Valor Chocolate, Villajoyosa
Chocolates and multi-coloured facades… there is a place such as this, on the Costa Blanca. The sparkling colour of jewels when one talks about chocolates always reminds me of Faberge eggs…
On the twentieth anniversary of their marriage, on Easter 1885, the Russian Czar Alexander III, had a young jeweller make his wife a very special gift. The jeweller of course was Carl Faberge, and he crafted an exquisite example of an Easter Egg with a difference. An enamelled egg with a golden yolk. In it was a golden hen, and inside that hen was a miniature replica of the royal crown of diamonds and a tiny ruby pendant. A fabulous design. The House of Faberge which Carl’s father started, is justly famous for designing elaborate jewel-encrusted Faberge eggs, and the rest is history.
Faberge-inspired chocolate eggs for a gold-themed party, perhaps... as a keepsake for weddings is an adorable idea. What about seashell themed flavours, accents of willowy sea fronds and chocolate shells… meanwhile, back to the main theme: chocolate.
We were on the way to Villajoyosa, Spain, where chocolate making facilities abound. Villajoyosa is quite a mouthful, to spell and as well as to say. But, the chocolates of Villajoyosa... aaahh, they were something to savour, a delightful way to spend a day, away from the day-to-day pursuits. Chocolate museums and chocolate factories…in short, Chocolate Heaven on the Costa Blanca. And numerous chocolate shops and patisseries to indulge ones chocolate fancies.
Villajoyosa is a quaint seaside town, and many of the inhabitants were fishermen. The town’s facades and buildings are painted in a multicolour hue of vibrant colours, jewel colours – beautiful and arresting. Why? Some say that it is to guide the fisher-folk home, back in thee day. The bustling harbour and busy afternoon fish market is still present, testament to fishing as an important industry for the town.
It was a brilliant day-trip out. Travelling by the coast road or by the motorway, we reached Villajoyosa in 30 minutes, driving from our place. Past the shimmering blue waters of the Mediterranean. There was a chill in the air, and the distant mountains were shrouded in a slight mist. But it was warming up nicely and the sun was very bright…
Our target was Valor chocolates… established in 1881, it is the oldest and most prestigious chocolate company in Spain and ranked in the top ten in the world. The factory sits just on the outskirts of Villajoyosa. After parking, we waited around for 10 minutes… an earlier group of people were just finishing their tour.
As can be seen, I needed no second bidding. We spent quite a bit of time tasting (heaven!) and buying … probably, not as much as we would have liked - would have liked to have had the whole shop? However, Valor chocolate franchises and bombonieres are everywhere – close by us in Elche and Alicante.
I started off by saying what a great idea for gifts… well, Halloween parties are coming up, ghouls and skulls, witches and broomsticks. Trick-or-treating with Valor chocolates…? Probably not, but… for your own adult pleasure..? Have a look at the selection of Bombons…to die(t) for..
Perhaps you’ll give in to temptation, just as I have… ooooh, so exquisite…! There were a few more museums of chocolate and ‘degustation’ (tastings) which we could have visited… But, we might just have to visit Valor again soon…
On the hour, the tour commences with the multi-lingual guide; our group were mostly Spanish, with us and a couple from Sweden the English speakers. We can understand quite a bit of the Spanish now, but it is always easier with our native tongue if/when available. The guide was very good – she explained the history and manufacturing process from bean to finished product.
Cocoa, imported from countries in the equatorial belt, among those Ghana and Panama, is processed at this factory all the way through to packaging…roasted cocoa beans transformed into the ultimate chocolate satisfaction. …‘adult pleasure’ as is shown in the Valor advertisements.
Creme of cocoa, hot chocolate or snack with churros, praline, bars and pearls, bombons…crafted with a masters touch, delicious crèmes and surprising centres. Fanciful names such as Pistacho Delight, a cava-filling with pistachio crème; Muscatel and campari pralines; olive and tomato chocolate bombons, rose petal liqueurs and much more.
We were shown a video before the factory tour to view complex machinery that churns out the bombons and bars… purifying, toasting, blending, moulding… and also a tour of the museum which was very interesting.
The bombons do look a little jewel-like, tempting to the eye and exquisite to the palate – you can’t eat jewels but you can eat bombons. And the part of the tour that interested me, most of all..? The tasting…