The Discovery of Chocolate is offered on select Sunday afternoons, during the Food and Wine Festival. Billed as "an opportunity to learn and taste more about chocolate from professional "chocolatiers," the tastings include chocolate samplings, chocolate savory and dessert, with spirited beverages and/or paired wines." Price: $75 per person plus tax - Theme Park admission required and lasts about 90 minutes. I had heard mixed reviews about the Discovery of Chocolate seminars which began last year. Some folks said they were awesome, others were "eh" with their review so I decided to see for myself.
I attended the first one of this year's festival on October 14: Chef Sarah Kosikowski hosted by Valrhona.
As with most of the events, this one takes place in the Festival Center (old Wonders of Life building).
Our tables were pre-assigned and each had 4 small containers with several "feves"inside. The feve is a small oval shaped chocolate perfect for baking or tasting.
Also at our seats was small glass of Chocolate Liquor. While the aroma was heavenly, unfortunately for me, the taste wasn't. This particular liquor had hot chili in it, too spicy for me!
The seminar was hosted by Pam Smith, RD, LDN, a regular host at the Epcot Food and Wine seminars.
She introduced the guest presenter, Pastry Chef Sarah Kosikowski. Chef Sarah's resume already resembles a "who's who" and includes: a 2009 James Beard Foundation Awards nomination in the “Rising Star Chef” category; previous executive pastry chef at Michael Mina at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas; worked as executive pastry chef at the four-star Fleur de Lys in Las Vegas under the direction of Chefs Laurent Pillard; worked at The French Laundry in Yountville, California, and the Ritz-Carlton Dining Room, in San Francisco. She is also the first female Corporate Pastry Chef for Valrhona Chocolate.
Today's tasting would include 4 types of chocolate, 2 beverages and 2 desserts.
Sarah gave a great overview of the Valrhona Chocolate company , established in 1922 in the Rhone Valley of France. Many machines in the factory are still original machines.
The company is committed to the creation of unique artisan quality chocolates with complex and balanced flavors. This commitment to quality is matched only by the brands devotion to sustainable business practices. Its tradition of creativity, expertise in taste, and a strict adherence to traditional chocolate-making methods make it the standard bearer in the industry.
Our chocolate tasting included:
Guanaja - 70% Cacao - Guanaja develops extraordinary bitterness, revealing whole aromatic range of warm notes.
Manjari - 64% Cacao - Fresh, acidic, sharp bouquet with red fruit notes.
Caramelia - 36% Milk Chocolate Caramel - caramélia uses genuine dairy-based caramel (from real skim milk and butter) as a main ingredient.
and Ivoire - White Chocolate - smooth and milky, gives a fresh and vanilla sensation.
At some point a glass of Rosa Regale was poured for each of us as well.
Chef Sarah shared that like wines, chocolates are also affected by different climates and soil profiles.
I learned a great deal about chocolate during this seminar including that some people actually let the chocolate melt between their tongue and the roof of their mouth to taste the complexities of the morsel ( Don't most of us just bite, chew and swallow? :) We learned that as the chocolate warms, the flavors really emerge.
Soon it was time for cooking and Chef Sarah made a Smoked Guanaja Ganach that went between to shortbread like cookies and a Coconut Raspberry Transparence.
Both were served to us to enjoy:
Overall impression: This was my first Discovery of Chocolate and originally I was a tad leery of the $75 price tag. That said, I enjoyed myself and learned a fair amount about chocolate too! I"m really glad I attended this seminar but don't think I would do it again. For me, I'd rather spent the money at a wine tasting :).
There are 4 Discovery of Chocolate seminars still to come during this year's festival:
And the others still to come are:
October 28: Lauren Deitsch hosted by Lake Champlain Chocolates - Burlington, VT
November 4: Julian Rose, Moonstruck Chocolates, hosted by Barry Callebaut
November 11: Julian Rose, Moonstruck Chocolates, hosted by Barry Callebaut
The previous post in this blog was The Country Bear Jamboree Is Back -- New Shorter Version.
The next post in this blog is Italian Regional Food and Wine Luncheon - Epcot Food and Wine Event.