The weather is cool and rainy these days, leaving plenty of room on the seawall for afternoon strolls and setting the perfect backdrop for a cup of hot chocolate. For a few more days the city’s chocolate experts are offering their best for the 2013 Hot Chocolate Festival. This event takes place all over the city, giving everyone the perfect excuse to get out of the house.
I like hot chocolate, and I often feel that we overlook what was the first and once most popular of the stimulant drink. Made from the seeds of the fruit of the theobroma cacao tree, chocolate was brought to Europe by the Spanish long before coffee and tea made an appearance on the scene. Chocolate was drunk in special cafes that, much like today’s coffee house, served as “third spaces” where people could converse and interact free of formal structure. Unlike alcohol, chocolate, and later coffee and tea, energized conversation and fueled activities such as trading, intellectual discussion, and even revolution.
Never one to pass up a time-honored food tradition, I decided to take some chocolate at one of the more interesting venues for the festival, Chocolate Arts. This cafe has a lovely space in the rapidly evolving Armory District, which is worth a few hours of exploring in its own right. I decided to try their “When pigs fly”, a combination of single source chocolate, maple and bacon marshmallow, and a peanut butter cookie. The drink hit the mark; the peanut butter paired well with the smooth taste of the single sourced chocolate, and the beverage was not too sweet; the signature bitterness of good chocolate was preserved without being overpowering. The marshmallows were a nice touch, and though I am very much over the whole bacon craze, bacon and chocolate can and does work well (I’m thinking of you, bacon chocolate bread pudding at The Desert Truck in NYC).
The hot chocolate festival is a great chance to explore new neighbourhoods and try new flavours in great spaces. And if you take some friends, you could even work on that revolution