I just came back from my first Chocolate Trade Show! I loved it - it was amazing and I was buzzed out of my mind on theobromine! (In case you don't know what theobromine is, it is the feel good chemical in chocolate that keeps one coming back for more)
Theobromine has a similar effect than caffeine, but about 10 times weaker. Theobromine has diuretic, stimulant and relaxing effects. Theobromine can lower the blood pressure because it can to dilate blood vessels. Theobromine has stimulant properties, similar to caffeine. Unlike caffeine theobromine does not affect the central nervous system. Theobromine can also relax bronchi muscles in the lungs. Theobromine can be used as cough medicine. Studies indicate that theobromine acts on the vagus nerve, which runs from the lungs to the brain.- phytochemicals.com
The National Chocolate Show, held last weekend on the breezy shores of Lake Michigan at Chicago's Navy Pier, was a fest for those who love chocolate, wish to learn more about chocolate, or for those who make a living producing chocolate in some fashion or another.
All the big names in the chocolate industry were in attendance. Valrhona, Cocoa Barry, Callebaut, and a new name in my chocolate book, Luker. I was not familiar with this Colombian brand and was happy to make their acquaintance on my visit. Luker chocolate tastes amazing and I look forward to using it in some of my confections.
Another very cool find from the show was Crio Brü. Crio is based out of Utah and they are selling ground cacao of the Criollo variety of bean. They are selling it as a drink to be brewed like coffee. This drink is delicious, full of antioxidants, and gives you an amazing boost without the caffeine. Look for it in your local specialty store of coffee shop. Ask for it if no one in your area is carrying it. If you enjoy the raw flavor of cacao and the feeling that it brings you, then you must get your hands on this stuff, absolutely amazing. Tip it back and drink cacao like the Aztecs were doing some 500 years ago!
My other very nice "surprise" was seeing Pacari Chocolates. Pacari is a brand of chocolate from Ecuador. Of course my own internal happy compounds went off as I was able to chat it up with Pacari reps not only about my last trip down to Ecuador, but I was able to find out what this great company is busy doing. I learned that they are quite busy indeed. They are farming the Nacional Variety of cacao in Ecuador and not only doing it organically, but also bio-dynamically. They have earned the Demeter Certification which is a biodynamic certification. Pacari's chocolate is delicious and at this years International Chocolate Awards held in London, Pacari walked away with 10 awards, including the Gold Medal for Best Dark/Origin Chocolate Bar. Congrats to Pacari! They seem to have a very successful brand that is sustainable from the bottom up. I am currently eating a bar of their Raw 70% award winning chocolate as I write this and let me say, it screams nacional bean variety. (total chocolate dork here)
For those of you who care about the chocolate you eat... get out there are purchase a bar of Pacari 70% raw. It won the gold medal this year at the World Chocolate Awards in London. This is what real chocolate should taste like. Break a piece off, put it in your mouth and let it melt and melt and melt. The flavors are so earthy and real I guarantee you will have a conversion experience. Let it melt in your mouth and just taste the amazing flavor profile of a chocolate that is definitely worth spending $$$ on. Nacional variety beans, Ecuador, fermented, Demeter Certified = delicious.
Bliss out - eat good chchocolate and enjoy your weekend.