Last night, Akemi and I attended a Valentine Dessert Tasting at Beta 5, Vancouver’s premiere chocolate (and cream puff!) shop. I know, I know. It was actually the day after Valentine’s Day – but we were out for dinner the previous night and would have had to cut it kind of tight. And so, instead, we made the reservations for the the 15th, thus enabling us to head over with plenty of time to spare following a leisurely and light fish and salad dinner.
Beta 5 is located on Industrial Avenue just a ways off Main Street. Not exactly easy to get to, but always worth the effort. Akemi and I are huge fans of their chocolates (their award-winning banana chocolates are the best I’ve ever had and we never fail to pick up a couple of packages of their aerated dark chocolate “rocks” whenever we drop by) as well as the aforementioned cream puffs (also the best I’ve ever had). And, in addition to their regular offerings, owner Adam Chandler and his partner Jess Rosinski always surprise with ever-changing monthly specials: gelees, polygon bars, and chocolate-covered fruit and nuts.
Akemi and I arrived early and joined another couple on a tour of the Beta 5 kitchen…
We ended up sitting with a couple (Dana and Matt) who took two buses to get there from the UBC campus (didn’t I say it was worth the effort?). As it turned out, they had both studied Japanese and spent some time in Japan. What are the chances?
Our dessert tasting was made up of six courses paired with various wines – champagne, sake, whites, and ending with a port. Up first…
I passed on the first glass because I’m not fan of champagne, preferring the sparkling sweetness of an Italian muscat. The strawberries were lightly carbonated and the jello very subtle, but the champagne granite possessed a borderline bitter dryness that made this one my least favorite plate.
Akemi’s favorite – and this is saying something since, prior to last night, she had never met a rice pudding she’d liked. The blood orange pearls were a nice bittersweet touch.
Great. The goat’s cheese parfait was reminiscent of the airy cheesecake my father used to make.
Gorgeous. The sugar globe was incredibly delicate, cracking at the lightest tap.
The liquid nitrogen ice cream-making process…
I was waiting for the chocolate course and, boy, did it deliver. Incredibly rich. Incredibly decadent. Utterly delicious. Akemi couldn’t finish hers – so I did the honors.
Now this one was my favorite course – the chocolate no-doubt frozen in liquid nitrogen as well and served Alinea-style with an assortment of other chocolate goodies, reminiscent of the fabulous dessert I enjoyed for my Meal to End all Meals back in 2011: March 18, 2011: The Meal To End All Meals!
Our hosts for this sweet, sweet evening…
And, just in case we wanted something to snack on for the drive home, we were gifted this lovely Valentine assortment:
Our new friends, Dana and Matt, were wonderful company. Over the course of our six course dessert extravaganza, the discussion ranged over many topics. The subject of the Japanese language segued to a chat about Japanese culture which, in turn, moved on to an appreciation of anime that, eventually, transitioned to an animated discussion of SF literature (Matt is a big fan of the classics – Asimov, Clarke, etc.). From SF lit to scifi television as Dana informed us she was a huge fan of SG-1. “Really?”I said. “What was your favorite episode.” “Window of Opportunity,”she said. And that guaranteed them a ride home. If she’d answered Emancipation or Broca Divide, who knows how long it would have taken them to get back home.
Apparently, this will be the first in a series of dessert-themed evenings Beta 5 will be hosting.
Look into it!