Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 13 – Paria Peninsula, Venezuela

Today we head east to the Paria Peninsula to visit the Hacienda San José plantation, the source of beans for some of Domori’s finest chocolate, and also for many other chocolate makers. Our flight to Cumana was in the afternoon though, so in the usual spirit of this trip of “exactly how many chocolate related ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 12 – Chuao, Venezuela

Chuao. It was only half a plan to get there, but from Puerto Colombia in Choroni it’s a 20 minute boat ride. We had the choice between another plantation in Choroni or taking the boat, in the end Chuao won. We were arriving blind, without an invite or pre-arrangement, but we decided to take our ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 11 – Choroni, Venezuela

Andrés and I took a bus out of Caracas to Maracay, where we’d arranged a taxi to take us on to Choroni, The route took us over the heights outside Caracas, a sudden, winding climb into the hills, with much cooler temperatures and stunning views back to Caracas. A beautiful, dream-like trip through the forest. ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 10 – Caracas, Venezuela

Today, on to Venezuela, which might not have the long history of ancient cacao use that Guatemala has, but in terms of quality, remains the king of cacao. After a mere two hours sleep, a pleasant flight with another stop off in Costa Rica, I arrived in a hot, steamy, Caracas in the afternoon. I ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 9 – Panajachel, Guatemala

Last night stayed up too late talking on the hotel balcony, and I just couldn’t face the trip across the lake the others were planning. So I managed to chill out, watch the volcanos not being active from the balcony and catch up on some writing. After some more shopping and hard bargaining in the ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 8 – Soconusco belt, Guatemala

So, what would you want for you birthday? I quite like the idea of standing in a cacao farm in Soconusco, the most renowned of Aztec growing areas, where the emperor Motecuhzoma had his own personal cacao groves. So, lucky it actually was my birthday then, and according to some superstitions, a very lucky, auspicious ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 7 – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

After enjoying Antigua for far too short a time, and a quick goodbye to Emily Stone in the morning, Edgar Chávez picked up Lourdes, Kate, Tom and I to take us to Quetzaltenango, another well known centre of artisanal chocolate production, where Edgar has his own family run chocolate factory, Chocolate Imperial. After about a ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 6 – Guatemala

A busy schedule today and the start of a few days of intense travelling. We were picked up early by Roberto Deleón, President of ANAKAKAW, who drove us to the Ministry of Economics. ANAKAKAW had arranged a meeting with Lic. Jorge R. Castro Delgado (Lourdes’s namesake), the Vice Minister of Economics, to discuss the cacao ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 5 – Guatemala

Today we moved onto Guatemala, leaving the Dominican Republic behind. The flight stopped off in Costa Rica, giving us an hour and a half in the country and at least we had a chance to buy some good looking coffee and a few chocolate products in the airport. We arrived in Guatemala City at 12 ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 4 – Dominican Republic

We took a day off from cacao today and headed for the beach. In this case, it was Jose Antonio Martinez Rojas’s own beach within the tourist centre of Bavaro, near Punta Cana, in Altagracia province on the north coast. Jose Antonio was one of the first entrepreneur’s to invest in land in this strip ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 3 – Los Ancones, Dominican Republic

Another early start and we were picked up in the impressive Rizek minibus. Idelfonso Medina, my original introduction to the Rizek company back in London in 2005, was detained elsewhere and unable to meet us, so instead we were greeted by Massimiliano Wax, Rizek’s Director of Sales and Marketing. Better known as Max (and hence ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 2 – Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Our host for our first full day in the Dominican Republic was a friend of Lourdes Delgado’s, Jose Antonio Martinez Rojas. Jose Antonio, a previous Chairman of the Council of the ICCO is one of life’s real characters. A successful businessman in his own right and now also running various family businesses, Jose Antonio is ..

Latin American tour August 2008 – Day 1 – Dominican Republic

August of course is the official ‘quiet time’ for chocolate – in the Northern hemisphere at least. As the weather warms, foodie cravings and desires drift from chocolate, to summer fare. In certain southern European countries, chocolate factories will close down for the entire month, disappearing off the map altogether. So what better time it ..

Mystery shopping in Amsterdam

Steve and I were in Amsterdam on business last week, but managed to cram in a quick ‘mystery shopper’ tour of a few of the city’s better chocolate shops, having worked up a chocolate appetite walking round the endless canals and after spending a quick hour in the Van Gogh museum. Amsterdam doesn’t have the ..

Demarquette 65% house blend

Today I’ve been trying one of Marc Demarquette’s house blend bar, left over from the Awards. This is Marc’s own blend of Valrhona chocolate, made as far as I know by combining different Valrhona couvertures during tempering. Marc uses this as his base chocolate for all his products, as he showed us at our Valentine’s ..