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    Chocolate Dreams 2015 GuardiaCare
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    Louisville has really blossomed to quite the visionary city. Prominent events like GuardiaCare's Chocolate Dreams further solidify Louisville's flourishing status as a beautifully diverse, daring, and delicious contender in the foodie world.

    As a self-proclaimed chocoholic, I appreciate the competing categories: Chocolate Savory, Chocolate International, Chocolate Bluegrass, Chocolate Brain Freeze, Best Display, and the final award- People's Choice. Out-of-the-box thinking can lead to surprisingly decadent plot twists in the culinary world. Chocolate Dreams is all about shedding new light for Louisvillians. It is a crucial fundraiser for GuardiaCare, and I love that the company ties in the theme of the event to the cause behind it all. You might be shocked to find out where some of the greatest chefs are creating their masterpieces.

    For those who were unable to make it to the 10th anniversary of Chocolate Dreams, here at Louisville.com, we have a vivid virtual photo tour of what some of the best chefs in Louisville are conceiving in the culinary world. 

    Sodexo Catering- Antipasta Skewer

    Before all the overflowing chocolate was released like a gust of gourmet wonders, Sodexo Catering at Frazier Hall in Bellarmine University had purely salty appetizers. This was my 2nd year attending Chocolate Dreams, and the past two times I have attended, these zesty introductions have successfully balanced the palate. The main show goes to the chocolate delicacies, but I was rather fond of the caprese skewers, with fantastically fresh mozzarella. 

    Caprese skewers

    First up: Atria Senior Living had fun with the Brain Freeze category, with their twist on nostaglic pop rocks- chocolate, frozen, and crackling with cacao! 

    Atria Senior Living

    Freeze-carbonated chocolate candy. Ice-cold chocolate fizzy pops. Gastronomy before our very eyes. Invigorating way to kick off the 10th anniversary of Chocolate Dreams.

    Belterra Casino Resort garnered two awards, for Chocolate Bluegrass and Best Display. Chef Cindy Kerr presented Double Chocolate Mousse, with bourbon-scented blackberry compote, for her award-winning entry. Lush with color and rife with flavor, the fruit juices danced along with the crunch of the lovely chocolate topping. A thoughtful choice!

    Vincenzo's with Chef Serge Katz

    Chef Katz of Vincenzo's never disappoints. Last year, his chocolate sponge cake was a favorite from Chocolate Dreams 2014. This year, Vincenzo's went the chocolate savory route, and it was a delicious change. Saffran risotto with chocolate ganache, crispy pancetta, and agrodolce, a sour cream/sweet and sour Italian sauce, made with wine, vinegar, and caramelized sugar. All the flavors subtly complemented each other to create a rich, scrumptious aftertaste.

    My friend Morgan and I have grown to become avid fans of Old 502 Winery. The After Choc chocolate-infused dessert wine certainly swept us off our feet. Bravo! 

    There was also a second offering from Zi Olive made with white chocolate bourbon balsamic, but Morgan and I much preferred the one above. I'm picky when it comes to cheese, but I felt like the strawberry brought out a lovely flavor in the brie, with the chocolate balsamic serving as a silky bow of taste on top. 

    Chef Joshua Moore of Volare rightfully triumphed in Chocolate International. 

     Bottom: White chocolate smoked paprika custard. Then, pomegranate-infused flourless chocolate torte. Delicately on top: Saffron Chantilly cream. Morgan and I were promised that this would be the best flourless torte, due to its total luscious factor. It was glorious. We couldn't even pace ourselves and devoured the international-friendly torte in its entirety.

    Cake Flour- with Claudia Delatorre's creations

    Those at Cake Flour were plenty amused with Chocolate Dreams-goers initial hesitance with the bacon jam creation featured above juxtaposed with prompt reactions of elated contentment. Morgan and I raced back to follow-up the foodie splendor with the chocolate cookie sandwiches. That inner layer of bourbon honey might as well have been a matchmaker between those chocolate cookies, because Morgan and I were floating with delight.

    These Orange Chimeres made with milk chocolate by Chef Kelly Ramsey at Art Eatables melted with a graceful surge of the purest chocolate. It's a must-visit table any time Art Eatables shows at a foodie event. 

    Pineapple, Cinnamon, Orange, and Mint Chimeres, with ranges from white to dark chocolate, spread tantalizingly across the table. 

