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Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival’

Never let it be said I don’t make sacrifices for you blog readers.  For the past several weeks, I’ve made the ultimate sacrifice – sampling and reporting on the various (60+) flavors being offered as part of this year’s Vancouver Hot Chocolate festival…so that you can sip and experience vicariously through me.  You’re welcome!  Today, it’s a David and Goliath battle pitting two new flavors from two previously visited location: Thierry, which served up one of my early festival favorites (The Chocolate Trio), and Bel Cafe that definitely did not (Peppermint Patty).  So, how did the two new offerings fair in our head to head taste-off?

1

The Ampamakia: The base of this hot chocolate is Ampamakia 68% chocolate – a premium chocolate from a special plantation of Valrhona and only available at Thierry.  Served with a marshmallow dipped in 80% chocolate.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe, 1059 Alberni Street

http://www.thierrychocolates.com/

I have marshmallow-averse (Also allergic to feathers apparently) so the chocolate-covered sweet sponges didn’t sway me – although Akemi is a fan and loved them.  It was all about the hot chocolate and, once again, Thierry delivers a wonderful cup. Very good – but not as good as their Trio of Chocolate.

1

Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

http://www.belcafe.com/

I loved the Banana Split as passionately as I disliked the Peppermint Patty.  The banana bread was good (although I prefer the Bella Gelateria/Erin Ireland version) and the marshmallow was as fine as a marshmallow could be, but the hot chocolate itself was spectacular.  Sweet, silky, and substantial.

Verdict: Close, but the underdog pulls the upset here.

Winner: Banana Split (Bel Cafe).

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…Suspicion!

suspicionAlmost every series starts off a little rough before, eventually (hopefully), finding its way.  Sure, there are strong elements in those first few episodes, moments that keep you coming back with the promise of bigger and better, but it’s usually further down the broadcast line when THE episode airs, the REALLY GOOD ONE if not the GREAT ONE, the one that makes you shout “I love this show!” and start recommending it to friends.  And episode #4, Suspicion…

It aint it.  But like the preceding episodes, it has its moments.  And Akemi liked it well enough, again because of the humor (McKay rubbing his numb foot received special praise) and those establishing shots of Atlantis on the water.  In fact, if we followed this episode up with an episode entirely made up of lingering establishers, I suspect it would prove her reigning favorite.

So, what else did our Japanese Stargate newbie think of Suspicion?  Well…

On Bates’ attitude throughout the episode but during the Teyla interview in particular: “Why he so rude?  So unprofessional!”

On Weir’s civilian outfit during said interview: “Why she not wearing uniform? Casual Friday?”

On angry Halling: “Jinto is crazy because his father is crazy.”

And when the Athosians decide to leave the city: “Hurray!”  Evidently, not a fan.

On the black-clad wraith’s first appearance: “Beautiful hair!”

All in all, not a bad episode in her eyes.  In her estimation, better than 38 Minutes but not as good as Hide and Seek.  Still, after SGU, she’s having a difficult time adjusting to the shift in tone: “Maybe because of old and dynamic of the shooting scenes but feels like watching a kid’s show.  Chotto sad.  Anyway, good!”

My past write-up on the episode here offers  a little insight into the episode, my writing partner’s failed attempt to come up with lyrics for the theme song, and a rare recorded duet of the SG-1 theme song with lyrics: June 9, 2012: Dark Matter! Comic Con! Days of Stargate Past – Stargate: Atlantis! Suspicion and Childhood’s End!

[Kathode informs me that link to us singing the theme to Stargate: SG-1 no longer works.  Try this one instead: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owgOxV1V6Cc]

Mailbag:

Jenny Horn writes: “Jinto should have been about 8 years old. It would have made his antics more believable, and it would made one line from his father far less creepy. It’s the line about nothing being as big as my love for you. Cute when said to an 8 year old. Kinda creepy when said to a kid who looks about 12. My Nephew is 12, so….yeah….”

Answer: YES!  When we watched the episode the other night, I remember thinking: “AWKWARD!”.

