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…
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!