Starbucks Reserve (Vancouver)

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Note: All beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are  based on my own experience.

On May 9, 2017, Starbucks celebrated 30 years in Vancouver by opening the doors to its renovated Mount Pleasant location (Main & 14th) – the first Western Canada store to feature an experiential Reserve coffee bar.

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If you have been to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle,  then this new store is a take on the same concept, but without the roasting facility. Did you know that the first Starbucks store in Canada opened at the Seabus Skytrain Station in 1987? To celebrate the 30th anniversary, the fully renovated Mt. Pleasant location is the first store in Vancouver to feature an experiential Starbucks Reserve® coffee bar.

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The reserve bar has an expansive six-foot oak bar top, where customers sit face to face with their barista, immersed in the brewing and conversation around coffee.  Unfortunately, I went on a weekend and the reserve bar was extremely busy, so I didn’t get to experience this feature. The bar is first come first serve, and you still have to order your drinks at the cash registers. It seats only around 10 customers, so try to come during more quiet times.

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If you aren’t able to get a seat at the reserve bar, fear not, as there are plenty of comfy seating at this location. Brick walls and concrete floors contrasted with golden blonde oak and walnut, warm the space creating a comfortable and conversational atmosphere. The woodwork was all hand crafted by a local millworker and the loose furniture was primarily produced by a local furniture shop, celebrating local Vancouver talent and connecting with the community.

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At this location, the following brewing techniques are available: siphon, The Black Eagle, Clover® brewer and ceramic pour-over. The equipment are also available for purchase.

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The siphon equipment reminds me of science class and is lots of fun to watch when in action.

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The vacuum-filtration method produces a delicate and aromatic cup of coffee.

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The Chemex is a brewer with a triple layer paper filter that makes a smooth and clean cup of coffee.

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The reserve also features Nitro Draft taps. The cold brew is infused with nitrogen to give a more creamy, smooth texture. The drink does not come with ice as the brew comes out cold from the tap already.

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The reserve features both the usual menu but also a reserve exclusive menu. Cold brew and espresso with your choice of brewing method along with coffee and ice cream make up this exclusive menu.

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We decided to try a variety of the reserve exclusive drinks. Starting from the left is the Iced Hazelnut Bianco Latte which is a house-made hazelnut-praline-infused milk combined with their small-lot espresso coffee. I really enjoyed this as it had a strong hazelnut flavour. In the middle is the House Affogato which features two shots of espresso with a touch of demerara syrup poured over vanilla ice cream and dusted with cinnamon. So delicious! A must order if you visit as it is a refreshing treat when you are craving ice cream and coffee.  On the very right is the Nitro Cold-Brew Float which features the cold brew with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I personally enjoyed the House Affogato more.

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The shop also sells coffee beans including the Rwanda Abakundakawa, Malawi Sable Farms, and Peru San Ignacio, among the usual beans they sell at other stores.

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Exclusive Reserve merchandise are also available for sale including these gorgeous tumblers.

Overall, I love that Starbucks now offers this unique experience in Vancouver. Adding to the elevated experience, all partners are Coffee Masters or currently working on their designation. This designation is the highest level of coffee education for Starbucks where baristas have perfected their craft through coursework and exploration of all Starbucks coffees and are awarded the honour of wearing the black apron. Not only are you able to enjoy a high quality beverage at this location, but you may learn something new!

Starbucks Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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L’Éclair de Génie

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

L’Éclair de Génie has finally arrived in Vancouver on Robson Street and is the first boutique in North America. L’Éclair de Génie is a pastry concept started by renowned chef Christophe Adam. L’Éclair de Génie is adored worldwide with 25 boutiques throughout France, Japan, Hong Kong, Italy, and now here in Canada.

 

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There are usually ten flavours of éclairs at the boutique with two new flavours rotating each month. The brightly lit éclair shop is great for take out but also offers some seating in the back and along the side of the wall.

 

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Chef Christophe has dedicated the last 14 years to creating a chic snacking version of the French pastry landmark, the éclair. He flew in from Paris for the launch of the Vancouver store to share his passion for these delicious sweets.

