Annual Spotlight on the Salon du Chocolat

Salon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, France

Twas that time of year, when I found myself back on the TGV (high speed train) from Zürich to Paris with sweets on my mind.  You might think that after a few days of nonstop visits to pâtisseries, boulangeries and chocolate and sweet shops, I might be all sugared out. Not at all; I was just getting warmed up for the Salon du Chocolat, now in its 16th year, and with shows all around the world, even Cairo and Moscow.

Salon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, France

But for me, the Salon du Chocolat is all about Paris.  I remember my first visit years ago when it was at the Carrousel du Louvre; and even if on a much smaller scale, it was just as exciting, elegant, fun and delicious.  I made a plan to go back every year to see my favorite chocolatiers and find out what was new in the chocolate world.  I missed the salon in Paris during the years I was working as liaison between chocolate brands and the media for New York’s Chocolate Show (heads up: 13th edition is soon on November 11-14).  But once I moved to Switzerland, it was again a highly anticipated annual tradition. {Take a look at my roundups from the Salon du Chocolat in 2008 and 2009}

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Of course there were more chocolate bars and chocolate truffles under one roof than you can imagine.  But there were also other gourmandises, most of which used chocolate in some way, like foie gras made with chocolate on toast (yes, really!), or chocolate pasteis de nata, a twist on the sweet Portuguese custard tart.  Some treats didn’t have chocolate at all, like Gâteau Basque, gingerbread, cannelés and Swiss Kambly cookies.  There were also macarons in every color and flavor – cactus passionfruit, caramelized morel, Snickers, green tea sesame and cheesecake.  And a rainbow of long strands of marshmallow (guimauve) too, from wild strawberry and rhubarb, to cotton candy and Chartreuse.  Then there were the individual chocolates with even crazier combinations of flavors; just think of any herb, spice, liqueur or savory ingredient, and I’m sure it found itself in some shape or form at the salon.  Some worked quite well… others not so much.

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I have never been to the show on a weekend, and I can only imagine the crowds.  I love going on the very first day, when the doors open and the chocolate makers are at their stands, excited about the start of the show, enthusiastic about their new products and ready to answer any question you may have.  I saw old friends, like Chloé Doutre-Roussel (below, top right) who showed me her new line of chocolate, on the brink of its launch; Franck Kestener (below, bottom left), who just opened a shop in Paris (stay tuned for more on that soon); and there was the incredibly friendly Sadaharu Aoki (below, bottom right), who was bursting with excitement about his new pastries; and Jean-Paul Hévin (below, top left) who was more than happy to chat, sharing tales of his first taste of chocolate at age 4, his recent trip to Peru and his new Chocolate Bar on Rue Saint-Honoré.

Salon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, France

Each year, I come back and report on my favorites from the show.  The personal exchanges are by far the highlight for me. But then of course, there are all those masterful sweet creations.  So here is what to keep on your list for next year’s show and/or for your upcoming travels throughout France and online:
* Henri Le Roux’s caramel au blé noir (buckwheat caramel), and of course his original C.B.S., caramel au beurre salé (salted butter caramel)
* Anything of Franck Kestener’s, especially his Atlantique bar – crisp shortbread and salted caramel in dark chocolate.
* Chocolat + Saucisson = Chocisson by Maison Guinguet.  No actual sausage here though, just the appearance.  It’s a delicate chocolate praliné – bonus points for serving it on a pig cutting board, like below top left.
* Guimauve (marshmallow) from Les Délices d?un Gourmand in any one of their >80 flavors
* Pascal Le Gac’s caramel ganache
* Christophe Roussel’s macarons in original flavors (Piment d’Espelette & Griottes) and even one dipped in chocolate
* Jacques Bockel’s soft and chewy fig cinnamon nougat
* Patrice Chapon’s Bar à Mousse au Chocolat – looks like an ice cream stand, but it’s different varieties of chocolate mousse
* Inimitable pralines and caramelized nuts from Mazet de Montargis
* And a taste of François Pralus’ Praluline (pink praline studded brioche) would be worth a visit to the salon itself!

