HoChos 5, 6, 7, 8

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Continuing on, the hot chocolate locations become further away from campus, and busy downtown areas and quirky Main Street locations become main stops to find new cocoa flavours and cafe experiences.

HoCho #5: Praliné Chocolat, Chocolaterie da la Nouvelle France (~$5.75)

There are four festival beverages offered at Nouvelle this year, and my company and I sampled three of them. My choice was an almond-milk praline drinking chocolate – yes, that is what it sounds like. Chocolate that you drink. More than a chocolate-flavoured milk, this particular half-sized treat of mine was like drinking melted Nutella without the unhealthy components and the high level of dairy. 
It was thick and smooth without being too heavy on the tongue, and filled me right up – even though it was just a half-sized serving! Luckily, the Main Street area of Vancouver is full of exciting stops, so going for a walk afterward was a good way to wrap up our stop.
The location itself is tucked away and is very small upon entering – however, what space they do have is almost entirely made of wood and is full of a variety of chocolate powders and confections on display. Each of our beverages was also accompanied by one of three flavours of meringues: chocolate, rose, or maple (my choice).

 HoCho #6: Monkey Manna, East Van Roasters (~$5.00)

A stop that I particularly enjoyed discovering at last year’s festival was East Van Roasters, and this year they are the recipients of the funds from the festival’s sales! For the first half of the festival, they offer a hot chocolate made with Peruvian drinking chocolate, milk of choice (almond for me!), pink peppercorn and vanilla blended throughout.

My first sip took me back to last year’s festival with its airy texture and smooth taste – the drink, while comfortably filling, is quite light and does not sit heavy in the mouth. The vanilla was likely a key contributor to the smoothness of the flavour, but the peppercorn added a unique twist that took it from deliciously simple in its flavour to more dynamic, without being too complex.

If you want a safe toe-dipping into the unique festival flavours, I recommend East Van Roasters for its easy drinking and creative concoctions.

HoCho #7: Standard dark with almond milk + banana bread, Bella Gelatería (~$7.00)

Bella Gelatería is usually one of my top recommendations for the festival for its unique blends of gelato, teas, and chocolates in their festival offerings; however, this year they pre-mixed their festival flavours with dairy milk for more efficient distribution, and could not offer an alternative that is dairy-free as I have enjoyed in the past. Their standard hot chocolate with 70% cocoa and almond milk was enjoyable, though I really wish I would have been able to sample some of their Earl Grey or Spiced Rum flavours without a dairy overload!

If you are not an avoider of the dairy world, it is very likely that – as I have in the past – you will enjoy the amazing selection of gelato treats, To Die For banana bread, and chocolate drinks at B.G.

HoCho #8: Pandan-a-Cocoa, Gem Chocolates (~$6.00)

I love visiting Gem Chocolates! It was a pleasure to meet with the owner and founder last year and learn a little bit about his chocolate confectioner journey to greatness (so-called because I believe that is what he has achieved with his delightful shop).
Green hot chocolate?! 
Gem changes up the festival flavour each week, and the second week’s blend was flavoured with a grass called pandan and toasted coconut! Remembering me from last year, my drink was made with soy milk, and it turned green because of the pandan grass in it! To imagine what it is, think of lemongrass (it is somewhat similar). 

The drink comes with a “tropical fruit palette”, which showcases the pandan grass as well as dried mango, chilli flakes, and coconut atop a chocolate disc. I am very excited to try the next two flavours that involve pecan pie (?!) and gingerbread and cinnamon… The salivation has already begun.

 I’ll be back with more soon!

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