Chiles and Chocolate Spice Things Up at the Desert Botanical Garden Nov. 12-14

Spicy, sweet and floral. No, it's not the latest fragrance release; it's the Chiles and Chocolate Festival coming to the Desert Botanical Garden 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 12-14, promising samples of "zesty salsas" and "indulgent gourmet chocolates" as well as moles and other concoctions that combine the two.

For $15 or less (see rates below), you can trigger your sweet taste buds on the tip of your tongue and the too-hot-for-me-indicating sweat on your brow with all-you-can-eat samples. Chocolates will be inside, out of the sun for fear of melting, and the chiles, grinders, salsas, etc. will be in the outdoor, along with a stage for DJ World Famous Rani "g" and flamenco dancer Yumi La Rosa.

"It's fun, there's music, you can eat, and it's kind of a farmer's market atmosphere that supports the local community," says events organizer Katy Spratt.

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Spratt promises chocolate in every imaginable form - confections, candies, gelato, etc. - and a wide variety of items packing heat ranging from edible to art. Vendors will also have items for sale.

On-site catering and a full bar will sell more substantial fare if you exhaust your sweet tooth or and drinks in case you burn your mouth. Spratt says Mahi Mahi tacos are definitely on the menu, along with other southwestern cuisine.

The busiest time is likely to be the lunch hour, noon to 2 p.m., says Spratt. So get there early or plan to stay late, if you want to avoid the crowds.

The event is free with garden admission: $15 for adults, $13.50 for seniors. $7.50 for students 13-18 or with valid college ID, $5 for kids 3-12 and free for kids under 3 and Garden members.

Want more info? Check out the Desert Botanical Garden online or call 480.941.1225.

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