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Category: desserts Page 1 of 19

Le Doux Ciel, Chinese New Year High Tea

I have seen photos of this newer cafe floating around, but what got me through the door finally was their limited edition, Chinese New Year themed high tea set. It is only available for a month starting January 15th and running to February 15th, 2020

In order to indulge you must make a reservation and that comes with a commitment. The cost is $59 per person. You leave your credit card information and are billed “50% or more” if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice. Therefore, we made sure we got there early to avoid complications. Parking is easy enough, if you seek a spot in the underground lot of the “Praq Casino” adjacent. This is within walking distance of “Le Doux Ciel”.

The cafe is a wonderfully curated space. A touch of elegance with soft pastels, velvet upholstery, marble counters, honeycomb tiles, and flourishes of gold. On the ceiling dangled oversized balloons in whites, teal, and gold. They bounced around adding whimsy, and adding to the celebratory mood. It all definitely got us more excited for what’s more to come.

Your journey begins with a choice of tea, two pages to skim through, all served in a bird themed set. Individual tea pots that resembled bird houses, tea cups that had a tiny bird perched on its handle, and a saucer shaped like a gilded cage.

We would take our server’s suggestion and order their two most popular teas. The “milky blue”, isn’t actually blue in colour (we checked before ordering it). It had a naturally milky essence to it, without the need to add any actual milk product. And enough sweetness from candied chestnuts to enjoy without any honey or sugar. Its creaminess matched the indulgence of the set well.

The second most popular brew was the “blanc and rose” white tea. You got plenty of gentle rose notes in this cup. More light and floral than the blue tea above.

The actual full food set comes out fast. Many of the elements are pre-made and simply assembled on these speciality, miniature shelves. They typically house small figurines and leave quite the oriental impression. But there were so many pieces to this set that they had to spread it across two fixtures. The second one was a platform, and like the shelf, it was topped with waxy paper to protect the wood from oils and sugars from the snack-sized feast before us. We worked our way through everything, looking to the menu as a guide of the order in which to do so. It was in doing this that we realized that we were missing one of the listed items: the traditional new year cake. But alas the chef had already retired for the day so we were unable to try it. However, the clerk offered us our choice of any of the treats in the showcase, but more on that below.

Once again, in the order that we nibbled and savoured: We started with the “Vegetable spread mix”. It looked half thought out. A slice of cucumber topped with sautéed vegetables. A mix of red peppers, eggplant, and mushroom. It ate like a vegan chip and salsa, but needed more. It was missing seasoning and a pinch of salt. And perhaps a final topping to complete the concept. My suggestion would be a sprinkling of fried onion. It tasted healthy and was light, giving you a similar feeling that you would get from a cucumber finger sandwich, in other high tea sets.

I really liked the “Smoked bacon on steam buns”. A nice thick cut of bacon with a maple syrup finish, its sweetness went well with the sweet onion paste smeared within the doughy bun. All that was missing was more vegetables, something pickled like you’d get in banh mi, for a nice tang.

By comparison, the “Sesame brioche buns with roasted pork belly” was similar in sweetness and tangy sauce. But here, the thick and crunchy skin was hard to bite through, and just as dry as the bun. Overall great flavours, I just wanted the dish to be better curated, and once again with more veggies to balance out the heavy juices.

The “Exotic mushroom veggie spring roll” came served with a sweet chilli sauce on the side for dipping. It was crunchy with plenty of mushroom filling. I don’t know about the “exotic” part though. It was pretty standard all in all.

Next, we transitioned from savoury to sweet with the “Bird’s nest soup with red dates”. It had a jelly-like texture that drank like slurping down minced jello. It was refreshing and only mildly sweet, with the flavour of the dates coming through.

The “Fermented rice cake” was interesting. Three desserts in one, including the decorative white chocolate piece crowning it. There were a few more scattered across the set, similarly decorated it Chinese characters and/or symbols to really round out the theme. At the centre was a tiny glutenous rice ball with sesame seed paste at its centre. I have never had one so mild, it contrasted well the tangy fermented jelly surrounding it. But overall this had a medicinal quality to it.

The “puff pastry” is one that I am familiar with. Shaped like a lotus flower, with a flaky shell, surrounding dense date paste. Given how dry and ashy it is, it is best paired with tea or coffee and nibbled on.

I was most excited by the sugar coated hawthorn fruits. Visually, it was juicy looking strawberries coated in syrup and wrapped in edible, translucent paper (like what you get with white rabbit candy.) I would later learn that this called “bing tanghulu”, a popular Beijing snack. It tasted like “haw flakes” and was fun to eat off the stick. This was all kinds of sweet, across different textures.

Once again, the menu also listed a “special Chinese traditional cake”, but it was missing on our tower, and by the time we realized this, the chef was already gone for the day. Therefore to round out our meal, our server (the lone employee left to hold down the cafe), offered us the following.

A couple of their Chinese New Year themed macarons like red bean and osmanthus. The former actually tasted like red bean, whereas the latter was just sweet. I was waiting, but I never got the floral notes I expected from the blossom. It simply tasted artificial, and a little like mango?

