by Taetske | 1:01 pm
(Last Updated On: March 30, 2018)

 

Rome, a work of art in chocolate.

 

The town of Estepa

Estepa

Natural ingredients.

To see the city of Rome made of Chocolate you might think this does not fit a health site. My excuse for writing this post is that besides it being a nice Christmas tradition, it is also about natural ingredients. If you do not eat too much of these Christmas sweets at least you know what you eat is “healthy”

 

The city of Rome made of Chocolate

The city of Rome made in Chocolate

Christmas sweets from spain.

There are many Christmas traditions, some are old like the ones from my childhood. Family traditions during the holidays that came from grandmother, then repeated by my Mother and now by me.  This is not one of those traditions, but one acquired during the years I have lived in the south of Spain. Every year, about 1 month before Christmas, we have to make a nice day trip to go and buy the typical Christmas sweets. They are absolutely delicious, not recommended if you are on a diet of course. These sweets are mainly made with honest and natural ingredients and that is a good excuse for eating them. In old times the nuns in the many convents in Spain would make their famous sweets, with each convent having its secret recipes. You can still buy sweets made by nuns, but there is one place in Spain everybody knows about. The fame of the sweets of Estepa goes beyond the National borders.

 

General view of the city of Rome

General view of the city of Rome

Estepa and it’s history.

Estepa is a small village in the province of Seville. It is famous for its polvorones and mantecados. These are traditional sweets like crumble pie and made with pork fat. Different natural aromas are added like anis or lemon and also cinnamon. Over the years, more types of sweets were invented.  Think of chocolate balls with coconut or an indescribable spongy something with marzipan, I can tell you they are very difficult to resist. But this village has also a sad past. There was a horrific mass suicide some 2200 years ago. In 208BC when the Roman invaders arrived they found the entire village burned and the inhabitants had committed suicide, choosing death over living under Roman rule. There is an Archaeological Museum where one can see the past of Estepa. The earliest local finds date back to the Paleolithic period. One can also see religious artifacts from the following periods of Roman, Visigothic and Arab cultures.

 

Colosseum in Rome

Colosseum in Rome

24 factories.

The village has some 13000 inhabitants and during the pre-Christmas period around 2000 people are working in the factories in town. There are 24 factories which produce nearly  20 million kilograms of Christmas sweets. 90% of the workers are women and they start production in September continuing until Christmas. You will see these sweets in supermarkets, shops and even in the petrol station where you are invited to take some.

 

What happens with the chocolate afterward?

Destiny of the chocolate city

Destiny of the chocolate city

Two placards at the entrance to the chocolate diorama describe some interesting facts about the display. The placard to the right is translated as:  Temperature and humidity are controlled. After Christmas, this chocolate will be donated to a food bank, This action forms part of the social work of La Estepena.

 

Real ingredients.

List of Ingredients

List of Ingredients

The list of ingredients needed to create the city of Rome in Chocolate.

1.350 kg of White Chocolate
750 kg of Black Chocolate
120 kg Sugar
50 kg Almonds
35 kg Coconut
23 kg Walnuts
15 kg Marzipan
2.700 Hours of sweet Work

 

 

We left the Costa del Sol at 10.30 and were on our way to Estepa. We like to make this trip every year as it is a nice drive and holds a surprise which we discover on arriving at the factory La Estepena.  Every year they make a famous town from Chocolate. This year it was the city of Rome.

 

Saint Peter's Basilica

Saint Peter’s Basilica

Constant temperature is important.

The room where the city of Rome is situated is being kept at constant temperature. You are allowed to make photos which of course we did. It looked absolutely lovely. Many world famous buildings and monuments were made from chocolate, white and dark chocolate. We made many photos.

 

View of Museum

View of Museum

A view into  past times.

The museum is also nice. There you can see the beginning times, 1858, where the whole process of making sweets was manual. Certain scenes of elaboration are represented in this interesting museum. In those early days, they took on young people to teach them the tricks of the trade.

 

Hand made Sweets

Handmade Sweets

An informative film.

We then continued to see a very good 3D film with a lot of interesting information. The ingredients used are absolutely the best. Almonds, walnuts, honey, chocolate and more. Almonds are harvested in the region and the chocolate is of premium quality and comes from the Ivory Coast

 

Estepa

Estepa

Interesting sight of the production floor.

Following this, we took a tour of the factory. We were walking on an elevated platform going around the huge production floor. Down below, the sweets were being made (sorry but no Photos were allowed.) One could observe the different basic pastries being made, put into form and then disappearing in huge ovens. Coming out the other side it entered cooling down rooms.  After cooling, they continued to be given their various coatings and toppings and finally wrapped into boxes.  A lot of this work is still manual. At this factory, there are 2 working shifts of 8 hours with 140 people in each shift. The wages are around 1000 Euros not taking into account any extra hours (overtime.) Then came the section where the chocolates were made. Lovely smells of coconut, chocolate etc entered one’s nose.

