Lucky 13: Oregon Chocolate Festival Beer & Chocolate Menu

One of our fine team members getting the goods plated…

Mmmmmmmm

Ahhhhhhhhh

Ooooooooo!!

Robust crowd sounds abounded last weekend at the 13th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, held at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Resort in Ashland Oregon. It was my 6th year presenting and they’ve come a loooooong way since they started. They’ve continued to see increased attendance, invite a variety of tasty and engaging vendors, host a line-up of educational presentations and have even added a run.

Six years ago when I started giving the classes, I literally didn’t know any chocolate makers. So – about twenty minutes before my talk, I ran around the festival floor, introducing myself and asking, “would you like me to feature your chocolates?” to a handful of vendors.

Great crew (slightly chocolate-goofy!) helping out

Dagoba was one of those vendors and they’ve become a long-term partner for me – and I’m so grateful and glad! World class organic chocolate, variety of flavors and styles (drinking chocolate powder, bars and so forth) and very easy to work with. Props to Jill and the Dagoba crew for their continued support. If you were there and liked the chocolates, be sure to let them know (they graciously give [read: donate] the goods each year).

This year was so much fun, as usual – because of the guests who come to partake of all the fest offers. And I’d like to give a special shout out to all the fine flavor lovers who attended one of my two Beer & Chocolate Classes! Thanks for everyone who came back and thanks to every one who experienced it for the first time.

My thanks as well to the fine volunteers from The Hospitality Club at Southern Oregon University, Asante, and the world class staff with the Neuman Hotel Group who makes sure everything is smooth and fabulous for me and our guests every year. To my captains, Katrina & Larry – you rocked it! Till next year ~

Love live the Festival!!

Here are the menus we enjoyed.

Saturday:

  • Standing Stone Brewing (all beers deliciously made by their brewer Larry Chase) Milk Chocolate Ale + Polenta with Dagoba Superberry + fresh blueberries & strawberries
  • Twin Plunge Double IPA + Dagoba Orange &  Lemonberry bars
  • Chocolate Porter + Ginger cookies with Dagoba Chai drinking chocolate & Xolcolatl chocolate chevre

Sunday:

  • Chocolate Porter + Dagoba Milk Chocolate bar
  • Twin Plunge + Lemonberry polenta & lemon zest
  • Milk Chocolate Ale + Ginger cookies with Dagoba Chai drinking chocolate & Authentic chocolate chevre

Recipes:

Chocolate Polenta

I made a large batch of polenta (to feed 100!) for each day. Essentially 12 cups of water + 4 cups of polenta; adding 2 bars of chocolate to each batch + 1 cup cream (not milk – it’ll separate). You can add more as desired – and I didn’t add any sugar at all, so the results were lovely and mild. Enhance and play with them as you wish.

Chocolate Chevre

Since I love love love goat cheeses, it was an easy pick to enhance chevre with the drinking chocolate powers. Allow the cheese to reach room temp and soften a bit more. When they’re room temp, sprinkle in the chocolate as desired. I highly recommend you add, mix & taste – following this pattern until you reach the flavor target desired.

Ginger cookies in testing mode

Ginger Cookies (on which we spread the chevre)

Yield = approximately 108 with a size 60 scoop dollops cut in half

Beat together until creamy: 1 + 1/8 c bacon fat* and 1.5 c sugar (mixing white and brown is a delight!)

Add: .25 c malt syrup or molasses + 2 large eggs

Sift together: 3 c flour, 1 t salt, 3 t baking soda, 1 heaping t powdered ginger, pinch cayenne, 1 heaping t cinnamon and .5 c Dagoba Drinking Chocolate powder of choice

Add dry ingredients to the wet, combine completely and don’t overbeat the batter.

Scoop or spoon out as desired. Note – with the bacon fat, they’ll spread so be conservative unless you want wide and flat cookies! Chilling the dough after mixed and before baking may help retard spread somewhat.

Bake at 350 for only 9 minutes; they can dry out and be really crumbly (if you like that style of cookie, go for it). Remove from the over after 9 minutes, cool for 1 minute, and remove to cooling racks. They cool and harden quickly too; store in airtight container. I surmise they’d freeze okay – and are always best fresh!