And in keeping of our asian theme, we choose the “Black sesame cake”. One of their single serve, individual sized desserts, pre-made and waiting behind glass. It was mostly mousse with a thin layer of sponge. I found the texture sandy, whereas if I was going to have this much mousse I wanted it rich and creamy. At the centre was a mildly tart blueberry gel core. It helped to brighten up the dessert, but as a whole, this one isn’t for me.

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.
Honest this it is one of the better high tea sets I have had. Everything is made in house, and I definitely tasted the value across each course. Complex and creative, this is one to try! Don’t deny your cravings.

LE DOUX CIEL
65 Smithe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0R3
(236) 520-2888
ledouxciel.ca

Gram Cafe & Pancakes

The latest dessert trend is the soufflé pancake. An airy and light round stacked one on top of another, and dressed in a bevy of toppings. A few dessert shoppes specializing in this treats have opened up last year, with other cafes adding it to their menu. But “Gram” originating out of Japan is the first to coin this method of pancake preparation. And their highly anticipated opening is now set in mid February 2020.

The cafe is located in Aberdeen Mall, right as you enter from their 1st floor parking garage. The space was once a clothing store, but anticipating the eventual opening of “Gram’s” first Canadian location, the mall quickly renovated to install the proper ventilation system, so that they will be able to prepare and serve food. The cafe is spacious, with plenty of isle room in between rows of white lacquer tables paired with thin wire chairs and grey cushions. The restaurant is kept pretty simple, a “Gram” branded bar at the back and a mural advertising their premium pancake paired with a cup of coffee and spilt beans.

The chain actually started out offering regular flat, flap jacks. Buttermilk rounds that they still currently offer, both in savoury and/or sweet. Bacon and scrambled eggs or French toast style with chocolate and banana.

We tried their tiramisu sweet pancake with mascarpone tiramisu cream, cocoa powder, and milk chocolate. I am not normally a fan of the soft and heavy cream focused cake, but did like it recreated with pancakes here. You definitely get the flavour of the iconic dessert, but with a nice spongy base and powdery cocoa finish. A lot for one, so better shared.

But out of the two we tried, the “Premium pancakes” are definitely the ones to order; the name says it all. Each order takes 30 minutes to make. They are made to order, with only 90 plates available daily. They foresee themselves running out daily, much like it is in Japan. For now it is only available as “regular:” Three fluffy soufflé pancakes stacked one on top of another, finished off with house made butter, whip cream and a light syrup. With talks of offering seasonally driven specials in the future.

By the time we got to our pancakes they were no longer fresh. However, unlike other soufflé pancakes, these did not wilt or slough. They held their shape and their freshness, and were just as tasty at room temperature, with a mild sweetness and eggy finish. The butter offered up some salt, and the syrup additional sweetness, more like sugar cane and less like maple syrup. But the texture is what makes it special, the texture of angel food cake and pancake combined, crafted from a special pancake mix flown in from Japan, with everything else sourced locally, when possible.

In the future they are working towards customization of all their pancakes and the ability to top, smear, and drizzle each as you like. Along with a monthly premium pancake special, that will be reflective of the season and any festive occasions.

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.
From what I saw, they are promising an experience much like you would get in Japan; with the company sending trainers from Japan to Canada, and hiring as many Japanese speaking individuals as possible. I cannot wait to see how the Lower Mainland welcomes their highly anticipated opening, and how they evolve to cater to and be shaped by Canadian culture. Keep your eyes and ears open for the actual opening day, and be warned there will be lines and they will sell out early. Don’t deny your cravings.

GRAM
1284 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 3Z6
gramcanada.com

Billy Button, revisit

Looking for desserts in the area, we found ourselves at “Billy Button” for some of their most photogenic treats. Our group of 5 foodies came in, just in time for last call. We decided to make it worth the while of the cafe, by ordering one of each of their remaining desserts. Whatever was available 45 minutes to closing.

We almost missed our destination, but having been once before I knew to look for a nondescript entrance, beside the tanning salon. From exterior to interior, the restaurant is themed in black. Black walls, black matte menus, and dim lights barely illuminating the darkness. It gave the restaurant a very calm energy, and a romantic feel for an after dinner destination. And by contrast, all the colourful plates they served really stood out.

You are seated up front and a sever takes your order, this is despite the showcase of goodies at the back. It features specials of the day, that aren’t on the regular menu. So it is best to take a gander before committing to your choices. And as I mentioned, we got one of each of these.

I was the most enamoured with the “Orange”. An accurately decorated, white chocolate shell hides a filling of whipped white chocolate ganache, and a core of marmalade gel. It was so realistic looking with all its dents and dimples, and is even finished off with a real leaf, that crowns it. Like all their other desserts, this one wasn’t very sweet. It reminded me of an orange creamcicle, but much more mild in fruit flavour and sugar content. Great with tea, and for those who don’t like most desserts.

