Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet launched the 19th Salon du Chocolat last week in Paris at the Porte de Versailles. With their new theme “the magic of chocolate” they will travel the world until next October, then they will celebrate two decades of chocolate fairs. A celebration at the Grand Palais is also planned in the Spring.
Thousands of people mingled through the alleys of the chocolate and confectionary halls to taste macarons, gingerbreads, nougats, caramels, cookies and of course chocolates! At the end of the day many went back home loaded with enough chocolates to eat for the next three months!
Among the great workshops and cooking demonstrations, something completely new this year was the Ultimate Snack. A couple of times a day a few lucky adults and children could gather around a long table to eat a slice of toasted baguette with a chocolate Philadelphia spread and to drink cold and hot beverages. The atmosphere was relaxed with a decoration reminding us of our great-grand mothers countryside homes. Everything was served in plates and bowls from Gien. Just a perfect way to take a break and chat with others about the salon.
There were hundreds of maîtres chocolatiers from France like the best French workers Arnaud Larher, Laurent Duchene, Bruno le Derf & Frédéric Cassel, the maisons Hénin, Boissier & Chapon, but also from Belgium Leonidas, Benoit Nihant, Godiva and Jeff de Bruges and from Switzerland Au Palais des Gourmets and the favourite of Sylvie Douce Ragusa from Camille Bloch.
We loved the stands of Erithaj with maître chocolatier Arnaud Stengel, who talked about his job with passion and explained his cacao beans come from Vietnam. His chocolate bars all have Vietnamese names, a nice way to make you travel. The milk chocolate bar Ben Tre is delicious. Someone at Godiva was preparing chocolate strawberries and Neslé Dessert was having non-stop cooking shows making chocolate croissants and mouelleux au chocolat. Bruno Le Derf was offering many chocolates for degustation like his ganache with raspberry. The people at Hors des Sentiers Battus were really friendly and the stand had excellent chocolates like its Ballotin “Tas de sel” a ganache with caramel fleur de sel. It was hard to resist to not bring back some of the chocolates from the coffret prestige with ginger, pepper, calvados or lavender flavours.
Asia was really well represented at the salon with amazing sweets, pastry and chocolate makers. I stopped at the stand of the caramels of Mukaiyama Seisakusho. The chef answered questions with a great smile and let me taste so many of his amazing melting and creamy caramel collection. There is one for every month of the year. My favourite ones were with perilla seeds, mango, ginger and the one you can’t get away from once you have tried it, basil!
Many like myself stood up to admire the display of croissant rusks and the many Japanese ladies dressed in waitresses outfits. The croissants, from Café Ohzan in Tokyo, are cooked twice and nicely decorated. They make ideal gift and can be kept up to 1 month.
Tokyo chocolate had a large colourful stand offering matcha products like the crusty chocolate Mont Fuji, ganaches and pralines and cool looking Mango deco chocolates. Their 50g well-packed black biscuit raspberry makes great presents.
A long queue of people was waiting to buy the lovely, fresh and crusty matcha croissants made by Sadaharu Aoki. The croissants, with a slight spice touch, were delicious the next day.
Many had come to watch the beloved fashion shows every afternoon at 5:00 p.m. To be able to find a seat one had to come at least 1h15 minutes in advance. But the long wait was well worth it even for the young children who patiently stayed and marvelled for one hour at the beautiful models. The dresses were more unique the ones than the others with amazing chocolate knots, buttons and pearls. The rest of the day the visitors could admire the dresses in the chocolate hall.
On Sunday the group Calema from Sao Tomé gave a mini concert. No-one wanted the two brothers, Anselmo and Fradique to leave the podium. They brought the joy of living to the Salon du Chocolat through their beautiful smiles and warmth. For those who missed them, they will have a new CD out soon.
The Salon du Chocolat in Paris was a perfect way to spend the weekend, good for all the senses. It is now on its way to Lyon (Nov 9th -11th) for the last salon of the year. Why not let yourself be seduced by the magic of chocolate?