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+61 2 6685 7974

LOVE BYRON BAY ....SPECIALISTS IN INTERNATIONAL AND LOCAL CHOCOLATE.

Love Byron Bay creperie and chocolate boutique is dedicated to sourcing, creating and sharing a quality chocolate experience from Byron Bay, Australia. We'll cultivate your understanding of cocoa, stimulate the palate with a discerning appreciation, fire the imagination with unique chocolate encounters and share the passion for this legendary food of the gods. Exceptional chocolate infused with delicious flavours, irresistible aromatic characteristics and high quality cocoa. 

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Choc Recipes, Choc Facts, Choc Travels and our regular Chocoholic-not-so-Anonymous feature. All this and more in our weekly blog.

Filtering by Tag: mexico

Choc Travel : Modica, Italy....one of the world's best kept secrets

Alison Campbell

For years, travellers have been drawn to Sicily’s intriguing history, smoking volcanoes and famed cuisine, but somehow the island’s distinctive chocolate – made in the Unesco World Heritage town of Modica and inspired by the traditions of the ancient Aztecs – has remained one of the world’s best-kept secrets.

When the Spanish were ruling Sicily in the 16th Century, conquistadors went to Mexico and brought back cacao and the recipes needed for what the Aztecs called xocoàtl, a paste ground by a smooth round stone called a metate. Unlike the often over-sugared and creamy snack we know as chocolate, the original xocoàtl was bitter and used to enhance sauces for meat dishes, grated over salads or eaten on its own as a dietary supplement. If prepared with certain spices, it was considered an aphrodisiac.

In Modica, generations of families have followed the same techniques, using metates crafted with lava stone from Mt Etna. Locals would mix the chocolate paste with sugar, “cold working” it so that the sugar doesn’t get hot enough to melt; it gives the treat an unusual but deliciously crunchy texture. Then, they would incorporate flavours typically enjoyed on Sicily such as lime oil or pistachio. Today, flavourings are occasionally adapted to more modern tastes such as the current European fashion for sea salt chocolate.

As soon as I arrived in Modica, my eyes took in the sights of baroque churches, piazzas lined with palm trees and entrances to tiny, twisty alleyways. My nose, on the other hand, was unable to escape the ubiquitous scent of cocoa and exotic spices.

The first shop I encountered was the grand Antica Dolceria Bonajuto, which dates back to the 1880s, and is still run by the family who founded it. When the rest of Europe began to develop a taste for milk chocolate in the 19th Century, the Bonajuto family eschewed the practice and continued making dairy-free, dark chocolate in the Aztec style. All along the counter were dishes filled with samples infused with chilli, cinnamon, lemon oil, sea salt, vanilla, caramel and other flavours.

Just down the road is Antica Dolceria Rizza, which opened in 1935 and makes their now-renowned treats with flavours such as fiery ginger. At Caffe del’ Arte, which doubles as a café, I had the opportunity to sip hot chocolate alongside chocolate-covered fruit and typical Sicilian pastries like cannoli.

Modica’s businesses are serious about preserving – and celebrating – their chocolate traditions. (Even when most of Modica’s infrastructure was destroyed in the 1693 earthquake, the chocolate industry survived). In 2013, the Consortium for the Protection of Modica Chocolate published recipes dating back to the 1740s, and in December, an annual festival called ChocoModica melds the town’s two most important features: chocolate and baroque architecture. There’s even a dedicated chocolate museum, the Museo del Cioccolato (Corso Umberto I, 149, 97015; 39-347-461-2771), located within the Palace of Culture. Inside, almost everything is made out of chocolate, from classical-style statues to a relief map of Italy, and there are videos demonstrating how the chocolate is made along with a valuable archive of historical recipes.

Recently, Modica and the surrounding area were chosen as a filming location for a popular BBC mystery series, bringing a new wave of tourists to discover the secret of Modica’s chocolate as they follow in the main character’s footsteps. But even if the secret gets out, the unusually prepared treat remains nearly impossible to find outside of Italy.

Source: bbc.com
Photos: Antica Dolceria Bonajuto

 

Choc Travel : Mexico

Alison Campbell

Historians disagree over where exactly in Mesoamerica cacao trees first appeared, but what they do agree on is that people first began to prepare cacao for human enjoyment in Mexico.

The most popular use of the cacao bean in pre-European Mexico was to produce a chocolate drink. To make the drink, producers fermented, toasted, and ground the cacao bean into a powder which provided the drink's base. Often, people used different spices such as chillies, anise seed, allspice, and vanilla to add flavour. 

Once the secret of chocolate got out, other places started cultivating it. Today more than 80% of cacao is grown in Africa and Indonesia. Less than 2% is grown in Mexico. But the vestiges of the cacao culture remain, and there's an effort to make the Yucatán the center of the chocolate world again.

Top Picks for Mexico Choc Travels

What better place to start your choc trip than the Yucatán Peninsula, a part of Mexico that's closer to Cuba than to Mexico City and is still home to the Maya, the people who made the world a happier place 2,500 years ago by cultivating cacao.

There are Maya ruins to explore, working sisal plantations from the 19th century, yellow-painted cities that shimmer under the tropical sun, coastal wetlands so dense with flamingos the water looks pink and park squares where costumed women dance with glasses of water on their heads. But mostly it's about the chocolate.

Next stop the MUCHO Museo del Chocolate ....a chocolate museum, cafe, and artisan chocolate factory located in the Roma District of Mexico City. The chocolate museum is housed in a beautiful historic house of 1909 in Colonia Juarez on the Milan street corner Rome. Its facade and interior were carefully restored, and the museum is the perfect blend of history and contemporary culture. Visitors can learn about how cacao or chocolate have impacted the local culture and economy. 

 

MUCHO Mundo Chocolate is the name of the brand of chocolate confections made at the artisan chocolate factory attached to the museum. The chocolate is made from cocoa beans from two regions: that of Tabasco, and Chiapas. Traditional Mexican chocolate is made using a blend of cacao beans mixed with vanilla beans, chili de arbol, (hot chilli peppers) and a touch of cinnamon and salt. This mixture is conched (mixed together) for 24-45 hours to get the desired consistency before it is made into chocolate bars.

Closer to home...Taza chocolate

Modern Mexican chocolate still retains many qualities of its predecessor. Makers still use some of the same spices as the Aztecs, as well as cinnamon and sugar to produce a chocolate with a unique flavor, texture, and aroma. It provides the base for hot chocolate beverages and serves as a key ingredient to several Mexican dishes such as Mole. Mexican chocolate is best recognized when sold in the form of small solid discs. The Spanish began the practice of storing chocolate in the shape of discs in the 1500s, and it continues to today.

Taza founder Alex Whitmore took his first bite of stone ground chocolate while traveling in Oaxaca, Mexico. He was so inspired by the rustic intensity that he decided to create a chocolate factory back home in the US. Alex apprenticed under a molinero in Oaxaca to learn how to hand-carve granite mill stones to make a new kind of American chocolate that is simply crafted, but seriously good. In 2005, he officially launched Taza with his wife, Kathleen Fulton.

Taza is a pioneer in ethical cacao sourcing. They were the first U.S. chocolate maker to establish a third-party certified Direct Trade Cacao Certification program. They maintain direct relationships with their cacao farmers and pay a premium above the Fair Trade price for their cacao. You can find their delicious chocolate discs available both in our Byron Bay boutique, and our online store. Bringing the taste of Mexico to you! Happy choc travels. :)

Source: mucho.org.mxchocolatestore1.blogspot.com.au, , lattimes.com
Photo Credits: Austin Andrews, wordonthebird, John Muncie