HoCho Fest 2016: 1 + Welcome!

My friends, it is the time of year I wait for months on end, the time when my budget is devoted almost wholly to one single cause, a time of tickled taste buds for four glorious weeks. It is time for the 6th annual…

HOT CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL

Each year, the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival brings together cafes, confectionaries, and restaurants to create specialty hot chocolate beverages to fundraise for a great cause. This year, proceeds of the festival will be going towards supporting the Downtown Eastside Women’s Job Training Program of the PHS Community Services Society and East Van Roasters. Each year, I join this win-win-win situation by dropping in to every possible location, tasting delicious drinks and snacks, reviewing my stops, and supporting this superb cause. 
Let’s begin.
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HoCho 1: The Southern Hemisphere, Temper Chocolate & Pastry

After reviewing all of the available options for the day, we made our way out to the faraway Vancouver north beyond Stanley Park to take advantage of our unconstrained time. It was a straight shot, and soon we arrived at a location I had not heard of until looking over this year’s participants: Temper Chocolate & Pastry.

It’s a cozy little place, tucked between many other stores on the street. Even at the earlier hour in the day, customers were trickling in regularly to try out small cakes, biscotti, cookies, and a multitude of drinks and confections.

After some consideration, we decided to give The Southern Hemisphere a shot. A darker chocolate infused with Tonka bean – a flavour with which I was unfamiliar and had to learn more about! It was served with a small, legitimate wooden stick, and had a floating chocolate sphere containing a vanilla bean marshmallow.

I ordered it with almond milk and began my annual journey. It was a most delicious first step into my month of chocolatey goodness. The dark chocolate flavour, usually fairly distinctive (especially with almond milk), was sweetened by the Tonka bean – a member of the same family as peas that can be used as an alternative to vanilla. 
The almond milk made the weight of the drink lighter in the mouth and allowed the chocolate and Tonka bean flavours to be showcased a bit more than I think it would have with a heavier milk (soy or otherwise). I think both experiences would be great, but I am pleased with mine in the end.

Our chocolate sphere, containing the accompanying marshmallow, was slowly melting; however, not with the haste that we would have liked. Thusly, we took our rugged stir stick and helped it along.

With the addition of the melting marshmallow (eaten by my omnivorous festival guest), the drink took on additional sweetness and became more truly vanilla-flavoured in its profile. The process of reaching the marshmallow itself caused small chocolate tidal waves and caused a thick chocolate surprise at the bottom of the drink that gave the entire experience a rich and worthy completion.

Beyond the quaint aesthetics and delicious food (our fresh and gooey chocolate chip cookie was made with Valhrona chocolate chips – this chocolate seems to be a festival favourite this year), the service was friendly and casual and I felt more at home in this new neighbourhood than I may have otherwise. It will be worth going back to explore in greater depth! There are also many more goodies to be sampled at this particular neighbourhood stop.

I’ll be back periodically with updates on each experience – if you want to join in on the fun, please get in touch so that we can review even more beverages than one person can reasonably do alone.

Until next time…


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