September Networking Event -Niagara-on-the-Lake Chocolate & Wine!

Wow!  What a great escape we had to Niagara-on-the-Lake today!   The weather held out, and by the time we reached the Niagara area, we had blue skies & warm temperatures.  Only traffic getting to the car pool parking lot to meet the bus turned out to be a problem for a few.

After being challenged by Chocolate Trivia questions on the bus ride, we arrived at our first destination, Chocolate F/X in St. David’s.   We were greeted by Art, who gave us a brief history of the company owned by his wife, Wilma.  They refer to their life in terms of BC – Before Chocolate, and present!   Art discussed the making of chocolate, and we were able to see an actual cocoa pod & smell the chocolate mulch & chocolate liqour, and feel the cocoa butter (yes, it’s very smooth, no wonder it’s used for skin care products, in addition to being used to make white chocolate!).   Art also told us that you can use the chocolate mulch in your garden – and it will smell like chocolate when it rains!

After a look at their panning, molding & enrobing lines, we got right to the action!  We had a “chocolate bar challenge”  where the theme for our challenge was “BLING”  (How appropriate for a group of women!).  Off we went…one of the ladies on the (all-female shift) team spooned melted chocolate into molds, and then set it on a vibrating table to make the chocolate fill the mold, and let the air bubbles escape.  Then we were presented with an array of decorations:  sprinkles, sparkles, silver balls, marshmallows, licorice, almonds…..ooops, I got chocolate on my fingers, and I couldn’t resist licking them!  (I know, working in the food industry I should know better!)  The melted chocolate acted like glue so that our beautiful creations would stay put.  Into the fridge it went to chill.  Then we indulged in dipping strawberries into milk, white and dark chocolate.  Looks easy when a professional does it!  My white chocolate drizzle looked more like a blob.  Off they went to chill.  Now our chocolate bars were hardened, and each group had to select a favorite to “market” to the Chocolate F/X team. Selections ranged from “for the love of chocolate breast cancer awareness bar”,  “my darling princess bar”,  Michael Kors “purse bar” (no trade mark theft happening here…), to “Sex in chocolate” bar.   The winner was…the “Purse bar”.    What a fun morning!  Imagine, if a group of women had this much fun, what a birthday party for kids would be like!

Onto NOTL for lunch/shopping.  Corks Winebar & Eatery, the Coach House at Queen’s Landing, and Epicurian were a few places frequented for lunch.   Greaves Jam was a favourite shopping spot, and other purchases noted were knitted hats!  Lots of variety in the heritage district.

A quick trip on the bus took us to Pillitteri Winery.   Lauren greeted us, and took us on a fabulous tour of the winery & vineyard.  We learned about icewine, grape varieties, pressing techniques,  the symbolism behind the Pillieteri “family shield” and the significance of the number 23.  A structured tasting of a Gewurztraminer/Reisling blend, Merlot, and a Vidal Icewine was followed by shopping in the wine store & fruit market.  Back on the bus, we were presented with wine trivia, which wasn’t quite as hard because we had such an informative tour.

A fun-filled day ended back in Oakville, in anticipation for the next WFIM event – “Learn to build long-lasting connections – with Donna Messer” on October 10th!  (Registration is now open at www.wfim.ca)

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