21 Annual Chocolate Lovers Expo in Southbury

The 21st Annual Chocolate Lovers’ Spring Expo to benefit Easter Seals will be held on Sunday, April 6 from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Southbury off of I-84 exit 16.

Sweet Maria's Chocolates
Sweet Maria’s Chocolates

With chocolate lovers in mind, this event showcases many of the areas finest chocolate delights and specialty food items from a wide variety of exhibitors and culinary schools.

In addition to chocolate, event goers are sure to enjoy a silent auction, door prizes, special drawings, and demonstrations as well as music by Excite Disc Jockey Entertainment and Bella Winds Woodwind Ensemble as you shop for chocolate goodies, unique gifts, products & services.

Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door). Children’s tickets (ages 5-12) are $5. For tickets or exhibitor information please call 203-754-5141 Faith Hull (ext. 251) or Carolee Kalita, (ext. 243). Proceeds benefit the programs and services of Easter Seals, serving the special needs of infants, children, and adults with disabilities in greater Waterbury, central, and northwestern Connecticut. www.waterburyct.easterseals.com

For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

Calling all Chocolate Lovers…..

Less than three weeks before Valentine’s Day, shop for amazing sweets for your sweetie from some of the region’s best chocolatiers as the Maritime Aquarium (10 North Water Street in Norwalk) is taken over on Sun., Jan. 26 by Chocolate World Expo. This event is perfect for people who are serious about chocolate, and not just for folks looking to load up on candy commonly available in most grocery aisles.

Aquar.ChocolateExpo 2014-2 for website-1

The Expo, one of the largest consumer-oriented chocolate events in the United States, will feature some 40 vendors who will offer tastings and sales of their products. They’ll be set up throughout the Aquarium’s galleries.

Vendors at the Expo typically offer small tasting-sized portions of their products that can be tried right away. Think of the chocolate tastings in the way you might think of a wine tasting at a winery: you get a small sample to try and you often get to talk with the person who made the product. If you like what you’ve tasted, you can purchase that product directly at the show for yourself or as a gift.

Chocolate lovers will find much more at the expo than traditional chocolates as this event features unique offerings like chocolate-covered bacon and – appropriate for the Aquarium – one vendor’s “chocolate shark bites.” Vendors will also offer baked goods, specialty foods and even fine soaps and bath products.
All of The Maritime Aquarium exhibits will be open on Jan. 26 – and will stay open two hours longer than normal: from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Your Chocolate World Expo admission includes Aquarium admission. IMAX® movies are available as an additional ticket, as always.
The special admission price on Jan. 26 is $15 for adults and $10 for kids 3-12.

Aquarium Members Important Notice:
Aquarium Members receive a $2 per person discount (adult and child) on event/Aquarium admission this day. Senior member price is same as adult price. Sorry, but Aquarium members do not receive free admission for this special event. Member guest discounts do not apply.

For more information about the Maritime Aquarium www.maritimeaquarium.org. For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

CHOCOLATE DINNER TO BENEFIT AUDUBON CENTER, SATURDAY, MARCH 3, HERITAGE HOTEL SOUTHBURY

New Morning

Let the Bent of the River take you on a Chocolate Holiday! New Morning’s The Provender will transport you to Mexico through Chef Carol Byer-Alcorace’s Mexican Antojito inspired menu. Your palate will take you to the winter destination of the beautiful birds that summer here in Southbury CT and the Bent of the River.

Tickets are now on sale for the annual Chocolate Dinner being held on Saturday, March 3rd at the Heritage Hotel in Southbury, to benefit Southbury’s very own Audubon Center at Bent of the River. Tickets are $85 per person. EARLY BIRD SPECIAL: Tickets only $70 if purchased by February 17th. Visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/219802 or stop in at New Morning Market on Rte. 6 in Woodbury CT to purchase tickets.

The evening will begin with a ‘Cocktail Hour and a Half’, where guests can mingle, visit the live Birds of Prey exhibit, enjoy creative, Mexican inspired appetizers like Chocolate, Spinach and Cheese Quesadillas and taste wines from local vineyards; White Silo, Walker Road and Hopkins.

During the dinner hour, Laura Volpintesta, originally from Mexico City, and the Sol Shine Band will be performing live suave ensembles. Latin dance demonstrations and lessons are being provided by Fred Astaire Studios.

