Tucked away on the less-traveled 21st Street, just off the much-traveled Main Street, sits my favorite little truffle stop in Vancouver: Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France.  Owned and operated by former Quebecer Anne-Geneviève Poitras, it offers a delectable selection of hand-crafted chocolates, truffles, confections and beverages.  With its rustic wooden shelves, glass jars, and chalkboard specials, the little shop is reminiscent of a bygone era when eating chocolate was something to be treasured – the luxurious creations carefully produced and enjoyed in measured quantities rather than shipped off an assembly line and scarfed down by the bar.  The place is possessed of an Old World charm that Akemi immediately likened to Juliette Binoche’s shop in Chocolat – quaint, warm, and utterly special.

On our last visit, we split six truffles (ranging from an orange blossom bursting with intense floral tones to a rich ultra dark), and I picked up a jar of buttery salted caramel (for ice cream purposes).

It’s a little out of the downtown way but if you happen to find yourself in Vancouver (like, say, for an upcoming convention), I suggest you check it out.

198 East 21st Avenue (at main st.), Vancouver  |  604-566-1065

Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France

Nebula Awards Showcase 2012, edited by James Patrick Kelly & John Kessel

I was fortunate enough to receive an advance review copy of the forthcoming Nebula Awards Showcase 2012 featuring Nebula Award winning stories past and present – but mainly present.  The collection includes a couple of excerpts from much larger works (a chapter from Connie Willis’ two volume Blackout/All Clear that continues the adventures of the time-hopping 21st century historians introduced in the 1982 short story “Firewatch”, and a chapter from I Shall Wear Midnight  by the consistently entertaining Terry Pratchett), SF-themed poetry, a couple of classic entries from scifi legends James Triptree Jr./Alice Sheldon (“And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side”) and Harlan Ellison (“How Interesting: A Tiny Man”), and selected recent Nebula nominees and winners in the Short Story, Novelette, and Novella categories.

Usually, when reading collections, I may come across a handful of entries I’ll enjoy, a few that will fail to capture my interest, and everything in between.  This collection differed in that there were a handful of entries I downright loved, a few I enjoyed, and one I disliked so much I actually had to set the book aside for a couple of days to ensure my surprisingly passionate response didn’t color my opinion of the other stories.

In “The Sultan of the Clouds”, Geoff Landis draws on his PhD in physics and experience working for NASA to craft a fantastic future scenario where Venus’s inhospitable carbon dioxide environment has been colonized by floating habitats, ten thousand buoyant transparent domes each home to half a million residents.  Accepting an invitation from an individual within the powerful Satrap of Venus, two scientists visit the dazzling alien world – and are swept up in a conspiracy that threatens to upend the planet’s teeming settlements.

Adam-Troy Castro’s “Arvies” is a wicked little tale that imagines a future where death begins at life.  It’s a fascinating read that, I’m not surprised, has courted a certain amount of controversy – and, again not surprisingly, roundly criticized by opposing sides in a contentious debate.

“The Green Book”, by Amal El-Montar, delivers a narrative that proves fascinating, heartbreaking, and altogether unique in its  presentation of the titular green book, an ancient tome who’s various writers come alive in passionate, doomed discourse.

“That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made”, by Eric James Stone, is a wonderful read that uses humor to great effect, telling the tale of a Mormon missionary whose conversion of a race of aliens doesn’t sit well with a human scientist – and fares no better with the alien race’s cantakerous god.

Christopher Barzak’s “Map of Seventeen” is a surprisingly sweet story about sibling relationships, acceptance, and love’s ability to transcend even the most seemingly insurmountable of social barriers.

Finally, the collection concludes with Rachel Swirsky’s award-winning novella, The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window, which is told from the POV of a long-dead sorceress whose account is comprised of a series of awakenings in which she is summoned to work her magic on behalf of various masters and mistresses.  This was one of those stories that was such a pleasure to read, it made me take note of the author’s other available works (Through the Drowsy Dark: Short Fiction & Poetry) for future book-browsing reference.

Three more days until Dark Matter #4 hits the shelves.  Here’s a sneak peek at the first four pages.  The boys agree to disagree:

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Ponytail
Ponytail

Spoilers. Still not reading, spoilerman.

Sparrow_hawk

Advance copy – well, that explains it. Sounds like some good stories in there, I have it on pre-order at Amazon. I Shall Wear Midnight was a wonderful book. A fitting (and satisfying) conclusion to the Tiffany Aching saga. I highly recommend all four books in that series The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, The Wintersmith and I Shall Wear Midnight. Don’t let the fact that they are listed as “Young Adult” fiction put you off; they are well worth the time. And they are best read in order.

Nice teaser for Dark Matter – I’m dying to find out what kind of reaction the action in that last frame is going to elicit.

@deni: Congratulations on the new addition to your family!

Deni

@Sparrow: Thank you! Wish you all were here to see how cute she is! smile

dasndanger
dasndanger

Answer: Damn. Wouldn’t want to run into you in a dark alley. Stay safe!

