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Category: candy

A Toi Gourmet Gifts

Today I was invited to try some new treats offered by local candy purveyors: “A Toi”. They specialize in giftable “adult candies”. Not candies infused with cannibas or filled with liquor, (although one does have the essence of red wine), but candies specifically created for an adult palette in mind. So less sugars, less artificial ingredients, and more natural flavourings.

The local owners of this enterprise travelled together and happened upon this passion project during one of their many trips. They wanted to start a company and decided to do it centring around two of the countries and its cultures that really resonated with them. Through “A Toi” they hoped to bring Vancouver the Japanese culture of gifting and French style confessionary, hence their name meaning “for you”.

At the moment they don’t have a physical retail location, and are only currently offering their wares through their website. But are boasting that their product selection is of a higher end quality, and that they are only using fresh and natural ingredients to make these candies by hand.

Today we tried two different lines of their handmade candies. The first focused on teas. Teas steep from the leaves that they source from “Cha Le”, Yaletown’s local artisan tea shoppe, (which also where this event was held today). To learn more about “Cha Le” and what they bring to the table, check out my review of them below.

Cha Le

 

These tea infused candies were either named after the type of tea that was used in their creation: “oolong” and “almond rose”; or the property I assumed they were meant to solicit: “white detox” and “tranquil”. And although there are currently only four flavours of these tea gummies available for sale, the possibilities are endless with this collection. Possibilities, including plenty of collaborations with Western and Chinese tea brands, and maybe even bubble milk tea hybrid gummies.

Given their mild to slightly bitter taste, I can see why they are calling them “adult gummies”. I wouldn’t eat them for the taste alone or to satisfy a craving for sweets, but more for their firm yet bouncy texture. They flexed back when your teeth went in to take a bite, it offered you a pleasant eating sensation. They were subtle in flavour, but the more you chew the more their essence grew. I could see myself reaching for one or two as an after dinner palette cleanser. I often look for something sweet to end my meal on for that very reason, but like the idea that these are a more health conscious solution. Thus also making them a great alternative for those with dietary restrictions.

They also offer a line of fruit gummies, similarly chewy dots of gelatin, but these were further sweetened and given a bit of a crunch with the granulated sugar coating their rounded tops. Here, they were flavoured in “pink lemonade”, “vin chaud”, “tropical filling”, and “twilight”. Each of the flavours were made using all natural fruit purees. I found the red wine spot on and the lemonade pleasant with a gently puckering citrus. Being made with fruit purees, our presenters suggested that these could be offered up as a snack for kids as well, although considering that these were marketed as candies for adults, this did mince their brand.

The rest of their line is comprised of marshmallow treats shaped and decorated to look like other sweets. Soft and spongy marshmallow doughnuts with chocolate dressing, freeze dried raspberry crumbs, and crushed almonds. Perfectly swirled puffs to top marshmallow “cupcakes” and to sit on sticks like meringue lollipops. Now this is what I wound gift from their line, if I were to purchase any for a present. These offered some impact, something worth taking a photo of and worth getting excited over. But as for taste, I did prefer the gummies above.

My only critique is the packaging. Considering that the focus is on gifting and they made mention of their product being high end, I expected more than the paper box with their branding stickered on, or the square folded paper envelope. I wanted more embellishment, more whimsy to impress the person I may be gifting this too. Although the package does match well the simplicity of the candy and not all thanking moments need fanfare.

 

A TOI
atoigourmetgifts.com

 

Xoxolat, Taste of Yaletown menu 2017

As part of “Taste of Yaletown”, local gourmet chocolatier, “Xoxolat” will be offering those stopping by between October 11th to the 27th, the ability to enjoy three whiskey tastings each partnered with eight pieces of their chocolates each. This $25 tasting for two will only be available the duration of the event, Wednesday to Saturday from 4 pm to 6 pm. Reservations are recommended, and given the timing, this will make a great happy hour or pre-dinner option. A great way to set the mood for the rest of your evening to follow. They also so happened to be the converging spot for our “Taste of Yaletown media” tour launch. So with whiskey to start, and a cheers to begin, our night sure started off right.