*I use Beeler’s 2# packages of bacon cuttings; it’s really low in salt and simple high quality bacon and a great value.

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Experimenting With Beer In Your Kitchen

Beer is an ingredient. So is Chocolate.

That’s how I sometimes view it – as a component, rather than limiting it to a glass for drinking. To limit is to cut off future opportunities and my taste buds don’t appreciate that!

Willing Dagoba chocolate volunteers, ready for duty!

So into the kitchen I’ll go this weekend to develop a menu and likely new recipes for the coming Oregon Chocolate Festival. While the sessions I lead would be successful with straight forward beer & chocolate, I’m more ambitious than that….preferring to come up with new ways to use tasty foods.

Come join us for the festival.

And if you run a food oriented event and are looking for a lively and crowd pleasing presenter, call me anytime. T’is always a pleasure to enlighten taste buds + brains with fun people.

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Beer & Chocolate

It’s that time of year again – the Oregon Chocolate Festival is coming right up. And yours truly is again presenting lively & delicious chocolate and beer tasting sessions.

For the past 5 years (this year = 6th) it’s been a pleasure to be part of this event at the invite of my fine colleague, Karolina of the Neuman Hotel Group. As I look back at the previous years, I like what I see.

OCF 2012

2012: First year invited to the festival by Karolina. My Fine Husband is a brewer in the same town and he was invited to make a beer for and talk at the Friday night Chocolate Makers dinner. Yum! I was lucky enough to go along and enjoy the hospitality and get a glimpse of what was ahead. We also were given a booth in exchange for my presentation, wherein we sold WEB goodies.

It’s always fun to see returning guests like Michelle.

2013: On the grow – the festival keeps attracting return guests and new guests into the flavor fold. I’m invited back thanks to our success last year and it’s a great time again, this time with an even fuller room (2 sessions, one Sat & Sun) that last year. Returning guests provide a humbling bonus.

Felicia enjoys the festival, with a fresh beer in hand.

2014: Getting bigger! And our last year in the actual room inside the hotel. We’re bursting at the seams and I give away a few tickets to the event – even better to help the Hotel generate more enthusiasm for a consistently well run and well done event. Felicia is the Winner and I’m so glad to have her the other 40 – 50 guests for each session. The Hotel Group has a terrific team, year over year, too so that makes the life of a presenter so much easier and more fun.

2015: Last year at the Ashland Springs Hotel, Downtown Ashland. In the tent we had a ball with as many guests would fit on Saturday, as well as a robust audience on Sunday too. Still with chairs only, we can snugly fit 60ish guests seated, with a few standing in the back. Thankfully I had enough of everything to serve the groups. Even better, my filmmaker Sean and PR pro Erika are in the house to capture all this tasty fun (clip above).

Join us at the Hills for the Festival

2016: We made a big leap forward to the new location, Ashland Hills Hotel, where the room can seat significantly more. We set up for 80 (seats & tables) and had big overflow of likely 100 = 120! While it’s a thrill to get that many people in the room who want to take part, it’s a disappointment to not be able to fully serve everyone who wanted to be there.  Big thanks to my team, Stacy & Russ, for working with the NHG crew to make it sing for me and our fine guests. I also gave away some private beer & chocolate tasting sessions (only 1 of 3 was redeemed…).

Soon: March 3 – 5, 2017. We’ll seat 100 people only, making sure that those who get there in good time have a literal seat and chair to enjoy the fun. Saturday & Sunday will allow for two different sessions, separate menus and as likely a few surprises. I’m deep into the throes of menu planning and development – creating a fun and delicious & enlightening menu for the 100 guests we’ll have Saturday and the other 100 we’ll have Sunday. Plus Karolina has given me the opportunity to be the moderator of a panel of beverage & food specialists – can’t wait!

Paula, Cassie, Ginger & Karolina are ready for you to join the fun!

Why am I walking down this chocolate memory lane today? Because in a world of sometimes feeling like I didn’t accomplish anything some days, these events are incredibly tangible and real. They’re like my fairway: a successful event like this helps me keep moving forward, knowing what I do matters.

