HoCho Fest 2016: 2, 3, 4, 5

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Each year, the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival brings together cafes, confectionaries, and restaurants to create specialty hot chocolate beverages to fundraise for a great cause. This year, proceeds of the festival will be going towards supporting the Downtown Eastside Women’s Job Training Program of the PHS Community Services Society and East Van Roasters. Each year, I join this win-win-win situation by dropping in to every possible location, tasting delicious drinks and snacks, reviewing my stops, and supporting this superb cause.

HoCho 2: The Bananarama, The Last Crumb Bakery & Cafe

On this rainy Sunday, I grabbed an amiga and headed east to sample a drink from a location that I have enjoyed visiting each year of the festival, The Last Crumb.
This year’s flavours include The Bananarama: a banana cream pie turned hot cocoa, and His Lordship’s HC: a London Fog that went rogue. I sampled the former with GD sampling the latter.
Immediately, I was met with surprise. When my order was called out, I walked up to the counter expecting to see a plated cookie next to the drink; however, the cookie had been designed to sit on the edge of the mug! I thought this was clever, and it seems to match the quirky atmosphere of the shop itself and the care shown by staff and chefs who create great pastries displayed in-store.
I ate my cookie – a “flaky daisy” – by dipping it in the hot chocolate, and was pleased to find that the flaky pastry was fresh, chewy, and light. A layer of chocolate on top did not hurt, especially as it melted with each dip in the warm, chocolaty pool of my drink.
At first, the flavours were not very bold in the drink – I could detect the banana and chocolate, but my first sips were mostly foam and did not carry the taste as effectively as the less frothy almond milk beneath. Upon reaching that layer, the fuller banana cream pie taste came through and was delicious. It should be noted that I opted out of the whipped cream, which would likely have finished off the theme of this particular drink very effectively.

It would be great to return at some point to sample an almond-milk or soy Lordship’s HC, as Earl Grey is one of my favourite teas and chocolate is one of my favourite things, period.


HoCho 3: Ambrosio Affogato, Earnest Ice Cream

Following my visit to Last Crumb, I went to see CC and mentioned my just-prior festival stop. Hearing of the nearby locations, CC and company decided that another stop was in order – we soon found ourselves at Earnest Ice Cream on Quebec St.

I had not previously been to this infamous Vancouver ice cream shop, but was looking forward to trying this ice cream with “molten drinking chocolate” poured over top of it. I requested a vegan cookies n’ cream to replace the Tahitian vanilla ice cream, and waited for my order in the busy little store.

Unfortunately, my order came with the only other vegan ice cream option – dark chocolate peppermint. While this would ordinarily be delicious, I’m sure, my first taste of the treat was so intensely dark chocolate that I found it a bit overwhelming. The molten chocolate had a bit of a spicy kick to it that could be balanced with cool ice cream; my comrades said that prior to the ice cream melting, the combination was delicious. However, the amount of molten chocolate proved to be a bit much, as it consumed the ice cream and became too rich for our liking.

Accompanying the ice cream was a miniature salted chocolate rye cookie, and I feel confident that if you like chocolate and/or cookies, you would enjoy this! It was so delectably chewy and moist that I could spend all day experiencing the consumption of that cookie (they have regular-size cookies in the store!).


HoCho 4: 801, Bel Café

I arrived at Bel Café expecting a different cocoa experience, but discovered that I would be sampling the flavour originally intended for the second half of the festival: 801. While I cannot inform you of the reasoning behind this numerical name, I can say with confidence that ordering it leads to good things.
This drink is made with Valhrona Caramelia chocolate – a light chocolate with salted butter caramel, which obviously means it was amazing.

As is my usual, I ordered an almond milk option, and think that this may have served me well in lightening the drink up in terms of sweetness and richness. Even with the almond milk, which sometimes causes flavours to blend somewhat less effectively, the drink was incredibly smooth in texture and flavour. It had two toasted pecan marshmallows floating inside it, which I tried a bite of and left behind (because vegetarian diets don’t technically include marshmallows); the marshmallows were fun to chew on with the pecan bits inside. 
The banana bread triangle left me content, as it was very moist and its size seemed appropriate for a snack with the cocoa. I am sure that a hungry festival-goer would be left wanting even more of this made-in-house treat.


HoCho 5: Saturday Nut Fever, 49th Parallel and Lucky’s Doughnuts

Today’s stop was made in haste as the store was closing within 9 minutes of my arrival!

I should point out that by the time I reached 49th Parallel and Lucky’s Doughnuts, a head cold for the ages had fully set in and was almost assuredly affecting my sense of taste.

After brief contemplation, I ordered the Saturday Nut Fever option: a hot chocolate with hazelnut flavour and latte art promised in the description. I was not to be disappointed by the lovely fern-like design made of almond milk and chocolate in my mug.

 For me personally, this hot chocolate would take a bit of getting used to, as the sweetness I had anticipated finding in a chocolate-hazelnut combination was not present. The nutty flavours were evident, but did not tickle my fancy as I had thought it would (perhaps because I had expected a Nutella-like experience). It would be worth trying again, though, when I am in good health.

Alongside the beverage came hazelnut amaretti and hazelnut truffle, both of which were amazing. The amaretti (this is a new word for me) was a great texture experience and had a pleasant sweetness to it, making it all the better. The truffle was unexpectedly squishy, and should be eaten with a utensil (or your hands if you like finger-licking goodness), but was certainly delicious.

I will likely not be able to get to a location tomorrow, but look forward to catching up with you all when I hit up my next spot.

Until then…

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