When it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

Despite its spelling, the name of this shoppe is read as “sho-sho-la”, a point they make on their awning and again anywhere their logo is presented. And like their product, the name adds a sexy twist to things. Their chocolates are inspired by European chocolatiers, and created for everyone. From those who appreciate a good cocoa bean; to ones such as myself, who want to learn what’s the difference between a bar at the grocery check out, and their imported and locally made products that are produced with quality in mind. Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to fully explore their selection or learn more about their chocolate making processes, which is a good enough reason to return.

Their black and white shop had a counter by the door for purchasing their chocolates by the drop. This led into the rest of the room with a wall of shelves and serval makes and flavours of chocolates in bags and packed in boxes to pick up and go. The other side of the room had a counter with glass jars and metal tongs, I reckon that this is where the regular tastings and lessons in chocolate are held. And today centring it all was long table clothed in white. And on it a flute of whiskey and three chocolates for each of us in attendance.

I am honestly not a big fan of chocolate, but maybe it is just that I haven’t found one I truly enjoy. However, I find when you pair chocolate with spirits it is a whole other story, as it takes the experience to a whole other level. The bitterness of the whiskey transforms when followed by chocolate. And the chocolate garners spicier notes when taken after a sip. We only had one whiskey to taste and three chocolate drops to enjoy, so don’t refer to the photo above as a reflection of what you will actually be getting, instead reference the ones below. One chocolate had ginger, another a creamy mousse like milk centre, and the third a nice dark chocolate in its smokey form.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
For all the chocolate lovers out there, this is the unique one to try when downtown, and even more so during the Taste of Yaletown event, so don’t deny your cravings.

 

XOXOLAT
1271 Homer Street, Vancouver BC, V8B 2Y9
604-733-2462
xoxolat.com
Xoxolat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Candy making with Wishing Treats

Today I was invited for a crash course in candy making with the talented, master candy artisan, Alice MacKenzie. This was behind the scenes look at handmade, hard candy courtesy of local sweets purveyor “Wishing Treats”.

From behind glass their skilled artisans transform caramel into any custom design. A great option for party favours with personal ideas, messages, and branding. All their candies are created with 95% organic ingredients, with them continuing to research on transitioning the remaining 5%; but for now they are still using organic alternatives. This means that their candy is vegan and gluten-free; with ingredients like organic sugar, glucose, citric acid from fruit, and natural colouring and flavours.

Not only do they make the candy for you, they can also teach you how to do it too. “Wishing Treats” offer candy making classes, where you become the artisan. Just like what we were here doing today.

To watch the video version of this post, click on the link to my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

We arrived at their Gastown studio to witness the entire process. Everything is made by hand from start to finish. And depending on the difficultly of the design, the time it takes varies; averaging on 45 to 60 minutes. Given our idea, we were here for an hour.

In honour of the upcoming pride season, we decided to make some new, never before seen pride candies to celebrate. The word “PRIDE” in rainbow coloured letters, with a matching rainbow boarder. Candies that ended up being such a hit with the staff, that they decided to make more and offer them commercially. These will be available at the “Wishing Treats” studio starting July 7th, 2017. So this is a first look sneak peak at their upcoming pride candies, perfect for any related celebration or year long support.

Their candy making process is visible for anyone to come in and watch throughout the day. However we visited on a day where we were the only ones in the shop, and were given the ability to step behind the counter to capture our shots.

Our candy artisan began by combining sugar, water, and glucose, and bringing the mixture to boil in a pot, over a heated coil. This part takes about 30 minutes. 30 minutes of stirring and checking, looking for the right thickness and consistency.

In the meanwhile the work counter and necessary equipment used, gets a thin coating of coconut oil. A metal work surface and mental bars that will be used to shape and contain the liquid sugar, once it’s ready to be moulded. The coconut oil is to prevent any sticking, we are working with syrup and sugar after all.

While the sugar mixture continues to boil up, all the colouring and flavours needed are measured and poured out. Today we would be utilizing all the primary colours to make our rainbow. And we decided to flavour it in a sweet raspberry.

Once the syrup is at the perfect consistency, our chosen flavour is poured and mixed in. And then the piping hot sugar mixture is poured out on to the counter. It is contained within the centre of the square, that the four coconut oiled metal bars form.

It is then coloured with our measured out food colouring and kneaded evenly into a solid shade. This is done by a series of flattening motions and palm rolls;then pulling portions of candy from one hand to another, drawing it out like stringy bubble gum.

