I have no willpower. None whatsoever. And when it comes to a case full of chocolates, all shiny and beautiful, I usually err on the side of lavish and try one of everything. Now, if it’s a chocolatemaker in Vancouver, I can pace myself and try a few on each visit. But when travelling, I usually get one piece of everything that’s available. It’s a hard-knocked life.
So when I was in Toronto, I bought a giant box of truffles from Soma Chocolatemaker. They range from classic (fleur de sel caramel, orange marzipan) to modern (single-origin flavours) to unusual (Douglas Fir, olive oil). I’m impressed at the range of flavours, but more importantly, with the execution. Each piece was perfect, each shell was uniform and thin, and the fillings all delivered what they promised.
The standout, though, was Sparky: gianduja laced with poprocks. I know it sounds gimicky. But the gianduja (a combination of caramelized hazelnuts and milk chocolate) was the perfect vehicle to deliver those long-lost childhood exploding candies. It was entirely delightful, entertaining, and whimsical – which is, actually, what the experience of tasting chocolate should be like. It’s a seasonal truffle, but maybe if we all request it en masse, it’ll win a permanent spot on the chocolate menu.
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You’ve probably never heard of ChocolaTas before. The Abbotsford company has been around for a while and does a bustling business providing wholesale chocolates to local restaurants and hotels. ChocolaTas used to have an occasional table at Granville Island Public Market, and made some buzz last year when it partnered with Emily Carr. Students were asked to supply custom designs for a winter line of chocolates. The winning designs were translated into coloured cocoa butter, applied to the tops of handmade chocolates, and sold as part of a limited edition collection.
Anyway, fast forward to today when ChocolaTas has a spiffy new booth at Granville Island Public Market. There’s an impressive selection of flavours ranging from the expected (80% dark chocolate ganache) to the unexpected (wasabi and lemon-thyme, among others).
I chose an assortment of chocolates to try. It has taken me a while to figure out how best to approach a tasting menu of chocolates, because I tend towards the exotic or unusual flavours. The problem with this is that if an unusual chocolate isn’t good, it’s not clear whether it’s the chocolatier or the flavour. I’m more disciplined these days, and try to get a mixture of classic and crazy. I’ll usually get a few classic flavours (caramel, hazelnut, vanilla or coffee) and then a few wacky ones to round things out.
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