When it launched in 2011, The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival was the first city-wide festival of its kind in the world. This January it returns for its 7th year, bigger and better than ever, with Vancouver’s best chocolatiers, pastry shops, bakeries, cafes, gelato and ice cream makers coming together to make the humble hot chocolate hotter than it has ever been before.
This Festival is a fundraiser for the Downtown Eastside women’s job training
program of the PHS Community Services Society and East Van Roasters.
Stop #6: Princess and the Frog, Temper
This out-of-the-way location was a newcomer to the festival last year, and I really enjoyed its minimalist decor and tiny size back then. 2017 is no different!
I opted for the Princess and the Frog with almond milk; not only was this a good call for the non-dairy benefits, but it also helped with the weight of the beverage experience in my opinion. The drink was flavoured with pistachio butter (100%) and a chocolate disc, which melted into the drink due to the heat. Each sip was punctuated by a licking of the lips due to thick chocolate and nut butter. It was paired with a rose macaron that was light and flowery (perhaps obviously) – my mouth felt like it smelled good afterwards, but not in an overwhelming way.
My family ordered two each of the frog and raspberry-matcha options, and the white chocolate with raspberry and matcha was delectable as well. It had a disc of chocolate that was dusted with matcha and covered with a stripe of freeze-dried raspberries and it dunked in to balance the sweetness of the white chocolate with the bitterness of the matcha and the “flavour explosion” of raspberry! It is J’s new favourite hot chocolate.
Stop #7: Erin Goes Vegan, Bella Gelatería
I was so very excited to see that the banana bread creator whose product I have enjoyed at previous festivals had created a pumpkin bread drink and loaf pairing that were both VEGAN this year! There isn’t much more to say – it was amazing. The pumpkin spice flavours were very strong, but pleasantly so. It was a smooth dark chocolate – thicker than expected with an almond milk base – with lots of spicy lingering after each swallow.
My cocoa buddy of the evening enjoyed his stout-flavoured hot chocolate despite its mild flavour along with his stout cookie.
Stop #8: Peppermint Pole Dance, Diva at the Met
Diva at the Met always has a fancy fun hot chocolate option with alcohol, but it is always with dairy milk, which is too bad! I still enjoyed my dark chocolate treat with the crunchy mint sugar streusel bits on top of the whipped cream. I couldn’t taste the “hint of pineapple” that was eluded to, but that is okay – perhaps the slight tang I tasted was that? Or it was mint. The Schnapps was good and strong towards the end! A “pillow cookie” – which is apparently made in-house – was served alongside the drink, and was super chocolaty and moist and had a marshmallow centre (which I wasn’t able to identify until I asked the staff)!
Overall, a pleasant experience, but a slow evening at Diva.
Stop #9: Spiced (Vegan) Hot Chocolate, Earnest Ice Cream
Very spicy! In a good way. I was pretty excited about this option, as last year I struggled with my first-ever Earnest experience and was looking forward to giving it another go. It was a good go.
It was a vegan chai ice cream and vegan hot chocolate poured over top and it came with a VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE. Wow. It was all so good. It was made better by the fact that everything in the shop is compostable! Would go again f’sho.
Stop #10: 2001: A Spice Odyssey, 49th Parallel
I ordered this spicy (?) hot chocolate one Thursday morning with JS, who opted for the coconut hot chocolate alternative. I thought that the almond milk worked well with this almost-but-not-quite bitter dark chocolate that was creamy and flavourful, though not as spicy as I had anticipated based on the word being in the name of it. The churro and dipping sauce that came with it were personally unappealing to me – I didn’t enjoy the chocolate sauce and the churros seemed undercooked on the inside. It may have been an anomaly, or perhaps that is how they’re supposed to taste, but as someone who enjoys chewy, squishy foods, I did not like these ones! However, the drink itself was lovely.
I raise my cup to you until next time,