Review – The Chocolate Festival
With Easter fast approaching, and as someone who bakes brownies at least once a week, I was delighted to pop along to the Brighton Chocolate Festival at the Corn Exchange for gift ideas and inspiration. Plus, let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to spend a Saturday morning idly stuffing one’s face with artisan chocolates and cakes? There were far too many fantastic chocolatiers and bakers to mention, but here are my favourites.
- West Grinstead-based Cocoa Loco were attracting a lot of people to their stand due to the gorgeous packaging and enticing display of their Fairtrade, organic chocolates. I loved the flavours of the bars (£3 each), including Sesame seed and honey milk chocolate and Rose and geranium white chocolate. The bags of Dark chocolate toffee cinder and Milk chocolate dipped mango (£4 each) would make lovely gifts, and I couldn’t resist the Milk chocolate mini eggs (£6). Selected Cocoa Loco products can be found in Infinity Foods and Hisbe, or visit www.cocoaloco.co.uk for other goodies and stockists.
The colourful cakes at the Betsy’s Bake stand quickly caught my eye, and soon I was chatting with owner Elisa. Her Rainbow cake and Chocolate Guinness cake were both delicious, while the Cranberry, salted peanut and marshmallow rocky road also looked divine. She supplies a number of cafés across Brighton and Hove, including Café Rococo in Kemptown, Three Angels in Hove, the Laughing Dog at the Marina, and Bread and Milk in the North Laine. Keep an eye out this summer for the Betsy’s Bake stand at the Foodies Festival on Hove Lawns (3-5 May) and at various markets, or visit www.betsysbake.co.uk for information on other upcoming events and home delivery.
Rainbow Organic Chocolates were excited to tell me that they’ll be opening a stall at the Open Market on London Road from June 2014. Their lovely rhubarb and white chocolate marshmallows were light as air, while I also loved the cute ‘bird in nest’ and ‘rocket’ Easter eggs (from £7), and two-tone mini chocolate eggs (six for £2). For loads more gorgeous products, visit www.rainboworganicchocolates.co.uk
Raw Goodies is another family-run business worth a mention. Only about nine companies in the UK make their own chocolate from the bean, and these guys are one of them. They hand-craft every single product in their small Worthing kitchen using cacao sourced from Peru and Ecuador, and have won awards for their brilliant chocolate bar packaging that uses pages from old books. You can find their products at Infinity Foods, or read more about their chocolate-making methods at www.rawgoodies.co.uk
While I love chocolate in its solid form, I really become gooey in the presence of a well-baked brownie. Stand after stand selling stacks of brownies, in every flavour imaginable, had me panic a little with indecision – Salted caramel brownies, Oreo, Snickers and Malteser brownies, Millionaire brownies, Lemon meringue blondies, Cinnamon brownies, brownies topped with cookie dough, Cream egg brownies, Baileys brownies, Oatmeal caramel crumble brownies, Cheesecake-topped brownies. This is before we’d even moved on to other bakes, from Chocolate Snickerdoodle cookies and Peanut butter brownie bombs to Red velvet whoopie pies. Just reading the names made me want to cry. Needless to say I picked up a few treats and brought them home to savour properly (I even had a brownie for breakfast the next day – don’t judge me).
Finally, I’ve got to mention the guys at Chocopassion, whose incredible moulded chocolates were drawing big crowds – and multiple held-aloft smart phones. From edible Peppa Pigs and Hello Kitties to chocolate handcuffs and pistols, they have every area covered. But the real draw was their amazing ‘rusty’ chocolate tools (no sniggering down the back). From wrenches to mallets, spanners and nails, they looked remarkably like the real thing – the photo doesn’t do them justice. Pricey, yes, but also very impressive. Find out more at www.chocopassion.co.uk
The Chocolate Festival continues its tour around the country, visiting Bristol on 5-6 April; London on 11-13 April and 12-14 December; and Oxford on 18-19 April. All ticket prices, venue details and opening hours can be found at www.festivalchocolate.co.uk