By comparison the “strawberry” disappointed in its presentation. This too played homage to its namesake fruit. Made with a similar white chocolate shell and ganache, but filled with a house made sorbet jam at its centre, instead. The strawberry lacked details and without its trademark black seeds, it looked more like a glossy beet. They tried to add some authenticity to it by using an actual strawberry stem, but it was disproportionately small, and only made the cake look cartoonish. Given its vibrancy, I expected it sweeter and with more character. Instead, it was bland for a dessert. And the jam centre nice, a familiar flavour, commonly found as spread with scones and cream, at high tea.

The “Blueberry tart” would be my favourite of the three, from the showcase. This tasted more like a proper dessert in its richness and sugar. Blueberry jam and pasty cream, all on a bed of almond sponge cake. Fresh and vibrant with the ripe fruit, I just wanted the crust a little more buttery and a lot more firm. Both to better contrast the silken cream and glazed fruit.

From off the regular menu we had the following. The “Matcha green tea tart” was matcha on matcha, with a side of matcha. And surprisingly none of it was overwhelming, only all together was it slightly bitter. An airy matcha soufflé sitting atop of a butter-based crust. Served with a side matcha ice cream, a tuff of matcha sponge cake, and a shard of meringue. The cake was warming and rich, similar to a lava cake in the way it oozed, when you cut into it. Ideal for matcha lovers who complain that they don’t get enough matcha flavour.

The “Salted caramel brioche” was the most dessert-like with its salted caramel sauce, brown sugar crumble, vanilla chanillty cream, and dark chocolate. It was fluffy and satisfying. The burnt caramel flavour was amazing, although it did overpower the brioche. But aside from its presentation, this would be a premade muffin or loaf, that you would expect to find at the counter of your local coffee shoppe.

The following three desserts, I have had before, during my first visit. And it was exactly as I remembered it. Stunningly beautiful, and subtle in flavour. Great for those who don’t like too much sweetness, but lacking for those that do.

The name, “The garden” spoke to the freshness of cucumber featured, and the farm to table quality it gave the plate. Cucumber, yogurt mousse, yuzu cremeux, raspberry powder, and house made crostini. The cucumber had a savoury nuance to it. It reminded me of a finger sandwich, but tzaziki to my table mates. It would have been nice to have the fruit flavours more produced, to better balance out the above.

The “Osmanthus udon” is fragile strands of “udon” noodles. It is shaped from osmanthus panna cotta, and topped in a berry sauce, and crumble. It has a fun texture, but is easy to break. I wanted more flavour from the “noodles”, but it just didn’t absorb enough of the berry soup it pooled in. It would have also been nice to have more crunch in the mix.

“The autumn” is a red wine poached pear on an chocolate cake, sitting in a red wine sauce, with shards of sugar and sticks of chocolate. You finish off the dessert with a little jug of cream that you pour over it. The chocolate doesn’t over power the fruit, and everything melds together well in one bite. It is heavier than it looks with it being wine forward. This would be my least favourite overall, but for taste it would be “the garden” and the “udon”.

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.
Upon my second taste, I conclude that I like their desserts far more for their visuals, then to actually eat any of it. I don’t have a sweet tooth but found that it wasn’t even sweet enough for me. It felt like appetizers, warm up plates building up to the decadent finish that never came. Best shared with bites from each, not something I would like from start to finish, all to myself. Don’t deny your cravings.

BILLY BUTTON
44 E Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5T 1V9
604-423-3344
billybuttondessertbar.com

SweetHoney Dessert

“Sweet Honey Desserts” is a cafe serving traditional Taiwanese desserts. This summer they have garnered much attention from their hyper realistic dog cakes. And now with two locations, you can visit them in either Burnaby or Richmond.

I have dined with them once before in Richmond, but after trying two desserts with little excitement I decided not to return. That was until I saw that they have new Christmas treats for the winter season. Riding the wave of success with their dog theme, they now have two more dawning Santa hats. And for me it is like collecting “Pokémon” in the augmented reality game, “Pokémon Go”. It is essentially the same chocolate dog, but now that it comes with a hat, I wanted it all over again.

So here I was, now at their Burnaby location getting a better second impression of this chain. A more favourable visit with some desserts I will return for. Located on Grimmer street, the area is quickly expanding with many like dessert and drink cafes. The shoppe is easy to spot with their entire menu pictured as decals splashed across the exterior. A collection of well groomed fluffy pancakes, rice balls, and fruit beverages.

The interior is fairly modern. Geometric shapes adhered on to a mirrored surface on one side of the room, and red and white striped wallpaper on the other. The dining area is spacious with plenty of room to move between lacquered table tops and cushy chairs. We were given our choice of seats and handed a stack of menus to peruse through.

The main menu was handsomely bounded, arranged by specific items, featuring plenty of glossy photos. A page for “durian lovers”, and two for those who like mango, grass jelly, and ice cream. For more traditional Chinese desserts look to their “tofu pudding series”, “rice ball series”, or “sago”. There was a lot or options, and a lot of overlap within each category. Though the photos definitely helped in the ordering process. For noting is that everything we had was exactly as pictured in the the photo.

