The C-spot®

 Crushpad Newsletter

  Newsbites for the Chocoscenti
March 2016, Issue #25 — Issue #24 here

Heirloom Chocolate Series: The D7 Collection

HCP (Heirloom Cacao Preservation) continues to add designations to its rolls. One issue though: availability… leaving many to wonder: where to get the stuff?. We said why hoard it amongst a closed-circuit? Let’s share this with everyone. Then we went out & solved the logistics.

The D7 Collection is seven chocolate bars in one set — the first officially designated heirloom chocolates.

HCP boasts a sensory panel with a combined century & a half of chocolate experience.

Now you be the judge. Get D7 today (Limited quantities. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Around the World in 48 Bars: Togo, the new Ghana on the Gold Coast

Notch another destination for your chocolate taste flights: A. Morin — the first craft barsmith to feature Togo as a single-origin, the 48th in The Chocolate Atlas.

Several thousand metric tons annually amounts to just a bean in the bucket next to its neighboring countries, which produce more than half of the world’s 4 million metric tons of total production.

Squeezed between Ghana and Nigeria (with Benin thrown in as a buffer), Togo presumably shares their joint cocoa foundation, which traces provenance to São Tomé. A distant memory now since 1945 & the post-WW II years mark a fundamental change in breeding programs for West African cacáo. What largely constituted a rather homogeneous expanse of Amelonado genotype cacáo trees took on significant hybridization.

200+ progenies of T clones developed at the CRIG research center in Tafo started making their way onto farms. The F2 hybrids (F stands for hybrid & 2 for second generation), deployed to combat disease, most notably CSSV (Cocao Swollen Shoot Virus), crossed into Africa’s Amelonado population with consequent results on its traditional flavor profile characterized by strong basal cocoa — a taste the world came to associate as synonymous with “chocolate” (as opposed to some cacáos that are anything but).

Eventually F3 & then later the so-called Mercedes super-seeds, the latter all the rage nowadays to boost yield & keep growers on their plot lest they flee to better jobs in the cities, dominate to the point where Ghana, for instance, has rapidly vanishing original genetic material crowded out by ”new & improved” varieties. Those tally ~60% of its total stock which still experience, nonetheless, crippling diseases. And form a black hole to boot in terms of organoleptics (re: quite insipid).

Contrast that with Togo where, field specialist Dr. Robert Lockwood surveys, the countryside retains ~90% of its more traditional cacáo. 

The flavor of chocolate utilizing cocoa sourced from there tells as much. Of course, the breeders, candy giants, govs, NGOs, et.al. wield plans to alter its landscape too, to bring Togo into line with the rest of West Africa so that the once proud and strong chocolate will taste innocuous as baby coconuts because, hey, with enough sugar & vanillin people will eat anything.

Morin’s trio of bars from Togo harkens back to the era when cacáo from this Gold Coast stood for power & might.

Togo’s the new Ghana or Côte d’Ivoire of that classic Earthen chocolate-chocolate force. Which means hope abounds that the region may yet salvage the vestiges of vanishing varietals.

BooK ReView

Faulkner said “fiction is often the best fact”. No wonder metaphors suit Mayan cosmology better than archeology & anthropology.

The Mayan world, in which reified becomes deified, & vice-versa makes for perfect logic, indeed feels most like reality, in the setting of a novel where perception enters the imaginarium to open up possibilities.

In this respect, Birgitte Rasine’s The Jaguar & the Cacao Tree (TJ&TCT) delivers just as much if not more essence of that culture than exhaustive Mayan studies or the plethora of “chocolate bibles” touted as the definitive resource.

In TJ&TCT, yellow-eyed black cats, venomous pit vipers, full moons, iridescent hummingbirds, cocoa dust storms, & people born under naguals (or spirit-signs) all inhabit a post-Eden jungle in which commonsense & common notions are turned on their head.

It’s a world that transforms the meaning of all science the cast has ever learned — but its magic is not always benevolent.

Sure, certain scenes get carried away, and farfetched. Rasine is clearly a fabulist.

The intended audience is pretty much the same as followers of Miley, Taylor, & Selena.

At times TJ&TCT feels best suited for those who still believe in Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Oz… which includes the grownup kid in everyone, the most interesting people in the world.

After reading almost every book or blog on the subject – from cookbooks & histories to the child slave labor trade & “oo-la-la, OMG I-can’t-believe-I just-went-around-the-world-&-ate-chocolate-in-every-country… Facebook me, instagram it, & snapchat” — TJ&TCT is a contender for the best title in the last 5 years. One of the few books on the subject that approximates a page-turner &, though fiction, draws along plenty of facts.

In conjunction with the book’s release on March 22, Rasine is holding contests, giveaways & events to promote.

Check the full review here.

Mystery Image

You’ve Won the D7 Collection! Yes, You!

To claim your prize, be the first person to correctly guess what is growing in the picture above &, moreover, why. For example, maybe a clandestine remote lab hatching GMO chocolate? Or pot plants on the Int’l Space Station? Perhaps a billionaire’s experiment with urban farming that simulates tropical conditions at northern latitudes in anticipation of drastic climate change? You get the idea. One guess per entry, one entry per person.

Correct response wins the Heirloom Chocolate Series D7 Collection (see above) – a $100 value.

Choc on,

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