  • Thanks to all the guests – one timers, repeats and stalwarts.
  • Thank you to Karolina and my crews – you make it all the better and successful for everyone.
  • Thank you for my flavor partners, including Dagoba Organic Chocolate and Larry/Brewer and others.

I’m relishing the upcoming festival and hope to see you there. Here’s the agenda. Please, come join us.

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2016 Oregon Chocolate Festival Recap: Beer & Chocolate &…

First of all, THANK YOU to all the super engaged and fun flavor loving guests at the very recent 12th annual Oregon Chocolate Festival, Ashland Hills, Ashland OR.The organizers moved it to a roomier venue – and in my opinion, with great success. Way more room and opportunity for everyone to fully get around

Elegant tasting-ready room at OCF 2016, Ashland Hills

Elegant tasting-ready room at OCF 2016, Ashland Hills

and mingle. The previous venue is now too small for this ever-growing destination event.

It marked my fifth year presenting at this yummy Theobroma cacao saturated festival. Each year I’ve given lively & tasty beer and chocolate tastings. We’ve gone from a room that’ll seat 30ish to a tent that seats 45/50ish to (now) a roomy room for 80+.

When people started coming in, 30 minutes before the sessions started, I knew we were in store for more incredible crowds of enthusiasts. I’m happy to report, every single person who was our guest at all three of the sessions was a pure pleasure to have in the room! I especially liked the multi generational families with offspring of varying ages.

With 22+ Friday night, 80 – 100+ Saturday afternoon, and 80 – 100 Sunday, it was a packed crazy good time had by all. Can’t wait to return next year! I’m always humbled by guests who return to my sessions on purpose – so a special thanks to them all.

Russ, Ginger & Stacy - revved up for the 2016 OCF

Russ, Ginger & Stacy – revved up for the 2016 OCF

The sessions ran smooth in large part thanks to my exceptional (not exaggerating here) crew, starting with my second in command for the weekend, Russ. He’s a service professional, kept it all going, gave directions to the hotel staff (who are always fantastic too!), and made my job easy. Hats off to my colleague and occasional assistant Stacy, equally competent, sharp and guest focused. The hotel staff & crew, management and security hired – all of them were smiling, helpful and fun to work in delicious harmony with and for.

So – what’d we have, you may be asking? Good question! Let me whet your whistle with the menus we served. I encourage you to try this at home:

Friday / Always a Classic: Beer + Chocolate Pairing & Tasting

  • Standing Stone* Chocolate Stout with chocolate gingerbread cookies & Dagoba** Lemonberry Zest chocolate.
  • Barleywine* with shortbread cocoa sticks with Xocolatl** fondue + red raisins
  • Milk & Honey* with Scharffen Berger Coconut Macadamia fudge

Saturday / Together Forever: Beer, Wine & Chocolate Tasting

  • Barleywine* + Weisingers Syrah with barleywine poached Bosc pears drizzled with unsweetened** fondue and Rogue Creamery Flora Nelle blue
  • Chocolate Beer* + Weisingers Sauvignon Blanc with citrus cookies and mandarin oranges

Sunday / Better All The Time: Beer, Chocolate & Cheese Tasting

  • Noble Stout* with more Coconut Macadamia fudge + Scharffen Berger sea salt pistachio fudge and unsweetened coconut shavings
  • Twin Plunge Double IPA* with Orange** chocolate, mandarin oranges, and rustic french bread crostini topped with Rogue Creamery Cacow Belle cheese & either lemon orange marmalade or cherry citrus jam
  • Milk & Honey* with Milk chocolate** and water crackers topped with soft chevre, dusted with Drinking chocolate powder**

Hungry yet?

Good.

I’ll post recipes tomorrow.

*Standing Stone Brewing Company beers

**Dagoba Organic Chocolates

 

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Creativity = Business Success

How do beer and chocolate go together? What’s the business element? How do you combine seemingly unrelated ideas productively?

Check this out:

http://www.kdrv.com/chocolate-fest-is-a-treat-for-businesses/

Go connect some dots.

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Beer & Chocolate Tasting at the 2015 Oregon Chocolate Festival

Mmmmmm…Chocolate and Beer – what a lovely coupling!