Salon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, France

And now a spotlight on Vincent Guerlais (“agiteur de papilles”), whose line of chocolates and confections, new to me, were truly unique and delectable.  A meter long box with individual chocolates is called “Le Mètre Chocolatier,” a fun play on words on the French title, maitre chocolatier, and his incredibly long strands of marshmallow showed up as lollipops too, small squares with an extra layer of pâte de fruit or caramel, the whole thing dipped in chocolate.  New for the show was also his box of “Salé, Sucré, Amer, Acide,” 4 different chocolates representing salty, sweet, bitter and acidic.  And watch out for his enormous bar, called “La Tablette à Partager” (meaning bar to share), made with hazelnut gianduja and salted butter caramel.  Only, I don’t think I’ll be sharing mine…

Salon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, France

Last but certainly not least… Sadaharu Aoki‘s colorful and impeccably lined up chocolates grabbed my eye at previous shows, but this year it was all about his “Tokyo Macaron Yaki” that he serves in his boutiques in Japan.  A soft chocolate macaron with a ganache filling, then “baked” in between two thin layers of matcha crêpe batter (we all ooohed and aaahed at the pastry chef dropping the macarons into the molds), sandwiched together… served warm… it’s somewhat irresistible.

Salon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, FranceSalon du Chocolat 2010, Paris, France

Did anyone go to this year’s Salon du Chocolat? If so, what were *your* highlights??  I’ll be sure to put them on my list for next year… Thanks for sharing!

27 Responses to “Annual Spotlight on the Salon du Chocolat”

  1. Julia says:

    OMG Kerrin! How you don’t have ganache flowing through your veins, I will never know. Great photos and your words have my mouth watering over here… Hazelnut gianduja and salted butter caramel – ya, I wouldn’t be sharing any of mine either. I’m also amazed at the gorgeous macaron displays (though in general, the displays and windows in Paris are amazing), and right now I’m trying to figure out how I might go about recreating that Tokyo Macaron Yaki – so inventive!

    When I finally get to go to Salon du Chocolat myself, I think I’ll need you as backup – I don’t dare go alone!

    bisous xx

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  3. Edd says:

    At least I can visit through your eyes, every year I say I’m going to go and every year it passes me by, this post just confirms that was stupid, everything looks wonderful. I love Frank Kestener’s Atlantique bar so I can’t wait to visit his store next time I’m in Paris, I love the fact he is young and that shows in what he makes. I tried one of sadaharu aoki’s chocarons and really wasn’t impressed but the crepe/macaron thing looks really good, all warm and chocolatey

  4. turkey's for life says:

    I found your blog through someone else’s (I can’t for the life of me think whose it was and I’d love to give them the credit!!) and subscribed straight away. These photos are just beautiful. We’ve never been to any sort of chocolate fair but this is maybe causing a rethink.

  5. Yeye says:

    Your post is so lively and filled with joy! I’m so jealous, you get to so many incredible events and meet unbelievable people. Keep make us dream with your beautiful adventures! One remark: it seems that everything can be made out of chocolate (e.g. fois gras with chocolate! what?). Could you think of and invent an idea/item that has not been developed yet with chocolate. If so, please share. Thanks Kerrin as always …

  6. Kerrin says:

    Julia, who said I *don’t* have ganache running through my veins ?! haha ! Actually, I think it’s just pure sugar. 😉 Now as for you recreating Aoki’s Macaron Yaki – if anyone can do it, it is so you ! Oh, I can not wait to see, this is so for you. And when you do get to the Salon du Chocolat, don’t you worry, I will be there holding your hand…. Already can’t wait ! =)

    Edd, so next year it will be for you ! I’m going to do a post on Kestener’s boutique, so you’ll see that soon. And you’re right about him coming up with original creations that reflect his age. His father still creates chocolates too (when I asked his favorite, he said the Perle de Lorraine, since he came up with it, ha !) and then Franck puts his spin on them. Thanks for the comment !

    turkey’s for life, hello ! So glad you found me here, and thanks to whoever sent you this way. 😉 But thanks most of all to you, appreciate your enthusiastic note here. Hope you’ll continue to enjoy !

