Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival

The folks who organized the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Fest in Costa Rica really know how to throw a party! The festival runs for four days and offers a wonderful variety of events to enjoy throughout the laid-back beach resort community.

Puerto Viejo Beach

I had been invited to be a judge at the 2014 festival, so had the pleasure of judging the single origin chocolate and the flavour infused chocolate truffles. It was tough tasting 11 single origin samples, but we judges persevered!

chocolate samples

Judging focused on five categories: the aroma, mouthfeel, flavour, and finish (lingering flavours on the tongue), as well as the judge’s overall impression of each chocolate. Quite a tasty task, although I admit to not liking one of the truffles.

The chocolate judging was followed by a fabulous dinner at Stash’s featuring an excellent chicken molé and talapia fish encrusted with locally grown macadamia nuts. A truly delicious meal in a lovely setting. The walls at Stash’s are adorned with local art, and the tropical gardens on the grounds are a welcoming touch.

I adored this piece of original art on the walls at Stash's. Can you spot the toucan and iguana in the piece?

I adored this piece of original art on the walls at Stash’s. Can you spot the toucan and iguana in the piece?

Day two of the festival was the largest public event, at which chocolate makers and chocolate lovers gathered to indulge in all sorts of chocolate flavours, entertainment, and craziness, including aerial dancers and the hypnotic dance of the cacao in which we were all invited to join in.

Day three of the festival was one of my favourites. There were several interesting presentations, including one by American chocolate maker Steve Devries, who was visiting from Colorado.

Steve Devries

Later, we indulged in a series of delicious chocolate pairings at Chili Rojo, one of the finest restaurants in Puerto Viejo. Each chocolate maker had the opportunity to offer samples of their finest chocolate paired with the libation of their choice. We had Talamanca Chocolate’s Allspice bar with Single Malt Scotch, Tawny Port paired with 70% Pinca from Xocolat Chocolate, Carmenère wine from Chile paired with Bread & Chocolate’s Macadamia and Hazelnut Truffle, along with a Spumante paired with an orange truffle. Is your mouth watering yet?

Next up was Samaritan Chocolate, who paired their Pumpkin Pie Spice Chocolate with a Chocolate Stout. Caribeans Chocolate paired their espresso-infused 72% dark chocolate and their Three Kings Chocolate with several aged rums. Wow! And Talamanca Organica paired their 70% dark chocolate with an Organic Shiraz red wine from Italy. What a night!

Paul Johnson and his wife Jeanne treated us to Caribeans Chocolate paired with Zucapa, a 23-year-old amber rum from Guatemala in the Chocolate Tasting Lounge at Chili Rojo.

Paul Johnson and his wife Jeanne treated us to Caribeans Chocolate paired with Zacapa, a 23-year-old amber rum from Guatemala in the Chocolate Tasting Lounge at Chili Rojo.

The following day we did the “Chocolate Crawl,” where we visited various eating and drinking establishments for some form of chocolate offering. The various savoury chocolate dipping sauces served at Koki Beach (pictured below) were amazing. Who’d have thought that a cocoa-based sauce would pair so nicely with plantain and corn chips?

chocolate dipping sauces

You can see a video of the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Fest made made by chocolate maker Henrik Bodholdt on my YouTube channel.

The Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival used to be held as close to Halloween night as possible. But it has been replaced by the new Costa Rican Chocolate Festival (Feria de Chocolate CR) that is now held in the capital city of San Jose in June.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

35 Responses

  1. I did not even know that such a festival that is dedicated to celebrating chocolate existed and stretched up to 4 days!! I would love to be in your shoes and have a go at tasting the 11 chocolate truffles since I am obsessed with chocolate!!I was gifted some delicious truffles recently and the box was personalized with my name on it… that feels as good as the chocolates!

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Freddy and welcome to the blog! Believe me. It’s not easy to intelligently judge 11 chocolate submissions in a short period of time. But we managed it! Was the personalized box from zChocolat? They do the nicest job of personalizing a chocolate order that I have ever seen.
      Doreen recently posted…Chocolatouring in 2015My Profile

  2. Rachel says:

    Two comments:
    1. OMG, pumpkin pie spice chocolate!
    2. You didn’t like a chocolate truffle? What could ever be wrong with a chocolate truffle?
    Rachel recently posted…Haight-Ashbury nostalgiaMy Profile

    • Hi Rachel. Not all chocolate truffles are created equal! One of the truffles I was judging had a distinctly unpleasant flavour. It tasted like it was infused with grass. Not at all pleasant. I want chocolate to take me on a sensory experience that puts a smile on my face. Not a grimace!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…air travel with a catMy Profile

  3. Wow, I see you had a lot of fun over there and of course lot of chocolate! 3 days of chocolate sounds like heaven to me!

