Chocolatey Goodness in Nassau
Late last year, the family behind Graycliff, the capital’s oldest hotel and restaurant, opened a chocolate boutique on the grounds of the historic 18th-century mansion, said to have been built by one of the islands’ most famous pirates. Now, instead of chests of treasure, visitors can plunder display cases of organic, fair-trade, preservative-free chocolate made with Jamaican cocoa beans (they’re test-growing Bahamian cocoa trees on the Out Island of Andros) and flavored with local fruit, including mango, lime, coconut, sea grapes and guineps. (My favorite, hands-down: the strangely appealing, salty-sweet dark chocolate and bacon.)
But curious chocaholics will want to don scarlet paper coats and hats and join the hour-long chocolate tour led by master chocolatier Erika Dupree Davis.
Erika explains the manufacturing process from bean to bar, and you’ll watch as the raw beans are roasted and husked, and then broken into nibs and ground into a paste. The cocoa is then separated into cocoa butter and chocolate “liqueur” before being poured into individual molds, and then finally, after an eight-minute journey through a cooling tunnel, the diminutive delectables are ready.
Guests are offered samples throughout the tour but the highlight (which I unfortunately didn’t get to experience) has got to be making your own chocolate bar or truffles – and enjoying the fruits of your labor at the end.
Chef Erika offers this tip for jetsetting chocaholics: To get the fullest flavor from your chocolate fix, never eat it straight from the fridge. Like cheese, chocolate is best when allowed to come to room temperature, so let it “heat” before you eat.
Tours run between 9am and 5pm Monday through Saturday, and cost $50. There’s also a children’s tour – including chocolate painting and quality time with mascot Captain Choco – for $35.