Sunday, March 12, 2017

Arequipa Cacao Class

In Valparaiso we met a Berlin couple (a physicist and a librarian, T&W!) who recommended the chocolate class offered by Chaqchao in Arequipa. It was one of the better such experiences we've had. Chef Adrian takes you from the cacao tree to packaging your own chocolate, hands-on, eyes, nose and mouth all constantly engaged. Via Anthony Bourdain, we'd learned that Peru is a source of the finest chocolate.

In the upstairs bar/kitchen/classroom where most of the action
takes place

Pod, containing beans

Vicki sniffs the beans...smells like 100% unrefined cacao

OK, we skipped the 8 days' fermentation and the several days 
(depending on weather) of drying

And dealt with beans from sacks like these


Ample AV stuff

Getting ahead of the story a bit...two products of refinement...
pure cacao on the left, pure cacao butter (largely a skin
moisturizer) on the right; the aroma was the same; the butter
is used in making real white chocolate, which we'd never had die for...

More history of chocolate

Ample humor

Roasting, stirring by hand

There's also fake chocolate, for which we now have contempt
(think Hershey's, et al.)

Mortar and pestle time, grinding the roasted beans to a paste to

Chocolate tea--they say Cortez hated it, but then he wasn't
much of a bidnessman--mine was a bit gritty, but that was due
to my lack of mortar-and-pestle skill; flavor was great

On now to the chocolate factory downstairs,
where this machine does the onerous work of
grinding and separating

Adrian and one of the five students (no more
than seven) that day

White rising to the top

Work bench, with half a ton of 43%, 70%, and higher underneath;
after being heated slightly, we will pour our 70% mixture into
trays, with whatever additions we like


Fruits and nuts and other additives

Vicki chose dried apple, almond, raisin, coconut, and one coca;
I did just coco (-nut) and coca; keep it simple

Pouring; as it was delicately refrigerating, we went back to
the classroom and impressed Adrian with our newfound
knowledge via blind-tasting; strangely, I stopped taking pix
at this point, but we walked away, despite the cacao overdose,
carrying our own 50g customized chocolate plus a few more
bars for tasting/edcational purposes; a great experience!

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