Scot had mentioned the 2013 Portland Chocolate Fest a few times this weekend. I'd planned on working all weekend and had a good start on the list on Saturday. So this morning we impulsively changed up the day and headed to PDX for some chocolate sampling.
A small expo hall was packed with chocolatiers. All were offering samples, which made a $12 entry cost worth it. They had a suitable amount of exhibitors.
The best take-aways was an introduction to JaCiva's, a fantastic bakery and chocolatier in Portland. We sampled a fantastic ganache covered chocolate cake, and then bought some truffles and caramels. Sea salt caramels were on my to do list.
Scot and I agree the best in show was the Smoked Salted Habanero Caramel from Bargello Bakery and Confections. The caramel was rich and smooth, and the salt and heat accentuated, without overpowering. Yum Yum Yum.
We quickly learned to avoid the trend of chocolatiers going for broke with the bitterest, most raw, most unadulterated chocolate. Yes, you can chew on cocoa beans... but why would you? There was a certain flavor of hipster who were working very hard to out-bitter the other, offering a product that is not a friend to my palate. Dark, hard, waxy, chalky bars of chooclate that are just... nasty.
Give me a rich chocolate buttercream over a dark moist cake, or a fresh strawberry dipped in white and milk chocolate. Dark truffle filling with a hint of raspberry. Or golden nuggets of caramel coated in chocolate with a few grains of sea salt on top. Yum!