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the dishes crafted by Chef Carol: Mole Chicken, Coconut and Shrimp Seviche, and Chocolate Chili Cake, just to name a few. Woodbury’s own Winding Drive Jams will also be serving a spicy, sweet chocolate brownie dessert.

Why Audubon & Chocolate? Each year, the menu draws from a locale where cacao is grown. The Audubon’s dedication to the preservation of habitats for birds and wildlife is well known. As the snow flies in New England, so fly the birds- to warmer climate and, to the lands where chocolate originated. Bird migration, habitat protection and community engagement are integral to Audubon’s mission. The Atlantic Flyway Initiative (AFI) is a strategic Audubon initiative that targets bird habitats needing preservation from South America to Canada. The Flyway is the migration route for millions of birds each season.

About The Bent of the River

Bent of the River

The Audubon Center at Bent of the River lies on 660 acres in Southbury, Connecticut, near the historic village of South Britain. It’s an inviting, outdoor sanctuary with 15 miles of walking trails and an environmental education center with inspiring programs. Please come and enjoy yourself, learn more about the important work of the Bent, and discover the value you’ll gain from a relationship with the Bent. www.bentoftheriver.audubon.org

About New Morning Market New Morning Market

Located on Rte. 6 in Woodbury Connecticut, New Morining is a purveyor of natural, organic and eco-friendly foods and wellness products. They also offer nutritional counseling and free classes regularly. The 7,500 square foot retail center is currently located at 738 Main Street South in Middle Quarter Mall. Construction is being completed on a brand new, larger facility which will be located two miles north at 129 Main Street North in Woodbury. The move is scheduled for later this year. More information can be found at www.newmorn.com

About Heritage Hotel

Heritage Hotel

Heritage Hotel Golf, Spa, Conference Center, 522 Heritage Road, Southbury, CT 06488. (I-84 Exit 15). (203) 264-8200, (800) 932-3466. Set in the Litchfield Hills, the resort features 163 guestrooms, state-of-the art conference and banquet facilities, indoor and outdoor heated pools, fitness center, racquetball, tennis, sauna, whirlpool, a challenging 9-hole golf course, pub with billiards and wide screen TV, award-winning dining and extensive wine list at Eight Mile Brook, and Tres Jolie Day Spa. Located off I-84, just 90 minutes from New York City. For getaway package information contact us at: 1-(800) 932-3466. www.heritagesouthbury.com.

Belgique Opens Second Store in New Canaan, CT

Belgique Patisserie & Chocolatier, best known for its delicious handmade Belgian chocolates, has opened a second location and is changing its name to Belgique Chocolatier to reflect a new primary focus on chocolate.

The new store opened on September 16 and is located at 88 Elm Street in the middle of downtown New Canaan. It is open Wednesdays through Sundays. The Gilissens have taken great pains to make the façade look as much like the Kent store as possible, with the familiar yellow clapboards, rounded red awning, and Belgian cobblestone front.

Connecticut Magazine has named Belgique chocolates as the best in the state 3 years in a row (2008, 2009, 2010). Belgique also had the prestige of providing its chocolates to royalty such as Queen Elizabeth II at a state dinner in Washington, DC in 2007, and over the years Belgique has been featured in such notable publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Chocolatier Magazine, and Conde Nast Traveler Magazine. Its authentic Belgian hot chocolate was named as “one of the best 7 hot chocolates in the world” by Vivre Catalog in 2004.

Before opening Belgique in the year 2000, Chef Gilissen served as Executive Chef & Manager at The Residence of The Netherlands Ambassador to the U.S. in Washington, D.C. Prior to that, he worked in Washington as Sous Chef for the British Ambassador to the U.S. Gilissen’s job was to prepare all meals, receptions, teas, etc. for these Ambassadors, their families and up to 1,000 guests. Working for embassies gave him the opportunity to cook for such notables as Queen Elizabeth II, President George H.W. Bush, Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher, Hillary Clinton, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, King Hussein of Jordan, and violinist Isaac Stern. His particular passion for chocolates began during his time in Washington, D.C. He received his culinary education at Belgium’s École Hôtelière de Libramont after four years of study emphasizing gourmet cooking, restaurant/hotel management, pastries and wine. While in Belgium, Gilissen worked at Michelin 2-star hotel/restaurant Le Moulin Hideux in Noirefontaine, Belgium and Auberge de Lavacherie in Lavacherie, Belgium.

Belgique Chocolatier is located at 1 Bridge Street in Kent (860) 927-3681. The phone number for the New Canaan store is (203) 801-0538.