Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chocolate and inspiration from The Cocoa Tree

This weekend while my friend was in town I had the pleasure of attending a chocolate tasting led by Bethany Thouin of The Cocoa Tree in the Germantown area of Nashville. What a delight! The Coco Tree is an artisan chocolate and truffle shop, and our tasting included some of the most delectable truffles created by the chocolatier herself. I have been to wine tastings before and been intrigued by the way that different wines hint at a wide variety of flavors, from raspberry, to citrus to coffee. I had no idea that the same subtle, rich, flavor hints could be found in fine chocolates.

During our tasting, Bethany shared with us a history of cocoa, information about the growing and harvesting of cocoa, the different agricultural practices of cocoa in regions from South America to Europe, as well as the truffle making process in her own shop. I learned so much! (And thankfully was reinforced by the fact that dark chocolate is indeed, quite healthy for you).

For each section of the tasting, we tasted the plain chocolate by itself, and then a truffle created using that chocolate. (See photos of the beautiful truffles HERE!) Chocolates included (as described on The Cocoa Tree website):

~ a white chocolate, followed by the "Beck's Margarita Truffle" (White Chocolate infused with a splash of tequila, dipped in white chocolate, dropped on sea salt, dipped in lime);

~ a milk chocolate, followed by the "Renee's Chili Pepper Truffle" (milk chocolate center infused with whole dried chile peppers enrobed with milk chocolate, sprinkled with chili pepper flakes)

~ a milk chocolate, followed by the "Liz's Milk Chocolate Truffle" (milk chocolate ganache with a splash of pure mexican vanilla rolled in chopped chocolate)

~ a dark chocolate, followed by the "Tina's Dark Truffle" (a blend of two of the world's finest dark chocolates accented with a splash of pure mexican vanilla, rolled in pure unsweetened cocoa powder)

~ a dark chocolate, followed by the "Amy's Balsamic Raspberry Truffle",

Bethany names her truffles after woman who have inspired her; the last one we tried was named after Amy Grant. Bethany has become quite famous in the world of chocolatiers, and the Nashville scene, and was even commissioned to create truffles for Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

The chocolate was absolutely fabulous, and the unique flavors creatively combined made for a most delightful culinary experience.

More than anything, though, I was thoroughly inspired by Bethany's story. She came to Nashville years ago in hopes of becoming a famous songwriter, but realized that she wasn't meant to make it big on that path. Instead, she decided to become an entrepreneur by sharing her love of chocolate and passion for creativity by opening a truffle business.

I was so inspired by her passion for her art, and her passion for life. It was beautiful to hear her testimony of the way that God has worked in her life through this chocolate endeavor and the ways that she has been able to share God's goodness with others through her business. She says on her website:

"As the chocolate pages turned, I found that I was essentially doing through chocolate what I longed to do through my songwriting. I was telling a story of humanity, of life, of heartache and of triumph. I was living through my art, which is the breath of creativity. The chocolate comes alive as I pour my heart into the creations, into the life around me, into my relationship with God - and then it comes right back around, making me come alive as I witness people around me being affected by the story that I am telling."

Bethany's simple joy and delight in the Father and His plan is infectious; I was very touched by her testimony, especially as she shared how God has provided for her in uncertain times, and how God can use your passion to touch the world -- whether it's through music, art, food, literature, or whatever brings you joy.

It was a delightful afternoon, and I will definitely be back to visit the Cocoa Tree. If you live in Nashville or ever visit, I would highly recommend you stop by for a worthwhile indulgence.

As Bethany says,

"Chocolate is Evidence that God Delights in Our Pleasure!"

flickr/by zapstratosphere

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