Duffy Sheardown

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Eurochocolate - my first chocolate festival

By Duffy Sheardown, 2009-10-25
This is a tale of two attempts to see what Eurochocolate has to offer. On the first Sunday we arrived early at the park and ride area to find over 100 tourist coaches and a hlaf-mile long/4 people wide queue for tickets to get the bus to the town centre venue. There was, of course, a similar queue for the actual coaches.We bailed on this and found the railway station - the plan being to say "hi Clay, we're out of here!" but the bus queues didn't exist so we parked and made it to the centre. We shouldn't have bothered. We had an enjoyable few hours talking to Clay, Vanessa and her Mum and found a good place for lunch but the crowds were enprmous. Chocolate was only occasionally glimpsed - as 1m cubes being sculpted, being spooned into a passing face from a warm plastic cup, through a crowd at a tasting session. Good evidence of chocolate for dogs, a few inflatable purple cows and many many people.The second attempt was made on Thursday morning. I was keen to find the "professional" exhibits and get more of a feel for the festival. It was still busy but the stalls were actually visible. The stalls were usually company-specific and most offered moulded confections of many kinds, a suprising range of bars and a broad selection of novelty shapes: screwdrivers and hammers, cell phones and clocks, helmets and horseshoes.Way more bars than I expected and I have a good selection of single-origin bars from a variety of producers (Zaabar, Piluc, de Bondt, Santander, Vanini) to compare. Research is tough, no? There were some intersting takes on flavourings (banana, rose, coariander - not together, thankfully) and packaging (simple clear wrappers, embossed white paper boxes, sealed foil pouches). I didn't actually eat any chocolate there but will make up for it this week.I found the "trade" area and made contact with an Ecuadorian producer. The Indonesian and Brazilian zones were un-manned as I passed but all the stalls were wet up to be informative to the general passer-by and there was an empasis on educating the young.Overall? Quite fun, but not at all what I was expecting. It isn't a trade event it's fun for the family. Did I enjoy it? Of course I did! I bought chocolate and was in Italy - takes some beating.Duffy
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