Thursday, 11 April 2013

Eurochocolate 2012- A pilgrimage for chocolate lovers!

Every year, the capital city of Umbria, Perugia, becomes the ultimate destination for chocolate aficionados by hosting one of the largest chocolate festivals in Europe. The city is known locally as the " Costruttori di dolcezze"- designer of sweet things. During the week-long festival, over a million chocolate lovers from all over throng the city to enjoy free chocolate tastings, indulge in all sorts of chocolate delights, attend workshops by chefs and also feast their eyes upon chocolate art displays and huge chocolate sculptures. 

Ling and I were gleeful attendees of Eurochocolate 2012.

Since I only found out about this festival after we've already booked our flights to Rome, it was indeed a stroke of luck that the dates for our trip co-incided with the first 2 days of Eurochocolate 2012 . Instantaneously, a day trip to Perugia became my our top priority.

On the first day of the festival, we set out early in the morning to catch the 2 hour long train ride to Perugia, followed by a bus all the way to the top of the hill where it was held. Upon getting off, I felt as if I was transported into one of the glorious lands on top of The Faraway Tree. The Faraway Tree, written by Enid Blyton was my absolute favourite series of books when I was a child. It is based on the adventures of three children and a gigantic magical tree that is inhabited by a myriad of magical creatures, all set in an enchanted forest, of course.

So the very top of this big S tree was a ladder that leads to a magical land, which changes every time to make way for another land. You get unpleasant lands like the Land of Slaps, but sometimes, there are amazing ones like the Land of Goodies, Land of Take-What-You-Want or my personal favourite, the Land of Presents.

Sorry, I digress.

The point here is, I was in the Land of Chocolates!

The whole place was brimming with festivities. It was really a feast for the senses. I was gobsmacked by the sight of rows and rows of tents with mouth watering chocolate goodies piled up high, the hypnotic aroma of chocolate lingering in the crisp Autumn air, the sounds of the vendors hollering :"Cioccolato! Cioccolato! Cioccolato! with music playing in the background. All these set against the backdrop of the beautiful medieval walled, hill town of Perugia.

Truly Magical!!!

There was chocolate as far as the eye can see! was tempted to hop, skip, and whoop in joy, but my brain intervened just in time, reminding me once again that I am too old to express my excitement in such ways.

We each bought a 5 Euro ChocoCard that entitled us to freebies from several stalls (Including Lindt and Milka!), discounts and also a map of the entire fair. The glorious day was spent walking around and tasting chocolate samples (Mostly by me actually...), drinking/eating thick hot chocolate and buying all sorts of chocolate creations.


From this point forward, reader may suffer from:

1. An insatiable craving for all things chocolate.

2. Uncontrollable drooling- I suggest a protective film for your keyboard
3. May attempt to scratch and sniff computer screen.

This vendor was slicing up squares of Sachertorte, which is actually an Austrian creation of 2 moist layers of chocolate cake with apricot jam in the middle and coated in thick chocolate icing.
Massive dark, milk and white chocolate discs studded with fruits and nuts. The white chocolate with loads of cranberries was divine!

Cork-shaped chocolate truffles and big slabs of pralines.

The first freebie that we claimed with the ChocoCard were espresso cup sized samples of Italian hot chocolate from the Ciobar stand. It was so thick and spoon-lickingly satisfying. I really love that Italian hot chocolate is rich, thick and decadent- a far cry from the run-of-the-mill liquid-y stuff. It has an almost pudding like consistency and packs a really bold chocolate flavor.

Hot chocolate or chocolate pudding? So so good...

More hot chocolate!

I could do with a chocolate horseshoe for some edible luck

Chocolate lego bricks in all sorts of flavours. Build it up and eat away!

My new love. Gianduiotti, which is made of ground hazelnut paste and cocoa. It tastes like a solid version of Nutella!

Cremino rounds. A type of Italian confectionary consisting of three layers of chocolate, usually with a top layer of gianduja (hazelnut praline)

Venchi! One of the most popular Italian gourmet chocolate manufacturer. 

