Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate – Volume one
Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate- Volume one

Chocolatour takes you around the world, in search of the most beautiful, innovative, and delectable chocolate and noteworthy chocolate events.

In this first volume of Chocolatour, author Doreen Pendgracs introduces you to chocolate masters in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and Holland, as well as the UK. She also takes you to cacao growing regions in Peru, Ecuador, and St. Lucia and includes a fascinating chapter on the health benefits of chocolate. Plus a global A-Z Chocolate Lovers’ Guide for the chocolate journey of your life.

Here are some editorial reviews of the book:

Everybody loves travelling for pleasure, but a recent trend sees more and more people travelling with a purpose. One of the best ways to combine purpose and pleasure is gastronomic tourism. There are wine tours along the California coast and whisky tours of the Scottish highlands. If Manitoba travel writer Doreen Pendgracs has her way, chocolate tourism will be the next big thing. A professional freelance writer who focuses on travel, Pendgracs has just released her fourth book, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate. The independently published book chronicles a four-year chocolate odyssey that took her from the Amazon jungle to the Alps of Switzerland. And this is just the first volume. “It became a massive project for me and one that I think will consume the next 10 years of my life,” says the Winnipeg-born Pendgracs. “And I willingly agree to that. I can’t think of a more sumptuous topic to research and investigate and share.” Pendgracs starts by looking at where cocoa is grown, which is always within 20 degrees of the equator. She explains why chocolate has historically been precious and expensive. “Growing cacao is extremely difficult,” she points out. “It’s all hand done. Everything is harvested by hand, and then the pods are cut open by hand, the beans are extracted by hand, then put into bins to ferment and then to roast. There’s a lot of labour involved.” Then Pendgracs heads to Europe. (The second volume will deal with the Americas and the Caribbean, while the third volume will examine Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.) She looks at how chocolate is crafted by chocolatiers (who start with couverture chocolate made by companies like Ghirardelli, Callebaut or Valrhona) or by chocolate makers (who begin with unprocessed cocoa beans). She rhapsodizes over chocolates created with Piedmont hazelnuts, sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil, with lemon peel and chiles, with Iranian pistachios and Earl Grey tea. After offering such tempting descriptions, it’s only fair that Pendgracs advocates giving in to chocolate cravings (in moderation). In support, she cites the winningly titled book Why Women Need Chocolate by nutritionist Debra Waterhouse. It turns out that eating pure dark chocolate releases endorphins, a natural anti-depressant. And there are other documented health benefits. “I was amazed at just how good chocolate is for us,” Pendgracs relates. “As children we were always told chocolate is bad for our teeth, for our skin, for our weight.” And while you don’t want to gorge on sweet chocolate candy, if you stick to pure chocolate (70 per cent or higher cacao) and limit the quantity, chocolate can be part of a healthy diet. “Chocolate has more antioxidants than any other power food on the planet,” Pendgracs points out. It gives red wine a run for its money. Speaking of wine, we’re used to wine snobs talking about terroir, that unique combination of soil, weather and grapes that gives a wine its specific character. Chocolate fanatics are starting to think this way, too, with a new emphasis on origin chocolate from specific growing regions. Cacao from Madagascar has fruity undertones, for example, while Caribbean beans tend to be lighter-bodied. Each artisanal chocolate makers also brings his or her own style, something Pendgracs discovered as she was researching the book. “I would be trying to understand the essence of what they’re doing,” she says, “and I soon came to realize that just like with chefs, they put a piece of their personality into what they’re creating.” Pendgracs offers lists to help readers find the right chocolate match. Are you Sophisticated, Elegant?; Or Exotic, Sensual? Or maybe Playful, Adventurous? Pendgracs has a chocolate maker for you. —Winnipeg Free Press

