If a roomful of chocolate is your idea of bliss, the Winelands Chocolate Festival on 20 and 21 August is a must. Bringing together the best local chocolatiers, patissiers and chefs, it’s all about indulging the inner chocoholic and enjoying a leisurely day out in the winelands.
The festival, which started in 2015, is the inspiration of Di Burger, who was looking for a new project after publishing her book, Chocolate’s African Odyssey. “I was quite surprised to unearth a slowly developing artisanal, quality chocolate industry in SA,” says Di. “One with huge potential that embraced creative entrepreneurs – from chocolatiers to pastry chefs. People were definitely embracing good quality dark chocolate. Chocolate that tasted like chocolate!” She was overwhelmed by the response last year, with crowds filling the beautifully decorated venue to overflowing.
This year, there is three times the space at Blaauwklippen Wine Estate near Stellenbosch, spreading through the manor house and its gardens. For Di part of the excitement is “discovering a world of flavours depending on the terroir or the type of bean – even before you add any flavour to it. It is just like wine and just like coffee. It is fascinating!”
The 60 exhibitors include veteran bean to bar chocolate makers CocoaFair and newcomers Afrikoa Chocolate; chocolatiers Von Geusau, My Sugar, and Le Delizie; raw chocolate from Honest Chocolate and Monatê Chocolate; and many more of South Africa’s best. If pure indulgence is what you’re after, book ahead for one of the Lindt chocolate teas on the front veranda, where you can enjoy exquisite chocolate-inspired patisserie with a glass of MCC. Relax in your seat afterwards with more bubbles and a prime view of the fashion and jewellery show. There’s more patisserie and confectionary to indulge in in the Patisserie Garden with live music, or you can attend one of the demos by Abigail Donnelly (food editor, Taste Magazine), Dimo Simatos (Lindt chef) and Alice Toich (The Playful Baker).
If all this sweetness is too much of a good thing, book the kids into a play workshop, escape to the elegant MCC courtyard to enjoy some top MCCs with canapes, sign up for an MCC masterclass, and visit the food and wine area for lunch where gourmet food stalls and legendary food trucks provide savoury treats.
Words: Kit Heathcock