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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Sunday, June 16

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Event Tue Oct 22 2013

Sweet! It's the Chicago Fine Chocolate and Dessert Show!

dsc_2674.jpgCarl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, called the cacao plant Theobroma cacao, or "food of the gods." Aptly named, as chocolate was once considered sacred by Mesoamerican warriors and the privileged elite, who consumed this naturally-bitter substance for power and virility. But we can thank our European ancestors for modern-day chocolate, a sweet combination of cocoa, fat and sugar that American women shove into their mouths by the fistfuls.

Like many serotonin-loving humans, I cannot resist good chocolate, and last weekend's Chicago Fine Chocolate and Dessert Show was the perfect fix. The public event featured more than 30 artisanal chocolate vendors, as well as culinary presentations, demonstrations and seminars, and art displays.

From chocolate-covered cashews (Betty Jane Candies) to chocolate-dipped pretzels (Sweet Secrets) to Guinness stout truffles (Chocolate for the Spirit), the show was as suited for the glutton as it was for the culinary artist. Moroccan saffron chocolate truffles (Les Palmeraies) intrigued the palette while delicately-crafted bons bons glistened like expensive gems (Mayana Chocolate).

dsc_2632.jpgI spent the first half engorging myself with samples, including soap-like hunks of cheesecake fudge, butter nut toffees (Four Brothers), pumpkin seed chocolate bars (sweet Designs), rum-drenched cake (Wicked Jack's Tavern), and my favorite--rose lychee macaroons from Macaron Cafe, an authentic NYC-based bakery owned by a real French pastry chef. I washed everything down with numerous chocolate-inspired drinks, including a tasty iced beverage from Patrick Fahy (executive pastry chef from Sixteen Restaurant).
dsc_2683.jpg As my insulin levels soared to precarious levels, I decided to explore the art display section, where chefs from organizations like The French Pastry School and edibleartists network showcased magnificent creations of crystal sugar and carved fondant. Seeing these intricate sculptures firsthand is nothing like watching Ace of Cakes or Top Chef Just Desserts--it amazed me how chocolate pieces and white sugar turned into towering sculptures that barely looked edible.

dsc_2661.jpgExcept for being one step closer to diabetes, I was overall quite pleased with my experience. These shows not only give average consumers an opportunity to experience rare artisanal creations, but they also provide crucial feedback for vendors and artists trying to perfect and advance their craft. It's a fantastic marketplace for delicious sweets, but just as importantly, a marketplace for great ideas.

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dan / October 22, 2013 11:34 PM

I love macarons, and those look great.If you are game to learn the craft of making macarons that look just as good as shop-bought - see the macaron master

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

The State of Food Writing

By Brandy Gonsoulin

In 2009, food blogging, social media and Yelp were gaining popularity, and America's revered gastronomic magazine Gourmet shuttered after 68 years in business. Former Cook's Illustrated editor-in-chief Chris Kimball followed with an editorial, stating that "The shuttering of Gourmet reminds...
Read this feature »

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Drive-Thru is the food and drink section of Gapers Block, covering the city's vibrant dining, drinking and cooking scene. More...
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