Earlier today I went to the 2012 version of the chocolate fair which rounds off Chocolate Week.
This time the event was in a large basement near Covent Garden; it looks like the event is going from strength to strength. I was also impressed by the coolness of the IT support staff – not to mention the chocolatier Duane Dove from Tobago; they wrestled with a broken computer as Dove extended and extended and extended the opening remarks of his talk until finally he could show his film.
Dove also gave us a chance to look at – and taste – the raw materials from his cocoa plantation, picked on Thursday and presented to a keen London audience on Sunday (a rapidly growing audience too once people noticed rum was also being supplied!).
As for the finished products – I was struck by how widespread the idea of salted chocolate now is, reaching even into the standard high street big brand names. Just as chilli in chocolates went from niche to mainstream, so too salt is now doing so.
It wan’t obvious what the next big trend will be, though the popularity of single-sourced chocolate continues to grow. This is chocolate where all the cocoa beans come from the same plantation, rather than mixed in with others. That means you get plantation-specific tastes, allowing chocolate to be made, marketed and enjoyed more in the way that wine is, distinguishing subtle differences between different growers of nominally the same beans/grapes.
It looks like – in the interests of research, you understand – I’ll have to return next year to see what the post-salt new trend turns out to be.