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Chocolate Back To Its Roots

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 8, 2008 3:30PM

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, it seems like it wouldn’t take much to convince people to stop by a chocolate festival. The promise of free goodies should be enough to lure any young lady, or the boy who’s trying to woo her, to swing by and sample something sinful. But the tree-hugging naturalists among us that crave a deeper connection with our food will find the 9th Annual Chocolate Festival at the Garfield Park Conservatory especially inviting.

2008_02_cacao_beans.gifWhile this event will have everything a sweet tooth could hope for, it focuses on the plant origins of the sugary treats we love. The cacao bean has been the star of the show the last eight years, but this year the festival is expanding to include a handful of other fruiting trees that are the source of many common candies.

Guests will be schooled on everything from sugar cane to the carnauba palm, seeing first-hand how these natural elements turn into decadent desserts (and then, of course, cavities). Activities include Candy Education Stations where you can see up close how snacks like cinnamon candies and orange slices are made. No doubt this will create an appreciation for the Gummi Bear no one ever thought possible. There will also be live demonstrations by local pastry artists. Bakers like CakeWalk Chicago will be giving out lessons, free samples and their recipes to boot.

This chocoholic retreat is also a fantastic place to stock up, considering Fanny May, Godiva, Baskin-Robbins and many others will be there to empty your wallet and fill your tummy. There’s even a Valentine card-making station at the Fest. Ok, it’s for the kids, but you can nudge your way in there. Swing by the flower shop on the way home and you’re all set for next week.

The 9th Annual Chocolate Festival will be held at Garfield Park Conservatory on Saturday, February 9 and Sunday, February 10, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Suggested donation is $1.

Image by toe2000_99