Last month I went to visit the chocolate factory in Antananarivo in Madagascar with Maya, my daughter. The city is a crazy blend of people, cars, market stalls, zebu cattle pulling carts, steep hills, cute 2CV taxis, buildings of every colour; so when we arrived at the factory it was a welcome oasis of calm.
We make our Darkest Madagascar using their “trinitario” and “criollo” cocoa beans sourced from their family plantations in Ambanja in the North of Madagascar, its in a beautiful region called Sambirano. We congratulated Nicolas the manager on having been awarded the Academy of Chocolate Golden Bean the week before.
In the factory we saw the sacks of beans come in – they are fermented and dried on the farm and then once here sifted for any foreign bodies and roasted in 100kg batches in a gas fired roaster for about 20 minutes and then cooled. The husks of the beans are winnowed in another machine and crushed into nibs before being finer ground and pressurised to separate out the oils – cocoa butter.
We went on past the conching machines and saw the liquid chocolate made into bars that day (one quarter of which are exported the rest to satisfy the domestic market). They have a retail shop in the grounds which of course we took full advantage of !
The next day we went on to visit a local orphanage run by Nicolas’s wife (she herself had grown up in the orphanage) and needs sponsorship for the girls so please do contact me if would like to join in with a sponsorship package. They have asked if we can send: an old laptop, ibuprofen, paracetemol, vitamins, usb sticks, pens, notebook, pencils. We will also help one girl through her college studies.
All in all it was a fabulous trip; From there we visited another refuge, this time for Madagascar’s most famous inhabitants… Lemurs! Other travels were to the Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park and to see the wonderful Baobab trees.