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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Chocolate Tasting and Wine Pairing with The Old Naples Association

Old Naples is one of the original residential neighborhoods in Naples, FL. It is located near downtown Naples and the Gulf of Mexico. Ever since reconstruction began after Hurricane Donna in 1960 this area has become progressively more gentrified. Old Naples is now some of the most Coveted property in the area. 

The Old Naples Association (ONA) is a community group that represents both the civic and social interests of Old Naples residents. A friend who lives in the area wanted to find out more about them and invited me to one of their social events. That day it was a chocolate and wine pairing on the beach.

After attendees started to get together for the event,



we were given about a 30 minute presentation on some of the history and fun facts about about chocolate by an ONA member who was a Chocolatier, trained at the Ecole Chocolat.


Chocolate was brought back to Europe after being introduced to Cortes in the Sixteenth Century by the Aztecs. It was consumed at this time as a drink, and became sweetened by the Spanish after their discovery of sugar cane during their travels through the Caribbean. It took a few hundred years before someone figured out how to convert liquid chocolate into a solid food.

Chocolate is composed of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Cocoa butter melts at a relatively low temperature. To improve storage, manufacturers have been removing cocoa butter and replacing it with vegetable oils with a higher melting point. Additionally, the fat and sugar in sweetened chocolate can separate out depending on storage conditions and is called a chocolate Bloom. When this happens, the chocolate will have "streaks" in it. To stop this from happening manufactures will add Emulsifiers, further adulterating the chocolate.
 
In addressing these and other issues, the Bean to Bar movement was started. These are a group of artisinal craft chocolate makers, basically sticking to the methods used to make chocolate in the 1800's. Here is one reviewer's Take on some of these chocolates.

After this very interesting presentation, we were then treated to different kinds of chocolate originating from Vintage Plantations, a craft chocolate producer.


These ranged from 100% chocolate (no sugar) to 70% chocolate (30% sugar) among others to pair with our wines if we decided to bring any.


This was a very sweet event and really got me in the mood for dinner, but that's a topic for another blog post.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Old Naples Association
P.O. Box 110764
Naples, FL 34108
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