Friday, September 14, 2012

Dreams of Hawaii, with Stopovers: Chocolate in Transition

And so we find ourselves in mid-September.  "Where are you?" is a question I get a lot these days.  "Traveling" is maybe the best answer.  In transit, or in transition.  But where?  Well, gentle readers, friends of this persona who is Emily of Chocolate in Context: I'm just not ready to say yet.

I will say that I have landed in Europe.  There's something fitting about this move, because when I left my indie bookshop and volcanic life in Guatemala seven years ago, the old cobble-stoned cities and treasured recipes of the land of romance languages was very much the dream.  Now, after stops in Australia and Asia and the Americas, I find myself walking the terrain and the terroir of that fantasy.  Dream come true?  Or just another paradigm shift?  All depends on the context, I suppose.

I can tell you this: relocating to Europe means I'm close to any number of wonderful chocolate related events this fall: UK Chocolate Week, the Origin Chocolate Event in Amsterdam, and the Paris Chocolate Show.

It also means, now that my short stint at home in New York is over, which means I couldn't participate in the New York chapter of Martin Christy's International Chocolate Awards and missed out on a talk this week with Nat Bletter of Madre Chocolate at Conrad Miller's evolving chocolate Brooklyn shop, Chocolate Earth.

That's too bad, since Nat gives off every indication of being a fascinating person--and one whose geography is as complicated as mine.  I don't know much about Nat.  I know that Nat is a bean-to-bar producer who sources cacao in Mexico while operating a chocolate factory in Hawaii.  I know that Madre Chocolate is a neighbor of Seneca Klassen's Bittersweet Origins operation.  And I know that such pairing alone is reason enough for someone sometime (maybe me, but when?) to catch a flight to Honolulu and investigate Hawaii's chocolate products and possibilities.

It's a long flight from Europe, but I can at least start taking notes and planning for the next paradigm shift in advance.  So I contacted Nat and explained that "I haven't yet done a post on chocolate in Hawaii--bean-to-bar, confections, events, organizations--any suggestions?"

The top of Nat's list: farmer Tommy Menezes's work at Hawaiian Crown's Alae Estate cacao farm in Hamakua.  According to Nat, Tommy "has over 20 years experience with growing cacao in Hawaii, more than anyone in the state, and he is generally recognized as growing & fermenting some of the best tasting cacao in Hawaii."

The rest, in due time, I think I'll have to find out for myself.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:39 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very exciting about your transition - I can't wait to see where you've surfaced! (I'm likely moving to Europe soon, too, so perhaps we'll be neighbors, so to speak!)

10:07 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks, Katherine! Looking forward to catching up soon.

10:21 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Seneca said...

Aloha Emily!

Just caught this blog post...I'm clearly behind :-) I absolutely encourage a visit to Hawaii anytime--there's lots of fascinating and exciting stuff happening here in the islands. Just for the record, there's a new name for my project here: Lonohana Estate Chocolate. 1st completely seed-to-tree-to-bar batch is in the refiner this week...

1:27 AM GMT-5  

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