San Jose, Costa Rica - a must for chocolate lovers
For sweet-toothed visitors to Costa Rica, a trip to Sibu Chocolate should not be missed. It offers guests the opportunity not only to sample some of the country’s fine chocolate, but to learn about chocolate’s place in history. Consider it a sweet, chocolate-flavoured version of a wine-tasting in an exotic tropical environment.
Among Costa Rica’s many charms is one that is sure to be irresistible to anyone with a sweet tooth—Sibu Chocolate, a chocolate-tasting tour that must be experienced to be believed.
A short drive north of downtown San Jose and located in a picturesque restaurant, the chocolate tour is part culinary experience and part history lesson. In spite of its somewhat misleading name, there is no actual walking involved in the “tour;” instead, guests sit around a comfortable table while delectable tasting plates are prepared.
The experience begins with hot chocolate, but not the thin, flavourless chocolate most people know. This is a deep, rich hot chocolate, a delightful introduction to the wonders to come. Under the guidance of Julio, one of Sibu Chocolate’s founders, guests are given a variety of chocolates to try and are given guidance in identifying the different flavours and notes in the chocolates. Many of Sibu’s chocolates combine unusual flavours, such as lime and coriander with white chocolate.
But a chocolate tasting at Sibu isn’t only about eating chocolates. Julio and Sibu’s other guides give an informative and fascinating account of chocolate’s role in society from the beginning of civilization. The discussion covers the ways that indigenous people drank their chocolate and how the treat first made its way to Europe. The discussion covers as much material as a university seminar, but in a light-hearted and often comedic manner.
Assuming visitors to Sibu Chocolate aren’t too full after indulging in copious amounts of chocolate, there is also a farm-to-table lunch menu, offering a generous variety of savoury to balance out all of the sweet.
Costa Rica is becoming increasingly known for its chocolate, particularly artisanal chocolates. Chocolate was an important part of the country’s economy until the mid-twentieth century, when a fungus wiped out the majority of Costa Rica’s cacao crop. As a result, most growers either abandoned their farms or learned to cultivate other crops. Although Costa Rica’s production of chocolate is still in its infancy, the quality of its cacao beans is not up for debate; its quality surpasses that of other countries in the region.
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