Chocolate Tour


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Published: April 11th 2015
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Reception Chocolate TourReception Chocolate TourReception Chocolate Tour

Constructed in the native style.
Slept in till six o’clock. I should have known that this would be a harbinger of calamities to come. A laid-back cuppa, listening to the birds celebrate the rain that fell last night. Since we will be gone most of the day, I decided on a hearty breakfast of bacon & fresh eggs from the market. They were excellent. Tasty with bright orange yoke, rare at home.

The jaguar rescue centre was our destination. We arrived at the station just in time to see our bus pull out. This meant that we would miss our tour. Back to our cabin to formulate plan B. Chocolate tour it is.

Back to the bus station a second time. We would each look out a different side of the bus for sign for Cocoa Trails. Luckily a German group stood to get off and we discovered we had the same destination. Down a short flower lined path and we came upon the reception building. It is a huge shelter that can accommodate tour groups and a large clean kitchen for making the chocolate. It has a thatched roof in the native style. The bathroom is clean and done up in a mosaic
MonkeyTreeMonkeyTreeMonkeyTree

How many Howlers can you see? Should be 5.
of brightly coloured tiles.

The place is owned by a high profile German lawyer who had been threatened with jail for defending members of the notorious “Red Brigade”. Our guide was also German, three weeks into the job. It ended up being a bilingual tour. We started on a nature path where we saw lizards, monkeys, a sloth and a snake in a tree. It took me a bit to find the later since it looked more like a vine than a long, slender snake.

The next stop was the medicinal herb garden. Most of the leaves I nibbled on, I recognized. I am surely immunize against all illnesses now for a while.

The last stop was a display of old equipment for processing chocolate. The guide took us through the various steps and we tasted the beans straight from the fruit all through the drying and roasting stages. At each stage, the beans tasted more and more like the chocolate we know. The final stage was peeling, roughly chopping and grinding the fresh roasted beans. With the ground powder we added sugar, water, vanilla and condensed milk. The mixture was warmed again and kneaded into a
Mask1Mask1Mask1

Stone mask in the ceremonial hut. Looks old.
patty, then cut for tasting.

What heaven! Pure chocolate. It doesn’t get any better than this. On my third piece, I began to think about creative ingredients one could add to the mix to enhance the flavour or adjust the the quantity of sugar, milk, vanilla, etc. I then remembered the termite nest nearby that the guide had shown us earlier. I had convinced the guide to try one earlier. Luckily, it was the same variety I had tried last week so the taste of caraway was again present.

I took my third piece of chocolate over to the nest and picked off a piece of the mud-roofed highway they had built up the tree trunk. I dipped my piece of chocolate on the termites until around eight had stuck to it. It gave pleasant carrot taste to the chocolate. Everyone else declined a tasting. The ever-creative chef.

We left the enterprise and walked up the road to the bus shelter. The sign into Cacao Trails make mention of a national park but this is misleading. As I mentioned earlier, it is in private hands. There is an indigenous family living on-site and it is the wife who leads the chocolate making workshop. The husband greets visitors and the kids help out as they can.

We took the local bus back to town. Less than two dollars for the ten kilometre trip. After a short nap in the hammock, I went down to the peach for some body surfing. The surf had sounded encouraging. The waves here might be higher her than on PEI but the ride is shorter. It must have something to do with the slope of the beach. At any rate, the black sand is less abrasive than that of the Island.

The sky began to gray so I figured I should leave. It was full darkness by the time I made it back to the cabin. After a rum punch to take the taste of seawater from my mouth, we headed into town for supper at “Chez Fabian”, a new resto run by a couple of French guys. An excellent meal with an interesting us of herbs. Dessert was a bread pudding (pain Perdu) to die for. Unfortunately, they do not have access to maple syrup which would be the refining touch instead of corn syrup. The local milk adds to
Indian FamilyIndian FamilyIndian Family

This is the family that lives on site at the Chocolate Museum.
the richness. None of this skim or 2% fake milk they sell at home. The consistency of the pudding was perfect.

A leisurely stroll back to our cabin and a sway in the hammock to finish the day. I would watch TV but the sound has been maxed to a level that is still inaudible for me. Besides, I would rather do nothing than watch Fox news.


Additional photos below
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Making ChocolateMaking Chocolate
Making Chocolate

Last step is to finely grind the cracked roasted pods. In the background you can see the seeds roasting in a wok.
Chocolate IngedientsChocolate Ingedients
Chocolate Ingedients

Choice of things to add to the pure chocolate to take away the bitterness.
Claudette's HandiworkClaudette's Handiwork
Claudette's Handiwork

Milk powder is added to the ground seeds and reheated. The chocolate oil is released so you can now form patties. Chef's choice at this point as to how much sugar, vanilla extract and condensed milk to add.
Termite TunnelTermite Tunnel
Termite Tunnel

To protect themselves from predators, the termites form a tunnel so they can safely climb the tree to their nest. I wonder if they like chocolate. Yes, they do. I popped this piece in my mouth and chewed twenty times to make sure all the termites were crushed. I didn't want one of them crawling around my stomach later on. I had visions of that kiddie song "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly".


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