Now, I have to admit right up front that I'm actually not a huge chocolate person. I mean, I like chocolate fine, but I rarely crave it, and I tend to prefer less chocolatey chocolates. And it's easy for me to hit my limit on chocolate, especially if it's dark. Thus, you might think an event called "chocolate madness" is an odd choice for me. You'd be right, but I try not to constrain myself with silly things like preconceived notions of what I might like or not. I mean, even if I got chocolated out, I figured, the money's going to a good cause, and it'll surely be fun.
Boy howdy, was that fun!
They fed us dinner and champagne beforehand, which was good, because, though there was enough food to make a dinner out of the desserts, that probably wouldn't have been prudent.
Various tables were set up in a big circle around the Cyclorama and you could just wander around and taste what was interesting. My main complaint is that the various restaurants made their servings way too big. I mean, here you are, tasting decadent chocolate desserts from (hang on, let me count) 30 restaurants. We do not want a full-size cookie or piece of cake. It is ridiculous overkill to give us an entire mini pie, even if that's what you would serve as a dessert at your restaurant. And rather than feel fun and decadent, not being able to finish almost any of the things we were served just made me feel wasteful. Next year, I'm going in a group of four so we can make more reasonable use of the servings.
There were several really awesomely strange items, including:
* Chocolate mousse from Vox Populi that was not the texture I look for in mousse (it was too heavy, not whipped enough) nor the flavor (too chocolatey), but it was delightfully spicy, which I liked and omegabeth didn't.
* "Chocolate nachos" from Cottonwood Cafe, which was a bit of shortbread, half dipped in chocolate, and with one scoop each of chocolate and vanilla mousse? whipped cream? something? This was remarkable mainly for the vanilla moussey bit, which was so powerfully vanilla that I initially mistook it for having a hint of anise, which was exciting, because I thought I'd finally found an anise-flavored item that I liked. Alas, no, it's just that I like vanilla, even when I'm clobbered by it.
* Chocolate bete noir with passion fruit soup from Sel de la Terre was an amazing and surprising flavor combination. I'd never had bete noir before; it's a flourless chocolate cake, but lighter than the dense slabs of chocolate that seem so popular. But what made this was the pairing with the passion fruit, which was delightful and unexpected. I'd like to try a full meal at this place, just to see what flavors they put together.
* Truffle truffles from Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro. This was one of my favorite items of the evening, not because I liked it, so much as that I loved the experience of it. These were just what they sound like: truffle (the fungus) flavored chocolate truffles. Delightfully weird. They had other flavors of truffles, too, including thyme and rosemary, but I was slowing way down by the time we hit their table.
And, of course, there were the items that were just plain good:
* Valrhona chocolate layer cake from Grill 23 & Bar and Excelsior. This was moist, flavorful, and not too overwhelming, with mousse layered between cake and drizzled with white and dark chocolate sauce.
* Brownies from B&B Brownie Factory Gourmet Gift Company. Several tables were offering brownies, which I generally felt was a cop-out. I mean, sure, anyone can make brownies, and what's so impressive about yours that they're going to stand out amongst all this amazing chocolate? Well, these brownies really did stand out: they were chunky and gooey and delicious. I generally make my own brownies, but if I were going to buy someone else's, these would be they. (Hamersley's Bistro also had a tasty raspberry brownie, very fudgy, but I liked the B&B ones more.)
* Chocolate rootbeer floats from Lumiere. Actually, what I liked most about this was the rootbeer. They make a super powerful rootbeer there, apparently! It was a rootbeer to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and pay attention. Delicious. fennel, you should try it, though I'm not sure it'll be to your taste.
* Chocolate praline mousse from Petit Robert Bistro. Tasty! Praliney! Moussey! Yum. But primarily, as omegabeth noted, if you like pralines. Conveniently, I do.
And my absolute favorites:
* Chocolate baklava from Athan's European Bakery. This was look-for-a-seat-so-you-can-recover-your-s
* "Fairytale delights" from Danish Pastry House. This is a silly name for these things, but after we ate them, it was more understandable. This is the last table we visited, and when we arrived, they had actually run out of their four varieties of yumminess, but omegabeth managed, somehow, miraculously, to sweet talk them into producing a couple of rejects for us (they weren't as pretty as the ones they'd had out were, but who the hell cares?!) The guys working this booth were a) hot and b) competent with pastry, so, needless to say, I lusted after them. But the fact that the Flødebolle and whatever the other tidbit they gave us was made my eyes roll back in my head was totally unrelated to the hot boys. These folks promised subs and other interesting things at their shops in Medford and Watertown. The Medford one is actually walking distance from my house, and you can be damn sure I'll be taking advantage of that, because hello.
So, yeah, that was yummy. And fun. Next year, you should come, too!