Mucilage Never Tasted So Good – Cacao Juice

Cacao juice tastes like nectar. Indeed, the Latin name for cacao is “theobroma” or “food of the gods”.  To learn more, you can read the wikipedia entry of this blog. In Peru, this juice is called “mucilage” which is the technical term for the white pulp that surrounds the beans inside the cacao pods.

I first tried this juice at Kjolle (co-located with Central), Pia Leon’s restaurant. It was a hot summer day and sitting in the tall open sheltered space of Kjolle was a respite from the bleeping traffic outside. While Kjolle makes many other fancy drinks, this unassuming looking drink (it has a watery whitish tinge) was a revelation. It tasted a bit like lychee, mangosteen, or green apples, but had a taste all magically its own.

The other place where I have tried it was at Maido. Their version was in a Gin and Tonic cocktail. I asked if they could make me a mocktail. They did. The presentation was beautiful and their version of this drink was thicker, so more like mucilage, than at Kjolle. People remarked that it would make a good dessert. It was a longer relationship drink as well because of the thickness and richness. They served it with a side visual of theobroma and its cousin the majambo/macambo bean which is whitish in color.

Majambo can also be roasted and eaten. It has a mild nutty flavor. I first tried them at El Cacaotal in Barranco. Since I wrote the blog posting about El Cacaotal two years ago, that store has moved and blossomed. It is a lovely place to just chillax.

On a side note, a friend was planning to make some cacao juice and it made me wonder how ones does that. There is a whole process which can be read about here. As this site mentions, there is already a company that sells packaged cacao juice, so I see it becoming more and more commonplace. Having looked up a recipe on Google, I’m not sure that it entails more than extracting the fruit, maybe blending it for consistency, and then putting through a strainer (this is the method for making juice here in Latin America).

Coffee Tasting in Lima – Alpha to Omega

hpnxbod0onpvzyc33ukcakzdtsv3nd7_ecxehcvqqdxokod0ukcp6zdvmbrdsuf9ubre5etbsfemsakdowuwhcr5p0nzubr-lf4gv_fxriqgnwj6_b0jwe0govni_4jinuezdd_coxbfaz8bgfyfjpdgotlkfqr7l7j_frmn8jjfbq-_4sotqplpzjI organized a coffee tasting with the guys from Artidoro Rodriguez coffee. After five hours of learning about coffee and drinking coffee, I was too caffeinated to write this blog posting… I realized how little I know about coffee. For the food geeks, there is a coffee tasting certification class in Lima (one week for eight months–not sure why they don’t do a two month class). Anyway, back to what I didn’t know…. Notice in the photo below that there is some magical ratio of weight of ground coffee to water at a certain temperature (I think this is why the Brits say, “water from a freshly boiled kettle”).

brfmvt3pkp_vrir5694d8ojao2lyr5mkilb7xtxvqi8dw6nthmbdf46omagr2bur8dj4ikdz5wzvq-oobk8y5u1b4ssexdm4att3gg_d0jyajwxyglbtshnekvrzri3boy_1rqavemjt9mx58cidyssofiyl9-ctsyhwq6vif2hqpc9lv1zczs7ogxThe coffee tasting class cost 100 soles (about $30) per person. It was planned from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. but we got a five hour class, freebies, coffee (duh!) and so much info that I had a buzz not solely from the coffee! The owners, Felix and Julian, are experts in tasting and roasting respectively. Felix is the grandson of Artidoro Rodriguez so a legend in the making (Juan Valdez was made up by marketeers!). You heard it here!

ck_gg9o4_pmvmxly_y-5h6jrafmnkar10zbojykcqevhm0xbhxvwxacxdhwvcn9wgrjranve-uhvveju7cystubxmhpx-kas17nwrd8cqlhljuxbyvwhvvtxdfxc0h4ffvuftrpxeo3tjy7aocphhfafmosotbyfiuy_ova-wpij11wklzrlinhcsrI set up the class with Julian via email. The class was in Spanish as Felix feels more comfortable in Spanish. Julian’s English is good so he translated when he could. Plus, I had my secret superpower with me (a bilingual friend who is professional level simultaneous translator level, and a subject matter expert to boot!). We tried more than ten brands of coffee and around six methods of making coffee. As it was a tasting, we could choose to not swallow the coffee and spittoons were provided… but I drank the coffee (hence the buzz).

