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Posts Tagged ‘Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France’

Akemi and I tried to make the most of the last few days of the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival by checking out some of the more intriguing offerings we had yet to sample…

1Canadian Classic: 100% pure hazelnut with 38% milk chocolate served with four pieces of artisan chocolate.

At: Schokolade 2263 East Hastings Street, Vancouver

http://www.schokoladecafe.com/

Sweeter than most of the more bitter dark chocolate varieties we sampled and more straightforward than the sweeter, but layered, white chocolate entries.  Simply a nice, rich roasted favor.

1The Gold Medal: Salted Pecan & Maple Syrup (the gold medal winner from the 2012 Gelato Competition in Italy), served with Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” Banana Bread.

At: Bella Gelateria 1001 West Cordova Street.

www.bellagelateria.com

An enormous serving of rich, premium dark chocolate served with fantastic banana bread for half the price of some of the festival’s high-end entries.  Bitter, sweet, salty, and incredibly satisfying.

1The Lumberjack: Bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup hot chocolate served with a Douglas fir-infused chantilly, maple & vanilla shortbread. 

At: Thomas Haas 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver.

http://www.thomashaas.com/

I wasn’t sure about the Douglas fir-infused chantilly but, like other delicious instances during this hot chocolate festival, I was pleasantly surprised.  Also something else I discovered over the last few weeks: chocolate + maple syrup = killer combination.

1The King’s Cup – Ode to Elvis: Hot chocolate with peanut butter and banana served with a macaron or cookie.

At: Soirette Macarons & Tea 1433 West Pender Street, Vancouver. (Coal Harbour)

www.soirette.com

Inspired by what was purportedly Elvis’s favorite treat (fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches), this delectable drink combines all three ingredients to tasty effect.  The peanut crumble rim was genius.

1The Scandal of Singapore: Spicy dark chocolate with rice milk.

At: Beta 5 (http://shop.beta5chocolates.com/and The Juice Truck (usually found on the corner of Abbott and Water in Gastown).

I actually had it with almond milk instead and it was quite good, with just enough spice to catch the back of your throat but not linger too long.

*

My final tally: 36 out of 60 flavors sampled.  Given that the festival was only 27 days long, I consider that a pretty respectable score.  And, now that it’s finally over, it’s time to pick my Top 5 Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 2013 Favorites.  Drum roll, please…

Coming in at #5:

1

Malteaser: Barley malt-infused hot chocolate served with salt caramel malt truffles.

Available: At Thomas Haas 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver.

http://www.thomashaas.com/

Terrific!  I could have had two but I’m sure the sugar rush would’ve killed me.

A pleasantly surprising top five finisher – in the #4 spot:

1

The Josiah: Basil drinking chocolate topped with housemade strawberry marshmallows.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver
www.cocoanymph.co

Basil drinking chocolate?  Really?  Oh, yeah.  Really!  I was admittedly dubious but one taste thoroughly won me over.  The best hot chocolate I had that week.

A pleasantly unsurprising top-five finisher – at #3:

1

Italian Honey Moon: Honey nougat and hazelnut made with Avalon Organic milk and Michel Cluizel chocolate served with Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” Banana Bread.

Available: At Bella Gelateria 1001 West Cordova Street.

www.bellagelateria.com

I was leery at first.  Hot chocolate topped with shards of honey nougat? I love particulates (that’s what they call ‘em) in my ice cream, but in my drinking chocolate?  Well, they turned out to be a wonderful little textural addition to the drink.  I am now a hot chocolate particulate convert!

As a personal rule, fruit and chocolate don’t mix – and yet, inexplicably, defying all logic, it works perfectly here.  Coming in at #2 (and, incidentally, Akemi’s #1):

1

Armoury Amour: Cocoa Barry  “Madirofolo”– a single plantation chocolate, kissed with raspberry and served with a mini lemon and basil ice cream sandwich.

Available: At Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).

http://www.chocolatearts.com/

Well, damn, this was a surprise!  I’m not a fan of the fruit-chocolate combo and find raspberry a particularly reprehensible partner but this heavenly creation sang.  Akemi’s overall favorite so far and a definite Top 3 finisher for yours truly.  Loved the raspberry sugar rim.