Thanks, Joe – and no worries. The only ones who have to worry about running into me in a dark alley are the long-locked albinistic types. grin

@ Sparrowhawk & Tam Dixon – Yeah, a bit creepy. Still waiting to talk to the cop about it (he did mention to his wife, who I saw today, that he can’t imagine why the guy showed his badge unless he was up to something, perhaps trolling for girls with a thing for ‘men in uniform’, or – perhaps – to get me to let down my guard). Dude really makes me mad because that was my favorite spot, I’ve really pulled a lot of coins out of it, and now he’s gone and ruined everything. sad

@ Deni – AWWWW! Miss Riley Squishypants is adorable!! grin

das

dasndanger
dasndanger

Just finished taking a closer look at the little chocolate shop. I want!! Definitely reminiscent of Chocolat. I would love to open a place like that, but I would probably end up eating all the product before the doors even opened. razz

das

Chad
Chad

Joe – I’m very excited to be taking my wife to a fancy dinner at a place called Elements at Sanctuary here in the Phoenix area. The head chef is Beau MacMillan, who beat Chef Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America!

Have you ever been? If so, any thoughts or recommendations?

Tammy Dixon
Tammy Dixon

You had me at “Truffle shop”. Salted Carmel, hmmmmm. I bet that would enhance brownies too.
I’m heading to a downtown Memphis bakery Friday. I don’t dare hope for Macarons but a girl can dream.

I’m staying away from those spoilers. I’ll wait until the comic is released.

Deni: Great name, Riley. Squishy is a good second. I hope she fits in well and I’m glad Elway likes her.

Das: Very creepy! I’m glad everything turned out ok. Can you get hubby to “escort” you to that spot for a while?

Lewis
Lewis

Okay, Joe, I’ve just got to know….

have u ever been tempted to jump while on 21st street??

dasndanger
dasndanger

@ Ponytail – When you said ‘spoilerman’, all I could think of was Sinnerman, particularly this, my favorite version (Cory Wells/Three Dog Night):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMYC-RNFjrU

I think it’s fitting considering Joe’s Super Villain aspirations, don’t you? smile

das

Airelle
Airelle

Dark Matter 4 is preordered from TFAW, so just waiting on delivery, a great read Joe, hate to see it done for now.

Congrats to Deni on the new puppy Riley, so cute.
@das, do be careful, dang that is serious scary.

Ponytail
Ponytail

@ das – okay, if you say so… wink

Maggiemayday
Maggiemayday

Salted caramel. Truffles, Beautiful chocolates. Yum. I could use some. I’m in bad shape, I’m craving peanut M&Ms, and that’s so low on the chocolate scale that I may as well eat Nutella out of the jar.

Deni

@Airelle: Thanks!

Here’s one more I took tonight:

comment image

I took about 50 pictures today…:) She’s so smart, too!

Samantha Padilla
Samantha Padilla

I know it has nothing to do with the blog today, but I saw this commercial and immediately thought of you Joe and I’d think everyone else on this blog would love it too. Here’s the Youtube link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=741kgHMxYwU

It’s so fantastic!

Kathode
Kathode

Haha! Boyfriend, a.k.a. Fiancé, just treated me to a three-course chocolate tasting at the Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France a couple weekends ago. They had offered a Groupon for this a while back, and he was smart enough to snatch one up. It was just us and one other couple, after the shop was closed to the public. The owner was in the kitchen while one server waited on us, and a mix-CD of Quebecois kitchen music played on the boom box. (“Aux Champs-Elysee” brought back memories that could only be satisfied by hitting up iTunes later to get Joe Dassin in my collection.)

The first course was a choice of 2 individual-sized tarts: both had graham cracker crust, one of them with a filling of hazelnut-chocolate ganache and banana pieces topped with whipped cream, the other with a filling of milk chocolate ganache topped with a toasted marshmallow cream. We got one of each.

The second course was a choice of 3 mousses: one dark chocolate with espresso bean topping, one semisweet (I forget which topping this one had), and one milk chocolate with fleur de sel sprinkled on top. We got one of the dark and one of the milk. The milk was both of our favorites, because it had an airy, more mousse-y texture. The dark was a bit too dense.

The third course was a choice of 2 brownies: one served in a brandy snifter of espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (imagine an espresso ice cream float, with a brownie sticking up out of it), the other on a plate with salted caramel drizzle and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Again, we got one of each.

The tasting also came with 2 truffles, 2 caramels, and a beverage. Bf got the rose-flavoured hot chocolate, which was surprisingly lovely. (I’m not normally of fan of rose-flavoured food.) I got the Aztec hot chocolate, hoping it would be like the Mexican hot chocolate I remember from street vendors in downtown L.A. That beverage was everything I dreamed it would be. We got a tin of the Aztec mix to take home, along with some chocolates. We’ll definitely be going back there!