Majorsal writes: “joe/Answer: As I said, if I sat her down to watch SG-1′s first season, she’d probably excuse herself and then secretly hop on the first plane back to Japan. That was a rocky first season with some very rough visual effects.

what about just showing her a few episodes from each season?”

Answer: No.  Again, it has everything to do with the look of the show – and, the visual effects in particular.  I think I need to slowly acclimatize her, like a lobster in a  pot.  I started with SGU and follow with SGA, then SG-1 seasons 9 and 10 and the movies, then SG-1 season 4-8, and finally SG-1 seasons 1-3.

Deborah Rose writes: “Good scripting. But things like the McKay/Sheppard horse playing and many of the other points could have easily crashed, had the actors not pulled it off.”

Answer: Ah, true enough, but the writer scripts the moment imagining the best-case version of what he has written, having full confidence in the actor’s ability to pull it off.  And, in this case, it was confidence well placed.

gforce writes: “Update – Brio (the budgie) seems to be doing much better today. I guess he just didn’t want to eat while I was away?”

Answer: Well, great to hear.  Separation anxiety maybe?

DP writes: “http://www.deadline.com/2014/02/fremantlemedia-to-adapt-fantasy-novel-american-gods-as-drama-series/  Ha! I’d heard Gaiman was working on a script for this. Just because he’s never written a pilot script only makes it MORE likely he’d do it.”

Answer: Don’t know if he’s ever written a pilot script, but Gaiman certainly has scriptwriting experience.  In addition to episodes of Dr. Who, his screenwriting credits include Stardust, Beowulf, and Neverwhere.

arctic goddess writes: “As a Stargate writer/producer, were you ever surprised at how popular it was with female viewers?”

Answer: When I first joined the production at the start of SG-1’s fourth season, I was surprised.  After all, SF is traditionally seen as a young man’s preferred genre.  But it quickly became apparent to me that viewers may initially tune in for the bells and whistles – the action, adventure, dazzling visual effects, the star – but they’ll only come back for one thing: the characters.  And, at the end of the day, the show’s characters and relationships seemed to resonate more with female viewers…which is not all that surprising.

skua writes: “Have you seen? Shingeki no Kyojin: Ilse no Techou; Attack on Titan: Ilse’s Journal. OVA”

Answer: Not yet.  Is it available on Crunchyroll?

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“You must be so sick of hot chocolate by now,”said my buddy Ivon.  Sick of hot chocolate?!  I can’t afford to be sick!  I’ve only reached the halfway mark of my hot chocolate marathon, my bid to sample all 62-ish flavors being offered as part of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival.

Round #12…

1Twisted Romance: You’ll go gaga over hot chocolate made with Aussie natural black licorice.  Served with chocolate-dipped natural black licorice.

Available at: Gem Chocolates 2029 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver.

www.gemchocolates.ca

The chocolate-dipped natural black liquorice that accompanied this drink was VERY strong.  I couldn’t finish it.  The hot chocolate, in contrast, was actually quite subtle. Chocolate was the predominant flavor with a hint of the black licorice.  Unless, of course, you actually ate the licorice bits that studded the whipped cream topping.

1

Beyond the Milky Way: Valrhona Araguani dark chocolate (72%), pear and almond milk (dairy free).  Served with “Marocaine” (almond flour ball flavoured with orange blossom water (dairy free).

Available: French Made Baking 81 Kingsway, Vancouver

http://frenchmadebaking.com

Another surprisingly subtle entry.  Neither the pear nor the dark chocolate was particularly pronounced, but the flavor of almond milk was unmistakable.  The drink was possessed of a delightfully mellow, smooth and creamy texture.  Akemi quite enjoyed the Marocaine that accompanied our hot chocolate.  I’m not sure why we were served it in a take-out cup since we’d ordered it “for here”.

Verdict: This one was tough.  Both were fine.  By the slimmest of margins…

Winner: Beyond the Milky Way (French Made Baking)

Round #13…

1

Winter Citrus: Take a trip to Seville with this hot chocolate flavoured with orange blossom. Served with a citrus marshmallow.

