Thursday, January 13, 2011

Peru and My New Chocolate Quest

A homebody with wanderlust probably most accurately describes me. I love to relax at home (meaning the parents' house), spend a day baking, getting my hands dirty in the garden, maybe going for a nice bike ride, and curling up with a familiar book. At the same time, I often feel a strong desire to brush off the reins of society and go off on an adventure in the rainforests of South America or traipse across the countries of Oceania.

Okay, so I did spend the greater part of my college career infatuated with the exotic fauna of tropical regions, particularly the forests of this particular large island off the coast of Mozambique (wink wink). It is hard for these magical places not to haunt an aspiring conservation biologist's dreams.

So why do I bring up forests and adventures? Well, I'm not planning any exciting journeys outside the U.S., at the moment (sigh), but I recently came across a tropical connection that may well liven things up in DC. This week's dining section in the NY Times showcased a rare breed of cacao found in Peru. A disease all but did away with this variety in the earth 1900's, but certain regions of the country still house stands of the pods.

Because of its rarity, Nacional has only been used sparingly in chocolate blends, such as those used by Kallari (good chocolate, see my birthday tasting). Moonstruck, a chocolate company from Portland, OR, has recently come out with a product of pure Nacional. These chocolate-covered cocoa beans (oh my goodness!) don't come cheap, but for a veritable chocoholic, it is probably worth every cent. Two Canadian chocolatiers, Point Carr é and Christophe Morel, are also now producing products with the beans.

This is my newest quest - to try to transplant from the tropics. Because of the nature of the product, the variety of cocoa is either grown by cooperatives (as in Ecuador) or still harvested from the wild (in Peru), however, if the product gains popularity, more attention will need to be paid to the sustainability of the production of the beans and the livelihoods of the growers.

That is all. Good night.

1 comment:

Victoria said...

I want to get my hands on some of that Moonstruck variety! They make great stuff.