Is there a doctor in the house? I’m overdosing on chocolatey goodness

>>EAT

By Claudia S. Palma

There should have been a doctor on standby at the third annual Los Angeles Luxury Chocolate Salon held this last Sunday,
Oct. 11, at the Pasadena Convention Center.

With over 40 participating chocolatiers, confectioners and other
sweet culinary groups offering tastings of their divine goodies, I
instantly felt the heat in my cheeks as my blood pressure rose with
each little morsel.

My tasting companion and I took a quick glance around the room
first, grabbed a courtesy cup of water and began the journey we hoped
would eventually lead us to sweet bliss.

Each participating table featured samples of their confections. We started with the Chocolate Traveler.
Advertising more of an easy way to tote your chocolate — wedges in a
round tin case — the quality of the chocolate was at par with many fine
chocolatiers. I tasted the creme brulee white chocolate from the international collection, which also featured tiramisu dark chocolate
and dulce de leche milk chocolate. The company also offered themed tins
from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day and even custom-made tins.

After trying chocolate-covered bacon at the Los Angeles County Fair,
I had to try the sizzling bacon bar from Christopher Michael
Chocolatier
. The fun part of this bar was the bits of bacon and
popping candy in the chocolate that tasted good and sizzled in your mouth. This
was definitely better than the Fair. The chocolate company is fairly
new — it started in 2006 and is based in Newport Beach.

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The Chocoveda counter was getting lots of attention. Taking more of an ayurvedic
route, these chocolates claim to be “infused with chakras.” I tried the Anahata
which was infused with green tea. I don’t know if there were any
“chakras” inside, but the green tea certainly made me breathe easier and
at peace and my heart felt more open. Apparently, the Anahata focuses
on the heart chakra, or energy forces in the body, and its Earth
element is air.

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Not really knowing what the line was for, my companion and I waited
for what was apparently the Sterling Confections booth. While we waited
to get a slice of their beautifully decorated truffle bars, my
companion went over to the TCHO booth next door. They had pieces of
what was supposed to be different flavors of chocolate — fruity, sweet,
citrus — but we couldn’t taste the difference.

Finally reaching the front of Sterling Confections line, I asked for
a slice of pineapple ginger macadamia nut truffle and a slice of their
rocky road truffle. These bars were shaped into a round-edged triangle
and had layers inside to help create their flavor. They were
painted with splashes of different colors, like pieces of
abstract art. The pineapple ginger blended well with the macadamia, but
the rocky road tasted like I had a slice of real ice cream.

The salon also featured demonstrations, chef and author talks, wine
tastings and — for the first time — The Chocolate Chef Competition, wherein the salon attendees chose the winner.

In search of the wine tastings, my companion and I ended up in the
V.I.C. Lounge (Very Important Chocolate-lover), where the top chef
teams from the California School of Culinary Arts displayed their
competition entries.

Though the detail was not quite as advanced as others, I voted for Team 1 for
their version of a rich girl’s dream — shoes, boots and Louis Vuitton
hand bags. That’s probably the only way I would be able to afford
Chanel shoes — if they were made chocolate.

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Team 2 featured a bookcase with books and a flower in a vase, which was the only thing not made of chocolate.

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Team 3 won with their
African-themed display. It featured what can only be described as a
totem pole, with an African mask, flower and bird all made of
chocolate, sitting on top of a chocolate map of Africa.

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Also in the lounge were chocolate mustaches and choc-Obama busts
and chocolate martinis. We didn’t find the wine, but we did find the
chocolate liqueur. Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream liqueur agents were mixing up
chocolate martinis with Blue Angel Vodka. We went with the
liqueur chilled and straight up. It tasted like a white Russian
cocktail and had enough alcohol content that we knew we didn’t need to
taste the martinis. Maybe next time.

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Knowing we couldn’t take much more tasting, we hit up a few more booths
before leaving to detox ourselves of sugar and chocolate.

Clarine’s Florentines sliced almond brittle on bittersweet chocolate was tasty and not as
sweet as many brittles can be. They are based in Lafayette and hope to
distribute to local stores soon.

Plush Puffs Gourmet Marshmallows
were a perfect way to experience s’mores without having to rough it by
camping outdoors. These flavored marshmallows are ready for toasting or
melting into hot chocolate. No graham crackers needed. Flavors as
simple as vanilla bean to fun peppi-mint. There is also, of course, a s’mores
flavor. I tried the toasted coconut and was in sugar heaven. The
marshmallow itself was soft and fluffy and the flavor was intense. I’m
sure I could think of ways to toss these into some baking recipes. They
did mention they were available at Whole Foods in Pasadena.

Susie Norris had tastings of goodies you can find and make
yourself in her “Chocolate Bliss: Sensuous Recipes, Spa Treatments, and Other Divine Indulgences” recipe book. I tried the fudge brownie, which
melted in my mouth. So delicious. The book also features recipes for
sweet spa treatments. The book ($16.99) will be available Oct. 20
wherever books are sold.

(Photos by Claudia S. Palma/Staff)

Health by chocolate at the Pasadena Convention Center on Sunday

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>>EAT

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If you’re on a sweets-free diet, just go ahead and cancel it now.

Why? Chocolate. Wine. Enough of both to just about fill 16,000 square feet.

Sunday. Be there.

Our sugar high has already started.

Oct. 11, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Pasadena Convention Center, 300 Green St., $25 at door, $20 advance, lachocolatesalon.com

(Courtesy photos)