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April 01, 2016

Raquel Choa: The “Chocolate Queen” of Cebu Gives Tablea the Royal Treatment



April 01, 2016

Raquel Choa: The “Chocolate Queen” of Cebu Gives Tablea the Royal Treatment

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Chocolate is considerably one of the most loved luxuries in the world. Its versatility across multiple cuisines shows us the artistry chefs and chocolatiers have at their disposable.

With the Philippines being one of the largest exporters of Premium Cocoa Beans, the country has the potential to create world-class chocolate products. However, the nation is yet to be recognized on the map of the top chocolate-making countries. Raquel Choa of Cebu aims to elevate the status of our chocolate potential through her love affair with Tablea.

 

THE CHOCOLATE CHAMBER 
22 President Quirino Street
Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City

Level 1 Robinsons Galleria
General Maxilom Avenue
North Reclamation Area, Cebu City

The Chocolate Chamber Boutique (Retail Store)
G/F Sarrosa Hotel
F. Cabahug Street Cor. President Quirino Street
Mabolo, Cebu City

Email: 1521TCC@gmail.com
Mobile: +63917-628-7661
Facebook: The Chocolate Chamber
Instagram: @TheChocolateChamber

 

Here’s a photo essay of our chocolate adventures with the “Chocolate Queen” herself…




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Sikwate or Tsokolate made from pure Tablea and hot water is poured in such a way to maintain the drink’s frothiness.

 

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Spaniards introduced Mexican Cacao to The Philippines starting 1670—The ideal climate made the country a top producer of Cacao beans, which gave birth to the rich Tablea-making heritage of Cebu.

 

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As founder of Ralfe Gourmet (a creative outlet for artisanal chocolates), The Chocolate Chamber (restaurant that incorporates chocolate into different cuisines), and Casa de Cacao (venue for chocolate appreciation tours), Raquel strives to continually support the livelihoods of local Cacao planters through the Cacao de Filipinas Fellowship.

 

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Raquel grew up poor and was taught the craft of Tablea-making and Cocoa-planting by her grandmother during the communist conflict in the mountains of Balamban, Cebu.

 

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At the age of 14, she and her parents moved to the city while she cleaned houses, washed clothes, picked up garbage, and sold things to earn a living. Her simple life, however, did not dampen her resilience. By the age of 16, she married Alfred Choa whom she had 8 children with.

 

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After reigniting her love with Tablea, her “dirty chocolate” soon became a food of luxury that birthed the moniker of “Chocolate Queen”.

 

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To make Tablea, Cocoa beans must first be fermented, dried, roasted, and shelled carefully to maintain the beans’ antioxidant qualities.

 

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The beans are brittle; when broken, they emit a strong, nutty, chocolate aroma.

 

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They are dumped into a pestle and ground until pasty.

 

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When pounding the beans, make sure the strength comes from your upper arm.

 

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It’s best to do this on your knees for full power.

 

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This process must be repeated until the beans become “oily” and fine. Ideally, it’s better to work in a warmer temperature to prevent the beans from hardening too fast.

 

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Coarsely-ground beans are called Nibs and provide texture to different chocolate delicacies.

 

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When the chocolate is fatty from the Cocoa Butter (the butter melts at body temperature), you can easily manipulate the pasty substance with your hands.

 

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Did you know that Cocoa Butter is used in a wide array of skin beauty products and cosmetics for its moisturizing qualities? This must be why the Chocolate Queen’s hands are so beautiful!

 

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The Cacao de Bola is ready for use in confectionary or Tsokolate Batirol, which we were lucky enough to learn how to make.

 

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Our Tablea is added to boiling water and whisked with the Batirol until thick—knowing when its ready requires you to listen carefully.

You will know your Sikwate is done when the contents sound viscous and bubbly.

 

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Quickmelt Tablea by Ralfe Gourmet (150g for P235, 500g for P750)

Since making Sikwate is often time-consuming, Quickmelt Tablea can also be used to cut down minutes of stirring.

 

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Once the drink is ready, our Sikwate made of 100% Cocoa Liquor is poured back in forth into two vessels. This process makes the drink ultra frothy.

 

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Tablea is more enjoyable when drunk like wine since you can appreciate the subtle smells and complexities of the chocolate.

Note: try Sikwate unsweetened and pure to experience its full flavor.

 

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We got a chance to taste the Chocolate Queen’s famous Tablea in her other products.

 

Here are our favorites:

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Chocolate Praline w/ Whole Cacao Nib (P725 for 18 pcs)

Experience an intense dark chocolate flavor with the nuttiness of a whole Cacao nib.

 

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Choco-Mango Nuggets with Sea Salt (P875 for 33 pcs)

Everything about these just balances out—the sweet and sour mango gives life to the intense chocolate, further given complexity with the Sea Salt. Exquisite!

 

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Alfajores (P485 for 6 pcs)

We really like the decadent touch added by the vanilla cookies and caramel to the chocolate liquor center.

 

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Hand-Rolled Truffles (P1,250 for 21pcs, P1,750 for 30pcs)

These hand-rolled truffles filled with chocolate ganache are a guaranteed chocolate overload.

 

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La Roche

The “Roche” chocolate is inspired by the 7 rocky rivers the Chocolate Queen had to cross to get to school—served on a rock, it has a chunky peanut butter chocolate filling and is offered solely on Raquel’s chocolate tours.

 

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Since the partnership with Shangri-La Mactan, The Chocolate Chamber has made an exclusive choco-infused menu of Alcoholic Drinks, Choco-Nib Cookies, and more.

 

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Overall, our chocolate adventure was full of new experiences and realizations about our own resources. While other countries can say they make great chocolate, we can proudly say we make the best Tablea for the heart and artistry that goes into it.

 

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Congratulations to Raquel Choa, the “Chocolate Queen”, whose story and advocacy continues to inspire Filipinos within and outside the Philippines! For more products from Ralfe Gourmet, you may visit their website here.

 

THE CHOCOLATE CHAMBER 
22 President Quirino Street
Barangay Kasambagan, Cebu City

Level 1 Robinsons Galleria
General Maxilom Avenue
North Reclamation Area, Cebu City

The Chocolate Chamber Boutique (Retail Store)
G/F Sarrosa Hotel
F. Cabahug Street Cor. President Quirino Street
Mabolo, Cebu City

Email: 1521TCC@gmail.com
Mobile: +63917-628-7661
Facebook: The Chocolate Chamber
Instagram: @TheChocolateChamber

 

Live an Awesome Life,

Team Our Awesome Planet 

Disclosure: Our meal is courtesy of Makati Shangri-La. We wrote this article with our biases, opinions, and insights. Read Our Awesome Planet Complete Disclosure Policy here.  

P.S. Do you know any other local chocolates OAP should try?

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