Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Announcing the 2013 Chocolate Tasting

It's chocolate time!  This weekend at the SF Fancy Food Show I had the chance to meet several chocolate makers and get ramped up for our 6th annual Chocolate Tasting Party, which we will hold Sunday Feb 17th.  Last year we compared new American small batch makers to the usual winners from Europe (mostly, the Swiss still win). This year we're bringing back old favorites and pitting them against new European chocolate makers plus some other chocolates of interest.

At the Fancy Food Show I met Jean Galler, the maker of Galler Chocolates from Belgium (new to this tasting), who sent me home with deliciously caramely milk and super dark bars to include in the tasting.  Blanxart, a favorite from the 2007 tasting will also be back, with two chocolates not yet released in the US- both single origin blends bursting with fruit.  I enjoyed meeting Xavier Puigarnau, Blanxart's chocolate maker himself, at the show.  On a less positive note from the show, I met a promotor for Chocolove (a popular 2011 chocolate), who brusquely informed me that their chocolate is not bean to bar.  I also met the promotors for Dagoba and Sharffen Berger, both now owned by Hershey, and suspiciously co-located in a booth with the name of the mother company nowhere in sight- both served me chocolate samples which I found rather dreadful.  The chocolateirs I met, who were too numerous to mention here, had many interesting flavors and really rounded out the Fancy Food Show for me.  Most of the chocolateirs I met are using E. Guittard chocolate, which we will have in the tasting, or importing chocolate from Europe.  Callebaut, which has tasted well in our tasting party in the past, was the most commonly mentioned european source. 

The final list of chocolates for 2013 is not set yet, but so far includes chocolates from America, Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands, Iceland, Madagascar, and Australia.  If you have a chocolate you'd like to include, tell me now! The tasting is only open to bean-to-bar manufacturers, and only to their pure chocolate bars (no flavored chocolates, even hazelnut). Chocolates will be grouped by category: Milk, Dark (no milk, up to 70% cacao), and Super Dark (over 70%). In the interests of not completely overloading everyone, we'll try to keep things down to 50-60 total chocolate types.