Which brings us to my favorite hot chocolate of the festival.  At #1:

1

Jasmine: 64% dark chocolate – origin: Ecuador. Infused with jasmine and served with choice of chocolate square.

Available: At Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France 198 East 21st Ave., Vancouver, B.C.

www.chocolaterienouvellefrance.ca

Surprisingly spectacular.  Just the right chocolate married with the perfect balance of jasmine yields the most exquisite hot chocolate of the festival so far.

*

And rounding out my Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 2013 Top Ten: The King’s Cup – Ode to Elvis (Soirette), Pretty in Pink (Bel Cafe), Ohhh Canada (Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe)Blond Mystique (Secret Location), One in a Million (Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie, Cafe).

 

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Thanks to everyone who took the time to offer their sage advice on my recent “dilemma of the day” (February 10, 2013: Let’s all pitch in and help me plan my life!).  I was actually leaning one way but, after reading some very convincing arguments, am now reconsidering. Tomorrow, I’ll be meeting with my accountant who will no doubt help shed some light on/further complicate the issue.

Meanwhile, things are…progressing (?) on the projects front…

The SF series: Hmmm.  I was kind of hoping we would have received the good word by now (that word, of course, being: “Go!”).  We have broadcasters on board but require another piece or two of the financial puzzle to complete the package.  I refuse to end up in a situation where I’m expected to produce a show with little cash but a lot of good intentions.  Space ships don’t come cheap, y’know?

The Urban Fantasy series: We’ll be delivering our second draft tomorrow.  Word is we’ll be shooting the pilot this spring.  Beyond that…who knows?

The other SF series: Has garnered a fair amount of interest on the concept alone (based on a pre-existing literary work).  It’s with the lawyers now and, whenever the deal gets sewn up, we can finally start working on the script.

The Drama spec: While the aforementioned are all very promising paying gigs, it never hurts to have a few scripts under your belt…just in case.  I’ve decided to simply go ahead and outline this female-driven “fish-out-of-water” pilot.  I’ll spend a few days beating it out and then, once a satisfactory structure is in place, I’ll crack open a bottle of Jagermeister and spend the weekend hammering out that first draft.

The SF/Horror/Fantasy spec: Ah, why choose one when you can do all three at the same time?  Colorful characters!  Humor!  Over-the-top action!  Writing this one will be a lot fun – provided I have the time.

The Horror movie: It went out a couple of months ago and has engendered some interest, but nothing solid.  This one seems like a no-brainer to me and, depending on how these other projects pan out, I’m thinking of pulling it back in March, financing it through Kickstarter, and producing it myself.

The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival ends in three days!  You better move quickly if you want to check out  the 50-some flavors available around town.

I, of course, have been trying my best.  But, evidently, my best won’t be good enough in the end.  Still, I gave it a game effort.

I started off sampling fourteen different hot chocolates in the the first week of the festival: January 31, 2013: The Hot Chocolate Festival!

Followed by another ten soon after: February 6, 2013: The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival Tour II!

And, most recently:

1Tosca: Dark chocolate and rum served with a choice of chocolate or liege waffle sample.

Available: Every day of the festival at Leonidas #29 – 1055 Canada Place (Vancouver Convention Centre West), Vancouver.

www.leonidaswaterfront.com

A fine hot chocolate though a touch too boozy.

1Frozen Noisette: Melted praline blended into frozen yogurt, topped with a shot of melted chocolate, and finished with crushed hazelnuts. Served with a choice of chocolate or liege sample waffle.

Available: Every day of the festival at Leonidas #29 – 1055 Canada Place (Vancouver Convention Centre West), Vancouver.

www.leonidaswaterfront.com

A double rarity: gjianduja-based cold hot chocolate.  And it was utterly, doubly delicious.

1Beyond the Milky Way: Dark chocolate (64%) made with almond milk and coconut milk, flavoured with natural pear extract. Dairy free.

Available: February 2-8 at French Made Baking 81 Kingsway, Vancouver

http://frenchmadebaking.com

Liked the chocolate a lot but thought it was weakened by the almond and coconut milk.  The pear was very subtle.

1Rose of Ecuador: 64% dark chocolate – origin: Ecuador. Infused with rose petals, and served with choice of chocolate square.

