Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 2016

resampled_HotChocolateFestival_Logo2016Final-01photo credit: http://hotchocolatefest.com/

What tastes better during the cold, snowy, (rainy for us West Coasters) dreary, winter months then a mug of delicious, creamy hot chocolate? It’s honestly the best winter drink ever!

Natasha and I have been to Vancouver’s Annual Hot Chocolate Festival before so we wanted to try at least a couple of the creations this year. We would love to have tried them all but with 59 hot chocolate flavours in total, we settled on just 4 cafes we’ve not yet been to.

Vancouver launched the first Hot Chocolate Festival 6 years ago. At the time it was the first city-wide Hot Chocolate Festival of its kind in the world. Pretty cool!

It has since grown and gained much popularity around the city. It is a month long event with 25 various cafes, bakeries, pastry shops and chocolatiers around Vancouver who create signature hot chocolate flavours. These are not your ordinary run of the mill kind of flavours by no means. This year there was everything from, dark chocolate with squash and almond milk to milk chocolate with banana and hazelnut. Creativity at it’s finest.

What’s really awesome about this festival is that it is a fundraiser for the Vancouver Downtown EastSide Women’s job training program.

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GEM CHOCOLATES

This Kerrisdale chocolatier is known for their hand made, natural, preservative-free award winning chocolates. Which by the way are devine.

This hot chocolate creation ‘Give Yourself To The Dark Side‘ was one of the most anticipated at the Festival this year. For obvious reason with the movie recently released. The adorable (and delicious) Darth Vader dark chocolate along with a cup of their creamy dark hot chocolate was the perfect match. The hot chocolate was light, smooth, not too sweet or heavy. I also tried their unbelievable Pecan Pie chocolates and the flavour made me literally giddy with happiness. Seriously. Happy.

Each week Gem Chocolates made a different flavour along with a new cinematic theme to their hot chocolate drink.

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49th PARALLEL COFFEE ROASTERS

One of the most popular cafe’s in Vancouver, known for their superior coffee quality, we were really excited to try one of their hot chocolate creations this year. I’m not gonna lie, the fact that they make the BEST homemade donuts from scratch right in their store may or may not be the reason I was completely stoked to go! Okay. It was totally a big plus!
They offered a few different hot chocolate choices but we went with the classic ‘Hot Chocolate And A Doughnut‘ combo. I mean really. How could I not? It’s like a match made in heaven.
Honestly heaven. I’m not even ashamed to say we also bought additional doughnuts to take home. Nope. Not ashamed.

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TERRA BREADS

Don’t let the name of this cafe fool you. This is definitely not just a bread making bakery. Although if you want crazy delicious artison baked breads of numerous styles then this is the place to go. But it’s so much more. They serve everything from freshly baked breads, salads, soups, sandwiches, specialty espressos and fantastic rustic baked pastries. I didn’t want to leave until I tried one of everything. Ha! I wish! Lets just say we will be frequenting Terra Breads more often.

We went with the intention to just have a hot chocolate. But once we got inside we couldn’t resist ordering one of their signature rustic roasted turkey & asiago sandwiches as well. Oh my it was superb!

Then we chose the ‘Honey Buns‘ hot chocolate which is a Cocoa Barry Chocolate Dark Venezuela single origin hot chocolate with chili honey, cinnamon and Bourbon vanilla bean.
Served with cinnamon sugar brioche. It definitely had a kick to it with the chili spice. Looking at other peoples photos of the same drink afterwards we do think that they may have added a tad too much of the chili spice to ours.

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CHOCOLATE ARTS

Located in Kitsilano, this chocolate shop specializes in fine hand crafted chocolates using the very best quality of ingredients. With the finest chocolate from France, and locally sourced BC fruits they create a range of delicious chocolate flavours that represent the West Coast.
The hot chocolate we chose at this location was ‘The Creamsicle‘. A creamy white chocolate and vanilla hot chocolate.
Served with blood-orange sorbet that you dip into the hot chocolate. Blended together it was like a magical warm cocoa-creamsicle. Dreamy. It was served with a macaron.

The festival is on until this Sunday which is Valentine’s Day. Going for a warm hot chocolate is a perfect way to end a romantic date!

Laura & Natasha xo
(written by Laura, photos by Natasha)

Soirette Macarons & Tea

IMG_2Recently my Dad and I had a father-daughter day and dropped by the beautiful Soirette Macarons & Tea in Vancouver. I’ve been wanting to try out their much talked about macarons for awhile now. When I heard about their seasonal Pumpkin Pie macarons, that just sold the deal and off we went!

Soirette is owned by Pastry Chef Shobna Kannusamy (an alumnus of the Diplome de Pâtisserie program at Le Cordon Bleu). Although Soirette specializes in handmade macarons that are baked on-site, they also serve a wide variety of coffee & teas (including organic) and various other desserts. High Tea is available on Saturday & Sundays ($36 per person).

IMG_8059ffffI really liked the decor and atmosphere of Soirette. The decor is clean, crisp & stylish with light blue walls and white sparkly tables. Definitely would be a great place to have High Tea with the girls!

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The prices are on the higher side but that seems to be the norm for specialty macarons. An assorted box of 12 is $26.50 and a box of 30 is $63.

My Dad and I shared a box of 12 and tried the flavours Raspberry, Pumpkin Pie, Vanilla, Rose, Crème brûlée & Pistachio.
Out of the ones we tried my favourites were Pumpkin Pie (obviously!), Raspberry & Vanilla.

