Celebrating “Portugal” with a taste of chocolate in Óbidos

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Transforming tons of chocolate into sculptures, sweets, drinks and improbable combinations is the focus of the Óbidos International Chocolate Festival which, for three weekends, celebrates “Portugality” in the ‘sweetest’ town in the country.

Of the 30 tons of chocolate that will pass through the town of Óbidos, in the district of Leiria, until the 17th, around five are being transformed into the Tower of Belém, the Barcelos rooster, an Algarve chimney or the statues of D. Afonso Henriques, the fado singer Amália Rodrigues or the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

The festival, which, according to the director of Óbidos Criativa, Ricardo Duque, “aims to promote the best of what is done in the area of bakery, pastry and pastry gastronomy”, has the novelty this year of 16 large sculptures being sculpted live, in front of the public, over the three weekends of the event.

In its 21st edition, the festival is marked by “a very significant reinforcement of the sculpture teams”, inviting “international sculptors to be in Óbidos” to do their work in front of the public who, in the Chocolate Hall, “can see how the sculptures are made and be in contact with the different chefs”, explains Ricardo Duque.

A job “without a net” to which, according to the festival’s curator, Francisco Siopa, is added the difficulty that “for the first time in 20 years, the sculptures are being made by different chefs”, including internationally renowned professionals such as Lluc Crusellas, winner of the World Chocolate Masters, or Jordi Farrés, from the Callebaut Chocolate Academy.

As well as the “festive, cultural and convivial” aspect associated with the event, the curator has also taken on the challenge of “making the event more professional, with 70 hours of ‘showcooking’ taking place in the auditorium of the Castle fence and 80 hours of live demonstrations and activities.

According to Francisco Siopa, the support of the French school Dicasse and major chocolate brands makes the Óbidos Chocolate Festival the “biggest event” in Portugal where pastry, chocolate and ice cream professionals can also “learn something more”.

As far as learning is concerned, the festival also focuses on “activities for families”, with “activities for children, where they can make their own Easter eggs”, says Ricardo Duque, pointing out that during these days you can also visit places in the town such as the Melon Station, the Chocolate Square or the Barraquinhas Festival.

From chocolate by the piece to improbable mixtures with wine, sour cherry liqueur or beer, the world’s most famous sweets are available to the public, with the organization estimating that the barrier of 120,000 visitors could be surpassed.

To this end, the festival combines chocolate with attractions such as chocolate-making competitions, a chocolate race and an entertainment program that includes music, theater and animation, with various historical figures interacting with visitors.

To ensure that everyone will have the opportunity to appreciate the sculptures live, the chefs’ expertise will be spread over the three weekends of the event, with the sculptures of the Palace of Pena, Christ the King and Cléricos Towers being made on the second weekend of the event, leaving the replicas of the Sanctuary of Fátima, the figure of Luís de Camões and streetcar 28 for last.

In this edition, even pets will have the right to a pet sitting area, with the organization promising to “take care of each and every one of them” while their owners enjoy “celebrating Portugal with a taste of chocolate”.

The chocolate festival runs from March 1st to 17th, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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