Chocolate challenges celebrities' judgment


I ATE A CHOCOLATE frog, some chocolate fettucine, a chocolate empanada, chocolate pate and a chocolate lightning bolt. I had to do this in the line of duty as a judge at the eighth annual Chocolate Affair, a benefit by area restaurants and caterers for the Center for Poverty Solutions that was held last week at the Baltimore Museum of Industry.

I do not claim that being a chocolate judge is one of life's bad jobs. It is a long way, for instance, from digging coal. But I can report that after eating four chocolate desserts in 10 minutes, your tongue begins to feel like a Tootsie Roll.

When the judges on the U.S. Supreme Court meet, the proceedings are extremely dignified. But when the chocolate judges convene, after wolfing down a couple of dozen desserts, the gathering of mostly media types is raucous.

"Oh, the empanadas! the empanadas!" chanted jurist and television personality Sloane Brown. Fellow jurist Marc Steiner (WJHU-FM) took up the chant, and before you could say, "What is an empanada?" the dish -- a Spanish pastry made by Sascha's Catering -- had been dubbed the most original chocolate dish.

When it came time to determine which dish was the "chocoholic's dream," jurist Linda Sherman (WQSR-FM) held forth. She touted the delights of a dessert made by Linwood's Catering called the millionaire. It had a shortbread crust with a caramel filling topped with a chocolate glaze. She said that when she had the millionaire in her clutches, she fulfilled one of her lifelong dreams. Who could argue with that?

Throughout the proceedings, jurist Lori Pinson (Fox 45 TV) kept mentioning the apples covered with white chocolate, then rolled in milk chocolate and toffee, which were made by Lisa Anne's Tea Room. After about the fourth mention, the judges got the impression she really liked those apples. So, by the time we voted on which dish was "best of fare," and she suggested, "toffee apples," we said, "You got it."

Jurist and Baltimore Police Chief Thomas Frasier spoke highly of the Krispy Kreme chocolate doughnuts. Yet, he reluctantly withdrew this nomination when he realized it would look bad if the police chief endorsed eating doughnuts. His stock rebounded a few minutes later when his nominee for "savory delight" or nonchocolate honors -- the Cajun seafood bisque served by John Steven Ltd. -- was a unanimous winner.

Jurist and man-about-town Eddie Applefeld made a convincing case for the chocolate creations of Bayou Blues, which presented a stunning display of items, including a piano carved out of chocolate. The work won the award for best presentation.

I lobbied for the chocolate fettucine made by Stone Mill Bakery. Other judges agreed that the dish was wonderful -- it won the "double-take" award -- but pointed out that I was mistakenly calling it "chocolate zucchini."

I blamed the mistake on all the sugar I had ingested that was rotting my synapses. After all, I had eaten the chocolate turtle made by Charles Levine Caterers, which won the award for "sweetest" dish of the night.

Festive Affairs Catering won the award for most decadent dish, a chocolate mousse topped with raspberry cream sauce.

Rookie-of-the-year honors went to the Japanese restaurant Minato. It served sushi, a welcome change of pace after downing a dozen chocolate desserts.

Pub Date: 02/07/99

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