely recommend Valrhona.
I was aware of this company before the show and knew about their main location in Soho, but I had never tried their products. I enjoyed Mariebelle’s excellent creation of wafers dipped in a combination of dark and white chocolate, as well as a tasty dark chocolate pistachio bar. Although these were some of the best samples of the entire show, I had to take into consideration the juxtaposition of price versus value. As I was preparing to buy some of their products, I realized that their prices were exceptionally high.
I was intrigued by this company who makes baked goods sprinkled with artisanal sea salts. Their cookies, featuring Maldon Flake salt, as well as a brownie with crunchy Halen Môn salt were excellent.
Who could resist a table filled with dark chocolate in varying percentages? (As high as 100 %!). Each sample was outstanding and it would be very difficult for me to pick a favorite. Any aspiring chocolate connoisseur should definitely check this company out.
Three venders provided samples of hot chocolate, and out of these I believe that Crossings was far and away the best. It was thick and rich with a nice after taste of dark chocolate.
I would also like to thank the following companies whose chocolates I sampled: Fretzels by Jill, Gnosis Chocolate, Jazz Brownies, and No Chewing Allowed!.
Issues with the Chocolate Show:
While I enjoyed my time here very much, I did notice a few issues. I could not find a list of venders ahead of time, perhaps this can be addressed for next year. There was absolutely no water to be found in the Metropolitan Pavilion, whether free or for purchase, and this would have been a great help to cleanse my pallet between samples. It should also be noted that many of these chocolates are expensive; some companies charged up to nine dollars a bar! Finally, the cost of admission is thirty five dollars, which might be too much for many of us and only covers samples of certain chocolates.
I truly had a fantastic time at the New York City Chocolate Show, and I would like to thank them (and my contact person, Kylene Sullivan) for giving me this opportunity to observe such an event from a different perspective. At this point, I would also like to thank my dad, who taught me much of what I know about the wonderful world of chocolate. Until next time:
Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow.
– Helen Keller