To keep the soon to be hard candy malleable, its temperature needs to be kept hot. So out artist Alice, works with it right out of the pot. With insulated gloves, her hands are protected from the heat. The mass of candy is then worked over on heated mats, at 180 degree heat.

With all her necessary colours sorted out, she then sets out to create her pattern. A process that she is able to recreate from an idea in her head. Using strips of colour sandwiched by pieces of white, she spells out “P” in red, “R” in orange, “I” in yellow, “D” in green, and “E” in blue.

This block of block letters then gets rolled up in a sheet of the same colours alternating between gaps of white. The result, a sledge hammer sized round of candy. In order to get it down to the smaller size we need, repetitive rolling and pulling is done. One by one smaller rods are pulled out, cut off, and smoothed out to the ideal shape.

From here, some rapid fire chopping takes place. Alice skillfully takes a flat blade to each rod. She mechanically hack rounds to the size of peas.

And what we have is a sea of sweets ready for bagging. What I like about such behind the scenes look on things is how much more appreciative of the food I am. To see all the work, effort, and sheer skill that went into this, made the bag all the more sweeter to try at the end.

This is definitely something worth checking on yourself. Either by visiting and purchasing a bag of their specialty sweets, or enrolling in one of their classes and doing this all your own.

To read my review on their shop and candies, visit the link below.

Wishing Treats

WISHING TREATS
49 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1G4
778-379-5891
wishingtreats.com

Wishing Treats

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I had read about this newly opened artisan candy store in Gastown. So when we passed by it on an arbitrary walk, I took advantage of the opportunity, to stroll in for a taste.

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Inside, the concrete walls are lined with shelves made from copper pipes and sheets of glass. One shelf showcased every flavour they offered in resealable bags. They other was a visual display of metal tools, glass beakers, bottles and vials of translucent liquids, and swirled lollipops top side down.

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I went in planning on purchasing a bag, but was delighted by the ability to taste before doing so. There was a lone woman working the shop, she invited you in for a closer look by sampling the candies they were selling. She stood behind the counter, quarantined behind sneeze proof glass. From here, with gloved hands she doled out their hard candies by the drop. She even gave you a choice of flavour from the jars she had available. I tried a red strawberry heart, and took her up on her offer for another with the yellow banana. Both were true to their flavours and make excellent palette refreshers.

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The clerk/owner also showcased a few of their candy making demos, this was to walk visitors through their candy making process. This large lump of sugar and colour is carefully layered so that after it is rolled and pulled thin, there is an image at its centre. These are done with much detail to represent a theme, or the mark the flavour they possessed.

For the latter they took custom orders. The rainbow painted staircase offered you the ability to place your order by ascending upwards and working with their candy chef. I can only imagine the price of having a custom design made, considering a smaller bag was $5.99 and the price is dependant on them making it in bulk.

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Their landmark candies included “thank you” and “congrats”. Wedding favours with a bride and groom’s initials. Baby announcements with “it’s a boy in blue”, and pink for a girl. For those tourist visiting they also had an “I

As for their flavours, visuals and tastes matched. There was a sour lemon and orange candy with a cross section of the citrus fruit. The root beer flavoured ones came with a stein of foamy brown. And the kiwi looked fuzzy and brown on the outside and sweet and green on the inside. However for a little bit of all the fruits they had a mixed bag with raspberry, banana, mango, watermelon and blueberry pieces. And those who like the odd flavours like me, they also had sweet potato pie candy with the geometric shape of a pie on it, and “curry watermelon” that looked like a watermelon cut in half.

With all the choices, I followed my eyes and left with two bag based on how they looked and not what flavours they were. In fact they weren’t even listed on the bag, and I only found out what they were after tasting each.

The bag of red and white pokeballs were strawberry. And the “Gamer’s Mix” was a combination of yellow lemon “Triforces” from the “Legend of Zelda”, blueberry ghosts from “PAC Man”, and red strawberry mushrooms from the world of “Mario”. Their novelty was a hit with those who liked the four games as much as I did.

