Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Horticultural Society Welcomes Maricel Presilla and her Chocolates

When I first arrived at the Horticultural Society of New York not only was I taken over by the smells of deep chocolate, I was taken aback by the large quantity of books that it held. It stands as a small, but very well functioning space and even a few minutes before the presentation it was bustling full of people waiting in anticipation for the event to start, no doubt waiting to taste the delectable chocolates laid out in front of us. In the front of the room sat a table full of an array of chocolates and cacao inspired items from around the world. This gathering of diverse people, including many of the members of the New York Librarians Meetup Group was waiting to hear all about the world of chocolates from Cuban chef and inspired author, Maricel Presilla. To start off the informational discussion, she talked about her growth as a chef throughout her life experiences and what brought her into the chocolate and cacao business. She currently works for the LA Food Research Company of premium cacao and owns her own store and restaurant featuring cacao inspired foods; she has also won the Best Chef Award for her cuisine. Throughout the entire presentation she bore a successful presence with a passion for her work and her presentation was fascinating; it was as if you could almost taste the pictures of the cacao plant and chocolate. Her book, “A New Taste of Chocolate”, which was first created in December 2001, was being revisited and revised for her new edition. She attributed these changes and the new edition to the evolution of chocolate around the world; it is constantly thriving and changing everyday. Presilla first started her “research” at her family’s own cacao plantation in Cuba, where she was able to first-handedly see how the process worked. Through various pictures and on-hand interaction we were able to see the beginning stages of chocolate and surprisingly enough, it starts out as a fruit (cacao pods). Her favorite feeling when strolling through the plantations was her view that, “where there is cacao, there is life”. There are many different factors and people involved in the process of creating chocolate and it is a prime example of sustainability. After her discussion, we were all able to taste some of these delicious chocolates. My taste buds were bussing as I popped each little piece into my mouth. Not only were you able to try different types of chocolate, it was very interesting to actually taste the different aspects of each chocolate. Some were creamier, or darker, or nuttier than others; though all being exquisite. Presilla’s favorite chocolate was from Venezuela, which she said was a “very exciting” example of chocolate and that they had a good roasting process. This was just a small instance of her thoroughness in her knowledge of the process of cacao. Overall, it was an intriguing event and a great way to play with all your senses delving into the world of chocolate with Maricell Presilla to lead guide you on the journey.