It may not be the biggest event, but it very well could be the happiest. Once again, it’s that time of year when our city’s best chocolatiers, pastry shops, bakeries, gelato and ice cream shops draw on their talent and imagination to create the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival running January 17.
January 17 – February 14, 2015
New participants for 2015 include…
49th Parallel Coffee Roasters: This super popular coffee roaster and its affiliate, Lucky’s Doughnuts, are partnering to present three whimsical hot chocolate drinks at both their Main Street and 4th Avenue locations, including the policeman’s favourite – ‘Hot Chocolateand a Doughnut‘!
Butter Baked Goods: You’ve loved their internationally famous marshmallows – now try the marshmallow’s soul mate, delicious hotchocolate. Don’t miss the ‘Oreo Cookie’ inspired version. It’s one of two new drinks designed especially for the Festival at Butter’s MacKenzie Heights neighbourhood cafe.
Diva at the Met: The elegant downtown restaurant takes it’s tea service in a new direction with a choice of two unique hot chocolate’teas’. Both will be served all day long in the lounge, along with amazing tea cakes from Diva’s talented in-house pastry team.
Chez Christophe in Burnaby will demonstrate his artistry via two sophisticated, single-chocolate estate, hot chocolate drinks.
Glenburn Soda Fountain and Cafe (in Burnaby, as well) will offer two family-friendly, retro versions of their own hot chocolates- Archie and Veronica style!
With 57 flavours to choose from, it’s going to take all 29 days of the Festival to try them all. Trend watchers won’t be surprised to see salted caramel, Earl Grey tea and coconut as popular flavour choices again this year. But if they’re looking for something a little edgier, they will find plenty to tempt their curiosity.
After all, when was the last time you tried a hot chocolate flavoured with …
*APPLE CIDER + SCOTCH: Hey, Robbie Burns Day is just around the corner. Lift a wee mug of “Scotchy Scotch Scotch” at Bella Gelateria and drink your hot chocolate till all the seas gang dry. ‘Erin Gone Bananas’, a caramelized banana hot chocolate (served with To Die For Banana Bread) is another option at both Bella locations.
* BUGS: Calling all adventurers. Mink Chocolates, who had all of Vancouver talking about their ‘Paul Deen” drink last year are going for the buzz again with a drink incorporating crickets. Yes the jumping Jiminy kind! Can you handle, er swat it?
* PURPLE POTATO: You might think of Thanksgiving, but this hot chocolate is no turkey. Soirette will stuff one of their drinks with hints of potato, sage and cinnamon and then serve it up with a toasted yam marshmallow. Second helpings, please!
* BALSAMIC VINEGAR: If Italians can make Balsamic vinegar work with strawberries, then why not chocolate? Terra Breads turns their ‘Balsamic Desiderio‘ into a Latin’s dream fulfilled. Dig the truffle cookie on the side.
* BAY LEAF: The always romantic Paul Dincer, owner of Koko Monk Chocolates, has become our Festival Poet, but when he claims his “Mona Rosa” drink of chocolate, anise and bay leaf will “wrap your lonely dark winter nights like a green lingerie”, we believe him!
* PANDAN LEAF: Do they drink hot chocolate in Thailand? They will after this. Gem Chocolates’ ‘ Pandan – A – Cocoa‘ with its Thai pandan leaf and coconut will have you ballroom dancing like Yul Brynner.
*WASABI: Does chocolate make you sleepy? Try the “Was’ Up?” hot chocolate infused with wasabi at Chocolate Arts and that won’t be a problem. Definitely not recommended before bedtime.
You can discover more unusual options here.
Find a Flavour: http://www.cityfood.com/hotchocolate/find-a-flavour
But it’s not all craziness. Vendors that specialize in extremely high quality, single-estate chocolate (such as Bel Cafe, Thierry, Thomas Haas and Chocolate Arts) won’t let the chocolate purists down. Also, in response to public demand, other participants such as French Made Baking (“Lord of the Hot Chocolate“, Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France (Aztec Glace), Bella Gelateria and Schokolade Artisan Chocolate (“Jane’s Favourite” peppermint) will bonus their lineups with one or two customer favourites from previous years. For the night owl, bartender extraordinaire Lauren Mote will be shaking up chocolate cocktails incorporating Bittered Sling bitters at Uva Wine & Cocktail Bar.
Social Media Photo Contest
Regardless of flavour, all drinks are guaranteed to be deliciously photogenic, and in that light, festival goers are invited to enter images of their drinks to an online photo contest that could earn the lucky winner a set of gift certificates from all participating vendors. It’s a $500+ value and a great way to extend the Festival throughout the year.
For the festival-goer’s dollars, all drinks will come with extra goodies that reflect each shop’s culinary specialty. For the second year, profits from Festival sales will be donated to The PHS Community Services program for Downtown Eastside women’s employment and job skills training programs (as run by East Van Roasters.)
This year we will again be providing a walking map to the neighbourhoods where our vendors are located. Visit the website for a downloadable PDF, or a list where the large format printed versions may be picked up. (Available January 17, 2015.)