Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The ChocolateDoctor’s Tracking Down the Source of Chocolate: Equatorial Guinea

Friday, August 9th, 2013
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

I have had four careers in the last 45 years….a producer for ABC-TV covering the war in Vietnam, an art director and director in the film industry, a restaurateur with over 350 establishments and the co-founder of Choclatique. I’ve shot great action films and been shot at. I have directed famous and popular movie stars and have been credited with producing one of the top ten worst movies in history. I’ve opened restaurants that have been spectacular successes and one which was a spectacular failure. The most fun I have had has been the development of the brand and the fantastic products we make at Choclatique.

Last month I spent several weeks in Equatorial Guinea which, up until the mid twentieth century, was a large exporter of cocoa beans. I was in search of discovering great chocolate on the Dark Continent (If you prepare the recipe for Sofitel’s Cold, Welcoming Chocolate Beverage you will see and taste exactly what I mean about great chocolate). The Spanish brought a cocoa culture to Spanish Guinea, now known as Equatorial Guinea, West Africa in the late 1700’s.

Equatorial Guinea is on the west coast of equatorial Africa, bordered by Cameroon to the north and Gabon to the south and east. Malabo, the capital, is exactly 3 degrees north of the equator (I proved this out with my trusty iPhone compass and GPS system). It has the perfect climate and just the right amount of rainfall to grow great cacao, the fruit from which chocolate is made. A tiny country, it is slightly smaller than the state of Maryland. This includes the mainland (Río Muni), as well as three coastal islets (Corisco, Elobey Grande, and Elobey Chico) and two islands (Bioko and Annobóon). The larger of these is Bioko, formerly known as Fernando Po which is 25 miles off the coast of Cameroon. Mangrove swamps lie along the coast of the island. Río Muni is mainly tropical rain forest and is home to a variety of animals, including gorillas, snakes, chimpanzees, monkeys, leopards, elephants, and crocodiles.

Bioko was most important because of its cocoa plantations and proved to be one of Spain’s most profitable territories in Africa. When the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, the Spanish began to invest more in the development of Equatorial Guinea. The country experienced increasing prosperity with the aid of the Spanish government and the Catholic Church. Industry grew, and cocoa and timber contributed to a strong economy.

Independence was declared in 1968. With the departure of Spain the country was left in dire straits. Many of the plantations were deserted and reclaimed by the rain forest. Today the country is rebuilding and establishing a great degree of political and economic stability. With the discovery of oil and other valuable natural resources their efforts are noticeable. On Bioko, the majority of the population lives in the City of Malabo, which is Equatorial Guinea’s capital. The city is clean, and its older architecture exhibits Spanish influence while the new buildings resemble the skyline of a major American city. There are new roads being built and construction cranes throughout the city showcase the efforts of Turkish and Chinese contractors.

The main foods are cassava root, bananas, rice, papaya, mango and yams. People also hunt and fish for protein. Palm wine and malamba (an alcoholic drink made from sugarcane) are both mild and popular.

Before independence, Equatorial Guinea’s primary source of income was from Spanish-grown cocoa production. With their departure, production fell significantly leaving plantations to be reclaimed by the jungle. Over the last couple of weeks I hiked into the jungle to find these old plantations and see for myself what remained of these vast growing areas. I was pleasantly surprised to see many old heirloom plants had survived the neglect and lack of attended cultivation. The cacao I found is most likely Forastero or Criollo (only testing will tell for sure). I estimate that the trees are probably about 200 years old and may very will be derived from the ancient cacao plants that would have been found in ancient Aztec civilizations and shipped to the colony.

Like superb wine and premium olive oils, fine chocolates all carry a signature flavor. Their distinctive flavors start with the original ingredient… the cacao bean. Wine grapes vary by varietal, region of origin, harvesting methods and weather. So, too, do cacao beans with the additional complications caused by the remoteness of the growing area and the fermenting and drying environment. Sophisticated connoisseurs of chocolate claim they can identify the country of origin, cacao tree type and processing methods; and can detect whether a chocolate comprises beans from a single estate (“terroir”) or blends. I’m pretty good at tasting, but not that good.

Before the mapping of the cacao genus a couple of years ago it was thought that there were only three varieties of heirloom cacao: the Criollo, the Trinitario and the Forastero. This is now being rethought as testing is proving that there may be more varieties than originally thought. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) now has the technology to help identify and map the various plants around the world.

Grown mainly in Central America, the Criollo represents only 1% of world’s fine chocolate production. Some exceptionally rare Criollo is harvested only by dugout canoe deep in the Amazon rainforest. Its cacao is fine and sweet, with complex flavor notes. The Forastero, grown largely in West Africa and South America, comprises about 80 percent of world’s fine chocolate production and has a strong, bold taste. The Trinitario is a flavorful bean and contains qualities of both trees and is grown throughout the world, producing about five percent of world fine chocolate output.

The most exciting part of the venture which eclipsed most everything else was the national energy to make a better life for all of the people who live there. It is more than just the construction of new buildings and roads and the discovery of oil which pays for much of it. It is the people who were most giving and hospitable. With all that is going on in the world today it was great to be welcomed as an American and treated so well by everyone I met and worked with. I am looking forward to returning back later in the year.

