Absolutely spent, in the best way possible, I poured myself off the plane in San Jose at about 1:30am last night (I guess that's technically this morning, not 'last night', right?) -- just back from what I believe was, and will remain, one of the most valuable and important experiences of our chocolate making journey and any future success we might be so fortunate as to enjoy.
I showed up at Alan "Patric" McClure's shop in Columbia, MO this Saturday morning, and for the next two full days, went through every detail of craft chocolate making imaginable (equipment, process, chemistry, food safety, organoleptic evaluation, business, packaging, consumer expectations...more...) -- with a specific focus in my case on flavor and flavor development. Alan was an amazing host, he held nothing back, and showed me things about chocolate and the chocolate making process that would have taken me years (if I ever would have figured some of it out) to learn on my own. I've felt for a long time that Patric stands at the very top of the list in the craft chocolate world with regard to flavor (with both single-origin darks and flavored chocolates) -- and as soon as I discovered that he offered consulting services (thank you Sunita!!!) my bags were packed. The experience far, far exceeded what I had even dared hope for.
Head still happily spinning, I've already got my first batch of beans after getting back in the melanger, with a mountain of reading waiting for me and a to-do list that seems to grow by the minute as I continue my post-trip debriefing.
Not enough hours in a day, not enough days in a lifetime,