Five years ago, I worked in a fancy kitchen store. The owners would take off every summer for the New York Fancy Food Show and come back exhausted, a little bit pudgier, and full of stories about all the fabulous new things we’d be getting in the store.
Well, last week, I made the visit to the San Francisco winter show…and I came back exhausted, a little bit pudgier, and full of stories. I went down with my sweet tooth, my eating pants, and comfortable shoes. Comfortable shoes, because with nearly 6000 exhibitors in halls of the Moscone Center, it was going to be an intense couple of days.
I wasn’t all that surprised by any of the chocolate offerings, though I did get a chance to finally try Amano Chocolate‘s Dos Rios bar. I tried a (then-secret) prototype of this bar last summer, and even as a prototype it was pretty remarkable: floral, delicate and tasting distinctly like bergamot. The finished bar is redolent with orange and bergamot, with just a hint of spice (nutmeg?) at the finish. Art Pollard, the chocolatemaker, touched briefly on the challenges of processing the beans while preserving the vibrant flavours. I can believe it; this chocolate packs a serious punch.
Poco Dolce‘s double shot espresso toffee squares were stellar. The toffee is crisp and crunchy but doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. The espresso, if you ran into it in a dark alley, would jump out from a dark corner, deliver a swift one-two punch to your forehead, and then run off into the darkness. It’s bold and brash and utterly delicious.
Hidden away in a quiet corner were the folks at Happy Goat Caramel. If the logo and name weren’t cute enough for you, the caramels are really quite good. It’s a caramel made with goat’s milk and real vanilla. The goat’s milk provides a nice savouriness and slight tang to offset the aromatic, sweet vanilla. The finish is definitely goaty, but in a subtle, delicate way.
I also attended a Foodfete event where I met the folks who make Amella Caramel. The lovely 8chocolate reviewed these a while back, and I’ll admit that I was still pretty skeptical. Carrot cake caramel? Really?
The carrot cake caramel tastes like you took a carrot cake and stuck it in a transmogrifier on the “caramel” setting. It’s not too sweet and has a pleasant nuttiness. My least favourite is the black forest caramel, which tastes like a chocolate caramel with dried cherries, but not so much like black forest cake. However, the passionfruit caramel is sharp, tart and almost juicy. It’s definitely my favourite of the bunch. Aside from the fun flavours, the texture of the caramels is perfect – solid enough to provide a thoughtful chew, but without getting all gloopy and glommy in your back teeth.
Aside from sweets, I also ate my weight in cheese. Thanks to Amy for guiding me on my cheese expedition, and for posting her top 10 list of Fancy Food Show favourites.