Sweeter than candy: Our picks from the 2007 Chocolate Show New York

“Love” is a four letter word for chocolate, and the public certainly showed its love at the 10th Annual Chocolate Show in New York last November. An hour into the show’s first full day, a line of eager chocolate fans of all ages waited patiently to enter the building. Inside, a sea of more than 60 vendors offered chocolates in various forms and enough samples to make your head spin.

The show, however, was about much more than buying chocolate. A section was devoted to the chocolate fashion show pieces displayed at an opening-night preview. You could look but you couldn’t touch the dresses created primarily out of chocolate. There were cookbook signings by various authors, including chefs Jacques Torres and Nick Malgieri. Aspiring bakers wanting to whip up dessert masterpieces headed to the culinary theatre where chefs appeared every hour to demonstrate their favorite sweet creations. At the “Chocolate Lounge,” adults indulged in ports, cognacs and chocolate-themed alcoholic drinks. Not to forget the children, the little ones entertained themselves at a “KidZone” with a chocolate fondue or creating their very own chocolate thumbprint art.

Here are some of my favorite products from the Chocolate Show, and I hope that the descriptions will give you ideas for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day:

At the Mary’s Chocolate Japan counter, master chocolate artisans created delicate chocolates by hand. The chocolates themselves are infused with ingredients commonly found in Japan like green tea and ume (Japanese plum). Each bite of the smooth flavorful chocolate from this vendor was a wonderful experience. They had generous samples of passion fruit and green tea ganache truffles that passersby indulged in. According to the company they are only sold in the U.S. during the New York Chocolate Show. This is one vendor that is worth waiting for, and your other half will forgive you for “postponing” Valentine’s Day to Thanksgiving. For those traveling to or living in Japan (and can read Japanese), go to http://www.mary.co.jp/ for store locations.Another vendor originally from New Zealand but has expanded into the American chocolate market is Bloomsberry & Co. These designer chocolate bars are made out of premium ingredients and will delight your senses. Also, the witty packaging makes eating the chocolate and gift giving even more entertaining. You can order them online at http://www.bloomsberry.com/zen-cart/index.php or search for a store near you.

Looking for artesian chocolates in Philadelphia? Wandering through the maze of vendors, John and Kira’s booth was a true find. Their chocolates are all handmade with local ingredients from Philadelphia and Valrhona chocolate. A bite of their mint ganache ladybug chocolate created an explosion of mint mingled with creamy milk chocolate in my mouth. The lasting flavor left me wanting more; thankfully you can order online at http://www.johnandkiras.com/ or via their catalogue to be shipped to your home or office.

Many people love brownies and what better to call Aundrea Lacy’s accidental chocolate creation than Luv’s Brownies. Without knowledge that she had a learning disability, Lacy transposed the numbers in a brownie recipe and thus a delicious batch of brownies was created. The brownies are heart-shaped fudgy goodness and readily available online at http://www.luvsbrownies.com/. If you are in the San Francisco/San Jose area, brownie cakes can be delivered to you.Another brownie I had the pleasure of sampling were the Fairytale Brownies made of premium Belgium chocolate. These brownies come in all sorts of flavors like caramel and raspberry swirl, have a cake-like consistency and are lighter than traditional brownies. They can be ordered via mail order or at http://www.brownies.com/.