Available at: Last Crumb Cafe, 3080 Main Street (Main and East 15th), Vancouver.

thelastcrumb

I liked the lingering aftertaste of the slightly bitter orange essence, but Akemi found it almost medicinal and reminiscent of the orange-flavored medicine she used to take as a child.  The hot chocolate was very sweet and didn’t really offer a counterpoint to the equally sweet marshmallow.

1

Chocolat Glacé a la Cardamome:  Cardamom flavoured iced drinking chocolate. Served with a Gaufre de Liège waffle, along with a side of fleur de sel caramel or chocolate hazelnut spread.

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

www.chocolaterienouvellefrance.ca

Something a little different – a chilled chocolate drink with a hint of cardamom. Although I preferred the coconut version I had last week, I thought this drinking chocolate was very good.  And the accompanying waffle, with a side of fleur de del caramel, terrific.

Verdict: Even setting aside the waffle, I have to go with…

Winner: Chocolat Glacé a la Cardamome (Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France)

Alright.  Last night marked the start of our Stargate: Atlantis rematch – and Akemi’s first time watch of the classic SF series.  So, what did she think?

ArrivalWithin the first five minutes (Ancients, Atlantis leaves Earth, the present-day scientists are working at the newly discovered base, talk of the Ancient gene): “I’m confused.”

I gave her a brief primer which she seemed to understand – or, at the very least, pretended to understand because she grew tired listening to the explanation.

She found the visual effects good at parts, okay in others, and was impressed with the size of some of the sets: “I find the place humongous!”

Alas, she didn’t instantly warm to our heroes.  With the exception of Dr. Carson Beckett who she loved from the get-go.  She found him as charming as his accent – which, I informed her was Scottish, much to her surprise: “Oh.  I thought he was Italian!”.

A somewhat reserved response to our hero, John Sheppard, who she didn’t find as dashing as either Daniel Jackson or General O’Neill (or the greatly missed Eli Wallace) and who – I had to break the bad news to her – would not be heading off on the expedition.  And later, when John meets Teyla for the first time: “He is playboy.” And she didn’t seem to mean it in a good way.

As the expedition prepared to head off to parts unknown, I asked her if she would join them if presented with the opportunity.  “Depend on who with,”she answered. When I told her that, quite obviously, she’d be traveling with the expedition members we’d been introduced to, her answer was a definite: “No.”

Later in the episode, when Colonel Sumner’s team encounters off-world humans – who speak perfect English no less: “They speak English?!:  Then: “Perfect English.” And: “Better than me!”

After the episode ended, it was clear she wasn’t as enthusiastic as she’d been after the conclusion of Air I, but she was keeping an open mind: “Need time to get to like characters.”  And some time to get used to the new series: “Different concept.   Visiting planets and visitors.”

Overall: “It’s a bit old compared to SGU.  Not just because of computer graphic but fashion, hair style.”

On the look of the Destiny vs. Atlantis: “SGU seems more alienish.  This one looks more like Tokyo Disneyland attraction.”

And finally, almost apologetically: “I don’t know.  Maybe I don’t love it.”  Well, let’s give it some time.  I’m sure it’ll grow on her.

As for me, it was great rewatching the pilot although, coming back at it fresh, I can see exactly what would have appealed to long-time Stargate fans – and, on the other hand, turned off potential new viewers.  In brief: “Ancients, Ancient gene, English-speaking human aliens”.  I did a brief walk-down-memory-lane write-up on the opening two-parter a couple of years ago:

June 7, 2012: Day of Stargate Past – Atlantis, Rising I and II

 – highlighted by memories of the “new and improved” gate, theories regarding O’Neill’s reluctance to allow Daniel to join the expedition, and the ridiculous hat worn by one actor during an audition.

Rewatching the episode also brought back memories of one of the biggest bones of contention early in the show’s run.  No, not a creative issue.  A hair issue. Specifically, Teyla’s hair which engendered some ferocious criticism from the get-go. The debatee was heated – and didn’t get resolved until episodes later.  Really.