Choclatique creates chocolate for connoisseurs and for people who just love great chocolate. Our award-winning truffles and bars demonstrate our attention to artistic presentation and flavor perfection. Every day, our chocolatiers craft each piece using the finest ingredients. We use our premium blends of dark, milk and white chocolate made from premium cacao beans from around the world. And we continually search for rare and emerging cacao plantations from which we can source. We use only the finest ingredients: fresh cream and butter; and the finest liqueurs, nuts, fruits and spices. The secret to our success is allowing the natural chocolate flavors to dominate our truffles. We don’t use artificial flavors or preservatives.

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Sofitel’s Cold, Welcoming Chocolate Beverage

Friday, July 26th, 2013
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

One of the greatest hotel welcoming amenities I found anywhere in the world is the chilled chocolate beverage each guest receives when they arrive at the Sofitel Malabo Sipopo Le Golf in Equatorial Guinea. (GQ is in Western Africa and has a most colorful history and a very bright future.) The chocolate shot is cold and refreshing and while it is made from chocolate and whole milk it takes the humidity out of your body and puts the bounce back in your step after a long, 35 hour plane trip.

They don’t offer the drink anywhere else in the hotel, which I think is a big mistake, but the beautiful ladies at the front desk will take pity on you and give you another shot if you ask. The drink is like the thick hot chocolate you find in so many places in Barcelona, but it is well-chilled instead of served hot.

In case you not aware, Equatorial Guinea was a Spanish colony exploited for its chocolate. When the Spanish left the country, giving it long-earned independence, the cacao industry fell into disrepair. Unlike some of their neighbors in Western Africa who have replanted their crops with a GMO cacao plant (CCN51), Amelonado Forastero appears to be the original planting from long ago. This makes a far superior chocolate than their neighbors in the region can produce. In my two weeks here I have collected enough information for a chapter of my next chocolate book, but until then, let me share the secret of the Sofitel Chocolate Drink.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 25 hours
Yield: 4 2/3 cups

Ingredients:
3 cups whole milk
1 cup cold water
3 1/2 oz. of Choclatique Private Reserve Chocolate (64%), shaved
1/2 cup Choclatique Unsweetened Rouge Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine the milk, water, shaved chocolate, cocoa powder and sugar in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir with a whisk to avoid scorching and help break up the cocoa powder
  3. Simmer for 2 minutes longer being careful not to burn.
  4. Pass the mixture through a fine China cap or strainer.
  5. Refrigerate for 24 hours before serving.
  6. Place the mixture in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.
  7. Pour into a frozen 2-ounce shot glass or espresso cup.

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Farewell, Huell

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Huell Burnley Howser

(October 18, 1945 – January 7, 2013)

Huell HowserJoan and I worked with Huell Howser on the third hour of the Ken and Barkley Saturday Morning Show on KABC. This was soon after Huell arrived in Los Angeles. Hour three, considered the lifestyle segment, featured Huell who introduced us to places in our own backyard that many of us weren’t familiar with; Chuck Walsh reviewed the latest movies and Joan and I featured restaurants by bringing in food from the establishments being discussed. Somehow Ken Minyard held the whole thing together with his fun banter with Roger Barkley. It was a fast, fun-filled hour (pre-taped on Wednesday mornings) which hit the airwaves at 9am. Huell was the first one to notice that when we were plying them with mouthfuls of food, it made it possible for us to get a word in edgewise.

Around this time, Huell had just taped the first segments of California’s Gold, his travel show, based in Los Angeles at KCET for California PBS stations. The series was a video chronicle and celebration of the history, culture and people of California. This was to become a tradition on television for the next 20 years.

Huell was born in Gallatin, Tennessee. He received a Bachelors degree in history from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he also served as student body president. After serving in the United States Marines and later on the staff of Senator Howard Baker, Huell began his television career at WSM-TV in Nashville with a series of “human interest” stories.

Huell worked in New York as the host of WCBS-TV’s “Real Life” show and then moved to Los Angeles in 1981 as a reporter for KCBS-TV and as weekend host on Entertainment Tonight. In 1985 he joined Los Angeles television station KCET, then a PBS affiliate.

Huell was always excited about everything. California’s Gold highlighted small towns, landmarks, events or places of interest throughout California which are not well known to the general public, with Huell conducting informal interviews with the locals. He also produced derived shows including California’s Golden Parks, California’s Water, Visiting… with Huell Howser, Our Neighborhoods, The Bench, Road Trip, California’s Golden Fairs, and various specials.

Huell was a generous man donating his entire videotaped collection of California’s Gold to Chapman University. He also donated his personal papers, and a large collection of books on California history to the university. The school established the Huell Howser Archive, which, when completed, will offer the public free access to the entire digitized collection of episodes of California’s Gold. He also gave his extensive art collection to the university and endowed the California’s Gold Scholarship Fund.

Huell Howser2The last time we met up with Huell he was standing behind the host stand at El Coyote restaurant on Beverly Boulevard speaking with one of the owners. I was there with my visiting London nephew and giving him my full attention when I heard Huell’s smooth, southern accented voice, “Mr. Engoron, will that be a table for four?” We laughed and talked for about an hour about his series, our futures and Huell wanted to know all about Choclatique. We promised to get together soon at the Chocolate Studio but Huell was not able to visit because of his progressing illness.

