World Chocolate Expo at the Maritime Aquarium

Mentalist Marc Salem

Mentalist Marc Salem

Chocolate caramel apples, chocolate fountains and . . . harbor seals? It must be time for the World Chocolate Expo at The Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk again. Thirty-plus vendors will be on hand this Sunday, Jan. 26, with samples of just about anything you can think of made with chocolate and plenty of other tasty things besides.

A quick perusal of the vendor list reveals a diverse selection of purveyors: Aurora Gourmet (chocolate fountains), Bacon Bites (yes, chocolate-covered bacon, yikes!), Bonjour Creperie, Chocolate Rain (chocolate-covered strawberries, cherries, wedding and party favors), Goodway gourmet (rum cakes, butter cookies, macaroons), Jessy’s Pastries (Peruvian style alfajors, little cookie sandwiches filled with dulce de leche, coconut and Nutella), Bella’s Home-Baked Goods (biscotti and butter toffee) and Ola Granola. Other vendors will be offering maple products, artisan cheeses, pickles and olives, coffee, balsamic vinegar even skin-care products.

There’s entertainment on offer, too: cooking demos by chef Barret Beyer (“Hell’s Kitchen,” Season 11), preparing recipes using chocolate at 12, 2, 4 & 6 p.m., and chef Lawrence Rosenberg, cookbook author and owner of Bacon Bites, at 1, 3 & 5. And in the IMAX Theater, tantalizing “Chocolate Mind Games” by mentalist Marc Salem, who’s appeared on “60 Minutes.” Salem’s 40-minute shows take place at 10:30, 12, 1:30, 3 & 4:30.

For the record, “World” is a (very) relative term here. The overwhelming majority of exhibitors are from New York and New Jersey. We were disappointed to see only one Connecticut vendor—Chocolate Rain of Norwalk—at an event held in Connecticut, but according to organizer Marvin Baum, it was not for lack of trying. He’s repeatedly reached out to places like House of Knipschildt (see our cover story this month), Chocolate Lab, Moo Chocolates, PEZ and many others, he says, but most never even bothered to respond. (Come on, guys, play nice!) When he sought to include Connecticut wineries in a farmers’ market area at the Expo, he ran up against another problem: Apparently state wineries are only allowed by law to participate in three markets a year. (Above, sweet treats from Jessy's Pastries.)

“I went to great lengths to bring-in Connecticut-based companies,” says Baum, who was at pains to assure us that “Our limited success does not reflect a limited effort.”

Be that as it may, this is a great event for the whole family. For the price of admission, you have the whole Maritime Aquarium with all of its fascinating living exhibits—including exotic fish, sea turtles, sand tiger sharks and river otters—at your fingertips.

All that and chocolate, too—what’s not to like?!

Chocolate World Expo, Sun. Jan 26, 10 to 7, at the Maritime Aquarium, South Norwalk, Admission: Adults $15, children 3-12 years old, $10.

World Chocolate Expo at the Maritime Aquarium

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