Rainforest Cocoa and Vanilla Celebration at Botanical Gardens

PV Mirror
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August 5, 2012

You are invited to the annual Vallarta Botanical Gardens Rainforest Cocoa and Vanilla Celebration taking place for the entire month of August.

Experience the splendor of Vallarta’s rainforest in its divine abundance with a visit to the enchanting Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

Two globally important plant species, vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) and chocolate (Theobroma cacao) native to the rainforests of Mexico are being celebrated now at the Botanical Gardens.

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens and its famous Hacienda de Oro Restaurant invite you to celebrate this magical time with us.

During the month of August, special celebration lunches are being prepared including soup or salad, your choice of Mahi Mahi gourmet Fish Tacos or a traditional Jalisco Birria (Beef stew in a traditional spiced red sauce, served with roasted country potatoes, refried beans and handmade corn tortillas). For dessert, choose Vanilla Tapioca or Vanilla Ice Cream topped with chocolate sauce. The special luncheon also includes one glass of wine, one house margarita, one beer, or one non alcoholic drink. All this for only 260 pesos. Our regular menu is also available.

Cocoa Trees at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Chocolate is a product of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) a small evergreen tree native to Mexico’s south tropical region. Its seeds are used to make cocoa powder and chocolate. The fruit, called a cacao pod, is ovoid, 15–30cm long and 8–10cm wide, ripening yellow to orange, and weighs about 500 g (1.1 lb) when ripe. The pod contains 20 to 60 seeds, usually called "beans", embedded in a white pulp.

The seeds are the main ingredient of chocolate, while the pulp is used in some countries to prepare a refreshing juice. Their most noted active constituent is theobromine, a stimulating compound similar to caffeine.

Vanilla "Beans" at the Vallarta Botanical Gardens

Culinary vanilla (vanilla planifolia) was first cultivated by The Totonac people of the Gulf Coast of Mexico in the present-day state of Veracruz.

According to Totonac mythology, the tropical vanilla orchid was born from a story of love and tragedy. When Princess Xanat, forbidden by her father from marrying a mortal, fled to the forest with her lover, the two were captured and beheaded. Where the blood of the princess’ lover touched the ground a tree grew and next to it, where the princess’ blood touched the ground the vine of the vanilla orchid grew attaching to the tree forever.

Mexico had a near monopoly on vanilla production until 1841 when a 12-year-old child slave living on the French island of Réunion discovered a simple way to hand-pollinate the flower. Because of the labor required to pollinate and cure vanilla it is the second most expensive spice (after saffron).

Learn about this incredible plant first hand with your next visit to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens.

The entrance to the Gardens is only 60 pesos per person, free for members, and free for children 10 years old and below.

Even the drive to the Gardens is part of the delight as you wind your way through the Palms to Pines Scenic Highway admiring the majestic scenery in its full summer brilliance.

The Vallarta Botanical Gardens is located just 30 minutes south of the Old Town Puerto Vallarta on the Federal Highway 200 (Palms to Pines Highway) Km. 24th just past Las Juntas y los Veranos. Open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, closed on Mondays until December. Telephone is (322) 223-6182.

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