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Chocolate & Chalk Art Festival at the Gourmet Ghetto

June 15, 2011

“Women can live without men, but not without chocolate.” -Anthony Bourdain.

Highlights: Free to attend, free to draw, free parking, chocolate ricotta pizza, experiencing a different part of Berkeley: Gourmet Ghetto.

Located in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto along Shattuck Avenue. I attended this event with my little brother and my nephew just as the festival began. We found easy parking across the street at Safeway (which is never a good idea because it could have been towed), but I was a little too focused at the festival and was pressed for time to attend a family birthday party. We came here to eat chocolate and browse through the chalk art along the sidewalks, but ended up buying chalk to support to the arts and the community.

Food. There were vendors along the street that sold a variety foods similar to a farmer’s market. Another option was to follow the chocolate menu, which is what we chose. We purchased tickets and walked from restaurant to restaurant to sample anything chocolate. I felt like a judge in those cooking challenges where chocolate was the main ingredient.

We started with the cocoa-mint hot chocolate topped with whipped cream($4). I’m not a fan of mint and chocolate combined, but it was warmed our bodies and tasted like the Andes mint candy. Second item we got was the Caribbean black bean chocolate soup, which was interesting. It contained black beans, yams, and had hints of rum, cumin, cocoa, and coffee flavors. I definatley tasted the cocoa because it had  slight bitterness to it that tasted like it was straight from the cocoa bean. Our next stop was to order the habanero chocolate chunks gelato ($3) and organic chocolate orange sorbetto ($3). One word, wow!  After my third scoop, I felt the kick. It tasted like chocolate gelato with an immediate kick from the habanero, but disappeared within seconds. The sorbetto had a strong, refreshing orange taste. I’m not a big fan of anything orange and chocolate mixed together because it can taste like air freshener, but I’m always willing to taste it. We ended our chocolate hunt with chocolate ricotta pizza($5) which was unbelievably delish. The ricotta cheese and dark chocolate was a perfect pairing on top of a crisp thin crust pizza. The only con was that it was an expensive slice. We were expecting a box of pizza, and now after looking at past pictures, the pizza shrunk from previous years. Above all, it was the best and was worth it. We washed our meals down with an oreo shake (2 tickets+ $3 and some coins). This was deceiving because we had to pay extra on top of the 2 tickets, false advertising.

my island sunset

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Chalk Art. All were invited to create art: the young, older, professional, and people more like me, rookies. The professionals came prepared with their own supplies: special chalk, spray bottles, rulers, and other supplies. It was a positive, therapeutic experience. There were so much beautiful chalk work that colored the sidewalks.  I drew a beach sunset looked which looked crusty and gritty. It was hard to get the smooth, pastel look without using all the chalk to color our picture. So, I snuck towards the professionals to get tips. The logo artist had a damp rag to smear the chalk. We used paper napkins, and it made our work of art look a little more like a masterpiece.  My nephew drew his name and the Mavericks jersey, and my brother drew a dinosaur. It was free to enter the drawing, so we entered my brother’s dinosaur.

Overall, I’ve always enjoyed visiting the liberal Berkeley environment surrounded with diverse food. It is always a positive experience.  I was not old enough to experience the 60’s and 70’s , but when I go to Berkeley and I can get a good idea. Next year’s event, we will come prepared like the professionals and stay throughout the day.

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