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Chocolate to Soothe the Soul

April 14, 2011 6:00 am0 commentsViews: 36
Photos by Nate Okun and Hillary Chapin-Bishop

Photos by Nate Okun and Hillary Chapin-Bishop

by Rebecca M. Alvin

Few foods generate as much delight as chocolate. In its nearly 4,000 years of existence, this food has been used for a variety of purposes – for nourishment, for spiritual ritual, and of course, for the pleasure of eating it. Its scent, its flavor, its texture, and even the very sight of rich, dark chocolate melted over pastries, fruit, and cookies; all combine to provide a multi-sensory delight unmatched by any other food on Earth.

And so it is with great enthusiasm that the Purple Feather Cafй & Treatery presents its 4th Annual Chocolate Festival, April 16th – 18th.

“The hope is to eventually make this a townwide event,” says Purple Feather owner, Peter Okun. Unlike more niche events, “everybody can get on board with a chocolate festival,” he enthuses.

Chocolate can have different connotations for different people and certainly at this time of year, chocolate Easter bunnies and cream-filled chocolate eggs come to mind readily. The Purple Feather takes pride in making chocolate to suit that purpose. In fact, they are organizing a town-wide Easter Egg hunt, as well as creating a signature line of Easter chocolates for purchase.

But the Chocolate Festival goes beyond the whimsical tastes of young Easter revelers with wine-chocolate pairings, artisanal chocolates, and unique chocolate flavor combinations to bring out the complex taste possibilities inherent in this marvelous food.

The festivities kick off on April 16th with the aforementioned Easter Egg Hunt. All are welcome to scour Provincetown looking for the 12 extra large chocolate Easter eggs hidden at various Commercial Street businesses. Finding one is not only an opportunity to eat one, though; they also afford you prizes and gifts from The Purple Feather and other merchants in town.

On April 16th at 7 p.m., the Cafй hosts “A Taste of Purple Feather,” an event geared toward the true chocolate connoisseur, with tastings, wine pairings, single origin chocolates from around the world, and unique chocolate flavor combinations. Admission to this limited seating event are $15 ($5 of which will be donated to the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum), and tickets are available in advance.

Throughout the festival, Barry Callebaut’s new antioxidant-rich Acticoa Chocolates will also be featured. These chocolates, according to Okun, retain the natural antioxidant benefits of chocolate through a special process, whereas most commercial chocolate loses its health benefits through the traditional production process. In addition, there will be some new flavors of gelato and sorbetto, including the intriguing-sounding chocolate Asian pear sorbetto, which is a dairy-free option.

While claims of the health benefits of chocolate (dark, in particular) are becoming increasingly accepted in the medical community (and certainly act to soothe the conscience after eating this guilty pleasure), the real benefit of these delicious treats is in the uplifting of our souls. And now more than ever, the world needs cocoa love.

 

Single Origin Chocolates
We’ve all grown familiar with the varying tastes of coffees and wines from different regions of the world, but what about chocolates? This year’s Chocolate Festival features an array of single origin chocolates, each with its own unique flavor.

Venezuela
This 72% dark chocolate is a harmonious blend of Criollo and Trinitario cacao beans from the regions of Barlovento and Paria Peninsula in Venezuela. It has a complex flavor that mysteriously changes as it melts on your tongue.

Saint-Domingue
This 70 % dark chocolate has a more up front, sweet and smooth taste. Mixing the common Forastero cacao beans with Criollo beans results in a unique taste.

Tanzania
This 75% dark chocolate veers toward the bittersweet end of the chocolate spectrum. It is a powerful flavor, a bit stronger than the others, and less creamy on the tongue.

Ghana
While chocolate snobs are loath to accept milk chocolate, preferring instead the stronger flavor of dark chocolates, this offering from Ghana has an excellent, mild flavor with strong hints of caramel. The 40.5% chocolates are made with a unique cacao bean born out of a cross-breeding of Forastero and Trinitario beans.

Mexico
By far the most unique tasting single origin is the Mexican 66 % dark chocolate. While some describe it as spicy with an almost licorice taste, this tasty delight is dominated by an earthy flavor, as if to remind us that chocolate is, after all, a plant-based delicacy.

The 4th Annual Chocolate Festival will be “dripping in chocolate” at the Purple Feather Café and Treatery, 334 Commercial St., Provincetown, April 16-18. The Great Provincetown Easter Egg Hunt happens April 16th – 23rd. For more information about either event, call 508.487.9100 or visit www.thepurplefeather.com.