Pinecrest Gardens to become a mecca of fine chocolate


Check it out

When: March 9 and 10.

Where: Pinecrest Gardens, 11000 S. Red Rd.

Tickets: $35 at; $40 at the door and $10 for children. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Miami Dade College’s culinary institute and Neighbors 4 Neighbors.

For two days, Pinecrest Gardens will turn into a chocoholic’s paradise, with chocolate sculptures and niche confectioners from as far away as Brazil, Ecuador and Nicaragua. There will also be truffles, rich brownies, velvety cakes and tasty cookies.

The explosion of flavors will include wild coconut, mocha, berry, caramel and vanilla. From spicy to sweet and from dark to light, the first Miami Fine Chocolate & Food Show will celebrate texture and talent at the garden on March 9 and 10.

For chocoholics who enjoy wine, there will be a section focused on pairing options. And for those who want to be amazed, celebrity chef Paul Joachim, a Food Network Challenge winner, will be working on life-size chocolate sculptures of popular athletes. Chocolatier Alejandra Bigai, owner of Romanicos, a gourmet store near Coconut Grove, can’t wait.

“We are bringing our special handmade chocolate bars. We have new flavors like crunchy banana chips with cinnamon and espresso coffee beans that taste like mocha,” Bigai said. “We are also bringing Easter bunnies and eggs, and we will be sampling a hot chocolate mix that is very pure and creamy.”

Trade show industry businessman Mario Pi, who launched The National Chocolate Show in Chicago, is the founder of the Miami Fine Chocolate & Food Show. Although he has helped to produce events like the International Security Expo and the Miami International Home Show, he says the chocolate show is special because it makes people happy.

“Chocolate releases endorphins — especially dark chocolate — and it releases chemicals in your brain that give you pleasure,” Pi said. “I was surprised to find out that chocolate also gives you a calming effect.”

The show will focus on artisan chocolatiers from around the country — for instance, Flying Noir from California and Mary O’Malley from Maryland will be there. Dozens of local businesses like Sweet Treats Brigadeiro from Miami Beach and Cacao Art from South Miami are also exhibiting.

“We will have different types of gourmet products,” Pi said. “Not only will we have regular chocolate, but we will also have lactose-free, sugar-free, and interesting-looking ones like a box of chocolates that looks like sushi from Romanicos.”

There will also be exhibits from Spain by Valor Chocolate and Kallari chocolate from Ecuador. There will also be five sections, including a restaurant row and areas for chefs’ seminars and demonstrations, such as in molecular gastronomy, a cheese-making workshop and ice-sculpting.

“There will be over 40 wine, beer and spirits brands, and your admission will give you 15 free samples,” Pi said. “Miami has never had a show like this.”

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