Annapolis’ Chocolate Binge Festival has yet another reason to celebrate all things cacao: It’s Colonial!
Making chocolate delights has been a local tradition since the 18th century.
One Isaac Navarro provided the city with “as good Chocolate as was ever made in England,” making and selling his delights on Duke of Gloucester Street, according to a notice placed in the Maryland Gazette on Dec. 21, 1748.
At the fourth annual festival Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., nearly 40 chocolatiers will add a sweet layer to the first blocks of West Street, which will be awash in chocolate, music, shopping and a canopy of lights.
Several of the vendors, like the Colonial Navarro, are making chocolate in the Annapolis area.
Walter Mills and Kathy Walker of Wark Barnaby Chocolate started selling their small-batch, handmade truffles, sauces and other delectables at the Severna Park Farmers Market three years ago, and they’re returning to the Binge Festival for a second year.
Their treat-making process begins with fair-trade chocolate made to their specifications and fresh cream in the classic French style. Melt the fine-chopped chocolate with just-boiling cream and let it set. Once it firms at room temperature, small balls are rolled and left to cure for a day. Then they are re-rolled into a perfect circle, tempered and cured again.
“For one round of chocolate, it might take two or three days,” Mills said.
They sell a variety: the Standard; the Distinguished Gentleman, made with bourbon; the Lucky Bastard, infused with English toffee, and the Sexy Vegan, made without cream.
“We had such a great reaction at the festival last year,” Walker said. “We were so grateful that people just wanted to try it.”
“I was surprised at how happy it makes people,” Mills said.
Coco Couture’s Jessica Zaleskiwicz is also coming to Chocolate Binge for the second time but with a different selection.
“I am bringing a lot of a few select things rather than a few of everything,” she said.
That includes her signature chocolate crabs with Old Bay, peanut butter cups, peppermint bark and more.
“We just started doing fudge in the spring, so we will have fudge for the first time,” she added.
Back at the shop on Ritchie Highway in Severna Park there are a wider selection of flavors, nut clusters, truffles and even chocolate-covered wine bottles — customers bring in a bottle and Coco Couture will dip it in chocolate.
“It’s fun,” Zaleskiwicz said.
Cheryl Starr of Annapolis Chocolate Bar spends most of her time making treats for weddings, corporate events and other functions. But she’ll be at the Binge Festival selling her favorite sea salt caramels wrapped in holiday boxes. (She sells some of her treats at Annabeth’s on Maryland Avenue, too.)
They’re just a few of the festival vendors offering wide array of temptations like chocolate caramels, cakes, truffles, fudge, cookies, candies and bonbons. Some vegan, kosher, non-GMO, organic and gluten-free options will be available as well.
Also among the chocolate-covered family friendly fun: There is a giant gingerbread house moon bounce for the kids. You can roast marshmallows and make s’mores at the fire pit in the middle of West Street with the Annapolis Fire Department. And if it’s cold enough, the popular Cocoa with the PoPo — city police doling out hot chocolate from a customized Airstream trailer — will help warm things up.
Annapolis City Police started doing the hot chocolate three years ago. It was such a hit they keep coming back. “We handed out something like 1,000 cups of cocoa,” Sgt. Amy Miguez, who pulls cocoa duty, said.
Santa will be at the festival so everyone can tell him what they want for Christmas. (Santa also invites attendees to drop off new toys, coats and hats to him for the We Care and Friends Holiday Party for local kids in need.)
There are a couple of new twists at this year’s festival.
You can stop by the Hammond-Harwood House on the way to the festival for a “Chocolate Through Time” event from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. where you can learn about the history of chocolate from its ancient beginnings in Mesoamerica through the centuries to the modern day. It’s a hands-on program with an opportunity to grind cacao nibs into chocolate using a Mexican grinding mill, and taste cacao nib tea, cacao shell tea, chocolate wine and a variety of other historic chocolate treats.
For reservations, call 410-263-4683, ext. 10, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets are $20 for Hammond-Harwood members and $25 for nonmembers.
Or during the festival you can stop by Chesapeake Brewing, 114 West St., for a chocolate liquor tasting event; Luna Blu, 36 West. St., for a chocolate and wine tasting; or El Toro Bravo, 50 West St., for fresh-roasted churros.
And don’t forget the free after party at Tsunami following the festival, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with two bands, Flying Fader and Oreo, playing.
When you go
What: Chocolate Binge Festival
When: Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Admission: A suggested $5 admission gets you a coupon for a cup of hot Cocoa with the PoPo.
Parking: Available at the Whitmore, Gotts Court, State, Knighton, Amos Garrett and Park Place garages. Free circulator shuttle to and from the festival every 20 minutes from each parking garage.
More information: Visit www.annapolischocolatefestival.com.