At the chocolate fair, with some of the best nougat in hand.
Photo for CMC © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Cheryl Marie Cordeiro-Nilsson 2009
If there was anything that could make me get out of bed early on a rainy Saturday morning, this would be it – Gothenburg’s Chocolate and Délicatesse Festival 2009!
It was not just the thought of free chocolate samples at this event that spurred me into action on this soggy morning, but of living and breathing the life and sharing the space of chocolate connoisseurs, even for a few hours, made my day.
Upon arrival at the Göteborgs City Museum, where the event was held, I realized that Swedes loved their chocolates. Almost half of the city of Gothenburg thought the same as I – to get in first – where not even wind and rain would keep them away from this divine manna. The queue to the entrance ran almost 200m, right past Tyska Kyrkan, the German Church that stood beside this museum, touching the tip of Gustaf Adolfs Torg along Norra Hamngatan.
The event hall that spanned one and a half floors of the museum, seemed stiflingly inadequate and compact for this event. Cold and near freezing outdoors, the crowd turned warm very quickly when indoors. Still, having grown up tropical, I was surprised to see some people literally turning to ice-cream eating to keep cool, the queue to the lone ice-cream vendor rivaling the queues of the more attractive chocolate stalls.
Truffles in all forms imaginable. Anyone for a Bailey’s?
at Jeanna Kanold who together with her four daughters are Flickorna Kanold (The Kanold Girls)
The most spectacular view at the event was the vast exhibit of chocolate truffles. The stalls had bite-sized morsels so colourful, the candied sight simply took your breath away! I found myself standing in front of Kanolds for example, just absorbing the artistry of work, and whatever fillings of the truffle seemed secondary; after all, truffles have been around since 1895 (created by M. Dufour in France) and are more or less made with a ganache center coated in chocolate or cocoa powder that is usually spherical, conical, square or curved shape. But soon, the taste test came along and the perspective is shifted when you begin to decide which of these precious heaven-filled small packages you’d like to bring home, the ones with cream, caramel, nuts, berries, nougat, fudge, toffee, mint, liquor etc. The choice to make was mind-boggling!
It took all willpower not to try each and every one of these chocolate morsels.
Some chocolate bits looked simply too marvelous to eat, all at once.
One of the exhibitioners was Maria Grave, who runs a perfectly brilliant café at Grönsakstorget in Gothenburg. In 2008 she won the prestigious title of Årets konditor, which was reflected in her amazing chocolate creations displayed at her stand at the fair.
Featured at this event were also organic ecologically produced chocolate bars – a result of increasing global awareness of the impact of consumption on our eco-systems. There is still much debate in this area on eco-farming, one issue is to find the most effective means of production whilst optimizing the returns and thus quality of life for the producers themselves. But production processes aside, what does ecological chocolate taste like?
Ecological bars of chocolate were quite the rave at this fair.
We sampled a Swiss made milk chocolate (shown to the left of the picture above) and found it to be no different, if not slightly sweeter than the average milk chocolate bars you could buy off your shelves at the supermarkets. The basic taste test for chocolates include its appearance (colour, texture, shape etc.), smell (floral, nutty, spicy etc.) and taste (vanilla, hazelnut, cinnamon etc.). But while the taste of this particular brand of eco-chocolates disappointed, perhaps the production processes and its well meaning consequences are fairing better?
A goodie bag of various bars of chocolate from Anthon Berg.
The Danish chocolate company Anthon Berg had created a take home chocolate testing kit consisting of one bar each of Mango and Pink Grapefuit, 72% cacao; Raspberry and Blackberry, 72% cacao; Strawberry and Orange, 72% cacao; Fairtrade Chocolate Soft Dark, 57% cacao; Fairtrade Chocolate Rich Dark, 72% cacao; Fairtrade Chocolate Extra Dark, 81% cacao; Mint and Cacao Crisp, 57% cacao, a test protocol form and – a pen.
Although rare that a non-chocolate enthusiast finds himself / herself caught in an enclave of chocolatiers exhibiting their goods, there were other complementary products to review such as various teas and coffee beans for sale and tea biscuits that would please even the non-chocolate eaters at any tea party.
The fair was fun but with the rising interest for chocolate in Sweden, who already is a larger market for chocolate than Belgium and France, with an annual per capita consumption of 7 kg per person (14 lbs), it is likely they will need to find themselves a larger exhibition space for the next year’s event. And, as I felt at the event, filled up to the brim with bitter, sweet, sour and spicy chocolates, – A cup of coffee, my kingdom for a cup of coffee!