Last week Caputo’s held their Second Annual Chocolate Festival featuring Ritual Chocolate. Four of Ritual’s chocolates were showcased by four chefs, paired with four beverages. All the proceeds went to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation, a non-profit organization focused on preserving threatened strains of cacao in their native growing regions.
Ritual Chocolate is a craft chocolate company based out of Denver that Matt Caputo says is one of the country’s best chocolate makers. Founders Anna and Robbie were at the festival to teach people about their chocolate and introduce their newest creation, the Nib Bar–a Belize bar with crunchy bits of Madagascar nibs mixed in.
The festival was organized so guests could wander to each chocolate or drink station at their leisure, taking time to talk to the chefs about their dish and mingle with one another. It was a great improvement from last year’s hectic event.
Ritual’s Costa Rica Chocolate was featured by Naked Fish in collaboration with Viet Pham (of Forage/Ember+Ash). They created a Chocolate Crémeux with Umeboshi and Shiso Leaf, balancing the plum and blackberry flavors of the Costa Rica with bits of saltiness and tartness.
The Balao, a dark floral-flavored chocolate, was the secret ingredient in Ryan Lowder of Copper Onion‘s dish :: Chocolate Picada over Duck Confit and Poached Pear. This was the most complex dish of the night, and my favorite. I loved the way the rich duck contrasted with the sweet pears and crunchy seeds.
Leslie Seggar of Tulie Bakery featured the Madagascar chocolate, with hints of citrus and roasted peanut flavors, in her Gateau au Chocolat with High West Rendezvous Rye Whiskey with Hazelnut Crust, Créme Chantilly and Orange. It was an intensely rich, dense flourless chocolate cake that easily could have been split between several people.
On a much lighter note, the Belize chocolate was the focus of Serge Smith and Carter Light of Silver Restaurant‘s dish, a Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich with Vanilla Shortbread Wafers. The complexity of the Belize, with flavors of raisin, dried figs and tobacco, were subtle but evident in the ice cream sandwich.
The beverage pairings included Guatemala Guay’b from Charming Beard Coffee, Campfire Whiskey by High West Distillery, Brainless IPA beer by Epic Brewing and Cleto Chiarli Grasparossa Lambrusco Amabile courtesy of Libation LLC. Not to mention Ritual drinking chocolate (the most incredible version of “hot chocolate” I’ve ever tasted) that we had right when we walked in the door. It wasn’t clear which dish paired with which drink, but our guesses worked well enough.
The night was another one of Caputo’s fun, informative events. To find out about future events like this, sign up for Caputo’s newsletter here or follow them on twitter here. Also check out photographer Austen Diamond’s awesome photos from the festival here.
Disclaimer :: I was graciously treated to this event by Caputo’s. All opinions are my own.