 

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During the media preview, we were able to sample the  following flavours:

  • Caramel Beurre Salé: salted caramel & mascarpone cream
  • Vanille Pécan: vanilla cream & caramelized pecan
  • Chocolat Grand Cru: chocolate cream
  • Frambroise Passion: passionfruit cream, raspberry confit & fresh raspberries
  • Sirop D’érable: maple cream
  • Matcha Bambou: matcha cream & white chocolate
  • Pistache Framboises: pistachio chantilly, raspberry confit, fresh raspberries & roasted pistachios
  • Praliné Noisette: caramel mascarpone cream, hazelnut praline & caramelized hazelnuts
  • Citron Yuzu: lemon yuzu cream & crispy merringue
  • Vanille Framboise: vanilla cream, raspberry confit, fresh raspberries & white chocolate

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The Sirop D’érable which features an exclusive I love Vancouver design has definitely been a hit for the Vancouverites. Filled with maple cream, the éclair is rich but not overly sweet due to its petite size.  

 

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My favourite éclairs were the Citron Yuzu, Framboise Passion, and Pistache Framboises since I tend to like sweet and sour sweets. The amount of filling for these éclairs are just the right amount and the presentation is absolutely beautiful. The sweets range from around $6 – $7.

 

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Aside from éclairs, the boutique also offers a beautiful array of chocolates.

 

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Pastries are also available, which along with the éclairs, pair perfectly with their coffee and tea selection.

 

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Looking for a gift or to treat yourself? The boutique has a variety of take home sweets including caramelized almonds.

 

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And how cute are these chocolate bars?

 

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Overall, L’Éclair de Génie offers a delicious and beautiful variety of éclairs and I can’t wait to be back. It’s always great to have international boutiques opening up in Vancouver so we can too get a taste of these delicious pastries.

Chef Christophe Adam has also recently released his new cookbook: ÉCLAIRS Easy, Elegant & Modern Recipes. Check out my review on this step by step cookbook on making your own éclairs!

L’Éclair de Génie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Éclairs: Easy, Elegant & Modern Recipes

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If you’ve been following social media, you’ve probably seen éclair pictures showing up everywhere. Or you might’ve been part of those long line ups at L’Éclair de Genie which just opened up in Vancouver and is the first boutique in North America.

 

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Recently, I was sent a copy of Éclairs: Easy, Elegant & Modern RecipesThe cookbook is written by Chef Christophe Adam, the owner of the éclair boutique. Chef Christophe’s remarkable career has taken him from three Michelin-starred restaurants in London to Fauchon in Paris to eventually opening his own éclair boutique. So if you are obsessed with his éclairs, you can now learn how to bake your own!

 

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The cookbook is visually beautiful with step by step instructions for 35 recipes.  Many of the recipes look just like the ones sold at the boutique and are easily interchangeable.

 

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The book also provides a list of equipment, along with basic rules and helpful tips to assist both the beginner and the experienced baker. I cannot wait to start baking!

 

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Check out my review of the éclairs at L’Éclair de Genie if you are interested!

MYST Asian Fusion – ChineseBites Media Event

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Two weeks ago, MYST Asian Fusion opened in Burnaby. The parking lot in the front can get filled up quickly during peak hours, but free street parking is available along Kingsway. The restaurant features a variety of Asian inspired dishes and has modern decor that even lights up at night giving a lounge feel. We were invited by ChineseBites to check out some of their dishes.

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Calpis Butterfly Pea Flower and Strawberry Lemon Butterfly Pea Flower

There is a long list of drinks available, including your typical bubble tea. They also have a few versions of the Butterfly Pea Flower, which has become a popular drink on many bubble tea shop menus.

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Green Apple Slush

Their Slushies are also super cute, with marshmallows and chocolate eyes. Liquor is also available for drinks, including my favourite Taiwanese fruit beers!

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Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings

Onto food, we tried the Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings which are common at Shanghainese restaurants. Because there is rice inside, I find that this dish tends to be on the dry side.

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Assorted Deep Fried Basket

The Assorted Deep Fried Basket was filled with deep fried squid, pork blood, and chicken. A great dish to share.

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MYST Deluxe Marinated Pork with Rice

This dish was definitely a deluxe take on the classic Taiwanese marinated pork on rice. It was topped with lots of Taiwanese sausage and a sunny side egg. Mix it all together, and this was delicious and full of flavour!

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Marinated 3 Item Combo (Seaweed, Dried Tofu, Pork Ear String)

The Marinated 3 Item Combo is common among Taiwanese cuisine. Not my favourite though as I am not a huge fan of pork ear.

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Chives, Shrimp & Pork Dumplings

The dumplings were simple but very tasty and flavourful. The chili soy sauce on the side was addicting!

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MYST Beef Noodle Soup

The MYST Beef Noodle Soup is filled with shank, tripe, and tendon.

