Where the chocolate comes from

By Colin McFadden
This post is part of a series called Costa Rice 2014
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We awoke in San Gerardo to a beautiful sky, with the volcano lit up in gorgeous colors. Our guide was already birding around the lodge. We met up with him for a short bird walk down towards the stream crossing.

On our walk, we saw bi-colored antbird. We came back to a delicious breakfast of pancakes and empanadas. After breakfast, we hung out and birded from the deck, while Natalia shot some great photographs, including a speckle-cheeked tanager.

Our guide, Rafa, went for a birding walk and ended up going a bit further than we expected – we were a bit concerned he’d gotten lost. Luckily, he returned just a few minutes after our self-imposed deadline.

Around 10, we packed up and hit the trail for the hike out. It was a good slog – very vertical, but thankfully not nearly as muddy as the descent. We got out around noon and had a coffee in the cafe.

Janelle picked us up and took us to their home where we had some homemade chicken soup and salad, with greens from the garden. The house is gorgeous! We picked up our laundry and some orange bananas (weird!) and headed back to Casa Batsu. After a quick shower and some work time, we headed out to the chocolate tour.

Our chocolate tour was actually a tour of the chocolate making process, from bean to bar. The chocolate maker is very passionate about his craft, and makes very small batches. He walked us through the history of chocolate, and then went step by step through the process from toasting to conching to tempering. We tried different batches – different ages, different beans – and got to try tempered versus untempered chocolates.

There was a couple with two children in the tour with us – vegans from Santa Clara – but we were the ones with all the good questions. We lingered for quite a while, before we headed to the attached restaurant for a killer dinner. We ran into some friends of Natalia’s – a professor of ecology from Brandeis, along with his family. We had a great time chatting. Dinner included some hot chocolate, curried fish, chicken mole, and an amazing argentinian brownie dessert.

We bought a lot of chocolate to bring home, and enjoyed lingering on their patio.

Finally, we headed back to the lodge for a really good night’s sleep.

2 thoughts on “Where the chocolate comes from

  • Deb Marsh July 9, 2014 at 12:50 am Reply

    Loving these blog posts! Sounds like you had a great time and had lots of good food. Fortunately I always enjoyed the rice and beans! The birding and wildlife info is great–so glad you had excellent guides. I think it would be hard to see much of anything there without them. Thanks for posting all this!

  • Susan July 9, 2014 at 4:42 am Reply

    What is the white fuzzy thing next to the leaves? A caterpillar? The chocolate tour sounds great. Also (having just returned from the UP), I was wondering if there were biting insects like mosquitoes.

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