Fairchild's fifth annual chocolate festival this past weekend went, pleasantly, as most of the other Garden's events do -- a themed excuse to buy festival foods and trinkets, of course, check out the gardens. The only downside was the day we attended, Saturday, was marred by gloomy skies and drizzling rain. Oh well. Hedy Goldsmith's packed biscotti- and chocolate jelly-making demo saved the day (recipes here on the Genuine Kitchen blog), as did, as usual, gelato from Dolci Peccati.
The real highlight of the festival, though, was in the garden's indoor pavilion, where local (and not local) chocolate distributors and artisans displayed their wares.
Hordes crowded the tables in the hopes of snagging a few samples or even purchasing wares, which ranged from tiny, spicy truffles, to imported dark bars, to creamsicle-chocolate-filled ice cream cones. Here is some of the locally made deliciousness on display, and where you can get the goods outside of Fairchild.
1801 Coral Way, Miami; 305-843-9936; romanicoschocolate.com
This chocolate haven on Coral Way had the most slammed table. That was thanks to generous free samples of their own in-house chocolate bars, which, happily, were free of most allergens (including dairy) and featured flavors from mission fig to even sea salt and soy. Their themed boxes of truffles even upstaged these, though.
9563 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami; 305-666-8698; ateliermonnier.com
This French bakery, pastry, and chocolate shop had some purely chocolate confections for sale, but we got distracted by the rest of their colorful display of classic French sweets. Atelier Monnier boasts a boutique in the Dadeland area, but you can also find them at a number of pop-up markets, including the South Miami and Coral Gables farmers' markets on Saturdays, and Pinecrest and Lincoln Road on Sundays.
1840 NE 164th St., North Miami Beach; 305-944-3020; lechocolatier.com
At Fairchild, this North Miami Beach proffered a table overflowing with classic, crowd-pleasing favorites, like peanut butter truffles and almond bark. If you visit their North Miami Beach showroom, though, you can order custom creations and chocolate for special diets: Cholov Yisroel and parve/lactose-free.
Sherbear Chocolates/Candy Cotttage
This custom candy and chocolate operation showcased some of the most kid-friendly treats at the festival. Yes, those are chocolate-covered Rice Krispies treats in the shape of Spongebob. The orange-and-white treats were creamsicle flavored!
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15545 SW 112th Way, Miami; 305-408-5545; firstname.lastname@example.org
Okay, so this isn't a local chocolate shop, but rather a distributor of imported Ecuadorian chocolate. We were particularly taken with one that offered an extreme 91 percent cacao per bar! The chocolate hails from the province of Emeraldas and the cacao is grown by the APROCA cooperative (Association of Organic Cacao Growers of the Canton of Atacames). The small, environmentally friendly farms have also been approved by the Rainforest Alliance. The family-run operation is still seeking retail outlets for its delicious-smelling and -tasting offerings.
227 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables; 305-446-3131; peterbrooke.com
The crumbs all over the table here are from the free samples of the franchise's chocolate-covered popcorn, which, with its combination of creamy, crunchy, sweet, and salty, is the answer to 99 percent of snack cravings.
Wendy's Chocolates and Gift Baskets
17858 S. Dixie Hwy., Miami; 305-251-8989; wendyschocolates.com
This 2007 New Times Best of Miami Winner offered a cheerful array of molded and hand-dipped chocolate that's ready for happy gift baskets. What's more, it's probably the only independent chocolate shop in South Miami-Dade.