Available: Every day of the chocolate festival at Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France 198 East 21st Ave., Vancouver, B.C.

www.chocolaterienouvellefrance.ca

Finally!  A rose-infused version that makes use of dark chocolate instead of the standard white.  And it was wonderful.  A perfect balance of flavors.  That gang here definitely know their hot chocolate!

1Anise:  64% dark chocolate – origin: Mexico. Infused with aniseed, and served with choice of chocolate square.

Available: Every day of the chocolate festival at Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France 198 East 21st Ave., Vancouver, B.C.

www.chocolaterienouvellefrance.ca

With the exception of the Orange Blossom, every hot chocolate I’ve had at Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France has been incredibly well-balanced.  Here, the licorice flavor is present but compliments rather than conquers the chocolate.

1The Emily Rose: Orange drinking chocolate, topped with housemade rose-coconut marshmallows.

Available: February 2- 14 at Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver
www.cocoanymph.co

Cocoa Nymph makes a damn fine cup of hot chocolate.  The tartness of the orange combined with the sweetness of the coconut and the bitterness of the dark chocolate to deliver one of Akemi’s favorites.

1The Josiah: Basil drinking chocolate topped with housemade strawberry marshmallows.

Available: February 8 – 14 at Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver
www.cocoanymph.co

Basil drinking chocolate?  Really?  Oh, yeah.  Really!  I was admittedly dubious but one taste thoroughly won me over.  The best hot chocolate I had this week.

I’m really going to have to make these last few days count!

3rd-vancouver-hot-chocolate-festival

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Every April, I hold something called a Chocolate Party, an annual event in which I gathered some fifty of my closest friends, feed them dinner, then try to kill them with massive amounts of chocolate.  Over the years, this event has grown, from a modest get-together at my home to a gastronomic blow-out at Fuel now Refuel) Restaurant.  The evening goes something like this:

The guests gathers.  We chat and drink.

We sit down and enjoy an incredible multi-course meal prepared by Chef Rob, Chef Ted, and the rest of the gang.

Then, we move onto the main event: Chocolate! Chocolate! Chocolate!

It seems fairly straightforward, but even the most dedicated chocoholic would be hard-pressed to sample all that’s an display – the varied master creations of some twenty chocolatiers from all over the world.  This year, I brought in chocolates from Paris, Troyes, Barcelona, Austria, London, Brighton, New York, San Francisco, Kansas City, Fort Myers, Montreal, Vermont, and, of course, Vancouver.  It was quite a night!

I arrived early to help set up the chocolates along the massive bar and counter area, fully covering all available space with chocolates from…

This year marked four straight appearances for New York’s MareBelle. The 100 Piece Blue Box, pictured here, never fails to draw a crowd.

Also from MarieBelle, the hugely popular Croquette au Chocolat: buttery European cookie milk and dark chocolate bars. Each box contains 4 bars. I ordered six boxes – and they were all gone by night’s end.

It was two years in a row for New York’s Jacques Torres (aka Mr. Chocolate). They usually don’t ship to Canada but made an exception last year after I sent them a link to previous chocolate parties. And we’re glad they did. Their champagne truffles – a combination of milk chocolate, fresh cream, and actual Tattinger Brut la Francaise never fails to impress. I ordered two boxes because they proved so popular last year – and they too were all gone by night’s end. In addition to the champagne truffles, the Jacques Torres corner also included a fifty piece assortment of their hand-crafted chocolates and bars.

One of my personal favorites – Jean-Paul Hevin – presents his marvelous creations in an eye-catching “cave a chocolat”. Basically, it’s a briefcase full of chocolate!

Also from Jean-Paul Hevin, a coffret filled with composed of 8 blisters filled with dark, coffee, milk and milk-caramel with refined salt palets. In addition, I also ordered a box of Hevin’s intense truffles and a Cheese Chocolate Appetizer box that included flavors like époisses cheese/ cumin, Pont l’évêque cheese/thyme, goat cheese/hazelnut, and roquefort/walnut. Ashleigh’s favorite! She made off with any leftovers.

Barcelona’s Oriol Balaguer has been described as a gastronomic revolutionary. One bite of his inspired creations and you’ll no doubt agree.

