It is that time of year again when the convenors of the Winelands Chocolate Festival are frantically planning and coordinating to bring us something bigger and better than the previous event. They raised the bar so high last year at their very first Winelands Chocolate Festival that I don’t know how it is going to be possible to better it. I was fortunate enough to be given a Media Pass to the 2015 event and I can’t wait to attend this years festival once again. Anyone who knows me knows that where there is chocolate to be found I am usually in very close proximity. Throw in some good MCC and you can be absolutely sure that I will be there! Allow me lead you, through a series of picture collages that I put together, down the magical chocolate path to the 2015 Winelands Chocolate Festival. This post is long overdue but if you follow the blog on facebook you will know this site was hacked and blacklisted and it took a long time to get it back up and running properly again. There are still a few things to sort out and add but at least I can write and share again.
The Winelands Chocolate Festival is the brainchild of Di Burger (I will be posting my interview with this vibrant, energetic, chocolate loving lady tomorrow) and the first event took place over two fabulous days at Lourensford Wine Estate in July 2015. We arrived all excited clutching our media passes, keen to see what this festival was all about. It had rained a lot over the days prior to the event and the grounds were muddy, like melted chocolate I thought. The weekend itself was lovely with some cloud over the surrounding Helderberg mountains. As we walked towards the entrance there was much activity and excitement in the chilly air and we watched the vehicles starting to pour into the designated parking areas, their tyres making squishing sounds on the waterlogged grass. I don’t think that the organizers ever realized how much interest there would be in their event. I don’t know why…….I mean….CHOCOLATE! It was jam packed with eager chocolate lovers, keen to see what a chocolate festival was all about. We were not disappointed. This lavish affair can best be described in a series of collages that I put together.
There were food trucks outside and pop up restaurants like Bistro 13 inside, serving delicious meals. Those hamburgers were worthy of great praise! The wine and MCC was flowing, there was a chocolate fountain, chocolate shots, plenty to look at and nibble at, fabulous teas to be tasted, nail art, airbrushed tattoos….and of course all that chocolate! And lots of happy smiling faces 😉
Do YOU know why chocolate make us happy?
The amino acid TRYPTOPHAN is found in small quantities in chocolate and is used by the brain to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that can produce feelings of happiness.
PHENYLETHYLALANINE (try saying that fast after you have enjoyed a glass or two of MCC!) is a chemical found in chocolate and it promotes feelings of attraction, excitement and nervousness and is associated with the initial euphoria of falling in love. It acts as an anti-depressant by combining with dopamine that is naturally present in the brain.
THEOBROMINE is a weak stimulant (that is why chocolate isn’t good for dogs as the cute kid in that famous ad says) that works alongside caffeine to produce the characteristic ‘high’ that many people experience after getting their chocolate fix. Scientists at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego suggest that chocolate contains substances that produce a cannabis-like effect on the brain. But don’t get too excited – you would have to ingest more than 11,4kg (25 pounds) of chocolate in one sitting to get ‘high’ in the same way. I am pretty certain I put away about 10kgs of the stuff that day 😉
If you need another reason to enjoy your chocolate fix scientists have confirmed that dark chocolate is beneficial for our health. The greater cocoa content provides high concentrations of antioxidants called flavonoids, which reportedly prevent cancers, protect blood vessels, promote cardiac health, and counteract high blood pressure. (info via Science Focus)
The crowds watched enthralled as models strutted their stuff wearing breathtaking chocolate inspired gowns in a fashion show presented by the Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion Design from Stellenbosch.
There were three magnificent chocolate sculptures by Philip Dillon Barrett
We saw stunningly creative cakes which were judged in a competition. There were also amazing cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes and tarts to buy by the slice!
The ultimate highlight for me was the exclusive high tea created by Lindt Master Chocolatier Dimo Simatos and his amazing team of chocolate chefs. A welcoming glass of bubbly, a talk on chocolate, meeting the big men in the chocolate world and stunning teas and coffee were included. We definitely went into a happy chocolate high after spending time around this groaning table display. What an amazing array of treats of the highest quality, the chocolate on some so shiny and mirror like that you could glimpse your happy smile in them briefly before sinking your teeth through the chocolate and gold leaf with a satisfying crack! I have always been a dark chocolate lover but had never gone beyond 70% cocoa solids. I was transported into a permanent love affair on the next level with very dark, top quality healthy chocolate that day. Long may it continue! Vive la Chocolat!
Disclaimer: I attended The Winelands Chocolate Festival with a media accreditation pass. Opinions expressed are my own.