Never Met a Chocolate I Didn’t Like

Last week I flew down to San Diego for the 33rd Winter Fancy Food Show. Just my luck that the year I decide to attend is the year they move the show from its customary winter venue of San Francisco (a 30-minute BART ride away) to San Diego (a 1 1/2 hour plane ride with all the accompanying hassles of parking, delays, etc.).

In any case, it was quite a scene. Picture over a thousand specialty food purveyors hawking their wares to over 11,000 ravenous attendees. These are gourmet food shop owners, restaurateurs, caterers, high-end grocery store buyers, and people like me – the press. Oh, and let us not forget the individuals who used any pretext to get into the show so they could basically hoover up enough samples to tide them over for the rest of the winter. And most of these gluttons, from my observation, didn’t need the extra calories.

My article on new chocolate creations will appear in our county paper’s Food section the week before Valentine’s Day. “Fair trade,” “premium cacao beans,” “sustainable harvesting methods,” and “artisanal” were the big buzzwords. I made the mistake of letting a couple of the chocolatiers press upon me their personal favorites to try – and found that we were seldom in agreement about what constituted “favorite.” Surprisingly, one of the most smooth, delectable and satisfying samples I tried wasn’t a chocolate at all. “Caffe Acapella” is billed as a “Gourmet Coffee Confection,” made according to the same principles as fine chocolate only using coffee beans instead of cacao beans. Mmmm…

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