Chocolate Covered February

Last Saturday I spent part of the day at the Hotel Hershey with some fellow bloggers at one the MANY Chocolate Covered February events being offered in Hershey.  We met in the lobby and then wended our way through the hotel to one of the ballrooms for a cooking demonstration by Chef Garde Manger, Mario Oliverio.

Chefe Garde Manger Mario Oliverio

Chef Mario demonstrated several components for the group, including:

  • Chocolate Pecans
  • Dried Cherry & Chive Vinaigrette
  • Salad of Frisee and Arugula with Apple, Dried Cherry & Chive Vinaigrette, and Chocolate Pecans
  • Cocoa Spiced Braised Lamb with Pickled Red Onion on Fried Wonton

The following are pics of Chef Mario’s presentation:

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Fellow Bloggers Photographing FoodAfter he finished his demonstration, my fellow bloggers and I swarmed the front of the room to take photos of the food.  And although the majority of the bloggers tasted his offerings, I was too busy gabbing and missed the tasting…..but never fear!

When the official event was over, we all headed to the Cocoa Beanery to get to know one another better.  We gabbed and gabbed, had some beverages and sweets, and then broke up to go about our individual days.

It was such a fun time!!!

The following are just a few of the upcoming events for Chocolate Covered February:

  • 2/16/2013 – AFTERNOON CHOCOLATE TEA – Hotel Hershey 3:00 p.m. – $25/person (plus tax and gratuity) – Reservations Required
  • 2/16/2013 – CHEF DEMONSTRATION – Hotel Hershey 11:00 a.m. – Complimentary – Reservations Required
  • 2/16/2013 – CHOCOLATE & SPIRITS PAIRING- Hotel Hershey 8:00 p.m. – $45/person (plus tax & gratuity) – Reservations Required – MUST BE 21 or OLDER TO PARTICIPATE
  • 2/16 & 2/17/2013 – THE ADVENTURES OF CODY COCOA BEAN STORYTELLING w/ Sample Sized Hershey’s Hot Cocoa – Chocolate World 1 p.m & 3 p.m. – Complimentary – Recommended for families
  • 2/22/2013 – BEER & CHOCOLATE PAIRINGS – Hershey Lodge 5:00 p.m. – $30/person (plus tax & gratuity) – Reservations Required – MUST BE 21 or OLDER TO PARTICIPATE
  • 2/22/2013 – CUPCAKES & COCKTAILS – Hotel Hershey 8:00 p.m. – $35/person (plus tax & gratuity) – Reservations Required
  • 2/23/2013 – CHOCOLATE COVERED CHILDRENS TEA – Hershey Lodge 12:30 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. – $40/adult plus one child; $18/each additional person (plus tax & gratuity) – Reservations Required
  • 2/23 & 2/24/2013 – HERSHEY PARK CHOCOLATE CHARACTER PARADE – Chocolate World 2:30 p.m. – Complimentary – Recommended for families

Please visit the official Chocolate Covered February website for a full listing of events and to double-check my dates, times, locations, prices, etc.

Because Jeff and I weren’t able to celebrate Valentine’s Day together yesterday, I decided to channel Chef Mario’s enthusiasm and create my own version of his menu for dinner tonight.

I made a salad with mixed greens, goat cheese, dried cherry & chive vinaigrette, and cocoa dusted pecans:

I didn’t have red onions on hand, but I decided to pickle some carrots, red peppers and white onions.

Instead of making an appetizer with the Cocoa Braised Lamb, I decided to turn it into an entrée. The following are pics of the process of creating the dish.

I couldn’t find any tomato paste in the cupboard, but didn’t let that deter me.  I took a can of pizza sauce and reduced it until it turned into a paste!

Making Tomato PasteI prepped the lamb and began to brown it in a Dutch Oven.Lamb CubesBrowning the LambI added the tomato paste and cooked it for about one minute.  Then I added some of the braising liquid to deglaze the pan and finally added the remaining braising liquid, thyme and spices.

Browned Bits on Bottom of Dutch Oven

Bottom of Dutch Oven After Deglazing

Lamb in Braising Liquid with ThymeI put it in the oven and braised it for a LLLOOONNNGGG time.  In fact, I went for a three-mile walk while it cooked on low heat.  (Please don’t tell my mom I left the oven unattended).

The last thing I prepared were sweet & spicy sesame wontons for garnish.

Sweet & Spicy Sesame Wontons

My timing was great.  Everything was done just as Jeff walked through the door!  While he changed, I plated dinner and took pics to share with you.

The Finished Product

Cocoa Spiced Braised Lamb on Chocolate Rice with Pickled Veggies and Sesame WontonsI am happy to report that Chocolate Covered February has made its way to our house! Thanks for the inspiration, Chef Mario!

I hope you all get out to Hershey to enjoy one of the Chocolate Covered February events.  I’d love to hear from you – please share your Chocolate Covered February experiences with me and my readers!

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