9t5q9-bs1osqtlr9o9vxawhu3ntqwwryvdzjgc6pmagfj36hqwwspqmrorm0rbwehzze5s45zmdvk3tbqpm632speuugo20civf0tmiuv8plr9aimuigezbpgir_6mwy_bxapta7ct1nrt8bfdu7c1zvigewkpvw3l-tjlbpzvk_sblqgshwxv1unrWe learned so much that I can’t recall most of it. But, there are two types of coffee beans and Peru has lots of areas where both kinds (robusta and arabica) of beans can be grown to produce gourmet coffee. We learned about weighing our coffee when we make it. We learned that there is a coffee grading scale from zero to 100 points. 80 or above is gourmet. Aridoro Rodriguez is 84 (no  shame in that!). Coffee from 60 to 80 is commercial coffee. Below 60… fuggedaboutit. We learned that shiny beans are no good. Shiny beans have been over roasted, one way to compensate for deficiencies. Notice the shiny burned look of the two groups in the photo below. The smallest bunch of beans are roasted correctly. No oily sheen. Just a healthy luster.

y_aq8gg5cnd3slkdznrwwkungden1qxwkky1tz7kjubqsu4tqa2juijh4untex0pc4tpjcnxsn4jc07agejzpdjlk6eqnrxr07muj7rggkoqum4xctq2jq8rgo8grqgq2lumygasgzadwpsqhcyxsap8zymfxzrilsggobxxgsvb7snp3eqm5zpyynWe learned that slurping is good when tasting coffee. We looked at runty beans called “snails” and how they are picked out as a specialty. Just smaller, uglier, but with equal potential (some deep zen going on here, amiright?).

6e3hxhwt92tcc2kgoq4e9ztntjfznlszfd68phrgsix4x_unin3e2imwp2puu1jvgpf4a8mixmrrijvi_ivkey-2nfzynqhxd2difxifzmawszyofp-qscvcap_zw8onfvvj5ctmmwdt1idns6hte39dcvydc4olwy2xg8_netf-e5n3h3v8ueifgdWe learned that beans need to be separated before roasting so they roast at the same degree. That it’s a matter of seconds from the “first pop” of the first bean roasting to the full on fireworks of popping, and, that in those ten seconds, the coffee roaster can make or destroy a batch of coffee. A roast lasts around eight minutes but I can’t recall the exact details. We also learned that after roasting, coffee grounds should “exhale” for eight hours before being used to brew coffee. We learned about “fragrance” and “aroma” and all the other ways to know one’s coffee. We even learned about coffee “tea” (see raisin-like things next to weak cup of liquid in photo below), and then our minds were blown.

vgzs3l3bykenfekexnqn95bfizn14dimdpuwq66xsw1e72te7oqehh8piaasp0iyjb4kkgjnkq035nwdfnszrv9rbsgzuwj7wgrcyfbmifpvrvl4g7sr6tmdmnet5n8euke11u6alynvohtxudtjzsqqpxyn8slxfqhwq5vwijp2ihepcddd1tilqsWe learned even more. About people, livelihoods, the environment, pride in product, taste, and that Felix and Julian are looking to open up a coffee bar somewhere in Miraflores. We learned of the coffee places approved of by Felix. We sniffed… we sipped… we giggled… we roared with laughter… we… take the class! Learn. Get caffeinated. Get mo’ on joe!

ytsbs7jqqzbzkpnjlvep_bhtjb7uwdlr3x35hnhj6cy76i0i5-xo_ekgbphixb3a7je2g8dujr59m_teya0ofgfuiwingt6dzorqig4m-cvvvyikdcou7f0ejhbhgzbf7iq9pwexu0i1yrxjhi74ggngc7ifyghzqmajtn9d8i18t6frjyhhbcrhjoThe key point that Felix told us was… no two cups of coffee will be the same… each cup is as individual… as an individual…

O-M-ega. This just got deep.

6tvmxq-qjbovopgvovb2ph_tzheotiqxu2te7b4vuley1e7cgkv5ccatmsgafdyx6u7wv3nx02sn6yqetitf0gxoshdozrtajiebrejfq0ucflned2ivrliompvithhajangjww-yfz1n_smevr55yjtv8yztbrrbsgncpm_fpwyu9owultyxakolz

Drink up, my friends, may your cup runneth over. In the best of company.