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Stepping Out

The buzz about the 2020 Chocolate Expo

‘Long Island Honey Market,’ ‘New England Pavilion’ among first-time offerings

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The ninth annual Chocolate Expo at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City promises to be something people have never seen before. This Sunday, March 1, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., specialty vendors  — including local purveyors along with those from New Hampshire, Honduras and beyond  — will share their sweet and savory wares with the public at the unique event, one of the largest food-centric festivals in the U.S., according to its founder Marvin Baum.        Baum says this year’s edition includes many first-time vendors as well as an extensive diversity of offerings. “When you go to these festivals, you remember something you tried that you can’t get elsewhere,” he says. “That’s what we try to do with this.”

    Attendees will get to taste, purchase, celebrate and indulge in delicious gourmet chocolates, baked goods, specialty foods, cheeses, wines, spirits, craft sodas and much more. Guests will be greeted by fountains in the mseum’s three-story lobby overflowing with dark, white and milk chocolates, which can deliciously drench a selection of fresh fruit, marshmallows pretzels and Rice Krispies treats.

    Participating chocolatiers will offer chocolate bon bons, chocolate bars, raw chocolate, hot chocolate, chocolate fudge, chocolate novelties, chocolate barks and chocolate-covered goodies. Cake jars, cupcakes, brownies, donuts, raw cookie dough treats, challahs, hamantaschen and Bahamian-style rum cakes will be showcased along with other baked goods.         Also indulge in chocolate spirits, chocolate wines, chocolate beers, sangria and hard ciders, among the craft beverages available for tasting and purchase.

    Returning visitors can expect some new features, as well. The Long Island Honey Market features hundreds of local, regional and international honeys and honey-infused products “that are not readily available in stores,” according to Baum.

    The New England Pavilion highlights vendors from New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts offering handcrafted treats, chocolate-infused bath products and other items. And new vendor Tree Juice Maple Syrup from upstate New York will give guests a taste of pure maple syrups infused with a range of all-natural flavors.

    Favorite purveyors from past years will also return, serving up a variety of sweet choices. Sip on specialty espressos and coffee products; bite into mini artisanal Liege waffles, courtesy of Long Island-based Batter and Bubbles; and marvel at intricate painted chocolates from New Jersey-based Coco Jolie.

    Once your sweet tooth wears out, switch to the savory side and enjoy piping-hot empanadas, luxurious lobster mac and cheese or authentic Jamaican jerk chicken.

    Baum added that this year’s event  also has a wider range of Kosher, vegan and gluten-free items.

    For attendees’ entertainment, the 2020 Chocolate Expo features many activities for families and children of all ages to enjoy. From 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Long Beach native DJ Chef will spin tunes during the “Hangar 2 Dance Party,” featuring appearances by Star Wars characters from the 501st Empire City Garrison and other pop culture mainstays. Free face painting and balloon twisting activities will take place in the “Kidz Zone,” along with chocolate-themed crafts.

    Multiple presentations will take place on the Expo stage, including a chocolate spa experience at 1 and 4 p.m., a discussion about the effects chocolate has on the brain at 2 p.m. and a Food Network-style chef competition at 12  and 3 p.m. In the “Chocolate Challenge,” home cooks selected from the audience will compete against each other using ingredients from participating vendors. The second competition will challenge cooks to use Girl Scout cookies as a key ingredient in their creations.

    Visitors are also encouraged to contribute to the event’s food drive in partnership with Long Island Cares’ Harry Chapin Food Bank. Guests can bring non-perishable food items for donation, and can purchase insulated tote bags to further support the food bank.

    Admission to all museum exhibits is included in the Chocolate Expo’s ticket price. Tickets can be purchased online at www.TheChocolateExpo.com ($15 adult and $10 child) or at the door ($21 adult and $16 child). For more information visit www.TheChocolateExpo.com.