Page 1

Club News

The monthly newsletter from the Tasting Club

Issue 1302

Is that the

Easter Bunny?

This Easter we’ve created our most deliciously different collection yet. Turn to page 5 for more

Bore Da! Find out who’s just opened up in Cardiff amongst other places! See page 6

Ghana Appeal One of the many lady cocoa farmers in Osuben who have taken advantage of our seedlings programme in 2012 – drying some of her latest crop in the sun

Ghana -

The 2012 Review

Although the big news this year for our Engaged Ethics programme in Ghana is the building of a new community health centre in Osuben, we should not let it overshadow the important, on-going initiatives that continue to make such a difference to the cocoa farming families we support.

1302NL

Replacing ageing trees that do not produce good and consistent crops and that are prone to disease is still the bulwark of what we do through the seedlings programme. Last year our partners, the Green Tropics Group (GTG), were able to supply 138,778 healthy seedlings... continued on page 8...

Target:

£45,000 If you would like to contribute to the Appeal to fund the Osuben Medical Clinic (CHPS) please send a cheque for whatever amount you can give made payable to the Cocoa Farmers’ Fund and send to CTC Ghana Appeal, FREEPOST ANG10659, Royston, SG8 5YD

Current Amount:

£9,602


Letter from the

Editor

O

ur Engaged Ethics programme began, fittingly, with a visit to Ghana. I say fittingly because being there and seeing for ourselves the obstacles cocoa farmers face and what we can do to help is the cornerstone of our hands-on approach. And our regular trips back to Ghana help keep us focused on what the objectives are – as you can read in this month’s main article. We’ve taken the opportunity to look back at what we’ve achieved over the year and look forward to what will be our most exciting yet with the building of our health centre. On that subject, thank you so much for the kind donations to the cause so far. I am always blown away by our members’ generosity! One cheque received recently didn’t have a membership number or address, so we can’t thank you in person, but hopefully you’ll know who you are Mr & Mrs S from Swansea – thank you!

What exactly is a

Fondant

We’ve taken the opportunity to look back at what we’ve achieved over the year and look forward to what will be our most exciting yet with the building of our health centre

Elsewhere in this month’s edition there’s a catch-up with our cocoa programme in Saint Lucia, there’s news about the brand new seedling nursery that Terry visited during his recent trip to Ghana and there are even more members’ responses to the ‘How Do You Eat Yours’ saga on pages 11 & 15. And finally, we round everything off with a spot of history! Last orders for the latest Fortified Selection – don’t miss yours on page 4!

S! PRES at STOP lations to aalcl tor y,

anu f g r at u d – con ley Park m tly passe m n d e a tiu c H our ch has re i l Consor rs. whi ish Reta g colou is th r it yi n the B it with f l more on for aud ing you tandard br ls y We’l l de globa and sa fet a A- Gr d qualit y h’s issue. foo xt mont i n ne

2

Until next month, happy tasting.

Simon Thirlwell Club News Editor Send your letters to The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston SG8 5HL, or simply email me on simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk or via our website: www.chocs.co.uk We are waiting to hear from you! Club News Editor: Simon Thirlwell; Contributors: Simon Thirlwell, Terry Waters. © The Chocolate Tasting Club plc 2013

F

ondant means quite a few different things to different people. For our purposes, however, we define fondant as a traditional filling made with water, sugar and glucose that produces a creamy textured filling. It can be firm or soft, depending on what it is to be used for and all sorts of flavours can be blended in. But there’s a little bit more to fondant than its deceptively simple recipe. It has a history that dates back to the 16th century when it was enjoyed in Europe as one of the first man-made sweet delicacies, made possible by the discovery and subsequent boom in the cultivation

of sugar in the West Indies. Typical recipes at the time involved sugar, rosewater and lemon juice. Indeed, fondant was an important part of the world’s first commercial chocolate bar, created by JS Fry’s and Sons in Bristol. Fry’s Chocolate Cream, a firm fondant enrobed in dark chocolate, was first made available in 1886 and immediately took off and is still available today. With the introduction of a new cold press machine last year, we are now geared up to make our own fondant filled chocolates – watch out for them in future tasting selections.