We started with their Christmas specials. And what I thought was their ice cream dog cake with Santa hats, like below, was actual a solid chocolate puppy with a fondant hat. Not as realistic as the cake, but just as cute and as memorable. Plus they make for great stocking stuffers. They line the top of their refrigerated glass case in easy to take out plastic boxes with handles. But be warned the hat isn’t secured all that well to the top of the dog, and the dog isn’t stable on the cardboard base either.

As for the original dog dessert, the cake only comes in chocolate. A bull dog on his belly with pudgy arms and meaty legs outstretched, and a nub of a tail at his end. It comes right out of the freezer and has the white ice crystals to prove it. Said crystals highlights the detail in the dog’s coat well. I advise waiting for them to thaw and for the cake to start sweat a little, in order to be able to cut into it with ease. Honestly that is half the fun of this treat, to be able to slice into the dog and ruin the illusion as such. As for taste it is like a melty chocolate mousse. Not very rich, not very chocolatey. But if it had both of those characteristics, it would have been better for it. Great to have once for the novelty of saying that you have. But as for taste, you are better off with chocolate ice cream by the scoop.

Next was their soufflé pancake, holiday edition. They are the latest restaurant to offer this jiggly treat. The lightest pancake you will ever have, in a rendition that is especially eggy. This gave it a more savoury feel; one that I preferred, and was best highlighted by the salted cheese foam it cams in. The foam is very similar to the topping you can get crowning a bubble tea. Tasty. But sadly, the only thing festive about this was the fondant red and white Santa hat. The very same one used for the dogs above. The fruit on the side felt out of place and out of season. I would have liked green and red sprinkles instead. Although the papaya, mango, watermelon, and blueberries did offer a nice freshness, complimenting the salted foam and helping to balance the dessert as a whole. Except, I could make out the taste of durian in each of them. I guess they were all stored together, and that the very distinct and fragrant flavour of durian bleeds. And as for the Santa hat, it was horribly sweet with a tougher chew. Maybe not for eating. Its sugariness was overwhelming, but it did what I wanted it to visually.

As cute as these ideas were, I much rather their regular menu items. Desserts with great textures, that aren’t too sweet.

As a fan of durian, who is also too lazy to crack open the fruit herself, whenever I see it featured on the menu, I have to take advantage. I went for the “Durian Mochi”. There were three perfectly gummy rounds, well filled with durian fruit from Thailand. And rolled in shredded coconut. Deliciously done, but out of personal preference I would have been happier without the coconut, to be able to best enjoy the smooth texture of the mocchi and its hidden fruit centre. As a whole it was deliciously sweet yet mild enough for those who don’t necessarily like the flavour of durian. Plus we didn’t get any of the smell if you aren’t a fan of it either.

If you are looking for a great sticky chew, you have to try their rice balls. These are “Glutinous rice balls” sitting in a pool of syrup. The sweet liquid adds sweetness, and also helps in adhering the mix of crushed peanuts, sesame, and coconut flakes to your ball; when you dip into it at the centre of the bowl. But be sure to eat these first, the crushed nuts do get soggy quick; and as a result, you don’t get that great contrast in texture between gooey rice ball and crunchy peanuts.

But if you are looking for something more decadent, you can get your balls stuffed with black sesame, and served in a pool of split sesame and walnut soup. I loved the simple and clean presentation. Biting into a ball, it was an unexpected and delicious surprise to have a pool of liquid pour out in to your mouth. I just wish there were more rice balls, especially given how much sauce you get with an order; and it isn’t as great without something to dip into it. There was more than half of the blended colour soup left when we were done with it.

And during the last visit to their Richmond location, I also tried the “mango pomelo sago”. I expected something more like mango pudding in taste and texture. But this was thin and bland. There was enough mango flavour in the soup, and you wanted something more substantial to dip into and/or eat with it. Maybe more rice balls? Or larger tapioca pearls. Overall, I likened this to a watered down smoothie bowl.

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? – No.
I highly recommend their rice ball series, and don’t know another restaurant that offers such an extensive array of it and durian themed desserts. And now with a location in Burnaby, I can visit them more often, and at my convenience. Don’t deny your cravings.

SWEETHONEY DESSERT
5358 Grimmer St, Burnaby, BC V5H 2H2
(604) 559-8599
weethoneydessert.com

O5 Tea Tasting, ft. A Toi Gourmet Gifts

I was invited down to “O5 Tea” to try their new collaboration with local French bakers, “A Toi”. Together, they have prepared small bites to pair with their specialty loose leaf teas. And not only was this a great experience, it really sold me on necessity of proper tea preparation.

Located on West 4th, this tea experience is worth travelling for. The salon is a tea bar on one side, with retail shelves on the opposite. It is designed with the Japanese aesthetic of minimalism and texture. Black wooden panels, fold out paper lanterns, simple dried flower arrangements, and fresh sprigs of green. You grab a seat at the bar that runs down the length of the space. Behind it stands three employees ready to talk tea and serve up pots of the steeped stuff.

