Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How Sweet It Is!

Maya-Mediterranean chocolate rice pudding

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, on Tuesday evening, February 9th about 35 people attended a marvelous presentation in the library by culinary historian Maricel E. Presilla on the history of chocolate and the many varieties of cacao beans produced around the world today. We were treated to chocolate samples from Bali, Vietnam, Ghana, Dominican Republic, Peru, Venezuela, and Trinidad. We learned to distinguish the subtle flavors inherent in each: citrus, banana, dried fruit, nuts, and even floral hints of lavender and rose.

Maricel owns a restaurant in Hoboken and just this week opened a chocolate shop there. She is president of a Latin American food research and marketing company that specializes in the sale of premium cacao beans from Latin America. She explained that she had to revise her book The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes because there are so many rapid changes in the world of cacao production.

The extraordinary evening ended with spicy hot chocolate and servings of the most delicious shrimp polenta – yes, with a bit of chocolate in the sauce. The good news if you missed it, Maricel promises to return to The Hort soon!

Article by Katherine Powis

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