These winter months of January and February in Vancouver are affectionately known as the Indulgence Season! Source – Tourism Vancouver! Well with the 17 day Dine-Out Vancouver Festival behind us, we are now wrapping up the Month-long Hot Chocolate Festival. I didn’t go as crazy with this one since it overlapped with DOV, but I still managed 4 so far, (compared to 6 DOV!) and maybe I’ll do one last one on Valentine’s Day, the last day!
*note – as with the Photo Contest for DOV, there is also a hot chocolate contest! I won a Photo of the Day for Dine Out which was awesome but didn’t take home the grand prize! Maybe I’ll win chocolate instead!! (Gonna add winning a photo contest to my list 😉
The festival is in it’s 5th year and they’ve added a way to sort the hot chocolate offerings by flavour! Coconut and caramel top the list for most popular flavour combinations. I was interested in trying some of the unusual ones, like wasabi, but wasn’t going to go NEAR the cricket-topped hot chocolate. Ughhh.
There’s still 2 more full days at most participating locations, so here’s my review of them and the top contenders for my last choice!
4 weeks – 24 Participating locations – 57 flavours!
So far, I have been to Thierry, The Last Crumb Bakery and Cafe, Bella Gelateria and Chocolate Arts.
Founded in the traditions of maître pâtissier Thierry Busset’s native France, Thierry presents handcrafted chocolates, pastries, desserts, and a variety of that Parisian icon – the macaron.
Came here with Victoria and Cornelia to celebrate Cornelia’s birthday. She’s got such a fun birthday since there are so many interesting food festivals going on!
Hot Chocolate Description: “THE DOMINICAN”
The base of this hot chocolate is 67% Los Ancones chocolate by Paris chocolatier Michel Cluizel.
Served with a Tonka Bean cream Choux.
We shared this and two desserts between the three of us (Thanks ladies!!!). It was so thick and creamy which I LOVED!!! They serve a drinking chocolate on their regular menu but this seemed creamier.
Also got a classic French pastry Mille-Feuille and a passion fruit cake slice. They cake was so tangy and perfect.
Overall, this has been my FAVOURITE hot chocolate so far. Too bad they stopped their Hot Chocolate Festival early.
The other cool thing about these festivals, is that it gives you an opportunity to catch up with friends!
I haven’t seen Tomica and her baby boy August for a couple months and we made a date to all hang out on Main Street over a cup of cocoa! Which takes me to my next review…
The Last Crumb Bakery and Cafe:
The Last Crumb Bakery and Cafe is a spacious and relaxed bakery and cafe owned by two sisters obsessed with food and dedicated to bringing you North American treats reminiscent of yesteryear. At The Last Crumb you will find edible delights such as flaky, tender scones; moist, luscious cakes; delicious pies; loaves, bars and cookies – all containing the highest quality ingredients (preservative-free and artificial flavoring-free) and lovingly made in small batches.
Hot Chocolate Description: “TRIPLE GINGER SPICED HOT CHOCOLATE”
Triple ginger hot chocolate.
Served with handmade Ginger Apricot Sconscotti
(biscotti made from our delicious, handmade buttery scones.)
I got the ginger one which was nice and spicy, while Tomica got one of the regular menu items – salted caramel hot chocolate. We couldn’t decide between the two so ended up sharing!
While the judging should be based mostly on the hot chocolate, I should add that the accompaniment here (the biscotti-scone) was pretty disappointing. I find that’s often the case when trying to combine two pastry items that are already great in their own right. Like the frissant from Swiss Bakery – combination of a donut and croissant. It sounds promising but leaves you wanting either a straight-up donut, or croissant. In the case with the biscotti-scone, the pastry was too airy and almost soggy 🙁
Also, on the topic of judging the experience beyond the hot chocolate, I enjoyed the bakery’s ambiance – it was pretty spacious so little August could take a nice nap! And look – how whimsical are those cups hanging off the wall ? 🙂
Verdict – I would come back here!