To see how they actually make the candy, check out the video below.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
This is truly a very unique talent they possess, the ability to conceive and make each hard candy drop by hand. I wish I had the opportunity to see and experience it live, or better yet try it for myself. They do offer classes and I am considering it. I truly hope the community sees the value of this art and their sweets and that “Wishing Treat” see/ success for years to come. After all there is no other offering like this in Vancouver. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WISHING TREATS
49 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1G4
778-379-5891
wishingtreats.com
Wishing Treats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hot chocolate fest, part 1

The Annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival, Part 1

 

The Hot Chocolate festival has started and it runs from January 19th to February 14th of 2017. It is almost a month, where a hand full of restaurants, cafes, dessert parlours, and chocolatiers; offer you a different reason to visit them. Those participating have come up with 1 to 4 different hot chocolate variations for you to try during its limited release. Some contain coconut milk, others red wine, and beer. Last year there was even one that used chocolate covered crickets. This would be my first go at the festival, as a self proclaimed non-chocolate fan. However they use enough “other” ingredients and promise enough novelty to have this adventurous blogger going on a crawl with a handful of her friends. Today’s assembly included one who is vegan and lactose intolerant and another who is as adventurous as me but just requires things to be gluten free. And lastly one guest who doesn’t have any dietary restrictions and whole heartedly loves her chocolate. Between us four we would have a good panel.

Of note, a few of the establishments are offering multiple hot chocolates, at varying times, thus giving you a reason to come back and try something new week after week. Or giving you a reason to come back and have as much of what you like before it is off the menu. Therefore this is more a recall post, than a resource on where to go. Take it as motivation to try the fest next year earlier, or fuel to head out to experience what they are serving up now.

In total there are 29 local businesses participating over 27 days, with 61 different types of hot chocolate. The event organizers were thoughtful enough to offer a print out walking map of these participating businesses, orangized to their in specific areas. However, today we would be hitting a few stops around town by car. And not only does the festival offer a fun way to explore more of the city, but it also fundraises for the “DOWNTOWN EASTSIDE WOMEN’S JOB TRAINING PROGRAM”.

 

Earnest Ice-cream
3992 Fraser Street, Vancouver BC
604-428-0697

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But first, by chance, I was dessert-ing at local ice cream favourite, “Earnest” and they had two different hot chocolates they were advertising. I passed on the vegan option made with chai spices, and coconut and cashew milk; served with a slice of vegan chai chocolate cake. And instead when the boozier way. Both choices are $8 each and available during the entire duration of the event.

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Their “Sons of Vancouver” (S.O.V.) Spiked hot chocolate is a milk hot chocolate inspired by their own chocolate ice cream, topped with a S.OV. Amaretto infused whip cream. And accompanied by a scoop of their S.OV. Amaretto ice cream on the side. Both cups are sprinkled over with their house made crunchy brittle.

It was great to have a scoop of the ice cream to try, it was actually what I was considering to order, had the limited edition nature of the hot chocolate not swayed me. It was nice to have the contrast between this cooling ice cream and the warmer hot chocolate. The latter was the prefect, ready to drink temperature, which meant if you were looking to sip and enjoy, it cooled down a little too quickly for you. It was rich chocolate, but not so much so that you wouldn’t go back to drinking. It was not overly sweet, being partnered with a nice alcoholic after note, and the crumble on top to bringing it into the dessert realm. This would be one of my favourites and the one I’d recommend to date.

Forward to our crawl date, we started at 4pm, which didn’t leave us much time for the cafes that close between 5-7pm. Which meant I had my planning and driving cut out for me. To watch this recap instead of reading it, click the link to visit my YouTube food vlog channel: MaggiMei and subscribe! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UWuB6nQoyTQ

 

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Chez Christophe
4717 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC
604-428-4200

I stuffed my three companions into my car and kept them on pace with short shouts. I had endeavoured on an ambitious ten stops. The plan was that we would dine in, sharing one or two cups and then hit the road for the next. There was no time to remove our coats, let alone sit and sip.

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Starting in Burnaby and working our way back, our first destination was “Chez Christophe”. As far as I know, this is the only artisanal chocolate and patisserie shoppe in Burnaby. Here they are serving two different hot chocolates for $6.95 each, both available until February 13th.

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The “Tropical storm” is a dark chocolate served with a coconut marshmallow, featuring spiced pineapple gel. It is best when all mixed together and all the flavours are allowed to mingle. You didn’t get much of the pineapple, but plenty of coconut as you pick the annoying shreds out of your teeth.