Winners

This month’s Prize Draw

Classic

Easter 2013

Take our new collection for a delicious spin!

Selection

Prize draw winner is Mr David Fell from Solihull who wins an Everything Selection. Next month’s prize

This Easter we’ve created our most deliciously different Easter Collections yet – with a stunning zoetrope-inspired keepsake box, thick shells, with an adventure of chocolate to discover inside and a FREE Easter tablet too.

is a Truffle Selection.

LAST call for…

Dark Selection Prize draw winner is Mr Ian Argyle from Southampton who wins a Dark Chocolate Canapé Selection. Next month’s prize is a Serious Dark Fix Selection.

Elements

Selection

Prize draw winner is Mrs Colleen Hyam from Cromer who wins a White & Caramel Cookies Giant Slab. Next month’s prize is an Eton Mess Giant Slab.

Purist

Selection

Prize draw winner is Miss Sarah Bell from Streatham who wins who wins a Purist Collection. Next month’s prize

Fortified 12 The legendary Fortified Selection is more popular than ever – featuring 28 exclusive recipes made with an exciting array of alcohols and liqueurs, plus a set of four fascinating Provenance Cards to give you the low down on this season’s chosen alcohols. Don’t miss the next delicious instalment of our quarterly Club – featuring Bourbon whisky, the Ruby Port Taste Challenge, Sipsmith Gin, Espresso Martini, Peach & Amaretto, Podlasie Vodka, Poire William and much more. Each one is brimming with its full quota of alcohol and utterly uncompromising in its approach – available to members for just £16.00 (plus £3.95 P&P).

is a Super Boosters Desk Pot.

Selection

Photography by xSTEPHEN BOND

All Milk

Make sure yours is reserved via Manage My Membership at www.chocs.co.uk/ MMM or call 08444 933 933.

Prize draw winner is Mrs Shirley Brown from Coventry who wins a Milk Oblivion Selection. Next month’s prize is a Peepster Bestsellers Collection.

Don’t forget – score by post or online at www.chocs.co.uk 4

and you’ll be automatically entered into this prize draw.

This year includes the no-alcohol ALL MILK and FORTIFIED for the first time – available for just £24 (plus £4.95 P& P) at www.chocs.co.uk/ EASTER


UK

ps o Sh

te a d Up

Left – Robert, Terry and Stephen at the nursery in 2012. Above – The caretaker’s building and borehole at Demusikrom 2012

THE COCOA ROAD IS NOW

The new cardiff Cardiff store above and Liverpool Street right

Hello Cardiff, Paddington & Liverpool Street! Following hot on the heels of Hotel Chocolat’s first stores in Scotland, we’re very pleased to announce that Wales has now joined the family.

I

t has been a long time in coming, finding the right property in Cardiff has been difficult! And we’d love to say that the long wait has been a patient one, but it has actually been pretty vocal! Tasting Club members haven’t been shy in been writing to demand that Hotel Chocolat open up in Wales and it’s not unknown for members to make forays across the border to Bristol for vital chocolate supplies. The good news is that the days

The Paddington store is due to open February 2013

6

of those chocolate raiding parties is now over, for those within reach of Cardiff anyway! You can find the new Cardiff store at No 4 The Hayes. There’s also good news in London, where Hotel Chocolat is now opening up in two more major London stations, Liverpool Street and Paddington (February 2013). If you haven’t been to London recently, then you’re in for a real surprise if you arrive by train because all of London’s major stations have been beautifully renovated and Hotel Chocolat is now present in seven of them – from the stunning new King’s Cross, Paddington and Waterloo, to the existing stores in Euston and London Bridge and the new arrivals in Liverpool Street and Paddington. For more on all of Hotel Chocolat’s stores nationwide and internationally see www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/stores

open for business! We were somewhat dubious when our partners in Ghana, the Green Tropics Group (GTG), first took us to the proposed site for a new seedling nursery near the town of Demusikrom.

