Friday, June 27, 2014

The Kolden Report: From Cacao to chocolate. Granada, Nicaragua.

Hello, kids!

After breakfast at the Choco cafe, Cousin Jay and I decided to take the course on chocolate making where we learned everything you could want to know about the cacao bean and its uses.


Non fermented beans do not chocolate, make. 


Fermented beans are the ones to use and Ishmail taught us how to look, listen and feel to tell the difference.


I got a kick out of this chart.  Only goes to 2006!  Perhaps that was the year they opened the choco musuem?


Cacao "tree".  Used to show gringos the difference in ripe and non-ripe fruits.  In the background, Ishmail prepares for class.



Old school.  (More on how we used this later.)



Aprons were handed out.  I like that Jay's had  US and Nica flag pins on it!


First step:  Roast the beans.    We were lead to a courtyard where this roasting pit waited.


Ismail fans the flames to get a hotter fire. 


The pot, is clay!


Stir it up!  (We had to stir continually while roasting.)


Perfect heat.


After roasting, the beans had a chalky appearance.  Ismail dumped them on a table for us to "shell" the outer skins off. 


Back in the factory, candy is being made.  By HAND.



We were given beans and told to grind!  This is the finished product, shiny with cocoa butter - a valuable by product.


Ismail explains conching, the process producing cocoa drinks as an end result.


Ismail also tried to teach us a chant (in Spanish) as we "conched".  Neither of us won any awards but we sure did laugh!



Commercial conchers running full speed.  It takes HOURS to properly conche chocolate for consumption.  And yes, it is a messy process.  We left our bars cooling in the fridge for later pickup.


Jay lead me out and up.



View from above.



Church towers.  (Literally and figuratively.)



Looking down, beside the hotel, was this giant berm of earth.  I wondered why it remained?  To hold up the hotel walls?  Next door, was a home with small courtyard.


I would love a stone patio like this!


Love this bloom with a "bristly tongue."


Post party streets?


Coconut cart.



I wondered if he had been pulling the cart with his bike and decided it would be easier to haul the bike and just pull the cart!


Monk's clothesline?



Roam free.  (Free ranging ox heads for a drink near moored tour boats on Lake Nicaragua.)


Dock of the bay.  (One of the many.)


LOVE these shapely short trees.



It takes a village. (Drill rig?)



Ponies roam.



Wood wagon.



Hard working pony!



Old school.  (We rode as kids, with a piece of twine for a bridle and nothing else,  barefoot in summer...something this fellow understands!)


Styrofoam collector.  Perhaps it is recycled in Nicaragua?



HE let the dogs out.  (I approve of the leashes.)



Yamaha.  Where credit is available!  (Nearing the marina?)



Volcanic boulders.  (I'd sure hate to experience an eruption!)

Up next:  Villa Mombacho.

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"Appreciation is the highest form of prayer for it acknowledges the presence of good wherever you shine the light of your thankful thoughts."  - Alan Cohen

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