Arts and Culture, Food, Travel

A Visit to the annual Salon du Chocolat

Last weekend, the Ninja Turtle and GodzillaPin spent a day suffering from sugar overload. It’s that time of the year again, when the Salon du Chocolat comes to the Metz Exposition, and the duo went armed with 2 credit cards and plenty of shopping bags.

There were 60+ exhibitors at the Salon du Chocolat this year. Of course, as the name suggests, it’s a world of chocolate.

Each year, there is also a chocolate sculpture competition, as well as a fashion parade, where the models wear creations made with/of chocolate. The theme this year was Asia.

 

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Of course, it wasn’t ALL just chocolate. There were other types of confectionery on offer too.

One of the reasons for visiting a chocolate exposition, aside from tasting and buying chocolate of course, was that they got to speak with the experts. Two years ago, the duo had a nice chat with Mikael Azouz, who has won multiple international awards. This time, the duo chose to chin-wag with another chocolate master – Fabrice Dumay, the best chocolatier in Moselle.

M. Dumay was incredibly friendly, and knowledgeable. He explained to them how lecithin was used as an emulsifier, and consequently confectioners also cost-cut with this ingredient (by increasing lecithin by 1%, you can reduce cocoa butter by 10% in your recipe). He went into great detail explaining the various single origins, from Madagascar, to Sao Tome, to Venezuela, and the latest up-and-coming chocolate region in the world: Vietnam! Cocoa was first planted there 10 years ago, and harvest from the first 5 years were terrible, but they are slowly seeing improvements. The production, situated not far from the Mekong Delta, is currently very small-scale, and apparently 100% fair trade. M. Dumay also quickly briefed them on the crop to bean to bar process, and shared his favourite wine to pair with chocolate (if you must know, it’s the Modérato Nectar d’Automne Muscat from Casablanca).

 

All up, it was a fantastic excursion, and look at the bounty they lugged home that evening:

Just don't ask how much they spent on this (it's an eye-watering sum).

Just don’t ask how much they spent on this (it’s an eye-watering sum).

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Food, Travel

Melbourne’s Night Noodle Markets

While looking for new food adventures, the Ninja Turtle came across the Night Noodle Markets – a food festival that runs till 30 November. After a huge success in 2013, the Night Noodle Markets are back to celebrate Good Food Month 2014.

The venue: Birrarung Marr, by the Yarra River

The venue: Birrarung Marr, by the Yarra River

Street food with an Asian focus, with food, drinks, music and entertainment. It’s picnicing with style!

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With 50 stalls spread out over 3 levels, diners need a map to navigate the scene

With 50 stalls spread out over 3 levels, diners need a map to navigate the scene

Why noodles? Who knows… the place certainly offers up plenty to choose from, with cuisines from China, India, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia, and even Burma and Nepal.

All the usual favourites on offer...

All the usual favourites on offer…

But also introductions to some crazier, more imaginative concoctions...

But also introductions to some crazier, more imaginative concoctions…

So many fond memories of childhood for the Ninja Turtle...

So much food to choose from, so little stomach space…

Plus oh! Desserts!

Plus oh! Desserts!

The queues do get overwhelmingly long, especially for the more popular stalls. Favourite dishes also sell out fast. It is best to show up with a game plan.

The Ninja Turtle’s Guide to Maximising Your Night Noodle Market Experience

#1: Jump on this website: https://map.nightnoodlevip.com/ This is an interactive map of the food stalls, with their respective dishes on offer and the prices listed.

#2: Fix a date with a bunch of friends (avoid the Friday night if possible unless you wish to test your will to live). There is strength in numbers, and you are going to need it.

#3: Show up! The place is massive and the crowds will swarm like a hive being poked, so it helps to pick a distinctive landmark for your rendez-vous. Here’s a recommendation:

Can’t miss the Cookie Monster with a bagpipe. Even if you don’t see him, you’ll hear him. Best of all, he is ALWAYS there, doing his thing. Please remember to take a photo with this chap, and drop a coin in appreciation.

#4: If you haven’t already designed your MO, quick do it now. Know which stalls you need to hit, and the quantities of food to be ordered. One man, one stall, it’s only fair. Fix a meeting point, and wait until everyone comes back. Leave no man behind.

#5: Find a spot to sit. Some teams may wish to assign a person to do this while everyone else queues for food. We say: pffffft. What are you, scared of grass? Unless it’s raining, or you’re eating a really fussy dish that contains soup, tables and chairs at a picnic are strictly optional.

Japanese oden - soup with root vegetables and a boiled egg. Table highly recommended while consuming this dish.

Japanese oden – soup with root vegetables and a boiled egg. Table highly recommended while consuming this dish.

Vietnamese Goi Ga and Goi Tofu - salad with chicken or tofu and lots of chilli sauce. Best enjoyed with chopsticks, sitting cross-legged on the grass.

Vietnamese Goi Ga and Goi Tofu – salad with chicken or tofu and lots of chilli sauce. Best enjoyed with chopsticks, sitting cross-legged on the grass.

The Night Noodle Markets were such an adventure, the Ninja Turtle went not once, not twice, but three times! Embarrassed but not ashamed. There’s just so much to explore and try and share with friends who love food as much as she does.

Friends who feast together...

Friends who feast together…

Readers of this blog may remember Ducky and the Naked Mole Rat from last year. Yes, the gang is back together again!

Readers of this blog may remember Ducky and the Naked Mole Rat from last year. Yes, the gang is back together again!

The Nina Turtle recommends:

1. Grilled octopus tentacles with hot and spicy seasoning (Grilled Calamari)

2. Crispy chicken with kewpie mayonnaise (Izakaya Den)

3. Lentil Poppers (Overdosa)

The Ninja Turtle wished she could have tried:

1. Chilli caramel pork doughnuts (Fred Loves Korean)

2. Happy Taste Bud Time and Phuc Khing Tasty (Gelato Messina)

On that note, seriously… surely not?! Guys, this is a family-friendly event! How could you make little children say such things when making an order of ice-based confectionery dessert? This is going to stick with them for life…

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