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The “Breakfast in Burnaby” was the one most of us preferred. It is a French toast inspired white hot chocolate, topped with a maple drizzle, and a pecan crunch. It tasted like French toast with the cinnamon and sugar used and the flavour of the maple at the forefront, it just lacked the eggy taste and chewy texture that comes to mind when you think French toast. It was served with a hard brioche, that was made soft via dips into the foam and cream. I personally would have preferred some food symmetry instead,and liked to have a French toast point served with the hot chocolate it gave inspiration to.

 

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Swiss Bakery
143 East 3rd Avenue, Vancouver BC
604-736-8785

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Our next stop was “Swiss bakery” better known for the popularization of the dessert that brought together the cakey-ness of a doughnut and the flakiness of a croissant. They two had two hot chocolates available during the entire three week festival period. At $5.50 each, they were the best value for price hot chocolates that I have experienced to date, and on this crawl. Both of their hot chocolate options highlighted their skills as bakers with their complementary cookies.

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The “Shining star” hot chocolate had a starry rainbow chocolate cookie paired with its bittersweet dark chocolate milk, prepared with coconut milk and turmeric power. This was incredibly creamy and perfect for dipping. Though I couldn’t differentiate between the bittersweet nature of the chocolate used and the coconut milk. It was the flavour of the turmeric that was most dominant.

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The “Winter’s harvest” was a contrast to the above in flavour and appearance. A white chocolate milk to its dark, made with genmaicha tea. “Genmaicha” is a Japanese matcha tea roasted with rice. This comes with a black sesame short bread shaped like a leaf. We agreed it was a well mixed matcha, a deep flavour without the slightest hint of bitterness. I preferred this cup, but would pass on the hard and dry shortbread, preferring a softer cookie instead, (something we would get from one of the cafes below).

 

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Gem Chocolates
2029 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver BC
604-263-9878

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We were disappointed at stop number three. “Gem chocolates” was quite the drive away, but we thought, worth it for the chocolate embellishments that was promised to top each of their whipped cream hot chocolates. However, I had misread and thought all three of their specialty hot chocolates would be available throughout the whole event. But this was not the case.

And instead of the “shot in the dark” one we wanted, which cleverly had Darth Vader’s helmet moulded in chocolate and Bailey’s, or the “island float” with chocolate lips and lemon meringue over its cardamon flavoured chocolate milk; we had their only available option then, the “flower power”. Each went for $7 in a to go cup.

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The “flower power” was marshmallow flowers and whipped cream over a blossom infused milk chocolate. It was a pretty taste with the lingering lightness of rose water. A delicate drink with the marshmallow flowers that melted on your tongue. We were treated to a flower each, in the cup that we shared; and were also given our choice of one of their chocolates to try. This was a gesture for our troubles in coming all the way and being disappointed. A kind service and truly one that was much appreciated, especially as the misunderstanding was the fault of our own.

We had the earl grey creme, black current, peanut butter, and a vanilla golden chicken for Chinese New Year.

Racing for time we just made it to “Koko Monk” before they closed. We were able to enjoy our drink in the dark of their cafe, before being reminded of the time by it owner. He also took the time to chat our table up. He interviewed us on which was our favourite hot chocolate of the crawl. He did not like the truth that I spoke, explaining how it is not possible to compare each that we had from the next, as they were all so completely different. Here, the best is based on preference and not an accurate science or the answer that he wanted. However, my guests were able to recall and regale him in all that we already had tonight.

 

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Koko Monk
1849 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver BC
604-708-3366

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Here at “Koko Monk”, they too had a rotation of flavours released at limited times. They are the only place to charge by size. Small for $5.95, medium for $6.95, and the large went for $8.25. We went for the medium to share between us four, and weren’t able to finish.

And today, during our visit, it was only the “Sin and salvation” that was available. It used organic lavender white chocolate and combined it with fig and chamomile. With it we were given a choice of any cookie from their window. We went with the short bread, believing it would best accent the light lavender in the brew. It was dipped in fresh chocolate for us, as a little bonus. This is the perfect example of a soft and buttery shortbread, the type that I like. It easily crumbled under the pressure of my teeth.

