Friday, 17 February 2012

Something fermented in the state of Malaysia!

Not sure why I have got stuck on Hamlet quotes! Just a quick note to report that I have found some Malaysian chocolate – made with properly fermented beans! This is good news – but the bad news is that the two companies concerned source beans from their own plantations.

I visited two chocolate shops today – both actually in the same neighbourhood and both clearly there to meet the needs of the tourist industry. There were busloads of people being shipped in – and I seemed to upset their system as I had come on my own (each bus load got a numbered sticker). It was mad in each shop – chocolates stacked high on shelves and counters; staff filling shelves as fast as they customers were clearing them. Lots of tasters on offer and loads of staff on hand, which was great.

The first I went to was Beryl’s Chocolate Wonderland (ooh yes, I think I will rename my workshop Charlotte’s Chocolate Wonderland); their website said that they only used Ghanaian beans – but infact they do also use Malaysian beans as well – either on their own or blended with the Ghanaian. They had lots of local fruit flavours as well – mango, kiwi, jackfruit and even the infamous Durian.

Everything seemed to be sold in bulk – large bags of chocolate coated nuts and dried fruits, packs of boxed chocolates – and all being sold in large quantities. A good display about origins of cocoa and making beans into chocolate. Really excellent on that front.

The next was The Chocolate Boutique; again using Malaysian chocolates and flavours. In fact the flavours were much the same as at Beryl’s – and the bulk selling. Again, an excellent display about cocoa.

A conversation at dinner one night put me on the trail of a Lebanese chocolate company, Patchi, who have a number of shops in Kuala Lumpur. This was a hard trail to follow – the first shop that I looked for was closed down, and I eventually found them in a shopping mall (Singapore all over again!). Eveything there was shipped in from Lebanon – so no-one was able to tell me anything very much about the chocolates. They were beatifully packaged and presented – and that has given me much to think about – but nothing really to help me on my cocoa quest.

We leave Malaysia today – heading to Bali. The next two weeks of the trip are going to get really interesting – no more malls, I hope, just meeting lots of cocoa people and finding beans, with luck. Have been trying to think of a Malaysian flavour for my selection; we have had some delicious food here – Malay, Japanese, Indian, Chinese. Lovely fruit as well – so maybe that would be the flavour – mango.

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