Friday, January 28, 2011

Portland Foodie: Chocolate Fest!

So it seems all I can write about is chocolate. Huh. Either that, or the only potent potable that has stirred my palate to spew my delight into words is chocolate. But I don't hear anyone complaining. And hey, this post is also about wine. Because wine is the dirty mistress of chocolate in such a happy way.

But enough about that. On to Chocolate Fest! Chocolate Fest here in beautiful Portland is Oregon's premier chocolate event. The event is an annual fundraiser for the World Forestry Center in Portland's Washington Park. It cost $10 at the Convention Center and entrance got me into a miles (okay, maybe not MILES) of booths handing out copious samples of fudge, ganache, hot chocolate, mint, cupcakes, kettle corn, wine, sake, and products made from cocoa.

I tasted a lot of goodies that day, but am only sharing my faves. Are you ready? Awesome!

Isn't this purty?
The Dessert Tray is all about baking. They were handing out samples of red velvet cupcakes which just, mmm, hold on, I need a moment. The fluffy, dreamy cake just melted in my mouth and the butter cream frosting, oh my crap. Heaven. 

Plus? I am all about the pretty bakes good. Feast for my eyes and my mouth. I am glad this bakery is not near my house because I would be there incessantly. And I would be 50 lbs heavier. Every pound worth it.

Taza Choclate is not for everyone, I think. It's stone ground organic chocolate which gives it a very dry texture at first. But, if you let it melt, it does get creamy. It's very flavorful, however, and I love that they had many interesting flavors to choose from.

I tried the chili chocolate and very much enjoyed the rumba of flavor action. Seriously, at first, all you taste is the rich chocolate then the tones of chili start to release on your tongue in a very delicate way. The sweet with spice is exciting and, thankfully, not overpowering. Don't worry, white folks, you won't need a glass of milk to cool this off.

AND, lucky for you, you can get Taza near you. Mostly likely. I mean, I doubt you can get it in Belarus. Just sayin'.

On to our first wine booth! This year, you had to pay for wine tasting. But with as much as you got, it was more than a fair price.  Barefoot Wines offered a small selection of wines, but what they do they do well. Pretty much what you see above is what they offer.

I tasted the Sweet Red and the Moscato. The Sweet Red was exactly as described. A distinctly sweet, sugary tone with hints of the bitter Merlot underneath with flavors of raspberry, pomegranate, and cherry. I'm reminded of a line from Grease: "It says right here: It's a dessert wine." The Sweet Red would be great with cupcakes or...wait for it...chocolate! They recommend it with meat, but dude, it's dessert in and of itself.

The Moscato was not my favorite, but I didn't dislike it. I tasted it after the sweet, so it may have ruined it for me. The bottle claims to be sweet, but in comparison, it's got the bitterness you expect from a white wine. You can taste the orange and tangerine flavors which are subtle enough to not feel like you're drinking juice. I would probably drink a wine like this with savory foods.

Seely Family Farms
 I am sad to report that Seely Family Farms is only available in Oregon. Because it is pure bliss. Do you like mint? Do you think you've had the best there is of mint? Well you're wrong. This is the best mint I have ever tasted in the whole of my life. And I am a mint lover.

Their products are made from pure Oregon mint oil, not a blend of imported oils and menthol crystals, and you can absolutely taste the difference. It's heaven. These peppermint patties were a blend of pure mint flavor which explodes in your mouth with such a smooth, creamy texture that you can't even imagine. The chocolate only provides a base so that you don't die of minty rapture.

If you come to Oregon, either come during Chocolate Fest or trek out to Clatskanie and visit their farm. I know I may do just that. Oh! and they also sell other mint products like pure mint oil. I'm getting all fuzzy just thinking about it.

A Little Bit of Sweet is exactly what you expect in a baker/confectioner. Simple, sweet baked goods with a light fluffiness. Chocolates that melt on contact and leave you in euphoria. They kept shoveling chocolate samples down my gullet and I was not complaining. I loved their style. If they made it, there was a sample of it.

My favorite was a chocolate/peanut butter combo that killed me out of deliciousness right there on the spot. The textures were so unbelievable creamy and the flavors so, how do I say this, accurate? Real? I felt like I'd killed the chocolate peanut butter cow and was enjoying its raw tastes. I know that sounds nasty, but that's how potent it was.

And have no fear! You too can have chocolate euphoria. This bakery confectionery ships to you. I would get on that yo.

Lest we end up in a food coma, let's taste a little more wine! HV Cellars is from Southern Oregon. A lovely, family owned vineyard and you can taste that. This may have been my favorite spot and I wish I'd purchased a bottle or 12. They offer different varietal fruit wines that defy that concept of fruit wines. They're decidedly NOT undertones of fruit because, unlike most fruit wines, they don't flavor grape wines; these wines are made from the different fruits and berries.

I tried the Blackberry, Pomegranate, and Pear wines. I didn't love the Pear because, well, I don't really like pears. The Blackberry and Pomegranate are both in contention for my faves for decidedly different reasons. The Blackberry tasted like, yes, blackberries. It was potent and tart, full of so much flavor without tasting too sweet. The Pomegranate was sweeter, as pomegranates are, but still full of all the richness you'd find from pomegranate juice with the bite of a wine. In other words: YUM!

It's a good thing they ship, because I might just be their new loyal customer. I heartily recommend them.

