Well, I've been sick this whole week, a bad case of le flu, but I've had loads of other fun things to catch up on during my brief sojourn on our sofa - namely organizing the mounds of recipe clippings that are hiding delicately under our coffee table & also catching up on my French grammar exercises. Yep, it's been a really exciting couple of days...
But what I'm really dying to talk about is the chocolate festival we attended last Saturday in Belgentier. Really, how can you ever go wrong attending a chocolate festival? Having been to the choco-event to end all choco-events last year (Eurochocolate in Perguia, Italy) I had a good idea what to expect but our little-chocolate-festival-that-could had a few delightful surprises that made for quite an exceptional event.
1. First on the list, Caramel Beurre Sale liqueur.
This was the first stop on our tour and well, let's just say they had me at "salted caramel" (the liqueur was an added bonus). The kind young gentleman who was running the stand suggested I might well like to sample their pina colada liqueur as that's what all the ladies were asking for... A well-meaning chap indeed, but nothing could turn me away from a sample (or two) of the caramel liqueur; sweet dreams.
They also had an excellent selection of chocolate "patés" to taste; including a signature hazelnut spread that would make you re-think you next Nutella purchase. In a word, delizioso.
2. Chocolate with Olive Oil
I have to say that I never spotted this unique pairing in Italy, and either I missed the proverbial choco-boat, or it's quite a new creation. This particular company was from Marseille and was marketing their product as a "taste of the Mediterranean". I had two tastes before I really caught the olive oil flavor, and while admittedly an interesting combination, the jury's still out on this one for me.
3. Chocolate with Baie de Poivre Rose (pink pepper berries).
We can also include chocolate with lavender, bananas, or just about any other berry or nut you can imagine in this category. Surely they have these kinds of flavor combinations at other chocolate festivals, but what I loved about this particular stand was how naturally the chocolates were presented (& obviously made). And they tasted exquisite as well.
4. Lollipops from every color of the rainbow.
Sure, it's not chocolate, but it's still fun as heck. If I had a Euro for every kid I saw walking around the festival with a lemon, caramel, or cotton candy-flavored lollipop, well I could have bought myself a whole lot more chocolate. With the multi-colored candies, mounds of chocolate, revolving puppet-show, and inflatable castle, this festival was a French kiddie's dream come true. And mine too.
5. Best macaroons ever
And what would a French chocolate festival be without macaroons? Well, I don't know, and I sure as heck don't ever want to find out. The woman at this macaroon stand starting passing out half-chucks of the lightest, moistest macaroons I had ever tasted. And she was good at her game that one; we all fell in line like we'd never heard of chocolate before and her stand just happened to have the biggest crowd of all. And all for the small sum of €4 for 100 grams (trust me, that's expensive). Quite telling my friends, telling indeed.