So, when Ariel and I first started thinking about what we wanted to do in Panama, I had no idea that Bocas del Toro was the cacao growing region of the country. I don’t even think I’d really heard the term cacao until a few years ago – I had no idea about chocolate, where it came from, how it grew or what cacao pods or seeds even looked like. How things have changed. I’ve now been to Bocas four times and have enjoyed numerous chocolate making tours – learning about the humble cacao pod and seed, and the harvesting, fermenting, drying and roasting processes. It’s truly fascinating.
We thought, what better time to write about chocolate than in the run up to Christmas, when all everyone will be doing for the next couple of weeks is indulging in this yummy yummy brown gold!
A few of our favourite things…
On our journey we have come across a few things we love – chocolate related things that is. We wanted to share a few of them with you.
The Chocolate Show
Started in 1995, The Chocolate Show (UK show) is a true celebration of chocolate in all its form. We have attended the show for the past few years and each year it gets bigger and better. You can find cacao farmers, chocolate makers, the best chocolatiers in the world; you can attend workshops, tastings and talks; and can take in exquisite chocolate art – from portraits and sculptures to high-end fashion! We would recommend the show to anyone who either just wants to indulge in their favourite sweet treat for a day or who wants to learn more about chocolate.
Hotel Chocolat’s restaurant in Borough Market – Rabot 1745 – is named after their Rabot Estate cacao plantation in St. Lucia. Most, if not all of the dishes on the menu incorporate cacao in some form. In some dishes it acts more as a subtle seasoning, but in others it plays a central role, giving an earthy, malty note to the dish. I took Ariel to the restaurant for his birthday a few years ago – it was great. An interesting concept and great location. There’s also a shop and bar on the ground floor so, if you don’t want a full meal, you can pop by to try chocolate craft beers or wines!
Tip – the molten chocolate lava dessert is to die for!
So, on one of our trips to Bocas we ventured to La Loma jungle lodge & chocolate farm, run by a wonderful couple who we are glad to now call our friends. We went on their chocolate tour around the beautiful tropical rainforest and cacao plantation, and ended up making some of our own chocolate. Back at the main lodge had lunch and were offered their trash tea!!?? It doesn’t sound that appetising right? Well, trash tea is hot water infused with the shells of the cacao seeds. The shells give lovely earthy, malty notes – and you also benefit from those wonderful antioxidants. The tea gets its name from the fact that most people throw the shells away – in the trash. Love the concept.
Repurposed cacao pods
It’s always great to see things being reused and repurposed – and we think this shot, taken at La Loma and posted on their Instagram – is the best example of this! Check these chicks out – taking over an old cacao pod! Beautiful.
Until next time #liveslow. Merry Christmas!!! Have a lovely one – hope you are surrounded by friends, family and loved ones.
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