When I travel, a big part of the adventure is tasting interesting food and discovering new flavours. A recent trip to Vietnam delivered in spades: colourful markets, fruits I’d never seen before, delicate herbs, tasty fish dishes.
But, it also brought a pleasant surprise: chocolate.
On a cycling tour of the Mekong Delta, amidst a warren of narrow pathways and palm trees, our guide pulled into a small house to show us the cocoa pods growing in the garden and the cocoa beans drying in the yard.
The farmer greeted us warmly, and our guide explained that he was one of a number of people in the area who supply cocoa to artisan chocolate maker, Marou. The company was the subject of an interesting read in The New York Times, if you want to know a little more about it.
Marou makes six single origin chocolate bars, each one named after a Vietnamese province. It has also branched out into some flavoured bars too.
Later in our trip, we sought out the Marou chocolate cafe in Hanoi to see where those beans we’d seen ended up. A bright airy modern cafe, with a good selection of chocolate based cakes plus the full range of bars and sweets, it’s a nice place to while away an hour or so. Plus, bonus points for a Willie Wonka vibe. A glass fronted kitchen allows you to watch the chocolates and treats being made as you munch away on the finished product.
Whether you are a chocolate purist or prefer more experimental flavours, there are plenty of options. I enjoyed a pho (Vietnamese soup) flavoured chocolate. Just a hint of spice with velvety dark chocolate.