Northshore Magazine

Northshore December 2018

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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NORTHSHOREMAG.COM 28 DECEMBER 2018 Long before boxes of chocolates became synonymous with Valentine's Day, and even before Marie Antoinette brought her own personal chocolate maker to Versailles, cacao was the Mesoamerican food of the gods, used for everything from currency to religious ritual to medicine. Now some of that history has come to Salem thanks to Kakawa Chocolate House, which specializes in sipping chocolates— dubbed "elixirs"—inspired by original Mesoa- merican and colonial chocolate recipes that turn the typical mug of hot chocolate into something unexpected and extraordinary. Rather than being super sweet and milk- heavy, Kakawa's chocolate elixirs "are much more bold and intense versions than what people would think of as hot chocolate," says Bonnie Bennett, who co-owns Kakawa with her husband, Tony. Just one of Kakawa's elixirs SIPPING CHOCOLATE Kakawa Chocolate House in Salem takes hot cocoa to a new level. By Alexandra Pecci Lavender Elixir to citrus-spiked blends of the 1660s Tuscan royal court to the spicy, orange blossom water–laced 1775 Marie Antoinette Elixir, which the French queen brought with her from Vienna to Versailles. Altogether, there are 16 elixirs to sample, including contemporary blends. e key word here is sample; Bennett says tastings are not only offered but actively encouraged for every customer, since the elixirs are so complex and different from what our palates are used to. Such tastings and experiences are a main- stay of Kakawa's two original locations in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and are part of visiting the new Salem store, too. e Bennetts con- sidered a number of cities around the country as they sought to expand beyond Santa Fe, but a chance meeting with Peabody Essex Museum staffers in Santa Fe catapulted Salem to the top of their list. "Members of PEM's board and leadership team first encountered Kakawa during their annual trip to Santa Fe's Indian Market," says Jay Finney, PEM's chief marketing officer. It soon became clear that they had discovered kindred spirits. "In addition to being totally unique and delicious, Kakawa— like PEM—is dedicated to authentic cultural experiences and creating moments of unex- pected delight," Finney says. Kakawa's Salem location is adjacent to the museum, in a historic PEM-owned building. Kakawa sells not only chocolate elixirs for drinking but also creatively flavored hand- made chocolates, too, like agave caramel mixed with New Mexico piñon nuts, dipped in dark chocolate; a solid dark chocolate mixed with roasted chilies; and dark choco- late flavored with canela (cinnamon) and roasted almonds. PEM not only plans to sell Kakawa's choco- late in the museum but also hopes to work with them in other ways, too. Such a partner- ship would be especially fitting given PEM's world-renowned collection of Native Ameri- can art, which is the oldest ongoing collec- tion in the Western Hemisphere and contains works that are 10,000 years old. "We'll also be dreaming up memorable programming ideas in the months ahead," Finney says. "Over a chocolate elixir, I hope." / E AT+ D R I N K / PHOTOGRAPHS BY KITTY LEAKEN (TOP RIGHT, BOTTOM LEFT), DANIEL QUAT (TOP LEFT) contains dairy. Instead, most are made with water or unsweetened almond milk, and mixed with heady blends of herbs and spices. Exploring the menu is like stepping back in time. ere are Mesoamerican elixirs like the Aztec Warrior, a complex, unsweetened blend of chocolate, herbs, spices, flowers, nuts, Pasilla de Oaxaca chile, and Madagascar vanilla that provides a jolt of energy and a flavor that Bennett says is almost medicinal. "at would have been the way Aztec warriors would have drunk their chocolate before go- ing into battle or a ceremony," Bennett says. Other blends, like the Mayan Full Spice Elixir and Zapoteca Elixir, are redolent with spices, herbs, and coconut sugar. Kakawa also explores chocolate's impact on colonialism with blends that hearken back to Europe's early obsession with choco- late, from the Baroque-inspired 1692 French CONTACT Bonnie and Tony Bennett own Kakawa Chocolate House that specializes in chocolate drinks and candies.

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