Wednesday the 23th of October was D-day… The day to discover some more fine Origin chocolates. Even a trip of over 2 hours wouldn’t keep me away from this great event. The promise of so many producers, connoisseurs and enthusiasts together was too good to let it pass by.
The Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam sure makes for a dramatic background, fitting for the noble product origin chocolate really is.
My lady and I were happily surprised by the amount of people who decided to visit the event in order to get to know more about quality chocolate. An evolution I only can applaud.
So, how was the experience?
When you enter the main hall, immediately you are greeted by lots of stands of distributors, showing off their brown gold in so many colours and shapes. Almost impossible to start somewhere. Every table draws your attention and dozens of chocolates beg to be sampled. To much in fact, one has to take time to really taste around. Next to those, tea and coffee tables and several people creating glorious food creations incorporating chocolate.
A very elaborate program of lectures and workshops forced us to make some hard choices during the day. Impossible to see it all!
So, we followed a very interesting presentation by Sepp SchönBächler from Felchlin, taking us deep within the secrets of developing a Grand Cru chocolate. The samples he provided made clear how a producer can develop a new bar starting from the raw cacao bean, over to the influence of roasting and finally conching. An eye-opening experience.
Mikkel Ottosen of Friis Holm opened our eyes even more by letting us experience the influence of the fermentation of the cacao beans and aging of fine chocolate bars.
Next up, Bertil Akesson – the founder of Akesson’s introduced us to his Madagascar plantation adventure and the impact his product has on the chocolate world.
Ending the day, we attended a paring of Rum and Chocolate. Not as easy as it sounds, as some combinations clashed, while others made for a glorious marriage. But once again, this proves how much alike these noble products are.
Finally, we got a chance to speak to so many people in the business, from Geert Vercruyssen, one of the very few Belgian chocolatiers who counter their mainstream colleagues by working with single origin quality chocolates, up to distributors like Chocoweb, over to representatives of the Ecuador region.
A wonderful day it was!
I’ll be there next time around, that is for sure!