Sunday, October 24, 2010

Northwest Chocolate Festival

Question: What's brown and sticky?

At any other time, the best answer would be "a stick". On this particular weekend, a better answer would have been "Seattle Center", overrun as the place was by The Northwest Chocolate Festival and hordes of hot-handed, sample-crazed chocophiles. There were booths hosted by manufacturers and confectioners from around the world, expert panels debating fair trade and environmental issues, an adults-only wine garden, and on Saturday night, a chocolate-themed masquerade ball.

I stopped by during my lunch hour on Sunday for a few samples and a demonstration on cooking French-style chocolate macarons given by Antoine Rondenet, an instructor at the Art Institute of Seattle's culinary school. In between ingredient recommendations and technical tips, Chef Rondenet and his assistant delivered some surprisingly funny shtick on the subject of magic ovens and pastry bags full of brown goo. When the finished macarons emerged from the aforementioned oven, the audience lept up from its orderly rows of folding chairs and swarmed the stage (so much for the mellowing properties of all those "feel-good" chemicals in chocolate). My "free" macaron (below) actually cost me several bruises and a smidgen of self-respect.

Chef Rondenet's recipe is available on his blog, "Food and Pastry".

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