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Cacao Rebounds in Tobago

March 14, 2012

"When talk turns to chocolate, Tobago rarely jumps to mind. But this small island off the Venezuelan coast was once home to dozens of thriving estates planted with indigenous Criollo cacao trees. Though Criollo beans are celebrated for their rich, complex flavor, they are highly susceptible to disease. Most of Tobago's Criollo trees were lost to a devastating blight in 1727, nearly ending the island's cacao production. Within a few decades, the heartier Forastero variety was introduced to Tobago's sister island, Trinidad, where it mingled with the remaining Criollo trees to yield a natural hybrid called Trinitario...

In 2005, determined to reverse decades of neglect and bring cacao back into production, Duane (Dove) established Tobago Cocoa Estate W.I. Ltd. He hired many of the workers he had known in his childhood, drawing on their knowledge of artisanal methods. The first challenge was to clear the forty-five-acre property of bamboo and other brush—a project that is still ongoing..."

Read more via Gastronomica, new Spring issue. 

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