Alter Eco Chocolate Bars
For slightly more virtuous, but equally indulgent, chocolate, we wandered to the Alter Eco booth. Alter Eco sources the ingredients for its product line from organic farmers, dealing directly with growers and grower-owned co-ops on a fair trade basis. Alter Eco's chocolates are made by a family-owned confectionary in Switzerland. A 72-hour "conch" time, the process of stirring the chocolate over heat to obtain ideal consistency, allows Alter Eco to avoid the use of soy-lecithin as an emulsifier. Additive questions aside, the consistency of the Blackout dark chocolate bar, and of the Midnight Crunch, a dark chocolate quinoa crunch bar, was silky, lacking any greasy after-effect. The Midnight Crunch — think Crunch Bar for real people — has serious addiction potential. The quinoa provides a greater resistance, and better crunch, than any puffs of rice.
And the wine. The Winetime Bar people had some serious competition in the form of the real thing. Lacking the confidence and coordination to taste and spit in a crowded hall while clutching a notepad, I limited my tastings to a few of the most interesting-looking alcoholic offerings. Since I am a sucker for a cool label, first up was Punk Dog Wine, pouring Sophie’s Romp, a Napa/Sonoma blend Cabernet. Sophie’s Romp is named for the owners' Welsh Corgi, a "bratty little dog." Like its namesake, this is a big, bold, brash wine — fun and flamboyant. Punk Dog also makes a wine not poured at the Salon. The Riddle is a mystery blend; the riddle involves guessing the blend. The answer is printed on the cork. Okay, I know my next party.
Speaking of parties, or of a quiet evening with a book, or of almost anything that doesn’t require intelligent thought, hard alcohol was also well represented. Unable to resist the Girl with the Pearl Earring, we paid a visit to the Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Liqueur booth and were well rewarded. Made with Blue Angel Vodka, Dutch chocolate, and cream, it is chocolate milk for grownups. Not overpoweringly sweet, it reminds the drinker of its 17% alcohol content with every sip. And, boy, would it be good in coffee. Or on the rocks. Or…