Friday, January 31, 2014

Castronovo Chocolate, Stuart, Fla., Bean-To-Bar Factory

Stuart, Fla.—Dark chocolate is a deliciously decadent health food. At Castronovo Chocolate they ethically source cocoa beans from Direct and Fair Trade, Central and South American farmers. Owned by Jim and Denise Castronovo, this is the only South Florida artisanal bean-to-bar chocolate factory. “The best time to visit is on Mondays when we roast our beans,” said Jim during a recent tour.

Castronovo Chocolate single-origin heritage artisanal chocolate bars,
Stuart, Fla., Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey

All their ingredients are organic like the naturally fermented heritage cocoa beans, evaporated cane juice, and cocoa butter.

Fair and Direct Trade purchased cocoa beans at Castronovo
Chocolate, Stuart, Fla., Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey

Along with low temperature roasting, Denise, the chocolate maker, also cracks the beans to get to the nibs. These are then winnowed and ground into a paste. Next comes the melanger machine that conchs the paste with movement and warmth to remove bitter acids from the chocolate.

Chocolate maker Denise Castronovo handing out spoonful of
conched single-origin chocolate, Castronovo Chocolate,
Stuart, Fla., Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey

“This is my favorite part,” Denise said, with a huge smile, about the conching process, “I love tasting the chocolate when it is in this machine.” She grabbed a handful of clean spoons and giggled as she dipped each into the moving, warm chocolate.

Handing them out to the audience of Foodies on the tour with me, she said, “It is low in sugar. We put it in a few hours ago and it will continue overnight without stopping.”

It was a delicious full flavored spoon of heavenly chocolate. And the low sugar content actually helped the flavors shine. “Our chocolate is like wine, no two batches taste the same,” said Denise.

Trays of single-origin dark chocolate at Castronovo
Chocolate, Stuart, Fla., Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey

Tempering and molding are the final stages of the week-long bean-to-bar process.

Everything is made by hand with techniques pulled from the early 19th Century. Jim and Denise even wrap each 4 oz. bar of single-origin chocolate by hand. Oh and they also make truffles and chocolate chip cookies.

To find out more about Castronovo Chocolate you can visit their factory/shop Mon. to Fri. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m., and Sat. 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. They are located at 555 S Colorado Ave., Stuart, FL 34994, Phone (561) 512-7236

You can also go to their website for more information:
Or email them at

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Florida Radish Festival, Feb 2014, Wellington Green Market Updated

Wellington, Florida--Radishes are full of antioxidants. And Peter Robinson, Market Director of the Wellington Green Market and Lake Worth Farmers Market, wants to celebrate them next month by having radish festivals at both of his markets. "I think it is important for people to learn what you can do with them," said Robinson during an interview at the Wellington Green Market this past weekend.

Peter Robinson Market Director of Wellington Green Market, holding
radishes in front of market's sponsor, Wellington, Fla.,
 Copyright 2014 by Helen A Lockey
A few years ago Robinson got to tour the radish fields of Rick Roth's farm in Belle Glade. He was very impressed. "We need to promote the Palm Beach County grown radish," said Robinson.

Robert Fong of Fong Farms, Wellington, will be contributing some of the 17 varieties of radish he grows. And Jeffrey Thomas, gardener to the Jacob's family in Wellington, will be growing all types of radish for the festival.

"This will be the first launch of a radish festival in Palm Beach County. We plan to have all different types of chefs making dishes with radishes. And Slow Foods will be here to talk about radishes. I even have a bread maker from my Lake Worth Market making radish bread," said Robinson with a smile.

He added that he is encouraging vendors to decorate their booths in red and have at least one item made with radishes.

"I want people to taste everything with radishes," Robinson said.

The Radish Festival will be held at the Saturday morning Wellington Green Market on February 15th.