Ask anyone to list some things they love, and I m willing to bet that chocolate and travel would be near the top of that list. So, what could be better than a book that combines the two? That s exactly what Manitoba-based author Doreen Pendgracs has done in Chocolatour: A Quest for the World s Best Chocolate. This travel narrative, as Pendgracs calls it, gives us the inside scoop how the chocolate that we love goes from the cacao pod to the luscious treat that melts in our mouth. Pendgracs visited cocoa producers and farmers in Ecuador, Peru, and St. Lucia. This is where the cacao, also called cocoa, crops are grown, and thanks to more fair trade agreements, that production is helping many families in those countries to have very decent incomes growing what they love. From there, we go with Pendgracs to meet chocolatiers, chocolate makers, and chocolate masters in several countries in Europe: France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and to the United Kingdom. She (and occasionally a travel companion) discovered and Pendgracs shares with us the best places to find the exact chocolate you seek. How do you know which type of chocolate you might like best? Pendgracs explains the personalities of the chocolate that will best match your personality or mood. Yes, mood. There are biochemical reactions to chocolate that happen in our brain, which alters mood, and there are very valid health benefits, including mood-boosting, which Pendgracs researched and explains well. So, you ll know why you have those chocolate cravings and why, as the saying goes, resistance is futile. This isn t just a book about chocolate and its origins. Pendgracs also points out places to stay and eat so you can get the best experience in each locale. Some of the best parts of each chapter are the Fun Facts, and the Noteworthy Chocolate for each place. Adding to the fun of the book are the Chocolatour Awards, which Pendgracs admits are subjective, and the A-Z Guide for Chocolate Lovers. Those should definitely help you decide where in the world you d like to go on a chocolate quest. Accompanying the text are some stunning photos, mostly taken by Pendgracs, that will definitely whet your whistle for the travel and of course the chocolate and this, Volume One, is just the beginning. Pendgracs is continuing her research and travel and is working on Volumes Two and Three in the Chocolatour series, which will take us to different parts of the world of chocolate. She is also busy organizing chocolate events in many communities, and will be conducting her own chocolatours the first one is planned for Switzerland in 2014. So, if chocolate and travel are on the top of your most favourite things, be sure to see how these can be combined going with Chocolatour: A Quest for World s Best Chocolate. —Women Business Owner Today magazine

This is such a well written and engaging read. I am learning so much about chocolate and where it comes from. It is fascinating to learn that chocolate, like all substances, has distinctive characteristics and can be identified by the nose and the taste. Then there are the chocolatiers who are masters and magicians who create some wondrous chocolate delicacies from the pure chocolate that comes from some dedicated growers. It is so worth the read. ~Susan P. Cooper —Goodreads.

Print Version (includes postage within Canada) $30 CAD
Print Version (includes postage to continental US) $35 CAD
Print Version (includes postage to the UK) $40 CAD
Print Version (includes postage to the Caribbean) $40 CAD
eBook $8.99 CAD

Buy direct from Doreen and get a personalized copy. Please be sure to provide your mailing address on the PayPal order form when you make your purchase to avoid delays. Reduced prices are available on orders of 5 books or more. All sales are final. Contact Doreen.

Before You Say Yes . . . A Guide to the Pleasures and Pitfalls of Volunteer Boards

Before You Say Yes: A Guide to the Pleasures and Pitfalls of Volunteer Boards

Doreen Pendgracs has sat on various boards of directors for more than twenty-five years. During that time, she has gleaned valuable information that she shares in an easy-to-understand, conversational style for novices and seasoned members alike. Whether you’re asked to sit on a trade union board, a non-profit board for a community group or church, a business-focused board of an association or chamber of commerce, or the board of a charitable organization, Before You Say Yes … gives you the inside scoop on what questions to ask and what you need to do before you take the plunge.

Pendgracs leads the reader through the intricacies of management style, board etiquette and responsibilities, Robert’s Rules of Order, directors’ and officers’ insurance, and financial obligations and compensation. You’ll also discover what happens in the case of a lawsuit or how to implement a disaster plan, how to welcome new board members and deal with difficult people, and what benefits board membership can bring to your personal life and career.

Print Version (includes postage within Canada) $20 CAD
Print Version (includes postage to continental US) $22 CAD
Print Version (includes postage to the UK) $27 CAD
Print Version (includes postage to the Caribbean) $27 CAD

Buy direct from Doreen and get a personalized copy. Please be sure to provide your mailing address on the PayPal order form when you make your purchase to avoid delays. Reduced prices are available on orders of 5 books or more. All sales are final.