Could you imagine living in Europe during the days before the Spaniard landed in Mexico? To live without the heavenly creature called ¡°chocolate¡±? Never.
Among a small circle of friends and co-workers I was known to be the chocoholic. Not merely because of the quality of chocolate that I consume but also because of the sheer quantity I could devour in the most efficient manner. I used to have a co-worker who always checked the floor under my desk whenever he came to see me, ¡°Where are you hiding the wrappers? I know you have them!¡± I used to have a stack of Toblerone boxes right next to my monitor, in all colors. People used to be astonished to find out they were all empty. I¡¯ve since hidden them.
So there was no surprise that I jumped at Gui¡¯s suggestion of a free factory tour in a local chocolate maker: Scharffenberger. Even though I¡¯ve never heard of this brand of chocolate before, I was curious about how chocolate was made.
Not only did I enjoyed learning how ignorant I had been about this lovely ¡°food¡±, but also found myself fall in love with Schenffenberger chocolate. Schenffenberger specializes in extra dark (70%-82%) species which are my all time favorite. In addition to the rich bitter taste of coca, the sample Schenffenberger chocolate we were given during the tour also had a strong citrus flavor, like mini-explosions in ones mouth. Pleasant surprises.
A few surprises:
1. the cacao fruit grew directly on the trunk of the tree like a football shaped tumor.
2. cacao beans need to be fermented prior to roasting, similar to wine making
3. Scharffenberger was founded in 1996!
4. ¡by a winery owner and a physician!
5. Everyone could make chocolate using the following household appliances in her kitchen: A hair dryer, coffee grinder, and mortar and pestle.
If you are a chocolate lover and find yourself in the bay area, you might want to consider taking an hour out of your schedule and checking out this lovely factory tour. They are in Berkeley, and the tour is free.