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Off to a Sweet Start

posted Jul 18, 2011, 4:07 AM by Jen Hayes
Amedei Chocolate Factory
Now this is how to start a day. After packing all our equipment in preparation for our concert in Lucca, the group swarmed around the bus, excited to get to the Amadei Chocolate factory in Pontedera.  We were welcomed into the building: what used to be an old foundry, having crafted all the manhole covers in town, is now warm and inviting with the perfume of chocolate hanging in the air. A ‘factory of happiness,’ as our guide put it. We sat at a long table as she explained to us the process of making chocolates from cocoa bean to praline (truffle). 

She was interrupted shortly into a segment of the presentation by another employee bearing two large glasses. Fast Italian flew, and it was explained to us that this chocolate had just been finished - would we like to try it? Of course we did, and the taste and texture was unlike any bar you could purchase at the store. We also got to sample roasted cocoa beans from Madagascar, both freshly crushed and after having been passed through a sorting machine to remove much of the chaff. We were then presented with a plate of chocolate squares to taste through. 

The group learns about chocolate production
Much like wine tasting, there are certain things to look for when tasting chocolate. One important factor is the ‘snap’ of dark chocolate - it should break cleanly and not crumble, and the texture should not be grainy. You pass the chocolate under your nose to catch notes of coffee, wood, berries, or more, then let the piece of chocolate dissolve on your tongue to take in the full flavor. We went through this with Amedei’s milk chocolate, a 70% cocoa piece, their #9 custom blend, and two single-source pieces, one from Madagascar and the other from Jamaica. All were delicious, and it was amazing the
William juggles cocoa beans
subtle differences between each of the chocolates - all from recipes crafted by the only female-headed chocolate factory in Italy. Finally both hot chocolate and, more appropriately for the day’s weather, chilled chocolate drinks were brought out to try. 

Stuffed but contented with our chocolate binge, several of us made purchases to bring back to the states. As we left, we were presented with a parting gift - small bricks imprinted with the Amedei design, so that we could each bring a part of the
Our parting gifts
factory back home with us. What a fantastic experience.