T

he big draw, they said, was the new four-lane highway built alongside. It had been named the ‘Cocoa Road’ as it would be used by so many cocoa farmers. Clearly an ideal place to sell seedlings. But at the time, two years ago, this was a road to nowhere and, as can be seen from the photograph, Terry, Essie and Stephen of GTG, were able to stroll down it with no danger from traffic. The land had been given freely by the local chief, but what was at stake was whether to commit our funds to sink a new borehole. The funds were a surplus from the truck appeal, which Club members had supported so generously. Without any water supply, the nursery would not be viable at the site. Now when the GTG lads, Stephen, Robert and Isaac, get excited about something they can be very persuasive and, with only a tiny amount of doubt, we agreed. Terry confessed to a sense of relief as he visited the new nursery during his last trip to Ghana, which quickly turned to admiration, when he saw what had been done. The overgrown wilderness had been cleared, shade shelters created for the seedlings, the

Terry, Stephen and Essie on the “Cocoa Road to Nowhere?” in 2010

borehole dug and a building erected for a full time nursery caretaker. There was even a crop of maize planted to feed him! What’s more, there was traffic on the road. Although it was rather ironic that the first customer for seedlings, who appeared on the day of Terry’s visit, was a lady farmer whose farm was a mile or so away and who turned up on foot, with a wheelbarrow to transport them back to her farm! Since then the Demusikrom nursery has thrived and it will be interesting to see what it achieves in terms of seedlings sold on next year’s audit. 7


cover story – continued

Ghana

The 2012 Review

Year by year we are making good progress but there is, and probably always will be, more to do

... – 111,000 or so they had raised themselves at the main Osuben nursery and the 10 satellite nurseries; over 18,000 came from the new nursery in Demusikrom (see article on page 7); and 27,000 came from the cocoa research centre at Pankesi, where new hybrids are being developed all the time. Clearly, in 2013 we hope to do even better as Demusikrom will have had a full year to contribute and there may be a couple more satellite nurseries to come, if we can come to an agreement with contractors on handdug wells, which are far less expensive that boreholes. Another of our key initiatives is land regeneration, which goes hand in hand with the seedlings programme. This is done through planting macuna beans and last year 570kg of macuna seeds were distributed to eight selected farmers – the majority of which had been self-harvested by GTG, so it is becoming self sustaining. Next year we are targeting at least a further six farms. Our other activities are highly varied, but they can be summed up in one word, education. Our GTG partners – Stephen, Isaac and Robert, along with Farmer Centre manager, David, continuously travel the region giving training on basic farm management. Indeed, all purchasers of our subsidised seedlings must agree with the planting and care policies laid down. A big part of what David and colleagues do is, therefore, to check that these have been

observed by the participating farmers. There is also a course in how to grow plantain suckers (to produce shade trees) and hand pollination of cocoa (to maximise crops). That’s as well as a programme on coping with climate change (a subject we will cover later this year in Club News) and the Virgin City Radio programme, whereby both presenters and participants are brought together at the station by GTG. All of these activities will continue to deliver benefits in this coming year, but at a time of review like this, it’s fair to ask ourselves, with what aim? What are we trying to achieve? From the outset we have been driven by the huge disparity between cocoa farmers and those of us in the West that so greatly enjoy the product of their labour. Our aim has always been to become directly involved so that we have a better understanding of the problems they face and can therefore help to improve their livelihoods. But not to change their way of life – after all, who are we to think we’ve got it right! Rather, to take away some of the uncertainties that they face, like improving their tree stock so their harvests are more productive and more reliable. Year by year we are making good progress but there is, and probably always will be, more to do. From time to time we will call upon you, our Club members, to support special projects, but please never lose sight of the fact that simply by being a member you are supporting all of these on-going activities.

Clockwise from top left – Grafting at Pankesi; Hand dug well – a cheaper alternative to boreholes but much harder work; Farmers’ Centre at Osuben; Seedlings at Pankesi; Terry takes a hand at pumping the new borehole at Demusikrom; Stephen with Adam at the drying table; Seedlings at Kwahu Praso nursery; At last! Club chocolates arrive at Osuben; Hand pollination; A family home showing the huge disparity of living conditions; Sarah nursery keeper at Banka; The truck bought by Club member donations that has done so much to increase the reach of the seedlings programme; The bud that becomes a cocoa pod.