    Yeye, thank you so much for the wonderful comment. But gosh, that is quite a challenge you have put forth… a completely *new* pairing with chocolate. As you said, it sure seems like everything has been done. (For the record, I didn’t actually taste that foie gras with chocolate.) But a fun assignment to think about. If you have any ideas first, be sure to share them as well ! 😉 Thanks again.

  7. Duncalator says:

    Amazing work. A truly unbeatable guide and a vicarious excursion to paradise. With pumpkin on my mind because of my own love of it magnified by your recent pumpkinmagoria I wonder if you’ve come across pumpkin macarons? I never have, and I’ve explored a lot of macarons. I would try every one of your favorites–do you know which are available on line? In the States?

  8. Mom says:

    I do remember the first time you and I went to the chocolate show in Paris. My eyes were open wide and my mouth tasted all!! This show was outrageous! Your photography made me feel like I was there except that I could not taste each and every sample. I am always amazed at the creativity of all the chefs creating unbelieveable sweet treats. The fashion show was to die for also. Thank you once again for sharing your experience this year. Guess which picture I really want to taste???

  9. Kerrin says:

    Duncalator, why thank you, ever so much. And I’m with you on loving pumpkin – hence my pumpkin feast, which I may have to duplicate soon… Surprisingly, I have not encountered pumpkin macarons, hmph. My first thought for you was Paulette in Los Angeles (http://www.paulettemacarons.com), but they don’t do pumpkin. Pix Pâtisserie (in Portland) does a pumpkin spice macaron (http://www.pixpatisserie.com/collections/macaron) – only I can’t say I have tasted it. You’ll have to let me know how it goes… But why not bake your own: http://www.mytartelette.com/2008/09/saffron-pumpkin-macarons.html

    Mom, yes of course I remember too – we were both in heaven ! 🙂 And the fashion show is so unique and so perfect for us together — me the sweets person and you the fashion connoisseur ! 🙂 As for which picture you really want to taste, that’s easy… nougat ! Where do you think I get it from… haha !

  10. Meeta says:

    Oh I do think you have ganache flowing in your veins. Because only that explains a post like that! OMG! Chocolate heaven. I think they would have had to rip me away from each booth and I would have come away with the worse chocolate shock in history.

    Kerrin – thanks for this! Next time tell me and I will join you for sure!

  11. Jamie says:

    I think maybe we were both at that show at the Carrousel du Louvre! And funny thing I almost mailed you one of Vincent Guerlais’ Tablette à partager! Ah do i know my little Kerrin? I am so sorry to have missed this mecca, this heaven of chocolate delight! Thanks for bringing it home to us!

  12. sarah says:

    what a wonderful time you are having, drowning in rivers of multi-colored chocolate. I meanwhile have run out of hiding places for my modest stash of sweets in this household of sugar addicts. so, yes, I am jealous 😉 save me a few chocolates and macarons!

  13. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen says:

    This is the second time I read this post. The first was yesterday evening (guess what my dreams were about!?) and the second is right now, in the office.
    I’m pretending to work, but I’m drooling over my keybord, sounds quite weird in this moment!! 😛
    I absolutely would love to visit a choco exposition, and why not.. Paris.. never been to the city of love!

  14. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    I have to disagree with the ganache comment. It must be pure chocolate running through your veins. None of that pesky cream to dilute the irristerible cocoa bean!

    Kerrin, I don’t know how you do it. I read this and feel like I have enjoyed a brief visit to this amazing event myself. What a great review and I love the sound of each and every one of your recommendations.

