Switzerland’s 1st Salon du Chocolat
I’m still smiling from all the excitement of Switzerland’s first Salon du Chocolat (could also be the sugar). Well over 15,000 people visited this chocolate extravaganza in Zürich during the last weekend in March. They gazed with open mouths and cameras in hand at dresses made of real chocolate; they tasted exotic flavored ganaches and strawberries dipped in a chocolate fountain; they watched pastry chefs plate sophisticated desserts before their eyes – that ended up in their stomachs thereafter; they listened to experts explain the subtleties of pairing chocolate with wine, whisky or even just water; and they discovered chocolate companies from around the country that they may not have heard of before. For three days, it was a treat for all the senses.
As I do a roundup of the Salon du Chocolat in Paris every year, here’s a Swiss roundup that many of you have been asking for ! Too many favorites to list, but a few highlights below…
If you didn’t have a chance to taste Honold’s newest chocolate creation, Lotti’s Best, it’s worth a trip to their shop in Zürich for just that (flaky nougat, tonka bean and fleur de sel). I’d also hop on a train to Geneva just for Philippe Pascoët’s caramelized pistachios dipped in dark chocolate. Addictively good. Nobile Cioccolato launched their new packaging at the show, along with a new milk chocolate bar made with roasted pistachios, strawberry, mango, Borneo pepper and fleur de sel. And below you’ll see the always smiling Fredy Vogt, chocolatier for Camille Bloch, who tempted us with freshly made batches of Ragusa, a Swiss classic. That vintage packaging in front of him isn’t just decoration; it’s an actual 750 gram bar !
If everyone wasn’t already in the Easter mode, there were plenty of holiday inspired creations to help. There was the making of some seriously divine and generous Easter baskets at the show (photos below). If you’re a Lego fan like me, Du Rhône Chocolatier had just the thing for you. And how could Thomas Müller’s adorable chickens not put a smile on your face ?! René Haslinger put a very Swiss touch on his Easter egg (it’s a clock), and all passersby were wowed by the chocolatiers at Sprüngli, who were decorating a beautiful oversized egg all weekend long.
A lot of my photos from the Salon ended up on Instagram (my new favorite toy) sent from behind the scenes, as the bulk of my weekend was spent running back and forth between the Chocodémo culinary theater and kitchen and the Chocosphère conference prep area. (My apologies if I ran past you without seeing you or saying hello.)
Below you’ll see a cannelé topped with a chocolate surprise, prepared by star chef Tobias Funke and pastry chef Yannick Mertzweiler; there’s Fabian Sänger and Nicole Beckmann having a bit of fun before their demo; Ladurée Pastry Chef Nicolas Haelewyn coating his chocolate macarons in gold; and a spectacular, original creation by Kay Baumgardt and Olivier Matthey of Hotel Bad Bubendorf, made with chocolate, rhubarb, lemon cress, strawberry and vanilla. I’m also still thinking about the Widder Hotel’s “Moroccan Bomb,” a likewise beautiful and sublime dessert by Pastry Chef Abdeliah Lamkhizni, that had upwards of 30 ingredients, including olive oil, argan oil, candied hazelnuts, ras el hanout and several varieties of citrus.
To those of you who visited this sweet Swiss Salon, what did you think ?
Any favorite tastes, demos, conferences, stands or activities ?
As soon as we finalize the date for Zürich’s 2nd annual Salon du Chocolat in 2013, I’ll be sure to let you know ! In the meantime, a whole new season of Salon du Chocolat begins in just 6 months in Paris, with its 18th show there, sure to be yet another sweet success !
Bonus: watch the Fashion Show in its entirety and see all of the chocolatiers’ wild creations. Amazing what they can do with chocolate !
Salon du Chocolat Zürich
Wallisellenstrasse 49, Oerlikon
2013 dates to be announced…