Chocolate dreams come true

Friday, January 22, 2010

Paris Parise holds a chocolate
cupcake and nibbles on a
ladybug candy.

A true gift of the rainforest, chocolate has tickled taste buds for hundreds of years. In celebration of this rainforest treasure, all things chocolate were delighting youngsters and oldsters at the garden Friday at the start of the 4th International Chocolate Festival. A teacher’s workday freed lots of eager young chocolate tasters, but children weren’t the only ones to pursue the seductive flavors. A bus of folks came over from Naples, and women in red hats were well represented at lunchtime.

The garden house is full of chocolate makers and chocolate

Jennifer Hernandez beholds
M&M-covered candy apple.

sellers. Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, which really resides in The Falls shopping mall, brought chocolate and caramel covered apples decorated with sprinkles, M&Ms, white chocolate and more. Wendy’s Chocolates had lots of kid-sized cupcakes, and New York chocolatier Oliver Kita brought handmade chocolate Buddhas, Valentine’s boxes filled with such exotic flavors and passion fruit and lychee bonbons, and even chocolate dipped whole caramelized almonds on white chocolate disks. Forget the New Year’s resolutions.

An entry in the chocolate cake
contest celebrates Yayoi
Kusama's art in the garden..

Sugar Shack entered the cake baking contest with a fabulous concoction of miniature Yayoi Kusama flowers and pumpkins, while the Cruz sisters – Isabella, 5; Victoria, 10, and Christina, 11 – entered cakes polka-dotted with Girl Scout cookies – which they just happened to be selling outside. More cakes were on their way for later entry.

Christina Cruz disguised as a
Girl Scout cookie.

There are real chocolate trees to buy, along with tea plants and coffee trees; cooking demos, where you can learn to make everything from chocolate chili (Saturday) to chocolate truffles (Sunday); listen to Barbara and Terry Glancy talk about tea (Saturday afternoon, 2:30), and Richard Campbell tell you how to grow coffee in South Florida.

Drink a chocolate martini and go to the chocolate spa.

There couldn’t possibly be a more sensual, satisfying festival anywhere else on the planet.