January 24, 2012
This weekend, in celebration of our upcoming Food Issue, Distraction was at the International Chocolate Festival at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables. The annual celebration of everything chocolate has been six years running, and it normally sees chocolate vendors and other confectioners flock to South Florida to show off their creations and sell their products. Fairchild, funded and operated by the Miami-Dade County government, is one of the world’s preeminent collections of tropical plants (some of them quite rare), and has conducted horticultural and agricultural research on tropical species since its opening in 1938. The park frequently hosts festivals for economically important tropical plants, with the annual Orchid and Mango Festivals in the spring and summer regularly the most well-attended.
1. Chocolate Making – A volunteer demonstrates the process of making authentic colonial-style cocoa for MARS, the maker of the iconic M&M’s chocolate candy. In this shot, the volunteer demonstrates how chocolate is simultaneously ground down and melted against a heated stone in order to achieve the right consistency.
2. European Cinnamon Horn – Hungarian natives Laszlo and Anna Boros demonstrate the process of making kürtőskalács, traditional Hungarian sugar-coated spiral pastries. The couple can usually be spotted at parties and various events rolling the freshly-baked pastries in their signature cinnamon-sugar coating, hence the name of their business, European Cinnamon Horn, but at the International Chocolate Festival, they were rolling their treats in a special sugar-cocoa mixture, in addition to the traditional cinnamon.
3. American Heritage Chocolate – UM freshman Andre Naranjo, who has volunteered for Fairchild for the last four years, prepares MARS brand old-fashioned American Heritage Chocolate for sampling by festival attendees. The mix is prepared in the same way as cocoa from the colonial era, and includes hints of various spices such as vanilla, anise, salt, and red pepper.
4. Sweet Personalities – Edible images made of chocolate are sold by Sweet Personalities “Chocolography” at Fairchild’s International Chocolate Festival. Top-sellers included chocolate CD cases (top & bottom right) and college-themed wafers (bottom left).
5. Oliver Kita Chocolatier – A worker for New York confectioner Oliver Kita sells truffles at the International Chocolate Festival. In addition to exotically-flavored truffles, the chocolatier is known for vegan and organic chocolates as well as more unconventional products such as chocolate Bhuddas.
6. Lavande Citronade – A closer view of the intricately crafted truffles sold by Oliver Kita. The two different types of truffles here are hinted with flavors of lavender and citrus (top) and grapefruit (bottom).