    Buck's Restaurant won not only for Chocolate Savory, but for the most coveted: People's Choice. Morgan and I went back three separate times, because this chocolate-infused feast of flavors was just that tempting. Chef Andrew Welenken offered pulled pork with chocolate chili barbeque sauce, bourbon vanilla apple butter, cocoa coffee-encrusted pork, ancho chili citrus pork rind, and pickled onion salad (with candied orange). You can find a similar order at Buck's Restaurant, in the form of lamb. Needless to say, Morgan and I will be venturing to Buck's Restaurant and crossing that off the foodie bucket list one day. Favorite of the event! 

    Sodexo Catering (Frazier Hall- Bellarmine University); complete with knight in shining armor

    Have you ever seen a more enticing vision? A bouquet of chocolate-covered bacon!

    My instant reaction: "Where have you been all my life?!" 

    And of course I had to take a photo op with my BFF The Comfy Cow! Of the chocopalooza flavors, I had to pick one of the dearest flavors to my heart: Ze German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream. Consistent, absolute perfection.

    Oh Comfy Cow, we love you. And I cheered when you won for Chocolate Brainfreeze.

    Chef Z had one of my favorite displays. The orange apricot cake marinated in Woodford Reserve was a little dry for Morgan's and my tastes, but we happily enjoyed the chocolate-covered cheesecake, also made with Woodford Reserve. There was also a chocolate pecan tart made with Woodford Reserve! It's a beautiful world when chocolate and bourbon can mingle in harmony.

    Love this action shot of Gumby's Catering, witnessing just as the bourbon caramel sauce was poured atop banana chocolate bread pudding. Yum! 

    Disclaimer: I normally steer clear things of all things spicy, and that includes wasabi territory. Chef Dustin Staggers of Roux managed to subvert my expectations. This chocolate sesame sponge cake with wasabi merengue and halva crumble with a white chocolate drizzle was like an electric bolt with a stellar wasabi pulse. I might not find myself eating this every day for the rest of my life like some indulgences, but twenty years from now, I will still remember the impact of this taste- and that is true culinary prowess.

    Brownsboro Park Retirement Community continues to prove that senior living facilities can have high-end, flawless cuisine. Last year, their chocolate bourbon cheesecake was one of my favorites, and they continue to have a special place in my heart. These smoked maple bourbon chocolate chip pancakes were infinite joy in every bite. Extra points for the charming heart for the ultimate pancake presentation. 

    These absynthe buttercreams with orange oil and sea salt on the bottoms concocted by Chef Erika Chavez-Graziano were like an alcoholic chocoholic K.O. Like the wasabi-chocolate mix from Roux, this is one to be had in moderation, but one of the innovations that stands out most in my mind. I love that Cellar Door Chocolate is never afraid to get creative.

    Also, Cellar Door Chocolates have wickedly talented designs. Chocolate is meant to be as eye-catching as it is delicious!

    Marketplace Restaurant: Nutella Mascarpone Mousse. With candied pecans, white chocolate pearls, and bourbon chocolate sauce. I can't say no to nutella, bourbon, chocolate, and pecans! And I liked the adorable presentation- it had personality.

    Guaca Mole offered Chicken Mole, one of Morgan's favorites.

    Belterra Casino Resort

    Second turnabout the room.

    Feasting status.

    This exclusively autographed Pappy van Winkle bottle of bourbon, sold at the live auction for $3,500.00!

    Roux

    Morgan and I are such fans of the hard-working people at GuardiaCare like Executive Director Susan Smith, tirelessly working behind-the-scenes to make a special event like this possible. I am still partial to Chocolate Dreams 2014, as it was my first introduction to the magic of this foodie affair. I missed Hillbilly Tea, Loop 22, and Mussel & Burger Bar, who were unexpectedly absent. There were no exotic chocolate sculptures this year. And I personally felt the venue from the previous year better suited the elegance of this event. But even withstanding all of those facts, Chocolate Dreams still remains extraordinary, and an absolute favorite amongst the foodie scene. Not only for its exploration and deep appreciation of food, but for all that this fundraiser represents. Where other events are all about showing off culinary feats, Chocolate Dreams takes life in a deeper, more significant stride. GuardiaCare allows for dark horse contenders like Belterra Casino Resort to compete and win two categories. Brownsboro Park Retirement Community and Atria Senior Living offer proof that perhaps societal views of senior facilities are outdated. 

    If you want to delve in head-first into an exotic world of chocolate concoctions and broaden your perspective, make sure you catch Chocolate Dreams next February in 2016! It's worthwhile and one to be cherished.

    All Photos: Courtesy of Julie Lamb

    Julie Lamb's picture

    About Julie Lamb

    Curly-haired owner of one massive sweet tooth, believer of Harry Potter and Disney fairytales, and a fierce lover of all things literary and the arts.

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