    Some of the images grabbed my attention. Is that cactus flavoured chocolate at the top? Oh boy? Now that’s something I would never have imagined.

    The macarons look amazing – how can they not? You’re in PARIS!

    And Sadaharu Aoki?s macaron? Oh my …… what a temptation!

    Thank you for this great round up of your visit to this deliciously sweet event. I hope to visit one day. Maybe with a fellow sweet tooth (fingers crossed!) in tow. 🙂

  15. Kerrin says:

    Meeta, you’re on ! Salon du Chocolat 2011, I’m ready, are you ?! Meeta ? Meeeta ? Uh-oh, you still in chocolate shock ? 😉

    Jamie, oh how fun to think of us both at the Carrousel du Louvre back in the day ! And yes, you certainly do know me and my tastes. Wow, that would have been a winner for sure. =) You’re lucky, even though you missed the Salon, you’ve got Guerlais just a hop, skip and jump away. Go !! And let me know about all his other products that look just as tempting…

    sarah, just love your comment ! 🙂 But uh-oh, your house of sugar addicts keeps finding your stash ?! My husband doesn’t know where mine is… haha ! Don’t worry, I’ll save a macaron and chocolate in there for you…

    Juls, never been to the “city of love” you said ? The City of Love… Lights…. and Sweets !! 🙂 Sorry for distracting you at work, and hope I didn’t ruin your keyboard with all that drool. haha ! Grazie !

    Julia, I totally agree – I had said above that it wasn’t ganache in my veins – just pure sugar. But perhaps you are right, simply dark chocolate ! 😉 I am so glad that Nina let you take a sweet break to come visit the Salon du Chocolat here. Until you do go one day – avec moi !! I think the cactus you saw above was a macaron flavor, still exotic though. And yes, all those macarons really do look phenomenal in Paris, whatever the flavor. Merci mon amie !

  16. Emma says:

    NOM NOM NOM!

    I’ve been waiting for this since I saw these pictures appear on flickr. I was looking up some of the macaron flavors from one of your images that doesn’t appear here… did you happen to try the saya or ume offerings? They look so good, as does the sesame green tea. The fromage de brebis chocolate sounds tantalizing as well (maybe not to you, but you had your laser eyes glued to the Tablette à Partager, and for good reason).

    I realize these comments aren’t very applicable to this actual blog, but I have another non-pertinent question. In your Cécolat chok photo, what is that dude doing with the blow dryer?

    I have got to end this schoolin’ bidness so that I can start makin’ the mad cash to jet set to the Salon du Chocolat. Or even the Show in NY. Maybe in a few years. Thanks for this tastiest of treats – I’ve been looking forward to this roundup since last year’s!

  17. Myriam @ Detours says:

    Oh my God, delicious post, Kerrin!! Thanks so much for sharing with us. So much creativity, so much to choose from!

    Wish I could visit the Salon du Chocolat this year, but can’t come back to Paris more than once or twice a year, unfortunately ;-(

    The tequila citron sel chocolates sound very intriguing. I also love the sound of Le Roux buckweat caramels (everytime I’m back home I go shopping for sweets at L’Etoile d’Or, she sells the famous BCS caramels which are just to die for indeed!). And wow, a chocolate mousse bar – wish we could get that here in Sydney!

    Did you get a chance to go to Patrick Roger chocolate store while in Paris? I always find his windows incredible…

    Cheers from down under

  18. Savor Paris says:

    Thanks for all the great pictures! Incredible!! Can’t wait for next year when I’ll actually be able to go! Counting down the days already. Excellent report!!

  19. Mayumi says:

    Bonjour Kerrin,
    ça m’a fait vraiment plasir de vous rencontrer !
    Je t’envois un mail bientôt mais pour que tu ne m’oublie pas, je te laisse un message ici.

