Local Chocolatiers Featured at Festival Today



If your Mother's Day plans just got rained out, the first annual Sweet Shoppe festival runs from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today in Jack London Square. And it's indoors.

It features artisanal desserts, champagne, and other yummies from indie Bay Area companies, and it's indoors. Today's events include a creme brulee demo, a jam tasting, a cake-decorating workshop featuring chef Michael Hughes of Spun Sugar, and an ice-cream-cake demo hosted by folks from Dreyer's.

On the festival's opening day — yesterday — we met the folks from Oakland's own Vice, whose small-batch chocolates — flavored with Merlot, lavender, lemongrass, fleur de sel, and more — are made with Venezuela couverture (that is, extra-high cocoa-butter) chocolate. Also using Venezuela's best and also from Oakland, Barlovento makes marshmallows, caramels, bars, and truffles with fresh tarragon, spearmint, spices, and fruit. (Its owner, Peter Brydon, was inspired by a 2003 visit to the Berkeley Farmers' Market, where he sampled dried cherries.) Also on hand were Sweetface Bakery, purveyor of green-tea cakes, espresso cakes, and crushed-Oreo chocolate cakes. Lafayette-based Clarine's Florentines are elegant chocolate-dipped almond brittle made with butter, sugar, honey, and cream by a husband-and-wife team. Also at the festival were San Francisco's Coco-luxe, whose elderflower truffles are a May-only treat, and trendy chocolatier Tcho, whose web site now includes a survey: Take it for a chance to win a year's supply of free Tcho. Cassandra Chen was a banker before launching her San Anselmo-based caramel (and caramel corn) company CC Made, whose delicacies are flavored with Darjeeling tea, bitter sea salt, Himalayan salt, and Madagascar vanilla.

Those hiking trails and picnic spots where you planned to take Mom today will still be pretty muddy and mucky, even if it stops raining....

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