So, what did you all think?

Tomorrow, we move on to Rising II.  I’ll be posting Akemi’s review of the episode -

As well as my Superbowl prediction!

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regulars – and birthday celebrants – Ganymede and Mamasue9!

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Catching up on our tour of the ongoing Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival.  Today, a couple of three-way throwdowns and a few surprises.

Round #10…

1

The Proposition: Eggnog and Rum Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon.  Served with your choice of cookie.

Available at: Koko Monk,  1849 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver

LevniKokoMonk

Ah, one sip and I was instantly transported.  It was Christmas all over again.  Alas, we didn’t receive the promised cookie, but we were so full after a big dinner, we hardly missed it.

1

Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

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

www.cocoanymph.co

My first response to reading the description was: “Chocolate and parmesan?  No.” But after tasting it: “Yes!”.  It was the exact same reaction I had to one of Cocoa Nymph’s 2013 Hot Chocolate Festival entries that combined dark chocolate with basil and balsamic to create what turned out to be one of my Top 5 Fest Favorites. In this case, the scent of the parmesan wafts up off the cup but, when you sip it, it’s all chocolate up front with just a wisp of lingering sharpness at the back.  It was reminiscent of the sweet and savory marriage of bacon and caramel.  At first blush, you don’t think it will work but it does.  And it’s delicious.  Really!  Special mention should be made of the Umami No. 5 fudge that accompanied the hot chocolate.  If it was on the regular shop menu, I’d buy it by the box.

1

Passionista: Fresh passion fruit-infused hot chocolate with Grand Marnier chantilly. Served with passion fruit pate de fruit.

Available at: Thomas Haas, 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver.

http://www.thomashaas.com/

This one was Akemi’s favorite of the six we sampled over this three-day span.   It packs a passionfruit punch without overwhelming the chocolate.  A lovely balance. And that Grand Marnier chantilly?  Killer!

Verdict: On paper, it would have been a toss-up between the two runners-up.  But in the all important taste-off, I have to go with a most unlikely winner…

Winner: Phaun’s Fancy (Cocoa Nymph)

1

The Brunette Bangle: Hot Chocolate with the exotic hint of curry.  Served with your choice of cookie.

Available at: Koko Monk,  1849 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver

LevniKokoMonk

A very nice sipping chocolate with a hint of lingering spice.  Another unique yet surprisingly good entry.

1

The Intimate Act: Milk Chocolate with passionfruit.  Served with a hazelnut cookie.

Available at: Beaucoup Bakery  2150 Fir Street (in Kitsilano)

www.beaucoupbakery.com/

A subtle drink with an excellent passionfruit flavor that shines although the chocolate is strangely muted here.

1

The Campfire: A classic hot chocolate, only with smoky caramel, smoked Hawaiian sea salt.  Served with vanilla marshmallows.

Available at: Thomas Haas, 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver.

http://www.thomashaas.com/

One of the best combinations of sweet and savory so far.  The vanilla marshmallow, lightly studded with smoked Hawaiian sea salt, was fabulous.

Verdict: Another tough call, but if I had to choose one…

Winner: The Campfire (Thomas Haas)

27 flavors down!  35 to go!

Ready to go?!

Ready to go?!

Everyone prepared to trek off to the Pegasus Galaxy one more time?  Hope so because our Stargate: Atlantis rematch kicks off today with the episode that started it all: Rising I.  Watch it today and come armed with your insights, accolades, critiques, and questions tomorrow!  Also, be prepared for Akemi’s unique take on the show as I relay her thoughts on the episode in tomorrow’s blog entry.  Yes, it’s Rising I: The Japanese Girlfriend Review!

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Our tour of the ongoing Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival continues with not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE new concoctions!

The festivities continue through to February 14th, so plenty of time to check out the delectable offerings: January 04, 2014The Hot Chocolate is Here!

Round #8…

1

Evita: gBAR flavoured with salted caramel – Argentina style.   Served with Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” Banana Bread.

