BIG Chocolate, small Island

On such a tiny island many great things happen in the world of chocolate. After an enlightening and revitalising start to the  The Grenada Chocolate Festival, with cocoa meditation, cocoa beauty product making and an intense ‘hash’ through the jungle for the first official day, followed by a truly inspirational day two up at Zabuco Estate with Aaron from Tri Island chocolate, it was now time to get down to the business of cocoa. From the macro companies to the micro, past to present it was now time to discover the other influential cocoa growers of the Grenadian (and Caribbean) chocolate scene.

The guided chocolate tasting at Belmont Estate with Dr Sukha

Continue reading “BIG Chocolate, small Island”

The Future of Grenadian Cocoa

Grenada is known as the Spice Isle of the Caribbean and is famous for its heady blend of clove, cinnamon and nutmeg that wafts around the island pretty much year round – you think it’s a myth until you are actually there, and it wraps you up in a fuzzy blanket of aroma as soon as you step off the plane – or was that the bug spray they doused us in before we left the aircraft? Anyway, what is still relatively unknown to many is that Grenada is also in the world’s top 10 countries for producing Fine Flavour Cacao – quite a feat given how small it is – see map below! It is also home to a very interesting man with very exciting plans for his ancestral cocoa farm!

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 23.13.06.png

Continue reading “The Future of Grenadian Cocoa”

Chocolate Secrets of the Caribbean

After four long years I’m finally heading out to the Grenada Chocolate Festival, on the Caribbean island of Grenada (not the southern Spanish town of Granada – spelled and pronounced differently). My plane stops in Barbados for a few hours (it’s the Virgin Atlantic one and about £150 cheaper than the direct route or the one that stops in St Lucia to refuel), giving me just enough time to make a beeline for Oustins – a touristy foodie strip en route to Bridgetown frequented by burnt English people and pissed Aussies. As it turns out I’ve arrived for Friday Night Fish Fry, so it only seems right I settle for a grilled Mahimahi with rice n beans and fresh plantain, dressed with extra hot pepper and cocoa nib sauce and a rum punch to wash it down.

Mahi mahi rice n peas.jpg
Some of the best grilled mahi mahi I’ve had!

A little prop plane awaited my return to the airport, a drastic transformation from the jumbo I came over on, and in less than one hours I touched down in Grenada.

Continue reading “Chocolate Secrets of the Caribbean”

Grow Your Own Chocolate

Since I’m fascinated with where food comes from, the next logical step in my ‘farm-to-table’ ‘bean-to-bar’ chocolate adventures was to try growing my own cacao trees…in London!

It was a challenge, with the first hurdle being to get fresh pods back from Ingemann in Nicaragua through US customs. After enduring a good hours’ worth of questioning by a typically Texan border enforcement official, the pods were let through!

My cacao pod stash, on arrival at Heathrow!
My cacao pod stash, on arrival at Heathrow!

Continue reading “Grow Your Own Chocolate”

A Northern Ireland Chocolate Quest

When you’re asked by the Academy of Chocolate to attend and speak at the Finnebrougue Fine Food Fair in Killyleagh Castle, Northern Ireland, courtesy of Food NI 2016 – the obvious answer to this request is ‘yes’.

The trip was all planned out by Food NI, and after an exhilaratingly turbulent 55 minute flight from Gatwick, I touched down in Belfast City Airport, greeted at the airport by Sharon Machala of Food NI – my chauffeur for the next 28 hours (this was very much a flying visit).

Continue reading “A Northern Ireland Chocolate Quest”

Chocolate on the streets of Venice

August Bank Holiday weekend saw the boy whisk me off to Venice for a belated birthday surprise! Arriving close to midnight, we stayed in the San Sebastiano Garden Hotel; a little out of the centre, but easy walking distance to the action.

Like most trips, I like to research the destination as much as I can, and create a little map with timings and things to do at each location. Very geeky, I know, but it means that if time and/or funds are not on your side, you can still let the place get under your skin, just about.

Geeky Venice Map
Geeky Venice Map

Continue reading “Chocolate on the streets of Venice”

Rummy Yummy Hot chocolate

Hotel Chocolat Hot Chocolate:

Hotel Chocolat are probably what most people think of when considering well-known chocolatiers in London, and although they are a ‘highstreet chain’, their chocolates (and hot chocolates) are not only divine award winners, but also inventive! My favourite is their classic hot chocolate, with a bit of a twist. Whilst a classic hot chocolate with chocolate shavings on top is an option, there’s something really special and a bit naughty about adding a shot (or two) of rum into the mix, and topping it off with the extremely flavourful cacao whip.

Rum Yummy Hot Chocolate
Rum Yummy Hot Chocolate

Continue reading “Rummy Yummy Hot chocolate”

The (Northern) Heart of English Chocolate

York! A medieval walled city in Northern England with a vibrant history dating as far back as Roman times and beyond. Defined by it’s medieval cathedral or ‘Minster’ – built in the 13th Century, and extensive Roman wall (since rebuilt in various places), it is also famous for playing its part in the chocolate and candy revolution of the British Isles.

Walking the Roman Wall
Walking the Roman Wall

Continue reading “The (Northern) Heart of English Chocolate”

Drink of the Gods

LOKCHART MARTIN COCOA TEA:

The wonders of social media mean that these days a whole wealth of different chocolate and cacao products and producers are at the touch of a button. I discovered Lockhart Martin on Instragram and was lucky enough to win a sachet of their delectable cacao tea in an Instacompetition – unlike most cacao teas that just use the husks, these guys create a rustic blend of crushed cacao beans – so you’re not just getting the dreamy, almost earthy notes of the cacao shells coming through in this brew, but also the heady rich chocolatey notes (and nutritional benefits) within the nibs themselves. To coin a phrase (that’s already been coined by these folks) it’s “drinking chocolate without the calories”, never a truer word said! For maximum effect, use 3 heaped teaspoons of cocoa infusion in your preferred loose leaf tea spoon, pour freshly boiled water over them and steep for 2-3 minutes. If, like me, you are frugal with your cocoa items, the leaves will be good for up to two flushes, but after that they will need to be disposed of.

Lockhart Martin cocoa infusion
Lockhart Martin cocoa infusion

There’s more on offer in the infusions department; the inventive bunch at LM HQ are also branching into blends, the Cocoa & Mint infusion being the first in this range and I just can’t wait to try it! Cocoa infusions aren’t the only products these guys have going, they also create their own miniature bean-to-bar bars of 90% cacao. Watch this space for reviews on these shortly!

There is an honest and inspiring story behind these guys; founded by Sarah Martin after being diagnosed with Coeliac disease amongst other food intolerances, Sarah set about creating her own products she was able to eat, along with making artizan dark chocolate bars from the beans, she soon branched into cocoa infusions, and, realising her potential, started the Lockhart Martin company. Sarah, we salute you! Lockhart Martin are an online shop so head over to their website and grab yourself a cocoa infusion!

Marmalade, Chocolate and a hint of Rose

PEYTON AND BYRNE MARMALADE DARK CHOCOLATE and ROSE DARK CHOCOLATE 25g BARS:

People are probably most familiar with these guys and their cake-making abilities. With stores in iconic locations across London, they are popular with tourists and locals alike and produce a fine range of cakes, pastries and bread served alongside specially selected teas and coffees. Me being me, I got most excited about them when I discovered they also do chocolates with witty notes on the packaging…

Continue reading “Marmalade, Chocolate and a hint of Rose”