Last week the small island of Grenada in the Caribbean celebrated very successfully their first Chocolate Festival. Grenada Cocoa and Chocolate are making a name around the world for being one of the best organic and ethically produced chocolates and cocoa. The Festival was created, designed and organized by Magdalena Fielden, owner of True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, Honorary Consul of Mexico in Grenada and great fan of Grenadian Chocolate. Mrs. Fielden was inspired by Mott Green, creator of the now renowned Grenada Chocolate Factory and his devotion to produce a sustainable, ethical chocolate that involved the whole community. The festival was also supported by the Grenada Chocolate Factory, Belmont Estate, the Mexican Embassy for the OECS and Mount Cinnamon Beach Resort.
The week of celebrations started on Monday August 18th themed “Getting in the mood for Chocolate” with a visit to Crayfish Bay Organic Farm located near the town of Victoria on the West Coast of Grenada. There visitors experienced a historical tour of the beautiful estate conducted by owner Kim Russell and his farm manager “Vicky” and learned about organic farming and making delicious Iced Cocoa Tea with fresh coconut milk from scratch.
The day ended at the Art and Soul Gallery owned by local artist Susan Mains and her family, where professional and new island artists showcased their cocoa inspired artwork. From beautiful batiks to extraordinary paintings and sculptures, this amazing exhibition showed very successfully for two weeks.
Tuesday continued at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort with the theme “Chocolate Indulgence”. It started with a Yoga-Chocolate Mediation session at Sankalpa Yoga Studio instructed by teacher Malaika Brooks. After a yoga routine, yogis learned a meditating way to appreciate the texture, smell and taste of chocolate and hot cocoa tea.
A chocolate inspired breakfast designed by Chef Gary Birkett at Dodgy Dock Restaurant was served after the meditation; this was followed by a hands-on workshop conducted by expert Mexican Chocolatier, Architect and creator of the Mucho-Chocolate Museum in Mexico City, Ana Rita Garcia Lascurain sponsored by the Mexican Embasy for the OECS. Ana Rita taught an audience of kids and adults about “The Healthy Benefits of Chocolate” and how to make chocolate skin treatments using only natural ingredients like avocado, vanilla and cocoa butter. Families enjoyed making and applying the treatments to each other, and some of the kids discovered very quickly that the mixtures where edible and tasted delicious. Blue Heaven Spa located at True Blue, announced the offering of a series of chocolate facials and body treatments that would be available for the whole of August and September. Tuesday ended with a fabulous “Sunset Chocolate Champagne Cruise”, sailing the beautiful crystal blue waters of Grand Anse and Saint George’s harbour.
Wednesday started at the well established and pioneer on Agrotourism, Belmont Estate. The group of chocolate fans where welcomed by owner Shadel Nyack Compton and directed to the Estate museum to the opening of a very emotional art exhibition containing pieces created by artists living on the plantations to the North of the island. The love of farming and especially cocoa farming was perfectly portrayed in the work shown at this exhibition. Each artist had the opportunity to explain his or her work and one even read some poetry specially composed for the event. After the exhibition, the “Bean to Bar” tour started by visiting the plantation and learning about cocoa farming and cocoa processing on the estate. Then guests visited the Grenada Chocolate Factory and received a special tour by manager Edmon about the making of chocolate bars. Later on guests where invited to experience a delicious lunch featuring Chocolate dishes back at the estate where they were entertained by local drummers and demonstrations of the traditional cocoa dancing and walking the cocoa. A delicious brief workshop about making bon bons was offered by the Grenada Chocolate Company before leaving the estate. In the afternoon, back at True Blue at Dodgy Dock Restaurant, bartender Akim conducted a Rum and Chocolate Tasting session showcasing all local rums including the famous “Under the Counter” traditional Grenadian rum sold at the local rum shops. A surprise chocolate fountain with lots of goodies to dip in chocolate was enjoyed by all.
