Monday, 24 April 2017

Solkiki Chocolate

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This post has been a long time coming, and is well overdue.  Maybe some things in life are worth a little more time and effort to get right?  We first met Iris and Bob from Solkiki Chocolate at the South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival in Exeter back in 2015. We were immediately impressed by their passion for and knowledge about chocolate, and the choice of flavours they had on offer.  As we slowly worked our way through their extensive range of samples (this chocolate is not to be rushed), we went from impressed to awed.

As Bob gave us the rundown on the complex tastes and flavour profiles of the varieties of beans used, and the myriad combinations of flavours that can be detected from such few ingredients, I wondered if he was using some kind of NLP/Derren Brown-like mind control suggestions to convince me that all of the incredibly complex tastes I was experiencing were really there... in some cases from chocolate with only two ingredients!  I can now assure you that they really are.

As regular readers of our Blog may have gathered, I (Phil) do like the odd bit of chocolate 'now and then', and actively seek out new and interesting chocolate to try at every opportunity.  Solkiki Chocolate took me on a wonderful journey that day, and they have since been on quite a journey themselves, winning multiple awards for their outstanding 'next level' chocolate.  When I saw that they were going to be at this years Cornwall Vegan Festival, it was just one more good reason to attend this inspiring gathering of plant based movers and shakers.

Considering that I had only met Bob once before at Exeter, it was a nice touch that he recognised me as I approached their stall and we struck up a conversation.  Was this due to the brain-boosting memory enhancing effects of the cacao bean perhaps, or was he just thinking, "Oh no, this guy's going to eat all my samples again"?!  Bob once again took me on another chocolate journey, a smooth subtle transportation to more tropical climes, drifting through flavours like 'Tahitian Nougat', 'Salted Caramel Dark Mylk', 'Aji Limon Chilli Egyptian Mint', and my personal favourite of those on offer, the 'Maranon 68'.  There were many more varieties on offer, but these were the standouts for me and my taste buds.

Aji Limon Chilli and Egyptian Mint White Chocolate

Some people are happy with a boring bland Kit Kat or a Mars bar (not vegans obviously), but others like to experiment and explore new flavours, tastes, and experiences from around the world. Now world travel isn't cheap these days, and neither is Solkiki Chocolate, but I can assure you that you absolutely get what you pay for.  As Bob says, "Champagne is more expensive than Cider", a curious statement from a 10 year teetotaler, and lost on me also as when I did drink I'd much rather have Cider!  It does however get the point across that quality, rarity, and provenance all add to the cost; as does the fact that these chocolate magicians conjure all these varieties from bean to bar themselves, with minimal processing (working off grid with renewable energy), and using only the essential ingredients necessary to create each flavourful bar. They also buy the cacao beans directly from the growers, thereby supporting the growers (paying them much more than 'Fairtrade' rates), and in some cases keeping rare heirloom varieties from extinction.  All this supports biodiversity; a win/win situation for us all.

If you get the chance to meet Iris and Bob at one of the chocolate or food events they attend, you will be assured of a taste experience like no other, and inevitably some of their enthusiasm and passion for their products will inspire you to maybe pick up a bar or two... or five!  If not, then check out their website, explore their world of flavour, and prepare to be amazed.  This is, without a doubt, the best chocolate that I have ever tasted.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Cornwall Vegan Festival 2017



This Saturday sees the premier event of the Cornish vegan calendar.  This year the Cornwall Vegan Festival, which also coincides with Earth Day Celebration, takes place for the first time outside of Truro at the wonderful Mount Pleasant Eco Park at Porthtowan. With wonderful wide open spaces, the venue also has the advantage of being dog and family friendly and even offers the opportunity of camping (contact the venue direct for details).  Fingers are therefore crossed for a spot of lovely Spring sunshine, but with plenty of covered areas too, there will be assured vegan sunshine regardless.

The festival is sponsored by Animal Aid, The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company and supported by Cornwall Animal Action. Admission and parking are completely free which is great as you will no doubt be parting with plenty of your ethical pounds when you see the variety of vegan goodies on offer inside.  Obviously a bountiful supply of food will be available so the issue will be choosing what you can fit in your belly before the end of the festival.  Clothing, arts and crafts also feature alongside ethical businesses and charities, animal rescue and animal rights stalls.  There is a full range of demonstrations, workshops and talks.  The talks range in subject from vegan nutrition, environmentalism and veganism, evolutionary biology and animal rights, vegan feminism and mindfulness.  For vegans and non vegans alike the Veganers Question Time may however be the main attraction when it comes to the educational side of things.  A take on Gardeners Question Time, this will give members of the public the chance to ask the panel of experts about all aspects of veganism.

For full details on the festival, check out the Cornwall Vegans website.