Eat well - travel often

Month: July 2015

Grenada: True Blue Bay Boutique Resort

Grenada: True Blue Bay Boutique Resort

As I previously mentioned the first three nights of my trip to Grenada was spent at the Blue Horizons Resort. On our fourth day we moved to stay at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort.  Here we would remain for the rest of our visit to […]

Hendrick's Gin – Mobile Masterclass at The Wicked Lady Wheathampstead

Hendrick's Gin – Mobile Masterclass at The Wicked Lady Wheathampstead

One for the road as they say, shaken and not stirred!  The traditional Martini and favourite of the legendary character James Bond 007 is a drink featuring gin and vermouth and garnished with a couple of pimento stuffed olives on a cocktail stick. Gin is […]

Putting on the Ritz – Win the latest selection here too.

Putting on the Ritz – Win the latest selection here too.

When someone says ‘Putting on the Ritz’ do you think of a top hat, tails and a cane or a new product from Ritz.

The makers of Ritz Crackers have a new crispy, crunchy snack on the market which is proving to be really popular.

I was invited to preview the collection and to try some simple but really tasty dips to go with the new Ritz Crisps but really anything you like dipping into will work really well.

There are four flavours, Sour Cream, Sweet Chilli, Sea Salt and Black Pepper and Salt-n-Vinegar.

Here are some photos to give you some style ideas if you are entertaining – the Ritz Crisps fit into any entertaining scenario.

I was a guest of Ritz and all photos and opinions are my own.
If you would like to win a selection of the new Ritz Crisps you can enter here by following the Rafflecopter below:-

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is only open to UK residents. 
Marley Spoon – Dinner in a Box

Marley Spoon – Dinner in a Box

Marley Spoon – dinner in a box.  But don’t worry it’s not a box of processed food but instead everything that you need to create a meal including the meat, fresh fruit and vegetables and spices and as in our case the yoghurt. All I had […]

Family BBQ in the sunshine!

Family BBQ in the sunshine!

My son moved into a new house following a change of job a few months ago.  Due to his busy schedule and mine this weekend was the first time we could visit his new house.  My 7 year old granddaughter thought a BBQ would be […]

Grenada: Crayfish Bay – Cocoa Farmer for a Day (Bean to Bar)

Grenada: Crayfish Bay – Cocoa Farmer for a Day (Bean to Bar)

On my recent trip to Grenada I was able to participate in a variety of events and activities to celebrate the 2nd Annual Grenada Chocolate Festival.  Although I really enjoyed the whole experience I think what really made my trip was the opportunity to be a chocolate farmer for the day.

The growers of the cacao who do all the work and hard labour to bring you the ingredient to make your lives immensly enjoyable do their job more as a labour of love than to get rich.  The cacao grower receives a low payment for their product which then makes its journey to far flung places to be made into the chocolate treats we know and love and which make a lot of profit for the manufacturers.

There are three main cacao farmers on the island of Grenada who produce fine, single estate chocolate and I was really thrilled to spend the day on one of these.  Crayfish Bay is run by English born Kim Russell and his wife.  Kim has formed a co-operative with his workers ensuring that they get 90% of the money he makes from the chocolate production which enables his workers to provide more than the basics for their family such as schooling and medical treatment but this wasn’t always the case.  It took a vision and a lot of hard work bring together the local farmers and to build up the three main chocolate companies on the island; The Grenada Chocolate Company, Crayfish Bay and the Diamond Chocolate Company.

We arrived at Crayfish Bay early one morning during our second week on the island, equipped with bottles of water, hats and sunscreen, long trousers to keep the bugs off our legs and plenty of mosquito repellent.  Kim with his casual personality that hides a deep commitment to the island and the cocoa trade enthralled us with the history of Crayfish Bay, the work needed to look after the cocoa trees and the hard work that goes into the whole process.

Picking and processing the cocoa is a long and laborious process and one that cannot be factory mechanised and done in mass production.

There no neat paths to walk or pavements in the cocoa forest but gullies to jump over and uneven footing.

Kim explained the role of the banana plants to the cocoa. You see banana plants throughout and the reason is two-fold.  Firstly when the cocoa plants are young their roots don’t go down deep enough to tap into a water supply so they use the banana plant roots to tap water from and then the banana is a faster growing plant and provides shade for the young cocoa plant until it is able to grow strong and tall.

A fresh water spring and a bit of shade, scent of nutmeg trees growing around you and the thought of the chocolate delights you will be making all add to the sense of tranquility and ideal life around you.

The cocoa pods vary in colour and are fairly large.  Mostly they are split open with a machete and then the inside white beans are pulled out and collected in large buckets.

The white covering of the beans is a flavour inhibitor and must be removed by putting in large bins to ferment for several days, leaving the cocoa beans to be dried and roasted.

Cocoa beans roasting.

A larger enterprise might roast them in stainless steel roasters but at Crayfish Bay the beans are roasted in small quantities and then laid out to dry in the sun

The cocoa beans dry in the sun. To keep them moving and to ensure they dry evenly workers ‘walk the cocoa’ with their bare feet expertly turning the beans without crushing the.

Crayfish Bay don’t spend money on large industrial machines but in fact adapt existing machines to do a job.

Rumbling and shaking and suddenly the cocoa beans poured into the hoppa start coming out as a velvety, dark chocolate river.

On the day I was part of the picking team we picked twelve buckets of ‘wet’ cocoa and below you can see five of the twelve buckets that the two teams had picked. We really thought we had done well as our haul weighed 475 lbs and we were like rung out washing.  Kim quickly brought us down to earth with a bump – on a typical day his crew would pick approx 2,000-3,000 lbs of wet cocoa!  Nevertheless we felt proud of our achievement.

When we finished our ‘work’ we sat down on the open living room and drank freshly squeezed sweet seville orange juice which was followed by a huge bowl of Kim’s signature Callaloo Soup with Dumplings and a fine buffet to help replace all the lost energy.

Crayfish Bay do not make any of their chocolate into bars for sale but instead ship their chocolate to a small, out of the way village in Suffolk to the home of Pump Street Bakery.

Set in the idyllic Suffolk country village of Orford Pump Street sell a selection of single bean, organic estate chocolates one of which is from Crayfish Bay in Grenada.

I made the journey to Orford to buy my chocolate last weekend to visit my daughter who lives in Ipswich which is a short drive away and I wanted to treat the grandchildren to a cup of hot chocolate and tell them the story of ‘Nanny and the Chocolate Factory’!

Although Pump Street sell their chocolate online and offer a next day delivery service of their freshly baked breads and pastries I wanted to visit them personally and tell them how I picked some of the chocolate they would be selling in their bakery!

Once home the cocoa forests of Grenada seemed a long way away but the memory of picking, emptying the cocoa pods, traipsing up and down the steep hills, eating fresh mangoes and grapefruits will, along with the rest of the memories, stay in my mind forever!

I was a guest of Crayfish Bay Chocolate Plantation and want to thank them for a life-changing experience.  All opinions and photos are my own.

Bamboo Tableware from Premier Housewares

Bamboo Tableware from Premier Housewares

Premier Housewares have a great new range of plates, bowls and serving bowls out this summer.  They are made from bamboo (don’t crack or retain odours) and come in three great colours, perfect for summer entertaining and perfect to match with their recent Green Leaf […]