On every Caribbean cruise the Shopping Consultant talks about the incredible deals to be found: watches, diamonds, tanzanite, bamboo clothing, rum cakes and tequila, just to name a few. They’ll tell you about color changing nail polish (and the evil pranks possible with it). The crew will even direct you to the best fajitas you’ll ever eat (La Choza in Cozumel). But there is one thing they never tell you about. A secret so dark those in the know only speak of it in hushed whispers. The secret? Where to find the one true Food of the Gods — CHOCOLATE!
Now we’re not talking about some cookie-cutter tourist shop with Hershey’s or Cadbury or Godiva. Not even Ghiardelli or Valhrona. No, friends, we are talking about hand made, genuine Central American Cacao. The elixir that Montezuma consumed by the bucket. The bean that was used by the Mayans as currency (one bean could buy a large tomato, ten would get you a rabbit). The food rich in magnesium and iron, has antioxidants to protect you from cancer and heart disease, and contains tryptophan to stimulate your own natural antidepressants. And most amazing is the melting point of chocolate is only a few degrees below your body temperature and as it melts in your mouth, the increase in brain activity and heart rate are more intense than passionate kissing (and lasts four times longer). Rumor even has it that the Cruise Dork’s blood type is Bittersweet…
In the last few years, entrepreneurs have begun to showcase the dark secret of the Caribbean – Theobroma Cacao.
Moho Chocolate Factory & Café
Owner Jeff Pzena has created our absolute must stop in Belize. He buys raw beans direct from the farms (giving them a better price for their produce by cutting out the middle man). Moho then roasts the beans, mixes them with pure cane sugar and fresh milk (for the milk chocolates), tempers the chocolate and packages it right there on the premises. Although the chocolate is heavenly as is, they also add ingredients like lime and sea salt, fresh peanuts, ginger and ground chili to make your mouth think it has died and gone to heaven.
Although it may seem silly, take the tour. It’s only $2 and takes about 5 minutes considering how small the shop is. However, the reason you want the tour is the samples that go with it. Trust me, you’re going to get a lot more than $2 worth of chocolates with the milk shake, brownie, and samples of all of the flavors they make. On the way out, grab some cookies and brownies to take back to the ship and a milkshake for the walk. You won’t regret it. And grab a few bags of the assorted squares. They make great gifts.
The shop is located in the Front Street Tourist Village in Belize. When you get off the tender from the ship, turn left and head about 300 meters down from the Diamonds International shop (which is also a good place to grab some fruit punch). Although this is a small operation, they have plans to expand production to be able to ship out of Miami. Follow their progress at http://www.mohochocolate.com/.
Videl Villela has been operating out of a tiny booth in the shops right at the pier in Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan Honduras. He’s been operating for about three years from this location but is expanding to Cozumel and the Dominican Republic.
Kakaw Roatan imports its chocolates from Nicaragua so we’re still talking about real cacao and simple cane sugar. In fact, that’s the only two ingredients in their dark chocolate bars. Rather than flavorings, the selections are based on the ratio of cocoa to sugar. They range from a somewhat sweet 50% to a chocoholics-only 90% cocoa. (For the record, cacao is the correct name, cocoa has come to be accepted because of the frequent misspellings.) These chocolates are simple, intense and deeply satisfying. And hard to share…
With luck, Videl now has the posters available with the fun chocolate facts. He provided the interesting tidbits above. Their web site is http://kakawroatan.com but is currently under construction so check back often.