An un-belize-able experience, no trip to The Jewel is complete without a chocolate tour and tasting. Ixcacao in Toledo, the southern most district in Belize, is my top choice for a chocolate tour in Belize. From bean to bar you can see how cacao is grown and harvested then processed in the authentic Maya tradition with ancient stone tools and elbow grease. You’ll complete this tour sated and with a greater appreciation for this food that the Maya people regard as sacred.
I had the supreme pleasure of visiting Ixcacao Chocolate in San Felipe village with Lyra from Taste Belize Tours out of Placencia. (remember this post about Lyra, the top tour guide in Placencia?) Ixcacao is a family operation: the agroforestry farm, the traditional processing in which nothing synthetic is added, the organic buffet-style restaurant- everything is overseen by a member of the Cho family.
The tour begins in the garden with a lesson on cacao trees. Pick-your-own-pod!
Then inside to the tasting! Sample your way through all Ixcacao’s chocolates as you learn about the history of cacao and the semi-modern method the Cho family uses to process this precious commodity in to the delectable delight in front of you.
Try your hand- literally- at making your own chocolate on the Cho’s family grinding stone (several generations old).
Browse their gift shop of natural cacao products and locally made handicrafts.
Then tuck in for the buffet lunch- OH MY GOSH! This is first-rate fare. Fresh and flavorful and inventive. Chocolate chicken?! Tender chicken stewed in a savory cacao sauce. Garden fresh veg, whatever is in season and a chocolate balsamic dressing that is to die for! Seriously, they should bottle this stuff they’d make a fortune. The cacao mellows the bite of the balsamic and the flavors, oddly enough, blend perfectly.
Take this incredible tour with Taste Belize (the culinary tour company in the country) and pair it with one of their other adventures such as the rum tour and tasting (Copalli Rum Distillery Tour at Copal Tree) or one of their cultural cooking classes. Click on their website TasteBelize.com for customized tour packages- you WON’T be disappointed!