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2013 Caribbean Hotspot: 5 Surprises in Martinique

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2. Chocolate and Rum Choose Martinique for their Destination Wedding

Photo Credit Steve Bennett

Award-winning local chocolatier Thierry Lauzéa describes a good pairing as a “marriage” in your mouth. A tasting requires a sip of rum, a bite of his decadent chocolate, followed another sip of rum. The results are completely unexpected. You’ve probably heard of wine and chocolate pairings, but those with rum are relatively new and much harder to come by. Of Lauzéa’s 23 flavors of chocolate, he has found only four to have a perfect union with a unique type and age of rum. There’s a science to it, and some are still best with wine or champagne; but after tasting his perfect unions, I can say they really are perfect. The wedding that my taste buds found to be most romantic was between Chocolat Shrubb and HSE Extra Vieux 2002 Single Malt. Shrubb is a type of rum infused with orange peels that consumed around Christmas. Thierry Lauzéa finds a way to serve it all year round, in the form of ganache-filled dark chocolate.

Martinique is dubbed the rum capital of the world, and is the only place on earth producing rums earning the prestigious AOC designation, a status typically reserved for the finest wines. Boasting 10 distilleries and its own cocoa plantation in the works, Martinique’s chocolate and rum love saga is getting serious. To experience the tasting yourself, visit Frères Lauzéa. Being a sugar aficionado, I can’t help but mention Lauzéa’s Pâté de Fruit candies, inspired by the colors of the island. If you only try one, try guava. There’s a reason it’s the most popular.

Ziouka Glaces

For an alternative sweet rum indulgence, get in line (there will be one) at Ziouka Glaces and order a cone of Rhum Banane. Monsieur Ziouka harvests Martinique’s best sugar cane in March, and then makes homemade ice creams on site all year round. He is constantly inventing new flavors, and rum is often added in to a fruit or vegetable base flavor.

A fabulous place to sip rum sans chocolate is Le Cohi-Bar at Cap Est. There, you can chose from over 100 rare rums; some not found anywhere else in the world. The bar has a great ambiance, set by a huge modern chandelier and candy store like jars of fruit above the rum selection.

A trip to Martinique cannot be completed without enjoying a Ti’ Punch: a strong blend of rum, lime, and raw sugar, mixed with the island’s famous stir stick called le bois lélé. You can always ask your server to participate in the preparation to take the technique home with you. Try Ti’ Punch as an aperitif at Ti Sable, an outdoor beachfront restaurant in Les Anses d’Artlet.

If you really want to take your rum tasting to a new level, journey “La Route des Rhums” and visit all 10 distilleries.