Premiere: ”Best of Bio” Organic Chocolate Award
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Representatives (picture) from the firms Vivanin Naturata and Summer bird (Denmark) attended the award ceremony to receive the red enamelled Best of Bio plaques. The prize winners were Vivani’s Fine Bitter Orange in category A (flavoured chocolates), Summerbird’s “so milk” in category M (milk chocolates), Praline by Naturata Spielberger in category G (filled chocolates), and Summerbird again with “oh, so dark” in category D (dark chocolates). The organizers of the chocolate award came up with something special with their pair ratings for Wine & Chocolate and Spirits & Chocolate. In this category, the winner was Dagoba Roseberry - a dark chocolate flavoured with rosewater and containing dried raspberries - together with a wine from the vineyards of Meinklang in the Burgenland (Zwerest 2002). Dagoba, which is located in the USA, is a relatively unknown cult brand in Europe and manufactures seven different organic chocolate products. The darkest chocolate in the world - Domori Chacao Puro that contains 100% cocoa - achieved success in combination with a pear schnaps by Josef Farthofer and was awarded a prize. The adjudicators were of the opinion that this was a combination for ‘hardcore gourmets’, since cocoa without added sugar certainly has an intense flavour but also tastes very bitter.
Eight to twelve different types of chocolate had been presented in each of the categories A to D, and each category was tasted by three adjudicators and rated on a scale 1 to 20.. “It was a real effort to taste the whole range of chocolate”, said one of the adjudicators at the gala presentation about his role, that most people would surely have regarded as pure pleasure. “Afterwards, it was like having a dumpling in my stomach until the evening,” the Austrian “complained“. Among the twelve members of the adjudicating panel were well known names like Ernst-Ulrich Schassberger from Eurotoques and representatives from Slow Food Austria, colleges and also specialists from the world of gastronomy.
Although about 50 different chocolates from nine companies were tasted in total, some renowned European firms were conspicuous by their absence - for example, Green & Blacks and Woodshade (Molle skovly). If the latter had taken part in the evaluation of pralines, the result would not have been so disappointing. “Only two kinds of pralines were submitted and both tasted like straw” was the comment of one adjudicator. For this reason, this category was not evaluated, which the organisers regretted very much. The juice manufacturer Johannes Perger from the Munich region arrived too late with his organic pralines in the form of organic gift bags. They were sampled by the people attending the gala who responded positively.
The approximately 120 guests at the gala evening enjoyed a mixture of entertainment and information. In a quiz, they were asked to answer four questions by going to four information points in various rooms in Hotel Wolf Dietrich where there were clues about, for example, the country in which the classic film Chocolat plays and the process which is applied to remove the bitterness from cocoa beans. An actor disguised as an enormous cocoa bean (picture) gave details of processing in the countries of origin. A Venezuelan beauty dispensed an aphrodisiac chocolate drink containing chilli, carnations, cardamom and cinnamon. If that was not enough, guests could indulge themselves at the chocolate fountain, where they could take pieces of pineapple, banana, apple and other fruits and hold them on a cocktail stick in the liquid chocolate flowing from the fountain (picture below). It goes without saying that all these delicacies that made the guests feel they were on a short trip to paradise were organic. Latin American music provided by a trio from Argentina and a samba dancer transported the predominantly Austrian and Bavarian guests to the land where xocolatl originally came from. One of the questions not easily answered was “what is nicer than the enjoyment of chocolate?” On one of the upper floors a ‘a payer of compliments’ (picture below) awaited guests, whose features he studied for a few moments before delighting them with appropriate compliments.
So really all those present were thrilled by the awarding event. “The whole thing was prepared marvellously and the presentation of the awards was very well organised.” This praise came from the managing director of Viviani, Andreas Meyer. “This is yet another incentive for us to develop new products.” Johannes Perger was delighted that there was something to appeal to all the senses and that everyone could take part in many activities, including dancing.
Armin Schmelzle, the owner of the Hotel Wolf Dietrich had achieved both of his goals: “We were able to organise an enjoyable evening and at the same time achieve excellent placement of the organic experience in the media.” The media were present with a television team and several radio journalists, and the Austrian press was also represented. Schmelzle’s view was that whilst awards for wine and wine tasting were an important part of the agenda, it was chocolate that was pointing the way to luxury organic consumption. “What’s more, chocolate is of course ideal at this time of the year to raise our spirits.”
Mr. Schmelzle (picture) runs one of the first Austrian hotels to be certified organic in 1999.He was a founding member of the association Bio-Hotels and, as in those days, his hotel, with its 40 rooms (80 beds), is still the only urban hotel in the Bio-Hotel group. Currently, the hotel’s own swimming pool is being supplemented by more wellness facilities like a steam bath.
Specialist information on chocolate by Anne Homborg (in German)
Information on good chocolate (in German)