Not only are you able to pick any tea they sell for a taste, but you can also sample one of their in house made, flavoured kombucha on tap. We started with the latter, sampling a taster that featured their one of their teas. The toasted green “hojicha kombucha” was fantastic. It tasted better than any other kombucha I have had to date. It didn’t drink like juice or vinegar. It had a good balance of effervescent-like soda and the distinct flavour of hojicha, a nice aftertaste that lingered and got our appetites going for the below.

The pastries are prepared ahead of time by “A Toi Gourmet Gifts”, made featuring a tea from “O5”. Its leaves and the flavour of the tea featured in the pastry, then again in a steeped cup for complimentary sipping. A great idea, and a different way to enjoy high tea, especially when you couple it with the informative nature of the service. I fully enjoyed being able to watch and learn proper tea etiquette, and was thrilled to find Annie, our host, especially informative. She was very smooth with her movements. Boiling water for cleaning and more for steeping, retrieving cups with tongs, rinsing them out between teas, and measuring leaves with wooden scoops.

The following is in the order the pairings are presented. The tea is steeped to order, but the pastries come displayed all together on a slate plate.

Assam tea and “64% guayaquil double chocolate cake” made with Assam tea. The French style chocolate cake was made with Guatemalan chocolate. It was dense and slightly bitter, but didn’t over power the darker tea.

My favourite course was the “Kirishima Matcha” with “Mini financiers”, mostly because I have never see proper matcha preparation before, nor tried it as such. Here, a quality matcha powder was whisked until frothy and we drank it like cream. Said whisking went from slow to frantic and back to a steady flow. This was described as an “entry level matcha” one that is easy to drink, and doesn’t turn brown when you bake it. The balls of dough were sweetened, but a little dry, I found it best to dip them into the matcha to pick up its creamy dessert notes.

Next was hojicha paired with a “Dacquoise sandwich and tea infused ganache”. Hojicha is roasted Japanese green tea. It is typically older tea leaves that they don’t know what else to do with, that is roasted to revive it. The result, a deep, smokey, aromatic brew that was warming. It well balanced out the sweeter cake. This sandwich-cake was my favourite of the desserts, and the sweetest of the 5. A fluffy sponge with the mild flavour of hojicha in the cream filling.

Next we had something lighter in the fruity “Thai hibiscus”. A tea paired with “A Toi’s” petal infused financier and raspberry gel. The tea is steeped from whole flowers, the same petals that went into the cake. The tea drank like punch, its tangy fruit flavour much like the raspberry at the centre of its cakey pairing.

And lastly we had the “Wuyi oolong” with two French sables. The tea was toastier, the heaviest we have had and heavily oxidized. It got a rinse before steeping in order to get rid of dust and bits. The rinse also helps to open up the leaves and release more of its earthier flavours. I liked the tea, but not the cookies. I expected a butter cookie, but got one that was hard like biscotti, but made better after a soak in the tea.

I enjoyed each course individually, but questioned the order in which they came. Lightest to strongest teas, mildest to sweetest dessert? I would have liked it Assam, Hojicha, Oolong, Matcha, and Hibiscus. Working through it like a 5 course meal with savoury bites first and the sweetest and most refreshing last.

The pastries are only available for a limited time. $20 for the tray, and $20 more for the teas that go with it. The latter is a deal considering said teas would normally run for $50 for the taste of 5.

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 one of a kind experience great for anyone who is interested in learning more about tea, or for someone who is curious about the differences between loose leaves or tea bags. I walked in not knowing to expect and walked out a big fan of this specialty tea salon. They are a great alternative to any cafe, and perfect to keep warm and toasty in on a rainy day. I would like to see them repeat this service, but with savoury bites and maybe even a whole tea tower. Don’t deny your cravings.

O5 TEA
2208 W 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6K 1N8
(604) 558-0500
o5tea.com

Moo19 Cake Boutique

Seeing their cute cakes online, I was eager to try them for myself. So when I was planning on meeting up with a friend in Richmond, we made this one of our destinations. “Moo19” started off and specializes in wedding and event cakes, customized elaborate works of art. And today they have their very own cafe. A location to pick up orders and have a slice or two as you wait.

You walk into their small cafe and are immediately taken a back. A picture of decadence and luxury compared to the out door strip mall that they are a part of. The decor has the makings of an upscale wedding reception, to match their gourmet confections. You don’t know which way to look first.

From the window, a display of cakes lures you in. Like a cityscape, 4 towering cakes sit perched on free standing pedestals. One resembled a cascading tower, another a merry go round, and there was even one made to look like a snow globe with “glass” bowl. If this spoke to the desserts before us, we were in for a treat.

A crescent moon or giant letter “C” (depends on how you look at it), decorated in gold paper flowers and white leaves sits on the floor. An old prop, turned into a fun photo op.

Past it, is a collection of grey tables and chairs, framed in gold; the former branded with the cafe’s logo. They matched the counter behind, and the shelves that arched around it. Here, is where you place your order. The cakes pre-made behind glass, and waiting to be chosen. Similarly, the drinks slow dripped and ready for pouring at a whim.