9


scores

feedback

Classic Selection – D155 No. Chocolate Name

Chocolatier

10/10

Average

1

Rum & Raisin Twist

K Kalenko

32%

8.3

2

Caramel Passion

K Kalenko

31%

8.5

3

Feisty Jagermeister

R Macfadyen

31%

8.3

4

Coconut Crème

O Nicod

29%

8.3

5

Caramel Crunch

O Nicod

26%

8.5

Your Tasting Comments!

Rum & Raisin Twist

DARK Selection – K88 No. Chocolate Name

Chocolatier

10/10

Average

1

Feisty Jagermeister

R Macfadyen

38%

8.6

2

Rum & Raisin Twist

K Kalenko

27%

8.3

3

Sore Throat Soother

Giles & Macfadyen

26%

8.2

4

Caramel Crunch

O Nicod

25%

8.4

5

Chocolate Brownie

G Pereira

25%

8.4

Feisty Jagermeister

Elements Selection – S66 No. Chocolate Name

Chocolatier

10/10

Pecan Pie

R Macfadyen

35%

8.5

2

Caramel Passion

K Kalenko

30%

8.2

3

Chocolate Brownie

G Pereira

27%

8.6

4

40% Milk Chocolate

The Tasting Club

27%

8.4

5

Lumpy Bumpy

E Desmet

27%

8.2

Lumpy Bumpy – Elements Lacked wow factor and the vanilla cream was too sickly sweet. Charlotte Byrne, Wetherby

Brickbat

Sore Throat Soother – Dark What a gentle soother - if only all medicines were like this.. Irma Bull, Fareham

Bouquet

Pecan Pie

IN THE POSTBAG… Chocolatier

10/10

Average

1

Roast+Conch 80% Dark, Saint Lucia

The Tasting Club

50%

8.3

2

62% Hacienda Iara, Ecuador

The Tasting Club

34%

8.8

3

Rosemary & Bitter Orange Truffle

K Kalenko

22%

8.7

4

Caramel & Saint Lucian Nibs

O Nicod

21%

8.5

5

Tres Pueblos Coffee Bûche

R Macfadyen

21%

8.1

Chocolatier

Dear Simon and all behind the Dear Simon ‘Club Tasting Week’ at Boucan Hotel As always, I enjoyed reading the newsletter,

Roast+Conch 80% Dark, Saint Lucia

ALL MILK Selection – M10

10

Bouquet

Bouquet Fig & Honey Tasting Batons – All Milk Really nice, wouldn’t share them and they were perfect dunked in a hot cup of tea. Rebecca Kenehan, Bromsgrove

purist Selection – p20

No. Chocolate Name

Caramel Crunch – Classic Nibbly, autumnal, nutty - what’s not to love? Amanda McKenzie, Aberdeenshire

Average

1

No. Chocolate Name

Bouquet Feisty Jagermeister – Classic What can I say?! Is there no option to score higher than 10? I was hesitant about this flavour - Jagermeister? How would the herby flavours work with chocolate.... well, the answer is... deliciously! This chocolate is an absolute triumph! Isobel Haggan, Lowestoft

10/10

Average

1

Lemon Florentine

R Macfadyen

31%

8.3

2

Lumpy Bumpy

E Desmet

30%

8.5

3

Caramel Crunch

O Nicod

28%

8.6

4

Caramel Passion

K Kalenko

26%

8.4

5

Chocolate Brownie

G Pereira

24%

8.4

Lemon Florentine

Iparticularly have beenabout a member of the Tasting how other members eatClub their for a number of years now share and the chocolates. I thought I would my monthly experience. I would classify myself the Delegate or tasting selections have as always been rather Distributor. Quite webox share ourbeen tasting special. Each andoften every has shared box around the tableand on awe Sunday with my husband haveevening, always after dinner. It is my job to do the ‘unveiling’. After the enjoyed same chocolate at the same packagingthe is removed, I slowly lift the lid, and time andlooks discussed ouratthoughts about everyone excitedly what awaits. I give them. mayofseem a small (and I’m a quickItbrief the menu, andthing then the family will start pointing at the in ones they think look sure we are not alone sharing these boxes thethis mostway!) interesting. will thenofreiterate the in but asIparents three small name, and then as they tuck in, I will read the children the boxes have allowed us a little more elaborate description. bitOnce of shared ‘grown up’atime, something everyone has had chocolate, they’ll we have keptverdict for ourselves. So when ourscores. 10th give their and I’ll write down the wedding anniversary camebyround and will I was Then it’s my turn. The family this point desperately looking for an opportunity to