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As for the hot chocolate itself, even my guest who doesn’t like the distinct floral flavour of lavender found enjoyment in this drink, going back for multiple sips. The flavour of the lavender starts out strong and grows comfortable on you, with every additional sip. But overall, it was mostly rich from the cream, and a drink many would not be able to finish alone.

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Glenburn
4090 Hastings Street, Burnaby BC
604-500-4548

From here there were a few other possible stops, with later closing times. However the consensus of the others were, they were tapped out on chocolate and sweets, and up for just one more. So we fast forwarded to our planned last hot chocolate stop of the night. One that offered some savoury with their drink of sweet. We drove back Burnaby to “Glenburn soda”, the popular later night dessert place that offers up classic sundaes and makes their own pop. A soda fountain and confectionery reminiscent of the ones from the 50’s and 60’s with soda jerks, paper hats, and even the old timey candy to match.

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They too had a rotating selection of hot chocolates for the fest. They went out of the box with their “all that and a bag of chips” for $6. It is a salted toffee, milk hot chocolate, literally served with a bag of home made potato chips. The latter was definitely a new one for them.

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The chips were the crispy and salty bite that the others needed, and it very loosely connected to the drink beside it. Topping the whipped cream and hot chocolate was a potato chip shard coated with toffee nut chocolate on one side and drizzled over with a chocolate sauce on the other. There was far too much cream to sift through with your lips to reach the drink with ease. But when you did finally get the slightest bit of liquid, you need not more, given how sweet it was. We ended up passing on most of the hot chcoolate, simply using it occasionally as a dip for our chip. When we brought it to the owner’s attention, we couldn’t be bothered with our feedback. He simply took the cup and saucer and “hmm” in response.

I was disappointed by our last hot chocolate. I would have loved the chance to try all their other flavours at once. To be able compare and contrast them all together, instead of one every week, as I don’t see myself returning to do so. And especially as all the others sounded more interesting than the chips with its too sweet toffee chocolate milk.

However, the idea to keep flavours rotating during the fest is a smart one, from a business standpoint. You loose sales from one shot customers like me, but you gain more money in the long run. A lure to bring those willing in more than once a month. And chances are when they visit, they will order something in conjunction to their hot chocolate, like we did. The options certainly sound more interesting from here. Next they had the “float your boat”, a cola infused dark chocolate with ice cream available from Jan 26 to Feb 1. And after the “freeze tag” a frozen peanut butter milk chocolate available from Feb 2 to the 8th. And lastly from Feb 9 to the 14th it was a hot chocolate made by infusing red hot cinnamon hearts, timely given Valentine’s Day being on the 14th.

 

In short, the our hot chocolate fest crawl was a fun experience. As an event, it is a great way to see more of the city and the keep warm on days that still leave you shaking from the chill. I enjoyed the ability to jump around and try as much as we did so much, that I immediately planned a downtown hot chocolate fest crawl with another friend. The vlog and blog of that to come. Don’t deny your cravings.

Squish Candy

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I have been waiting for this little kiosk located in Pacific Centre, within The Bay, inside Top Shop to open. It’s name was catchy and its white wallpaper speckled with different shapes to represent their variety of gummies was appealing. Yellow triangles, purple lips, red stars, and green clouds. It was eye catching and does just that as you enter The Bay or head to the skytrain through the mall’s food court. They say location is everything when it comes to a business, and they had a good one here. Next is a good product at a reasonable price, and great staff to showcase it; they had all that as well.

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You were greeted by a tray of candies for sample, it varies and today was their vegan sours. The chalkboard sign said help yourself, if not one of the two staff members would have. They encouraged sampling here. So much so that the wall behind their cash register was dedicated to bottles of candies for tasting. The only candy store that I know offering tastes, and gave them away so freely, even if you weren’t interested in purchasing.

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I was given a tour of their three walled space, given back ground information like how they were established in Montreal and that this is their first west coast expansion. How most of their gummies are manufactured there and if not, Germany; which apparently is the best place for gummies.

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Each gummy fell under its own flavour category: intense, fruity, calm, decadent, cocktail, and/or mix. Each was symbolized by the shapes on the wallpaper described earlier.

They also had different properties with their other symbols. A fork and leaf for vegetarian, real fruit extract was a smiling drop, no artificial flavours was a mouth with its tongue out, no artificial colours was a paint can, the heart meant fat free, the dairy free symbol was a cow, and a hand signing peace meant the candy was vegan friendly.