Coffee and/or tea is slow dripped through a specific contraption that looks like an hour glass. Melted ice pools through a paper filter, each drop collected in a pot, waiting at the bottom. Enough liquid to fill a glass at any time.

You couldn’t tell what was what, and the menu was no help. Chinese characters beside monochrome photos. When I asked for the English version, there was none; and when I asked the clerk behind the counter what each option was, she wasn’t able to articulate. She had to run to the back to have it translated.

Given all that effort, we felt obliged to order a couple of glasses. A peach ice tea and a grapefruit iced tea. Both light, with faint hints of their promised fruits. Good enough, but not necessarily worth the $6.25 asking price. But then again, I didn’t get to learn the full extent of the beverage. It was however, a decent pairing with our desserts below, given they both weren’t that sweet.

Based on the menu, the signs, and the language proficiency of the staff, it seems like they were only catering to mainland Chinese patrons. Not even other Chinese dialects, with the simplified Chinese characters used.

I should have clued in when I saw the LED quote at the back of the room. My guest wanted a photo with it, until she tried reading it and noticed what it said (or didn’t say).

But at least their cakes were signed with English name cards. You definitely order with your eyes here. The first few single serving cakes are shaped like coconuts, Rocky Mountains, and prickly rounds. The second set of cakes, the more classic sponge layered with cream slices; and a couple of rolls, round out their collection. And we were able to try one from each.

Due to the lack of English and communication defunct, the manager came out from the back and offered the “uji matcha roll” to us, complimentary. And we were very appreciative that he did. This ended up being our favourite of the 4 cakes, and the one I would recommend if you are ordering for taste. The slight bitterness was highlighted well, it played off the sweetness of the cream.

I ordered the the “Litchi raspberry cheese mousse cake” and the “mango pineapple mousse cake” for presentation. The former was Aladdin themed and inspired. The rich reds and blues reminded you of the magic carpet. Inside this perfectly spray painted bulb hid 5% cake, 5% raspberry jelly, and the rest foamy and smooth mousse. The flavours jibed well and the dessert was easy to eat, minus the guilt of destroying such a splendid piece of art. Even the hand craved feather was edible, but be warned: mind the tooth pick at its centre.

Similarly the “mango pineapple mousse cake” was a visual treat. A solid white chocolate teddy bear sat atop of a bulbous cloud. You had your choice between the bear covering his ears or one concealing eyes. It was either see no evil or hear no evil. Similar to the mousse cake above, this was more smooth foam than cake, with very little sponge and gel. Tangy with the tropical fruits, but so light you couldn’t differentiate between the two.

For more sponge and a more classic flavour, look to the “Ferraro shortcake”. Sponge cake and cream layer by layer. It had a very faint chocolate flavour to it, more milky cream than anything else. I would have also liked more hazelnut flavour, or to be able to taste it a little.

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? – No.
Overall a great little cafe for stunning desserts and plenty of photos ops. I will definitely keep this one in mind, to see what else they come up with (hopefully it will be listed in English), and for my future exorbitant cake needs. Don’t deny your cravings.

MOO19
165-8171 Ackroyd Rd, Richmond, BC V6X 3K1
(604) 750-6666
moosartstudio.com

Cinnabon x Pizza Hut

For the month of September, your friendly neighbourhood pizza chain, “Pizza Hut” is collaborating with the purveyors of cinnamon and sugar, “Cinnabon” for a better dessert option.

When I think pizza delivered, my mind always goes to “Pizza Hut”. First, 310-1010 is an easy number to remember. Second, their unique roof is hard to forget. And third thick crust pizza is a childhood staple for me. So now they are giving myself and all diners a reason to order to take out, by teaming up with another fast food favourite.

“Pizza Hut Canada” and “Cinnabon” are coming together to bring you the perfect pizza party meal, with their “Cinnabon mini rolls bundle”. $24.99 gets you a regular medium pizza, chicken wings, and 10 mini rolls in a box. To it we easily added another large pizza, in order to feed more.

Chewy, thick crust pizza, best dipped into tangy ranch dressing. Even better when the pizza is Hawaiian, so you get that salty and sweet combination. As a French Canadian, my partner enjoys his crust and pizza with butter spread all over.

The wings were thick, coated in a sticky syrup that you licked off your fingers

And the cinnamon rolls were everything you expected, soften dough drenched in cinnamon and heightened with their cream cheese frosting. And at this size, each one is the centre so you needn’t work your way to the middle to get to the “best part”.

Order your next meal today, before this limited time offer and their “Cinnabon” mini cinnamon rolls get discontinued.

PIZZA HUT
pizzahut.ca

Fu Fu Cafe

Fluffy soufflé pancakes are Vancouver’s newest food trend. And now you don’t have to travel all the way to Richmond for its eggy goodness. In this post, I got a sneak peek of “Fu Fu Cafe”, Vancouver’s first (and currently only) fluffy soufflé pancake destination.

With custom made furnishings and an interior that is French inspired, the cafe is worth visiting for the decor alone. Several shades of blue cover various walls, embellished with Art Deco lines and roaring 20’s-style lamps.

