From that must have chocolate bar for a much needed sugar injection to the decadent chocolate truffle because you’re worth it – quality chocolate (like shoes in my eyes) make life complete.
Ok I may be exaggerating a little but chocolate is a serious business. They say variety is the spice of life and in Grenada it is literally just that.
The Grenada Chocolate Fest is proof of this.
So first of all happy Grenada Chocolate Fest!
The festival, the 5th annual one so far, started on the 11th of May and finishes on the 19th of May. It celebrates the humble cocoa bean and the amazing variations of making it taste oh so sweet. Check out @grenadachocolatefest on Instagram for some up to date videos of chocolate enthusiasts experiences and my Instagram @heartofgrenada for suggestions of where to go for tastings.
A bit about the cocoa bean
The cocoa bean is part of a fruit that you can find on cocoa trees. It has to be dried and fully fermented to produce cocoa. Cocoa butter can be extracted from the fat of the seed. Perfect for smooth skin and to remove any marks I might add.
They say that the cacao tree was native to the amazonic valleys and eaten by pre-Columbian cultures many years ago.
History suggests that long before the flavor of the cacao bean became the star of the show it was the sweet pulp of the fruit that caught people’s attention. Mainly to make an alcoholic beverage (5% alcohol).
Used as common currency throughout Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest it was viewed as valuable.
Chocolate was introduced to Europe and the West Indies by the Spaniards to which I have to say a massive GRACIAS.
This humble bean is a superstar in my eyes. Check out the many uses and health benefits of this bean.
From eating chocolate, to drinking alcoholic chocolate liqueur or just comfortingly as hot cocoa to slathering your body with rich cocoa butter – you have plenty to choose from.
So what is so healthy about cocoa and why is it a must in your diet?
Cocoa is a rich source of antioxidants and flavonoids which is said to help with:
- Lowering blood pressure
- Cardiovascular health
- Lowering cholesterol
- Improved blood flow benefiting our brain
- Supposedly cancer
That said we are not talking Milkyway bars or Cadbury’s chocolate amigos but more quality chocolate and in particular dark chocolate.
Chocolate factories in Grenada
There are three chocolate factories to choose from in Grenada. From west to east they are:
1. Diamond Chocolate Factory (Jouvay chocolate) in Diamond
Open 7 days a week from 8am to 4pm. You can tour this factory free of charge.
2. Grenada Chocolate factory in Mt Rose
This factory is not open for normal visitors but more accredited journalists and the like. It recommends visiting Belmont Estate for a tour as a visitor.
3. Belmont Estate in St Patrick
This venue is open Sunday to Friday’s and can be visited for free. Guided tours are available (EC$13 for adults and EC$5 for children up to the age of 12).
I recommend visiting at least one of these.
Apart from tasting a number of chocolate varieties and shopping till you drop you receive a tour of the grounds and learn about the whole process of making chocolate. It is well worth the trip.
So what will you actually be experiencing? Not wanting to spoil the fun of seeing the process first hand there are a few vital steps I’m told.
The beans need to be dried. Then roasted.
After this they are cracked and deshelled by a winnower.
The resulting pieces you then see are called nibs.
You can taste these nibs in the factory and even buy small bags of them. I must admit they are my guilty pleasure as they are nice and crunchy and have a fab nutty flavour. I’ve added them to my morning porridge to deserts. Give it a try.
Since nibs are directly from the cocoa tree, they contain high amounts of theobromine so good for high blood pressure.
These nibs need to then be ground into a thick creamy paste and which then is processed further, refined, conched and tempered.
Like good cooking the process of making chocolate and cocoa butter takes time and a whole lotta love which you’ll experience when you visit these factories.
If you have visited one of these factories give me a shout and let me know how you got on. And if you haven’t it’s something to put on your bucket list.
Time to treat myself to a piece of chocolate I reckon…