Correct me if I’m wrong, but January seems to be a jam packed month full of food and beverage festivals. Considering the fact that I, among many others I’m sure, am foods number one fan I just have to say that I am not complaining (Any excuse to go out and try something new!).
With that being said, I’ve been popping in to a ton of little restaurants and cafes all around Vancouver to test out what I would say are some of the best hot chocolate concoctions around. One of the festival’s I’ll be highlighting this week so happens to be Vancouver’s 8th Hot Chocolate Festival. With 35 shops participating and 75 flavours to choose from, there’s no way you can miss out on having at least one cup (Unless you’re allergic to chocolate, in which case. I am so sorry).
A few days ago I hit the town with Sydney Wong in an attempt to help her gather some content from her meeting with Owner and Executive Chef, ‘Rags’ at Cartems Donuterie on Pender. With it only being their first year participating, one would think they’d just be, for lack of better words, getting their feet wet at the festival. But heck no! Cartems came out swinging with two beautifully crafted hot chocolate treats. They were flawless, effortless, and easy on the taste buds. Personally, one of the main issues I usually have with drinking hot chocolate is that halfway through a cup I am D-O-N-E, done. Generally the drink is far too sickly sweet for me. At Cartems though, that just wasn’t the case. Over the course of a month Rags had created two flavor sensations he deemed to be his ‘babies’, and with so much love put into the drinks it’s no wonder they turned out so good!
Of the two, ‘The Campfire’ by far had to be my favourite. Interestingly enough, it’s a vegan concoction that’s received amazing support from the Vancouver vegan community. When asked why he thought to create a vegan drink for the festival, Rags responded with a statement that expressed his want to bring sweet treats and deliciousness to his vegan friends. After all, just because something is vegan, doesn’t make it bland! Another interesting tidbit about this beverage? It’s created from a cocoa that’s smoked with apple chips and garnished with house made flaxseed graham crackers. I’ve never heard of someone serving a smoked hot chocolate before, so this was definitely a creative twist.
We were also given the chance to try Cartems ‘Donut Misu’, a creative twist on the traditional tiramisu cake. With a delicate balance of amaretto and dark chocolate, it was a hot chocolate that I could definitely see myself being able to not only finish, but have multiple cups of as well. It’s garnish of a white chocolate donut truffle totally sealed the deal too, there’s no denying that Rags knows what he’s doing when mixing and matching flavours in Cartems kitchen.
Over the course of the next few days I’ll be hitting up more shops that are participating in Vancouver’s 8th annual Hot Chocolate Festival! I’ll be sharing my experience with you of course, but would also love if you told me one of your favourite spots to grab a good hot chocolate!