Wednesday, September 5, 2012

International chocolate festival/ chocolate master class

It may be some time before I finish talking about the Food Blogger's Conference.  I spent last weekend at the 2nd New Zealand Food Blogger's Association Conference and am still buzzing from meeting interesting people, eating lovely food and enjoying a range of fascinating presentations/ demonstrations.

Chocolate was a theme for the conference.  The conference opened just prior to the official opening of the New Zealand Chocolate Festival and the Food Blogger's were very kindly invited to the opening by the Intercontinental Hotel. Embarrassingly I was the last to arrive.  I hate being late, and was even making good time but I am very out of practice taking the bus into town at peak traffic and with the continuation of the horrid local roadwork's I was ten minutes late. I heard the last of a presentation by Juan Balsani (Kermadec) and saw him make caramelised white chocolate spaghetti! 
Juan Balsani making magical chocolate dessert!

The festival opened with a speech by the Wellington Mayor who mentioned that she had sampled fresh chocolate in Ghana.  I definitely would like to try fresh chocolate someday.  Once the speeches concluded we were free to enjoy the delights of the reception including sparkling wine, chocolate macarons and all the trade stands.  It was strange, I felt quite fraudulent, as though I wasn't supposed to be there.  Normally I love trade stands at conferences (hey - who doesn't like free sample shopping) but it has been three years since I've attended a conference and I felt out of practice I guess.  Luckily I came across the chocolate fountain room, this helped somewhat to comfort the nerves.  On entry you receive a cup, stick and two marshmallows.  Normally my handbag is full of child paraphernalia, so unfortunately I didn't have any baby wipes on me for when the inevitable happened and a little chocolate drip found its way onto my top.

It was during the reception that I discovered that my phone was nearly flat and that my charger was broken.  Luckily, Dick Smith's was around the corner so I dashed off and bought a new one.  Given that I'd forgotten the camera this would be my only visual record of the day.  So after arriving late, then popping out I was all flustered.  I went to purchase some chocolate but the stand didn't take EFTPOS and I didn't feel like leaving again!

There was a chocolate chess tournament as part of the conference - once you took a piece you ate it!  Not bad
I meet one of the owners of Bull Rush chocolates*.  Bull Rush is an Ashburton based company and they produce some delicious chocolates.  My favourite was their marshmallow Easter egg (sold in truffle form on the day).  It was beautiful and delicious.  Most of the large-scale Easter eggs are really quite horrid chocolate - with that greyish bloom on them that is an inevitable result of months of storage.  If you were going to blow it all on one egg for the family then this could be the one.  They didn't have any local stockists sadly but I have connections down that way so may have to grovel a bit! For a bit of a fun I also purchased a very small bar of their rhubarb and kumara dark chocolate bar.

Schoc chocolates were represented.  I can vividly remember going to their Greytown store five years ago and for the first time tasting really good quality chocolate with non-traditional flavours.  I thought that I was adventurous trying their sea salt flavour.  I purchased their new fennel flavour (amazing) and also carrot and coriander.  Is there no limit to flavours-that-go-well with chocolate?

A few years ago my friend Bronwyn introduced me to Berhamphore chocolate shop L'affaire au Chocolat.  If you have time you should stop by for one of their very delicious hot chocolates.  Since then I have regularly relied on their delicious products for gifts/ treats and at Christmas time bought packs of their special hot chocolate mix (pellets of dark chocolate mixed with spices, such as cardamom).  Their Easter Eggs are pretty amazing and are world famous in Wellington.  The owner, Jo gave a talk/ master-class at the  Food Blogger's conference.  Her knowledge and passion for chocolate are quietly evident - the talk and photos that she showed demonstrated a real fascination with the history of chocolate production and understanding of the politics and players. 

As this talk  took place first thing on the second morning of the conference we became rapidly used to starting the day with chocolate.  From what I have read on other blogs, it has been a hard return to reality, and some bloggers have introduced 'breakfast dessert' to tide themselves over.  Brilliant!

* No link, it appears that there is some problem with the website listed on the bar wrapper.


  1. Nice round up of all things chocolate Emma! I'm trying very hard to save the bull rush chocolate but it's calling, calling to me!

  2. I had a tiny bit of the Bull Rush 'Lemon, Lime and Chilli' chocolate but found it too spicy. My toddler though quite literally stole the other pieces and seemed not to suffer from it! I still need to try the rhubarb and kumara flavour.

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