Saturday, February 4, 2012

Chocolate Festival, Fairchild Tropical Garden, Miami, Fla.

In January I went, with a few thousand other people, to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's 6th Annual International Chocolate Festival in Miami, Florida. There were interactive demonstration booths, chocolatiers, and food vendors all working with chocolate.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden 6th Annual
International Festival, Miami, Fla.

In one tent, American Heritage Chocolate, sponsored by Mars, there was an assembly-line style display showing all the steps to make chocolate from bean-to-bar.

American Heritage Chocolate tent at Fairchild Tropical Garden
6th Annual International Chocolate Festival,
Miami, Fla.

People could try their skills at hand grinding the chocolate using a wooden rolling pin on a carving board. The prize at the end, was a sample of creamy hot chocolate made with water. I bought two chocolate sticks for $1.50 each.

American Heritage hot chocolate
made with water

One of my favorite areas of the Fairchild Chocolate Festival was inside the Garden Center. There, chocolate vendors were selling their products and giving out small tasty samples. I pushed my way in, seemed I was not the only one that thought this was the best part of the festival.

I was immediately drawn to the gourmet tuffles by Oliver Kita Fine Confections made with New York State sourced ingredients.

Oliver Kita at Fairchild Tropical Garden 6th Annual
International Chocolate Festival, Miami, Fla.

He was handing out small winter inspired truffles made with NY state mint and decorated with a snowflake. On the side of his booth there were stacks of vegan chocolate Buddhas. Unfortunately, he did not have any vegan samples. I bought three truffles for $5, and went back later for another three

Oliver Kita's vegan chocolate Buddhas

Then I walked over to Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate. They are a socially responsible, sustainable company representing 2500 growers in Ecuador. They purchase their organic ingredients only from small certified organic farms.

Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate at Fairchild Tropical
Garden 6th Annual International Chocolate Festival
Miami, Fla.

They were selling many types of bars and flavor combinations including one raw chocolate (unroasted beans) with Spirulina (vegetarian protein). I tried it and was happily surprised by the flavor--chocolate. I also tried a piece of 100 percent cacao, raw bar style, and found it full of flavor even thought it was sugarless. I bought a combo four pack for $20, that included both raw and regular bars.

Romanicos at Fairchild Tropical Garden 6th Annual
International Chocolate Festival, Miami, Fla.

The spiciest chocolate I ate at the festival was from Miami based Romanicos. It was dairy and gluten-free, and made with so much cayenne pepper that it left my taste buds dazed for minutes.

Meals That Heal at Fairchild Tropical Garden 6th
Annual International Chocolate Festival, Miami, Fla.

Outside, I walked straight over to the food court, I was hungry after all that chocolate. Not really, I was just looking for more chocolate to taste. I stopped at Treats That Heal by Meals That Heal for a bite of a raw-vegan dark chocolate truffle made with agave nectar. It was good for a raw treat.

Real Sorbet at Fairchild Tropical Garden 6th Annual
International Chocolate Festival, Miami, Fla.

I finished my chocolate eating tour at Real Sorbet, a farm-to-table food cart. I tried their Bee Heaven Farm sourced Chocolate Beet with candied walnuts. But the beet flavor was too mild for me. So, I bought a regular sized cup of Black Sapote Hazelnut, for $4. Nice flavor.

Black Sapote Hazelnut sorbet by
by Real Sorbet, Miami, Fla.

I loved the chocolate sources at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and I look forward to next year's event in 2013.





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