Enthusiastic OR Chocolate Fest Beer + Chocolate class attendees

Enthusiastic OR Chocolate Fest Beer + Chocolate class attendees

So went two successful highly tasty and entertaining classes to that end last weekend at the 11th Annual Oregon Chocolate Festival. Karolina Lavagnino, Sales & Marketing Director of the Neuman Hotel Group, started the fest 11 years ago to create excitement and business in the shoulder season between winter and spring.

I started giving the tasting classes 4 years ago with immediate success. The rooms fill quickly with enthusiastic people, open to trying new combinations and thinking in new ways about what we eat and drink.

This year we were moved into an outdoor tent to seat up to 65+, up from the 40 seats in previous years. And WOW!! The rush to get in felt like a concert was going down. Both days our fantastic security pro Stephanie helped us with the flow, and Ben, Dana and Christa (crew from the Springs) were spot on with their assistance.

Here’s the menu we enjoyed:

Ginger & Stephanie ready for the crowds!

Ginger & Stephanie ready for the crowds!

Saturday: Oakshire Brewing Beers with Dagoba Chocolates

  • Amber + Milk
  • Watershed IPA + Lavender Blueberry
  • Espresso Stout + Dark

Sunday: Standing Stone Brewing Beers with Dagoba Chocolates

Pairing beer and chocolate is so easy, fun, and simple that it’s amazing more people are new to it. Experiment at home: get chocolates and beer – a variety of both – and invite some friends over to sip, nibble, and explore.

The best palate starts with an open mind.

See you at the fest next year!!

  • Thanks to all the energetic and very fun guests. Come see us next year – and know we’re available to hire for your private and business events as well.
  • Thanks to the Hotel Crew. Everyone from security and service, organizers to staff is super helpful, upbeat, and competent.
  • Thanks to Sean Marc Nipper, Reel House Films Filmmaker, and Erika Bishop, Producer, for their efforts Sunday in capturing the fun on film.
  • Thanks to My Fine Husband for his assistance and unflagging support.

 

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Travel, Travel Everywhere….Upcoming Happenings Including TEDxNapaValley

Join us for the following upcoming workshops and events.

  1. Oregon Chocolate Festival 3/6 – 8/15

For the fourth year running Ginger has been invited back to conduct beer and chocolate tastings at this flavor filled festival.

Saturday: 1 – 2 pm featuring Oakshire Brewing beer + Dagoba Chocolate Sunday 2 – 3 pm featuring Standing Stone Brewing beer = Dagoba Chocolate

Pouring BeerIt’s a pleasure to fill the rooms, provide lively education about beer and chocolate as edible partners, and be at the lovely historic Ashland Springs Hotel. Fest founder and organizer Karolina and her crew put forth a worthwhile, relaxing and delicious event.

Full details can be found here.

  1. Ashland Chamber of Commerce Business Workshop 3/11/15

Dana and the team at the Ashland Chamber are putting on an afternoon of 3 business-focused sessions – full details can be found by clicking here.

Ginger will present Say What?! 10 Do’s and Don’ts To Amplify Your Marketing. Members and non-members are encouraged to attend.

  1. Business Builders workshop #2: How Goal Setting Is Killing Your Success.
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CiderCon Chicago 2015

Fest Ginger at Taste small Gail Oberst Powerhouse Loren Fogelman and Ginger have partnered for this big value series, with Loren leading this session. Words of Wealth started the series and #3 will be Pow!! Right in the Wallet, the Power of the Customer Experience lead by Ginger 4/9/15.

Info and registration information is available here.

  1. WESO Showcase 3/12/15

WESO is all about supporting women business entrepreneurs. For the 13th year in a row, their signature Showcase event is happening in Medford, OR and welcomes women and men who want to keep growing their business endeavors. Set up for successful education, networking, fun and support of a local charity, this free 3-hour event will be chockfull of value.

Agenda and details are here.

  1. TEDxNapaValley 4/12/15

Ginger is thrilled and honored to be among those selected to present at TEDxNapaValley 2015. The theme of the event is Redefining Success and she’s speaking about how Gender Equity supports the theme. Hosted at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Center, 14 speakers will be presenting.

Tickets and full details are available here.