Huell Howser’s death made us very sad, but then we can just tune to an old episode of California’s Gold and see him still very much alive and feel happy when watching his show. Goodbye Huell—rest in peace.

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The Chocolate of Barcelona

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

As I was planning my trip to Lisbon, Portugal next week I found that I have a stop-over in Barcelona. What could be better than an afternoon in the old chocolate capital of the world? The harbor of Barcelona was the port into which the very first shipments of cocoa from the New World arrived more than 500 years ago, making it the ideal home to the Museu de la Xocolata—Barcelona’s Chocolate Museum.

The Catalan Capital is a beautiful city with a diverse culture and history and Barcelona’s museums offer visitors a wide range of aesthetic experiences – in fact, they can be seen as a perfect illustration of just how beguilingly this city can be.

Two of Barcelona’s most popular museums are devoted to artists—the works of Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso – the first born in the city and the second generally acknowledged as an adopted son.

The third is the Museu de la Xocolata which is housed in an outwardly unimposing but historical building. From the aroma wafting through the narrow twisted streets lets visitors know to be prepared for an idiosyncratic and glorious celebration of the world’s most famous treat.

Inside the museum the history of chocolate is demonstrated from the discovery of the first cocoa beans brought back by the New World explorers, including Christopher Columbus himself, the progressive history since its origins as a spicy drink to its delight as a French sweet all the way through time to its present predominant position in the commercial world.

There are displays of machines and tools representing the chocolate maker’s art as well as fantastically detailed reconstructions of many of Barcelona’s most famous architectural sites – painstakingly and lovingly recreated from nothing but chocolate. There is even Snowy, an albino gorilla (from whom we named our Snowy White Chocolate) who has been meticulously constructed from white chocolate.

This “delicious” museum demonstrates chocolate’s many different purposes: as a medicinal element, an aphrodisiac, a nutritional treasure and everything in between, both legend and reality. They offer different workshops for children and adults.

Save a little time to stop by the chocolate café and bar where they sell great hot chocolate, thick enough to hold a spoon on its edge in the cup. While enjoying your chocolate, swivel around on your stool and watch the students next door being put through their paces as they try to achieve master status as pasty chefs and chocolatiers.

Old Chocolate Processing MachineThe Museu de la Xocolata is located in the Antiguo Convento de San Agustín at Carrerr de Commerç, 36. It is a pleasant short walk from Arc de Triomf Metro station (Red Line, 1), beginning on the Passeig Lluis Companys or due east of the Metro at Juame 1 (Yellow Line, 4), just a few minutes past the Picasso Museum in the Gothic District.

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And, The Winner Is…

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique
Author of Ed Engoron’s Choclatique, Running Press, 2011

Festival de Cannes

Champagne Truffle

It’s not a capital city, or even near one. Yes, cinema was invented in France, but that was in Paris, not Cannes. And sure, the weather in Cannes may be nice, but that certainly isn’t a unique selling point. It wasn’t only the city’s “sunny and enchanting location” that clinched it for Cannes. The real reason for its selection for the ultimate film festival was that the municipal authorities agreed to cough up the dough to build a dedicated venue for the event.

On the surface, a city such as Cannes perhaps might not strike you as the place to host the world’s most famous film festival, but for 12 days in May the city of Cannes is transformed from a quiet seaside resort into the entire focus of the international film industry. This year over 200,000 people—filmmakers, film fans, and star-gazers alike—will descend on the Croisette to take part in the Cannes Film Festival (or more correctly, the Festival de Cannes… you know how the French are so particular to the use of language). During these two weeks thousands of films are screened, careers are and stars from all over the will gather to bask in both the sunlight and, most importantly, the limelight.

Ever since the early 1950s, when a bikini-clad Brigitte Bardot frolicked on the beach for the cameras, Cannes has grown to embody four of the world’s favorite indulgent pastimes—food, wine, sex and cinema. Now easily the most famous film festival of them all, the mere mention of Cannes conjures up images of red carpets, palm trees, scantily-clad starlets, the blinding flashes of a million paparazzi cameras, celebrity parties and now Choclatique Chocolate. CHOCLATIQUE CHOCOLATE? An American-made chocolate featured in France?

Box of BubblyChoclatique was invited to be the official chocolate at the American Pavilion at the Cannes Film Festival over all the leading American chocolate companies. From May 11th through Many 22nd the Choclatique brand and logo will be seen and tasted internationally by thousands of celebrities, producers, directors, publicists, lawyers, producers, actors, and movie marketing executives. The American Pavilion will feature our Box of Bubbly—Choclatique Dom Perignon Champagne Truffles in our beautiful new reusable leather boxes. These are the same Champagne truffles that are available to send to your dad or favorite sweetie.

At Cannes this year the Choclatique logo will proudly be seen next to the likes of British Air, Coca Cola, Intel, The Economist Magazine, The International Herald Tribune, SAG, Sierra Nevada, etc. Not too bad for a small Southern Californian artisan chocolate company.