Chocolate covered bananas, fruits and more hazelnut studded bars.

This pretty Italian was serving up samples of chocolate liqueur soaked cherries. I really love the cute dark chocolate cherry booth, which was perpetually surrounded by a huge crowd! It was a struggle to get through the horde of people that were pushing and shoving to get their fill. What a great marketing strategy: An eye-catching booth and a hot girl to serve up boozy chocolate cherries!

Plump and juicy cherry in creamy chocolate liqueur. Decadence.

Chocolate kebab

The chocolate kebab was basically a piece of thinly sliced cake that they topped with ample shavings of white and milk chocolate followed by whip cream.

More lovely nuggets of chocolate truffles. 

Hazelnuts everywhere!

Butchering slabs of chocolate

We came upon a stall manned by a very friendly AND enthusiastic guy who was singing and yelling Cioccolato! Cioccolato! Cioccolato! at the top of his lungs. It was hard to miss.

He spied me clicking away with my camera and immediately flashed a toothy grin and thumbs up for a photo op. I was rewarded handsomely for my "efforts" with several chocolate samples that he handed to me with a cheeky wink.

My favourite chocolatier at the festival
Another lovely sample from him

Chocolate pasta. I really wonder if it should be for a sweet or savoury dish.

Ling bought some chocolate liqueur, which I then used as the star ingredient for his birthday tiramisu upon our return from Italy. It was delicious! The chocolate flavour was so much more intense!

Love the chocolate liqueur bottles

White chocolate spread with nuts. Breakfast indulgence?

Eurochocolate adopts a different theme each year. In 2012 the focus was on social networking and new technologies. That was why they had small gourmet chocolates packaged to resemble smartphones and various gadgets.

"Like" this!
Description of Lindt chocolate bars in Italian somehow make them seem so much yummier. "Intenso e Armonioso"....has such a decadent ring to it.

There were also vendors that were selling Norcia specialties. This city is a 90 minute drive from Perugia and is best known for black truffles and top notch salami and primo sausages. I was delighted to try the various truffle products. Who in their right mind wouldn't be??!! 

The little shavings of black truffles were to-die-for, and the Norcia salami?

Let's just say that I was in foodie heaven.

Truffle infused olive oil, white/black truffles in jars, and salami with truffles. Literally truffle in everything!

Truffle studded cheese

Perugia is a beautiful city on a little hill in Umbria and there is a lot to see apart from the festival. Ling and I tore ourselves away from the hustle and bustle to explore the tiny town with its winding medieval streets and pretty piazzas. The hilltop views are just breathtaking!

Vibrant green trees blending seamlessly into the mountains in the distance
Rows of terracotta roofs stretched out below 

This city is also home to Perugina, the Italian confectionary that is famous for "Baci"-kisses. The Italian "kisses" are filled with hazelnut and wrapped in a multilingual love note. Packaging and taste wise, I have always thought that "Baci" reigned superior to Ferrero Rocher and Hershey's kisses. 

Check out the freebies we got thanks to the ChocoCard. Some of them were already settling well in our tummies well before the photo below was taken!

Our loot, which included Lindt balls!

My favourite freebie of the day. A chocolate bar Iphone pouch that came with an actual chocolate bar in an Iphone-esque box! Truly befitting the Eurochocolate 2012 theme.

I would definitely recommend this festival to anyone who happens to be in Italy during October. It is really a chocoholics dream!


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

This looks SO immense! I am so sad as I was in Italy in October, but never went as far south as Perugia in that trip. You are very right as I am drooling and mega jealous right now!!

Not only chocolate, but both cheese and truffles too??!!

Eliza Soh said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Hi Julia,

I was pleasantly surprised that they had such an extensive display of the Umbrian specialties like black truffles and salami too.

I was only there on the first day and missed the gigantic chocolate sculpture. Apparently they give out bags of chiseled off chocolate shavings to spectators!

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