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hot chocolate festival: week one (2015)

It's that wonderful time of year again- the hot chocolate festival presented by CityFood Magazine! If you've read my blog before...

It's that wonderful time of year again- the hot chocolate festival presented by CityFood Magazine! If you've read my blog before, you'll know my favourite drink is hot chocolate, and I took advantage of the festival last year. This year, I'm definitely just as excited as ever...

Unlike last year, I've decided to do a weekly round-up on here so that you have a better chance of trying any hot chocolates that you're interested in (unless their availability dates have passed, of course.) You can find the complete list of offerings here.

First up on the list! I headed to Thierry, and as expected, it was completely packed. In fact, I couldn't even get a seat- I ended up standing in a corner trying not to get in the way of the employees, haha. Their first hot chocolate is the 'Madagascar', and it's being offered until the 28th of January. Unfortunately.....I personally didn't enjoy it too much. What isn't really made apparent in the description is how closely the drink resembles drinking chocolate, which, if you've read my round-up from last year, I'm not particularly fond of. It wasn't quite as thick as others I've had, but it was still a bit too heavy and sweet for my taste, and I really wasn't keen on finishing it all, had I not paid $10.25 for it. I did love the chocolate caramel that was included though- reminded me of See's chocolate caramel pops. I'll be returning for their second option next month, so hopefully I'll like that one much better!

The next day, I headed to a personal fave- French Made Baking. As I mentioned last year, their hot chocolates have consistently been one of the best in my opinion. Don't be fooled by their unassuming appearance- they are creamy and sweet (though not overly so), and I'm just so obsessed. This year was no different. I tried their 'Chauds Les Marrons', which was yet another Dulcey Valrhona caramelized white chocolate, but this time, with the addition of chestnut. Honestly, that one cup really wasn't enough- even thinking about it now, I'm drooling! It was genuinely so delectable, and I URGE you to go give it a try. The hot chocolate itself is only $4.25, but if you add a small slice of dark chocolate cake, your total will be $6. I wasn't crazy about the cake (which was a bit like a cookie/cake combo) as it was a bit dry, but if you dip it into your hot choc...problem solved!

Day 3 led to a visit to Gem Chocolates after school. Despite having worked in Kerrisdale for three years, I somehow had never stopped in at Gem before. Well, that needed to change, no? I ordered the 'Cocoa Lily' which is a hot white chocolate with black sesame. I liked it! With white chocolate, it's so easy for drinks to be too sweet, but this was definitely not the case, and I think the aromatic black sesame helped tone that down. As a child, I grew up consuming black sesame desserts- pretty common in Asian households, I think. Mom always went on about how it's supposedly good for keeping our hair black, so I always went along with it, haha. The floating chocolate flower was both adorable and delicious, and I enjoyed the black sesame praline, though it was quite sticky! My one issue with this was the remnants of ground up black sesame pulp that were left at the bottom of my cup as I was finishing up my drink. This drink is no longer available, but their three other offerings also sound quite intriguing, and I for sure will be returning! My total was $6.50.

The next day called for yet another after school trip to Butter Baked Goods, which is surely one of my "happy places" in this city. Everything about entering this cozy and adorable bakery makes me feel as if a bit of weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I hadn't stopped by in a while, but it was just as lovely as I remembered it! Of course, I had to order their 'Homemade Oreo Hot Chocolate', and was SHOCKED to find out that it was only $5! That's insane!!!! For that reason alone, you should definitely stop what you're doing and go get one now! (I'm currently writing this post at 3 in the morning, so it feels slightly ridiculous to be saying that, but I hope you can feel how strongly I feel about this :P) But really, this was an excellent hot chocolate. From the delicious vanilla bean whipped cream to the use of a dark chocolate to ensure that it wouldn't be overly sweet- I just loved every single bit of it. The homemade Oreo cookie is a miniature version of their famous cookie sandwiches. I love those, but you will definitely feel ill if you consume the entire thing in one go- no problem with this mini one though! 

Day 5! I headed to 49th Parallel Café & Lucky's Doughnuts with Erica (yet another place I'd never been to before!) I went for 'The Nanaimo Bar' and she ordered 'The Lumberjack'. The doughnut-shaped financier was good, but nothing to really write home about...which is a feeling that carried over to my hot chocolate. It wasn't too sweet, and it was nice and foamy, but I wasn't particularly wowed by it. The coconut whipped cream certainly added a touch of excitement, though at first I found it to be a bit....gelatinous? All was fine after a few stirs though. I'm not sure how Erica felt about her hot chocolate, but I do know she had trouble melting her marshmallows in it, and she found the chocolate covered wafer log to be too sweet. This was $6!

As is becoming tradition, I decided to rest on the seventh day, so I wanted to do something special for Day 6. I ventured out to Kits after class, and stopped by Koko Monk Chocolates. I hadn't originally planned on adding it to my list, but they were kind enough to comment one of my Instagram posts, so I figured why not? (And gee, I''m glad I did.) Upon finding out it was my first time there, I was offered two samples and a bit of a taste test to see if I could discern the flavours in the chocolate. I certainly had a hard time with it, but the chocolates were so smooth & unbelievably amazing, and I was blown away as to the many taste levels that developed within my mouth. I'll definitely return to try some more out when I have time. Now, on to the hot chocolate itself. I ordered the 'Lyric & Dagger', which was yet another white chocolate with black sesame mix. Here's a quaint verse that they've provided:

The story of this hot-chocolate takes place in a golden dessert of old, old days. Please be ready, black sesame in this velvety concoction will be mounting on your most virgin taste buds like an albino sun. And you will feel that the flavor is opening like a forgotten door with a sandy cry in the dark cave of your mouth. Then the dance of the lemon and lime caramel with silent sesame will start. You will not be the first one who hears the whisper of Morgiana telling the story of Ali Baba and Forty Thieves but you will be absolutely the first one who experienced the taste of the very same secret words "Open sesame, open" in your mouth.

To be honest, when I first went through these descriptions, I found it to be a bit gimmicky & exaggerated, but thinking back on the drink, I can see how apt this really is. The sesame really isn't a strong taste, but there's always a hint of it in every sip. While the hot chocolate itself tasted fairly similar to Gem's, I must say that I feel as if theirs is a more refined/elevated concoction in comparison, and it's mainly due to some small details, like the lack of black sesame pulp at the bottom of my cup, and also the added lemon & lime caramel which added a bit of extra...oomph to the drink, if you will. As for the cookie, I went for the chocolava, which is more on the chewier side- just the way I like 'em. I paid $7.85 in total. This is yet another drink that is no longer being offered, but Koko Monk has three other options that sound equally as intriguing!

Check back next Sunday for my week 2 round-up! :)

IN SUMMARY aka tl;dr


  • french made baking: $4.25/$6
  • butter baked goods: $5
  • koko monk: $7.85
EHH.........IT'LL DO
  • gem chocolates: $6.50
  • 49th parallel & lucky's doughnuts: $6
  • thierry: $10.25

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