Chocolate, Favorite Things, Inspiration, Travel, Uncategorized, West Indies

My Grenada Chocolate Festival Experience!

I’m here in Grenada sitting poolside and seaside as well, at True Blue Bay Resort listening to Bruno Mars’s, ‘That’s What I Like’ (which is slowly becoming one of my favourite songs) and hearing the waves of the sea to my right, slightly over the sound of my music. This place is amazing!

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True Blue Bay Resort

Still clearly on my Belmont Estate tour and soft launch high from the day before, and happy that I had not missed this. What I experienced was by far one of the most motivating experiences of my life. As a ‘cocoa daughter’ and aspiring cocoa farmer I was quite encouraged to see Mrs. Shadel Nyack-Compton in her element.

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Holding on to my growing chocolate collection at Belmont Estate
Being a young Caribbean woman, who has always been encouraged to farm by my father, mostly through seeing him do it and his endless speeches about the importance of growing your own food. Talk about practicing what you preach! Although some of the ‘encouragement’ was being brought to the farm as a little girl and allowing me to get hands on,(which was fun) it was always a pleasure to be in the mountains surrounded by the lushness of tall green trees and the sound of the stream flowing by. I remember Sundays as a child being our day of adventure, with our farm escapades followed by an impromptu river picnic (guess you know where I got my initial swimming skills from). Observing the team work between Shadel and her team, their drive and how enthusiastic they were about their product gave me a tremendous amount of motivation. This further solidified my interest in, and determination to be more involved in our Cocoa Farming.
Let’s get down to business!
I arrived at the Maurice Bishop International airport safe and finally able to uncross my fingers as my journey was uneventful which is outside of the norm for our airline which will remain unnamed (lol). The flight was on time, comfortable and we were able to enjoy a beautiful nights sky. I cleared customs and immigration and burst through the exit to catch my taxi to the hotel. My exit was slowed as I noticed a nice little setup for the Grenada Chocolate Festival which I interpreted as a nice welcome to Grenada and to Chocolate Fest as well. I took a quick photo of it and continued my exit toward the waiting area. When I made it outside I saw a tall gentleman holding up a card with what I recognised as my name on it. I walked over to him, identified myself, we exchanged greetings and we were on our way. True Blue here I come!
Maurice Bishop International Airport
The Grenada Chocolate Festival started with its grand opening on Friday 13th May 2017 at Dodgy Dock. It was an awesome opening ceremony and helped to start warming us up for the big week ahead.

 

The three things that stuck with me at the opening, was the honoring of deserving cocoa farmers, finding out that money raised during the festival was donated to schools and the community library and last but not least, being entertained by the most ‘chocolatey smooth voice’ I have ever heard coming from the sweet sounds of Jefferson and his band “The Trios”. His voice was like smooth chocolate as far as I’m concerned. How fitting for the opening of a chocolate festival right.
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Jefferson and His Band
We danced and sang the evening away and then retired to our hotel rooms in eager anticipation of day two or rather official day one.

 

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The Sankalpa Yoga Studio and True Blue Bay Resort
The next morning started off with a Chocolate Yoga session which blew me away. Instructor Malaika Brooke-Smith is so amazing (I wish I could take her back to my island to do these sessions with me 😦 ). We were reminded to take the time to savour our food and take time to identify the different flavours we experience on our tongue. It’s important for us to savour life’s moments and stop all the rushing. I left yoga feeling renewed, rejuvenated and ready to take on this new and beautiful experience.

 

Our next stop was an indulgent chocolate inspired breakfast, which was followed by Healthy Benefits of Cocoa & Chocolate Workshop, where we were able to get a hands on experience of making our own Cocoa Body Scrub, Chocolate Face Mask and Whipped Cocoa Butter. All of which smell so awesome and feel amazing on your skin. This was followed by hashing which I opted out of because I was too tired, but everyone came back raving about how fun it was.

 

Thank God we did a little yoga and relaxation the day before because what we had on Sunday we never saw coming. Let’s just say we were burnt at the end of the day. Tri-Island Chocolate farm gave us a really hands on session on permaculture, composting and just the overall sense of how to grow healthy cocoa trees and create beans with great flavour. The most encouraging thing about this stop is that the owner Aaron has relocated from London to Grenada to rehabilitate a cocoa farm owned by his family. We did a lot on this tour and by the time I got back to True Blue, showered and hit the bed I was out like a light.

 

We visited Belmont Estates the following day and as I mentioned in my introduction I was so motivated by everything I witnessed there. We did a tour of the farm where Dr. Darin Sukha gave us expert advice and insight into the planting, care, growth and nutrition of the cocoa tree and post harvest practices. There we also got to walk the cocoa and dance the cocoa. I loved it! This was followed by a tasting with Dr. Sukha where we got to taste chocolate and identify the different flavour notes we experienced on our tongue.
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Shadel, Rita Garcia, Dr. Sukha and Magdalena

The soft launch was next where we purchased some of their chocolates somewhat exclusively as they are not yet launched to the public (their official launch is in October 2017). Each item is so careful assembled and the packaging quite beautiful. It’s as if you’re experiencing the very creation itself when you touch the product. Shadel you did and amazing job!

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Some yummy Chocolates from Belmont Estates
That night we went to Chocolate at the Brewery where we sampled the chocolate beer and for me who’s not a beer drinker let’s just say it was an interesting taste.
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Chocolate at the Brewery (did I have any of these?…I guess we will never know) LOL

 

 Our next day was spent at a hands on cooking class with Esther and Omega making chocolate chicken. I would have never thought that chocolate and chicken could go together but you wouldn’t believe how amazing this taste. Plus cooking it was so much fun with my team. I think we had the best tasting chicken. ( Go Team 5!!!).
Later that day we got involved in a talk and taste with Mexican Chocolatier Ana Rita Garcia Lascurian. We learned about the different cocoa varieties and those unique to Mexico, as well as the best practices and what pairs best to create a unique flavour.

