A couple of weeks ago, I attended the real food festival at Earl's Court. I foolishly thought 2 hours would be plenty of time to check everything out and then grab dinner with a friend. I was wrong. Between watching chef demonstrations and listening to radio program debates, chatting with producers and foodies, sampling all sorts of wonderful eats, and purchasing many delicious bits and pieces, I barely covered half the festival stalls! It was a wonderful event and I wish I had budgeted my time better to make my way around the whole place.
Still, I did meet some wonderful folks (including Willie Harcourt-Cooze who signed a copy of his Chocolate Bible for me!) and took home some lovely, particular-friendly goodies. Some edible highlights:
- Bendylegs Granola (a beach bucket of the good stuff!)
- Revolution tea (a little tin of organic green held me over for the long weekend up north)
- Jaz & Jul's organic hot chocolate (mintchievous flavor!)
Not to mention the many many samples I picked up along the way, including some raw buffalo milk! This is great news for folks out there who, like me, are unable to digest cow's milk but CAN have goat's and sheep's milk. Buffalo dairy will be fine for you, as long as it's pure buffalo and not mixed with cow's - but if you can find some organic buffalo mozzarella in your part of the world, pick some up! It's so nice to be able to have it again! But I stress that this is not for anyone with a dairy ALLERGY, merely an intolerance, sensitivity, or aversion to cow's dairy (lots of us).
Another highlight from the festival was the Sweet Freedom stall. A little while ago, I was sent some of their natural sweetener syrups to review for Blue Tomato magazine, and fell in love with the stuff. Now, whenever I find it in the shops, I pick some up - it is made of natural fruit sugars from grapes, apples, and carob. Great for baking, drizzling on pancakes, sweetening up smoothies, etc. So it was even more exciting when I noticed that they are partnered with a fabulous company called Choc Chick. After sampling some of her raw chocolate, I got in touch with the owner and she kindly sent me one of her raw chocolate making kits to try, which includes organic raw cacao butter, organic raw cacao powder, and a tiny bottle of Sweet Freedom. I've wanted to try my hand at making raw chocolate, and what better way to get acquainted with this whole world of healthy treats than with a little kit ready-measured for you?
The whole thing took about 5 minutes (I sprinkled in some pink himalayan salt - YUM) and I'm now completely hooked. We still have some sitting in the fridge for an after-dinner treat, and I just bought some more cacao butter to make another batch, and maybe I'll get some moulds to make fun shapes. It's become an addiction... but a good one! Here's why:
- Unlike the chocolate bars we're used to seeing on the supermarket and newsagents shelves, RAW chocolate doesn't contain any refined sugar or corn syrup, dairy products, or additives such as soy lecithin
- Rather than roasted cacao, used in the more traditional chocolate sold in the US and Europe, the raw stuff retains all the nutritional goodness that those beautiful cacao beans naturally have within them
- The antioxidants within raw cacao are about double that of green tea!
- Magnesium is also abundant in cacao beans which keeps our hearts healthy
Raw chocolate, anyone?