Miami Fine Chocolate and Food Show: Not Wonkaville

Would you wait 20 minutes for a bite of fine chocolate? If so, then you might have enjoyed the Miami Fine Chocolate and Food Show, held this past weekend at Pinecrest Gardens.

We're not sure if the show producers were worried about rain or warm weather affecting the delicate confections, but the chocolate vendors were squeezed into two tight indoor spaces -- leading to dozens of people waiting for a chance to go in and sample their wares. Meanwhile, up the road, vendors selling knives, cookware, meat delivery, and pastas looked slightly bored.

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The $40 admission ($35 in advance) included 15 sample tickets but that didn't contain much purchasing power, as vendors asked for as much as five tickets for a sip of wine, a bite of truffle, or a brownie. After that, it was time to break out the wallet and start paying ala carte, making this sweet afternoon filled with added expenses.

If you wanted something more substantial than a brownie, there were about a dozen food vendors. In addition to the usual festival gyros, the AZ Canteen food truck sold a spicy gumbo, Jack's offered single-serving pizzas from their portable wood-fired oven, and Spartico at the Mayfair Hotel sold chicken sliders.

Though Pinecrest Gardens is a beautiful venue, the show was scattered throughout the location. Upon entry, there were no maps to guide you through the garden's winding paths and even though we covered what we thought to be the entire garden twice, we felt as though a good chunk of the show was missed-- or the show didn't attract that many vendors.

All told, if the admission was, say $10, we would have thought the show successful, but for a $40 price tag, we expected a Wonka-like world of endless chocolate and drink instead of the few bites of candy we received.

People lined up for one of the two chocolate tasting areas.

Pig-shaped chocolate and bacon bon bons by SusyPops.

Paul Joachim poses with his larger-than-life LeBron James -- made from cake and chocolate.

Each silk purse contains a chocolate from Flying Noir.

AZ Canteen's oyster and crab gumbo was rich and spicy.

Our favorite bite: Cayenne pepper-laced chocolate from Miami-based Ronanicos.

Speaking of spicy, we loved Blackie's Best Gourmet Pepper Sauce, made with local Redlands peppers.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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