Also from Oriol Balaguer: luscious ganache-filled mini-tubes in a variety of delectable flavors – Passionfruit, Orange, Yuzu, Raspberry, Star Anise, and – Carl’s wife’s favorite – Hazelnut Praline with Pop Rocks.  You can order them from Borne Confections in New York.

Making their first appearance: chocolates from Troyes’ Pascal Caffet. A sampling of the award-winning patissier’s chocolates included Earl Grey Tea and Hazelnut Praliné with Coriander.  Also available from Borne Confections.

Paris’s Debauve & Gallais boast a rich 200 year tradition of chocolate-making as the appointed supplier to Kings Louis XVIII, Charles X and Louis-Philippe. The selection includes a 54 piece assortment, a 36 piece pralines collection, and Les Incroyables (pearls of caramelized roasted Spanish almond coated in dark chocolate) that WERE incredible! These blew away Jamil Walker Smith.

Compliments of my friend Cynthia in London comes Rococo Chocolates’ award-winning salty caramel ravioli. The assortment included dark chocolate with chilli, milk chocolate with sea salt, and white chocolate with cardamom.

Another Parisian heavy hitter, La Maison du Chocolat represents with their Initiation Set of 20 pralines and ganaches. Also, smooth and creamy caramel truffles an Arriba Gift Set of smooth dark chocolate ganaches and…

La Maison du Chocolat’s Habanera Gift Box: dark chocolate perfumed with vine peaches and milk chocolate infused with mirabelle plums. Another annual favorite.

Another little something from Cynthia in the U.K.: Demarquette’s ganache assortment, a signature blend of carefully selected pure single origin and single estate cocoas.

Wow! Some of the evening’s most visually striking offerings came from Norman Love in Fort Myers, Florida. Pictured here: the black single origin chocolate collection.

Another striking offering from Norman Love: the 50 Piece Chocolate Gift Box.

Norman Love chocolate bars: chocolate caramel pecan, peanut caramel, coconut milk chocolate almond, and chocolate hazelnut. Another wow!

A few years ago, a friend brought me back a box of Recchiuti chocolates from San Francisco. They were nothing short of revelatory. For two years, I tried to convince Recchiuti to make an exception to their “no shipping to Canada” policy with no success. Until this year. Pictured here, The Platinum Collection. Marvelous chocolates. I also ordered their Dragee Sampler which comes with with Burnt Caramel Almonds, Burnt Caramel Hazelnuts, Peanut Butter Pearls, Cherries Two Ways.

Also from Recchiuti, Key Lime Pears and Peanut Butter Pucks. Both garnered a lot of fans over the course of the evening.

Barcelona’s Enric Rovira offers up something called The Planetarium – all nine planets and the sun. Mars tastes of Earl Grey tea, the sun of Williams pears and Earth of salt and pepper.

In addition to a truffle selection with flavors ranging from fiery Habanero to peaty Scotch, the Enric Rovira corner also included Bombolas – Covered in intense 70 dark chocolate, flavors include corn, pumpkin seed, pink pepper, lemon, and cocoa nib. The pink pepper and lemon were particularly well-received.  Alegio Chocolate in Berkley carries the Enric Rovira line – and it’s a little closer than Spain.

Missed them last year because they were closed, but Vancouver’s DC Duby made a triumphant chocolate party return with their Arome Collection (praline butter filling is scented with enchanting oil infusions and studded with luscious sun-ripened fruit jellies), Texture Collection (praline butter filling is scented with alluring and exotic spice blends, and studded with honey caramelized nuts or seeds, plump dried fruits or candied citrus peels) and various other imaginative creations.

Requisite dark chocolate fountain.

The requisite milk chocolate fountain.

Representing Kansas City with a stunning assortment – Christopher Elbow.

An assortment from Vancouver’s own Thomas Haas.

And while I was at Thomas Haas picking up chocolate, I spied these delectable-looking chocolate macarons. I sampled one – and ended up buying the tray.

San Francisco’s Jin Patisserie, another chocolate party mainstay, never fails to impress with its delicate creations. This one is Chef Rob’s favorite.

Another U.K. entry compliments of Cynthia – Brighton’s Montezuma’s Chocolates.

