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Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver’

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…

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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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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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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):

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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:

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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.

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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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I am melty sleepy” – Akemiism.  Translation: I’m REALLY sleepy.

It was nice today, so we ended up checking out the local farmer’s market with Jelly.  On the way home, we happened to come across a street festival so we parked, hopped out, and too that in as well.

Seriously. It looks like they’re actually cooking the chili out part of a tank.

The lady pictured took a HUGE crepe.

What Vancouver street festival would be complete without the ubiquitous octopus ball stand?

The maple-bacon ice cream sandwich from Fable.

I know. She looks ridiculous. But given her hip problems, this is the only way she gets out to take in some of the sights the more mobile Bubba and Lulu get to check out.

On an unrelated note – ooooh, I feel a rant coming in.  Best to let it simmer for a couple of days and then really let loose, maybe Tuesday or Wednesday.

So, like the title of this entry says: What was the greatest season-ending cliffhanger in Stargate history?

Within the Serpent’s Grasp: After being forced to kill Klorel/Skaara, SG-1 looks on helplessly as death gliders are launched toward Earth.

Out of Mind: The team is captured by Hathor who intends to implant one of them with a symbiote.

Nemesis: The replicator-infested Asgard ship is destroyed, but one replicator has survived – and has reached Earth.

Exodus: The team finds itself stranded, four million light years from home – with Apophis.

Camelot: The Ori kick ass, one of the Earth ships is destroyed, Carter is left floating in space while Vala, pregnant with the Orici, looks on helplessly.

The Siege II: Atlantis is about to fall to the wraith while Sheppard makes a suicide run against a enemy hive ship.

Allies: The wraith are headed to Earth – with Ronon and McKay in tow!

First Strike: Elizabeth and Ronon are injured, Atlantis is stranded in the middle of nowhere, and the zpm has only enough energy to power the city for twenty-four hours…

The Last Man: In an effort to locate a pregnant Teyla, kidnapped by Michael, Sheppard unwittingly leads a rescue team into a trap.  As the base collapses in on our heroes…

Incursion II: Scott and Greer are trapped outside the ship, Kiva, Telford and a pregnant T.J. are shot, the Lucian Alliance prepares to execute Young and the rest of the military personnel.

Gauntlet: The rest of the crew goes into stasis for what could be three to three hundred years, leaving a solitary Eli to figure out a means to save his own life.

Head on over and vote:

Polls close at midnight next Saturday (July 28th).  Leave a comment here or on the poll site for a chance to win signed scripts and one of these nifty Stargate security badges I picked up at Comic Con…just for you guys!

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I’ve lived in Vancouver for thirteen (minus a little less than one) great years and I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.  I love my home, the city, and the local food scene that boasts the freshest seafood and widest array of Asian cuisine outside of Asia.  Vancouver is beautiful, boasts a thriving film & television industry and, with its innumerable parks, pet shops, and doggy daycares, is a great place to raise your dogs.  Why would I ever want to leave?

Of course, I said the same thing thirteen years ago when I was in Montreal.  Back then, I was quite content living on the city’s West Island, freelancing from home.  And then, an opportunity came along – the possibility of joining the writing staff of and awesome SF series, Stargate: SG-1.  I didn’t know anything about Vancouver but I went where the work was, assuming I’d put in a couple of years and then move back home.  That two year stint turned into a wild twelve year ride and, along the way, I settled in quite nicely.  In time, thoughts of moving back to Montreal eventually faded.

Now, Vancouver is my home and, while I won’t discount the possibility of ever moving away, I will say it would take a pretty damn big opportunity to convince me to pack my bags (and toys) and go.  So I was thinking today: What if?  What if that pretty damn big opportunity did present itself elsewhere?  What if the city of Vancouver suddenly passed a strict “no dog” bylaw?  Where else might I consider giving it a go?

TOKYO

If Vancouver was no longer an option and I was offered the opportunity move anywhere of my choosing, Tokyo would top the list.  It’s an incredibly safe, dynamic city, packed full of fascinating people and places, and fairly easy to negotiate thanks to its top-notch subway system. The food is second to none and the customer service is, well, mind-blowing for someone accustomed to the North American “way of doing things”. The only drawback, besides the language, is the fact that work might be a little hard to come by – unless I can land a sweet gig on one of those awesome Japanese gameshows.  Getting the dogs there would be a problem – and then there’s the earthquakes.

L.A.

An obvious choice given my line of work, Los Angeles offers opportunity, excitement, and great restaurants (have you noted a pattern?).  Its urban sprawl does give me pause as does it’s higher crime rate but, on the bright side, its home to a number of friends and former co-workers.

SAN FRANCISCO

A city as beautiful as Vancouver and, I’m guessing, just as expensive to live in.  It also boasts a great, Asian-influenced restaurant scene and a lot of character in its unique neighborhoods.

 SEATTLE

Vancouver’s sister city would be a damn fine choice as well.  It offers much of the same things I love about Vancouver in a less expensive though admittedly more dangerous locale.  Like Vancouver, it’s conveniently located within relatively quick flight distance from some of my regular vacation destinations like Vegas, Tokyo, and Los Angeles.

TORONTO

Surprising, no, given my experience there last year?  The traffic is terrible and the winter brutal, but it’s actually quite lovely in the summer, boasts some terrific restaurants and, provided I could live where I lived in 2011 (smackcab in the heart of the entertainment district), a lot of fun.

Honorable mentions: Hawaii (Obvious, I know, but I bet that even I would eventually grow tired of the sun and sand), Montreal (Whenever I go back, it’s like I never left and, while it’s always great to see family and friends, the language politics are incredibly silly and tiresome), New York (Less industry opportunities than L.A. and decidedly more expensive, but vibrant and full of world class restaurants).

What about you?  Where are you living and where would you consider going?  Give me your Top 3 picks and tell me why.

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