Saturday, 13 August 2011

Chocolate festival 2011

I have long been a believer that chocolate could quite possibly be the world's most perfect food. It seems I am not alone in my thinking, as this weekend the InterContintal was hosting the New Zealand Chocolate Festival, a Wellington on a Plate festival event. Chocolate heaven!

We had tickets to this morning's session. When it is too early to start eating chocolate? Never, it turns out; a large crowd of mostly women joined me in chocolate for breakfast. We tasted our way through a multitude of samples by chocolatiers from all around the country. Chili and sea salt based chocolates seemed to be flavour of the month, although more unusual varieties were also available.

Shoc Chocolates proudly had the 'weirdest' flavours (they said it themselves!), offering curry and pappadam white chocolate, chilli and lime, pink peppercorn and lemongrass chocolate - a bit much for me but others seemed keen. She's Chocolat bus from Christchurch looks like it would be an interesting ride. Other highlights for us came from Bull Rush Chocolate; we liked their 72% dark and dark chocolate hokey pokey truffles. Bohemian were offering full sized samples (yay!) and the truffles we liked were dark (hard) nougat, Cointreau ganache, milk vanilla cream and dark praline cream. De Spa also had a very delicious hazelnut cream truffle. The most unusual 'find' for us today was the discovery of chocolate stout from Renaissance Brewing Company.

We learned stuff about chocolate, too. I knew that chocolate is best eaten fresh and De Spa confirmed this by saying their filled chocolates should be eaten within two months, or three months if they contain alcohol, as the filling seeps into the chocolate and actually dries it out from the inside. Just as you wouldn't eat stale bread, you also shouldn't eat stale chocolate, so check your pantry and if there's chocolate hiding there, deal to it quickly!

We were then taught how to use all our senses to savour chocolate during a tasting session held by Swiss chocolatier Rene Fellmann. This man certainly knows his stuff and we learned about the best types of couverture chocolate. Our sampling cups contained a dark sweet chocolate (yum!), a stronger dark, a single origin bitter dark from Ghana, a pleasant white, and 36% milk chocolate with a hint of caramel. *drool*

Overall, it was a great day for sampling and buying chocolate. Personally, I would have enjoyed learning more about how chocolate was made and seeing more of it being moulded. The demonstration sessions had queues forming outside the room at least 20 minutes beforehand and could only seat 50 people so they could probably have done with a bigger room (or more frequent sessions). The most 'popular' stalls were those with friendly staff who interacted with the public; we wondered why some had nobody visiting them and quickly realised it was because the person behind the table was standing there silently guarding their samples - a missed opportunity, in our view.

Here are some photos to make you drool:

Chocolate towers
Le Cordon Bleu cooking school cupcakes -
what a neat promotional idea!
marshmallows provided


Kez said...

I didn't really care too much for chocolate until I got pregnant. Now I've always got some stashed in the fridge (if the hubby doesn't beat me to it)! I love that you have to eat chocolate fresh - that's my new excuse for scoffing it all really quickly :)

Kc said...

Yum I was thinking about making the trip up for the chocolate festival but other plans got in the way! Sounds pretty good though, might have to put it in my calendar for next year...