Everybody had their personal favorite, and this one way mine – France’s Patrick Roger. Cocoa bean chips, mini-rochers, ganache with hazelnut praline and almond paste, citrus caramels, and a fantastic assortment.

Making a first chocolate party appearance – Montreal’s Gendron Confiseur Chocolatier. I sampled these when I visited Montreal last month and was mightily impressed with their delicate texture and flavors. The ganache assortment included Hawaiian coffee Kaüai, black spruce, mimosa, Matcha, Lapsan Souchong, Tahitian vanilla, Alba truffle, Roquefort, caramel a la fleur de sel, pistachio, cranberry, and grapefruit.

Also from Montreal, Le Maitre Chocolatier delivers a terrific assortment -

- some INTENSE alcohol-spiked chocolates, and -

A double decadent combination of foie gras and chocolate. Everyone who tried them was pleasantly surprised by these truffles.

File this one under “fun”. Austria’s Zotter Chocolates is known for flavors famed and infamous: celery, truffle and port wine, peanuts and ketchup, and lemon polenta to name a few.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching Throwdown With Bobby Flay and watched him take on The Vermont Brownie Company and their signature chevre brownie. Impressed, I elected to include these delectable treats in the line-up this year.

Speaking of brownies, check out this decadent Callebeaut-chocolate version from Vancouver’s own Linda Meinhardt. David Blue declared them the best brownies he’s ever eaten.

Another great local entry was Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France. Exquisite ganaches and truffles.

Eventually, the guests started to arrive -

Stuart, Brian, and John

Ashleigh, Lawren, and James

Ivon

Kathy and Will

Teresa and Alan. Oh, and Carl.

Alan and Kerry (with a Y)

Carl, Karen, and Debbie

Peter and Holly

Louis peruses the menu.

And likes what he sees.

Alaina and John

Elyse

Ashleigh and Kerry (with a Y).

David snaps me snapping him.

Jeffrey and Elyse

Al

Me

Carl sports his hungry face.

Jen

Everyone eventually took their seats and dinner got underway…

Amuse bouche of broccoli soup and Welsh rarebit. Not rabbit. Rarebit (coined “cheezy bread” by some). Delicious!

Alan smiles while his wife chokes on her drink.

Ashleigh and James

Remi and Cintia

Alan and Kerry (with a Y).

Lawren

One for Brian’s mom.

Lawren presents the butter lettuce salad with smoked coppa and heirloom beets.  Excellent.  I’m all about the beets.

The partial line-up

The partial line-up.

In the kitchen: Tom, Chef Rob, and Chef Ted.

Black truffles!

Tagliatelle with black truffle and cultured butter. THIS was the dish everyone was talking about all night. Simple yet sublime.

Chef Rob invited me back into the kitchen to watch them finish the prime rib. Cooked sous-vide until rare, then given a crispy coating.

Cirspy Duck Confit and Prime Beef! Two types of awesome!

Denise

Jen and Jamil. And Louis too!

Debbie, Alaina, and Hillary.

Ivon and Elyse

Kathy and Will

I ask the kitchen to include a little something special in Ashleigh’s vegetarian option. Yes, some crispy duck.

Well, look who’s fashionably late. It’s Patrick Gilmore.

My crispy duck confit with mustard spaetzle. Lots of oohing and aahing over this dish.

Brad and Debbie

Kandas and Andy

Steve and Jodi

Alex

Kerry

With a Y.

A Stargate of sorbets!

Chef Rob prepared a special treat: macarons! Vanilla-caramel sea salt here.

And a pile of chocolate macarons here. Best macarons I've had since leaving Tokyo.

With dinner done, we moved onto the main event…

Ashleigh elbows her way to the front and grabs some of the Jean-Paul Hevin Cheese-Chocolate.

Ashleigh steals Jamil's chevre brownie.

Decisions, decisions...

One of these things does NOT belong. Carl plays mix 'n match with the selection.

Patrick and Ivon attempt to re-enact that infamous Superbowl Snickers commercial.

Peter says "Come on!"

The boys

Chef Rob

Chef Ted

Tom

Jen and Lawren

Thanks to the gang at Refuel for an incredible evening!

What a night!

And what  a day – spent uploading all of these pictures!

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