  20. Kerrin says:

    Emma, yay I knew you’d love this post ! =) And very cool that you saw my photos on flickr. I just had so many, it was nearly impossible to narrow them down (225 !) and then still couldn’t use them all on the post. To answer your (yes pertinent) questions… I actually didn’t taste many macarons, sorry. [Just slapped the back of my hand] Nor did I taste the chocolat au brebis. Over a span of 8 hours, if you taste too many things – well, you won’t last that long, and your palate will just get saturated. As for the dude with the hair dryer, that’s Joël Morgeat of Cécolat Chok, who sells a “chocolate kit” for easy tempering at home, and if it gets too hard, you can remelt it a bit using a hot hair dryer. Nice catch ! 😉

    Myriam, un grand merci pour ton commentaire ! And I am so with you, whenever I’m in Paris I make sure to trek up to L’Étoile d’Or, for Bernachon and Le Roux – and major laughs with Densie. I should do a post on her and the shop… And Patrick Roger’s shop is always another must. Sounds like we’d have a ball in Paris together ! 🙂

    Savor Paris, thank you so much. So exciting that you are going next year. Let the countdown begin… ! =)

    Mayumi, bonjour et merci ! Ca m’a fait plaisir de te rencontrer aussi ! 🙂 Et bien sûr, je ne t’oublie pas ! Je viens de voir ton site aussi – heureusement pour Google Translate, hihi ! A bientôt sur email alors… Bon weekend !

  21. Leyla says:

    Hi Kerrin, Your posts are always fabulous – but this one makes it into my next newsletter!! 🙂

  22. Kerrin says:

    Leyla, oh how fantastic, merci beaucoup !! Hope all is well on your end ! =)

  23. Valentina says:

    Dear Kerrin, I have been constantly and consistently amazed and in awe at the knowledge you have about the subjects you write about. You are truly passionate. It is always with immense pleasure and excitement that I read all your posts, sometimes make notes..and ultimately talk about them with friends. I’m going to be visiting a few of your recommendations in Paris this coming weekend. And I just cannot wait. Next year I will be attending the Salon du Chocolat health and money allowing .this will somehow be your doing. Have a fabulous weekend. And till the next post.

  24. Feda says:

    Salut Kerrin,

    J’ai commencé à lire ton blog et j’adore .

    Tes photos sont magnifiques et me donner envie de tout essayer

    A bientôt

    Feda ( amiga brasileira de Rosa :))

  25. Steve says:

    Let’s make it official: the 2nd best thing to attending Salon du Chocolat (or any other chocolate related event) would be reading and seeing all about it right here on your blog. The only experience better than enjoying your pictures and comments would be actually tasting EVERYTHING in the aisles of the Chocolate Show. Thanks.

  26. Kerrin says:

    Valentina, what can I possibly say to such a stellar comment as yours above ? How can I top my “muitissimo obrigada” to you ?? I am touched and so appreciate your words. And love hearing about how much you have enjoyed Paris, thank you for the sweet updates !

    Feda, salut toi ! Je suis ravie de voir ton nom ici, un grand merci d’avoir regardé mon blog et d’avoir laissé un commentaire. Ca me fait grand plaisir. Et donc maintenant, comme tu dis… il faut tout essayer ! 😉 A bientôt alors !

    Steve, you’re very welcome. Hope you’ll have the opportunity to attend the Salon – and to literally taste *everything* – that’s a whole lot to taste though ! 😉 Thanks so much.

  27. Meg says:

    Oooh, I should have known you’d be there! Wish I would’ve bumped into you. I agree entirely about the Atlantique from Franck Kestener, a man who looks far too young and innocent to have made that sinful treat. I loved the look of Aoki’s matcha crepe macaron thingy and am grateful to read more about it here, but admit that I didn’t really get it. The original macaron texture is lost, and the texture of the encasement didn’t really do it for me. But it’s always fun to see something new.

    Thanks for the great recap and the photos!

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