Thursday, November 12, 2015

Chocolate, Chocolate, Everywhere

Last Sunday's Chocolate Exhibition and Marketplace in Toronto was an experience to be sure. It was the culmination of the Toronto Chocolate Festival, a fundraising event which I didn't even know existed. This year, all proceeds from functions such as The Chocolate Ball and Tea went to Prostate and Breast Cancer groups.

My daughter and I purchased advanced tickets, took GO transit, and walked to the venue...Roy Thomson Hall. This time, we were hoping to see a symphony of a different kind. It was to be a symphony of taste and a rhapsody of chocolate.

Knowing what we do now, we might have approached this day a bit differently, but nonetheless, we did well. I realize that some of what stood out to us as disorganization, might be excused because many of the staff were volunteers. I'm hoping to find out where to give some feedback.

After entering the hall, we saw that the exhibits were "in the round". That is, they were all set up in the hallway of this circular building. Guests were naturally clustered around tables where free samples were available. According to the programme, there were 25 different chocolate makers from different parts of the country exhibiting their wares.

We soon noted that many items were for sale for cash and some displays had signs stating "2 tickets, 3 tickets" and so on. This confused us until we eventually realized that there were sampling tickets for purchase further along the hall...somewhat disappointing after our admission cost. On the other hand, it was also possible to take items home with an appropriate number of tickets. We decided against the ticket purchase as there were enough vendors dispensing free tastes.
We searched for some entertainment, perhaps chocolate sculptures, people dressed in costume, chocolate fountains, and the like but found only this strange item which looked out of place in the middle of the room. It made no sense. I photographed my daughter's hand in the frame which was also not made of chocolate (the hand nor the frame).

One thing we wanted to check out was the wine and chocolate pairing workshop. This was going to cost another $15 and was available at specified times only. We inquired but the people in the vicinity of the signage were unfamiliar with this event. Again, we decided against the expense.

As we shifted our eyes skyward, we saw some people sipping what appeared to be beverages of a certain proof on the upper level. ID's were being checked as patrons ventured up the stairs. We asked and were told anyone could go up there. We were of course disappointed that nobody questioned our ages. Trudging up the steps with my old legs was a challenge, but I thought of it as a way to work off a few of the earlier free samples. After reaching the top, we discovered, that we needed tickets for the samples and the only place to purchase them was downstairs at the one ticket selling location. Told that we'd probably need about 3 tickets per drink sample, we purchased a fist full and headed back up the steps.

The first vendor we saw, was dispensing chocolate raspberry truffle wine. Interesting and a bargain at only one ticket. Chocolate samples were 2 or 3 tickets, but liquor samples were, as we now discovered only one. We set up camp. Not only was the mezzanine level far less crowded, we could see all the events below, everything from chocolate making demos to eating contests and games.

The Girls' Night Out chocolate raspberry truffle wine was delicious. It tasted exactly as the picture would suggest. Note - I wouldn't recommend this as a dinner wine with meat but rather more of a dessert as the label would indicate. After tasting a chocolate vodka mojito or two, followed by some chocolate lager, and some other type of wine, we really began to appreciate the show.
We also found that we had far too many tickets left over. Back we went for another sample of raspberry, chocolate truffle wine. This had now become our favourite by far. A short trip downstairs to one of the chocolate vendors helped to dispose of the rest of our tickets. I would not recommend chocolate covered dates filled with nuts from Dubai after sampling a few liquors.

We were getting hungry and tired of the smell of chocolate so we left and had lunch before negotiating the maze which is the new and impossible \Union Station. 

We also took some samples home for hubby, but if he doesn't soon eat that chocolate mouse sitting on our sideboard, it just might skitter into someone else's mouth.

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