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Sunday, June 16, 2024

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CultureFood & DrinkGood Taste: Pho truffles and lobster white? The Craft...

Good Taste: Pho truffles and lobster white? The Craft Chocolate Experience stunned

Candymakers brought adventurous flavors to international show at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Last weekend’s Craft Chocolate Experience at Palace of Fine Arts offered a buzzy tour of bean-to-bar chocolate makers and confectioners from around the world. Attendees could essentially sample as much as they wanted over the course of three days, and, if they could sit still with all that stimulation, there were a host of seminars and pairings to explore.

Despite this not being close to my first chocolate rodeo, I flamed out super early on my one day there after tasting the majority of tables set up inside the former Exploratorium space, which brought up fond memories of elementary school field trips. I blame this rookie move on not eating before going. If you attend anything of this nature, please do not make this mistake, especially where sugar is concerned.

A cosmic calendar of Dandelion chocolates.
Cape Cod bar with lobster by David Upchurch

Adventure was definitely in the air at this fest, as we tried chocolates made with camel milk (from Mirzam in Dubai) and bars flavored with unusual ingredients like caramelized onion or Thai khao soi. A lot of these worked even in instances where that might seem doubtful, though there were a few that left us looking for water. It was a huge treat to be able to try items from several continents, and a point of pride to leave and realize that many Bay Area companies were among the top standouts of the day.

Sampler by Mirzam Chocolate Makers from Dubai

We popped pho truffles from Socola Chocolatier and nibbled a corner of the Cape Cod, a lobster-infused white chocolate bar by David Upchurch Chocolatier, cleansing our palates with sips of lime zested cacao fruit refreshers from Dandelion Chocolate, a show sponsor. It was hard to stop staring at the products by Formosa Chocolates from Marin, which offers collections of tiny chocolate kintsugi cups, chocolate pineapple cake truffles, and other Asian-influenced delights; a bite of a passion fruit truffle put this company high up on a list for gift-giving. 

Bars by Goodnow Farms Chocolate from Massachusetts
Collection by Formosa Chocolates from Marin

Luckily, you don’t have to wait until next year to try pretty much anything that was at the Craft Chocolate Experience. Instead, you can drop into Socola’s shop (535 Folsom Street, SF), go to Dandelion’s five SF locations (including the 16th Street factory, which offers tours), catch David Upchurch at the Stonestown Farmers Market, patronize everyone’s website, and/or take in a dizzying array of both local and international selections at Chocolate Covered (4069 24th Street, SF), a retail store in Noe Valley that’s a treasure to anyone wanting to learn about truly good chocolate and confections. Chocolate Covered doesn’t do online sales, so you’ll have to stop by in person for the education.

Tamara is the publisher of California Eating and the founder of the new online Music Book Club.

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