March 24, 2013
Oregon’s Chocolate Festival is held annually at the Ashland Springs Hotel in Ashland. The festival features the elegance of a big city in the comfort of a small town. As you move through the hotel’s Grand Ballroom, Crystal Room and Conservatory which are filled with vendors you will run into the local artisan event lovers such as me, along with people visiting from an array of areas all around. It brings together nearly 50 of Oregon’s premier chocolatiers, coffee roasters, breweries, wineries and other vendors and over 1500 visitors.
From traditional hand rolled truffles, enrobed in the finest chocolates, to chocolate-filled soft pretzels, chocolate cupcakes, toffee, and hot chocolate you can “pick your poison” as you make your way through the day. Something else to note during this event are the numerous ways you can cleanse your pallet with wine and beer vendors available for tasting. This year’s brew comes from Standing Stone Brewing Co and Eugene-based Oakshire Brewing Co. Standing Stone’s very own Larry Chase, brewer, even created a divine Chocolate Ale in celebration of the festival!!!
Collaboration is key when it comes to marrying flavors, and Oregon’s food aficionados do just that. Whether you’re after a cheddar with just a smidgen of chocolate, a pinot gris truffle, or just a piece of good old fashioned fudge, the Oregon Chocolate Festival has something for every palate. You can try unique combinations, unexpected flavor profiles, and decadent infusions with truffles, bars, crunchy toffees, marshmallows, drinking chocolate, chocolate flavored cheeses, chewy cookies, cupcakes, sauces and syrups, chocolate covered nuts, ice cream and other gooey, delicious goodness. Personally, my go-to flavor is anything with heat (spicy for the bold tongue) and chocolate filled with cheese (preferably blue) such as the Lille Belle truffle. In addition to the tasting itself, the festival offers a number of events for all ages.
Festival attractions include:
Main Event: Meet, sample & buy! – Over 50 Oregon chocolatiers and other specialty food vendors present their products and tease your palate with decadent and exciting flavors! (Saturday & Sunday 11am – 3pm at the hotel).
Chocolate – themed First Friday Art Walk organized by the Ashland Gallery Association (Friday, 5 – 8pm). Enjoy diverse forms of art, local wines and chocolates. Stop by Ashland Springs Hotel and view Chocolate Sculpture built by Chocolatier/Pastry Chef Darrell Folck and OCCI Students, and visit with other artists and vendors showcased in the hotel lobby.
Chocolate Makers Dinner (Friday, 6:30 – 9pm) Larks Executive Chef, Damon Jones created a delightful four-course dinner featuring chocolate in each dish. Dinner is accompanied by presentation from a chocolatier.
Chef Demos: (Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday) – stop by Ashland Springs Hotel lobby to experience great culinary event, Chef demonstrations by chefs from Ichigo Cakes, MIX Sweet Shop, Larks Restaurant, Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, LOFT Brasserie and more.
Baking Class at Deux Chats Bakery – learn how to make Chocolate dough croissants with pear, cinnamon & Belgian chocolate fill – a 3-hour class.
Chocolate Facial & Martini Spa Party – Saturday, 4pm at Lithia Springs Resort – Join us for an evening of delicious cocktails and pampering. Spend time with Waterstone Spa technicians and learn about the powerful benefits of chocolate that can be applied to your skin care regiment.
Beer & Chocolate Pairings – with Ginger Johnson from Women Enjoying Beer (offered Saturday & Sunday)
Best tasting chocolates in the world – guided, sensory tasting. – with Charlie Douglass from Harry & David (Sat & Sun)
“From Bean to Bar” – making the best chocolate bars in the world. – with Art Pollard from Amano Chocolate (Sun)
Candy-making workshop for kids at the ScienceWorks Hands on Museum – Hands-on workshop for children – learn to make chocolate truffles, dip candy, pretzels and fruits in chocolate. It’s an interactive, multi-sensory experience for those future chocolatiers and bakers! Museum fees apply. Saturday, March 2 at 11:30 and 12:30pm
Wine & Chocolate pairing at the Enoteca – a wine bar located in downtown Ashland, Friday, March 1st
Chocolate treatments at Waterstone Spa & Salon – enjoy blissful massage, body scrub and other treatments designed to utilize beneficial antioxidants found in chocolate!
Chocolate discount at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Oregon Cabaret Theatre – Chocolate & theatre! Call OSF or OCT box office, mention ‘chocolate’ and receive 20% discount for the shows on March 1-3, 2013
Harry and David would like to continue the chocolate festivities at the Country Village location! For this reason they set up a shuttle bus to and from their store and the festival.
Chocolate Tasting Party – Come sample chocolate wines and beers, chocolate cheeses, get a strawberry hand-dipped in our chocolate fountain, and try our most popular chocolate goodies. Friday, Saturday and Sunday
Chocolate Festival Overnight package at the Ashland Springs Hotel – includes two tickets to the festival, overnight stay with breakfast, box of chocolate truffles, commemorative chocolate festival mug, 12oz.drinking chocolate from Dagoba Organic Chocolate, plus hotel parking, wireless Internet access, and discounts to hotel’s restaurant LARKS, and hotel’s Waterstone Spa. Ultimate weekend getaway!
CONGRATULATIONS 2013 Oregon Chocolate Festival WINNERS (chosen by guests):
• Best Truffle: Sweet Thang Chocolates – for the Cleopatra Truffle
• Best Raw Chocolate: Karma Katcher Chocolates – for the Orange Rawbanero Truffle
• Best Traditional Use of Chocolate: Exotic Chocolates – for the Lemon Habanero Dark Chocolate
• Best Non-Traditional Use of Chocolate: Dagoba Organic Chocolate – for the Candied Orange Chocolate Bark
• Best Chocolate Candy: Melting Pot Candy Co. – for the Jalapeño Toffee
• Best Use of Chocolate in Baked Goods: Sunstone Artisan Bakery – for the Chocolate filled Soft Pretzel
• Best in Show: Smitten Artisan Truffles
• Honorable Mention: Sunstone Artisan Bakery
• People’s Choice Award: Sweet Thang Chocolates
• Runner Up: The Cupcake Daily
As you can see, this event is well worth the small cost of attending. Karolina and her staff at the hotel work both diligently and creatively to provide us with this opportunity of what I called a “chocolate overdose”. Although this is one of the main artisan (AKA foodie) events Ashland offers every year, they have a variety of other things to attend. Make sure to go to our album on Facebook to view the rest of the photos dedicated to this delicious day of indulging!