Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chocofest 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Jon & I celebrated our first Valentine's Day as husband & wife a few days early... at Chocofest 2013! And it would not be an exaggeration to say it was the Best. Valentine's. Day. Ever.

Jon bought tickets for us to go to Chocofest! Let me tell you all about it. And relive my culinary ecstasy.

First of all, it was at the Pike Brewing Company which is (1) an easy walk from our home - no public transportation or designated driver needed and (2) a pretty cool place - they actually have a museum of microbrews and (3) huge! Which will be more important once you hear about all the stuff they fit in there!

It was held from 5pm-8pm Sunday evening.  I would guess there were maybe a few hundred people in attendance, but, like I said, the place is pretty big, so it didn't feel too crowded or anything.

When we entered and checked in, we received a map of the vendors, a small commemorative glass to use for the drink tastings, and ten drink tickets (news flash - ten drinks, even small ones, in 3 hours is a lot!)  I meant to take photos but I had my hands full with the glass and a small plate, and, fine, I was too excited to grab more tastes!

Inside, there were 12 chocolatiers, 19 distilleries, 17 brewers, 11 vintners, 16 restaurants, 7 bakeries, a shellfish farm, a bitters maker, two cheese mongers (who doesn't love "mongers"?) and a coffee house.  All were set up with tables eagerly giving out samples. You had to exchange a ticket for an alcoholic drink, presumably to keep people from being "overserved."

We didn't consult the map, we just kind of wandered around. Naturally, the areas closest to the entrance were the most crowded, because everyone wanted to stop and try the first sample they saw, while some of the further corners were much emptier. We, too, tried every sample we saw at first, but as we got more full, we were forced to be more selective.

We ate a lot. I mean, a lot. It would be impossible for me to name everything we tried. But I will name some of our favorites: Pike Pub baby back ribs served with Pike Kilt Lifter bbq sauce, Seastar Restaurant's porcini mushroom soup with black truffle creme (possibly my favorite item! I love soup!), three different delicious local oysters from Taylor Shellfish, Confectional's salted caramel cheesecake bites dipped in deep chocolate on a salted crust, Mt. Townsend cheese dusted with Theo's spicy chile chocolate, RN74's crunchy chocolate profiteroles with homemade rocky road ice cream (ok, can I pick one more favorite?), Art Restaurant (they're also the home of the amazing Chocolate buffet!) served Northwest salmon profiteroles (ok, now this was my favorite! definitely!)

I did take one photo (mostly because there was a line, so I had time to prepare):
This is the man from Taylor Shellfish showing us the three different types of oysters. We had one of each. This was the only place where we waited in any line, it was only a few minutes, but he told each person about each of the oysters and shucked them for us and we slurped them right there. Salty, sweet, briny and delicious! 

Taste, the restaurant at Seattle Art Museum, served Chocolate & Stout sandwich cookies. Cafe Lago served delicious meatballs in tomato sauce. Fran's chocolate (located at the Four Seasons, just like Art Restaurant) served smoked salt caramel and grey salt caramel. One is Michelle Obama's favorite, the other Barack's. Oh, now I'm remembering Trace, in the W hotel, served a great duck confit with camembert. Trophy cupcakes had mini caramel chocolate stout cupcakes. I'm feeling full just writing all of this! Ok, wait... let me mention one more favorite: Homegrown's Nutella Fluffernutter warm sandwich, you choose with or without bacon. I went with the bacon, and it was amazing. How could it not be?

As for drinking - we didn't even come close to using our ten drink tickets. I could probably have ten small glasses of one wine if I took it slow, but mix in liquor and liqueurs, etc.?  Not going to happen. We loved the Clear Creek Distillery Cranberry Liqueur, and a nice mix of a chocolate stout and a raspberry lambic which tasted like a chocolate covered raspberry, and champagne Philippe Fontaine.

At each table, we got to talk to the chefs and producers, and some even offered discounts for future visits to their establishments.

There was also live music and a silent auction, and the whole thing was to benefit the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance.  What a great cause!

Overall, it was a fantastic night and definitely the best Valentine's ever. This whole married thing is working for me. I'm already looking forward to Chocofest 2014!

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