Today a group of girls and I ventured up to San Isidro, Heredia to visit the Sibu Chocolateria. Trees and a lush garden replaced the smoggy city atmosphere that we were used to in central Heredia. The chocolateria was a modern wooden building, with an outdoor patio wrapping around the whole building, leading to different garden patios with quaint wrought-iron tables. Julio, the owner, stood in front of a glass paneled wall, where inside you could see two women in white coats pouring chocolate into molds. He greeted us with a warm smile, a strange Spanish accent, and took us over to the tasting table.
We sat and talked with Julio for an hour and a half about history, but it was all related back to chocolate. A plate of 8 chocolates and 1 cacao bean served as our story book, an outline of the history of such a treasured medicine and dessert. Julio was a historian and had left his job of teaching to become a travel guide and a chocolate connoisseur. His love for his country and the little brown cacao bean led him to open Sibu about ten years ago. Since then, he gives tours, creates new flavors with his business partner, and manages a small, organic cafe.
About mid-way through Julio’s lecture, as he told us how chocolate was viewed as “the fighting food” in WWII, I realized what an excellent professor he must have been. He had learned the art to craft history in a way that was relevant to people. In reality, we had swayed from the topic of chocolate several times throughout his speech as he threw other tidbits of information at us. Really, he crafted his story so that we learned more about Queen Anne of Austria than we would have expected. Like a dog owner hiding a pill in a spoon of peanut butter, Julio was serving us a history story under guise of chocolate…and we all loved it.
Of course, the chocolate was delicious too. We ate bon-bons stuffed with creamy chili and cinnamon cream like the King of Spain used to drink! Basil and lemon infused white chocolate! Caramel with coconut and lime! Passionfruit! All were delicious, all seemed too good to be true.
After the tour we ordered a three course lunch from the cafe and bought way too much chocolate and cocoa butter from the gift store. Chit-chat over our delicious lunch turned from chocolate, to our awkwardness in middle school, to our childhood, to love. It was one of our final days in Costa Rica, and we got to spend it in that beautiful garden, eating chocolate and fine cuisine–it was truly a ladies afternoon.