|Our ship (on the right) docked next to a Carnival cruise ship in Cozumel|
My plans for the day (Tuesday, Feb 24) while in Cozumel involve wine and chocolate. A wine and chocolate pairing workshop, that is. A fabulous and leisurely breakfast buffet in the Horizon Court and it was time to disembark the ship to meet the excursion in the dock village area for our 11:30 workshop.
|Of course, the requisite photo-op with the natives|
|Very pretty cruise ship port area...appealing to our|
civilized North American sensibilities
We were all piled into taxi cabs for our short ride to the wonderful workshop venue, a covered pavilion right on the beach.
|The lovely pavilion on the beach and our delightful|
workshop instructor Lucy
The setting was magical and the woman who gave the workshop totally charming. We learned all about the cacao bean, its discovery and ancient uses, its cultivation by the Mayans, and then some extensive information about modern-day uses, including how the beans are grown, harvested, prepared, roasted and ground into food products.
We were then turned loose to make our own chocolate bars, starting with roasted cacao beans, hand ground to a paste, then sent back through the hand grinder with a healthy dose of sugar. Vanilla was then added to the paste and we kneaded it and then formed it into a patty before pressing it into the molds.
|Manual labor! Hand grinder for our cacao beans|
|My cacao beans once-ground, now going back through|
the hand grinder with sugar.
|Vanilla added, and now kneaded and ready to mold|
|Our chocolate paste pressed into the molds. Mine is top right|
|this one is mine!|
The whole while, as we slaved over those hand grinders - and it was hard work as the beans turned into a very thick paste - we were plied with chocolate martinis, seemingly bottomless as they were continuously topped off. I guess their rationale is that we won't notice how hard we're working if we get a little buzz on.
|Serving us chocolate martinis|
|Chocolate martini with some roasted cacao beans in background|
While our chocolate bars "set," we delved into the fine art of pairing chocolate with wine. We started with the very sweet white chocolate and paired it with a sweet wine, then moved through seven or eight different chocolates of increasing cocoa content until our last taste pairing of a very high cocoa content semi-bitter dark chocolate and a very dry red wine. We were shown how, with some chocolates, we should hold the morsel against the roof of our mouths as we sipped the wine, and with other chocolates we should chew it quickly and then swallow it with a sip of wine. It totally worked, as the pairings were spot on!
|One of the flights of wine for the pairing|
Now that we were thoroughly "chocolated and wined," we were served a delectable chicken enchilada with mole sauce, along with a cold, slushy chocolate drink. The enchilada was absolutely decadent, like nothing we can ever find here in Texas.
|this was beyond delicious!!|
After our lunch, we had a tasting of different honeys and I bought a jar of vanilla bean honey., Then we all piled back into taxis and headed back to the cruise ship terminal. What a fantastic way to spend a few hours!
|Nice photo composition as I walked back to the ship.|
Our ship - Emerald Princess - is in foreground
The ship offers these coffee cards which, if you're a coffee drinker, are a terrific deal. We were warned by our travel agent that the coffee served in the restaurants on-board is awful. It's made from coffee concentrate, not freshly brewed and he recommended that. if we are serious coffee drinkers, we should buy this coffee card. So I did. The International Cafe serves bakery/deli style pastries and sandwiches, real brewed coffee and, more importantly, espresso-based drinks like macchiato, cappucino and lattes. I knew that the ship was going to lose money on me with this coffee card! When I returned to the ship I headed right for the International cafe and got myself a macchiato.
|Sitting on the my balcony, watching the pilot boats|
and shore hands readying us for departure
|Two pilot boats - one for us, one for the Carnival ship|
moored next to us
I'd ordered a bottle of champagne delivered to the room. I enjoyed a glass out on the balcony as I read my book and watched them ready the ship for departure. I had dinner at the Horizon Court buffet, sitting with a couple from Wisconsin, or maybe it was Minnesota, and then returned to the cabin to read for the rest of the evening.
Tomorrow we arrive in Roatan.