be on to their second chocolate, choosing

have a proper included by random, but Igetaway have now(one beenwhich eying these relaxation and didn’t include delights for some time, and have children) had the benefit of hearing other people’s scores.toByopen now,the I have can you imagine my delight been quite well andthe make a decision. newsletter andinformed, read about club tasting While at everyone else pops theirWhat selection into week the Boucan Hotel. a perfect their mouth in one go, I close my eyes and take opportunity and what perfect timing! my time to smell the aromas. I then take a small We’ve booked oursatisfaction place andwhenever are both I hear bite, and take great looking forward to our visit mature and allinthe the shell crack. As the flavours my mouth, I make a decisionitand score. exciting experiences includes. The only problem to sending Thank you for thecomes idea and for anthe scores off. Half the time ourIviews very different. experience which have are no doubt will be Whose scores do I send? Usually it is the person an lifetime! whoexperience scored first of thata gets the pride of place. Yours Bryonysincerely, Harrison Sarah Simpson PS – Read more letters on this subject on page 15!

Don’t forget – if we publish your letter you’ll receive your next tasting box FREE! Write to simon@hotelchocolat.co.uk or The Chocolate Tasting Club, Mint House, Royston, SG8 5HL

11


Left – some of the 155 farmers now part of the Cocoa Programme gather on the steps of the Rabot Plantation House. Below – our high quality seedlings that make it all possible!

All aboard for…

The GRAND TOUR Don’t miss one of our most exciting special editions to date, inspired by the golden age of European travel... The Grand Tour, popular from the early 17th century right up to the 1840s, was in essence a tour of the cultural high points of Europe – undertaken by those of means, mainly from Britain. The typical tour would begin in Dover and would first take in Paris. Some would then head to Geneva via the St Bernard Pass and on to Italy whilst others would go to Madrid, Seville and then Barcelona before crossing into Italy. Which is exactly where we plan to take you! Our Grand Tour is a delicious trip across Europe, taking in the cultural highlights and tasting the best of what each destination has to offer. It’s not one to miss!

Reserve your Grand Tour Collection now for delivery in May 2013 for just £25.00 (plus £4.95 P&P) at www.chocs.co.uk/GRANDTOUR or call 08444 933 933

Engaged Ethics

in St Lucia

B

ack in 2006, when we started to rejuvenate Rabot Estate, interest in growing cocoa amongst farmers was at an all time low and the future of cocoa farming didn’t look bright at all. This was due to the fact that all cocoa was sold through a central organisation that agreed to ‘try’ to sell farmers’ cocoa for them, but with no guarantees. If they did succeed, they then received the bulk market price, less a ‘middleman’ fee and they sometimes had to wait six months to be paid. No wonder so many fine old cocoa farms were torn up and replaced with banana groves. It took two years to turn Rabot Estate into a model cocoa farm, which allowed us to create our Engaged Ethics Cocoa Programme with the aim of rejuvenating cocoa growing across the island. Estates Director, Phil Buckley, set off on a road show to launch it and proposed the following to farmers – we’ll guarantee to buy your whole crop, so you can invest in your farm with confidence; we’ll pay you directly, without middleman deductions, at a rate that reflects the quality of your beans; we’ll provide free technical help to improve quality and give access to our top quality cocoa seedlings

at a subsidised rate; we’ll buy the beans ‘wet’, just after harvesting and carry our the fermentation and drying ourselves. At first farmers were a little sceptical, but one farmer, Laurence Auguste, made the leap of faith and joined our programme. Since then, more and more farmers have become our Island Grower partners and, at the time of writing, there are 155 members – including new start-up farmers, disillusioned banana growers and well-established estates returning their land to cocoa. By paying good rates and guaranteeing to buy entire crops, we have helped create a virtuous circle – whereby farmers have the financial confidence to invest in their farms and improve quality, yields and their own income. In addition, when our chocolate factory is built on Rabot Estate (as reported last month), more Saint Lucians will be drawn into the supply chain. We’ll be adding value locally to the cocoa bean, we’ll be using local raw ingredients, we’ll be recruiting and training manufactory workers, drivers, tour guides, engineers, support staff and more. www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/ethics 13


news

news

Left – a map of Saint Lucia from 1758 Below – Gros Piton, one of the island’s iconic twin mountains

