The World Of Chocolate

SECAUCUS, NJ

The Chocolate World Expo, hosted by Marvin Baum took place at the Meadowlands Expo Center this past Sunday, March 5th.  I believe this event was targeted for chocoholics as well as families with small children. The expo had more than 30 vendors such as Whole Foods Market, Dove Chocolate, and Edible Arrangements to name a few.

As I walked into the expo, I smelled divine aromas of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and seen tables of chocolate fountains where you could dip almost anything under. As I approached the fountain, I picked up a soft marshmallow to dip into the creamy, rich milk chocolate fountain. It left my marshmallow dripping and then together it was a gooey yet satisfying treat to start.

I then visited the Saratoga Peanut Butter Co. stand, where they offered specialty-flavored organic peanut butters. I first tried The Blizzard that was blended with white chocolate. The smooth, subtle flavors of white chocolate mellowed out the strong, toasty flavors of peanuts. I went “bananas” for Monkey Boy, which had raisins and banana essence blended in. I would recommend this as a healthy lunch bag snack paired with pretzels or Granny Smith apples.

As I continued the smell of freshly, baked Belgian waffles pulled my attention to Screme Gelato Bar. They were offering different chocolate gelato samples with the waffles a la mode. The Chocolate Whiskey Brownie [made with Johnnie Walker Black] was cool and creamy but a left warm sensation on my palate. The Chocolate Chili had a smooth delivery but also left a spicy, lingering finish.

Whole Foods Market did a cupcake decorating demo that excited many of the children watching. They also gave out small moist pieces of cake to satisfy their hunger.

I was very surprised to see vendors like Pickle Licisous and Gogo’s Garlic Dip (aka Samios Foods) at an event like this. Although I am fans of both and they individually tasted great, it just didn’t pair well with chocolate or with my stomach.

Towards the end of the chocolate expo, I saw Hell’s Kitchen Contestant, Robert Hesse at his own booth, who was booked as “entertainment”. As I approached the booth, I thought about asking him maybe two questions but instead without giving me any eye-contact or greeting, he began to give me his autograph and asked for my name very arrogantly. I refused his autograph, dropped it and continued on. He was very arrogant as he if he may have WON the show. It goes to show that his bad attitude was certainly bad for business. I guess Gordon Ramsey does have a good judge of character after all.

I decided to not let that bad episode ruin the whole show. The last vendor offered me a sample of Adult Chocolate Milk, which was very rich in flavor with a 40-Proof kick at the bottom of the glass. It provided a past childhood memory with a present “grown-up” reality.

Overall, this Chocolate World Expo can be described as tasting dark chocolate. The beginning was mildly sweet [Chocolate Fountains], rich in flavor [Screme Gelato Bar], and sometimes leaves a bitter lingering finish [HK Robert Hesse].

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Super Beer Bowl

SECAUCUS, NJ-

On Saturday, I attended the “1st Annual International Great Beer Expo” hosted at the Meadowlands Exposition Center at Harmon Meadow. This event was hosted by Starfish Junction Productions and NJBeerEvents.com. They sponsored 50 breweries from 20+ countries with a selection 100+ beers.

Upon entering the arena, I was in pursuit to find my “super bowl beer” for the big game. Along with me for this adventure was my photographer/brother Jay Kelsey,  who is a beer lover himself. We were greeted and given half pint glasses at the entrance. I was overwhelmed from the amount of people and vendors around the arena. It was similiar to a “bar crawl” only inside this time. [For non beer-drinkers, a bar crawl can be described as one or more people drinking in multiple pubs or bars in a single night, normally walking and drinking between bars.]

Long Trail Brewery, the first vendor of the festival, offered an assortment of brews on draft. The Coffee Stout caught my eyes first, only because I’m a big coffee lover. This dark brew was malty, slightly bitter [like coffee] with a lingering finish. My next glass, Pale Ale was light in flavor, fruity and reminiscent of Blue Moon Beer, a past favorite of mines. So as I continued passing through the vendors, I seen interesting flavors such as Banana Bread Ale & Chocolate Lager. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to taste those particular beers because they were so high in-demand, but after speaking with someone who tried it, she favored the Banana Bread Ale. She characterized it as a “banana in a bottle and rich in flavor”.

In the center of the festival, they had condiment vendors to compliment the chips and wings for the big day. Feeltheflavors.com, had some rich sauces that I could toss my wings in. My favorite was the Bonfatto’s Hawaiian BBQ Wing Sauce, the flavors were made up of pineapple, fresh garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, and cracked pepper. It reminded me of a rich teriyaki glaze that you would brush on fresh salmon or chicken at a barbecue [“Wendy-Salivating Moment”, The Wendy Williams Show].

The beer festival was supporting the Beers for Brains Foundation, “a national, non-profit organization of craft-beer lovers, distributors and brewers, who are committed to brain cancer awareness and who help fund research leading to a cure”. I thought the foundation was very informative and it was a creative way to bring attention for such an important cause.

As I made my way back into the beer tasting area, there was an amusing draft beer spout that caught my eye, so I went to get a closer look. It was at the Blue Point Brewing Company booth. The draft beer spout was a Jamaican guy’s head with dreads and all, that I found to be hilarious. The name of this beer was “Rastafar Rye”. Although the beer was slightly dark, it was light in flavor, malty and very fruity, like mango.Rastafar Rye became my top pick thus far.

On the second side of the festival, there were familiar names like Heineken and New Castle Brown Ale that are always very popular.The Dos Equis vendor was in my direction and I grew curious of how it might taste. The Dos Equis Amber Ale was great! It was rich and full-bodied with redddish-gold color. My photographer Jay & I felt we could drink a couple glasses of this beer and proclaimed that we found our Super Bowl beer finally!

As the event ended, my consensus was that this event was well-organized, flowed great and had a great selection of different breweries. Rastafar Rye was most inventive, which I would try again. I was satisfied because I achieved what I came in for. Dos Equis will be front and center at the table. I look forward to attending next year!

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Be A  Quick Beer Connoisseur!

Quick Tip: Three things to look for when tasting beer; Appearance [color, carbonation], Aroma [bouquet, odor], & Taste [mouthfeel, flavor, finish]

Beers can be described as; Malty [sweet, toasty with a dryish “earthy” flavor] or Hoppy [herbal, crisp, bitter, palate cleansing]

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