Posted by: lisaparavisini | December 30, 2012

Caribbean Travel with a Chocolaty Touch

hotel-chocolat-stlucia-42It is the weekend and travel features abound, with travel writers finding chocolaty treats on St Lucia and Martinique. (Our thanks to Peter Jordens for bringing these items to our attention.)

With average temperatures ranging between in the 80s and 90s, St. Lucia has long been a destination for sun seekers. But those who come for the sun and sand find that there is much more to this beautiful West Indies island, Kathy Buckworth reports in an article for The Huffington Post. For those who tire of lounging at soft sandy beaches, gazing at the Pitons, two photogenic mountains, and dipping occasionally into the Caribbean Sea, it is well worth it to explore the island more thoroughly.

Chocolate Infused Cuisine:

Cocoa is the 2nd largest crop in St. Lucia (bananas being #1), and with the establishment of Chocolate Heritage Month in November, St. Lucia is becoming known for producing extremely high quality chocolate. The Hotel Chocolat exemplifies the infiltration of chocolate, opening Boucan in March, 2011, as an extension of the extremely successful Hotel Chocolat UK brand, which began as an online chocolate service and which has grown to 66 stores in the UK alone. The hotel offers a “Tree to Bar” tour which has participants harvesting a bean, going through the fermenting, drying, and roasting process. Turning the chocolate nibs into paste and then liquid chocolate takes it full circle. The chocolate nibs from the cocoa pods are used in most of the menu offerings at their restaurant Boucan, including a chocolate grinder settled next to the salt and pepper.

Their spa, like many others, includes several chocolate treatments. The Treetop Spa at the Sugar Beach resort offers a chocolate mint massage treatment in one of their seven treetop treatment rooms, which should be followed by a decadent chocolate dessert in their beachside gourmet restaurant, Bayside.

.  .  .

For the full report go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathy-buckworth/st-lucia-is-3-kinds-of-ho_b_2358276.htmlrum clement chocolate

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In 2013 Caribbean Hotspot: 5 Surprises in Martinique, the attention turns once again to chocolate:

Every Caribbean island has its own specialty, and we’re talking a lot more than just beaches.  Discover the “real” Martinique with Courtney Crockett, who was surprised by her visit to the island to find French culture (minus the French attitude), exceptional chocolate to pair with high-end, signature rum, plus three more island surprises.

Want more? Learn more local Caribbean experiences in Peter Greenberg’s Like a Local guide. 

1. When you step off the plane, you’re in France

The proof: Citizens hold French passports, spend the euro and drink more champagne than any other French region. If that’s not enough evidence, there’s also an exploding contemporary art scene, gastronomy you’d die for, and fashion that places Paris in the Caribbean. Flavored sparkling water, a French staple, was actually sipped in Martinique first. Convinced yet? The vibrant combination of culture and white sand beaches already places Martinique in the dreams of any true Francophile. The rest of us should align our bucket lists and start planning.

Fashionistas must get a look at the haute couture of up and coming designer Olivier Couturier. He hand sews everything from ready to wear pieces to pageant gowns in a style that channels both vintage ’60s and space-age modernism. The common thread and inspiration: Caribbean color. I’m still thinking about his shell-embellished swimwear from this past season. If you want to step down from the runway and shop for traditional Martinican threads, try DODY in Fort-de-France. I liked their tops and long skirts in updated versions of the classic “madras” pattern.

Gallery goers should visit the modern art exhibits at the Habitation Clément rum plantation. They change frequently and create a go-to place to indulge in fresh local talent. Art fanatic or not, I recommend splitting your stay in Martinique between a luxury resort, (you’d be crazy not to love Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa,) and one of island’s many boutique art hotels. My favorite was La Suite Villa, an inimitable sanctuary for all things colorful and quirky. What seemed like every inch, from plates at Le Zandoli restaurant, to retaining walls, to refrigerators were covered in paintings by Cuban artist, Ricardo Ponce. The part of this hotel that made me want to jump up and down on my bed like a five year old…. was the bed itself. Owner and engineer, Giles Duplan, created the raised custom beds so that guests always have a panoramic view overlooking Fort-de-France, even while laying flat. The beds are angled, built up and decorated to royal perfection.

 Chocolate and Rum Choose Martinique for their Destination Wedding

Award-winning local chocolatier Thierry Lauzéa describes a good pairing as a “marriage” in your mouth. A tasting requires a sip of rum, a bite of his decadent chocolate, followed another sip of rum. The results are completely unexpected. You’ve probably heard of wine and chocolate pairings, but those with rum are relatively new and much harder to come by. Of Lauzéa’s 23 flavors of chocolate, he has found only four to have a perfect union with a unique type and age of rum. There’s a science to it, and some are still best with wine or champagne; but after tasting his perfect unions, I can say they really are perfect. The wedding that my taste buds found to be most romantic was between Chocolat Shrubb and HSE Extra Vieux 2002 Single Malt. Shrubb is a type of rum infused with orange peels that consumed around Christmas. Thierry Lauzéa finds a way to serve it all year round, in the form of ganache-filled dark chocolate.

Martinique is dubbed the rum capital of the world, and is the only place on earth producing rums earning the prestigious AOC designation, a status typically reserved for the finest wines. Boasting 10 distilleries and its own cocoa plantation in the works, Martinique’s chocolate and rum love saga is getting serious. To experience the tasting yourself, visit Frères Lauzéa. Being a sugar aficionado, I can’t help but mention Lauzéa’s Pâté de Fruit candies, inspired by the colors of the island. If you only try one, try guava. There’s a reason it’s the most popular.

For an alternative sweet rum indulgence, get in line (there will be one) at Ziouka Glaces and order a cone of Rhum Banane. Monsieur Ziouka harvests Martinique’s best sugar cane in March, and then makes homemade ice creams on site all year round. He is constantly inventing new flavors, and rum is often added in to a fruit or vegetable base flavor.

A fabulous place to sip rum sans chocolate is Le Cohi-Bar at Cap Est. There, you can chose from over 100 rare rums; some not found anywhere else in the world. The bar has a great ambiance, set by a huge modern chandelier and candy store like jars of fruit above the rum selection.

A trip to Martinique cannot be completed without enjoying a Ti’ Punch: a strong blend of rum, lime, and raw sugar, mixed with the island’s famous stir stick called le bois lélé. You can always ask your server to participate in the preparation to take the technique home with you. Try Ti’ Punch as an aperitif at Ti Sable, an outdoor beachfront restaurant in Les Anses d’Artlet.

If you really want to take your rum tasting to a new level, journey “La Route des Rhums” and visit all 10 distilleries.

For the original report go to http://www.petergreenberg.com/2012/12/27/2013-caribbean-hotspot-5-surprises-in-martinique


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