When it launched in 2011, The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival was the first city-wide festival of its kind in the world. This January it returns for its 7th year, bigger and better than ever, with Vancouver’s best chocolatiers, pastry shops, bakeries, cafes, gelato and ice cream makers coming together to make the humble hot chocolate hotter than it has ever been before.
This Festival is a fundraiser for the Downtown Eastside women’s job training
program of the PHS Community Services Society and East Van Roasters.
Stop #16: D’Oh! ft. Grassy Roots, Soirette
Soirette has gotten better every year after the first time I visited for the festival! I’ve always enjoyed the flavours, but the interactions with staff have continued to make it a more and more pleasant experience.
I came here with Dad after a previous festival stop that was much more rustic than this wee modern boutiquey locaion, and we ordered soy versions of each of their flavours. I focused on “D’Oh!”, their cookie dough hot chocolate.
When you drink from the cup and get a little bit of that cookie dough rim – that was what made it amazing for me. It was salty in the dough and sweet in the chocolate and balanced out very nicely.
The lemongrass hot chocolate was very sweet, and immediately reminded me of a moment that I cannot recall in my mind – the flavour took me to a place and I just cannot remember what it is! It was delicious, though, and sweet – kind of like custard. The cookie pairing with this one was also very good.
Stop #17: Taste of Peru, Thierry
Ah, Thierry – always so fancy and in-demand! Trying to find a seat at this place, even at nearly 9:00pm, is a challenge. However, we ordered and got ourselves a table at which to sample this festival treat.
Without much refined chocolate-tasting expertise, I cannot place what some of the flavours were in this dark drinking chocolate, but it was good! It tasted more or less like drinking chocolate that had been melted. The pastry that it was served with was very good, and reminded me somewhat of a doughnut and/or a croissant – it had a fun, airy and chewy texture going on, and tasted good when paired with the miniature chocolate bar that also came with it.
Stop #18: Winter’s Harvest, Swiss Bakery
A.B. and I made our way east to try a place I have never been to before – Swiss Bakery! I ordered the Winter’s Harvest – a white chocolate matcha drink – with almond milk and she got The Shining Star, a tumeric and coconut milk flavour.
My drink was simply flavoured and not too sweet – the bitterness of the matcha was most apparent when the decorative powder on top made its way on to my lips without being mixed into anything, but the drink itself was mild and pleasant. The tumeric was interesting! I would try that flavour again with chocolate.
The mugs had interesting handles with a subtly flat upper portion, which allowed for the cookie balancing act taking place that accompanied each drink.
Stop #19: Strawberries in the Snow, Last Crumb Bakery & Cafe
On a very snowy morning in the city, we slowly made our way to Last Crumb to try a strawberry-flavoured hot chocolate. I was pretty excited about this, especially after finding out that the chocolate was dark, and not white, as I had expected for a strawberry pairing that had “snow” in the title.
Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about this flavour, because our drinks were extremely mild and even the chocolate was barely present in the steamed almond milk of mine. I could taste some strawberry tones in the foam and the chocolate was mildly detectable throughout, but overall it was like a slightly chocolate-flavoured steamed milk. The cookies served alongside were delectable, though!
Stop #20: Beyond the Milky Way, French Made Baking
One more stop of the day: French Made Baking.
I was pretty exciting to give this one a shot with the vegan macaron option! The drink itself was made with coconut milk and a-pear-antly there was pear flavouring in it. I had trouble detecting the pear through the thickness of the coconut milk and dark chocolate, but there was a bit of a lingering pear-like flavour after swallowing. This was not my favourite drink to have this much of – I think a smaller mug would have sufficed due to the thickness of it – but I did like the interesting flavours and I loved the macaron. It was very thick and chocolaty and it seemed to last forever even though it was so small (lots packed into it!).
I’ll be back for the next four,