While I was madly collecting brochures on board the Spirit of Tasmania, one really stood out and captured my attention. It was (drum roll)… The House of Anvers. Serendipitously, this was only 5 minutes drive from the ferry terminal and also very close to where we were staying!!
Well, you might ask who Anvers was, and what was so good about this house. What was the big attraction?
Two words sold me on this place: “chocolate factory”.
It turns out that Anvers is another name for the Belgium city of Antwerp. Proprietor, Igor Van Gerwen, studied at the Institute of Foodstuffs in Antwerp and was trained by Roger Geerts, the world renowned confectioner and author of “Belgian Pralines”. So, that’s the connection.
Ever since I first saw Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, let’s just say I’ve had my dreams, fantasies and most of them can’t be mentioned here. Just like cheese, chocolate can make you do all sort of things, which are completely out of character. Indeed, they can take you from being a law abiding citizen and throw you straight into the “criminal class” with no returns.
Like Ashgrove Cheese, the House of Anvers has free tastings, although it’s much more limited. We were able to sample both dark and milk chocolate buttons and three types of fudge. The one which captured our attention in a rather ravenous wolf kind of way, was Fudge D’Anvers Butterscotch. Yummy!
Indeed, this Butterscotch heaven again stretched all my restraint beyond breaking point. Having already gone across to the dark side, this time I didn’t care if I got caught. I couldn’t stop eating that fudge.This time, however, I did notice a sign and I wish I’d photographed it. It clearly stated something about leaving some for someone else.
Absolutely smitten, we bought two boxes of it to take home. One’s already been eaten…a sad casualty of it’s own beauty. It didn’t even get the chance to leave Tasmania, before it was gobbled up by this gang of desperadoes.
We also bought a curious looking chocolate, which we still haven’t tried as yet. This is called Fortunato No 4 Peru. It’s a 68% Organic Pure Nacional and is genetically certified to be “Original Cacao”. The pure Nacional Cacao was thought to be extinct in 1916. Later on Criollo and Foresterra varieties were and are being sold as Nacional; they are not!!! The Cacao beans were discovered 10 years ago by Brian Horsley and Dan Pearson in the Maranon Valley in Peru. They have been genetically certified as the original cacao by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The beans are grown at 3250ft and produce purple and, unique to this variety, white beans.
Brian Horsley has set up farm and still works with the farmers to produce these exquisite unique cacao beans. The beans are shipped off to Switzerland and made into couverture chocolate using traditional roller conching methods. Anvers Confectionery has the exclusive rights to be able to introduce this chocolate into the Australian market.
However, the House of Anvers also has a fascinating chocolate museum. They have an informative, beautifully displayed range of antique chocolate moulds, chocolate tins and advertisements from around the world and I think this was the first time I’d ever seen a cacao bean. They also tell the story of the discovery and development of modern chocolate, taking you on a journey from the Aztec Indians, to when chocolate was only consumed as a liquid in the 1700’s, on to Henry Nestle who mixed the chocolate with milk (in 1875), onto modern chocolate.
While touring the museum, I found out one of the distinctions between good and fine chocolate.
By the way, I stumbled across this comment on their website:
“Igor (Van Gerwen) has found the Tasmanian cream and butter to be the richest in flavour of any in the world, ideally suited for truffles and fudge. He believe the reason for this is that the pastures in Tasmania’s pure environment stay green almost all year round, eliminating the need to feed the dairy cows on grains.
I found that quite interesting because I have found Ashgrove Cheese particularly creamy and obviously their milk has these special qualities.
Being known for my weird sense of logic, I can somehow justify consuming vast amounts of chocolate and Butterscotch Fudge in the interests of gaining an education.
Besides, like the Ashgrove Cheese, this chocolate is so good, I’ll indulge now and repent at home. I think I’ll be sentenced to a diet of lettuce leaves by then.
Even the garden is magic!