Choco Museum: Miraflores, Lima, Peru
As this is food experience is in Miraflores district, home of our Lima foodie Jason, he had no excuse but go and see how this rates for a fun way to spend a few hours in Lima.
The Choco Museum Lima has a few locations, one in Lima centre at the Plaza de Armas, one in Surquillo district but the first ones you are likely to see are in the touristic district of Miraflores. Here you will find one on Park Kennedy, Calle O. Benavides 344 Miraflores where there is a small coffee/ gift shop. The other one is located in Calle Berlin 375 just a couple of blocks away and this is the location for the chocolate workshops. It is best to go here and arrange your booking, or phone +51 (0)1 4459708, as I am still awaiting responses to my email requests!
The Choco Museum Lima workshops for chocolate making at Calle Berlin are of two categories, a short version at 1.30 pm and 4.30pm and a full workshop at 11.30 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. I went along with my family for the 2.30 pm full workshop and it lasted a bit more than two hours. The cost is $25 for adults and $20 for a child. It is a great option for a family as both adults and youngsters can try their hand at something completely new and still learn about the food culture of Peru.
Our host for the afternoon was Nestor a young and amiable chocolate expert and he soon got us to introduce us to our new friends as this is a shared class. Our group had a total of nine people but the maximum size group is about thirteen people. The class begins with an introduction to the chocolate tree in the centre of the shop and here we a learn of the growth of the cacao pods in nature and their intricacies. The walls of the Choco Museum Lima premises are adorned with posters and memorabilia of the world of cacao production with special emphasis on Peru. It is interesting to learn from Nestor of the different varieties found across Peru and the influences of the Mayan culture from distant Mexico.
This Choco Museum Lima experience is a hands-on class and we being with roasting and stirring beans in a small clay oven pot. Allowing the beans to cool a little we remove the bean shells, which are used to make a delicious tea. The beans are the placed in a mortar and ground with a pestle to a paste consistency, this is hard work but very enjoyable and fun too.
The paste is then mixed with hot water and some other ingredients including sometimes chilli peppers, honey or in Mayan times blood! Thankfully today we don’t have the blood, we have sweat but no tears and we still manage to produce a great mix ready for the addition to your mould shape. Being Irish I was told by my young daughter that I had to pick the shamrock, and so I dutifully did. Feeling patriotic now! The mix is poured into the moulds by each participant and they get to choose from a huge array of toppings. These include salt, raisins, M&M’s, coconut, kiwicha (Peruvian superfood) and many more.
Whilst the chocolate cooled in the moulds Nestor allowed us to sample some liqueurs based on a selection of natural ingredients, sweet with an alcoholic kick too. The classes ended all to quickly and we compared the wonders of our chocolate creations. Honestly, they do taste much better than anything you can find in a shop. There is not as much work in buying a bar of chocolate but leaving this workshop you will have become enlightened in the mysterious world of cacao and you can call yourself a true choco maestro and aficionado in delicious Peruvian creations of your own. All the hard work and sweat makes the taste even better, and as the famous Thomas Paine once said “What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value”. Happy eating!
How to do it for yourself
Just drop in to any of the Choco Museum Lima shops in Miraflores, either at Parque Kennedy or the one where the workshop is on Calle Berlin. You can sign up in advance preferably but if you are lucky just arrive and they will fit you in.