Every April, I hold something called a Chocolate Party, an annual event in which I gathered some fifty of my closest friends, feed them dinner, then try to kill them with massive amounts of chocolate.  Over the years, this event has grown, from a modest get-together at my home to a gastronomic blow-out at Fuel now Refuel) Restaurant.  The evening goes something like this:

The guests gathers.  We chat and drink.

We sit down and enjoy an incredible multi-course meal prepared by Chef Rob, Chef Ted, and the rest of the gang.

Then, we move onto the main event: Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

It seems fairly straightforward, but even the most dedicated chocoholic would be hard-pressed to sample all that’s an display – the varied master creations of some twenty chocolatiers from all over the world.  This year, I brought in chocolates from Paris, Troyes, Barcelona, Austria, London, Brighton, New York, San Francisco, Kansas City, Fort Myers, Montreal, Vermont, and, of course, Vancouver.  It was quite a night!

I arrived early to help set up the chocolates along the massive bar and counter area, fully covering all available space with chocolates from…

This year marked four straight appearances for New York’s MareBelle. The 100 Piece Blue Box, pictured here, never fails to draw a crowd.

Also from MarieBelle, the hugely popular Croquette au Chocolat: buttery European cookie milk and dark chocolate bars. Each box contains 4 bars. I ordered six boxes – and they were all gone by night’s end.

It was two years in a row for New York’s Jacques Torres (aka Mr. Chocolate). They usually don’t ship to Canada but made an exception last year after I sent them a link to previous chocolate parties. And we’re glad they did. Their champagne truffles – a combination of milk chocolate, fresh cream, and actual Tattinger Brut la Francaise never fails to impress. I ordered two boxes because they proved so popular last year – and they too were all gone by night’s end. In addition to the champagne truffles, the Jacques Torres corner also included a fifty piece assortment of their hand-crafted chocolates and bars.

One of my personal favorites – Jean-Paul Hevin – presents his marvelous creations in an eye-catching “cave a chocolat”. Basically, it’s a briefcase full of chocolate!

Also from Jean-Paul Hevin, a coffret filled with composed of 8 blisters filled with dark, coffee, milk and milk-caramel with refined salt palets. In addition, I also ordered a box of Hevin’s intense truffles and a Cheese Chocolate Appetizer box that included flavors like époisses cheese/ cumin, Pont l’évêque cheese/thyme, goat cheese/hazelnut, and roquefort/walnut. Ashleigh’s favorite! She made off with any leftovers.

Barcelona’s Oriol Balaguer has been described as a gastronomic revolutionary. One bite of his inspired creations and you’ll no doubt agree.

Also from Oriol Balaguer: luscious ganache-filled mini-tubes in a variety of delectable flavors – Passionfruit, Orange, Yuzu, Raspberry, Star Anise, and – Carl’s wife’s favorite – Hazelnut Praline with Pop Rocks.  You can order them from Borne Confections in New York.

Making their first appearance: chocolates from Troyes’ Pascal Caffet. A sampling of the award-winning patissier’s chocolates included Earl Grey Tea and Hazelnut Praliné with Coriander.  Also available from Borne Confections.

Paris’s Debauve & Gallais boast a rich 200 year tradition of chocolate-making as the appointed supplier to Kings Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe. The selection includes a 54 piece assortment, a 36 piece pralines collection, and Les Incroyables (pearls of caramelized roasted Spanish almond coated in dark chocolate) that WERE incredible! These blew away Jamil Walker Smith.

Compliments of my friend Cynthia in London comes Rococo Chocolates’ award-winning salty caramel ravioli. The assortment included dark chocolate with chilli, milk chocolate with sea salt, and white chocolate with cardamom.

Another Parisian heavy hitter, La Maison du Chocolat represents with their Initiation Set of 20 pralines and ganaches. Also, smooth and creamy caramel truffles an Arriba Gift Set of smooth dark chocolate ganaches and…

La Maison du Chocolat’s Habanera Gift Box: dark chocolate perfumed with vine peaches and milk chocolate infused with mirabelle plums. Another annual favorite.

Another little something from Cynthia in the U.K.: Demarquette’s ganache assortment, a signature blend of carefully selected pure single origin and single estate cocoas.