 

Lunch in Campillas

Lunch in Campillas

Temptation, buying sweets.

The last visit was to the shop. There you take a plastic bag and scoop and start filling up. There are different price sections so one should not mix it. This year we got away with one and a half kg of sweets. That is more than enough for 2 people.  On the way home, we had a nice little lunch in a small town and arrived home, tired but happy at around 18.00. I put the sweets in a cupboard, let’s see how long they last. By experience, I know that once you start eating the lovely sweets from Estepa it is near impossible to stop.

 

Photo Source: Private.

Comments

Jay Patterson

What a wonderful trip and even though I am not a sweets person, I am ready to take a dive in one of the vats filled with sweets you were unable to photograph. Thank you for making me add another item to my bucket list. Of course, everything is natural in this facility so knowing it is natural removes some of the guilt. Jay

Nov 28.2017 | 04:52 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Jay,

    Good to hear you enjoyed the sweet trip even if you are not eating sweets often. I am visualizing you taking a dive into the vats. You would look a bit like the golden Oscar but this time covered with chocolate.Even if the ingredients are mainly of high quality and natural it is not advisable to eat too much less you put on weight.
    Thank you for your visit.

    Regards, Taetske

    Nov 28.2017 | 05:13 pm

Loes

Hi Taetske, what people can make of chocolate, astonishing! A City as Rome! Almost a crime to eat it 😉 I love the Saint Peter’s Basilica with the little chocolate people in front of it. I read you hade a lovely day. Enjoy your sweets. Greetings from a very windy and rainy Fryslan, up North in the Netherlands.
Loes

Nov 28.2017 | 05:03 pm

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Loes,

    Thank you for reading my post. To think some 2.700 hours have gone into making this chocolate city of Rome is really amazing. By only looking one can imagine putting on weight. I love this tradition and for sure will repeat next year.

    Regards, Taetske

    Nov 28.2017 | 05:08 pm

Patsy

Hi Taetske,
Thank you for another wonderful article of your visit again this year. I really enjoyed the one you wrote for the vist last year also.

I would love to go every year to see what was made of chocolate, and the City of Rome is amazing! It’s hard to believe it’s all chocolate with so much detail and beauty, with the lights and colors.

It’s nice that there is a sign stating how the chocolate is donated to a foodbank, along with the list of ingredients and the hours on how long it took to build it!

I like your photo of the factory workers with all the details of how it was done.

Thank you for the history information, it was great to see the photos of your tour.

Patsy

Nov 28.2017 | 05:57 pm

    Taetske

    Good evening Patsy,

    Thank you for visiting my website. It is a good thing that the chocolate is donated to a food bank. Here in Spain, there is the famous KG Action. Before Christmas volunteers stand at the entrances of Super Markets asking the shoppers for a donation of 1 kg. One normally gives things that last like, Pasta, Olive oil, Lentils, Sugar, Cookies, etc. This is then sorted into food parcels to be given to the people in need. As the room of the chocolate city is kept at a constant temperature even after some months the chocolate is still edible.

    Regards, Taetske

    Nov 28.2017 | 07:39 pm

Dave Sweney

What a great storyteller you are Taetske…I really enjoyed your tale and felt like I was there reading through the prose! The city of Rome made out of chocolate is beautiful and so artfully done! I imagine those sweets in your cupboard will not last too long, as they are surely tasty and as you say, natural! Thanks for sharing your journey with us all, and have a great holiday!

Nov 28.2017 | 06:42 pm

    Taetske

    Good evening Dave,

    Thank you for reading my post. Up till now, I have behaved. The total one and a half kg of sweets are still in the cupboard. I must confess I do not know for how long. This trip to Estepa is really nice. Lovely countryside and mountains but because of lack of rain, it looks very dry. It is nice to be surprised on arriving at the factory La Estepena and see what theme they have chosen. I think Rome came out really good, especially the Saint Peter’s Basilica. Thank you for your kind wishes. My best wishes for this coming Christmas go your way too.

    Regards, Taetske

    Nov 28.2017 | 07:32 pm

Melani Lukito

Wow, very interesting, Taetske. I want to visit Estepa before Christmast if I have the opportunity. I love the fact that the cake have lemon and cinnamon ingredients in it. They are healthy ingredients. Chocolate is a healthy food too but we must avoid too much sugar because sugar is wrinkle maker.