  1. Marketing Beer To Women 4/14/15

Delivering signature and singular research data on the female consumer, Ginger is conducting a action packed info filled education session immediately prior to CBC this year in Portland, OR. All people and businesses that realize the enormous impact the female buyer and consumer has on the beer industry should register and attend this event. Limited seating.

Sign up today with this link.

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Winner of 2014 Oregon Chocolate Festival Ticket Giveaway

In a highly scientific and competitive contest, we are happy to announce that the flavor lover Felicia Reninger has won the giveaway of 2 tickets to the 2014 Oregon Chocolate Festival, March 8 & 9, 2014. Congratulations Felicia!

In asking for help to choose, Twittersphere community member @cingoodwoman chose #2 without knowing anything else other than to pick a number – see I told you: highly scientific. And I was glad for help as I wanted to give all three finalists free tickets!

Cassie, Ginger & Karolina at the 2013 Chocolate Festival - having a ball!

Cassie, Ginger & Karolina at the 2013 Chocolate Festival – having a ball!

The complementary tickets from the venerable Karolina, originator of the festival and amazing Marketing Director of the Ashland Springs Hotel. Our many thanks.

In the spirit of fun and sharing, I wanted to share the top three contenders and their creative entries (which is what we asked for).

1. Sasha Tokareff

I need 2 free tickets to the OCF! Oregon Chocolate Fest! I need them because my boyfriend lives in Boston and chocolate is the only thing keeping me sane!”

2. Felicia Reninger

“Yes! I would like the two tickets to the chocolate festival! I attended last years event, all by myself, but the sorrow of going alone was soon forgotten. I was drunk on chocolate and forgot my loneliness! This year my sister said she would go with me, and it would be awesome to surprise her with a ticket.”

(Also, Ginger’s beer and chocolate tasting class inspired my homebrew. Been pairing and tasting ever since!)”

3. Mary Sharbatz

“YES! I want to Win 2 Tickets to the OCF 🙂 I have not been to one of Ginger’s Beer & Chocolate classes yet, and I’d love to go to this festival! Sounds divine 🙂 Ashland is calling my name. I have never won anything before, and to be chosen would feel so great, like I hit the jackpot!”

Thank you to everyone who entered. I sure hope to do it again next year. All the finalists are encouraged to come find me and take a photo at the fest – I’ll have some goodies for all three.

In the meantime, know that this tasty festival happens this weekend, starting with a fancy dinner Friday night, Saturday & Sunday are the festival and I’ll be there Saturday (12-1) & Sunday (1145-1245) giving Beer & Chocolate classes (3rd year running). You can register for them here – and they’re free. Heck of a value to be sure.

Cheers & chocolate to you ~

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Oregon Chocolate Festival 2014 Ticket Giveaway

If you’d like two complementary tickets to the uber luscious and fun 10th Annual Oregon Chocolate Festival happening March 8 & 9, Ashland OR, then speak up!!

Here’s the mash:

  1. Get to our Contact page, scroll down to General Inquiries (past the Media Inquiries)
  2. Fill it out specifying you “YES! I want to Win 2 Tickets to the OCF” in the How Can We Help You space.
  3. Include full first and last name, email address and one good fun reason we should give them to you.
  4. Entries taken until Sunday March 2nd.

We’ll draw a winner randomly from all entries – women & men are encouraged to enter. The only thing that would trump the random selection process is if someone gets super creative with an entry. Extra weight to creativity!

Festival Link here.

p.s. We’ll be offering our usual tasty Beer & Chocolate classes Saturday & Sunday too – register here.

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Oregon Chocolate Festival: 1st Ever Beer & Chocolate Pairing

Women Enjoying Beer presented the first ever Beer & Chocolate pairing session at the 8th Annual Oregon Chocolate Festival held last weekend in Ashland, OR. Our gracious and enthusiastic hosts, lead by the famazing Karolina, made being a presenter and vendor easy and fun.

Thanks to the guests who enjoyed an hour’s worth of lively tasting, conversating and questions. We featured 3 flavorful West coast beers matched with 3 delicious local chocolate makers.

Judging by the enthusiasm of the attendees I’d say we had a big success on our taste buds.

Many thanks to the generous supply of beer from the brewers and Lark’s Restaurant in the Hotel as well as the chocolate companies. The Hotel staff and volunteers from SOU were a big help as well.

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