Colby Zarba
Colby Zarba wears a chocolate moustache after trying the fountain. Photos by Susan Safford

Gooey goodness

By Eleni Collins - October 11, 2007

Using napkin after napkin, chocolate-lovers wandered the gallery room indulging in sweet treats made and donated by Islanders for Featherstone Center for the Arts' fourth annual Art of Chocolate Festival.

Last Friday night was the donor preview party. Champagne, martinis, and dozens of chocolate desserts were offered for a donation of $25 or more. The festival continued through Monday afternoon.

Behind the outside bar on Friday night were office manager Tom Dresser and Jerry McCarthy making chocolate martinis. Board member Bruce MacNelly was beside them, entertaining the crowd on electric guitar.

Overwhelming was the scent of chocolate upon entrance to the Virginia Weston Besse Gallery, where guests were first treated to Island artists' depictions of chocolate. Of note was Lynn Hoeft's "Hot Chocolate" watercolor, and detailed, wooden chocolate molds, an indication of what was to come. To the left was a silent auction, which offered picture frames, books, and decorative home goods.

Tom Dresser
A dapper Tom Dresser mixed chocolate martinis.

A few more steps inside and there were Lani Carney's meringue kisses, chocolate cranberry marshmallows made by Cathy Mathiesen, and truffles made by Marston Clough.

"The hardest thing with truffles is rolling them. The chocolate melts all over your hands," said Mr. Clough.

In one corner of the gallery was a milk chocolate fountain, with an assortment of fruits for dipping.

"If all else fails, you can have a piece of fruit in chocolate," said Rick Gross, who was at the Art of Chocolate event with his wife, Roberta. It was the couple's first year at the festival, and they were very impressed. "They've really outdone themselves."

In addition to the bite-sized snacks at the festival, several Islanders made cakes, large and small. Cakes by Liz offered a massive devil's food cake filled with chocolate ganache, mousse, and topped with chocolate icing. Artist Washington Ledesma made a rum cake with ladyfingers, sweet chocolate, and almonds. "It's heavy on the rum," he said.

chocolate panache tarts
Lynn Hoeft made chocolate panache tarts.

Linda Thompson made a small but incredibly rich chocolate pistachio cake, which was her husband's favorite treat of the night. "It's probably the best cake I've ever had," said Mark Thompson.

The front room of the gallery was reserved for quiet conversation and the film "Chocolat" (2000) played in the background.

Elizabeth Quick sat with friends after satisfying her taste buds. "My favorite is still what's always been my favorite: the pineapple dipped in chocolate," she said of the chocolate fountain.

"I liked the chocolate peanut butter squares, and also the white chocolate cheesecake," said Roberta Gross, who contributed her own blond brownies. "But I'm so full, it's hard to verbalize what I think."