visiting the Grenada Chocolate Festival
The Grenada Chocolate Festival (GCF) began in 2014, and is doing a great job in combining chocolate with the culinary, culture, and arts scenes of Grenada, earning the Chocolatour stamp of approval for one of the best chocolate events I have attended.
visiting the grenada chocolate festival
I had the pleasure of visiting the third annual Grenada Chocolate Festival, and was glad I made the epic journey that took roughly 15 hours of travel time through four airports to get from Winnipeg, and then through Toronto, to Port of Spain, Trinidad (the airline hub for the West Indies) and then onto St. George’s, the capital city of Grenada. My sincere thanks to Caribbean Airlines, who upgraded me to business class and made that long journey so much for comfortable and palatable.
While at the Grenada Chocolate Festival, I met a bunch of talented chocolate makers from the Caribbean, the UK, Mexico, and the US. I also met others who are passionate and knowledgeable about the world of fine chocolate. And I ate a ton of great food at various establishments around the island. But we’ll save the culinary highlights for another post.
In this post, we’ll focus on the goings on at the Grenada Chocolate Fest, so that you can plan a possible visit in the future. The 2016 theme of the chocolate festival was “Creating Generation Cocoa,” with the central theme encouraging a deeper interest in the world of chocolate via a book that was launched during the festival. “The Grenada Chocolate Family”–a colouring book for ages six through ten–contains submissions from about 30 Grenadian children on the subject of a cacao tree and cocoa tea, a Grenadian favourite. All proceeds from the book go to support the Grenada Community Library.
During an evening of the festival, we visited the Susan Mains Art and Soul Gallery. This a fabulous gallery located in the Spiceland Mall in Grand Anse specializing in contemporary Caribbean art. For this special occasion, the art on display was a celebration of cacao and chocolate and Grenada’s connection to it. I loved the vibrant colours depicted in nearly every piece and wished I could have brought several home with me.
In its complete immersion into Grenadian chocolate culture, the Grenada Chocolate Festival also included a visit to several cacao farms including the Belmont Estate, located in St. Patrick, an hour’s drive from St. George’s. Here, we learned much about the world of cacao from Dr. Darin Sukha of the Cocoa Research Centre in Trinidad.
Belmont Estate is a terrific place to spend the day and learn how cacao is grown and how the cocoa beans are fermented and sun-dried. And yes, there is a chocolate shop where you can purchase bars from the Grenada Chocolate Company, as their chocolate is made with beans grown on Belmont Estate. Specialists in agri-tourism, I would say that the Belmont Estate offers the most comprehensive tour I’ve experienced in the world of chocolate travel, with the perfect blend of fun, learning, entertainment, cocoa cuisine, and culture.
We also learned how to “Dance the Cocoa,” which some of our group gleefully tried. This involves dancing (moving your feet) over the cocoa beans in a large bowl-shaped container housing a thin layer of cocoa beans. You’d have to have pretty thick skin on your feet in order to do this everyday, as the shells of the cocoa beans can feel fairly sharp if your skin has not been hardened.
The chocolate festival also included cooking demos, chocolate making demos, and of course … plenty of global and made-in-Grenada chocolate tastings. It was incredible tasting some delicious examples of cocoa cuisine made by the staff at the True Blue Bay Resort who showed us how much fun and how easy it is to cook with chocolate. True Blue Bay is a terrific place to stay and enjoy the Caribbean vibe.
Due to the COVID19 pandemic, the 7th annual Grenada Chocolate Festival in 2020 was held online. Hopefully, they will be able to resume an in-person event in 2021, as the Grenada Chocolate Fest is one of the world’s best chocolate events and one that every avid chocolate lover should attend–at least once.