April 1st, a day for more than just pinning paper fish on the backs of unsuspecting friends (no, really, this is the custom here). This year, April 1st brought the second annual Festival du Chocolat in Versoix, as well as the 180th anniversary of the Favarger chocolate factory. It was my duty and privilege as a chocoholic...I mean, connoisseur to lead a trip up there and check it out. Also, a very good warm up for the Salon du Chocolat in Paris to be held this fall.
Our small group met at the train station bright eyed and bushy tailed at 9.50. Ok, maybe not so bright eyed...most of us had been out late the night before and anything before noon on a Saturday is pushing it. But there was chocolate to be had. So we hopped the train and a scant 20 minutes later arrived in Versoix, a beautiful lakeside town. Made all the more beautiful by the jam packed tent. We planned to arrive early because there had been rumors about chocolate samples running out mid-day last year and we had a private tour scheduled at the Favarger factory around 13.30.
As our group of 15 slowly ate our way through the tent we had to pause more than once at some of the miraculous things offered. (Sadly, I remembered my camera that day...just not the memory card. D'oh. Remember, it was before noon on a Saturday. My friend Jackie was kind enough to send the images you see here) One of the first sights to greet our eyes was a chocolatier hand stirring a bunch of chocolate covered honey roasted almonds. When I say hand stirring I mean, literally his bare, rather furry, arm was elbow deep in the mini cement mixer looking thing and completely covered in chocolate. And yet, my first thought was not, 'How unhygenic' but rather ' I wonder if he'd mind if I licked his arm?' Now, don't tell me you wouldn't all have had this thought as well! I didn't attack him and he kindly offered up still warm almonds covered in manna for us. Mmmm, manna.
In the next corner we had to prod our way to the front of the crowd hemming in the chocolate fountain. No, you read right. CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN, surrounded by fruit. What a beautiful mess we all were, and how I wish I hadn't forgotten my camera! On offer were also, chocolate mustards, absinthe white chocolate truffles, moelleux, chocolate spreads for tartine...too many things to recount. My favorite Genevois chocolatier was there, Phillipe Pascoet , and I found some new ones to love and explore,of which there will be further right ups later, you can be sure.
Our group of 15 headed over to Migros and picked up a quick lunch to enjoy at the lake shore (despite the rain) before zipping over to the factory for our tour. We were able to follow our noses to the quaint chateau like factory....with the huuuuge lines snaking around it! We ducked in the back, donned our protective booties and were off. Unlike the factory tours in the US, we were able to wander among the machinery rather than behind plexiglass walls. We sampled as we learned, the best way to do it, and before we knew it our chocolate festival had drawn to an end. So, with full bellies we each bought a small dixie cup of fruit and chocolate fondue to enjoy on the train ride back and began dreaming of the penultimate festival this fall.