the launch of my chocolate journey of exploration
Hello chocolate lovers!
We’re in the midst of a cold snap here in sunny, Manitoba, so it is no surprise that my thoughts are turning to warmer climates and my next big chocolate research trip. In less than two months, I’ll be in South America, visiting cacao plantations and chocolate makers who are making chocolate right at the source where the cacao is grown.
But this post isn’t about that. It is about the trip that launched my interest and curiosity about where and how cocoa becomes chocolate.
My first education in this process occurred in January, 2009, when I had the good fortune to spend a week in the Dominican Republic on the fabulous beach at Punta Cana. Lord, I love the Caribbean for its beautiful beaches and luxurious resorts.
During our stay, we enjoyed a fabulous full-day tour with the Bavaro Runners which took us to a sugar cane plantation where we drank the rum made from the sugar cane, a tobacco plantation where we puffed on cigars rolled right before our eyes, a coffee plantation where we drank the dark delicious elixir made from locally grown coffee beans, and a cacao plantation where we learned that our precious chocolate originates in odd looking melon-like pods filled with very large seeds encased in an icky white goop.
That is where it all began for me! I didn’t realize it at the time, but the seed for Chocolatour had been planted!
So just how does cacao grow? I will get into that in detail when I visit Ecuador and Â Peru, and actually talk to the farmers who grow the cacao. But let it be known that I will be forever grateful to that glorious day in the Dominican Republic, when I realized that the origins of chocolate have a very fascinating story to tell.
To help keep my mind off the -25C temperatures that are outside my door at this very moment, let’s share some warm weather stories. Have you been to the Dominican Republic? What did you especially like about it? Did you take any life-changing excursions as I did?