So much chocolate, so little time to eat it

February 13, 2000|By ROB KASPER

Recently, I found myself facing too much chocolate and having too little stomach space. This is a predicament many people dream about, especially on Valentine's Day.

But after drinking a chocolate martini, eating chocolate-coated chicken, sipping chocolate peanut soup, swallowing many pieces of chocolate cake and nibbling on "calamari" made of marzipan, I found myself shying away from the sweet stuff and desperately seeking sushi.

The occasion was the Chocolate Affair, a benefit by about 40 area restaurants, candy makers and caterers for the Center for Poverty Solutions. It was held last week at Bohager's Parrot Island in Fells Point.

I was one of a dozen judges assigned the task of tasting the dishes and awarding nine prizes.

It was an appealing duty, at least early in the evening. After polishing off a chocolate volcano, a virtually flour-free serving of dark chocolate cake with a creamy soft chocolate center, I felt fortunate that the fates had put me in this room. The chocolate volcano, made by Chef's Expression, ended up being picked by the judges as the Chocaholic's Dream.

Next was a cup of chocolate peanut soup, a dish not normally seen at our family table. But I reminded myself that when you pry yourself out of your kitchen, you see new things.

The soup, a creation of Cuisine Catering, was judged to be the top Savory Delight.

I spotted a chocolate vase filled with chocolate roses. This, too, was a sight rarely seen in our home. Pastry chef Liza Mazzitti made the vase of roses for caterer Charles Levine. It won honors for best presentation.

A few stops later, I was in the clutches of the Spike & Charlie's crew and was handed a plate of something called Crispy Calamari. It somewhat resembled fried squid, but it looked more like a fried onion ring to me.

It turned out to be neither. The "calamari" was a ring of marzipan, topped with raspberry sauce. The dish was a hoot and garnered the prize for Double-Take.

Somewhere along the way, I downed a chocolate martini. This mixture, whipped up by Bayou Blues Cafe, contained vodka, creme de cacao and Godiva chocolate liqueur. Instead of an olive, a chocolate-covered cherryserved as garnishment. There was an $8 charge for the drink, making it ineligible for any prizes. Nonetheless, it was a favorite of many judges.

The strawberry and cream cakes, whipped up by Breads Arisin', got the judges' nod for best newcomer, or Rookie of the Year.

Chocolate-flavored chicken, prepared by the Midtown Yacht Club, was voted the most original dish of the evening. Shaved dark chocolate and brown sugar were mixed with flour that coated the pieces of chicken, which were first fried, then baked.

Honors for most decadent offering went to the chocolate macadamia nut squares served by Innovative Gourmet. Meanwhile, chunky monkey creme brulee, which featured a seared sugar topping, was declared the sweetest dish of the night. It was made by Red Brick Station in White Marsh. A multilayer, multicolor Y2K cake prepared by Ms. Desserts won Best of Fare honors.

At the beginning of the event, I was in an indulgent mood. But at the end, I was repentant. As I walked out of Parrot Island, I stepped on some ice in the parking lot. The ice cracked under my weight. I vowed to eat less chocolate and do more sit-ups.

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