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Fly the Haughty Skies of “Air Chance”

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

I travel to Europe at least once a month. No matter how hard I try to avoid Air France the connections through Charles De Gaulle just outside of Paris seem to always be the best. Paris is, well, just so French, if you know what I mean. Something (everything) always seems to go wrong travelling through Paris adding hours to the trip.

One trip it was lost luggage; another had the baggage workers on strike delaying the flight for hours. There was a flight controllers “work to rule,” which did nothing more than delay hundreds of flights over a three day period. A general strike last month closed the airport down for two days. It’s more like flying “Air Chance” than Air France.

Last month was no different—the cabin cleaners staged a one hour strike causing a 2-hour delay. The airline caterer must have been upset about something because the duck used in making my canard a la orange died in vain after being mutilated by a very untalented cook. The questionable chocolate desserts were also a waste of calories… now you know that it’s bad if I don’t eat the chocolate.

So this month I got smart and made a few purchases at the gourmet store at the airport before heading for home. I got a very freshly-baked baguette… still warm to the touch; a tin of pâté de foie gras kissed with Cognac; a jar of marinated white truffles and a small wedge of Camembert cheese. I already knew the airline had an ample supply of good French Champagne and a bottle of 6 year-old Portuguese Port.

I saw nothing of interest for dessert and besides I do need to lose a few pounds. I was very content with my airplane picnic and thought I was ready to go until I spotted a small kiosk selling Ladurée macarons. Ladurée is a luxury cake and pastry boutique brand based in Paris, France. It is known as the inventor of the double-decker macaroon where fifteen thousand are sold every day. They are considered the best macaron shop in the world. When I speak of macarons, I am not referring to macaroons, those mounds of coconut and almond kosher cookies sold during Passover in Jewish sections of the supermarket which can be mistaken for damp paper weights. I am talking about a beautiful meringue-based confection made from a mixture of egg whites, almond flour, and both granulated and confectioners’ sugar.

While Ladurée is highly esteemed for making exceptional quality macarons in traditional and creative flavors, other French patisseries such as Pierre Hermé and Fauchon are also well known for their macarons as well. Outside of Europe, the pastry has attracted itself to mostly cosmopolitan cities, notably New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Toronto. New York has recently witnessed a surge in macaron shops.

The confection is characterized by its smooth, domed top, ruffled circumference and flat base. Connoisseurs in general and Ed Engoron in particular prize the delicate, egg shell-like crust that yields to a moist and airy interior. The macaron can be filled and held together with a buttercream frosting or jam filling sandwiched between two macaron cookies. Macarons can be found in a wide variety of flavors that range from the traditional (raspberry, vanilla) to the exotic (truffle, matcha tea) to my favorate—chocolate.

You might think something that beautiful is difficult to make. To the contrary they are quite easy. Recipe for Chocolate Macarons.

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Over 130 and Still Counting

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Over the last 40 years I have visited 131 countries. Some of my older passports are as thick Yellow Pages directories. When my friends return home from an overseas trip, they talk about the museums, churches and castles they have visited. Being a food and chocolate guy, I reminisce about the restaurants, supermarkets and chocolate museums I have discovered.

Did you know that major museums have entire exhibitions dedicated to chocolate and other specialty museums where you feel surrounded by chocolate? At these unique repositories, you will discover how Chocolate engages your senses and reveals facets of this sumptuous, sweet treat that you’ve never thought about before. You’ll explore the plant, the products, and the culture of chocolate through the lenses of science, history, and popular culture.

The Choco-Story chocolate museum in Bruges, Belgium, is composed of three parts, telling the story of the origin and evolution of chocolate through a unique collection of almost one thousand objects. Besides the history, the museum also reveals how chocolate is made, with special attention to a variety of raw ingredients and the development of the production process. In the demonstration center, visitors uncover the secret of beautiful silky chocolate and get the opportunity to taste the chocolate products made in the museum.

Wijnzakstraat 2
Sint-Jansplein, 8000 Bruges, Belgium
050 61 22 37

The Chocolate Museum opened in June of 1999 in New Brunswick, Canada. It is a must for all Chocoholics! Devoted to the wonder of Chocolate, it displays the history of Ganong Bros. Limited, candy makers in St. Stephen since 1873. The museum is an indoor, unique, interactive experience. What better way to sweeten a child’s enthusiasm for history, chemistry and economics than with chocolate?

73 Milltown Blvd.
St. Stephen, New Brunswick E3L 1G5
“Canada’s Chocolate Town”
(506) 466-7848

At The Field Museum in Chicago you can journey through history to get the complete story behind the tasty treat that we crave in Chocolate. Start your tour in the rainforest with the unique cacao tree whose seeds started it all. Visit the ancient Maya civilization of Central America and discover what chocolate meant nearly 1,500 years ago. Then travel forward in time and northward to the Aztec civilization of 16th-century Mexico, where cacao seeds were so valuable, they were used as money. Discover chocolate’s introduction into the upper classes of European society and its transformation into a mass-produced world commodity.

1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago, IL 60605-2496
(312) 922-9410

The Imhoff-Stollwerck Museum is just one of the reasons I love Cologne—Germany’s chocolate capital. The museum sits on the Rhine in an impressive ship-shaped construction of glass and metal. It is very open, airy and modern inside. Here you can sip cocoa on the terrace overlooking the Rhine. The museum started as an exhibit meant to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Stollwerk Chocolate Company and was so successful that the idea of a full-scale museum quickly grew from it. The Chocolate Museum opened its doors on October 31st, 1993. This self-financed museum now welcomes more than 5 million visitors a year with an average of 2,000 visitors a day.