Wow! Some of the evening’s most visually striking offerings came from Norman Love in Fort Myers, Florida. Pictured here: the black single origin chocolate collection.

Another striking offering from Norman Love: the 50 Piece Chocolate Gift Box.

Norman Love chocolate bars: chocolate caramel pecan, peanut caramel, coconut milk chocolate almond, and chocolate hazelnut. Another wow!

A few years ago, a friend brought me back a box of Recchiuti chocolates from San Francisco. They were nothing short of revelatory. For two years, I tried to convince Recchiuti to make an exception to their “no shipping to Canada” policy with no success. Until this year. Pictured here, The Platinum Collection. Marvelous chocolates. I also ordered their Dragee Sampler which comes with with Burnt Caramel Almonds, Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts, Peanut Butter Pearls, Cherries Two Ways.

Also from Recchiuti, Key Lime Pears and Peanut Butter Pucks. Both garnered a lot of fans over the course of the evening.

Barcelona’s Enric Rovira offers up something called The Planetarium – all nine planets and the sun. Mars tastes of Earl Grey tea, the sun of Williams pears and Earth of salt and pepper.

In addition to a truffle selection with flavors ranging from fiery Habanero to peaty Scotch, the Enric Rovira corner also included Bombolas – Covered in intense 70 dark chocolate, flavors include corn, pumpkin seed, pink pepper, lemon, and cocoa nib. The pink pepper and lemon were particularly well-received.  Alegio Chocolate in Berkley carries the Enric Rovira line – and it’s a little closer than Spain.

Missed them last year because they were closed, but Vancouver’s DC Duby made a triumphant chocolate party return with their Arome Collection (praline butter filling is scented with enchanting oil infusions and studded with luscious sun-ripened fruit jellies), Texture Collection (praline butter filling is scented with alluring and exotic spice blends, and studded with honey caramelized nuts or seeds, plump dried fruits or candied citrus peels) and various other imaginative creations.

Requisite dark chocolate fountain.

The requisite milk chocolate fountain.

Representing Kansas City with a stunning assortment – Christopher Elbow.

An assortment from Vancouver’s own Thomas Haas.

And while I was at Thomas Haas picking up chocolate, I spied these delectable-looking chocolate macarons. I sampled one – and ended up buying the tray.

San Francisco’s Jin Patisserie, another chocolate party mainstay, never fails to impress with its delicate creations. This one is Chef Rob’s favorite.

Another U.K. entry compliments of Cynthia – Brighton’s Montezuma’s Chocolates.

Everybody had their personal favorite, and this one way mine – France’s Patrick Roger. Cocoa bean chips, mini-rochers, ganache with hazelnut praline and almond paste, citrus caramels, and a fantastic assortment.

Making a first chocolate party appearance – Montreal’s Gendron Confiseur Chocolatier. I sampled these when I visited Montreal last month and was mightily impressed with their delicate texture and flavors. The ganache assortment included Hawaiian coffee Kaüai, black spruce, mimosa, Matcha, Lapsan Souchong, Tahitian vanilla, Alba truffle, Roquefort, caramel a la fleur de sel, pistachio, cranberry, and grapefruit.

Also from Montreal, Le Maitre Chocolatier delivers a terrific assortment –

– some INTENSE alcohol-spiked chocolates, and –

A double decadent combination of foie gras and chocolate. Everyone who tried them was pleasantly surprised by these truffles.

File this one under “fun”. Austria’s Zotter Chocolates is known for flavors famed and infamous: celery, truffle and port wine, peanuts and ketchup, and lemon polenta to name a few.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Throwdown With Bobby Flay and watched him take on The Vermont Brownie Company and their signature chevre brownie. Impressed, I elected to include these delectable treats in the line-up this year.

Speaking of brownies, check out this decadent Callebeaut-chocolate version from Vancouver’s own Linda Meinhardt. David Blue declared them the best brownies he’s ever eaten.

Another great local entry was Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France. Exquisite ganaches and truffles.

Eventually, the guests started to arrive –

Stuart, Brian, and John

Ashleigh, Lawren, and James

Ivon

Kathy and Will

Teresa and Alan. Oh, and Carl.