Available at: Bella Gelateria, 1001 West Cordova Street.

www.bellagelateria.com

Hmmm.  I found this one a little confused.  All of the various hot chocolates on the menu use a standard base (your choice of milk, dark, or very dark chocolate) to which is added a flavor accent in the form of a gelato bar.  In the case of the Monkey’s Lunch, it all worked.  The banana gelato married well with the chocolate and the banana bread was the perfect accompaniment.  And, while I love the banana bread, it seemed like an odd accompaniment to this hot chocolate.  Also, unlike the Monkey’s Lunch, the flavor of the salted caramel gelato got lost, presumably because of the heavier hot chocolate to bar ratio.

1

Nut Your Traditional Hot chocolate: Chipmunks will chatter over this hot chocolate flavoured with peanut butter.  Served with a berry marshmallow.

Available at: Last Crumb Cafe, 3080 Main Street (Main and East 15th), Vancouver.

thelastcrumb

I suppose you can eat the marshmallow separately, but I preferred to dunk it in the hot chocolate so that it gradually melted, imparting the drink with a unique berry sweetness to counterbalance the slight saltiness of the peanut butter.  This is about as close as you can get to drinking peanut butter and jelly.  And it’s damn good.

The Verdict: I’m a sucker for peanut butter.  I love salted caramel too but, for some reason, its flavors were strangely muted in the Evita.

Winner: Nut Your Traditional Hot Chocolate (Last Crumb Cafe)

Round #9…

1

Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck: A 70% dark chocolate ganache with condensed milk, salted kettle chips, and vanilla whipped cream.  Served with a 72% dark chocolate wafer.

Available at: Mink Chocolates, 863 West Hastings St., Vancouver. On the park (cross street, Hornby.)

/mink.chocolates

An assembly of ingredients as inspired as its name, bursts of sweet and salty, silky, whispy, and crispy.  It seems like a bizarre combination but it works.  Really, REALLY well.  The hot chocolate base almost attains a consistency just short of pudding. Shatter the chips, mix in the whipped cream, and you’ve got one of the most fun flavors of the festival so far.  And damn delicious to boot!

1

Hot Toddy Float:  You’d stay warm and cozy even in the peaks of Grouse Mountain with this buttered rum hot chocolate blended with wild mountain honey ice cream.

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

www.soirette.com

I might have enjoyed this one a little more in a regular cup instead of a take-away cup, but it was quite good nevertheless.  My only complaint was that, by the time my drink hit the table, the honey ice cream was no longer solid.  In fairness, it may have been intentional – which is too bad since two of my top hot chocolates of the festival so far (Chocolate Arts’ Snowball’s Chance in Hell and Thierry’s Trio of Chocolate) executed the hot/cold contrast to great effect.

1

Peppermint Patty: Made from 70% Valrhona guanaja chocolate infused with organic peppermint and vanilla bean chantilly.  Served with a double fudge cookie.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

http://www.belcafe.com/

Yeaaaargh!  The first misfire of the festival!  Lacking any discernible sweetness, this drink was like taking a mint buckshot to the throat.  It was so intense in its mint flavor that I thought it might work better as a topical muscle relaxant instead of a drink.

Verdict: Thick chocolate ganache, kettle chips and whipped cream?  UNREAL!

Winner: Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck (Mink Chocolates)

Joining us on today’s tour was blog regular Kathode who took time away from her busy schedule to watch me achieve a sugar high unlike any other.

The chocolate line-up at Mink

The chocolate line-up at Mink.  I picked up a few.  For later.  MUCH later.

I snap a pic for my blog of Kathode snapping a pic…for her blog?  How meta.

I snap a pic for my blog of Kathode snapping a pic…for her blog? How meta.

I bet her dog has a matching hat.

Wait!  Are you supposed to drink this or apply it to your feet?

21 flavors down.  We’re one third of the way to the finish line!

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regular M. Reed.  Condolences on the loss of her beloved dog.  Condolences.