The museum is an interactive experience. The tour starts with pictures of cacao plants and takes the visitor through the entire production process from bean to bar. Large color photos are accompanied by explanations in German and English about cultivation and harvest, different kinds of cocoa, and fermentation. Visitors next walk through a small greenhouse where they actually feel the tropical conditions and see growing cocoa plants followed by industrialization and the invention of the machines which allowed chocolate to become the silky texture we are accustomed to today.

Rheinauhafen 1a
D-50678, Cologne
+49-221/93 18 88-0

The Museu de la Xocolata is a strange Barcelona museum—strangely delicious! Xocolata means chocolate. And to me, good chocolate is a key ingredient of a great vacation. If you like chocolate, the Museu de la Xocolate in the La Ribera district of Barcelona will add to your vacation enjoyment.

The museum shows how the cocoa bean is transformed into chocolate in different historical eras. You’ll also learn about chocolate’s place in history and how it has been represented in media and advertising. Chocolate is used in ways that are hard to imagine and the place is littered with amazing chocolate sculptures.

Carrer del Comerç, 36
08003 Barcelona, España
Tel. 932 687 878

In 1972, the Candy Americana Museum in Lititz, Pennsylvania was created by Penny Buzzard, wife the company’s former president John Buzzard. Penny went to antique shows and flea markets looking for old chocolate memorabilia. She gathered more than 1000 varieties of molds, tins, and boxes and displayed them in the museum. Business associates who learned of her efforts began to contribute pieces such as early candy machinery, marble slabs, starch trays, copper kettles, and so on. The prized collection of the museum has more than 150 hand-painted European and Oriental antique porcelain chocolate pots, some bearing the names Haviland, Limoges, and Dresden. The Candy Americana Museum started out as a one-room museum and has expanded slowly. In 1977, the modern candy kitchen was opened. The kitchen features handmade chocolates being created right before your eyes including homemade marshmallow, almond bark, peanut butter meltaways, heavenly hash, mint drizzle, and almond butter crunch.

48 N. Broad St.
Lititz, PA 17543
(717) 626-3249

Chocolate World, located in Hershey, Pennsylvania, is the beginning of The Hershey Story which takes visitors on an inspirational journey through the life of Milton S. Hershey, the man, his chocolate company, the town that bears his name, and his generous legacy.

The Hershey Story explores the rags to riches accomplishments of an American entrepreneur who used his personal wealth to enrich the lives of others. Hear never-before-shared stories of his innovation and determination. Learn how Mr. Hershey revolutionized the process of making milk chocolate. Discover how the Hershey Industrial School’s orphan boys became heirs to his fortune.

From the interactive Museum Experience and its creative Apprentice Program to the Chocolate Lab to Café Zooka and the Museum Shop, the sweet results of Mr. Hershey’s entrepreneurship, ingenuity and philanthropy are guaranteed to inspire all who enter The Hershey Story.

63 West Chocolate Avenue.
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-3439

Bruges, Belgium is home to one of Europe’s chocolate museums—Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate. The museum occupies a three story building on the Rue de la Tete d’Or, and contains numerous exhibits (chocolate moulds, fine porcelain ‘tea’ sets, posters, photos and preserved cocoa pods) as well as demonstrations of the art of the chocolatier. There are even chocolate sculptures and chocolate clothing. Oh, and free samples!

The ground floor houses various glass cases containing old style moulds (some of which are original Cote d’Or moulds), an explanation of the processing of the cocoa beans, and at the rear, a kitchen where there are demonstrations on how pralines are formed in moulds. The upper floors delve more into the history of cocoa, regions where it is produced, and the effects of the cocoa trade both here in Europe and in Africa.

Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate
Rue de la Tête d’Or, 9/11
1000 Brussels (Belgium)
Tel.: +32 (0)2 514 20 48 4

Other Great Chocolate Museums

Musée les Secrets du Chocolat
Geispolsheim, France

Complete with theatre, tea room, and gift shop that sells chocolate pasta, chocolate vinegar, chocolate beer and decorative antique chocolate molds, this museum is every bit as elegant as the country it represents.

Pannys Amazing World of Chocolate
Phillip Island Chocolate Factory
Newhaven, Phillip Island, Victoria, Canada

This facility houses such tongue-in-cheek exhibits as statue of David replicas, a Dame Edna mural and an entire chocolate town. Aside from the eye candy, visitors are treated to real candy with a chocolate sample upon arrival.

Choco-Story Chocolate Museum
Prague, Czech Republic

Chocolate may be a feast for the palate, but this museum is truly a feast for the eyes. With collections of stunning antique chocolate wrappers and demonstrations of the chocolate making process, it’s hard to know what to look at first.

Chocolate Museum
Jeju-do Island, South Korea

While the chocolate workshop, “Bean to Bar” showroom, and art gallery are all impressive, perhaps this museum’s biggest draw is their working San Francisco-style trolley car.