Both types of visual logos were listed under each gummy on the shelf, along with its name. This was an easy way to identify what it is that you were looking for. Be it a fat free calming gummy, or a vegan friendly intense sour. Though they were also arranged on the shelf by their category.

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Now that I knew how to identify each type of candy, it was time to narrow down the choices. The grab bags were 3 for $15, $6 each. If a whole pouch of the same type of candy is too much commitment for you, grab one of their gift boxes from $12-15. This allowed you to sample four to eight different types of candy in a theme, in one box. One featured a variety of gummy bears called “bear hug” with chocolate filled marshmallow bears and blue and white polar bears. Another box was themed “calm” and featured green tea gummies. The “xoxo” one had roses, hearts, and bear holding hands. Each of the gummies had its own distinct flavour. And each box was decorated in its pop style contrast coloured boxes, some with applicable patterns. There was even an all black box for their liquorice collection which included a gluten free black liquorice and a red liquorice tile.

There were so many different gummies that I wanted to buy and so many unique ones I wanted to try. And I did just that. Thanks to the helpfulness of the staff, I sampled a rose shaped gummy from their spring seasonal collection. A black, red, or white blossom on a green stem. Then I went for some heat with their spicy ginger heart and red hot chilli pepper, that both finished with a burn. I can see the former soothing an upset stomach in place of candied ginger.

Other interesting gummy flavours included the strawberry rhubarb and mulled wine. In interesting shapes like brains, conjoined gummy bears, and coffee beans. Even now I wish I got more. Like their malted chocolate and caramel balls in matcha green tea, cake batter, cookies and cream, tiramisu, chocolate bacon toffee, chai, and/ or pumpkin pie.

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Unique and unusual gummy flavours not enough for you? They also make and sell gummy cakes. This is their berry candy cake. They make a fun cake alternative and unique centre piece to any dessert buffet or table setting.

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But for now I was interested in their vegan selection, wanting to buy a bag of gummies for my vegan friend. Six packages to choose from, six more than at most candy places, which included red fish and berry bears.

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Knowing she liked sours I got her a grab bag of the mixed “Galaxy”. Yellow, red, orange, and green. Clouds, flowers, stars, and moons. Though truthfully, after they were dusted in the grainy sour crystals, you couldn’t really make our their once distinct shapes. They tasted like regular gummies, but more firm. In the classic citrus and red cherry flavours. I wouldn’t think these were vegan if they didn’t spell it out.

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With my excitement over their vegan gummy line, I was gifted a box of their vegan gummy sampler. This gift box was packaged with presentation in mind. The ones I would recommend as a gift. Remove the sleeve of the box and open it to reveal each flavour in its own plastic pouch, within its own plastic box.

The “extreme strawberry” stuck to your teeth if you attempted to chew them, and they were too big to take in one bite. They started out sour and ended in a true strawberry flavour.

The “sour “cukes” looked more like bananas than cucumbers, and tasted like neither. Sour then sweet candies with an unidentifiable flavour.

The “cherry and watermelon hearts” were one bite sugar dusted gummies with a sweet fruity finish. They weren’t sour, just juicy and easy to chew. These were the most like regular, non vegan gummies.

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For myself I got two of the $12 boxes sampler which were on special, 2 for $20. Having opened the vegan pack first, I was a little sad that these were not in boxes with in box as well.

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The decadent collection was a purple and yellow box. It was described as being the perfect set of four, for those who love the luxe life and a taste of finer things.

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It took me a while to figure out the tops from bottom of the “sweet yogurt cups”. I have them up side down in the photo. They were marshmallow-like chews with a jelly filling. The pink were raspberries with a tangy yogurt like finish, the Orange coloured ones were peach flavoured. Out of all the candies I liked these the most.

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The “strawberry milkshake” was shaped like like a milkshake glass, but didn’t taste like it. The top was a clear red, the bottom a opaque white. I got the strawberry flavour, but not necessarily the milk and ice cream that went into a proper milkshake.

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The “magic mushrooms” were a spongy pink cap and white stemmed mushroom, similar in texture and taste to the yogurt cups. But harder and without the gel-juice filling. It almost tasted like a mix of berries. I was surprised this many came in one pack.

