To me, one of chocolate's best properties is the fact that it doesn't need to be super sweet to feel incredibly indulgent. A blissful chocolate is smooth, rich, dark, and simple. My current favorite is Chocolove's Orange Peel, and I expected the Scottsdale Culinary Festival's only dessert event would satisfy me at least as much as that wonderful chocolate bar.
The Chocolate & Wine Experience, however, didn't always showcase chocolate's best qualities. Instead of a celebration of chocolate, it felt more like a date night or social event. There was some really good chocolate, like Wei of Chocolate's organic, fair trade selections. It's no surprise that I gravitated toward the Wei Joyful, a citrus-infused 70% cacao bar with hints of herbs, lotus flower, and Cereus flower. Paired with Allure Winery's California Bubbly Moscato, it was a joyful experience indeed. (My Chocolove had better watch out.) But, there weren't many pure chocolate tastes to be had last night, and too often the star of the show was overshadowed by sugary confections -- and not particularly good ones.