East Bay Artisans Redefine Sweetness at SF's International Chocolate Salon


Anneli Rufus

TasteTV's ninth annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon drew a huge choco-craving crowd to San Francisco's Fort Mason yesterday. It was fun to meet some East Bay-based dessert-makers among the dozens who were exhibiting and offering samples of their sweet wares.

Heinz Rimann first became interested in food as a child watching his mother shop at farm stands in rural Switzerland. After immigrating to the US as an adult, Rimann ran a tea shop in Los Angeles. This gave him he idea of infusing his beloved chocolate -- hey, he's Swiss -- with the flavors of fine tea. His award-winning Tea Room chocolate bars are subtle and exquisitely smooth. Favorites include Jasmine Milk Chocolate and Green Earl Grey Dark Chocolate. 

Representing lovely Lafayette, but doing her actual baking in breezy Berkeley, Christine Falatico Frey is the founder of CiCi's Italian Butterhorns. She grew up watching her grandma rolling and baking these soft cookies with just a hint of crunch, and the same family recipe forms the basis for the chocolate butterhorns and classic Italian butterhorns that Frey bakes in small batches today. Her lemon cookies and anise cookies are melt-in-the-mouth marvelous too.

Dan Galvin creates his lustrous silk-screened Quail Point Chocolates in the Napa Valley, but he grew up in Orinda and worked for many years in Berkeley -- in the technology industry, with chocolates as an ever-more-important sideline. Handmade in small batches with additive- and hormone-free ingredients, his QPC truffles sport gorgeous lacy designs. Galvin's clients include English nobility and Emeryville's Pixar, for which he created a special selection.

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