Next up was a 7 person meet-up with old friends. We set up a date weeks in advance and went back and forth a few times to make a democratic decision as to where to meet!
ABOUT CHOCOLATE ARTS:
Chocolate Arts craft chocolates daily in small batches using the finest ingredients available. Their creations begin with the very best raw chocolate from producers in France, many of which are single origin chocolates. Each they prize for its unique flavor, aroma, and characteristics. Most purees and dried fruits, all essences, concentrates and flavoured alcohols are housemade.
Because we were a group of 7, we got to try all 3 flavours they were offering! I had the wasabi one..
Hot Chocolate Description: “WAS’ UP?”
Made with Cacao Barry Ocoa chocolate and infused with wasabi.
Served with a sesame seed florentine
The wasabi and horse-radish flavour was pretty different – I enjoyed it but I would never crave this 😉 The best part for me about coming here was trying some of their cool chocolates! Darren had this flavour too.
Hot Chocolate Description: “ALLURING SIMPLE”
Made with Chocolate Arts’ proprietary chocolate blend, Allure
(a 71.1% blend of Mexican, Dominican and Peruvian beans).
Celina and Jane’s choice.
Hot Chocolate Description: “PUT DE LIME IN DE COCONUT” REDUX
A kalamnsi lime hot chocolate.
Served with housemade coconut ice cream and a coconut financier
Celina had previously been here and warned us about this very flavour! She said that the hot chocolate was more like a luke-warm chocolate since they added the scoop of ice-cream. I tried some of Alex’s and could see her point. The flavours however, really stood out with a sharp and pleasant tropical, fruity combination! Maybe they need to heat this up after adding the ice-cream?
The boys, Micah and Eric.
They weren’t as into the hot chocolate as the rest of us adults 🙂
Verdict – I bought 2 boxes of chocolates to take home and I would love to try more!
I saw that Chocolate Arts has a hot chocolate menu where you can sit down and enjoy a sample of select hot chocolate flavours year-round. That’s good to know! Sounds like the equivalent of high tea.. or ordering beer flights!
ABOUT BELLA GELATERIA: Old World Hand Crafted Gelato:
At Bella, they are dedicated to preserving the true artisanship of old-world handcrafted gelato, just like the way it was once made in Italy by the best of the best. They make everything from scratch using the finest ingredients locally or from around the world, regardless of the cost. They manually combine these ingredients daily in small batches and are the first in North America to use classical Italian equipment for the making and storing of gelato, just like the best do in Italy.
Hot Chocolate Description: Some special caramel flavour of the day.
This place is well-known for it’s insane line ups in Coal Harbour!!! The gelato is good.. but the hot chocolate was not. And, the service was atrocious!
They spilled my hot chocolate as they were preparing it. Which was unfortunate for them… but after losing some of that precious liquid to the ground which was costing me $7.50 to enjoy, they passed it onto me as if nothing happened! Maybe if it was only $2.00, I wouldn’t have cared as much? No, actually, I still would mind!
I had to ask them to make a new one since they had spilled it, which they begrudgingly did. Not coming back here anytime soon!
Well – that concludes my Hot Chocolate Festival experience so far!! I’ll update this if I end up going to one more!
Thomas Haas Flavour: “THIS IS NUTS”
Hot chocolate (55% cocoa) infused with caramelized hazelnut & almond butter.
Served with our “haaselnut”cream and financier sandwich.
Koko Monk Chocolates which I have never been to!
Koko Monk Flavour: “HAREM A LA TURCA”
A drink for gods and goddesses, exotic and misty turkish coffee with 72% pure, organic dark chocolate, flavoured with a dash of Courvoisier Cognac (optional).
Served with your choice of cookie.
MMM sounds good doesn’t it?
How about the rest of you? Any clear winners? Any place people are trying to fit in? Comment below!