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商业 - 消费品

260美元一块的巧克力什么样

Megy Karydes 2014年11月13日

这种巧克力名叫To’ak,它源自极其罕见的厄瓜多尔原生可可树,今年仅有574块上市销售。在其生产商看来,红酒配奶酪不算有格调,To’ak巧克力配上好威士忌才是世间罕有的美味。

    一块售价将近300美元的巧克力应该怎么吃呢?对于传说中的To’ak巧克力来说,该公司联合创始人杰瑞·托特表示,应该搭配上好的威士忌、干邑白兰地或朗姆酒。他极力推荐的是派比·范温克威士忌、法拉宾XO、或剑鱼号21年特藏陈年朗姆酒。

    杰瑞·托特原本是一名华尔街投资银行家,后来转行成为一名巧克力大亨兼环保人士,这似乎是一条不可能出现的职业发展轨迹,不过托特本人却表示,他并没有白白浪费他在康奈尔大学(Cornell University)获得的经济学学位。

    托特此前在一个热带雨林保护组织工作时,曾经在厄瓜多尔马纳比省的普拉塔河谷待过一阵子。再往前追溯,托特还曾在华尔街奋斗过一段日子,不过很快他发现那不是自己喜欢的生活方式。于是他启程前往南美的厄瓜多尔,在那里遇到了他后来的女朋友,她帮助托特在厄瓜多尔成立了一个热带雨林保护组织。托特回忆道:“我们在厄瓜多尔沿海建立了1000英亩雨林保护区,然后与当地农民一道退耕还林,种植适合在荫地生长的可可树。”

    托特和他的女友也开始在自己的试验田里种植可可树,后来他们发现这里的老可可树长得很快。“我们开始收割可可豆,然后进行发酵、脱水、烘烤,生产自己的巧克力,很快我们意识到,这种巧克力与我们之前吃过的所谓‘巧克力’相比,完全就像来自另一个星球。后来我们才发现,这个省的可可豆历来被视为全世界最宝贵的品种。这就好像一个酿酒师一觉醒来,别人告诉他原来他这辈子一直住在勃艮第的金丘一样。”

    当托特和他的朋友卡尔·施威策开始寻找最适合制作巧克力的可可豆时,他们特地留意了这些可可豆生长的土壤和气候。可可豆的风味会随着种植地的不同而产生差异,就好像不同产地的葡萄会酿出不同口味的红酒一样。

    不过托特当时并不知道,厄瓜多尔曾经爆发过一场名叫“丛枝病”的病害,将本地的原生可可树种摧毁殆尽。目前厄瓜多尔境内的大多数可可树,都是与外来树种杂交的。厄瓜多尔的原生树种只在少数地区零星散布,而且它们一般都位于该国的偏远地区,其中有些最珍贵的原生树种分布在该国最著名的阿锐巴可可树种植区。

    托特和施威策动身去寻找理想的产区,最终他们把将目光投向多勒河和巴巴奥约河流域。他们得到一位当地朋友的帮助,他叫塞尔维奥·帕查德,既是马纳比地区第四代可可树种植者,也是该地区的农业专家。帕查德经常在该地区进行探索,这种经历使他能够找到那些远离公路的偏僻山谷。

    最终,他们深入到一片丘陵地带,那里还存活着极少数原生的阿锐巴可可树,其中有些树已经生长了100多年了。他们终于找到了自己需要的树种。

    How does one enjoy a nearly $300 bar of chocolate? In the case of To’ak Chocolate, one pairs it with a really good glass of whiskey, cognac or rum, says co-founder Jerry Toth, who recommends a Pappy Van Winkle, Frapin XO or El Dorado 21 year as options.

    The former Wall Street investment banker turned environmental conservationist-chocolatier had an unlikely career trajectory, but Toth says he’s putting his economics degree from Cornell to good use.

    While working at rainforest conservation organization Toth found himself in the valley of Piedra de Plata in the Ecuadorian province of Manabí. He left Wall Street after realizing pretty quickly that wasn’t the lifestyle for him. He relocated to South America where he met a woman from Ecuador who would become his girlfriend and soon help him launch a rainforest conservation organization in her home country. “We developed a 1,000 acre forest preserve in coastal Ecuador and started working with nearby farmers to reforest their cattle pastures with shade-grown cacao trees,” says Toth.

    Toth and his girlfriend also started growing cacao trees on their own experimental agroforestry plot, where they found groves of old cacao trees growing wild. “We started to harvest the fruit and ferment, dry and roast the beans and make our own chocolate, and immediately we recognized that this chocolate was in a different universe from anything else we had ever tasted that bore the name ‘chocolate,’” Toth says. “Only later did we find out that the cacao beans in this province of Ecuador have historically been considered the most prized variety in the world. It was like a wine maker one day waking up and someone telling him that he’s been living in the Côte d’Or, Burgundy his whole life.”

    When Toth and his friend Carl Schweizer set out to find the best cacao beans to create their chocolate bar, they paid particular attention to the soil and climate in which the beans were grown. The flavor characteristics of cacao vary by location—think of it as similar to the characteristics of the different grape varieties used to produce wine.

    What Toth didn’t know was that an outbreak of “Witch’s Broom” disease all but decimated the source of Ecuador’s national treasure: the heirloom cacao tree. Most of the trees currently growing in the country are hybrids, bred with foreign varieties of cacao. Only scattered remnants of heirloom cacao trees are left, and those are usually found in remote pockets of the country, with the most cherished among them residing in the famous Arriba cacao growing region.

    Toth and Schweizer set out to find the ideal appellation, which turned their attention upriver, toward the watersheds of the Daule and Babahoyo Rivers. They enlisted the help of a local friend, ServioPachard, a fourth generation Manabi cacao grower. His great-grandfather was one of the first men to settle the hinterlands of Managi, and Pachard’s own explorations of the region as an agroforestry specialist provided him access to isolated valleys beyond the reach of roads

    The expedition led them deep into the low-lying mountains where only a handful of Nacional Arriba cacao trees remained, some of which are more than 100 years of age. They found their source.

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