Saturday morning my husband and I made the drive over to my family's house to celebrate Mother's Day. The plan was to make Lemon Lovers' Ricotta Pancakes and Blueberry Sauce for brunch. We hadn't really planned anything after that, and decided to figure it out as we went. I had read about a chocolate festival happening in north Denver that day and had secretly planned to somehow trick everyone into going. ;) It didn't end up being very difficult...everyone was super excited to go! Somehow, I don't think I was the persuasive one...the mention of free chocolate would convince even the most stubborn person!
So after finishing up the dishes for my lovely step mom Rose, we piled into the 'ol family minivan and headed out. In my mind, I was picturing opening the doors to the Denver Merchandise Mart where the festival was held and being overwhelmed with the luscious smell of high quality melted chocolate. For those who have had the experience of entering a high quality chocolate shop where they make their own in house, you know the smell I speak of. Unfortunately that was not the case in this instance. We entered in the double doors and were immediately given free Pop Rock filled candy bars along with our $8 tickets. Well, I wasn't so sure about the 'unspecified starch' contained in these long chocolate nuggets, so I handed it over to my husband who can eat as much unspecified starch as his heart desires. Not only was this conference room filled with chocolate vendors, but there were also other vendors that had nothing to do with chocolate whatsoever. I'm not sure why they were there. It bugged me in fact. I did have to chuckle when I found that Denise Nickerson, the original Violet Beauregard in the old Willy Wonka movie was there signing photos. (Apparently she lives in Denver?)
Now I don't want you, my lovely reader, to think that I was disappointed. Oh no, it was quite lovely! There were plenty of booths with all of the chocolate samples I could want. The only problem was, of course, which ones were GF? Well I fully intended to find out, because there was no way I was going to refrain from eating free chocolate! Below are my findings:
Divine Organics Sacred Cacao
Raw Cacao Brittles
"Divinely decadent healthy chocolate"
This chocolate, sold by Transition Nutrition rocks! I loved it. The lady at the booth presented me with a taste of the raw macadamia nut brittle. I wouldn't necessarily call it a brittle in the sense of the kind that you eat during the holidays: nuts surrounded in a thick, crunchy caramel bed; because they are actually nuts and fruit enrobed in a bar of chocolate. Oh my golly though...I could taste the natural fruitiness and flowery essence that comes naturally when you eat true, minimally processed chocolate. It was a high percentage of pure dark chocolate, and the macadamias added a fabulous flavor. This aint no Hershey's bar!
Next up: Oliver Kita.....
"Buddha would want you to bite the head off so he could laugh from inside your belly" -Cat Stevens
Oliver Kita Fine Confections
"Objects of Desire"
This man's chocolates are sooooooo good! Just one problem. I discovered that the chocolate peanut butter truffle is NOT GF. Nope. I discovered this after the chef, Oliver Kita, told me that they were. No doubt about it, he said. Absolutely. So I ate one. Oh baby. I had never tasted one so delicious. I even went as far as paying $8 for a bag of 6 truffles. They were that good. I am still feeling the effects of the gluten, and I am so disappointed. I took a bite in front of him and stopped mid chew-"what are the crunchies?" I asked. "Oh, that is organic crunchy peanut butter inside. The crunch is the peanuts". So I ate more. I ate another when I got home and thought to myself, "this is not a peanut kind of crunch. This has to have something more". So, I did what any detective would do. I shoved my pinkie in the filling and dug. I knew what I was looking for, and I found it. Pate Fuilletine. Little crunchy goodies that pastry chefs add to candy to add that special crunch without getting soggy. They are comparable to mini corn flakes. I was so mad! What a waste of money. So much for asking the chef.
Next up: Izzybelle Chocolate Sauces.....
Izzybelle Chocolate Sauces
"The taste makes the difference"
Based in Castle Rock CO, Izzybelle is the product of 30 years refinement. And it shows. The sauces come in Original Chocolate, Toffee, Raspberry, Orange, Peppermint and Peanut Butter flavors. I looked through all of their ingredients, and as far as I can tell, they are totally GF. They use natural, organic and local ingredients as much as they can. Truly a delight. Forget Nutella. This is the stuff right here. All natural ingredients, nothing strange on the labels, really, really good stuff.
Well, although of course I tried many, many more chocolates, those were the best. Oliver Kita does use GF chocolate, and if you buy his chocolate Buddha or any other figurines, I'm sure you will not be disappointed! He uses very high quality ingredients, so please don't be deterred from checking out his web site!