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


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.


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.


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)


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:


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

Available: At Thomas Haas 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver.


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:


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

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

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:


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.


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):


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).


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:


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.


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).


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

  1. Some of those combinations were rather interesting. I may try some of them come winter down under. Summer is not the time for hot chocolate – although ice chocolate is a different matter. My family likes doing a hot egg-hot chocolate (or milo) combination during winter or when someone has a really bad cold.

    Talking of drinks, last night I discovered a Swedish cider made with a hint of strawberry and lime. I was surprised. It was drinkable. Now, I am not a big fan of alcohol. In my opinion, wines (including rice wines) are only suitable for cooking (can’t stand the taste, they remind me of rotting fruit) and only some beers can be considered palatable in small amounts. Ciders are about on par with the sweeter, less bitter beers… and spirits, well, they’re used for making mini hot-air balloons, some cooking, but mostly cleaning or disinfectant.

    I have yet to discover why some people enjoy their alcoholic beverages. Most of them just taste plain bad and most just remind me of rotten fruit. You know, the type of left over fruit from the trees that one throws into a pit or forgets about in a bag, turns brown and rotten with speckled white, green and blue moulds, oozing thick brown juices that attract all manner of insects just love.

    Alcohol lovers may shoot me, but at least I’m trying to understand and put them to good use. Oh, and by the way, the best stir-fried chinese broccoli you’ll ever taste is cooked with a lot of garlic, a splash of light soy sauce and small swirl of rice wine when it’s almost cooked. Which when it’s done, goes quite well with steamed rice (+/- a mini-steak) and a cup of hot chocolate (made with chia seeds or basil seeds – mmm chocolate jelly).

    See how I’ve tied everything back together? Yah. Dare you to try my food combinations.

  2. Wow. My instant Swiss Miss with dehydrated marshmallows can’t even begin to compare.

    Maybe I’ll stir in some Log Cabin syrup next time…perhaps it will help.

    Actually, of all the food excursions you’ve been on, Joe, this is the one I envy the most (aside from your legendary chocolate parties…of course). Nearly every single entry sounded intriguing and I would have loved to have been able to try even one or two of them (in Ohio “gourmet” hot chocolate comes in a Starbucks cup…).

    Thanks for letting us tag along!


  3. really surprising that there are 24 more that you haven’t tried yet… maybe next year

  4. Going by your pictures only, here is my Who Cares What it Tastes Like – Look at How Beautiful It Is! list, based on looks and presentation alone:

    4. Pretty In Pink – White chocolate with rose and raspberry. How cute was this! A hint of pink and green color suggesting a pink flower bouquet. (I wouldn’t like it though. I don’t like white chocolate. It’s not real chocolate!)

    3. Armoury Amour – Cocoa Barry “Madirofolo”. Precious, artistically designed, and I bet the raspberry tasted good! Strange, everytime I see this I suddenly crave a margarita.

    2. Monkey’s Choice – Carmelized Banana and Honey. Loved the cup design! This looked like a classic cup of hot chocolate with the whipped cream on top and drizzled chocolate syrup. But the cup won it!

    1. Jasmine – 64% dark chocolate with jasmine. Beautiful, straight forward, simple, classic presentation. Who needs any of that fancy stuff!

    Thanks for sharing Joe! Everyday at work I have a cup.

  5. Only one made it on my Gross! Please Take It Away! list. (remember, based on looks alone)

    Aphrodite – Nyangbo and parsnip hot chocolate, topped with whipped chocolate ganache and parsnip milk jam. It looked like an accident! What a mess! They expect me to drink that?
    (I’m sure it was geat. It just looked like poo.)

  6. Congrats on the fun trip down hot chocolate lane!! and thanks for sharing. How did you have the will power to take pictures before sampling?, I might have forgotten in my haste to slurp it all down,,yummy.

