Food & Dining, Lifestyle, Misc., Reviews, Stories

SMOOTH FESTIVAL OF CHOCOLATE…HEAVEN

When: 10th -11th September

Where: The Rocks

Smoooooooth Chocolate. Mmmmm, even the name of this festival was enough to grab my attention and keep me coming back year after year.

I am a self-confessed chocoholic and the line-up for this year’s Smooth Festival of Chocolate was bigger than ever before! Hurray! (said my stomach, not so much the diet…oh well we all deserve a cheat day…or two… right? Weekends don’t even count. So, that’s what I told myself as I hopped onto the train on my way to chocolate town, aka The Rocks, Circular Quay)

Let’s get straight into business – The whole festival was divided into key feature areas in and around the Rocks so you could follow the signage from the First Fleet Park all the way around to Argyle St.

HIGHLIGHTS:

Gelato Messina – Gelato Messina always creates innovative icecreams specifically for the festival and they never fail to impress! I opted for the KIRSCH KUCHEN KONEN – a black waffle cone filled with creamy chocolate fondant gelato, kirsch cream, cherry jam and chocolate sponge covered in white choc AND rolled in dark chocolate flakes! It was crunchy, smooth, creamy and spongy all in one hit, like a black forest cake smashed into a cone…it’s a yes from me!

I don’t know how, but I managed to stop half way through engulfing the whole thing to take some foodie snaps to upload to my Instagram (yes, I’m one of those!). The picture ended up getting re-posted on the Official Smooth Choc Fest Insta page, another like (or should I say double tap) from me.

Zumbo’s Just Desserts – Zumbo Zumbo, you always have to sell out too soon don’t you! The amazing “Gaytime Macaron Icecream Sandwich” was gone before I could finish pronouncing it all. If you missed out on the gaytime greatness you could always take a happy snap with the life-sized sweets and tag it all on Instagram, #dessertstagram.

Chocolatiers’ Quarters – This was by far my favourite hall of them all. All the chocolate genius artisans rounded up, stall after stall, ready for you to try and buy. I spent way too much money here but it really was money well spent. From Pavlova inspired bars at Sydney’s Chocolate to Milk Candlyland at Chocolab, I was seriously in choc-heaven. We also feasted on delectable rose-water cheesecake topped with delicate petals and pistachios and a salted caramel popcorn layered mousse cup. Internationally renowned Chocolate Sculptor, Dean Gibson, showed off his skills live at the show. By creating a 1.7m tall Pumpkin Head Scare-crow to showcase he sure had many heads turning to see it all come together. Everyone gathered round to take more pictures of this masterpiece in the making. I just wanted to eat it. Moving along.

The Bilpin Cider Co Garden Bar – So, Bilpin Cider Co were the key sponsor for this beautiful bar area that resembled something quite similar to the Citi Bank VIP Area at the Night Noodle Markets – umbrellas, string lights, timber flooring and cute hay stacked seating. This set a really chilled vibe and was constantly packed out. Personally, I really couldn’t mix cider and chocolate so my eyes lit up when I saw The Lindt Lounge adjacent to the bar. Let’s go!

The Lindt Lounge – Waiting in line we were greeted with free samples of Lindt balls and dark chocolate squares by well-dressed men in aprons and pastry chef uniforms. We then ordered our chocolate bars with whatever message we wanted ($8 each bar). One of my closest friends bought me a block saying “you’re sweeter than chocolate.” I think by that time I was also full of chocolate. Lindt did a great job at keeping the crowds interested by having light-hearted conversations with us and conducting a “taste testing” session as we all waited in line. There were also beanbags and cool tunes to set the mood and have time out. Only problem was trying to get up once you nestled yourself into a nice, comfy beanbag…I was officially in a food coma.

Darrell Lea Choc Lea Chill Out – Another Willy Wonka Inspired Set-Up that was really cute and so many people were taking more and more snaps with the life-sized lollypops and purchasing some Darrell Lee treats on the way out.

“Real Food” – What I also liked about the festival was that it didn’t just satify your sweet tooth, but also your savoury tastebuds too! A whole street was deciated to “real food” with the likes of our favourites Hoy Pinoi, Bao Stop, Thainabox, Yalla Yalla, Gormet Gozleme, Danieli, Hero Sushi, Spanish Tapas Bar and Illias The Greek. Yes, we also had a Lebanese mixed plate from Yalla Yalla and some lamb and kangaroo skewers from Danieli. My excuse was that the Festival was open until 8:00pm so technically this was our dinner.

LOWLIGHTS:

Bring cash with out because the ATM lines are so long you’ll want to walk an extra block to find another one.

Although the festival is “free entry” the chocolate, gelato and everything you will want to purchase is pretty pricey (although in my books, everything was totally worth it.)

Get in early if you don’t want to miss the limited edition cakes and creations from famous pastry chefs and chocolatiers. (Don’t worry Zumbo, I’ll be first in line next year.)

The only parts of the festival I missed out on were the “The Callebaut Test Kitchen”

And “Smooth Star’s Stage” – Industry-leading chefs such as Gigi from Zumbo’s Just Desserts and Shangri-La’s Anna Polyviou, went head to head to create a unique dessert for audiences to see and taste themselves – these key feature areas were just too busy!

OVERALL EXPERIENCE: My friends and I absolutely had a ball at the Smooth Festival of Chocolate. If there was one thing I can take away from this experience from an event perspective it would be that people love a venue with a view. The Rocks really created such a beautiful atmosphere and I felt like a tourist in my beautiful city. Also, that providing visitors with endless choices is paramount. So if you were feeling like a sweet, sugary glazed doughnut or a Napolitana pizza, or a choc-dipped mango or a steaming hot meaty skewer – it was all there to enjoy! I returned from the festival with a whole bag of goodies to tame my chocolate addiction for another two weeks. (okay maybe just two days). Overall, the Smooth Festival of Chocolate was an incredibly fun, laid-back, awesome and absolutely indulgent event.

Was it all a dream…I guess the scales will tell me tomorrow.

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