 I confess I stopped at Ladybug Chocolates because of their cute uniforms. What can I say? I'm a sucker for a uniform. And they didn't disappoint. I didn't die of joy from their products, but I sampled all their goods eagerly and relished each bite. Their truffles are simple, traditional, yet just how you want chocolate to be. Velvety and gently zesty.

They do make a bacon and maple truffle which they were out of and I am dying to try. Sweet and savory? Yes, please. Bacon? Yes, please. They also sell candy making supplies which I find totally cool. I mean, I'd love to learn to make candy if I weren't so lazy and there weren't so many confectioners out there doing it for me and doing it better that I ever could. Nonetheless, well done, ladybugs!

Look at the size! The SIZE!
 I am not a sake connoisseur by any means, but this is some serious sake action right here. I paid $4 for the world sake tour, which means I basically paid 4 bucks for like 6 some odd shots of sake. If you know sake at all, you know that you sip it in small increments. And this girl can't really handle her alcohol. Really cannot handle it. And I'd already tasted quite a bit of wine by this point. Needless to say, this booth kicked my ass.

I liked the classic sake, very smooth with the strong bite I'm used to with sake. I didn't love the unfiltered sake. The consistency reminded me vaguely of milk of magnesia. Not a great combo. The coconut sake was very tasty, but, again, I didn't love the thick consistency. Now, after like 4 shots or so, I have no idea what the next flavor was. It was fruity, with the consistency of champagne, and I loved it. The bubbles were delicate as was the flavor. This sake is only available in the tasting room, which means now I have to go to the tasting room.

My very favorite, which is also only available in the tasting room, is the Cranberry Limeade Sake cocktail. This is the kind of drink that gets you into trouble. It tasted like a backyard party type cocktail. Tart yet sweet, full of flavor with a slight edge. AND, as luck would have it, I have the recipe:

4 oz. Momokawa Silver Saké
3/4 oz. Cranberry Monin Simple Syrup
1 tsp. Frozen Limeade concentrate
1/4 cup Ice

I saved my very favorite for last. I visited this booth twice because it was just that intoxicating. In fact, I suspect they put some sort of addictive substance in their fudge.

Yes, fudge. I tried lots of fudge that day, but none quite so smooth, quite so creamy, quite so flavorful, quite so daring.

I tried all 7 fudge flavors, but none so delightfully scrumptious as the Root Beer Fudge. You heard me right. Root Beer. Now, if you don't like root beer, don't worry, there are plenty of other flavors for you. But, I happen to lurve root beer and this fudge is like a rich, fudgey eruption of my favorite soda. Darker than a root beer float but just as equally pungent and velvety. 

Yes, I bought a tub. I'm doing my best to make it last. I'm also told they have hand-dipped truffles but I didn't even get to those.

*I have to make a correction.  The root beer fudge was made by Wallowa Lake Fudge Company, not IC Confections. What can I say? I had too much wine. But I must say that both companies had excellent fudge and you just can't go wrong.

16 comments mean you love me:

Laura said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This is a downright MEAN post! I mean, I'm sitting here DYING because all I want is a piece of that mint chocolate stuff. Or red velvet cake. Oh and that pomagranate wine, too! Not nice! ;)

I'll have to schedule my next trip to Portland when this thing is going on, for sure!

Ella said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I drooled through this entire post.


Brandy Wilcoxen said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh this is just pure cruelty! I want that cake thing, with the cookie things all over it...

Nush said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Ooooohhhhh yummy! Fab pics! Chocolate truffles with chili is a favorite of mine. I got a recipe from a friend for a a dark chocolate cake with cognac and chili... it is divine!

Wine combined with chocolate is a must... pure, unaltered, sinful, heavenly indulgence. Yeah... I like chocolate... and wine and... ehh I will stop here now.

Bird Shit said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am drooling!!!!!!! CHOCOLATE! I love Barefoot wine too...looks like I am stopping at the liquor store on the way home!

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Laura- haha! I'm terribly sorry. next January, get to PDX.

Ella- glad to hear it :)

Brandy- I'm so sorry. I'll just have to send you some.

Nush- hahaha! you're adorable.

Barefoot- that sounds like an awesome plan!

TheTraveler said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I am of the opinion that you are either a great friend to share this info, or an evil genius out to ruin my day...

Be for warned, I totally plan on attending next year...I hope your apt is big enough to accomodate me and the Fam. =)

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

haha! I'm going with the former. and who knows? by this time next year, I might have a bigger place. :)

Dr. Cynicism said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

*now searching for a home and job in Portland*

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

always a good idea!

Satan said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

i would bribe you to mail me some freakin root beer fudge...
or really, any fudge without nuts. because, while i love nuts, i'm not so fond of my fudge crunching.
: ]

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


Simone said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

it's charlie and the chocolate factory without the little people.

Andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates


meleah rebeccah said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Im literally *drooling* over here!

Sarah Isaacs said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hey I have been looking for your blog because I am the owner of IC Confections and I remembered you talking about your blog at Chocolate Fest. I also remember you trying everything and how much you enjoyed it (which is what makes me happiest...seeing people enjoy my chocolate).

Thanks for coming by a couple of times to talk to us, and for your purchase. We are really glad that you liked our fudge. And yes, we do have flavors of hand dipped truffles. If you'd like to try some we are attending "Chocolate Fantasy" on Feb 11th at the Jenkins Estate in Beaverton.

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