Alan and Kerry (with a Y)

Carl, Karen, and Debbie

Peter and Holly

Louis peruses the menu.

And likes what he sees.

Alaina and John

Elyse

Ashleigh and Kerry (with a Y).

David snaps me snapping him.

Jeffrey and Elyse

Al

Me

Carl sports his hungry face.

Jen

Everyone eventually took their seats and dinner got underway…

Amuse bouche of broccoli soup and Welsh rarebit. Not rabbit. Rarebit (coined “cheezy bread” by some). Delicious!

Alan smiles while his wife chokes on her drink.

Ashleigh and James

Remi and Cintia

Alan and Kerry (with a Y).

Lawren

One for Brian’s mom.

Lawren presents the butter lettuce salad with smoked coppa and heirloom beets.  Excellent.  I’m all about the beets.

The partial line-up

The partial line-up.

In the kitchen: Tom, Chef Rob, and Chef Ted.

Black truffles!

Tagliatelle with black truffle and cultured butter. THIS was the dish everyone was talking about all night. Simple yet sublime.

Chef Rob invited me back into the kitchen to watch them finish the prime rib. Cooked sous-vide until rare, then given a crispy coating.

Cirspy Duck Confit and Prime Beef! Two types of awesome!

Denise

Jen and Jamil. And Louis too!

Debbie, Alaina, and Hillary.

Ivon and Elyse

Kathy and Will

I ask the kitchen to include a little something special in Ashleigh’s vegetarian option. Yes, some crispy duck.

Well, look who’s fashionably late. It’s Patrick Gilmore.

My crispy duck confit with mustard spaetzle. Lots of oohing and aahing over this dish.

Brad and Debbie

Kandas and Andy

Steve and Jodi

Alex

Kerry

With a Y.

A Stargate of sorbets!

Chef Rob prepared a special treat: macarons! Vanilla-caramel sea salt here.

And a pile of chocolate macarons here. Best macarons I've had since leaving Tokyo.

With dinner done, we moved onto the main event…

Ashleigh elbows her way to the front and grabs some of the Jean-Paul Hevin Cheese-Chocolate.

Ashleigh steals Jamil's chevre brownie.

Decisions, decisions...

One of these things does NOT belong. Carl plays mix 'n match with the selection.

Patrick and Ivon attempt to re-enact that infamous Superbowl Snickers commercial.

Peter says "Come on!"

The boys

Chef Rob

Chef Ted

Tom

Jen and Lawren

Thanks to the gang at Refuel for an incredible evening!

What a night!

And what  a day – spent uploading all of these pictures!

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susan the tartan turtle
susan the tartan turtle

Fantastic pictures – thank you for spending ‘all’ day uploading them so that we can sit and drool over our laptops.

Everybody looks well and are all obviously enjoying the food.

I, personally, would have missed the food to ensure plenty of tummy space for the chocolate.

When you get fed up as a writer you should start a new career as a party organiser.

Susan

DP
DP

Wow, that is a lot of pictures of a lot of fatty, but surely delicious food.

I’m going to have a sympathetic gall bladder attack now.

Thornyrose
Thornyrose

as great as the chocolate looks, I don’t think I’d have made it past the dinner itself. The duck AND prime rib? I’d die a happy person after just those two dishes. And what an impressive assortment of confections you got together. Not sure all of them would be to my taste(I have not associated chocolates with spicy, and not sure how I’d react to it). And best of all, you have the pleasure of the company of what look to be a wonderful group of people. Have you by chance worked out how much, in ounces, pounds, grams, or kilograms of chocolate were consumed per person? Just curious.
I had looked around for some worthy chocolates from this part of the country. Alas, I didn’t find a chocolatier I considered up to the standards your party sets. The quest goes on and just perhaps next year Virginia will have an entry that finds its way west and north.
thanks very much for sharing in pictures and words. The annual chocolate party post gets viewed by a good score of my friends and aquantances who are in awe over such a layout.

RebeccaH
RebeccaH

I am no one’s gastronome, but there are two things I love: goat cheese and hazelnut. When you mentioned a confection combining those two, I could actually taste it in my brain, even though I never considered that combination before. I should thank you for the new quest.

dasNdanger
dasNdanger

And once again, no invitation. sad

I am…disappointed.

