I have no problem admitting I’m a homebody when we’re not on vacation. I’m so busy shuttling the kids around during the week and directing homework completion that I would love nothing better than to spend the weekend chilling out at home.
And aside from a few trips to the neighborhood pool or park or perhaps a family outing to a restaurant, I do lounge around at home and stick close to home every weekend. Everything I need for recreation, food and shopping is conveniently located in my little bubble of suburbia.
However, last weekend a friend from college told me she was traveling to Dallas to attend the Dallas Chocolate Festival. She is a really good long-time friend, so I decided to head to downtown Dallas to join her at the festival with my 6-year-old daughter. (Also, chocolate happens to be my very favorite food!)
My daughter and I rode the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) train from Plano to downtown Dallas. I used to take my kids on this train to go to the zoo, but I guess it’s been a few too many years because my daughter had no recollection of ever riding the DART!
She asked if we could visit the train’s snack car and sleep overnight in the train like we did on the Amtrak California Zephyr this past summer. Nope, not that kind of train! Our ride was about 35 minutes.
The Dallas Chocolate Festival was in the F.I.G. building just a few blocks from the St. Paul DART station. On our way there, we stopped to admire the musical show from this fountain in front of the First Dallas Baptist church.
The Dallas Chocolate Festival
I had purchased tickets online prior to the event. My ticket was $35, and my daughter’s was only $5. We had to pick a specific time to enter the vendor area, and we picked the last time slot of the day, 2:30 p.m.
My friend (who is an Austin-based chocolatier) filled me in on the best part of the chocolate festival…the samples! There were 58 vendors participating, and they all had “free” samples to taste. Yahoo!
When we checked in, we were given a program detailing all of the vendors as well as schedule of the demos and lectures. We also picked up to-go boxes in case we couldn’t stomach eating all 58 samples in the span of an hour.
Outside of the vendor section, we checked out the kids’ room. There was a ring toss game and two chocolate fountains. My daughter got to dip marshmallows and graham crackers in dark chocolate. She was fascinated by the chocolate fountain!
From 11:00 – 3:00, there were various demos and lectures. Demos included “Strangely Delicious Chocolate Pairings” and “Bake-less Chocolate Pastries”, and lectures covered topics like “A Tasting History of Chocolate” and “What Goes Into a $10 Chocolate Bar”.
Rows and Rows of Chocolate
At 2:30 sharp, we headed inside the vendor area. We were surrounded by the wonderful smell of chocolate!
The vendors were very diverse and came from all over. While there were several from the Dallas and Austin area, many were from out of state and out of the country! My chocolate-expert friend informed me that the most expensive chocolate in the room was Amedei Tuscany from Pisa, Italy.
The size and content of the free samples varied greatly from vendor to vendor. The vendors with the most expensive chocolate had samples that were teeny tiny pieces of a chocolate bar, almost like chocolate shaves. Other vendors offered full-size truffles.
Some of the most impressive samples were from Dallas-area hotels. Their pastry chefs shared chocolate desserts and displayed jaw-dropping wedding and event cakes.
Vendors were pretty creative with their chocolate creations. We saw chocolate infused with many different ingredients including hatch chile, lavender, rose, quinoa, etc. This Kate Weiser chocolate was almost too pretty to eat!
My daughter’s kid ticket was only supposed to include five chocolate samples, but we found the vendors to be very generous with her and she had more than her fill of chocolate. My to-go box was stuffed to the brim with chocolate samples.
Lessons from the Dallas Chocolate Festival
I learned a few things from attending the Dallas Chocolate Festival. First of all, I’m not nearly as big of a chocolate fanatic compared to others. And, there is so much about the history of chocolate and the making of chocolate that I don’t know.
I also learned that it’s possible to consume too much chocolate in a short amount of time. Both my daughter and I could hardly tolerate any more chocolate after an hour of sampling. But, a few hours later, we were ready to try more chocolate from our to-go box.
And lastly, sometimes it’s good to venture out of our immediate area to experience more of the “big city”. Downtown Dallas has sights, smells and sounds that we don’t find up here where we live, and we don’t even have to fly on a plane to experience someplace so different.
Readers, does your city have a chocolate festival? What local festivals do you enjoy attending?
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Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.