A belated post this one. A friend and erstwhile professor slipped a bottle of this rare and delicious liquid in as a wedding present when the love of my life and I tied the knot, some six months past.
It takes about eight tobala pina to equal a single azul or espadin pina. The tobala hearts will be buried over hot stones and left for 30 days, instead of the regular 5. Once they’re exhumed, the hearts will rest in a shady spot under a tree absorbing microbes from the air. Think of this then, as sourdough fermentation.
After around a week, the hearts will be crushed and fermented aerobically in an open vat, with around 10% village water added by volume.
Once it leaves the still it is perhaps the most complex thing that hasn’t seen the inside of a barrel available anywhere on earth. Fruity, smoky, peppery and spicy. Some folks even say they get a floral hint, from the roses that grow near the fermentation tank.
Tobala is a special little plant. The roots secrete a mad little enzyme that is powerful enough to dissolve granite. Often when it is taken out of the ground there are pieces of rock fused to the root structure. Some would even say that the minerality in the flavour profile owes something to this ability to dissolve a rock that we have used for benchtops or even temples.
The plant grows wild in a tropical microclimate over 8,200 ft. So that’s almost 1000 ft higher than any point in the lucky country.
It’s like a truffle. It grows in shade, only under the branches of an oak tree.
It really is a must try if you come across it.