The Broadmoor hosted the Holiday Chocolate Festival.  I was literally drooling to go.  For over a month I waited…and waited…the night before, it snowed, but no matter…

I expected something like the space symposium that I’d gone to at the Broadmoor a year and a half ago, a gigantic convention center filled with booths.  And robots!  Chocolate robots!  Or maybe like the farm & home shows of my youth at the state fair,  room after room of chocolate, with free yardsticks.

I was both disappointed and surprised.  Also, I forgot my camera, for which I am still kicking myself.

The festival was held in one of the smaller conference areas, all the way around the side and the back and annoying to get to.  I paid for my ticket, but most people coming in at the same time just walked in.  I hung up my coat, expecting rows and rows of…yeah.  It was more like a couple of dozen vendors, about a third of whom had nothing to do with food.

It turns out that some of the more northern verndors had been snowed in the night before.

And the whole chocolate festival-thing was just getting started, so hadn’t picked up much steam yet.

And the vendors weren’t multinational corporations with big bucks to throw around, but local sellers, for the most part.

And there weren’t all that many people.

So I made off like a bandit with the free samples.  Only ethics and my blood sugar kept me walking away with more chocolate than I could stuff in my mouth with both hands.  I stopped first at the Broadmoor table, where the chocolatiers were making chocolate roses and pulling out tray after tray of fantastical truffles.  I had one that contained maybe half an ounce of Grand Marnier.  And chocolate-covered strawberries.  I think I ate three times my admission fee at that table alone.  They had a beautiful sculpture of a dragon made out of slabs (thicker than paving stones and nearly as big) of colored chocolate, and a three-tier cake they were decorating with chocolate swags and roses.

The vendors, like I said, were mostly local.  I talked to the owner of The Gourmet Soap Company, from Peyton, and bought a bar of lavender soap and some grapefruit sugar scrub, both of which I wanted to eat.  I bought a mocha-colored silk scarf from the owner of Morgania of Colorado Springs, who insisted on calling the colors of her scarves “yummy.”  I cracked up at the kilt and bad puns of the owners of BTS Chocolate Honey (Better-than-Sex) and walked off with a jar of “Sex-A-Peel,” although I almost got “RazzGasm” instead.

The Chocolate Therapist, from Littleton, let me sample roasted cocoa beans, which tasted like chocolate, only not.  After I had one, another woman asked me what it tasted like, but I couldn’t explain it.  so she took a nibble.  I said, “What does it taste like?” and she said, “Kind of like chocolate.  But not really.”  I bought some Choffy, which is finely-pulverized roasted cocoa beans, hoping to recreate the taste – but once you brew the choffy (you make it exactly like coffee), it tastes like almost like cocoa.  Delicious with sugar and cream, or chai mix.  The owner strictly cautioned me that in order to get the full health benefits of drinking choffy, I would have to skip the dairy, since the lactose strips out some of the nutrients.  I have yet to break down and get soy milk to drink with my choffy, health benefits be damned.  The website includes a bunch of choffy recipes, but I just can’t get that far.  Choffy + chai + me = love.

My personal favorite was Theobroma, from Colorado Springs.  I bought a plate full of truffles from them – everything from Praline Cream to Coconut with Malibu Rum.  I brought them in to work, because I am a @#$%^& saint.  If only they would let me order online (hint hint).

I stopped to watch the former Miss Violet Beauregard, Denise Nickerson, talk about acting in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, what her kid costars are up to these days (they lead surprisingly normal, successful lives, for the most part – accountant, investment banker, and veterinarian, if I remember right).  Her voice sounds almost exactly, annoyingly the same, and I don’t think she got any taller.  (Apparently it took a long time for the purple to stop coming back.  I noticed she didn’t wear anything purple.)  But I could tell she loved talking to kids.  We adults were an obligatory afterthought.

I loved that I had time to talk to the owners, locals who were running their own companies, making incredible creations on the extremely-reasonable-if-not-outright-cheap.  I loved that I could taste everything.  I was surprised by people’s generosity, with how excited they were with what they were doing.

The best-truffle contest results were as follows:

Grand Champion was the Thai Truffle by the Broadmoor’s Chef Randy
Best Traditional Filling: Caramel Apple with Cinnamon Truffnie by Chocolate Avenue USA
Best Non-Traditional Filling: Chipotle Truffle by the Braodmoor’s Chef Pamela

To which I say, WOW.  I didn’t try any of those.  Samples were rotated so fast that those must have passed me by.  (By the way, the truffnies were a cross between truffles and brownies.  I had…I don’t remember what kind I had.  They were creamy like fudge, only they held together better,and had lots of toppings, instead of fillings.)

By the time I left, I was high with chocolate.  I made it out to my car and then had to wait half an hour because I knew it would be stupid to try to drive, even if it wasn’t illegal.

Safely home, I defended my plate of truffles from my daughter and collapsed.  All told, the organizer said about 1200 people attended the festival.  A friend of mine who went later, during the wine tasting, said it was more crowded later on.

I would go again.  I would drag people along bodily next time.  I would take a camera and drink plenty of fluids and damn the inevitable acne, full speed ahead.