“Try not to drool too much!” That was the Husband’s parting shot as I left the cottage, en route to interview Willie Harcourt-Cooze at the Temple Bar Chocolate Festival on Saturday. It’s not that I have the habit of going weak at the knees with my interviewees, no matter how charismatic – while at Savour New Zealand I managed Anthony Bourdain without so much as a missed heartbeat – but the Husband knew how much Willie’s Channel 4 programmes had drawn me in, had witnessed my initially fruitless search for the 100% cacao bars in Ireland and had sourced a very well-received stash of those and the just-released chocolate bars for my birthday.
Did I mention that I also bought a copy of Willie’s cookbook as soon as it came out? And that his hot chocolate is the afternoon pick-me-up of choice at the cottage? And that his cacao gets grated into and on top of many dishes (especially eggs fried in chilli oil) as we, as exhorted to by Mr Harcourt-Cooze, keep one of the bars on the worktop, next to the olive oil, salt and pepper? Hmm…maybe the Husband did have a point.
After the calm of the cottage, there was a real buzz on the streets of Temple Bar on Saturday with the weekly food, book and design markets taking place alongside the weekend-long chocolate festival. It had started on Friday with a variety of workshops, including one on truffle making with Gillian from Some Say Cocoa, Some Say Cacao, and a screening of the original Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The workshops continued on Saturday, alongside master chocolatier Benoit Lorge‘s cooking demonstrations and Willie’s own talk on his adventures in making chocolate, from bean to bar.
While a lot of the events took indoors, the festival was made visible on the streets on Saturday by MaSamba Samba School’s Chocolate Caravan, drumming oompa loompas (pictured) roaming the streets of Temple Bar. Sunday was Chocolate Fair day but I was long gone by the stage, my interview with Willie on tape and the transcription started. He was a pleasure to talk to, the encounter sweetened by the fact that he turned up with some of his new chocolate releases for me to try. I’m a sucker for good chocolate, even when it’s not delivered by a charming man. And the interview? That’s coming up soon in the Mail on Sunday. I’ll let you know.