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In addition to scriptwriting (and rewriting), I’ve been very busy running around town testing the various hot chocolates that make up this year’s Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival!  Today, we reached the 1/4 mark of our epic chocolate journey…

Round #6…

1

Chocolat Glacé:  Iced drinking chocolate.  Served with a Gaufre de Liège waffle, along with a side of fleur de sel caramel or chocolate hazelnut spread..

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

www.chocolaterienouvellefrance.ca

Surprisingly refreshing.  Not overly sweet, it strikes a nice textural, neither too thick nor too thin.

1

The Hive:  ‘Hives for Humanity’ honey dark drinking chocolate.  Served with a honey nib caramel.

Available at: East Van Roasters, 319 Carrall St, Vancouver, B.C.

East Van Roasters

A gloriously frothy cup of hot chocolate, the sweetness of the honey accented by just a touch of salt.  I liked it, but Akemi isn’t  a believer of the “adding salt to sweet” school of dessert preparation.  The honey nib caramel served with the hot chocolate embodied the same contrasting flavors and I loved it.  A heavenly two bites.

The Verdict: Both great in completely different ways.  But, if I had to choose…

The Winner: The Hive (East Van Roasters).

Round #7:

1

Chocolat Glacé à la Noix de Coco:  Coconut flavoured iced drinking chocolate.  Served with a Gaufre de Liège waffle, along with a side of fleur de sel caramel or chocolate hazelnut spread.

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

www.chocolaterienouvellefrance.ca

While the regular iced chocolate drink was great, this one, fairly bursting with coconut flavor, was even better.  Initially, I feared the flavor might stray into cloying Pina Colada territory but it turned out to be surprisingly strong in chocolate flavor as well.  The warm local waffle serve with the home made hazelnut spread was to die for.

1

Granville Island Grocery List:  Inspired by the flavours of Granville Island, this is a beet and saffron hot chocolate.  Served with a Gjetost macaron.

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

www.soirette.com

Well I have to give Soirette credit for creativity.  Last visit, it was Five Spice Chocolate.  This time, it was beet and saffron and chocolate.  Like the last time, the chocolate base was amazing, but the inspired ingredients maybe a little…to inspired? To be fair, I’m a little biased when it comes to saffron (I think it tastes like public pool water) and, while I enjoy beets, the tiny pieces at the bottom of my cup felt a little out of place.  I was, however, mightily impressed with the macaron, the meringue sandwiching a piece of Gjetost, a slightly sweet cheese so unique I actually referenced it in an episode of Stargate: SG-1 (http://culturecheesemag.com/events/gjetost_gets_shout_out_stargate).

Verdict: Both quality products but there’s only one I’d go back to again.  And again.

Winner: Chocolat Glacé à la Noix de Coco (Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France).

That’s 16 hot chocolates down, some 46 to go!

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So, things are progressing nicely on all project fronts.

A.K.A.: We’re working with Thunderbird Films, developing this one for Bell Media. Paul is presently doing a  pass on the pilot script while I work on the series overview. We have our notes call on the script for episode #2 tomorrow which will give us plenty of time to input any changes and deliver the entire package (both scripts and the overview) late next week.  Hopefully.  I hear that the broadcaster will be making decisions in the month of February so, thankfully, we’ll have our answer soon enough.  Also in contention for a series order are projects by Robert Cooper (Soul Hunter, a super fun show along the lines of a sexier, darker Buffy) and Mark Savela (Echoes, an Earth-based, alien-influenced SF extravaganza with our friend Carl Binder at the creative helm).

The Southern Gothic pilot: We’ve finished a first draft and it’s in Tara’s hands for now.  Once my schedule frees up, probably the week after next, I’ll look to shave five pages from the draft and do a “southern dialogue” polish.

That horror script: Alex and I talked through the story and agreed that I would start writing while he concentrated on Orphan Black.  The plan was to get him 30 pages in February when he would finally have the time to commit to the project.  Then, 30 pages become 40.  Then 50.  Then 60.  The further along I got, the more pieces came together and, by the end, I was on a roll.  On Monday, I completed a first draft of the script that, at 83 pages, is admittedly patchy at points, but I think a very promising start.  Some of the scenes I envisioned kept me up nights, so that’s probably a good sign.

