Cape Town - Chocolate is a marvellous thing.
You have to admire the vision of the person - or people - who first looked at the strange fruit of the cacao tree and decided it could be transformed into one of the most popular and most delicious commodities on the planet.
This weekend at Blaauwklippen Estate in Stellenbosch, lovers of all things dark and sweet can indulge in their passion at the second Winelands Chocolate Festival.
Overall it will offer chocolate (obviously), gourmet foods, fine wines, non-alcoholic beverages, live music and a chocolate-inspired fashion show. There will also be a full children’s programme, making this a fun outing for the whole family.
The chocolate theatre will host a series of chocolate demonstrations from master chocolatiers and food artists such as Abigail Donnelly, Dimo Simatos, Katelyn Williams, Tjaart Walraven and Zola Nene. There will be a live performance by sculptor Harry Johnson who will attempt to transform 300kg of chocolate into a life-size statue of a human while you watch.
All seven rooms in the main building will be filled with the heady aromas of chocolate from the chocolatiers and confectioners and will also include a replica of a Victorian kitchen where visitors will be given a glimpse of how Victorians prepared their chocolate.
Walk through a life-like cacao plantation and enjoy brandy and chocolate tastings in the spirits room.
The Lindt afternoon tea on the manor house verandah will give guests a complimentary welcome glass of MCC and a generous selection of Lindt’s finest chocolate truffles and patisseries.
This takes place at 10am and again at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Early booking is essential and it costs R250 which includes a ticket to the rest of the festival.
In the method cap classique courtyard you’ll be able to sip bubbly and suck down oysters while watching Lindt chocolatiers make those famous Lindor balls, while in the praline and patisserie garden there will be classical music and a screening of the romantic comedy-drama Chocolat.
Food stands selling gourmet eats and an array of beverages will be on sale in the area under the oak trees and in the grand marquee, which will have plenty of seating, is where you’ll find the live music, more food stands and fashion shows at 11.30am and 3.30pm featuring special occasion wear by Stephano, the latest range of clothing from Durbanville-based fashion house Found and jewellery by local jeweller Zuyda van Dyk. These items will be on sale after the show.
Designer Stephan Olivier, aka Stephano, describes his style as elegant and ethereal.
For the show this year, he has drawn inspiration from mint, rose and white and dark chocolate. Jewellers Jacomien Labuschagne and Zuyda van Dyk will complement his garments with beautiful gold and silver jewellery - as well as tongue-in-cheek pieces - all inspired by chocolate.
Little ones at the festival can get involved with their favourite sweet treats through a variety of fun and educational activities. Gabi Soule of Rococoa Coffee and Chocolate Shop will be hosting hourly playtime activities for children aged between five and 12 years old.
These include face painting, finger painting, hand printing, chocolate word puzzles, chocolate maze games, educational videos and screenings of the movie Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.
Perhaps it’s a good idea to dress the offspring in old clothes, or you will find out once and for all if those washing powder commercial deliver on their promises.
Tickets can be purchased via Webtickets for R20 (additional to the festival entry ticket for ages six and older). You will need to quote your ticket number and confirm your times directly with Gabi on 073155 9385.
Numbers are limited so book early and make sure children are brought to the sessions five minutes earlier so they can enjoy a full hour’s entertainment. Parents/guardians can then collect the children after the session. Gabi and a qualified supervisor will be in attendance at all times.
* Buy tickets online at Webtickets or at the door. Prices: adults R120 (includes a wine glass), scholars R60, children six and under free. Adult demos are R50, and tutored tastings R35.
Blaauwklippen is on the R44 in Stellenbosch, and the festival takes place next Saturday from 9am till 5pm and Sunday 9am till 4pm. For more information go to http://winelandschocolatefestival.co.za.