|View of Belmont Estate Across the Drying Rack Area|
The second stop on our island tour was Belmont Estate. Owned by the same family for over seventy years, the estate emulates a typical 17th century plantation. They grow and process organic cocoa beans, nutmeg, goat cheese, and other food crops. They also offer tours and a very nice organic restaurant and gift shop.
|Weighing Cocoa Beans|
Back in Mexico we visited a cocoa producer where we were allowed to help roast the beans and grind the cocoa. Belmont estate is much larger, and they showed us some of the steps we had missed at the Mexican factory like the fermentation and drying process. The freshly harvested beans, covered with their slimy coating, are layered into stalls and covered with banana leaves where they ferment for a week.
|Drying Racks of Cocoa Beans|
The beans are then dried for a week or two on huge racks either in this covered shed or outside in the sunshine. They are turned daily then bagged and sent to organic chocolate manufacturers. In the old days the beans were turned by women shuffling their feet through the racks and were "danced" on in large pots to polish them before shipping.
|Cocoa Dancing Pots|
|Belmont Estate Products are Certified 100% Organic|
Finally we got to taste the chocolate. The samples were delicious and we drank every drop and ate every last piece!
Belmont Estate also has a herd of goats and produces organic goat cheese. We found the goats to be very friendly and entertaining. This baby was only three days old.
This lovely lady goat may have contributed to the goat cheese we bought there.
Belmont Estate was a very pleasant stop on our island tour.