Last weekend 25th and 26th of June, the word chocolate summoned thousands of Costa Ricans to the “Antigua Aduana” a showroom that hosts many expositions that go from art to business and food. Although Puerto Viejo hosts an annual chocolate festival, this is the first time a chocolate fair is held in the capital and expectations were pretty high. After all, who doesn’t love a good cup of hot cocoa, especially for our typical Costa Rican rainy afternoons.
What we did not expect was how the thought of a delicious, silky drink would be translated into an enormous queue of anxious chocolate lovers from all ages would wait patiently to what we would call the Costa Rican chocolate factory fantasy.
Mid-day Sunday and you could see children playing around and having a great time while lining up to have a taste of the many samples offered by the stands. Upon stepping into the entrance you would see the National Chocolate Company showcasing an enormous table with samples and cupcakes. The National Chocolate Company buys foreign crops and is one of the biggest producers of chocolate products in Costa Rica, every Tico has had at least a cup of hot cocoa and eaten a piece of chocolate cake which was made with chocolate produced the National Chocolate Company in our lifetime. Another stand also featured another well-known brand by Ticos, Harricks which will always remain as one of our favorite instant cocoa options whenever we are craving for comfort in a cup.
As we slowly progressed into the hallway full of stands we were delightfully surprised to see small cacao producers from the lowlands of Costa Rica. We found plenty of cacao producers from the province of Limón, who were innovating chocolate. You could find anything from a chocolate scrub for impeccable skin to cocoa butter, famous for its impressive properties to heal scars and nourish dry skin.
One of the stands that drew lots of attention featured caramelized cacao beans by the G&E Chocolate Adventure Company from the province of Limón. The product is a crunchy bean that will make you rethink cacao. The taste of these crunchy cacao bites are simply perfect with just a hint of caramel, it was impossible to stop popping these into your mouth and was a great favorite amongst the adult attendees of the First Chocolate Fair.