I am NOT disappointed, however, in that picture of Alan flirting with the camera while the missus chokes in the background. What a handsome fella he is (one can only hope he has a nice personality to match). Mmmm… mmm… mmm… I still say Alan woulda made one hellava sexy Wraith. grin

He doesn’t read this blog, right??

Everything looks delish (especially Alan!)!

smile

das

Audrey
Audrey

Oh my god…all of that looks delicious!! I’m in a diabetic coma just from looking at that. Seriously, I am drooling right now. And I would totally have skipped out on the dinner so I could have more room for all those chocolates. My love of chocolate knows no bounds and of course get it from mother.
Goodness! I can’t get over how good all of it looks. And I totally would have made the attempt of trying them all…granted that would never have happened, but at least then I would have died a happy girl.

pg15

Good lord! I thought I was going to bust a gut from looking at these pictures – either due to my gut wanting to fly out of my body and glomp at the computer screen thanks to all that delectable chocolates (seriously, I was salivating), or because some are just so goddamn hilarious. I CANNOT not laugh when I look at that pic of Teresa, Alan, and Carl. Oh, Carl. Your face is Awesome.

I mean, looking at that picture from foreground to background, it’s like:

SMILE!
Smile!
CARL!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHA.

Also…man, Stargate Productions sure is filled with a lot of beautiful people. Seriously. My goodness.

Also also, I cannot get enough of Louis’s I AM HAPPY face. It’d make anyone who looks at it smile.

So, who do I have to kill to get invited to one of these things? I’ll do it. I swear to God I’ll do it, and I will feel no remorse over it; or, at least, I’ll drown my remorse in chocolate.

Anywho…

@ Carl: Aww, that’s unfortunate. Well, hopefully something like that will be included in a future episode! Also hope that Jamil got better quickly!

@ Heather Marie: Hello, I am a pg15. You can read my review of Faith by scrolling up a bit on yesterday’s blog comments. razz

@ Tammy: Thank you! Glad you enjoyed it!

And yes, I will have to echo my buddy Major D. Davis and say that you guys MUST save Balding Asian Guy! He is an inspiration to us all! He is the heart and soul of SGU!!

Sherry
Sherry

Thank you! Pictures of Brian, Ivon, Jamil and Chocolate…I am a happy soul.

KCBlueWolf
KCBlueWolf

Whoa, I think I just gained five pounds looking at those photos. I’m glad to see Kansas City was represented, though. Thanks for posting them, anyway! I’ve never had Christopher Elbow chocolates, but plan to remedy that situation since I discovered I’ll be just down the road from one of the stores that sells them tomorrow morning. Hm…I better take the credit card because they look expensive. smile

On the SGU front, I’m greatly enjoying the second half of the season. I agree with others that say cast and crew have found their stride, and playing an A game. I always have to wait to watch the new episodes when they are released on iTunes, early Saturday morning. On the plus side, that means I can easily watch each episode twice in a row, allowing me to catch things I missed on the first go round.

I’m glad to see the pooches looking in such fine form. They are all so adorable.

Take care, Joe, and everyone else!

Eternal Density
Eternal Density

wow.

Also, WOW!
Thanks for the load of pics of chocolate and people! Looks like everyone had a lot of fun grin

yumenoko
yumenoko

The chocolate party never ceases to blow my mind. I’m with Susan, I’d have been afraid to eat the main dishes and not have enough room for the, well, “main” course of cocoa-lishousness.

I’d have gone straight for the Norman Love bars (setting the bar for the form, pun intended), the Rovira Planetarium (how fun!) and the Recchiuti Peanut Butter Pucks (peanut butter, mmmmm). Not to say I wouldn’t graze my way through other samples.

Do you allow your guests to invoke take-away privileges, so the decadent treats have a good home by the end of the night?

You sure do know how to enjoy the flavor of life, Joe. And that’s just really cool.

Debra
Debra

OMG, I hate you. I really do. Dump all those people next year and just invite your blog regulars. It would be worth the plane ticket. OMG. OMG. Excuse me while I try to stop salivating all over my keyboard. OMG.

archersangel

very year i turn green with envy over your chocolate party. do people get filled up on dinner & don’t eat much chocolate? was there a lot of leftovers this year? if there was, i’ll take some off of your hands.

