Tag Archives: chocolate

Hot Chocolate Festival

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Now here’s a bright idea: a festival devoted entirely to HOT CHOCOLATE!

This makes my kids all kinds of excited, and me, too! The 6th annual HOT CHOCOLATE Festival is happening right now in my city of Vancouver. There’s over two dozen bakeries, restaurants and cafés offering incredibly delectable takes on HOT CHOCOLATE, with interesting flavours like Vanilla Earl Grey (The Last Crumb), Honey Bun with chili honey (Terra Breads), and lots of non-dairy options, too, like Coconut Hot Chocolate paired with a small scoop of chocolate vegan ice cream (Ernest Ice Cream). Sweet!

So, how does a HOT CHOCOLATE festival work, you ask? Here’s the scoop: each participating business offers 2 or 3 signature HOT CHOCOLATE recipes on their menu paired with an accompanying topping or tiny sweet treat for patrons to come try during the festival dates of January 16-February 14. There are also specific flavours only offered on certain days during the festival at certain locations, so there’s lots of variety. The idea is brilliant, and it gets people out and about to new locations around the city, and the HOT CHOCOLATE festival is a fundraiser organized by Cityfood Magazine for the Downtown Eastside women’s job training program, so it’s a feel-good do-good event on all sides.

And I love that this festival is highlighting the fantastic imaginations of our city’s best creators of chocolate, and getting Vancouverites tasting some drinkable confections. The Vancouver HOT CHOCOLATE Festival is also very social, so go check out #hotchocolatefest on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to enter their HOT CHOCOLATE photo contest, for more ideas and for deliciously drool-worthy pics.

Now, if you can’t make it to the festival, let me make a suggestion…

Try your hand at creating some fun HOT CHOCOLATE concoctions of your own. There’s no rules at home! I’ve tried all sorts of flavour combinations with my kids starting with milk, hot water, soy or almond milk with cocoa, chocolate chips, hot chocolate mix or sometimes (a lot of times) just with Nutella (you don’t even need actual chocolate to make HOT CHOCOLATE, by the way). And you can add cinnamon, vanilla, orange rind, anything you like for a little flavour flourish. Whipped cream and sprinkles are always fun for kids, and I love Oh She Glow’s recipe for Coconut Whipped Cream.

Or make a plan on a chilly day to go compare flavours at several different cafe’s in your neighbourhood. Order one to share and taste test with homemade score cards for each location. Bring some crayons for colouring and for filling in the scorecards for best chocolatey taste, creamiest whipped cream, favourite sprinkles, yummiest marshmallows, deepest chocolate colour, etc. Have a discussion on what makes the best HOT CHOCOLATE and recreate it at home. Note: we like to schedule a family dance party or perhaps a balloon party to work off all that sugar afterwards!

The Vancouver HOT CHOCOLATE Festival is happening until Valentine’s Day, just in time for some creamy, dreamy, chocolatey love! Take your lovey, your littles, or just yourself for a well-deserved chocolatey quiet time. Click for a complete listing of the HOT CHOCOLATE Festival vendors & flavours.

And now it’s time for me to stop writing and start sipping. Are you hitting any of the HOT CHOCOLATE festival spots in Vancouver? Do you make your own HOT CHOCOLATE at home?

Here’s how to sign HOT CHOCOLATE with your kids…please be careful if you’re sipping and signing!

How to sign HOT in American Sign Language --www.growingsigns.com

To sign HOT in American Sign Language, start with an open claw-hand in front of your open mouth then bring hand down and swing it away from your body (like something that’s too HOT to touch)

How to sign CHOCOLATE in American Sign Language --www.growingsigns.com

To sign CHOCOLATE, hold one hand in a ‘C’ shape circling on top of your other flat hand:

I Heart Chocolate

Oh boy, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and I met a woman yesterday whose family is partly responsible for bringing me some of my fondest memories of Valentine’s Day as a child. Her name is Karen Flavelle, and she is the owner of Purdy’s Chocolates in Vancouver, a company that currently ranks in the top 50 in Canada to work for. Karen spoke at my mom’s group, mCentred, and she lit up our boardroom full of moms telling us about growing up as the daughter of Purdy’s owner since 1963, Charles Flavelle. Now, as a mother of 3 grown kids, she explained how she and her husband managed to raise them while also lighting their own work worlds in business and finance on fire (lots of planning, teamwork and strategizing).

Apparently, chocolate didn’t play much into her own childhood unless they had parties and dinner guests, but if she and her siblings helped out at the factory on Saturdays, they were allowed to eat the chocolate at the end of the day -tummy aches usually followed. After university, Karen didn’t start out her business life working for her father, but she did work her way up the corporate ladders at General Mills and Cara Operations in Toronto before purchasing Purdy’s from her dad in 1997. She’s been hands on since then while also embodying one of the most dynamic and business savvy women in Canada. It was such a pleasure to meet her yesterday and hear her honest account of both the difficulties and triumphs of being a woman in a predominantly-male field. One member of our group asked her about the proverbial “glass ceiling” in the workplace for women.

Karen replied that the idea of a glass ceiling is directly related to how you look at problems and that a ceiling describes something you cannot control. She prefers to look at difficulties as hurdles. Hurdles are just obstacles to get past: you figure out the best way to do that -over, under, around, whatever -and keep making your way.

Now that’s what I call great advice!

Karen brought us 2 of Purdy’s new artisan Single Origin dark chocolate bars from Peru (slightly fruity, intense chocolate flavour) and Ecuador (roasty, more fudgy flavour) to taste test, and also some Himalayan Pink Salt Caramels to sample. I was swooning!
So yes, I got my chocolate fill yesterday in that boardroom with Karen Flavelle, and also some amazing nuggets of wisdom from a fellow mom and business woman. But I’m still putting together some little bundles of love for my kids for Valentine’s day -I like to give them a small jar to fill with some candies & those beautiful foil-wrapped Purdy’s heart chocolates, as well as a new book. After school, we’ll come home and eat some chocolate and read by the fire before (a super-healthy) dinner. I can’t wait!


Here’s Karen and I signing the ASL sign for CHOCOLATE:

Thanks, Karen! (And I think I owe some credit to my mom for passing on her love for Purdy’s chocolate at Valentine’s Day, too!)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you, and your lovies!