 

Crayfish Bay  Organic Estate tour was on Wednesday, where we experienced their tree to bar chocolate process and sample their chocolate and cocoa tea (the best cocoa tea I’ve ever tasted…oops! Sorry Mom). We spent the rest of that day doing lunch at Petite Anse where we were also able to have a dip in the pool followed by a small tour at Diamond Chocolate Factory where Jouvay Chocolate is made. Our last event of the day was Street Food at Dodgy Dock where we sampled various local Grenadian dishes and listened to beautiful songs from guess who (drum roll) Jefferson!

 

 

 The Mott Green and Grenada Chocolate Company tour and experience was the following day. It was sad to learn that two out of the three owners had passed away leaving only Edmond behind. He gave us a brief history of the creation of the company, their obstacles faced, failures and victories. It was quite inspiring. This was followed by lunch where we were served with “oil down” Mott Green style. It was my first time having this dish and I enjoyed it.
With 30 minutes to spare after we got back to True Blue I quickly prepared myself to take off again to House of Chocolate where Elle Coco demonstrated how to prepare a garnash and make cocoa earrings. Seeing as my ears are not pierced I plan on gifting them to someone else. I wonder who the lucky lady will be?

 

 

On our last tour day we could choose to either Be a Farmer for A Day at Crayfish Bay Organic Estate or Relax for a Day at Mount Edgecombe. I opted out of the first option, not because I’m afraid to get dirty but because the description of activities for Mount Edgecombe included an item on learning how to pair fruits and spices and I figured this would be great for me to learn as I already have a farm that I get to experience regularly.

 

Outside of the other activities Mount Edgecombe is such a beautiful place. I wish I could take it back with me in my luggage. You walk into the main house and its almost as if they’ve frozen the house in that century and you are transported back to that period in a time machine. It’s also filled with such vibrant colours and the contrast is just magnificent. We took a dip in the infinity pool and had lunch with the most tasty chocolate mousse custard and cake dessert. In addition we found a plum tree and turned it into an adventure. They were so delicious and to think I have never had these before. I was eager to figure out how to get a tree back home. Let’s just so I’m still in planning mode.

 

We made our way back to True Blue in order get set for the sunset bonfire. I absolutely loved the bonfire experience! To think I almost decided not to go. Thank you Salisha! I was able to enjoy tasty chocolate inspired treats and indulge in a detoxifying chocolate hand soak with a complimentary back and neck massage. When I tell you this felt like heaven I do not exaggerate. You should see my face now as I reminisce. I think I slept like a baby that night and for the first time my whole trip I actually woke up after 6 the next morning.

 

Although I woke up feeling rejuvenated and ready for a new day it was somewhat bittersweet as I realized my trip was coming to an end. It was the last day and I knew that I had such a great time and made some amazing connections that I would miss.
We went to the Grenada Community Library that morning where we did a chocolate tasting with the kids, drew and painted with them as well as meeting with four of the little girls who helped write the book called ‘The Grenada Chocolate Family’, which is nominated for 4 awards.

 

The rest of the day was relaxing. I had lunch, took a short nap, called my family back home in Dominica, had some chocolate (of course!), went for a swim in the pool and then finally made it to the closing events. I missed the cocoa inspired fashion show but I was able to hang out with my new chocolate family. We ate chocolate inspired dishes, chatted with each other, took photos with each other and did the cocoa dance (which was hilarious).

 

Now that I am back home, I’m sitting here reflecting and it dawns on me that I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. It turned out to be more than what I imagined and to me one of the best travel decisions I have ever made. To the organizers thank you for planning and executing such an amazing, informative, inspiring and thrilling event. Also thank you to the owners of True Blue Bay Resort (Mr. Ross and Mrs. Magdalena) for providing such wonderful accommodation and for being such great people to your staff and guest alike.
My take away from this is that we have everything we need to survive and thrive here in the Caribbean, we ought to cherish and use it. The truth is, our grass is pretty green (the good kind of green 🙂 ). In addition I’ve formed some really remarkable bonds with some great people. Who knew chocolate could win you friends?

 

I ended my chocolate fest rejuvenated, thrilled and feeling like the luckiest girl on the block. And like my dad said to me a few days ago, ‘sometimes you have to create your own luck.’ I think I did just that. I am so grateful to have been blessed with this opportunity. This experience is one that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I grew so much in those 11 days and I feel like I returned home a new me. Grenada Chocolate Festival you gave me life!
The Dominican Girl on a mission! 🙂
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My Grenada Chocolate Festival Goodies!

11 thoughts on “My Grenada Chocolate Festival Experience!”

  1. ….as an avid reader…I don’t waste my eyeball Time with just about any “group of letters”
    But THIS!!!..right here…is superb!!
    Eyeball Time..well spent!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So SO happy I got to meet you at Grenada Chocolate Fest, the #cacaotribe is growing! Can’t wait to catch up somewhere else in the Caribbean!

    Reading this post brought back so many happy memories! But so sorry I didn’t think the jewellery workshop through enough to bring clip on ear posts – so whatsapp me your postal address and I’ll sort you out a little something!

    Peace. Love and Chocolate.

    Elle

    xx

    Like

  3. Girl this festival was really something, and that’s just from attending a couple sessions. Now I see how much I missed, I want to do it all over again. It was also wonderful meeting your warm spirit. Hope we meet again soon!

    Like

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