HoChos 5, 6, 7, 8

Continuing on, the hot chocolate locations become further away from campus, and busy downtown areas and quirky Main Street locations become main stops to find new cocoa flavours and cafe experiences.

HoCho #5: Praliné Chocolat, Chocolaterie da la Nouvelle France (~$5.75)


There are four festival beverages offered at Nouvelle this year, and my company and I sampled three of them. My choice was an almond-milk praline drinking chocolate – yes, that is what it sounds like. Chocolate that you drink. More than a chocolate-flavoured milk, this particular half-sized treat of mine was like drinking melted Nutella without the unhealthy components and the high level of dairy. 
It was thick and smooth without being too heavy on the tongue, and filled me right up – even though it was just a half-sized serving! Luckily, the Main Street area of Vancouver is full of exciting stops, so going for a walk afterward was a good way to wrap up our stop.
The location itself is tucked away and is very small upon entering – however, what space they do have is almost entirely made of wood and is full of a variety of chocolate powders and confections on display. Each of our beverages was also accompanied by one of three flavours of meringues: chocolate, rose, or maple (my choice).

 HoCho #6: Monkey Manna, East Van Roasters (~$5.00)



A stop that I particularly enjoyed discovering at last year’s festival was East Van Roasters, and this year they are the recipients of the funds from the festival’s sales! For the first half of the festival, they offer a hot chocolate made with Peruvian drinking chocolate, milk of choice (almond for me!), pink peppercorn and vanilla blended throughout.

My first sip took me back to last year’s festival with its airy texture and smooth taste – the drink, while comfortably filling, is quite light and does not sit heavy in the mouth. The vanilla was likely a key contributor to the smoothness of the flavour, but the peppercorn added a unique twist that took it from deliciously simple in its flavour to more dynamic, without being too complex.

If you want a safe toe-dipping into the unique festival flavours, I recommend East Van Roasters for its easy drinking and creative concoctions.

HoCho #7: Standard dark with almond milk + banana bread, Bella Gelatería (~$7.00)


Bella Gelatería is usually one of my top recommendations for the festival for its unique blends of gelato, teas, and chocolates in their festival offerings; however, this year they pre-mixed their festival flavours with dairy milk for more efficient distribution, and could not offer an alternative that is dairy-free as I have enjoyed in the past. Their standard hot chocolate with 70% cocoa and almond milk was enjoyable, though I really wish I would have been able to sample some of their Earl Grey or Spiced Rum flavours without a dairy overload!

If you are not an avoider of the dairy world, it is very likely that – as I have in the past – you will enjoy the amazing selection of gelato treats, To Die For banana bread, and chocolate drinks at B.G.

HoCho #8: Pandan-a-Cocoa, Gem Chocolates (~$6.00)


I love visiting Gem Chocolates! It was a pleasure to meet with the owner and founder last year and learn a little bit about his chocolate confectioner journey to greatness (so-called because I believe that is what he has achieved with his delightful shop).
Green hot chocolate?! 
Gem changes up the festival flavour each week, and the second week’s blend was flavoured with a grass called pandan and toasted coconut! Remembering me from last year, my drink was made with soy milk, and it turned green because of the pandan grass in it! To imagine what it is, think of lemongrass (it is somewhat similar). 

The drink comes with a “tropical fruit palette”, which showcases the pandan grass as well as dried mango, chilli flakes, and coconut atop a chocolate disc. I am very excited to try the next two flavours that involve pecan pie (?!) and gingerbread and cinnamon… The salivation has already begun.





 I’ll be back with more soon!

5th Annual Hot Chocolate Festival, 2015 (HoChos 1, 2, 3 & 4)

HELLO!

It has been a long time, my friends. A long time.

The blog has suffered as I have struggled and rejoiced through this fourth year of university. While it is months from being over, the season is currently one of applications, interviews, and planning for the months ahead – it easily feels as though the fourth year of university is already coming to a close for me.

Thankfully, I am forced to pause at this time once each day to enjoy something that always brings me calm and pleasure…

Chocolate.

The 5th Annual Hot Chocolate Festival is back in Vancouver! This year, the festival’s funds are going towards supporting East Van Roasters (link), and they are superb! They make delicious chocolate, beverages, their space is great, and they function on a foundation of helping women in Vancouver’s downtown east side.

So… The hot chocolate.

I missed the first actual two days of the festival because I was in Las Vegas (que sera sera), so I caught up as quickly as possible over the next few days.



HoCho #1: Balsamic Desiderio, Terra Breads ($4.99)

This hot chocolate was enjoyed in the company of AB the January Vegetarian, while he had the Stollen Kisses hot chocolate (discussed later). Mine was a fairly simple hot chocolate, but was mixed with a balsamic vinegar and decorated with a cocoa balsamic glaze. The sweetness of the chocolate with the tanginess of the balsamic was beautiful, and the cookie was incredibly chewy and delicious. I had mine with almond milk, and that did lighten the texture of the drink from what it would regularly be, I think. I would recommend this if you prefer your sweets to be balanced with a less-sweet flavour. (website)

 HoCho #2: The Lumberjack, 49th Parallel & Lucky’s Doughnuts

AC’s ‘The Nanaimo Bar’ hot chocolate














I have been to 49th Parallel in the past, but not for their hot chocolate before – I was (am) excited to see that their two locations near school were participating for the festival this year! Their three offerings included a regular dark hot chocolate with a doughnut of your choice, the Nainamo Bar: dark chocolate with butter icing sweetened milk with a small doughnut on the side, or my choice, The Lumberjack: spicy dark hot chocolate with two maple marshmallows and a chocolate-dipped log. 
The hot chocolate was light due to the almond milk I requested, and that made the spicy notes stand out amidst the dark chocolate. I did not indulge in the marshmallows much, but could smell their sweet maple flavour. A chocolate-dipped log? It was obviously delicious (but more descriptively, it was flaky and a little bit chewy with sugar and finished nicely with the slowly-melting dark chocolate on the end). (49th website; doughnuts website)

HoCho #3: Homemade Oreo Hot Chocolate, Butter Baked Goods (~$5.50)







Butter Baked Goods aren’t about that store-bought way of life – they do things their way in their ovens. These “oreos” are made by BBG and for this cocoa, they crumbled them atop the hot chocolate. Made with soy milk, J and I shared a drink with a delicious miniature cookie on the side (the full-sized ones are about three of this wee bites). The cocoa had crumbs and chocolate chunks throughout the drink as the crumblings fell through the surface – it was creamy, had that magical Oreo-chocolate taste, and was enjoyed in the most adorable of locations! They make an abundance of delicious-looking baked goods, including banana bread, lemon loaves, cake, date squares, brownies, large home-made “Oreos”, and many, many more. It was like sitting down in a doll house, and the service was incredibly friendly. Highly recommended if you enjoy Oreos! (website)

HoCho #4: Stollen Kisses, Terra Breads ($5.00)

Back to Terra Breads we go! With 20 minutes before this location closed, our flexibility was minimal to obtain cocoa that day! We rushed from campus to TB and J and I shared the Stollen Kisses flavour, as I had already tried the Balsamic Desiderio.

Our drink was made with almond milk (a trend, you may have noticed) and was flavoured with a less-dark chocolate and orange spices with almond syrup. It was a dynamic taste experience as the various flavours found their taste buds across the tongue, and was pleasant right until the end! My only concern was the temperature of the drink, which on both Terra Breads occasions was just-warm. However, the smell of the bakery and the tastes of their festival offerings were excellent, and the service is always friendly and warm. Recommended for brunch, lunch, or a sandwich dinner!


See you next time!
– K