That SF pitch: Late in 2013, we were in Toronto pitching broadcasters a series based on a novel by a popular SF writer.  In February, we take our show back on the road, this time to L.A.

That Super Secret Project: This one promised to be a lot of fun and things were coming together nicely…until some lawyers got involved at which point things ground to a halt.  It’s too bad.  I know it would have been something you all would’ve enjoyed.

Continuing our tour of the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 2014!

Round #4…

1 Kiss ‘N Tell: Kissed by the sun, some things are meant to go together, just like orange and chocolate.  Served with a candied orange peel chocolate creation.

Available at: Gem Chocolates 2029 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver.

www.gemchocolates.ca

The drinking chocolate here was lighter in comparison to some of the other places we tried and the orange flavor very subtle.  The candied orange peel that accompanied the hot chocolate, on the other hand, was bursting with concentrated orange flavor.

1

Like Feathers & Snow: White Chocolate with warm spices.  Served with a cardamom cookie.

Available at: Beaucoup Bakery  2150 Fir Street (in Kitsilano)

www.beaucoupbakery.com/

A nice, flavorful, fulsome cup that married to perfection the sweetness of the white chocolate with the redolence of the spices.  The ideal hot chocolate for those stay-in-out-of-the-cold conditions.

The Verdict: Both were nice sipping chocolates but given the choice I’d go back for the…

Winner: Like Feathers & Snow (Beaucoup Bakery).

Round #5…

1

Five Spice Dragon: To sip on while taking in all Chinatown has to offer – five spice flavoured hot chocolate.  Served with a Fennel Fortune Cookie.

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

www.soirette.com

Going in, I wasn’t at all sure about the chocolate and five spice combo.  And, after having it, I’m still unconvinced.  The actual chocolate base was very nice.

1

Trio of Chocolate: The base of this hot chocolate is 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe 1059 Alberni Street

http://www.thierrychocolates.com/

So here’s how it’s supposed to work.  You’re served the white chocolate ice cream in the cup topped by a chocolate lid.  The hot chocolate is served separately for you to pour through the opening in the chocolate lid (see it pictured above).  For some reason, my order was served with the hot chocolate already in the cup so that, by the time I reached the table, then went back and got a spoon they forgot to give me, the ice cream was mostly melted.  Despite this annoying oversight, this was probably the best hot chocolate I’ve had so far.  Decadently indulgent.

Verdict: Alas, despite the service lapse, this one wasn’t even close.

Winner: Trio of Chocolate (Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe).

12 down, about 48 to go!

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As I mentioned in a recent blog entry (assuming you were paying attention) The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival kicked off today.  Running from January 18th to February 14th, it features over 60+ flavors (although I only count 58 flavors including a special off-the-menu 99% dark drinking chocolate offered at Bella Gelateria.  The list of numbered varieties at the city food site mysteriously jumps from #36 to #41, skipping four spots) at 20 different locations around the city.

This year, in an effort to keep pace, Akemi and I will be sampling two different hot chocolates a day and pitting them, head to head, on the way to naming our Top 5 Festival Favorites.  Last year’s winners were a nice mix of the classic and the crazy:

#5: Malteaser: Barley malt-infused hot chocolate served with salt caramel malt truffles. (Thomas Haas)

#4: The Josiah: Basil drinking chocolate topped with housemade strawberry marshmallows. (Cocoa Nympth)

#3: 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. (Bella Gelateria)

#2: Armoury Amour: Cocoa Barry  “Madirofolo”– a single plantation chocolate, kissed with raspberry and served with a mini lemon and basil ice cream sandwich(Chocolate Arts)

#1: Jasmine: 64% dark chocolate – origin: Ecuador. Infused with jasmine and served with choice of chocolate square. (Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France)

February 17, 2013: The Hot Chocolate Festival Wrap-up! And the Winners are…!

