A delicious event at Featherstone
Once a year Featherstone Center for the Arts exchanges pedestals for fondues, and frames for plates, transforming itself into a chocolate lover's fantasy. Each room in the gallery displays offerings from on Martha's Vineyard and off featuring cakes, cookies, candies, dippings, toppings, sundaes, puddings and such.
A favorite Island tradition during Columbus Day weekend for the past four years, this year's fifth annual festival is designed to cater to everyone with a sweet tooth and a chocolate urge.
Featherstone's executive director Francine Kelly explains how it began: "We all got together and thought that this would be a perfect time of year - not too hot, the chocolate would not melt and run all over the place - to feature the art of chocolate as a new event at Featherstone. It would bring a lot of people to the center that may not have heard of it. And there the tradition was born."
Highlights of the weekend event will include exhibits and facts about where chocolate originated and where it grows, along with chocolate-related movies and books, and the chance to talk with experts.
"We're going to have chocolate facts that people probably don't know," Ms. Kelly says. For example, the average American eats about 12 pounds of chocolate a year. The average Swiss citizen eats 22 pounds, and the average German 18.
Photos by Susan Safford
There will be a presentation on the tempering of chocolate. A relative of the inventor of the tempering machine, Brenda Mastromonaco, will demonstrate the process.
"You get it softened to the consistency that enables you to cover various foods with it, then it hardens," Ms. Kelly says, "so that you have a shell around various foods."
She continues: "Each year we've added something different. We'll have various fruits and foods that will be available to dip into the chocolate fountain."
The edible offerings this year will include cranberries in dark chocolate from Fairhaven's Dorothy Cox Chocolates, almond butter crunch from Chocolate Cheers from Kingston, N.Y., and of course, Island favorites - Cakes by Liz, and a selection of Chilmark Chocolates. (Chilmark Chocolates is closed this time of year so the only place to get Chilmark Chocolates is at Featherstone.)
Chocolateers Jeanne and Malcolm Campbell, who owned VanLeer Chocolate Corporation, based out of New Jersey, are contributors. Their daughter, Jan Campbell, the founder of Chilmark Chocolates, now owns Chocolate Cheers in Kingston, N.Y.
Rickard Bakery in Tisbury, a wholesale baking company that provides baked goods to various Island stores, such as Cronig's, also does chocolate, and will offer special chocolates over the three days of the festival. They will also provide a new feature: a chocolate sculpture of a pirate ship.
There will be a fundraising preview party on Friday evening featuring chocolate martinis, and work by Vineyard artists. Barbara Straton, who has a home in Vineyard Haven, and owns Columbine, an upscale deli in New York's Tribeca neighborhood, will provide her specialty chocolates, some of which will be favors at the donor's preview party.
Ms. Kelly adds, "We always have a silent auction, and we're going to offer things that relate to wood. Five years is a wood anniversary, so we're going to auction off some items that relate to that."
The Art of Chocolate, Featherstone Center for the Arts, Barnes Rd., Oak Bluffs. Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, October 11-13, 12 noon to 4 pm. Tastes are two for $5 or five for $10. Preview party, Friday, 7-9 pm, $50. For more information, contact Featherstone at 508-693-1850.