Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Art of Chocolate - Virginia Chocolate Festival

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending Norfolk's first chocolate festival. There were many events including a Chocolate 101 class put on by the Culinary Institute of Virginia, a chocolate beer challenge and a bartender's challenge all featuring concoctions created with chocolate.

I spent my time at the main event -- The Chocoholic's Dream -- at the Scope Exhibition Hall on March 24, 2012. It is said that good chocolate gives a woman the exact same feeling that she has when she's in love. If that's true, well, I think I fell in love several times at the festival.

The event was well organized and entertaining. There were a variety of vendors, exhibits and demonstrations. Who knew you could do so many things with chocolate?

The first vendor I visited was The Royal Chocolate.

They were strategically situated close to the entrance which, in my opinion, was a good thing because my impression of their chocolate sort of set the stage for my entire experience. The first thing I tasted was a chocolate called Spicy Maya. The first bite was this delicious dark chocolate but the finish or the aftertaste was spicy. Very spicy. Deliciously spicy. I had never had anything like it. The dark chocolate is infused with pasilla chile, cayenne pepper and cinnamon. It was amazing and the woman who sold it to me suggested that it would pair perfectly with cabernet. I also purchased another bar called Firecracker which is dark chocolate with chipolte, salt and pop rocks. The Royal Chocolate is located in the Virginia Beach Town Center.

Some of the other vendors I visited were Trafton's Chocolates, where I purchased a box of truffles, Schakolad where I was able to dip a strawberry into a dark chocolate fountain for $2, and Harry and David where I got to taste milk chocolate truffles.

There were also several wine vendors participating at the festival. I found it fascinating that the lines were much longer at the wine tables than the chocolate tables. I enjoyed the wine that was infused with chocolate more than the actual chocolate wine. The chocolate wine looked like a YooHoo. Not my thing. Three Olives Vodka also provided samples of a chocolate vodka and cherry coke cocktail. Very tasty.

The Prince Michel Winery was also onsite and I tasted the Rapidian River Chocolate wine. This was a red blend infused with chocolate and it was something that I could actually see myself purchasing. Wine was not sold at the festival but it is available at Harris Teeter, Farm Fresh and Total Wine.

Overall, I believe that the first Chocolate Festival was a success. There was such a variety of vendors many of which you wouldn't expect to see: Barnes & Noble, Just Cupcakes and Twisted Sister and Planet Chiropractic (I thought that was weird). I had a great time and I look forward to next year's event.

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