Visit Kakawa Chocolate House Santa Fe, New Mexico

Journey into Chocolate Bliss: Unveiling the Delights of Kakawa Chocolate House in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Wandering around the plaza in downtown Santa Fe, New Mexico, I found myself walking along Cathedral Place directionless. I wasn't sure where this road would take me, and what I might run into. I saw a creek tracing an intersecting street and walked along an adjacent pathway for a block or so before noticing a couple small crowds of people heading up a nearby street. Canyon Road, the street was called. I followed the straggling crowd for half a block up Canyon Road before something started pulling me back in the direction I came. I continued walking up Paseo De Peralta, although there didn't seem to be anything ahead. Nevertheless, something kept pressing me forward. Eventually, I noticed a round wooden gong of a sign in front of a building that was obscured by the emptiness of its surroundings, a large open, and run down even, parking lot. The sign read, Kakawa Chocolate House.

            The low walkway and dimly lit interior made it difficult at first to notice the line nearly out the door. I stood just inside the entryway as my eyes adjusted to the space. At the front of the line there was a swarm of people eyeing a glass display case. I leaned forward to peek around the corner at a smaller second room with a few leather, almost drum-like tables and chairs hugging the three walls. The light shining through a small rectangular window was angling through just right enough to make visible small hand and nose prints otherwise invisible on glass. I watched the chocolatiers engaging with the guests, an even blend of locals and tourists, while I was eyeing the different menus on the walls. I would have my choice of a handful of drinks, including shakes, a wide array of chocolate confections—all of which were openly displayed on glass shelves behind arched exhibit cases—and, most notably, the chocolate elixirs.

Kakawa has a variety of chocolate elixirs made with ancient Mesoamerican recipes, historic European recipes, and a few contemporary options. Still waiting in line, I read that the cacao seed is prominent throughout Mesoamerica, and the natives (including the Inca and Mayan civilizations), discovered that cacao—know to them as “the food of the Gods”—had a number of medicinal as well as recreational properties. At the counter I tasted a few elixirs, I included at least one from each era, and decided on the less sweet Mesoamerican “Mayan Full Spice” elixir, and a chocolate truffle. I sat outside, under the shade of nearby trees, and gently slurped at my elixir; the truffle would stay wrapped and inside a small white paper bag that would follow me back to the hotel.

            I would find myself at Kakawa at least once every day. When I moved to Santa Fe a short time later, the bulk of my time was spent sipping chocolate elixirs and writing while perched on one of the drum-like chairs beneath the small rectangular window that looked out over the courtyard. Where I first sat enjoying the Mayan Full Spice a few weeks before. I would discover that my favorite elixir is the Rose Almond, another Mesoamerican recipe that I would sometimes mix with the Zapoteca. I would spend enough time at Kakawa that my first New Mexican friend was a Kakawan chocolatier.

I was settling into Santa Fe after a short stint in New York city, and up to that point I had never experienced anything like Kakawa Chocolate House. I have been into chocolateries before, most cities and towns have at least one chocolate house claiming distinctiveness, and with the exception of a handful of confections unique to a particular place, very few stand out for me in the way that Kakawa chocolate House has.

            One of the many things that sets Kakawa apart is its commitment to preserving the traditions of chocolate-making. The recipes used there are inspired by historic and ancient civilizations, offering a glimpse into the cultural significance of cacao throughout history. At Kakawa, chocolate is more than just a treat, chocolate is an art form, the chocolatiers skillfully craft each piece by hand, ensuring that every creation is an artistic masterpiece. From the intricate designs on the truffles to the smooth texture and precise balance of herbs, spices, and chilis of the elixirs. Every detail reflects the dedication and passion of the artisans. When you find yourself in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a visit to Kakawa Chocolate House is an absolute must, whether you are looking for a sweet souvenir, a unique gift, or a taste of something truly incomparable, this gem offers an experience that will linger with you forever.

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