Thursday was time to “Cook with Chocolate” a cooking class was prepared by True Blue Bay Resort’s popular cooks Esther and Omega showcasing a chocolate lunch after the class. Ester and Omega where at their best making all laugh when preparing a delicious chocolate sauce to be served with fish or pork.
Later that afternoon, craft chocolatiers and professional chefs competed for the best amateur and professional chocolate sweets title and some very talented local and international chefs were discovered. Chocolatier Ana Rita did a demonstration on how the Mayas make the first chocolate drinks and all got to enjoy the delicious Mexican version of cocoa tea.
Friday morning was a rest day to enjoy the beach and visit the local spice market and Saint Georges town. At sunset, families and couples meet at Mount Cinnamon Beach Cabana to enjoy a spectacular beach bonfire and danced barefooted on the beach to the sound of local drummers, all enjoying delicious and affordable chocolate dishes and drinks created by chefs from well-known local restaurants.
Saturday was “Glamour Day”, at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, starting with the first Arts and Crafts Chocolate Bazaar where around 30 local artists, artisans and fashion designers showcased their creations inspired by chocolate, cocoa and other locals spices like nutmeg. Chocolatier Ana Rita worked her magic again and conducted a talk about “The History of Chocolate”. She taught kids how to crush cocoa beans the old fashioned way using a “Metate” (a Mexican mortar used by the first tribes that populated Mexico) and taught them how to make simple chocolate paste and invited them to taste and appreciate the aroma of freshly crushed cocoa beans. Cocoa and chocolate beverages and food where served at Dodgy Dock Restaurant with festive music. But the highlight of the day was the glamorous and colourful fashion show organized by Marie Fielden showing designs by Modesty Grenada, Art Fabrik, and Veronica’s Vision. The clothing designs where exceptional and will be available at Art Fabrik, Too Kachi Boutique and Veronica’s Vision Boutiques from September.
The day ended with a sold out gourmet “Charity Auction Chocolate Dinner” at Mount Cinnamon Restaurant where Chef Gary Birkett from Dodgy Dock Restaurant, True Blue Bay Resort served the first course consisting of a Cajun and smoked duo of mahi mahi with white chocolate hummus and sweet and sour vegetables. Chef Nehanda Campbell from Le Phare Bleu served the main course consisting of chocolate spiced duck breast with wilted fennel & orange carrot salad and cardamom pure and Chef Andrew Sloley from Mount Cinnamon Resort served an outstanding dessert called Chocolate Decadence, a mousse, caramelized bananas, almond nut chocolate biscuit.
The silent style auction was a great success as several well know local businesses donated items like dive courses, day passes, jewelry, tailored made designed clothing, yoga classes, airline tickets, massages and gift certificates. All monies raised for dinner and auction came to a total amount of approximately EC$ 16,000 and will be donated to create a new Library and sick bay for Vendome Primary School in Grenada. http://www.truebluebay.com/donatetovendome
Sunday the last day of the festival was celebrated by families back at Belmont Estate where fun kids activities like dancing, walking the cocoa and scooping cocoa beans out of pods were enjoyed by kids and parents. A delicious Grenadian Style Lunch with live Caribbean music was served and a small farmers and vendors market was interesting to visit. Of course no one left without paying a visit to the Bon Bon shop and stocking up with Bon Bons created by the Grenada Chocolate Company and Chocolate Goat Cheese from the Grenada Goat Dairy Project, a beautiful ending to a week of Pure Chocolate excitement.
The first Grenada Chocolate Fest concluded being a great success for all, participants, farmers, vendors and artists. Mrs Fielden looks forward to making it into an annual event that will benefit different sectors of Grenada’s community and entice future farmers and chocolatiers amongst the youth of Grenada. Dates have not yet been determined for the next year but hope to announce them soon.
Looking forward to enjoying some chocolate with you next year.
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Flicker at Grenada Chocolate Festival.