Monday, February 28, 2005

Death by Chocolate - appropriately named...

I went to the Death by Chocolate event at COPIA in Napa this weekend, and let me tell you - this event was appropriately named. I was just coming off of a chocolate-kick from my Paris trip, where for 3 days, I constantly munched on and drank chocolatey goodness, and thought the event would be an appropriate finale in my attempt to exchange my blood for chocolate. Well, it almost did, and frankly, it wasn't as pleasurable as I thought it might be...


COPIA is an interesting ode to the culture of food and eating. I enjoyed their displays (esp. the display where you see just the vertical section of the candy bar and you have to guess what bar it is) and I would recommend the place to anyone looking for something different. I didn't have time to check out their edible gardens, but it looked nice and since they offer 60 min tours, it must be quite extensive. The chocolate event was happening in the upstairs and downstairs foyers. A number of vendors, both local and not so local, had tables set up with samples of various chocolates and chocolate themed desserts for tasting.


Most notable was the truffles by Bernard Callebaut of Oregon. They had my attention, since they were hand-rolling ganache right at the table. And their truffles had my taste buds, since they weren't too sweet. It was dark, deep, and enticing. I bet it would've gone well with an equally dark, deep, and enticing cup of coffee.


There were non-purist tasting too, and of those, Vintage Sweet Shoppe, a Napa local, took my breath away with their English Toffees. They had essentially run out by the time I got around to tasting them, and I only got some scraps. Their fudge was quite luscious, although fudge tends to be too sweet for me in general.


They had a brownie contest going on, and the winner may or may not have been the one I voted for - they had the brownies color-coded and I voted for the pink brownie... I know for sure that the pink one was not the third place brownie, but that's all I know. The pink one had a rich center with a tender moistness where the others tended to be drier. It was quite a sight - a sea of brownies on paper plates, anxiously waiting to be evaluated, trying to win your vote with their sweet scents of cocoa and sugar.

I'm a total sucker for these food festivals, and I had a really good time. My tasting lasted for all but 15 min or so before the blood chocolate content became too high for me to function normally, but what I did taste, I enjoyed. And when I couldn't taste anymore, I enjoyed being enveloped in the aroma of chocolate. As they say, the majority of what you taste comes from your smell - and if so, what better way to 'consume' chocolate than to wade in its scent with a belly full of chocolate!

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