The macarons were absolutely delicious and are some of my favourite macarons that I’ve tasted in Vancouver. The flavours were all really nice and I was glad they were not overly sweet and sugary. They were decently sized and held their shape. No crumbling or falling apart in your hand.

We almost ate the whole box of macarons and had to make a conscious effort to save a few to take home. I think I ended up only coming home with 2! We couldn’t help ourselves – they were so good!

IMG_8052g434We both ordered vanilla lattes and they were really nummy. It did seem to take awhile for our lattes to be made and we had actually almost finished the whole box of macarons by the time our drinks arrived. However, the lattes were really good. I just wish the latte art was a bit better.

SoiretteMacarons1IMG_8018f66This Pumpkin Pie macaron display was in the front window and I LOVED it. So pretty and festive for Fall! I just wanted to take a bite out of one. 😉

Soirette’s other seasonal macaron flavours include Apple Pie, Black Forest, Carrot Cake, Bananas Foster and Goat Cheese & Green Walnut.

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All in all, Soirette Macarons & Tea is definitely a must-visit if you’re looking for high quality, tasty macarons in Vancouver. My dad and I had a wonderful visit and will definitely be stopping by again! I must have more of those pumpkin macarons… 😉

Soirette Macarons & Tea / 1433 W Pender Street / Vancouver, BC / V6G2S3 / 604 558 3308

Store Hours:
Mon – Wed 10 to 6
Thurs – Fri 10 to 7
Saturday & Sunday – 11 to 6

Have you visited Soirette Macarons & Tea? What is your favourite spot for macarons? Let us know!

Natasha xo

{Coffee Talk} JJ Bean in Port Moody

IMG_4162gToday we are continuing to chat about local coffee shops.
We live in Vancouver… how can we stop talking about coffee shops? They’re literally on every street corner!

This time we stopped in at JJ Bean. Another very popular cafe in Vancouver with over a dozen locations. However this particular one we went to was just outside of Vancouver. Located in one of our most favourite areas, Port Moody (which you can read a little about here).

IMG_4158gJJ Bean is owned by the Neate family who have been roasting coffee in Vancouver for four generations.
It is a favourite among Vancouverites thanks in part to their delicious freshly brewed coffees, super popular vegan baked goods and cozy interiors. 

IMG_4136ggWe both ordered Vanilla Latte’s & they were delish! Not too strong and not too sweet – just right. 

IMG_4145g3IMG_4139g23The Port Moody location has two levels. The second level is more private and is great if you’re looking for a quiet spot for meetings or to study.

We sat upstairs and enjoyed our coffees while overlooking the Village. 

IMG_414925bbb7IMG_4142g2bIMG_4137g2The interior is very clean, modern and minimalist looking.
Our favourite part of this location? The awesome ‘living wall’! There is a huge floor-to-ceiling live plant wall – sooo cool!

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 JJ Bean Coffee Roasters / #7 – 400 Capilano Road / Port Moody /  604-492-3666

All of their baked goods are baked fresh daily. Their muffins are delicious and highly recommended.
If you’re in the area, definitely check out JJ Bean for your caffeine fix!

Laura & Natasha xo.

{Coffee Talk} Coffee Break at Smart Mouth Cafe…

IMG_3776gVancouver certainly does not have a shortage of amazing coffee shops and cafe’s. I’m not sure just how many coffee shops there are in Vancouver, but apparently Vancouver is known as the ‘coffee shop capital of Canada’.
Well then, I think we shall never be at a loss for a cup of great coffee while in the city!

We have always loved going to coffee and tea shops so we decided to start documenting them. We do still love our local Starbucks drive through. Yes, drive through. Can you believe that? Don’t even have to get out of the car now. I have to say we do use it mostly for grabbing a coffee while on our way driving somewhere. It has been super convenient and we adore the staff there so we keep going back!

We decided to expand our horizons in the coffee/tea world, try new places, new companies other than Starbucks. Yep, we’re kinda livin’ on the edge now. We realize there’s so much more coffee out there just waiting for us to discover! ha!

We had to go to Gastown to pick up our new cards from a printer and we noticed Smart Mouth Cafe as we were walking by. We decided to take a break and grab a much needed coffee.

IMG_3773g4IMG_3774g2Their selection of wraps and sandwiches in the showcase caught our attention so we decided to try the Vegetarian Breakfast Wrap with a side of salsa and sour cream. Omg. Soooo good. We still talk about how delicious that wrap was and will definitely go back because of it!

IMG_3779gIMG_3778g2It has a very cozy Gastown kinda atmosphere with the brick and exposed ceiling pipes. Plus we really loved the huge windows in the front with a counter and chairs to sit at. Who doesn’t love to people watch while enjoying a great cup of coffee?!

IMG_3784g3I was taking photos and snapped a pic of Natasha from outside without her knowing. Love how it turned out.

g2Smart Mouth Cafe / 131 Water St #117 / Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2 / (604) 569-1480

Natasha had the Nutella Latte and I had the Cafe MochaThey were extremely flavorful and we really enjoyed them. The only criticism we would have was that the coffee could’ve been a tad hotter but for next time we’d simply request extra hot. Otherwise, excellent flavour. 

We are looking forward to going back next time we’re in Gastown… can’t stop thinking about that damn wrap!
 
 
What are some coffee shops you guys love and recommend?
Laura & Natasha xo.