ARLINGTON -- Nick Monte, owner of the family-operated Village Chocolate Shoppe in Bennington and the Chocolatorium in Arlington, holds demonstrations and chocolate tastings in Arlington four times a week.
Monte said there is much misinformation about what chocolate is and where it comes from, so demonstrations and tastings allow him to educate people about the process and why there are so many different products that can taste so different from one another.
"People ask things like ‘is white chocolate really white,’ or ‘is white chocolate really chocolate?’ There are many questions about the cacao tree itself and how it grows," Monte said. "There is a lot of confusion with people between what is chocolate making and chocolates or candy."
Monte explains in his demonstrations that chocolate making is a very intense process between harvesting, fermenting, drying, roasting, winnowing and processing the cacao fruits. He said the best chocolate comes originally from small, privately-owned plantations within 15 degrees of the equator.
There are several different varieties of cacao, and thus many different products that can be made from chocolate, just like beer, wine, sugar and tobacco. The tasting helps people comprehend the different tastes and undertones of other flavors between those varieties.
"Basically this program is an educational thing, less so a commercial thing: At the end I give everyone a test to be rewarded with more chocolate," Monte said.
For a $5 admission, anyone can take the plunge into a lesson on chocolate and receive samples of chocolate from different parts of the world. Every admittee also gets a bottle of water to wash down each bite and note the differences between each piece.
As Monte does every Saturday at 1 p.m., he also had his customers make their own candy bars. First the chocolate is melted at a temperature of 98 degrees until the product is smooth. Customers can fill a mold with chocolate and whatever candies and nuts they choose. Then the bar is cooled and pushed out of the mold.
The price of the candy bar making is $5, and takes place every Saturday. The demonstration and tasting takes place every Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For a complete demonstration schedule, or a schedule of other events, visit the Chocolatorium and the Village Chocolate Shoppe online at http://www.villagepeddlervt.com/index.php.
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