Nestlé Chocolate Museum
Mexico City, Mexico

Known more for its modern design and the speed with which it was built (by most estimates 75 days from start to finish), this futuristic building is an exhibit in itself.

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Paris Chocolate Boutiques

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Some people dream about love and others dream about money. But me? I dream about chocolate… chocolate vacations in Paris to be precise. And that dream came true several months back when my partner, Joan and I, took a 7-day tour of the “Parisian Chocolate Strip.” If you’re planning a trip to Paris, you must check out the Chocolate Doctor’s Guide to Paris Chocolate Boutiques—it’s my list of the best chocolates Paris has to offer. Don’t miss even one on the list! And be sure to let me know of any new discoveries.

La Maison du ChocolatLa Maison du Chocolat
225 Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré
75008 Paris
01 42.27.39.44

The scrumptious chocolates sparkle in the shop window like precious jewels, delicately wrapped in cocoa-colored diaphanous cellophane…above, emblazoned in bold lettering: La Maison du Chocolat. La Maison in Paris could well be regarded as the Hermès of the chocolate world. Company founder Robert Linxe—The Wizard of Ganache—pioneered the approach of bringing the production principles of haute cuisine to the world of chocolate making.

Christian ConstantChristian Constant
37 Rue d’Assas
75006 Paris
01 53.63.15.15

Mr. Constant is a master chocolatier who travels the world to garner the best ingredients for his creations. He makes the chocolates from the finest cocoa liquor and cocoa butter. The flavors are delicious and subtle. The sugar addition is just enough, so the texture remains incredibly smooth and never too sweet.

Josephine VannierJosephine Vannier
4 Rue du Pas De La Mule
75003 Paris
01 44.54.03.09

A delectable chocolate shop with incredible chocolate sculptures in the window and the latest theme is a collection of chocolate boxes. Once inside you are assailed with an intense scent of chocolate and amused by the other sculptures of musical instruments, cell phones, Eiffel Towers, and globes. Try the exotic flavored chocolate bars with combinations of salt and pepper, dried raspberry, spice bread, curry and pimento spice, and dried apple & pear.

Michel CluizelMichel Cluziel
201 Rue St. Honoré
75001 Paris
01 42.44.11.66

Michel Cluizel chocolates have been renowned since the mid-20th century, when Cluizel first opened a family-run shop in Normandy. One of the rare chocolatiers to process their own carefully-selected cocoa beans, Michel Cluizel’s chocolates are known for their distinct, balanced flavors. At the famous store near the Tuileries Gardens and the St. Honoré fashion district, visitors can indulge in delicious dark or milk bars, each produced from a distinct blend of cocoa beans in Cluizel’s chocolaterie.

Pierre HerméPierre Hermé
72 Rue Bonaparte
75006 Paris
01 43.54.47.77

Pierre Hermé is widely considered the greatest pastry chef in the world and has some of the most interesting chocolate in Paris. Hermé is the “Picasso of pastry”, in the words of fashion magazine Vogue. Try his version of “Death by Chocolate”, a moist chocolate biscuit base layered with smooth chocolate cream, frothy chocolate mousse and fine leaves of crunchy chocolate for an explosion of textures.

John-Paul HevinJean-Paul Hevin
231 Rue St. Honoré
75001 Paris
01 55.35.35.96

Jean-Paul is an extraordinary confectioner/chocolate and ice-cream maker. He spent seven creative-packed, discovery-filled years perfecting his craft alongside Chef Joël Robuchon. He created outrageous, offbeat cheese-flavored chocolates (with tastes like Camembert, goat cheese, and Roquefort) and a variety of flavor-enhancing dried fruit, herb, or spice: époisses cheese/ cumin, Pont l’évêque cheese/thyme, goat cheese/hazelnut, and roquefort/walnut chocolates. In 1988 Hevin opened his first shop (“Le Petit Boulé”) on Avenue de la Motte-Picquet, Paris. He then opened a second shop on Rue Vavin in 1990 and a Tea House rue Saint Honoré in 1997.

Girard Dragées de VerdunGirard-Dragées de Verdun
4 Rue des Archives
75004 Paris
01 42.72.39.62

A 40 year old family business has developed three generations of producing upscale chocolates in the heart of Paris. arrange visits to their chocolate laboratory within a gastronomic and cultural context.

Chocolat FoucherChocolat Foucher
134 Rue du Bac
75007 Paris
01 45.44.05.57

There are quite a few places in Paris where you can buy and eat great chocolate and Chocolat Foucher is definitely one of them. Even though they have two stores in Paris (one on Avenue de l’Opéra and one on the left bank, on the Rue du Bac) it’s anything but a chain store and it’s still a family operated business (founded in 1819). If you come to Paris, visit the store on the Rue du Bac because you can also have tea there.

Patrick Roger
108 Blvd. St. Germain
75006 Paris
01 43.29.38.42

A sculptor of flavors, he treats chocolate like a raw material which he transforms into giant 150 pound creations or wrapped sweets in yard-long boxes. The subtlety of flavors, the combination of textures and the sublime aesthetics of the creations are what makes the gourmet world of Patrick Roger so fascinating.

