Christmas on the Westcoast – visiting Chocolate Arts

I’m originally from Vancouver so every year I go back for Christmas – which is great. I get to escape the cold Toronto winter for a week and spend time with family and friends. I also get to visit some of my favourite food places. The places can change over the years but right now one of my favourite chocolate shops is Chocolate Arts. It’s a boutique chocolate shop located just off of Granville Island where they make all their chocolate on site. There is also seating if you want to have a snack or hot chocolate. I reminds me a lot of SOMA in Toronto where you can see people making chocolate in the background while you choose products from the display case and shelves.

chocolate Santa boot

Chocolate Arts has a fabulous chocolate tasting station where you can sample all the different types of chocolate that they sell. They are arranged in order of cocoa content from 48% to 70%. They carry single origin chocolates as well as blends and there are descriptions of the taste profiles for each type. I love it!

chocolate tasting bar

What I find really interesting is that chocolate that has the same cocoa content can still taste quite different from each other. Some have a fruitiness while others have s buttery, smooth finish. Some are more citric and others are more mellow. And even though generally the higher the cocoa content, the more bitter (i.e. less sweet) the chocolate, today I sampled a chocolate with a 65% cocoa content that tasted more bitter than chocolate with a 70% cocoa content.

Chocolate Arts sign

At this level, chocolate is a bit like wine where other flavours and characteristics need to be taken into consideration rather than just the percentage of cocoa. I bought a bag of 65% fleur de cocoa because it had a mellow flavour and smooth finish. I figured it would make an amazing hot chocolate but would also be suitable for a wide variety of baking recipes. Now I just have to find a recipe worthy of this good quality chocolate (that’s assuming that I don’t use it all up making hot chocolate instead which I think is one of the best ways to enjoy it in its purist form). Did mention that ice storms have been hitting Toronto this year?

Do you know of a great food shop in Vancouver that I should visit the next time I’m there? Please share it in the comments below.