All picture ready and picture-esque right at the threshold. Like the neon lights spelling out their name and logo. And the dried baby’s breath sprigs, framing two seats by the door. It all made for a very compelling backdrop for a photo or two.

Given that they are still in their soft launch phase, the following may change, or the photos might not be as you may have them.

Their grand opening is on Saturday, September 7th and they have just the promotions to get you down for a visit. The first 50 customers get their “Fufu classic soufflé pancakes” for free. And every one else can enjoy them at 50% off, for the entire day. But be warn, space is limited and due to the intricacies of the product, be prepared to wait (they are also only serving the classic on that day). It takes approximately 15 minutes to make this specialty dessert from scratch. And the staff takes pride in making them perfectly, so the art of crafting them does takes time.

The classic is available one of two ways. Either as a stack of three soufflé pancakes with butter, maple syrup, and their name dusted in icing sugar. Or three layered across the plate with salted cheese, whipped cream, and icing sugar.

I was able to try the former. And there is something just so satisfying about watching a stack of these thick rounds jiggle as a tower. The soufflé pancakes are essentially the same across the 8 menu items, but with your choice of toppings to mix things up. In truth, I love the pancakes as they are, plain with no dressing; , so its nice to have the butter and the syrup on the side as an option. They are so silky and smooth, like eating congealed foam, in the best of ways. A texture so unique that you go back for spoon after spoon, sipping it like soup. If you have never tried it, you should, you won’t find anything else like it.

I would get the “matcha mochi souffe pancake” for all its fun sides to pick though. Two stacked soufflé pancakes with shiratamako mochi, house made matcha sauce, matcha whipped cream, white chocolate flakes, matcha powder, and a scoop of chocolate raspberry ice cream from “Rocky Point ice cream”. All the combined flavours of the matcha was rich and fully formed, but none of it took away from the light eggy custard-ness of the pancake. Although my favourite element to this plate was the perfectly chewy mochi balls. I would tell you to share the dessert, considering the portion size, but you’d want all 5 of the mochi balls all for yourself.

The one that sure to be a fan favourite is the “Tapioca pearl milk tea soufflé pancake”. So highly anticipated that they have already listed it as being in limited quantity, with a specific time frame of availability. Two stacked soufflé pancakes topped with an in-house made earl grey milk tea sauce, with plenty of tapioca pearls on the dessert, and additional pearls in a jug if you want a little extra, or that “pouring shot”.

That covered that menus staple, the following is one of their rotating flavours. Every week they will be offering 3 different flavours of soufflé pancakes, giving your reason to visit time and time again. Great idea honestly. Speaking of which, they have many more in the works, as they continue to churn out unique hits; luring foodies, like myself, in to try all their creative variations.

Creative concoctions like brunch time soufflé pancakes with smoked salmon and avocado, and one that mimics an egg Benedict with two poached eggs, bacon, and house made hollandaise. And soufflé pancake that have a flavour mixed into the batter like chocolate, of mango; and/or maybe even a savoury green onion soufflé pancake? I would expect nothing less from one of the geniuses behind “Mister” ice cream’s crazy flavours at the helm of this. Oh the possibilities are endless here, and I hope they take all of them in consideration!

But back to the soufflés at hand. Opening week they will have a Nutella and caramelized banana soufflé pancake, a tiramisu one with espresso sauce and mascarpone; and the following “lemon creme brûlée pancake.

Two stacked soufflé pancakes poured over with a house made lemon creme brûlée sauce, lemon yogurt ice cream, and seasonal fruits. And a sprinkle of sugar atop gets torched for that tell-a-tale creme brûlée crackle sensation. The citrus helps to break apart the otherwise decadent serving of cream and sugar. A unique interpretation to a classic recipe.

For those looking for variety, this cafe also serves up fresh baked goods, daily. Sweet morsels from the kitchen of pastry chef, Remi. (Also known for his delicious works, available at “Argo”, “Prototype”, and the “Paragon Tea Room”.) today we were able to try his hojicha cookie, espresso cheese tart, Japanese cheesecake, and matcha short bread. I liked them all and would travel for them, and to gift them. The cheesecake was a heavenly sponge. The two toned cookie gave me slightly bitter matcha partnered with buttery biscuit, for an excellent balance. And the cheese tart was creamy and flakey, and gently kissed with notes of coffee.

As for drinks, they serve coffee from “Argo” coffee roasters and are working on bubble tea in the future, an easy win considering that they already have half the ingredients.

In the meanwhile, you can and should try their fresh fruit sodas available in mixed berry, peach and lemon, passion fruit and pineapple, and grapefruit and orange.

I don’t like passion fruit normally, so was surprised by how much I liked it in the drink here. Passion fruit pulp and pineapple chunks mixed with a sparkling soda. Crisp and refreshing with the effervescent bubbles popping in your face, as you sip and chew through crunchy passion fruit seeds.

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.
“Fu Fu Cafe” serves as a great after dinner, dessert destination, for dategooers and diners alike. They are in a great location, with no other dessert options in the neighbourhood, let alone any deserts like it in this vicinity. And with plenty of things in the works, you will come once and be back again soon. Don’t deny your cravings.

