Sunday, March 1, 2015

International Chocolate Show

Today was my father's birthday and one of those hard mornings when you battle your demons, mine hard feelings of abandonment, betrayal, injustice of former family and friends, fighting with all the heroic thoughts I could muster. But, neither my thoughts, nor the excited voices in the street below our balconies, could rescue me. Happily, something else did! With no time for sad, I had to hurry through breakfast, dress, and meet Enrique at the door to leave and arrive in time for our special date: with Astorga's Third Annual Chocolate Festival, SICA.

With sixteen local exhibitors and over  a hundred activities for all ages, all themed in chocolate, this festival is gaining overwhelming popularity and extending throughout the nation. Our city, Astorga, was the first European city to industrialise chocolate after its discovery by the Spanish in the New World. That's something to celebrate!

Photographer Sabela Fuentes Fernández

Fortunately, Enrique prompted yesterday that we rush to sign up to gain privileged seats at SICA's Cata Fusion (Fusion of Tastes). There, Bodega Cuatro Pasos, two winery representatives from the region of El Bierzo, near Cacabelos educated us in the rare combination of fine chocolate and excellent wine. A fusion of two of the best tastes in the world, black and orange chocolates made with the best cacao together with just the right wine combinations. I felt all the earlier stress melt away like that sweet chocolate on my tongue, dissolving into relaxed peace with its perfect wine companion.

Yesterday we also participated in a Mini Curso, short class open to the public, on chocolate desserts, specifically *mille-feuille chocolate with ground pine, a type of chocolate presentation that is painted onto wax paper and rolled with added color to be cut into whimsical chocolate swirls. It is quite improbably any of the students will ever try this elaborate dessert at home, but we all enjoyed the intricacy of design and marvelled that such artistry was really edible, delicious chocolate.

Astorga Sabe a Chocolate - Astorga Tastes like Chocolate

*SICA- Salón Internacional del Chocolate - International Chocolate Show

*Mille feuille - Traditionally, a mille-feuille is made up of three layers of  puff pastry (pâte feuilletée), alternating with two layers of pastry cream (crème pâtissière), but sometimes whipped cream or jam are substituted. The top pastry layer is dusted with confectioner's sugar and sometimes cocoa, pastry crumbs, or pulverized seeds (e.g. roasted almonds). Alternatively the top is glazed with icing or fondant in alternating white (icing) andbrown chocolate stripes, and combed.

*Mini Curso taught by Nacho González, Jefe de Pastelería de la EIC de Valladolid (Dessert Head Chef of the International Culinary School of Valladolid)

More here: Fabulous photos and Spanish text, by Atana

The Chocolate Museum, El Museo del Chocolate de Astorga that just reopened its doors, appropriately inaugurated Valentine's Day, February 14th, in a beautifully renovated building just fitting the topic.