The Chocolate Life

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Eurochocolate - my first chocolate festival

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.


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Comment by SU on October 28, 2009 at 4:57pm
You weren't imagining things. I had half a day to scan stalls with minimal crowding - no Amedei or Slitti present. But then of all the chocolatiers I visited in their home towns, only de Bondt had a stall. The others -- Mannori, Catinari, Corsini, Salza -- were MIA. I wanted to visit Slitti or Amedei, but I couldn't fit them in the itinerary (and I don't think Amedei takes all comers anyway).
Comment by Duffy Sheardown on October 27, 2009 at 3:41pm
I did enjoy it - but I'm not really sure why. Because it's in Italy, which I love. Because it's in Perugia, which is my favourite city in the world (so far...). The atmosphere was friendly and nobody seemed stressed out or annoyed by the crowds or the queues. Perugia is worth a visit at any time of year. We went for the jazz festival before remembering that we don't like jazz - any excuse will do.
I was suprised not to be able to find Amedei or Slitti anywhere - I think I trawled all the stalls.
Comment by SU on October 27, 2009 at 1:12pm
Weren't the crowds amazing?! We were there on the 16th & 17th. When we arrived there weren't many crowds (I think it was the first day). I wandered around that evening cataloging stalls to visit, but the next day was packed! Completely forgot it was Saturday. We spent the morning exploring the non Eurochocolate parts of Perugia before spending the afternoon and evening in the mix. We actually had fun getting into the insane lines for freebies and fighting our way up the queue for chocs. I'm gonna post my chocolate haul on my blog here to show off the massive quantities of chocolate bought. Only about a fifth of it was from Eurochocolate - most was from visiting individual chocolatiers (Luca Mannori your pastries are worth killing for!). Perugia was one our favorite cities - I definitely want to go to Eurochocolate again!

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