FU FU CAFE
1266 West Broadway, Vancouver BC

Buttermere Patisserie Cafe

Popular online bakery, “Butter Mere” now has its own store front. After three years of providing Vancouverites with tasty and trendy cakes for all their special occasions, they have finally found the ideal location. A relaxed cafe setting to serve their confectioneries, conveniently close to their actual bakery.

Notable for their one line lion logo, a male lion standing on its hind legs holding a cake. They have taken over the old home of a now shuttered smoothie shop. And luckily for them, their predecessor’s modern decor with bleach wood accents, geometric printed counter, and fresh greenery transitions well to a bakery’s cafe space. There are several small tables seated in front of a wooden bench that ran down the length of the case, but grabbed one of the two nooks at either sides of the front door, for more private seating.

Their existing fan base has seen that their first week opened gets plenty of foot traffic. With many more walking in to experience their highly photogenic offerings in person. On top of full sized cakes for serving at parties, they have a showcase of individual sized desserts and cream rolls for point and ordering. The latter was sponge and cream in flavours like matcha red bean, hojicha, and chocolate strawberry, etc.

I started with their fun “ruby is the new black” hot chocolate. This is the hot version, but it is also available, just as pink, cold over ice. For those who have tried it, it tastes like chocolate milk made with the limited edition pink ruby Kit Kat chocolate bar, melted down. As deliciously creamy as you think it is. Though sadly only available in whole milk, with no dairy free or vegan alternatives; lest it change and clashes with the taste of the unique chocolate.

We did ask, and more vegan friendly offerings are in the works, with milk alternatives. Upon this visit they have only been open for under a week, and are still working things out logistically.

I paired the pink “yogurt raspberry cloud” with my matching pink drink. This was a uniquely textured cake, made using a mould created by an architect. It ate as fluffy as it looked, light and airy. Yogurt mousse surrounding a raspberry and cherry compote, over a crispy raspberry wafer. A dessert with plenty of textures and flavours to keep things interesting bite after bite.

But the highlight, and the one to order, if you can only get one, is their “Salted egg yolk puff”, it comes in a set of four, as you see here. A crispy, almost cakey shell hiding a sweet custard-like cream flavoured like the distinct salted egg yolk. A wonderful rendition of the trendy food item.

And for those looking for something more rich, they have their tiramisu in a glass. It was a great presentation, but hard to eat. You had to dig around and up to get the right mix of fluffy sponge, whipped cream, quality cocoa powder, and hint of Kahula.

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.
A great place for a celebratory cake, and a now a great cafe to have something sweet at. And seeing as they are the only dessert spot and/or destination for tea in the area, expect them to be busy! Don’t deny your cravings.

BUTTERMERE
636 Main St, Vancouver, BC V6A 2W1
778-956-7789
buttermere.ca

Giovane Cafe, revisited

My friend has yet to try one of “Giovane’s” popular sugar buns, so when looking for a meal downtown, we headed to “Fairmont Pacific Rim” to indulge.

I find myself frequenting “Giovane”, not necessarily for the food or drink, but instead for the shopping. This unique cafe caters to hotel guests, and as such is attached to a gift shop of sorts. Here, they don’t offer your name on a key chain, or any tees that read “I visited Vancouver and all I got was this lousy tee shirt”. Instead they have a collection of great gifts like hand poured candles, colourful stationary, gourmet candy, men’s leather goods, and onsies for babies. And they frequently rotate this assortment, making them a great place to get any gift, for any occasion.

But I digress, we are here for the food. The “carbonara” with pancetta, egg yolk, shallot, garlic, and Parmesan. The pasta noodles were incredibly fresh, perfectly prepared with a firm chew in mind. This was lightly dressed in a creamy sauce, and salty with bacon and cheese. Although it was one tone and the flavour did wear out.

The “pescatora” with shrimp, baby clam, white wine, tomato sauce, and basil; gave you fresh seafood flavours with tangy tomato. This too needed more depth of flavour, although the mix of shellfish did help to keep things interesting.

Overall, I am more excited over “Giovane’s” desserts then their food menu. Their sweet offerings are a lot more whimsical, creative combinations that change with the season. One such example is the “Pineapple ube” cake. It stood out from behind their glass showcase. And the best way to order dessert is with your eyes. I liked the contrasting colours of purple and orange. You could taste the pineapple and feel it’s fibres against the crispy layers. But I missed the ube completely.

And my guest loved the “matcha sugar bun”. A crispy coating of sugar over chewy bread, filled wall to wall with a fluffy cream. It wasn’t too sweet or too bitter with the matcha. Just a great treat to enjoy with coffee of tea.

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.
The pastas were good, but not memorable, there are a handful of Italian places I would get my carb fix from first. But for dessert, “Giovane” is superb. Cakes perfect to celebrate an occasion with and desserts idea for indulging in. Don’t deny your cravings.

GIOVANE CAFE
Fairmont Pacific Rim
1038 Canada Place, Vancouver BC, V6C 2G8
604-695-5501
giovanecafe.com

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