Today, we hit two different chocolate hot spots, pitting Cocoa Nymph’s Aphrodite Delights against French Made Baking’s Magnifique Brunette!

The contestants:

1

The Aphrodite: 72% dark chocolate, with mango rosemary puree and almond milk (vegan and dairy free).  Served with a side of rosemary anise fudge.

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

The rosemary in the rosemary puree was so subtle as to be almost non-existent.  Not necessarily a bad thing as I’m still unconvinced that chocolate and rosemary make a good mix, but if if you’re going to advertise rosemary, it should taste a little like rosemary.  The mango was element was there but not overpowering.  The chocolate, as fruit-accented chocolates often do, was possessed of a lingering subtle sourness. Despite being prepared with almond milk, the drink was thick and rich.  The side anise-rosemary fudge (the rosemary was a little more pronounced here but not that much more, possibly owing to the contrasting flavors of the dark hot chocolate).  I also had two PB&J truffles which I think I’d preferred minus the J.

1

Magnifique Brunette: Valrhona Araguani Dark Chocolate (72%) with coconut milk and toasted coconut. Served with “Congolais” (coconut macaroon dipped in chocolate).

Available: French Made Baking 81 Kingsway, Vancouver

http://frenchmadebaking.com

A beautiful-looking cup but ultimately lacking in fullness of flavor.  The drinking chocolate was thin, no doubt owing to the coconut milk base, and the contrasting temperatures – the heat of the liquid chocolate and the coolness of the topping – were more interesting than appealing.  I wasn’t a fan of the coconut shavings that added texture but not much in the way of taste.

VERDICT: Alas, even though I’m not a huge fan of the ubiquitous fruit and chocolate combo, this one wasn’t even close.

WINNER: Aphrodite Delight (Cocoa Nymph)

A big thanks to those offering their heartfelt congratulations on my making this list: http://www.bellmediapr.ca/Network/Bell-Media/Press/Bell-Media-Announces-29-Drama-Projects-in-Development

But, before we get a little ahead of ourselves and start checking the t.v. listings for the premiere date, allow me to dull your enthusiasm with little a reality check.  The project listed, along with the 28 others, has not been ordered to series.  It is merely “in development”.  Now don’t get me wrong.  Development is a significant first step toward getting a show on the air and not many people attain this coveted initial stage in the production process.  My neighbors to either side of me, for instance, do NOT have any projects in development at any of the networks.  Neither does the guy who runs the second-hand bookshop I occasionally frequent.  My  uncle Vic, despite his wonderfully humorous anecdotes, has no development deal.  Those Wassup Guys?  No development deal.  (Well, okay, they had one back in 2000 but I imagine it must have run its course by now).  Real Housewives alum Dina Manzo and Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham?  No development deals.  No, wait.  I stand corrected.  They DO have developments deals.  Never mind.

Anyway, my point is that having a show in development is nice, but actually having a show on the air is awesome – and one does not necessarily lead to the other.  In theory, yes, but in practice – as I learned with Dark Matter – not always the case.

So all this to say thanks, but let’s temper our expectations.  Our project is one of 29 under consideration at this point.  But if we do get the green light, you’ll be the first to know.

After Paul and me.  And our agents.  And friends and family.  And, possibly, anyone within a thirty foot radius when I receive the news.

And, while we’re on the subject, let’s offer another round of congratulations to two people (and former Stargate vets) I overlooked (after overlooking first Lawren Bancroft-Wilson and then Mark Savela).  Congratulations to Andy Mikita who picked up a nomination in the Best Direction in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series category for Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story.  Also, congratulations to Michael Shanks who received a nomination in the Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Dramatic Program or Mini-Series category, also for Mr. Hockey: The Gordie Howe Story.

I went over the full list of nominees and believe I’ve congratulated everyone I know.  In the event I’ve been remiss and you or someone you know has been nominated for a Canadian Screen Award, please leave your name, nomination category, and production for which you have been nominated in the comments section of this blog and I will rectify the oversight in my next entry.

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