Entertainment, Hardwick, Reviews

Prophecy Chocolate Sweetens Hardwick’s Streets

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Mateo of Prophecy Chocolate mixes up a frothy drink of cacao, water, maple syrup, and vanilla during his educational presentation about the cultivation, harvest, and processing of cacao for a packed crowd at Jeudevine Memorial Library on Wednesday, March 6.

HARDWICK – I stumbled upon Prophecy Chocolate one evening as a friend and I were heading up the street to another restaurant. A sign promising tamales and chocolate drinks was too much to resist.

We opened the door to the aroma of marvelously rich chocolate wafting out. Inside the door, a wall of printed burlap sacks gave the feel of being in a warehouse and directed us toward stairs leading up to the former Buffalo Mountain Co-op Cafe.

Upon arriving we learned the owner, Mateo, was away for the evening. Dalena Tran and Emma Trainor welcomed us into the comfortable casual space and described the evening’s fare of organic vegan tamales and chocolate drinks, both hot and cold. The tamales were very good, among the best I’ve encountered in Vermont, and the warm chocolatey drinks we had that evening had us looking forward to another visit.

A month or so later, when I saw an announcement offering, “Take a trip with Mateo of Prophecy Chocolate to the sights and flavors of the Amazon jungle of Peru” on Wednesday, March 6, at Hardwick’s Jeudevine Library, I was immediately hooked.

Mateo, who is among the best presenters I’ve had the pleasure of learning from, shared what was part travelog and part botany class titled, “Discovering Cacao and its Cousins.”

He took us to visit with farmers in Peru, all of whom he called friends, and from whom he sources his cacao. It is the raw fruit from which beans are harvested to make chocolate. He told us of its exotic jungle cousins, macambo, copuazu and cupui.

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The Prophecy Chocolate team includes chocolate drink-master and social media wizard, Dalena Tran (left); founder and owner Mateo and bean-to-bar alchemist and chocolate ambassador Emma Trainor.

He explained that people in Central and South America, where chocolate originated, (though much of it is now produced in Africa), mostly drink their cacao, or xocolatl. Xocolatl is a word that means bitter water. It comes from the central American Nahuatl word, xocol, meaning “to make bitter or sour”, and atl, meaning “water.” From xocolatl comes our word, chocolate.

Xocolatl drinks in Central America are considered sacred and are often reserved for special ceremonies.

The path from “bean to bar,” as Mateo refers to the process by which he begins with the raw ingredients and crafts chocolate bars, begins in the valleys of Peru. Library visitors that evening followed the cultivation, harvest, fermentation and processing of cacao.

Mateo said the name, Prophecy Chocolate, comes from an ancient prophecy “embraced by indigenous cultures across the Americas and inspires his creations. His telling of the prophecy suggests, “When the eagle and condor once again fly in the sky together our world will return to balance.” His story tells of the division when Europeans arrived to the New World 500 years ago, destroying condor energy and throwing our world into chaos.”

Prophecy Chocolate’s marrying of traditional cacao, sourced from Central America, with Vermont ingredients that include berries and rose petals, envisions bringing those energies back together, to “an age 500 years later when the eagle and condor can once again share the sky in harmony,” as the wrapper for a bar of “Heart ∞ Mind” chocolate tells it. That 70% cacao bar’s ingredients are: cacao beans, panela sugar, reishi and lions mane mushroom extracts, rose petals and dandelion root.

As Mateo told his tale, Tran shaved a bar of raw chocolate to be incorporated into several drinks that visitors were able to sample that evening.

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The theobroma cacao bean is harvested from the fruit, fermented and processed to create chocolate.

Traditional chocolate drinks are made with water because cocoa butter, most often removed from the chocolate we usually see in North America, remains to make the drink rich and smooth. Because of the cocoa butter, milk is not needed to make a rich drink.

To the shaved chocolate and water, Mateo added maple syrup for sweetness. Pouring the warm mixture between two pitchers created a sweet and frothy drink.

Mateo also shared samples of other beans related to the cacao from which Prophecy Chocolate is made. The seeds are large, sometimes brainy looking, and each had a different, somewhat nutty flavor.

A week or so later I went back to the shop and had a chance to talk with Mateo. He has extensive experience in organic agriculture, having worked on dozens of organic farms in the U.S. and throughout South America. “Nowhere is the spirit, beauty and authenticity of traditional cultures reflected more strongly than on the land, with the people,” he writes.

He told me about himself as he mixed up a frothy green cup of warm macambo matcha. It was delicious on a cold wintery day, but perhaps best enjoyed earlier than my late afternoon visit, as I suspect it was what delayed the onset of that evening’s sleep.

Born Matthew Block, Mateo says his name came while working on landscaping and construction crews with Guatemalans. Since then it’s stuck. He has another name too, Matmon Shimon in Hebrew.

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Theobroma bicolor, known as macambo, majambo, pataxte, jaguar cacao, maraka, wakampe, Kuchi Wakamp, ha-ha, bacao, and korojo is featured in some of Prophecy Chocolate’s hot drinks.

His shop in Hardwick opened in the fall of 2022. It serves as his chocolate factory, except on Fridays when it becomes a restaurant. When I’ve visited there’s always been a spinning tub of fermented and dried cacao, or some other related bean, being ground. It’s a process that can take hours, or even days.

As Mateo told about the eagle and condor being the reason he adds local ingredients, David Fried of Elmore Roots Nursery popped in. Fried is entering his 44th spring of growing fruits and berries in Elmore.

Fried was there for a meal to go, to stock up on chocolate bars and to sample blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries and red currants that Mateo had sourced from him and dried, ready to be added to future Prophecy Chocolate creations.

Mateo writes that, “We have a big dream – to help fulfill the ancient Eagle-Condor Prophecy. The products we craft have been meticulously designed and created to bring joy, happiness, and create balance. To all who we are blessed to share it with, thank you for visiting and sharing in the vision!”

For more information, see prop[email protected], call (617) 840-2497 and @ProphecyChocolate.

Paul Fixx is editor of The Hardwick Gazette and lives in Hardwick.

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