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The “strawberry shortcake flavoured bears” delivered. Fruity berry meets a custard-like sweetness, familiar with a butter vanilla cake.

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The cocktail box was a yellow and blue box for those who like a little booze in everything they do. Its intent was to blend together complimentary mixes like “hot wine on a cold day” and “cool rum on a hot beach”. Each of these four gummies were all inspired by iconic beverages.

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The “bubbly bears” were champagne bears without the fizz, but plenty of the kick you would find in a glass of sparking wine. The white had more punch from the getgo then simmered down, the peach coloured ones grew in intensity and finished strong. They tasted like they had alcohol in them.

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The piña colada had a similar shape to the milkshake ones, but with a straw sticking out. I got the creaminess of coconut and pineapple immediately, and after some more chewing, the subtle hint of the unmistakable flavour of rum. At this point I was pretty amazed at how they were nailing the alcoholic flavour in these cocktail gummies.

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The “ice cubes” were block of translucent gummy with a dot of blue in the middle. The centre was more chewier. It started out normal like a slight tart candy, but it hid a menthol cooling effect, without the flavour of mint. It refreshed the way my mouth felt, like a breath of fresh air. It was such an odd sensation, that I had to go back a few times in order to describe it.

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“Cuba libre” is also known as rum and coke. This is the Spanish version of the cocktail made with cola, lime, and either a dark or light rum. Like the cubes before this too was a translucent square, but with a brown dot. Also chewier in the centre, but no menthol and no rum flavour. Just a nice fizzy coke flavour with flecks of lemon.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
It’s one thing to read the labels and see the shapes and get excited, but here trying is believing. After doing so, I want to go back and try the rest of their collections through more of their themed gift boxes. “Squish” offers an exciting array of unique gummies and candies in fun giftable boxes and hassle free individually wrapped bags. Enough candies to fulfill any craving, so don’t deny yours.

 

SQUISH CANDY STORE AT THE HUDSON’S BAY
(Within Top Shop on the Mall level)
674 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 1Z6
604-682-5405
squishcandies.com

IKEA, bulk candy

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The “IKEA” in Coquitlam has increased their food prices. Where it was once $5.99 for 15 meatballs it is now $6.99 for 10. The food was never that good, but you kept going back for more because you appreciated the value, and the distance a dollar brought you. So having learned this, we couldn’t will ourselves back to their cafeteria knowing we once paid less and got more for what little they were willing to give now.

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So instead, this visit we took advantage of their new bulk candy bins. This was a new feature in their grocery section. A wall of plastic bins holding over 48 different types of Swedish gummies, chocolates, liquorice, and hard candies. It’s the same concept as any bulk shopping. You self serve with a scoop and bag, picking and choosing only that which you want. But here you can mix and match as they all have the same price: $1.99 per pound. And no need to record the separate bin numbers. The only challenge was picking between them all. A took a good 20 minutes cataloging all that they had and what I would want. I was unfamiliar with Swedish candy, but just judging them based on looks was pretty tempting.

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Octopus shaped liquorice, fried egg shaped gummies, cola bottles and squishy hearts. A yard long snake, a spool of rainbow rope, green frogs, and primary coloured mice. Crispy chocolate balls, harden marshmallow cubes, gummies shaped like race cars, and social media themed candy. Just to name a few. I was familiar with most of them, as I have visited “Karameller”, the Swedish candy store operating in Yaletown. They carried all the same candies before me now, but and much more. Their collection was double this one as well. But you couldn’t beat the price here.

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To pay you first weigh, using the self serve scale to your right. You place your bulging paper bag on the scale and push a button. The weight is recorded and it is priced based on it. A label prints out for you to stick on your bag. I used mine to seal it in the process. You then take it all to their grocery till to pay.

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Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It was fun to sort through the candy and pop random ones into your mouth. A progress of tasting and trying to see what you liked and didn’t. I spat out a few and only bit into some. For the most part they all were fairly tasty, but not all that fresh. Most required excessive chewing, with plenty of bits getting stuck in the cracks of your molars. Good candy at a decent price, but you get what you pay for. Great for a party mix, but otherwise nothing I would go back for. If I am going to eat empty calories it will be with candies that I enjoy a lot more. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

IKEA COQUITLAM
1000 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam BC, V3K 3T5
1-866-866-4532
ikea.com
IKEA Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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