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Friday, October 19, 2012

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By Emma Krasov, photography by Alex Krasov
Judging chocolate truffles? Where do I sign in?
That’s the usual train of thoughts of your regular sweet tooth, a.k.a. chocolate layman.
For the enlightened and the experienced, like food writers, pastry chefs, and luxury marketing experts it’s a part of the job – sometimes exciting, sometimes routine, sometimes hard to digest and/or nearly impossible to shed. By the latter, I mean all those extra pounds we accumulate while tasting, comparing, reviewing, judging, and yes, enjoying.     
The abovementioned experts were invited to judge the First Annual Taste TV and the International Chocolate Saloncompetition, “Truffle Art Design,” which took place at the offices of San Francisco Travel in October, a month before the upcoming November 11 San Francisco Fall Chocolate Salon in Fort Mason. (Chocolate laymen, take notice!)
The judging consisted of evaluating the packaging, external design, ingredients, flavors and flavor combinations of chocolate truffles produced by various new to the market and veteran chocolate makers. The Best Truffle Art was supposed to be determined through lots and lots of tasting, of course.
Honored to be one of the esteemed judges, I pulled a pitcher of water closer, and opened the first box of festively decorated chocolate morsels from Wild Sweets cocoArt by Dominique & Cindy Duby. Complex fiery pralines with honey caramel, chili pistachio with cocoa nibs and cherry; ginger macadamia with banana; coriander peanut with candid lemon; and nutmeg hazelnut with cranberry stole my heart right away.
Then Roberts Confections’ artfully painted and heavenly delicious Mayan, Red Wine, Guinness, and Fire & Ice made me swoon with delight.      
Then I couldn’t get enough of Chocolot’s Passion Fruit and Lavender Espresso, although their Aztec Spice, Beehive Honey and Mint Leaf were equally impressive.
Then a surprisingly pleasing BBQ chocolate truffle from Chocistry gave me pause.
Then I admired the look and the taste of Strawberry-Rose chocolate heart from Beijo de Chocolat, decorated with dried rose petals, as well as their Honey Bear, Tropicana, and Brigadeiro.
Then I indulged quite a bit in a Rosemary Sea Salt, Honey Lemon, and Lemon Pepper from exquisitely packaged Forte Chocolates
Then it was just a matter of trying to maintain the glorious amazement that hits the taste buds with the first bite of a precious truffle – be it a green tea, wasabi and Asian pear or Szechwan pepper and dragon fruit confections from Donna & Company, or a champagne-flavored white chocolate indulgence from Luxx Chocolat.    
At the end of the vigorous on-site judging, Chocolot collected Gold awards in several categories: Best Taste, Best Packaging, and Best Overall Chocolate Artistry.  Chocistry got Gold in Best Ingredient Combinations and Most Unique. Gold for Best Exterior Design went to Forte Chocolates.  
To learn more, go to www.TasteTV.comand


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