Throughout our expeditions there are many opportunities for experiential gastronomy, but one of the most memorable epicurean experiences happens in the small community of San Miguel de Sarampión, where some of the world's finest cocoa is harvested.
An Ancestral Treat
It was recently discovered that our romantic relationship with chocolate strated 5,300 years in Santa Ana - la Florida in Ecuador, and not in Central America as it was widely believed. The oldest traces of cocoa were found in pottery used by the Mayo-Chinchipe culture settled in the rainforest, where today is the province of Zamora Chinchipe.
The Golden Standard
Cacao nacional Fino de Aroma is the variety produced in the north of Manabí, and its strong floral aroma and intrinsic flavor complexity, won its recognition as the most prestigious denomination of origin in the international cacao trade during the 19th century.
Century of hybridization
Tis variety was almost lost with the technification of cocoa production, where hybrid species were engineered to improve production efficiencies and combat natural plagues. Hybrids almost completely wiped out the production of Nacional Fino de Aroma.
As recent as 29, 100% pure Nacional Fino de Aroma was believed to be extinct. In that year, Ecuador's agricultural institute (INIAP) found only six of these famed variety out of 11,000 samples, until 2013 when artisan chocolate maker Servio Pachard, in the valley of Piedra de Plata (Manabí), found heritage cocoa trees that have been confirmed by DNA tests to be 100% pure National Fino de Aroma.
During our visit to San Miguel de Sarampión, Servio Pachard will lead an immersive experience through permaculture, organic agriculture, and more importantly, the love for chocolate and tradition. Heritage trees are over a century old and have resisted floods and natural disasters while continuing to be in production.
Foodie guests will appreciate the artisan chocolate-making class and tasting experience right where the cocoa is grown and harvested, following countryside ancestral traditions and preparation techniques.
To'Ak's Unique Chocolate
Pure Nacional Fino de Aroma beans are the purest in the world and serve as raw material to the rarest and ost valuable chocolate in the globe: To'ak. Their chocolate making, involves aging cocoa in wood barrels in a process similar to winemaking, yielding a flavor with singular notes from the forest where they are grown.
Indulge in one of the oldest epicurean experiences, chocolate, during your visit onboard Kontiki Expeditions