Ponytail
Ponytail

Joseph you are one hell of a party host! Fantastic is right! Wish I had a friend like you. I want one of those chocolate fountains!

riley

Oh my god, I want to try those cheese chocs. So. Much.

What a gorgeous array of chocolates! A chocolate party would be sadly wasted on me. While I really love good quality chocolate, I can only eat a little at a time … and then only when I’m in the mood for chocolate. Cheese, however, I can never turn down.

Hence, my hips.

spacemika

One year, you really do need to give CocoNymph a shot — maybe sign up for one of her classes to make your own contribution to the party! wink

morjana

Hi, Joe.

Oh, my. What a party!

I just got a sugar high looking at all the photos of chocolate.

Dinner looked so scrumptious!

And everyone looked like they were having a wonderful time.

Thank YOU for taking the time to upload all those photos.

Best wishes.

Tim Gaffney
Tim Gaffney

Oh my God!!! I know I see pictures of this event every year, but it never ceases to amaze me that a) you bought all that chocolate, b) so much of it gets eaten, and c) that so much of it gets eaten after that much dinner! How do you all do it? Great pics of the cast, nice to see them in normal surroundings. Looks like everyone had fun. You are definetely the King of Chocolate! Hope it didn’t cost you too much to rent a U-haul to bring all that loot to Refuel.

t'loc
t'loc

Question 4 Elyse;

From viewing and reviewing all now 13 episodes I have come to the conclusion that that your character will show the most growth of all the actors involved. Do you, from the scripts you have read and completed and scripts that are now being produced, sense an idea as to what the writers would like to do with her going forward.
I personally believe that Chloe will grow leaps and bound from the situation that she has encountered.
So the question do you have input with the choices that the writes make regarding Chloe?

Narelle from Aus

The Migraine Force was strong in this party Joe.
I felt it all the way here in Aus. Woke up with a shocker so I knew someone, somewhere was eating copious amounts of chocolate.

crayonbaby
crayonbaby

I probably would have eaten two bites of the dinner and said “Where’s the chocolate?” My husband was impressed with your assortment.

Question for you: Are we going to get more backstory to T.J. and Young? You threw us a curveball with T.J.’s condition. There’s been really subtle hints, but nothing concrete.

sheryl
sheryl

Joe, I see ya took me seriously!! Great pic’s!! Here’s an idea, have a contest w/ the prize an invite to the chocolate party,just the invite. They pay for their plane fare, hotel,ect, of course it has to be for two people. Think of the response you would get for that contest!! I see you had chocolate from Ft. Myers,i’m not that far from there-3 hours,worth the trip for that stuff!! Sheryl.

otherdebra

Oh, man! I sort of want to work on SGU just for the invite to the chocolate party! I hope you invited Marty G, even if he WAS busy with Bored to Death. It’s the thought that counts, yanno. wink

They’re all such beautiful people, but the Huffmans in particular. Alaina and John are so perfect together!!! grin

PBMom
PBMom

I can die and go to heaven a happy woman just seeing these awesome pictures. Chocobliss. Perfect.

I got back from Dallas (Lou Diamond Phillips’ film Transparency) on Saturday night and Patrick gave me the cold shoulder for about 20 minutes and then wouldn’t let me out of his sight for the rest of the night. The movie was very interesting. Very dark. Twists and turns.

Because of that, I didn’t get to watch Faith until very late last night and rewatched it again today. Beautiful episode.

Bryan M. White
Bryan M. White

Mmmmmmm… Chocolate peanut butter pucks… I swear to God, or whatever almighty being created that heavenly chocolate concoction, that there is nothing on His green earth than the combination of chocolate and peanut butter. Come fellow chocloholics, speak out and tell me if I am wrong…

But seriously: I am glad that everyone had a great time. I have been reading about your chocolate parties for months now. I always thought you held them at you place. Now however, I see tht this is a formal dessert that can only be held at a dining hall. Cool. Re-fuel did a great job, as did you. wink

Best Wishes.

Bryan