Michel ChaudunMichel Chaudun
149 Rue de l’Universite
75007 Paris
01 47.53.74.40

A former employee of La Maison du Chocolate, Michel Chaudun set out on his own just a few years ago, opening a little corner shop on Rue de l’Universite. According to one well-known Parisian food critic, Chaudun’s product now equals that of his mentor, Robert Linxe, in both quality and creativity. His base chocolate, a blend of chocolates from nine sources, is rich and complex. Products: includes over twenty-five creations, the latest of which is a crunchy, dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa liquor) flavored with toasted, crushed cocoa beans.

RichartRichart
258 Blvd. St. Germain
75007 Paris
01 45.55.66.00

Richart is fond of using exotic spices and herbs and likes to make tiny chocolates that are just one mouthful. You can always count in inventive flavors—with an accent on fruit, spice or flower-flavored ganaches.

Debauve & GallaisDebauve & Gallais
30 Rue Saints Pères
75007 Paris
01 45.48.54.67

A national treasure closely guarded by the French savvy travellers flock to the legendary D & G on Paris’ Left Bank. Established in Paris in 1800 and appointed the official chocolatier to the French court, Debauve & Gallais has since built a cult following among chocoholics, gourmands, and connoisseurs all over the world.

Jacques GeninJacques Genin
133 Rue de Turenne
75003 Paris
01 45.77.29.01

3-Star Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse selected Jacques Genin his chocolatier for his restaurants. After years of jumps and starts the most elusive chocolatier in Paris opened up his own boutique in December 2008.

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How to Fit Three Weeks Into Two

Thursday, April 8th, 2010
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

Joan and I left Los Angeles on the “Windstar Express” carrying a load of chocolate at about 6 am on Friday morning headed for our favorite chocolate show—The Fourth Annual San Francisco International Chocolate Salon held at Fort Mason. We knew that we had won several more awards that had been pre-judged and already announced. On the trip up, I spoke with my editor, Geoff Stone, about the new adventures of Old Ed—an editorial device that is another way to describe some of my world travels in search of great chocolate to be featured in the upcoming Ed Engoron’s Choclatique by Running Press.

Fisherman's WharfAfter checking in at the Hilton on Fisherman’s Wharf, we met up with my brother Roy and chef Wayne, fielded telephone calls from clients, customers and the office and finally took some time to have a great dinner at North Beach Restaurant and then to bed to prepare for the morning onslaught of chocolate lovers. The alarm went off at 5 am and it was up and at ‘em to set up for the salon. The doors opened and we served nearly five thousand pieces of chocolate and sold many more between 10 and 6. Then it was time to break everything down and pack up. Before collapsing for the night, we had a horrible dinner at Castagnola’s on the wharf—disgusting food and despicable service. After all, it is a tourist trap. What were we thinking?

Sunday morning we were on the road back to Los Angeles, arriving at 3pm, just in time to get caught in the Los Angeles Marathon traffic. When I got home, I had just enough time to change and repack my suitcase for two weeks in Portugal.

Monday morning Joan and I arrived at the office at 7am and spent the whole day taking care of everything that we didn’t do the week before while preparing for our client meetings in Lisbon. It was an all nighter on Air France to Paris and another two and a half hours to Lisbon. We had just enough time to check into our hotel rooms, clean up and meet our client for dinner.

I brought samples of CHICKS and Chocolate Almond Butter Toffee Bites—our best in show toffee. The next morning it was back-to-back meetings for nearly 12 hours. Our clients like to get their money’s worth. We visited Colombo, a beautiful upscale shopping mall for dinner before retiring for the night.

The next day and each succeeding day it was store visits, kitchen inspections, checking the competition and eating lot of traditional Portuguese food from the far north to the south like Duck Rice, Cozido (don’t ask) and Bacalhau. Bacalhau is made from salted Icelandic cod. The Portuguese claim that there are 1001 ways to make Bacalhau, but oddly enough, none of the recipes include chocolate.

On Monday we headed up to Braga near Porto to see their newest hyper store—a 3-hour drive in each direction. The entire trip was peppered with chocolate from Hustle, chocolate mousse from Pingo Doce and other chocolate delights from flans to brûlées and from truffles to tablets—everything chocolate.

EriceiraThe last day was preparing for a board meeting in a picturesque fishing village, Ericeira, about 30 minutes outside Lisbon. Many Portuguese families have summer homes there and why not… it is just what you would think Portugal should look like. We feasted on a lunch of Tiger Prawns, locally-caught steamed prawns, and char-grilled Dorado which my client claimed tastes just like lobster. It didn’t, but was good just the same.

Ericeira, PortugalThe board meeting was cancelled at the last minute, but undaunted, my client and I found time to check out two more supermarkets and then find a great pizza joint that served wonderful Italian wines, fantastic chocolate tiramisu and a wheat berry cheese cake, better than Mario Batali’s; you can find my recipe in the recipe section of our blog. The only thing that would have made it a little better would have been a drizzle of Choclatique Prestige Milk Chocolate. Oh, by the way, the wood-fired pizza was pretty terrific, too.

So, after over two weeks on the road, here I am on Flight 063 Paris to Los Angeles, writing my adventures before I forget any of the details. Tomorrow it will be business as unusual (as it always is) and, of course, no day is ever complete without a visit to the Choclatique Chocolate Studios and a tasting of our latest production. This job is tough, but someone has to do it. Welcome home, Ed!

