Friday, January 22, 2010

Sugar and Spice and Everything . . . Chocolate!

On the theory that it's never too early for chocolate, a friend and I decided to spend this morning at the annual Chocolate Festival at Fairchild Garden, Coral Gables' wonderful botanic garden. The Festival's theme related only indirectly to the Garden's main mission of preserving tropical plants (chocolate is derived, after all, from the cacao plant), but Fairchild provided a lovely setting for savoring chocolates and other delicacies.

Once again, South Florida surprised me with the variety and sophistication of its offerings. Local purveyors displayed fine chocolates, many featuring whimsical designs and unique flavor combinations. An array of non-chocolate products was also on hand, from organic breads and crackers to aromatic teas and spices. Different national foods were for sale as well—Ecuadoran chocolate bars came packaged in colorful cloth cases that could later be used for glasses; Mexican churros beckoned; and Hungarian cinnamon rolls, prepared on site, filled the air with their intoxicating aroma. 

There was only one drawback for me—it turns out that it can be too early for chocolate. Although free samples were available at virtually every booth, I found I had no appetite for chocolate at 10:30 in the morning. From past experience, I knew the price of indulging would most likely be a sugar headache, which quelled my urge to consume. My friend had no such qualms, however, so I had the vicarious pleasure of watching her enjoy everything from organic cold-pressed chocolate (who knew?) to chocolate a l'orange to a chocolate maple truffle.

I did take cards from all the nearby chocolate shops, so I can purchase their chocolates and enjoy them when the time is right—maybe in the evening, with a nice cup of decaf coffee.

Click on the photos to enlarge them.

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