We visited The Chocolate Festival…
29th-30th March 2014
The Chocolate Festival was born in 2009 and is getting bigger and more popular each year. Now held in Bristol, Brighton and Oxford as well as twice a year in London, it looks like it’s going to be here for years to come. Mustn’t grumble.
In previous years, the Brighton event was outdoors with its stalls filling New Road with wonderful treats and smells. This year, they’ve moved indoors to The Dome so I went along with my friend Jen and we took one for the team. I know, I’m too good to you.
The Dome is a perfect venue for this event. The huge hall was well set out with a special roped off seated area at one end (more about that later), a drinks bar at the opposite end which sold choc-based cocktails and hot chocolate in various flavours, exhibitors’ stands around two central islands and around the outside, and some tables and chairs to sit and indulge in your purchases.
And if you want to get away from the bustle of the main hall, you can pop into The Dome Café-Bar for a cuppa or a glass of wine while you munch on a rose cream or three. They’ve recently been taken over by Payton & Byrne and they have a great range of teas amongst other goodies.
Back in the main hall, there was everything from Italian molded chocolate shaped into wrenches, handcuffs, tool boxes and guns – very much aimed for the macho market, to solid Belgian chocolate Easter eggs weighing in at 700g. If you prefer something with a bit of a twist, you could get a chocolate bar with a naga chilli pressed into it, (the hottest chilli in the world so it claims on the box) or maybe try a parsnip and lime crème or wholegrain mustard truffle? One of those last two worked…the other, not so much. Interesting stuff though.
If you went all out and paid the extra money for a tasting ticket, you get access to the Tasting Lounge, which is the afore-mentioned seating area, where you can “explore your chocolate senses through games, experiments and themed sessions, with tastings and talks from some of the UKs leading master chocolatiers, chocolate experts and great UK chocolate companies.” More importantly, in my opinion, you get to sample brownies from all the entrants in The Best Brownie Ever Trail. I admit to being a tad jealous of all those golden ticket holders cooing over their bite-sized brownies at all the stalls.
If you like to wear your chocolate as well as eat it, you can pop in to the cocoa spa run by the people that brought us Hotel Chocolat and try out some choc based beauty products or have your make up done by celebrity make up artist Elizabeth Rita who lists Britain’s Got Talent on her CV.
So, there really is something for everyone at this festival. At £5 a ticket and £15 for a tasting ticket, I think it’s money well spent. Do yourself a favour and get down there next year.