Nov 30.2017 | 02:27 am

    Taetske

    Good Morning Melani,

    The fact that the sweets of Estepa are made with mainly healthy ingredients makes them a bit more healthy than normal sweets. Of course, these sweets are small calory bombs but if I then work hard in the garden I will probably compensate. The trip to Estepa is always a pleasure as it is not too far away and the scenery is lovely. Thank you for reading my post.

    Regards, Taetske

    Nov 30.2017 | 07:36 am

Michelle Lake

This post made me hungry for chocolate…and being in ‘chocolate country’ (Belgium) as they say, I am NOT going to fight temptation – I will have a piece of chocolate today!
Very interesting article. They say you learn something new every day and I sure have! The town’s history is sad but it is obvious that they have moved beyond sadness and regained their fame, albeit for another reason.
What a wonderful opportunity to visit history and ruminate for a spell.
Thanks so much for sharing, Taetske.

Dec 04.2017 | 11:28 am

    Taetske

    Good afternoon Michelle,

    If reading makes you hungry you can imagine what happened to me having a whole chocolate city in front of me. I like this tradition of going to Estepa every year before Christmas. The road is good, the scenery lovely and most of the time the weather is good with a blue sky. All in all a very pleasant day. Thank you for visiting my website.

    Regards, Taetske

    Dec 04.2017 | 02:17 pm

Maria Morris

OMG Taetske, I want to sit in the middle of Rome and eat it all lol Actually, that would be a shame. I’ll just dive into the vat with Jay hihi. What happens to Rome and all the previous chocolate cities after Christmas?

Dec 16.2017 | 11:53 pm

    Taetske

    Good Morning Maria,

    Thank you for visiting my website. Every year it is always a nice tradition to make this trip. Last year it was Paris, also very nice. As I said in my post the chocolate cities are donated to a food bank after the holidays. That is why great care is taken to keep the room at a constant temperature so all this lovely chocolate does not spoil.

    Regards, Taetske

    Dec 17.2017 | 07:51 am

Magnus A. L. Mulliner

Hello Taetske and Michael,
Thank you for sharing. What came up for me was – Giving yourself permission.
I find that when it comes to consuming ‘sweets’, chocolates, etc many people carry shame or guilt in having eaten them!!
As always, it’s an invite to embrace those actions and behaviours we make which can actually fit well into our heal-Thy lives.
I was once reminded to find the right percentage when it comes to eating foods which is in alignment with my Core Values – These are matters that I will/will not stand for.
It was easy for me because most focuses in and on my life, are around health, vitality, optimal wellbeing, daily creative movements, etc. I have a 95/5% rule. Most of the time I know where the food has come from and it’s Mother Nature’s – Local and Organic.
Nothing with a ‘shelf life has a self-life’. And as you can see from my personal picture – 5% I do let more of my hair fall out by eating those foods/products which taste good like Green and Blacks Organic Choc 85% or a buttered Flap Jack with apricots, etc. The thing is, I’m at peace with what is, because I’m constantly KIND to myself when I’m following my 95/5% rule and enjoy the ‘naughty’ bits!
Now, it might be an idea for anyone reading this to find the right percentage that works for them. – 80/20% rule?!?
Only if we kid ourselves do we create more internal stress. Just, “LOVING WHAT IS”, as Byron Katie would say.
I wish you both a joyous festive loving season.
Love and Om,
Magnus & Family XX

Dec 19.2017 | 08:04 pm

    Taetske

    Good evening Magnus,

    Thank you for visiting my website and reading my sweet post. The everlasting battle with ourselves, how much do we allow of the naughty bits. I can tell you if you would go to Estepa I can bet you might not keep the 95/5%. You are right one should not be too severe, life is short and it should include as little stress as possible as that is also bad for your health. I know to find the ideal balance with now and then a naughty treat is not so easy but I am doing my best.

    Best Christmas wishes are going your way.

    Regards, Taetske

    Dec 20.2017 | 08:11 pm

Brittaney Verkuyl

You Put Chocolate on a health site! You are officially my best friend. (and this is before I read the post). Now that I have read the post. I love this. As soon as we can afford a trip to Spain I will be dragging my family along with me to discover this amazing place. I always wanted to travel, now I know where my first stop will be!

Jan 07.2018 | 08:49 pm

    Taetske

    Good evening Brittaney,

    Thank you for visiting my website and reading my sweet post. Your comment made me smile. Most people like chocolate in one form or the other and I am no exception. This year we will go back, curious to see what city has been chosen as the theme. I can tell you the sweets are delicious and well worth this pretty trip.

    Regards, Taetske

    Jan 07.2018 | 08:57 pm

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