The inaugural Winelands Chocolate Festival was a showcase of some of the best artisan chocolatiers of South Africa, and they all brought their A-game. Stepping through the door, visitors were immediately seduced by a chocolate fountain by Frey with marshmallows for dipping. The soft, floral décor was complemented by beautifully detailed chocolate sculptures from the likes of La Chocolaterie Rococo from Oudtshoorn, who had the prettiest (and tastiest) high heels I’ve ever seen on display.
The proof, of course, is in the pudding, and some of the most interesting pudding combinations were up for tasting. Winston & Julia had fruit and chocolate combinations: my favourites were the citrus confit, fiery ginger, and almond roca. Monatê’s chocolate and peanut butter spread, Himalayan salt, and chilli bar (which has a lovely bite) as well as their Scotch flavoured chocolate is absolutely delicious. The trend of 'healthy' food options was also in evidence with, for example, Gayleen’s Decadence made from raw honey - both dairy and sugar free.
The uncontested highlight for me was CocoaFair’s milk coverture and white liquorice, its tempered chocolate with sea salt and a sprinkle of white chocolate, and Honest Chocolate’s cracked coffee bean and sweet orange crumbs of paradise, and the bonbons with a creamy centre made with coconut oil. Heaven is a taste on earth, and it’s chocolate.
Continuing the theme of 'treat yourself', visitors had the option of nail art manicures from Glamore Cosmetics. The queue for this was a reflection of the sheer number of people attending the festival, which made it difficult to move around between the stalls. There were a couple of couches in the venue, but the majority of people headed outside in order simply to have enough elbow room to eat or drink the mostly-not-chocolate fare also on offer.
The Winelands Chocolate Festival, though relatively small, was well organised and the high quality of the products on offer was commendable. But the organisers either severely underestimated its success or should have limited the number of tickets. The venue at Lourensford Estate, while devastatingly pretty, was far too cramped for the number of attendees - a fact which put a dampener on an otherwise hugely enjoyable foray. Let’s be honest though; there was a lot of chocolate... we left happy.