My Friday at the Salon was spent in a series of business meetings - think speed dating but instead of looking for romantic relationships you have 20 minutes to discuss business; buying and selling products. This year I have some clients looking for cocoa beans, so over the course of the day I had sixteen business meetings scheduled. Most of them involved tasting chocolate.
As you can see from the above image, packaging and presentation are an important aspect of buying and selling chocolate and this is a place where Peruvian chocolate makers and confectioners are experimenting and having fun. In some respects, there may be more innovation happening in packaging than in chocolate making! In these four examples you can see three different approaches to bar packaging and the fourth example is of a surface decoration technique using colored cocoa butter decals on the top of enrobed bonbons. The top three examples use illustrations to help tell engaging stories as a way to get you interested in what lies inside. The bottom one uses repetition to create a strong shelf presence.
Another area of innovation is a burgeoning craft beer culture. This cream ale from Costumbres, which features cocoa nibs as an ingredient, was being tasted on the stand of the cooperative that is supplying the nibs that are used in its production. The stand was very busy at the end of the day as it was possible to buy cold bottles. (Which I did. Yum.)
Peru is also known as one of the great culinary destinations in the world and Lima can boast that its borders house two of the top ten restaurants in the world. Though Amaz is not one of them, its chef is considered to be on of the finest in all of Peru. The organizing committee of the Salon invited the international visitors to dine there last night ... and this was the menu.
Highlights from the appetizer list (everything was served family-style) were the excellent ceviche and the churos, which are giant Amazonian snails. They were served on little mounds of salt and inside were not fish eggs but tapioca pearls in a spicy broth. I am not a fan of escargot in general but I am open to taste just about anything in special circumstances and these were amazingly good, even without any hint of garlic.
The standouts among the mains were the fish ribs (costillas de gamitana) and an excellent chonta (shredded hearts of palm) salad. The standout on the dessert was the majambo ice cream in the profiteroles. (Read yesterday's post for more info on majambo.)