MANILA, Philippines – At The Chocolate Chamber in Cebu City, the chocolate dictates how issues play out.
The doorways to their air-conditioned principal retailer are stored shut as a lot as potential to maintain the room cool and protect their delicate candies, which soften simply as a result of they don’t include sugar or milk.
As thirst-inducing as their chocolate-tasting menu is, water is simply served at room temperature. Their chocolate is excessive in fats, defined The Chocolate Chamber’s managing accomplice Ed Pantino. Cold water will produce a unique mouthfeel.
In most locations, chocolate is one thing that’s mindlessly consumed, however at The Chocolate Chamber, it’s savored and even revered – a mirrored image of founder Raquel Choa’s personal relationship with chocolate.
Known because the “chocolate queen” of Cebu, Raquel tells her story with a theatrical cadence, as if she’s middle stage, the star of a play.
She traces her journey with chocolate again to when she was 7 years outdated. According to Raquel, she would cross seven rivers to go from her residence in Balamban, Cebu, to her faculty.
Every morning, earlier than leaving to make the tiring journey, her mom would make her drink a cup of sikwate – Cebu’s richer, purer tackle scorching chocolate.
“I cannot leave the house without drinking a cup of sikwate…. I thought there was magic. It’s magical for me, my relationship with cacao,” Raquel instructed media at a chocolate tasting held for a Philippine Airlines and Tourism Promotions Board familiarization tour.
At the time, her dad and mom had separated, and to consolation the younger Raquel, her grandmother would inform her in regards to the legend of Maria Cacao, a fairy who lived within the forest, harvested cacao, and traveled on a golden ship to promote her crops around the globe.
With the legend tucked away in her reminiscence, Raquel moved to San Pedro, Laguna, together with her reunited dad and mom when she was 13. While there, she labored odd jobs – doing laundry, cleansing homes, amassing rubbish – to make ends meet.
At 16, she acquired married and began a household, consuming sikwate each time she went into labor (she has eight youngsters), as her mom prescribed.
It was solely when she was 32 and a housewife that she found that cacao was the primary ingredient of chocolate. This sparked her curiosity about chocolate once more, and years later, in 2011, she opened her first chocolate enterprise, Ralfe Gourmet.
Raquel gave a obscure reply when requested about how she realized to reap cacao and make chocolate. She stated she by no means went to high school nor had formal coaching, however reasonably, she developed her chocolate data “with all my senses.”
Over 10 years since opening her first chocolate enterprise, Raquel has grow to be a chocolate authority. Like her inspiration Maria Cacao, Raquel has introduced her chocolate everywhere in the world, internet hosting cacao-making and chocolate-tasting workshops, and even telling her story with full theatrics at a TedX discuss in Chiang Mai.
The chocolate queen’s penchant for drama is mirrored within the “Chocolate Stop” – a curated chocolate tasting at The Chocolate Chamber.
The Chocolate Stop begins with a welcome drink: chilly sikwate blended with hibiscus. It’s each decadent and surprisingly refreshing, with a definite floral aftertaste.
After that first style, diners are served a succession of tablea creations, all chosen by Raquel herself: entire cacao nib praline, tartufini (cacao nib lined in caramel and chocolate), a choco-mango nugget (dried mango, sweetened chocolate, and sea salt – her tribute to Cebu).
To finish all of it, there’s the Chocolate SRS or candy rice shock – sticky rice with hints of ginger and coconut milk, full of mango jam, and coated with a tablea-chocolate ganache. As if that wasn’t wealthy sufficient, it’s served with a cup of premium sikwate, which is supposed to be poured over the rice ball.
It is numerous chocolate for one afternoon, however it is going to do you nicely to belief within the chocolate queen’s plan. When you go residence together with your abdomen heavy, mouth thick, and head gentle from all that cacao, you’ll know that you just’ve not simply tasted chocolate but additionally skilled it such as you’ve by no means had earlier than.
“I’m an artist by heart,” Raquel stated. “Chocolate is my medium.” – Rappler.com