Tablea, anyone?

DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - February 23, 2013 - 12:00am

Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Forrest Gump says, “My momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’” This line is one of the most memorable movie quotes in the history of cinema having been ranked 40th at the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes (Wikipedia).

My dear friend Karen Davila went to Cebu for some Habitat for Humanity affair while I visited Compostela Valley and Agusan del Sur for my nascent foundation, Make Your Nanay Proud (MYNP). Karen was gushing on the phone about her “pasalubong” for me, “I have the best chocolates in the world! It’s to die for.” I remember her raving about these heavenly chocolates, which are available at Ralfe Gourmet, Inc., which is apparently revered for its culture of excellence in creating cacao products of exceptional quality. Its mission is “to lead the way to the advancement of the cacao productiveness vis-a-vis product ingenuity in consideration of market demands.” Ask for truffles tablea and you’ll get to paradise as soon as you get your first bite.

Raquel Choa, president and founder of Ralfe Gourmet, Inc., said, “Inside the handwoven native box are novelty chocolates that come from tablea sourced from locally-grown cacao beans that are fermented, dried, roasted, grounded and molded to perfection to give only the best and rich-tasting chocolates.” Truffles tablea is an excellent gift for loved ones on various special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

Tablea is a Spanish word, which means tablet. It can be a thick, flat, square or round-shaped. It is said that during the Spanish regime, hot chocolate made from tablea was served during breakfast on special occasions (

As soon as I wake up, I usually enjoy a delicious cup of hot chocolate to soothe and relax my body for a tough day ahead. The frothy hot choco is made by boiling tablea with water, milk and sugar. The chocolate is stirred vigorously with a wooden beater.

Raquel relates, “I am a self-proclaimed chef especially at home. I often find myself treating my friends — even people I’ve newly met or known — to a one of a kind culinary experience… to delight and entertain them with my creative cooking and artistic food preparation. When my stubborn nature awakes, I set the cookbook aside and work the kitchen my way.”

Raquel believes that she has gotten these traits from her beloved grandmother who was always brimming with passion. She not only gave Raquel tablea drink but also taught her how to prepare it. “She taught me how to plant cacao, making the best use of our parcel of land. I am a cacao planter, and eventually a tablea maker.” She was then surprised to find out that one needs to undergo a “ritual” to capture the exquisite taste of tablea.

“My grandmother said everything starts with the beans. It is crucial that the cocoa beans are carefully selected, cleaned and sorted. Once they are ready, the beans are roasted to perfection with controlled heat and specific amount of time. The smell and taste of the tablea largely depends on this important process,” she explains.

After roasting, the roasted cocoa nibs are pounded to produce cocoa liquor or cocoa mass. The cocoa mass is shaped into plump; its form dictated by the creative mind and artistic hands that mold them.

From these plumps come a myriad of gastronomic concoctions like chocolate drinks and chocolate cakes. But for Raquel and her friends, no one beats a cup of the good old tablea brewed just like what her grandmother loved.

For more information, you can call (032) 316-2220 and 0917-628-7661 or e-mail at You can also log on to Ralfe Gourmet is located at Casals Village, Mabolo, Cebu City.

Speaking of chocolates, I asked some stars about their favorite chocolates and why. Here are their sweet answers:

Bianca Gonzalez — Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate. Simple chocolate but so good.

Tintin Bersola-Babao — Anything dark and bittersweet. I don’t like if the chocolates are too sweet.

Sitti — Nestlé Crunch and all brands of almond chocolates because they are the most delicious chocolates for me.

Ima Castro — The Swiss chocolates Lindt.

Gellie de Belen — Hany/Chocnut. I always have this in my snack box. Whenever I am on location, it is convenient to have because it doesn’t melt and it’s so yummy.

 Phoemela Baranda — I prefer dark chocolate. I like it bitter sweet. I enjoy those Lindt thin squares just enough bittersweet not overwhelming.




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