A walk in the cocoa forest

Fuelled by an excellent lunch at the Belmont Estate Restaurant, where we ate callalou soup, mahi-mahi fillets, green banana and yam, followed by nutmeg and vanilla ice cream, with wax apple juice for Millie and tamarind for James, the wax apple being particularly unusual with a fresh sweet grassy aroma and taste.

We wandered down to the Belmont fermentary where William and his team were taking delivery of fresh cocoa, weighing, reckoning and starting the fermentation process. Here it takes around 6 days, the Cocoa Association in Grenada recommend 8 days, but there may be a danger of lactic acids spoiling the flavour of the cocoa if goes on too long – too little and the complex polyphenols – flavour components- will not develop, so there is an art to knowing just how long to ferment for. Then past the drying trays of cinnamon and mace, and a quick look in the new Cocoa Cafe – where the new Grenada Chocolate Co bar “Nibble-icous” is being sold. It is so addictive, Millie cannot stop eating it, crunchy cocoa nibs in rich dark chocolate.

Over the road and down a steep bank, onto the rocky river crossing to the Grococo land – which was looking in fantastic shape, in spite of the long drought which ended about 3 weeks ago. Grenada would normally not suffer prolonged dry spells in this season, so it was worrying for everyone, particularly anyone who looks after plants, old chanels have been excavated and its much easier to see where you are walking now, though still tricky terrain, very steep, with odd hidden rocks and holes, all covered by a layer of cocoa leaves which will rot down into bio mass to feed the soil, along with the leguminous trees which feed nitrogen back to the soil – an essential part of organic husbandry.

The cocoa trees look really healthy, lots of new growth, so more work to prune back the saplings and concetrate growth on the fruit bearing trees. So far this small piece of land has produced around 4 tonnes of dry cocoa beans – phenomenal. Plenty of midges, including the biting kind, which annoy most very faired skinned visitors. It seems if you can hang around for 4 months, they stop being so annoying…

Walking down at the end of the tour, we past a tiny hummingbird nest on the big bamboo, it had one egg in it- the size of my little finger nail. No sign of the parents, maybe in this temperature, they do not need to be incubated? Then on to the site of the cave house which Mott is planning to build his eco house. Wonder what he can do to stop those very annoyiing nibbling insects? Think I will be voting to stay at Petite Anse.

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