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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WEB & 2013 Festival Of Trees

2013 WEB Tree

Look at the gorgeous glowing glass ornaments by Gathering Glass

Mt. Angel Oktoberfest commemorative stein & tickets for 2014

Mt. Angel Oktoberfest commemorative Stein & tickets for 2014

Another successful year of being a tree designer at the Medford, OR Festival Of Trees, put on by Providence Hospital is complete.

It’s a very well attended and fruitful event that brings in money to serve the community through the hospitals’ services. We’re very glad to have been a contributor to this fun event for 3 years in a row now.

I want to make sure we thank a number of folks and companies who helped make this possible, from the WEB tree angle.

3 year Donors:

Recology: 2013 FOT Tree Sponsor

Recology: 2013 FOT Tree Sponsor

Tasty beer & food cookbook under the FOT

Tasty beer & food cookbook under the FOT

2013 Tree Sponsor:

2013 Donors:

Great gifts, like these from Ninkasi Brewing, graced the project this year

Great gifts, like these from Ninkasi Brewing, graced the project this year

Lovely Dogfish Head brewing glasses + coasters

Lovely Dogfish Head brewing glasses + coasters

Thank you to the Cutler Investment Counsel for the Large Tree Sponsorship, American West Bank for the Large Tree Design sponsorship, and for whomever purchased the tree at the live auction event. We hope you find a great place to plant it and it grows strong and healthy for years.

WEB is consistently the only live potted plantable Large Tree designer (there are table top trees as well as wreaths and a few other excellent options).

Thanks as well to the hundreds of folks who came out to view the trees and support the event, the myriad Providence folks and army of volunteers who make it happen each year. A special thanks to my frolleauges with the Jackson County Master Recyclers as well

Delicious Weisinger's Wine

Delicious Weisinger’s Wine

Hop Bines from Alpha Beta Hop farm add grace

Hop Bines from Alpha Beta Hop farm add grace

for streaming and reducing and educating to make a greener holiday season.

This is the biggest single volunteer donation event we do each year – and happily so!

Again, thanks to everyone for their support. Cheers to a safe, happy, tasty and wonder filled holiday season –

 

A few stats from the Festival:

  •  Over 20K visitors usually tour the event, during invite sessions as well as public viewing
  •  The Festival has raised over 6.7 million dollars over 20 years. These dollars are applied toward a variety of community health services and programs for the Providence Medford Medical Center.
Growling goodies from BricktownE Brewing

Growling goodies from BricktownE Brewing

OMSI donated some fun tickets

OMSI donated some fun tickets

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Beer & Wine: Together Forever Workshop

I’ve been loving putting the ‘and’ where it belongs between beer and wine with tastings that feature both of these wonderful libations this year.

Beer & Wine: Together Forever workshop 11.10.13 - awaiting guests!

Beer & Wine: Together Forever workshop 11.10.13 – awaiting guests!

Last Sunday found us at it with a room full of guests ready to sip-in. The Ashland Culinary Festival takes place the first weekend of November in Ashland OR. In 2012 I lead two flavor oriented beer education sessions – this year we included wine.

Why?

Because flavor is where you find it. Beer, wine, spirits, mead, cider, perry, sour cream, tofu, whatever. It’s not the “what” that’s ever as important as the “why” behind what we try. To be diplomatic and share your affinity for whatever it is forward with tact and enthusiasm is tantamount to developing more ‘and’ connection, less ‘vs.’, ‘or’, and ‘but’.

And who ever said you have to pick either beer or wine?!? No one. It’s just unhelpful conjecture and our own roadblocks that we put up.

Knowing more about anything includes investigating the ‘why’ – the Why is what drives our decision-making processes and it’s loaded with helpful insight into ourselves and those around us.

Our friends at Weisinger’s Winery was our host location and contributed the wines. Local brewery Standing Stone Brewing Company provided the fresh tasty beer. David Schultz of Sysco generously sponsored the entire event and provided lovely accompanying food nibbles.

When I started the session, there were at least two great guests who said they “weren’t beer drinkers.” By the time they walked out, smiling broadly, they both happily claimed they were. Still in the learning stage to be sure and supported by the entire room, it’s important to note that an open mind is key. 

Cheers to beer and Cheers to wine! Here’s the menu we savored.

  • Beer: Wild Trail Ale brewed with Yarrow and St. John’s Wort with the Beers Made By Walking collaboration.
  • Wine: 2010 Petite Blanc, blend of Viognier, Chardonney, and Gewurtztraminer
  • Beer: Vienna-style Victory Lager
  • Wine: Lot 20 Mescolare, proprietary blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc
  • Beer: Steel-Cut Stout
  • Wine: 2010 Estate Tempranillo
  • Foods: Sysco lightly seasoned wafer crackers, Monterey Jack & Cheddar Cheeses, 3 varieties of fresh pears, dark chocolate disks.

Go ahead. Have a beer AND wine tasting party. It’s easy, simple, and fun.

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