SOME of us sneak a piece after dinner, others feel the urge to combat the 3pm energy drop, but few can resist the allure of chocolate.
This Sunday marks World Chocolate Day, the perfect excuse to head to Hunter Region chocolate cafes, patisseries and more to tuck into some delicious chocolate.
The celebration coincides with an annual event for chocolate lovers in our region – the sixth Hunter Valley Gardens Chocolate Festival, which attracts the best chocolatiers and patisserie chefs from across the country, including Adriano Zumbo himself, who show off their skills when it comes to chocolate and baking.
The festival includes two days of live bakery and patisserie kitchen demonstrations, market stalls and the chance to watch the professionals in action as they compete in the Callebaut Showpiece and Entremets competitions.
MasterChef’s Zumbo, famous for pushing the limits of his trade, will take part in the live bakery and patisserie kitchen program on Saturday morning.
Ed Halmagyi, aka Fast Ed, of Better Homes and Gardens, returns to the Hunter Region again this year to talk all things chocolate.
Newcastle’s own chocolate superstar Dean Gibson – world champion chocolatier, TAFE educator and captain of the Australian Pastry Team – will be demonstrating his exceptional baking and chocolate skills.
He’ll also judge the Callebaut Showpiece Competition, in which entrants from across the country create desserts to win a chance to travel to Belgium to train at the Callebaut Chocolate Academy.
Rounding out the Newcastle representation is someone Gibson called ‘‘Newcastle’s best baker’’, Dean Tilden.
Travelling a little further for the festival are Brisbane-based award-winning baker Brett Noy, Savour Chocolate School’s Kirsten Tibballs and Anna Polyviou, of Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney.
The Hunter Region will also be represented by Lennert de Visser, of Exquisite Cakes by Lennert (130 Vincent Street, Cessnock).
De Visser and a team of apprentices will compete in Sunday’s Callebaut Chocolate Entremets competition.
For more on the chocolate festival and tickets visit huntervalleygardens.com.au.
Searching for other places for a chocolate fix this weekend?
There are plenty to choose from, here are just a few:
❏Charlestown’s Max Brenner (Charlestown Square Shopping Centre) is open seven days, day and night (until 11pm or midnight depending on the day) and is a haven for chocoholics, who often queue out the door waiting for their fix.
❏In the Hunter Valley, Wyndham Estate (700 Dalwood Road, Dalwood via Branxton) takes the chocolate appreciation up a notch with their Wine and Chocolate Master Classes.
Held this Saturday and Sunday at 2pm in the cellar door, the sessions feature a selection of the Wyndham Estate wines, including their extensive shiraz blends, matched with premium chocolate from Brix that has been designed to perfectly complement the wines.
Limited places, bookings essential on 49383444.
❏Cooks Hill’s Coco Monde Chocolateria (80 Darby Street) is also bursting with chocolatey goodness, boasting a range of handcrafted chocolates, treats and desserts as well as an extensive savoury menu.
❏Wests New Lambton’s Chocolate Bar takes chocolate fountains to new heights with their one-metre creation, cascading with milk chocolate, and a menu including strawberries dipped in milk chocolates, thick Italian hot chocolate and more.
❏This weekend’s Olive Tree Market (The Junction Public School, 9am to 3pm) also has stalls including Cocoa Nib and Sugar Jones, offering a variety of chocolate treats.
❏Meanwhile, Sunday’s Newcastle City Farmers Market (Newcastle Showground, Broadmeadow, 8am to 1pm) also has options including handmade chocolates