  4. I am coming to Costa Rica next year and I hope I will get the chance to experience this event! Marking the date. Thanks for the information, Doreen!
    Trisha Velarmino recently posted…The Quarter Life: Traveling Changed The Way I Think About Being 25My Profile

  5. Findia Group says:

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. Hi Doreen,
    Chocolate crawl??? OMG !!!! Sounds like paradise to me!!!!!!!
    Another destination added on our list 😉
    Safe(and delicious) travels!!!!
    Robson Cadore recently posted…O Que fazer em Istambul? Dicas e Roteiro Para Sua Viagem!My Profile

  7. Monu says:

    Hi Doreen,
    Thanks for sharing the article about Chocolate festival. Very interesting article. I liked it. Because chocolate is yummy and chocolate festival is too yummy.
    Once again thanks for sharing views. Have a great week ahead. You are doing a great work doreen.

  8. alison says:

    What a perfect pairing of chocolate and a beautiful setting. All of those combinations in the tastings sound so interesting. A chocolate crawl would be my idea of a decadent way to spend some time. Can’t wait to read about the Pure Jungle Spa.
    alison recently posted…Charleston Weekend GetawayMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Alison: That’s the great thing I’m learning about the world of global chocolate and chocolate travel. Each region features it in its own unique way of featuring chocolate. None of better than the rest, just different! But chocolate in the tropics is indeed slightly more raw and sensual that when you eat refined chocolate halfway across the world from where the cacao was grown. Thanks for your comment.
      Doreen recently posted…Puerto Viejo Chocolate FestivalMy Profile

  9. Well I’m glad I have a chocolate bar in the house after reading this. Thanks for sharing!
    A Cook Not Mad (Nat) recently posted…La Vita è Bella – an Umbrian pictorialMy Profile

  10. Cheryl says:

    I have always said that chocolate goes with everything and now you have confirmed it. It sounds like you had a fantastic time. Judging chocolate must be a tough job! LOL
    Cheryl recently posted…L’Oreal Age Perfect for the Holidays #sponsoredMy Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Cheryl: Yes, judging was really tough in the Single Origin category as there were 11 entries!!! It was much easier judging the truffles, as I think we only had to taste 6. Hey – it’s a tough job, but I’m dedicated to refining the world of fine chocolate. 🙂 Cheers!
      Doreen recently posted…thankful for my friendsMy Profile

  11. The Puerto Viejo Chocolate festival sounds like a blast! Especially the chocolate crawl. Never would have thought of chocolate and corn chips though. Interesting.

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Susan: I am learning that chocolate and/or the savoury side of cocoa go with just about anything! We’re talking about a really savoury and slightly spicy dipping sauce that was paired with the corn chips. And a slightly lighter and sweeter sauce that was paired more effectively with the plantain chips. Very cool indeed. I’m learning SO much from my chocolate travels!
      Doreen recently posted…thankful for my friendsMy Profile

  12. Oh, yes! My mouth is watering! We were in Puerto Viejo this summer, but darn it, we missed the chocolate! That would have made to the visit over the top! I’d love to participate in a chocolate tasting someday…
    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go recently posted…Silk Underwear Concealed – Kleptocracy Revealed: Lima, PeruMy Profile

  13. The Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival sounds wonderful. And, yes, my mouth in watering. Those are some interesting pairings of libation and chocolate.
    Donna Janke recently posted…You’ve Got MailMy Profile

  14. Chris says:

    What a treat and honour!

    Whilst culinary delights aren’t high on many Cuban itineraries, there were a couple of locations that had me thinking of you! 🙂
    Chris recently posted…Oosh-mal (Uxmal)My Profile

    • Doreen says:

      Hi Chris: Yes, I know. Cuba is not known for its culinary delights, or its chocolate. I have enjoyed my visits there, but don’t remember one outstanding meal. It was before my chocolate research days, but any Cuban chocolate I have tasted has been rough and coarse, and not too much to my liking, much like Mexican chocolate.

      I hope you’re enjoying your adventures! Thx for stopping by.
      Doreen recently posted…thankful for my friendsMy Profile

  15. What a great setting to enjoy chocolates!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…12 Things you MUST see and do in the Napa ValleyMy Profile

  16. Gaelyn says:

    Gee, Chocolate and Costa Rica sounds like a tough gig but also a perfect combination.
    Gaelyn recently posted…What makes my feet itch to be on the roadMy Profile

  17. Sounds like such a great time! I would much rather do a chocolate crawl than a pub crawl. The dipping sauce sounds delicious! I hope you enjoyed yourself!
    Tracie Howe recently posted…End of Cruise, Vancouver & the Train Journey HomeMy Profile

  18. How wonderful! I look forward to reading about all of your new adventures in your next book.
    TammyJo Eckhart, PhD recently posted…Chocolate Drizzled BiscottiMy Profile

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