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Choclatique Goes To Lisbon

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
— Ed Engoron, Co-Founder of Choclatique

It was my first trip to Lisbon in over 30 years and I was thrilled to be traveling back to one of my favorite cities with great food and excellent chocolate. No time for planning. The phone call came in, arrangements were made within two days, and then I was off.

I sort of remember Lisbon being a smaller, sleepy, more romantic city, but I was in for a surprise. Lisbon is the vibrant capital and the largest city in Portugal, with a bustling population of around 2.8 million inhabitants. Greater Lisbon is the wealthiest region in Portugal whose GDP is well above that of the European Union, producing 37% of the Portuguese national GDP. It is also the political center of the country as seat of government. It is an exciting place to be.

There is a lot of history to discover in Lisbon; it is everywhere you look. It was under Roman rule from 205 BC, when it was already a 1000-year old town. Julius Caesar made it a municipium called Felicitas Julia, adding to the name Olissipo. The area was ruled by a series of Germanic tribes from the 5th century until captured by Moors in the 8th century. In 1147, the Crusaders re-conquered the city for the Christians. Since that time, it has been a major political, economic and cultural center of Portugal.

I love the foods of Lisbon because they are inspired by the sea and so many of the dishes contain fish, especially, a national favorite salted cod. A lot of the food is just the simple fare of fishermen and farmers. In my four-day visit, I managed to enjoy fish, meat, rice and potatoes (usually fried) combined with olive oil, wine and plenty of warm hospitality and friendship—the older the better, as the Portuguese proverb goes. I was surprised that Portuguese food, especially in the capital, is generally inexpensive and served in large quantities, with €8 buying a hearty meal in an outdoor café and under €25 in most of the upper end restaurants in Lisbon.

What I truly loved was starting my day at breakfast which I enjoyed at a café or pastelaria (pastry shop) located across the street from my hotel where hot croissants and other such pastries were freshly-baked and served along with a cup of espresso to wash it down. I am not a big strong coffee drinker, but I did discovery um galão—Portuguese Coffee, which is a milky coffee beverage served in a glass. I topped my cup each morning with broken pieces of dark chocolate, making it mocha-style.

As always, I packed in as many tastes and flavors as I possibly could. For lunches I sampled various soups, such as the caldo verde (a thick vegetable soup) or sopa à alentejana (a garlic and bread soup with a poached egg in it). I also tried a great rice, fish and shellfish soup. I rediscovered that the fish and shellfish dishes are unsurpassed in Portuguese cooking. I tried anything and everything offered from crabs, clams, barnacles, prawns or crayfish to mullet, tuna and the ubiquitous bacalhau (dried, salted cod). Portuguese bacalhau can be cooked in many different ways and is much tastier than it might sound, particularly when cooked as bacalhau à Gomes de Sá with potatoes, onions, olives and hard-boiled eggs. I usually don’t care for the types of sardines (sardinhas) found in the United States, but I found that they are close behind bacalhau in popularity. They don’t come packed in a can but are grilled or barbequed. There is great local soup, arroz de marisco, which is a bit like a seafood risotto crossed with a soup.

Most meat entrees I sampled were served with piri-piri sauce, a sizzling chili concoction very popular in both Portugal and in many South American countries. No churrasco (barbequed chicken) was so very popular there were whole restaurants dedicated to preparing it. Pork in Portugal is from unique, pot-belly pig whose extended stomach can touch the ground (kind of like me at the end of this trip). The meat from pork is rich, tender and flavorful. I tried it cooked with clams (porco à alentejana) and simply grilled—both great.

So what about chocolate you ask?

The largest food retailer in Portugal, Jerónimo Martins, created the Hussel candy stores which I found to be a real chocolate temptation. They offer over 300 permanent and 200 seasonal items. Everything from gumdrops, fruit drops and lollipops, gourmet chocolate truffles (packed in fancy boxes), chocolate-coated almonds chocolate bars and chocolate cookies.

There is a wonderful two-week long annual international chocolate festival in the Portuguese city Óbidos, located about 40 miles (70k) to the north of Lisbon. It is usually the first and second week of February just in time for Valentine’s Day. The festival is both exciting and entertaining for both adults and children. After all, the world’s most popular food is dark, sweet, rich and delicious—it’s chocolate, of course. There are chocolate sculptures, fashion shows, recipe contests and lots of chocolate eating. So, whether you like deep dark, velvety milk, rich semi-sweet, deep bittersweet or creamy white, you can fill that gap of indulgence and then some with chocolate treats from all over the Portugal.

One of the dishes that I fell in love with was a Portuguese Chocolate Tartlet which had been one of the festival prize winners. I love finding a national treasure recipe and enjoy sharing my discoveries with our readers. These chocolate tartlets can be a great change from a traditional Thanksgiving Apple, Pecan or Pumpkin Pie. They are quick and remarkably easy to make. I think these are the most wonderful tasting chocolate tartlets I have ever tasted. They are fantastic served with ice cream, whipped cream or crème anglaise. Try out this recipe for Maladassas, Portuguese Doughnuts, as well.

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