Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sin City Chocolate Festival

On Saturday night, July 7, the Venetian Ballroom was THE place to be for foodies, especially those with a sweet tooth.  The occasion was the Las Vegas Chocolate Festival and Pastry Show, and Mike and I were not going to miss it. We even sprang for VIP tix so we could get into the party an hour early.

Garden of Lemon Cake Pops, dipped in white chocolate, by Sweet Ruby Jane Confections
As we walked in, we were each handed a keepsake wine glass, etched with the event logo. It was generously sized and and pretty, but it was awkward to tote around while trying to juggle samples and taking photos.

The event featured the best chocolate and pastry chefs in Las Vegas. I was particularly excited to sample the soda-and-cocktail treats from Pick Your Poison Bake Shop.   The Get Loopy Cake Pop was multicolored and infused with vodka.  The surprising grape-flavored interior made me laugh out loud. 

Get Loopy Cake Pop from Pick Your Poison
The interior was grape-flavored cake!

Some of the items were nearly full size, so I tried to take just a single bite and savor it.  In some cases, things were so yummy - like the chocolate-covered cheesecake bites - that it was hard not to gobble it all down.   The Fudge Brownie Cookies from Sweet Ruby Jane Confections melted in our mouths.  Mike and I seriously considered storming the table, stuffing our pockets, and then making a run for it.

Fudge Brownie Cookies from Sweet Ruby Jane Confections

Puur Chocolat Passion Fruit Chocolates...
with basil seeds inside.  Very unusual!

An unlikely star in this constellation of amazing chocolatiers was the chef at Orleans Arena. I didn't catch his name, but I sure caught the fever for his White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding.  Wow!  The silky texture was accented by a hint of crunch from the nut topping, and the chocolate flavors both stood out and blended beautifully.  Mike doesn't like bread pudding, but he was in gastronomic heaven after trying this one.  Plus, how darling are those tiny martini glasses?!

White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding by Orleans Arena

Blueberry Pancake Cupcake with an icing push-pop from Goodie Girls
Strawberry Shortcake Apple Slices

The edibles were paired with champagne, wine and other spirits.

If we were inclined to feel guilty about such a hedonistic evening (which we definitely were not!), the fact that the event benefitted St. Jude Children's Hospital eased any concerns. The charity received the net proceeds from this show.

We had a nice evening and thoroughly enjoyed the extraordinary artistry and delicious flavor combinations of the chefs' creations.

Unfortunately, it was difficult to truly savor the treats and spirits.  Only one vendor offered plates, and we didn't find them until late in our tasting tour.  So we spent a lot of time balancing goodies on paper napkins and squeezing into one of the few-and-far-between hightop tables to set things down.  Besides the lack of tables, there was no seating.  There was plenty of room for seating and more tables, so I'm not sure why the Venetian didn't provide them. 

Also, when we asked a server for water, she told us there wasn't any.  A half hour later, we discovered a water station in the back of the room in the corner.  It would have been good to know it was there much earlier on, so we could cleanse our palates before the next tasting.

While I'd love to attend the Vegas Wine & Food Festival coming up in September, I'm not sure it's going to be worth the price of admission if the facilities aren't improved.

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