The island of iguanas Louanalao, as the first, ancient Amerindian settlers called it, means island of the iguanas. But nowadays we know this place much better as Saint Lucia, a lush, tropical island situated in the windward island chain of the West Indies. For those first settlers from South America, this island must have been a dream come true – green, fertile and uninhabited. The history of Saint Lucia is as colourful as the beautiful island itself and began with those first inhabitants, the Arawak Indians, who settled around 200 AD. Although by 800 AD they had been overpowered by the rather more warlike Caribs. The story of the island’s discovery by Europeans is not terribly clear – it was thought at one time that Columbus discovered the island in 1502, but nowadays we think he just sailed close by. There’s more evidence to support the island’s discovery in either 1499 or 1504 by Juan de la Cosa, an explorer who had served as Columbus’ navigator. In any case, there 14

was no European settling of the island until the 1550s when the notorious buccaneer, Francois le Clerc set up a base on Pigeon Island. Also known as Jambe de Bois, or Wooden Leg, he used the base to prey upon treasure-laden Spanish galleons, rather successfully. The first real attempt at colonisation was in 1605 when an unfortunate party of 67 English colonists, blown off course from Guyana, landed on Saint Lucia. They purchased land and huts from the resident Caribs, but soon the survivors were forced to flee from them in canoes. In 1639, a second attempt at colonisation led by Sir Thomas Warner also failed.

By the mid 17th century the French had arrived, which, needless to say, didn’t please the British too much who were still persevering with their attempts at colonisation. For the next 150 years, this Anglo-French rivalry continued, but the island’s first real settlements were all French, beginning An Arawak woman with the island’s first town, Soufrière, in 1746. By 1780, 12 settlements and a large number of sugar plantations had been established, but the British had already launched their first invasion effort by then in 1778 – known as the Battle of Cul-de-Sac. The island changed hands 14 times over the period with many battles being fought, including the Battle of Rabot in 1795. The site, which is in the grounds of Rabot Estate regularly yields buckles and artefacts from the period and even a whole sword. Finally, in 1814, Saint Lucia was ceded to the British for the last time. The country remained under the British crown until it became independent in 1979. Despite the length of British rule, the island’s French cultural legacy still shines through in place names, food and the Creole dialect that is still spoken.

update

How do

YOU EAT YOURS?

Your letters in response to our ‘How Do You Eat Yours?’ article are still coming in. Here are a couple of our latest.

THE SHARERS/THE COMMITTEE There are four of us – my wife, myself and our two teenage sons. Our tastes are very different but we’re all very keen not to miss out. Therefore, we have a system where we try each variation by taking it in turns to cut two identical chocolates in half. Then we each choose a piece, with the ‘cutter’ going last. It has certainly concentrated our dissecting skills as no one wants to get the smallest piece! The actual tasting is always a delight, then the tricky bit - the scoring, which is done by democratically by ‘committee’ and often involves vigorous discussions. So far this has worked well and has become a family ritual whenever we open a new tasting box. Kind regards, Colin Packer, York

THE PLANNER I have to be a Planner. My husband is a coeliac so I scan the back of the menu to see if any of the chocolates contain gluten. He’s also diabetic so we’re not scorers – we eat only 5 chocolates each at the weekend and the scores are in long before we’ve finished our box! Regards from us both, Marion The Battle of Saint Lucia on 15th December 1778 saw 12 French ships defeated by 7 English ships of Admiral Barrington

15


View the full range hotelchocolat.co.uk/valentines

Sarah Maingot

Our Valentine’s Day range is all about classic elegance for those unforgettable gestures of love from hopeless romantics and secret admirers everywhere.

PHOTOGRAPH BY

Be My Valentine...

Club News D159  

Your latest copy of the club news.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you