This post was last updated on July 11th, 2014 at 12:53 pm
We find ourselves in Kauai this week and, thinking we couldn’t be luckier to laze on a Hawaiian island in November, we landed on a Kauai chocolate farm tasting eleven dark chocolates from around the globe. We felt so inspired that we thought we’d post a little shout-out.
Steelgrass Farm, in the foothills above the town of Kapaa on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, named for the impressive groves of bamboo that pepper the property, offers a 3-hour tour on the cultivation and flavors of the chocolate bean — cacao.
The cacao bean is actually the seed in the pods that you see in the pictures below. The darker pods are the riper pods; the green pods immature. Tour guide Nancy opened up a pod showing its funky interior, looking nothing like the cacao bean that some of you inventive cooks may already be familiar with.
These pod interiors are actually fermented and dried before being roasted, ground, and blended into the chocolate we all know. Some chocolate-makers even use ferment starter cultures to control the ferment of their beans rather than taking their chances with a wild ferment.
We had the pleasure of tasting eleven finished products of these strange pods — specialty dark chocolate from around the globe including the first packaged chocolate to be produced by Steelgrass Farm. The lesson was clear: climate and soil does make a difference in the taste of the chocolate. In our blind taste test, the Steelgrass Farm chocolate was actually a favorite of my mom and mine particularly because of its almost “spicy” undertones. With only 250 bars in its first production run, it was a rare pleasure to taste, literally.
As the chocolate lingers on our palate, mom and I agree that the highlight of the tour was not the cacao buzz we left with but rather the grounds of the farm itself. The farm housed an impressive orchard of tropical fruit, bamboo, and giant trees that we grow as little houseplants in California. Even the award-winning honey is made in really cool bee boxes. We hope to return some day.