Chocolate. Just the word can get our taste buds eager for a silky, rich delicious experience. Yet so much more than taste is involved in a chocolate bar, or truffle, or mousse. In Hawaii, we are fortunate to have innovative growers, who cultivate thousands of brightly colored red and yellow cacao pods every year, and creative chocolatiers, who turn the beans held in those pods into delicious chocolate products. Each year, to celebrate Hawaii growers’ and chocolatiers’ accomplishments, One Island’s sustainable living program hosts Chocolate Chocolate! as a fun and festive farmer and artisan-to- consumer direct tasting experience.
For 2013 the popular event comes to North Kohala and will be featured at the Buy Local Block Party on November 30th in Hawi. Tasting tickets are available in advance online to provide you with the many flavors of Hawaii cacao. Bars can be purchased on site at the event for holiday gifts and excellent Yum.
In addition to exploring the sweet side of cacao, Chocolate Chocolate! will also have a Mole Enchilada dinner plate available with two enchiladas, beans, rice and salad. Delish! Provided by the Kava Kafe, 5-7pm. Reserve tickets online.
Ever wonder where your chocolate comes from? What type of plant does it come from? How ecologically is it grown? Who are the pickers and processors and how does chocolate impact their quality of life? What imparts the most memorable flavors to chocolate? And who thought up the shapes, textures, and ingredients that we experience when partaking in this magical Theobroma, which translates as ‘food of the gods’?
Let’s learn about Hawaii chocolate and meet the chocolate makers who have been part of Chocolate Chocolate! events since 2009.
Hawaii is the only state in the country growing cacao and the chocolatiers who have emerged to turn these beans into delicious delicacies are certainly bold explorers on a new frontier of specialty foods destined to carve a distinctive niche in the global chocolate market. From growers to processors, to the careful hands that make the delicate treats, a passion for the legendary plant and its artisan-created flavors permeates each chocolate operation in Hawaii. Commercial cacao orchards are growing beans for chocolate in North Kohala, Hamakua, Puna and Kona, encircling the island with an evolving industry. Some growers shorten the preparation process by focusing on dried, raw cacao nibs that are enjoyed as a super food supplement in smoothies, for toppings and as energy snacks. Others are developing closely guarded recipes for chocolates unique to their location and brand. (Rule of thumb, when it is on the tree or being fermented and dried, it is cacao. As soon as it is roasted, ground and mixed with other ingredients, it becomes chocolate.)
Meet Your Farmers and Chocolatiers
Meet Bonnie Perata of Earthly Delights Farm down in Honaunau. Bonnie and her husband Bacci cleared and planted a lush diversified organic farm in Honaunau over eight years ago and now produce a line of Big Island chocolate products that they process, prepare, and distribute right from their own farm and at local farmers’ markets.
Up the mountain in Captain Cook, nestled between traditional Hawaiian agricultural rock wall fields, Kuaiwi Farm owners Una Greenaway and Leon Rosner are growing and making organic molded chocolate delicacies on a beautiful farm and present very enjoyable how-to chocolate workshops for budding growers and curious chocolate makers. Across the island in the North Hilo area, Tom Sharkey has been developing a distinctive line of chocolates incorporating vanilla from vines winding right up his cacao trees. He molds small bars and star shaped chocolates that are sold at the astronomy visitor center on Mauna Kea.
On Oahu, Madre Chocolate is the new prince of chocolatiers and are sagely developing both a Hawaii- sourced line of chocolate bars and a Meso-american / Caribbean line of bars – all with unusual flavors including local lilikoi, lavender and Christmas berry. Madre’s 2013 line includes cacao grown in Hawi, Kona and Hamakua.
In Keauhou, the Original Hawaiian Chocolate Factory has a beautifully packaged line of locally grown chocolate bars, nibs, and molded chocolate plumeria flowers made in their pioneering factory that launched the local chocolate industry.
Kona Origins Chocolate is hard at work in Honaunau maintaining a second generation cacao orchard and making a chocolate bar with the unusual trace of light, fruity banana in the flavor profile, yet no banana is added to the bar.
The flavor variations between these products are perfect evidence of unique attributes that result from each cacao orchard’s setting – water, sun, soil, surrounding plants and microbes – and the processing steps – fermentation, drying, roasting, grinding and combining with flavors, sweeteners or stablizers. Each chocolatier is developing their own magic in every bar, truffle, molded candy or chocolate drink they prepare as part of our island’s burgeoning local food system production. Madre Chocolate and Kuaiwi Chocolate offer great how-to workshops that reveal the many steps involved in the bean-to-bar process. The best way to learn about their different products is, of course, to taste them!
Come taste examples of Hawaii’s artisan chocolates at the 5th Annual Chocolate Chocolate! being sponsored by One Island at the Buy Local Block Party hosted by the North Kohala Merchants Association on Saturday, November 30th, noon-7pm. Adding to the chocolate wonders, the Kava Kafe will be hosting a delicious chocolate Mole Enchilada dinner plate plus there will be locally made fudges available from the Kohala Coffee Mill.
Find your chocolate heaven and great holiday gifts at Chocolate Chocolate! in front of the Kohala Coffee Mill in the heart of Hawi.
Chocolate Chocolate! 2013 Tasting Tickets are available online.