Web Exclusive: The Art of Chocolate

Virginia Arts Festival Brings a Sweet Event to Norfolk

By Angela Blue

In the upcoming days, Norfolk will be taken by a distinct kind of craze. Local businesses will present innovative creations that will attract swarms of enamored patrons. Multitudes of obsessed fanatics will join together under one roof to celebrate a single element that’s never quite been glorified in such a way before. For days on end, long-time addicts will give up their self-restraint and give in to the sinfully intense cravings. Why the inconceivable madness? Two words: Chocolate festival.

Beginning Wednesday, March 21, and lasting through Sunday, March 25, the Virginia Arts Festival brings a deliciously satisfying event: The Art of Chocolate. Envision ongoing days of pure bliss and indulgence dedicated to partaking in every type of chocolate you could dream of—presented in ways you never imagined.

“We really thought it would start out as a small event that we’d be able to grow, but there’s been so much interest in it that it’s turned into a four-day event,” said Cynthia West, Marketing and Public Relations Director for the Virginia Arts Festival.

The main event—the appropriately named Chocoholic’s Dream—will be held on Saturday, March 24 at Scope Exhibition Hall and will consist of cooking demonstrations, chocolate wine tastings and entertainment from the Hurrah Players’ Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory characters plus delectable samples and sales from nearly every vendor in Hampton Roads who has anything to do with chocolate.

There will be chocolate in every form including truffles, tarts, covered strawberries, candies, cookies, cupcakes, bon bons, covered peanuts plus a few unexpected elements. “Some caterers are doing a twist on chocolate,” said MaryEllen Fournier, Marketing Assistant for the Virginia Arts Festival. “We have a spicy chocolate encrusted pork loin, so it’s kind of like sweet and savory.”

Other events throughout the week are just as sweetly innovative. The Chocolate Brew Master’s Challenge on Wednesday will feature four local breweries competing to create the best craft chocolate beer. Thursday’s Loco for Cocoa Bartender’s Challenge invites guests to enjoy an exotic array of “choctails” as some of Norfolk’s best bartenders create simply intoxicating, chocolate-inspired concoctions. If you haven’t had enough chocolate on Saturday, get some more at one of the Champagne Brunches held on Sunday. Dine on specialty menus infused with cocoa covered confections and champagne from three downtown restaurants.

Aside from scheduled events, many Norfolk restaurants are participating throughout the week by presenting delectable dinners with a chocolate flair. It’s not just culinary delights either; treat your body to a spa experience including chocolate facials, peppermint chocolate pedicures and other rejuvenating services that are heightened by the invigorating essence of chocolate.

Don’t fight the cocoa cravings any longer. Make plans to visit one—or all—events (trust us; we don’t judge when it comes to chocolate) during the next few days, and celebrate this incredible ingredient in every way imaginable.

For a complete schedule of events, list of vendors and ticket purchases, visit www.vafest.org/chocolate