The Chocolate Life

Discover Chocolate and Live La Vida Cocoa!

I was visiting families and friends this past holiday season and I had the chance to check out several chocolate shops in town. The chocolate scene in Vancouver is definitely booming. New stores and more convenient branch locations for some famous names are blooming to the excitement of the coming Winter Olympics/ Valentine’s Day combo. Although I wouldn’t advise anyone to go for a Vancouver chocolate tour during the Games unless that’s what they are also there for, the huge infrastructure upgrade on the city’s transit systems certainly makes it much easier getting around to these fabulous chocolate locations. Here are a couple of my favorite spots. There are definitely more places to check out. A more complete list can be found here http://www.poifriend.com/poigroup.php?poigroup_id=29639, with their GPS locations, thanks to 8chocolate.com. Fellow chocolate lovers and Vancouverites are more than welcome to add to the list and share their chocolate experiences in Vancouver.

Xoxolat:
A new store in Vancouver that sets out to explore both the fun and the serious aspects of gourmet chocolates. In the store, you can always expect the most unexpected and refreshing combinations of chocolates and just about anything that's edible -- from the Pop rocks candy to bacon/espresso to freshly shaved Italian black truffles. Everything made in the store is without artificial flavoring and with no emulsifiers! Their own 71% dark chocolate offers a unique flavor profile, an interesting departure from the more widely used Callebaut and Valrhona. My favorite is their sour cherry and chili bar. They also make special occasions extra special by making truffles with ingredients that you bring to the store.


On the other hand, this is also THE place in Vancouver to replenish the stock on the best artisan chocolates from around the world, to name a few: Amano, Amedei, Claudio Corallo, Cluizel , Pralus, Theo, Valrhona, and the largest collection of chocolates from the Austrian company Zotter I've seen. They also carry products from Terra Nostra -- a Vancouver a based organic/equitable trade chocolate company owned and operated by fifth-generation chocolatier Karlo Flores. The staff in the store is definitely knowledgeable to back this selection up. However, it's a special treat if you happen to catch their resident chocolate expert Ethel Makon who is able to break down flavors in a chocolate according to the terrain and climates of its origin.
Xoxolat is also working closely with local wine, Scotch and tea experts to come up with new flavor combinations and uses of chocolates. A trip to the store will fill you with feelings of warmth and satisfaction that fine chocolates never fail to incite. The closest transit stop is at Burrard Street and Broadway Avenue by the No. 9 bus. The store is just one block north.


XOXOLAT
http://www.xoxolat.com/
2391 Burrard St., Vancouver, BC V6J 3J2 Canada
Phone: 604.733.CHOC (2462) Fax: 866.795.8412

Thomas Haas Patisserie:
Vancouverites are lucky to have a world renowned chocolatier -- Thomas Haas
right in their backyard. Thomas has been chosen to be one of the top
10 chocolatiers in North America by the Dessert Professional magazine in 2009. The only one in Canada! He has two store locations in the
greater Vancouver area. His
flagship shop is in North Vancouver and actually requires a short journey
to get to. But his chocolates and the scenery along the way make it more than
worthwhile to embark on this half day trip.






The best way to get to North Vancouver is to take the seabus at the Waterfront Station which can be reached by either taking the northbound Canada line or the 98 B-line. The station itself is a heritage building built in 1910 located within walking distance to the historical gas town district. The boat ride offers a panoramic view of the Vancouver harbor-- the gateway to Asia. As the boat pulls away from the dock one gets the a beautiful snapshot of the Canada place with its unique architecture. Also coming into sight, a stretch of emerald green, the
Stanley Park, stands in serenity against the turquoise water that extends
westward under the Lions Gate Bridge and then to the horizon and beyond. While I was still immersed in the beauty of the North Shore mountains my attention was quickly snatched away by the bright yellow pyrmiads of sulfur, momentos for the times when they played a
major role igniting the city’s development. Cargo ships and cruises crisscross the waters weaving the picture of a vibrant and diverse economy for the region's future. While the picturic scenery
gives the monstrous cargo ships from the Far East a chance to temporarily surrender their weariness,
it also makes the perfect pre-course for the visual and gastronomic feast to
come.









Off the boat at Lonsdale Quay, where one can savor the freshest seafood cooked on site, here is the connecting point to various popular tourist destinations including the Grouse Mountain hiking trail. A15 minute ride on the 236 bus to its last stop will take us to the backyard of Thomas’ shop. The boat/bus ride takes about 45 minutes provided smooth connections. Upon entering the store I was immediately drawn to the dazzling array of luxurious creation by this fourth-generation chocolatier. Truffles, pastries and desserts, each hand crafted and elaborately decorated, resemble pieces of artwork
stimulating both imagination and salivation.

Although everything is sublime, here are a few things that stood out during my visit. His line of chocolate caramels are testaments to their skills at confectionery. These pockets of amber colored delight convey the subtle balance between sweetness and smokiness. Thomas and his team further add new
dimensions by introducing unusual ingredients such as balsamic vinegar/ honey,
merlot, and tropical fruits to his caramel . The perfect consistency and
texture allow the flavors to tango and swirl on the palate but with a clean, polite exit. The fruity flavored truffles boast dense and full-bodied texture while the flavor is
delicate and bright. The cassis cake made with both cassis jam and cassis infused
white chocolate mousse is my favorite. And their double baked almond croissant still
makes me drool whenever I think of it. This location often hosts pastry chefs
from restaurants and hotels experimenting with their latest inspiration. Sometimes
the customers can have a taste of these new creations for a fraction of the
cost when they make it to the menu. Reluctantly leaving the store, I found a stroll along the harbor and on to the piers, enjoying the Vancouver skyline from another perspective a very good way to wind down from such a
decadent banquet.

Haas' second shop is conveniently located in the Kitslano area in the lower mainland, nestled between some of the best restaurants in Vancouver.
It can be reached by simply taking the 99 B line to Broadway Avenue
andMcDonald St. A short 200 m walk to the east, you are in chocolate heaven.


Thomas Haas Patisserie
http://www.thomashaas.com/
North Vancouver Store - 604.924.1847998 Harbourside Drive, Unit 128



Kitsilano Store - 604.736.1848 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver

to me, the chocolates from both Xoxolat and Haas' are able to reflect Vancouver's colorful and diverse culture and they also embody the people's friendliness and hospitality. As any good chocolates should, they absorb qualities from the surroundings and merged with their own unique abilities to inspire passion and creativity in all of us who take a bite in them. I hope your Vancouver chocolate experience is just as good as mine if not better. Happy eating!!

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Comment by Gary Shieh on February 7, 2010 at 8:52pm
Here it is the whole article. I think I seriously messed up the formatting. Some tech help!!! Thanks.

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