Out of Africa
It was Claudio Corallo's passion for Tarzan fliks that called the Florence, Italy native to seek a life in the African Jungle. In 1974, at the adventurous age of 23, the young Italian took a job in the government of Zaire doing an agricultural census. He later found more interest in his work with a local coffee exporter. Eventually he was able to purchase two coffee plantations and start a family with the Portuguese ambassador to Zaire's daughter. When civil war drove Zaire's dictator Mobutu Sese Seko from power in 1993, Corallo's plantations were looted. He then moved his family to Sao Tome and Principe, independent, equatorial, volcanic islands off the coast of Gabon. The Corallo family has been there since cultivating what some consider the best chocolate in the world. While that claim is subjective, there's no denying that breaking open a bag of Fair Trade Claudio Corallo is like popping the top off of a bottle of a tropical perfume. Notes of cocoa, earthy and floral, and tropical citrus immediately create a sublime olfactory experience rivaled only by its taste. With his Chocolate Laranga, Corallo has paired his origin chocolate with chewy bits of orange peel. Thinking it the perfect flavor and texture for a gourmet brownie, I melted a few ounces into a batch and served it warm with vanilla bean ice cream. Corallo, a purist, who upholds the integrity of the chocolate by forgoing any additives such as milk powder or even vanilla extract may be cringing at the thought of Corallo brownies, but what can I say? They sure taste great!