  7. And the raspberry hot chocolate comes in at number 2! Woo-hoo! Have you ever had dark chocolate covered raspberry jellies? My mouth is watering. I might need to drive down into Houston to get some of those tomorrow. Patrick has off. We might need something to do in between his two appointments (his caseworker with the state, and his pediatrician for a well-check). No school here tomorrow.

    As far as the latest entries, <> maple syrup .

  8. Any chance you can drop by the other places and try their hot chocolates, or do they stop offering these special concoctions? You wracked up a good average there. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I know you are talking Chocolate, and I am suffering like a man dying of thirst who has just had a glass of water poured out in front of him. But, were there any real losers?

  10. ditto what stellabystargate said. I’ll just eat the marshmallows.
    Adding syrup – hmmmm, now that’s an idea.

  11. Joey, it’s just not right that you go to this chocolate festival without inviting us along with you (literally, not virtually!). It’s sheer torture to see all that yummy chocolate-y stuff and not even have the simple pleasure of a scratch n’ sniff monitor screen so we can partially share the experience with you! Sheer TORTURE, I tell ya!!! So, next year we expect you to use all the money from the sale of your house to pay for…ya know…your top five blog posters… trip to Vancouver for the chocolate festival! Woo! We can all stay in your new two-bedroom condo with the efficiency kitchen and 6×6 bathroom! 😀 Ponytail (who I’m guessing is gonna make top poster this year, easy) can have the master bedroom, I’ll take the sofa, and the other three can have the guest room. You and Akemi and the pups can stay with Ivon, or get a motel room or something. Maybe stay with the crotchety old fart next door. This way you can have your privacy, and we can have ours. And we PROMISE not to rifle through your underwear drawer. Promise.

    Though I might take a peek. 😉


  12. Ponytail said:

    @ Chev – Maryanne – Hate to break it to ya Chev, but the only pictures Joe has of Ivon lately are with Lulu. Ivon and Lulu are boyfriend/girlfriend. Sorry girl, but you better give him up and move on… 😉

    hahahahahahaha you made me laugh soooo hard…. thanks…. I love the photos of Ivon and Lulu. I’ve been trying to find out from him if he’s a dog person who just doesn’t have a dog or if the attention from Lulu is unusual.

    I’ll just accept my fangirling place… behind a dog lol…. a very cute dog…. at least I still get to chat with him, so hey!!

    Cheers, Chev

  13. Hello there,
    I read your February 15th blog entry. Maybe I do not understand well the english, maybe I am stupid, maybe I am obsessed,(of course you are, would say my wife !) but I want to be damned if there is no Farscape allusions in the following: “A past, er, soap opera-esque SF series (someone once described as Grey’s Anatomy in space) has scared some of the genre – despite the fact that that particular show was so atypical of most scifi on television. ”
    I was a little anxious when you said financial delay, and it really seems to be difficult !
    Hopefully you will succeed.

  14. I love raspberry and chocolate! I may try some Chambord in my hot coco tonight….. Do they serve those hot coco’s anytime or just through the festival?

    The mom visit is going well (she’s staying with us for a week). We took her to an Asian buffet style restaurant yesterday. She thought the sushi assortment were cookies.

  15. Delicious selections. That banana bread would be great toasty warm with butter and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, like Jamaican bun. This post would have been improved by cute pics of pugs in adorable sweaters; after being spoiled with pug pics I’m having pug withdrawal.

  16. >36 out of 60 flavors sampled.

    You had 36 cups of Hot Chocolate Joe? :O Holy crap lol. Though I’m likely just misunderstanding your point majorly lol.


    It’s more Joe being unable to say ‘Hey guys I’m working on a show called Blah’ because things haven’t fallen into place for him yet. Best to just wait and see what happens.

  17. that Armoury Amour: Cocoa Barry “Madirofolo”– Looks really, really delicious!!
    I love fruit and chocolate together so, i’d say i’d love that. I wish that my hometown was this cool. lol

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