Washington, D.C.’s First Annual Chocolate Festival, hosted by The Chocolate House on Saturday April 9th, mixed pleasure with education as over 30 vendors congregated in the Westin’s convention center to cater to around 300 chocoholics. The event sold out, leading to a successful turnout.
Local chocolatiers (as well as makers from outside the DMV area) brought their best. The chocolate bars and truffles came from a variety of countries, each flaunting their terroir-linked flavors, which emerge during the fermentation process.
Coming from a diverse number of backgrounds including pastry chefs, retirees, and biochemists, these chocolate makers included some standouts like Amedei, Artisan Confections, Chocotenango, and Harper Macaw.
It’s not everyday you get to try the world’s best chocolate. Amedei has been declared just that, winning six “Golden Bean” awards from the Academy of Chocolate. All of the production occurs in Italy, monitored through the harvesting of the beans to the final packaging of the bars.
Started by Cecilia Tessieri, one of the first the first female master chocolate makers, the Tuscan brand is more recent in the United States, but making waves. Just one bite of their creamy white chocolate pistachio bar assures that legacy will continue.
Artisan Confections featured a salted butter caramel chocolate bonbon, which when bitten into, the chocolate exterior snapped into a rewarding liquid caramel center. The Arlington, VA-based company offers a great selection of handmade confections, which are more than just pretty to look at.
Chocotenango brought a little spice to the table with their chili chocolate bars and hot chocolate mix. I’ve been a fan since they appeared at the Georgetown Farmer’s Market in 2013-2014, where I picked up a tin of their rich chili hot chocolate. Chocotenango has been combining chocolate with unique flavors and ingredients since the beginning to reflect the chocolate maker’s travels and life.
4. Harper Macaw
Situated in Northeast D.C., Harper Macaw opened in December 2015. Their cacao is all sourced from Brazil, where Harper Macaw hass partnered with rainforest conservation and cacao farming sustainability efforts. Plus, they offer factory tours on Saturdays (add that to your DMV bucket list, Willy Wonka fans).
But the highlight at the Chocolate Festival was the politically-themed chocolate bars, just in time for the 2016 elections and very attentive to the local political scene. “The (Very) Political Collection,” stemming from a collaboration with Design Army, covers all the political leanings with diverse flavors and amazing packaging.
Besides being chock full of mouthwatering samples, the festival celebrated the “food of the gods” through a series of informational sessions ranging from the health benefits, to the savory recipes, as well as the aphrodisiac nature of chocolate. This first Chocolate Festival was delectable and enlightening success I’m crossing my fingers there will be another one next year to help bolster the local chocolate scene and fed chocolate lovers.
BONUS: Fun facts about chocolate!
- Joseph Fry only invented the first chocolate bar in 1847, though the liquid beverage has been around for centuries.
- Chocolate begins to cost more when the quality of ingredients and packaging as well as the hours of labor are taken into account.
- Midges pollinate cacao flowers.
- When tasting chocolate, keep an eye out for the ‘shine,’ ‘snap,’ and ‘mouthfeel’ as well as the flavor range in a bar. These are the best indicators of quality.