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TaiNan Style Egg Noodle Soup

A very different noodle compared to the above, the TaiNan Style Egg Noodle Soup is less flavourful but a great option if you want a more clear broth.

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Fried Chicken in Chili Pepper

The Fried Chicken were large in size and deep fried to a golden brown while the meat remained moist. Yummy!

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Preserved Cabbage with Shredded Pork Fried Rice Cake

A simple dish, but very tasty, with the rice cakes being just the right amount of chew. Not too oily either.

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Delicious Sandwiches

A classic favourite for kids, these sandwichese were filled with tomato, egg, ham, and cucumber.

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Skewers

  • Pork intestine $2.25/each
  • Lamb $2.25/each
  • Pork $2.25/each
  • Chicken $2.25/each
  • Fish cake $3.50/each
  • Chicken gizzard $2.25/each

When I say MYST has a large variety of dishes, I’m not kidding because they even have skewers! You don’t need to go to the night market to get your fix of these. However, I did find that they lack the char that the night market ones have.

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House Special Spicy Lamb Hot Pot

My favourite of the night was the House Special Spicy Lamb Hot Pot. It was filled with tender slices of lamb, imitation crab, and a variety of vegetables. The broth was spicy and very flavourful! This is served with rice and a few side dishes.

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MYST Jelly

For dessert, we tried the MYST Jelly which is tasted like wintermelon and brown sugar. Slightly too sweet for some as wintermelon can often be. The texture was also a bit odd as it seemed like too much gelatin was put in it.

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MYST Taiyaki

The MYST Taiyaki comes in a waffle bowl, with matcha ice cream, red beans, mochi balls, and a red bean filled taiyaki. The mochi balls are melon flavoured which was interesting! Not bad, but I found the mochi to be more hard than chewy.

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Strawberry Shaved Snowflake

The Strawberry Shaved Snowflake is definitely picture worthy. They are smart to use a bowl shaped like this to maximize the effect of the dry ice. As for the dessert itself though, I didn’t like the artificial strawberry flavour. Perhaps the mango version would be better.

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Hakka Style Sweet Rice Cake

Lastly, we tried the Hakka Style Sweet Rice Cake, but most of us were not a fan of it. Perhaps it was the dates inside which gave a bitter aftertaste. It also tasted like there was alcohol in it, which many of us were not fond of.

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Overall, there are hits and misses at MYST Asian Fusion, but the good thing is they have such a large variety of choices so there is something for everyone. They also open from 7:30 am for breakfast until 1am from Sunday to Thursday and until 2am from Friday to Saturday.

Myst Asian Fusion Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wild Sweets – 2017 Chinese New Year Collection

NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

With the Christmas holidays over, Wild Sweets has moved on to the next holiday – Chinese New Year or also known as Lunar New Year. The new collection is available until February 4, 2017 or until supplies last.

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2017 Year of the Rooster Chocolate Art Bouchées Series

Putting a twist to their Bouchées Series, Wild Sweets has reinvented the flavours to fit in with the lunar new year collection. They feature a cookie with caramel nut jam and a soft ganache made with different fruit-based liquid caramels. They are then enrobed in a bean-to-bar dark chocolate and topped with a beautiful almond paste disc with a rooster head design.

 

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The collection features the following flavours:

  • Lychee Longan Caramel Ganache, Sablé cookie & Black Sesame Nut Jam
  • Mandarin Orange Caramel Ganache,  Sablé cookie & Coconut Nut Jam
  • Peach Persimmon Caramel Ganache, Sablé cookie & Almond Nut Jam
  • Mango Green Tea Caramel Ganache, Sablé cookie & Peanut Nut Jam

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2017 Lunar Limited Edition ‘Year of the Rooster’ Chocolate Art

The lunar new year collection of chocolates feature soft ganaches made with different fruit-based liquid caramels and contrasting textural elements. The collection features the following flavours:

  • Chestnut Vanilla Bean Caramel Ganache & Organic roasted chestnuts
  • Pomelo Fruit Caramel Ganache & Ginger Lemon Honey Nut Cream
  • Apricot Vanilla Bean Caramel Ganache & Cubed Sticky Rice Cake
  • Kumquat Orange Caramel Ganache & Citrus Honey Nut Cream

 

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Crispy Biscuit Series

Many of their chocolates including the following below have also been re-designed and make perfect gifts for the lunar new year. They all come packaged in a beautiful box of four.

 

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Caramel Nut Jam Series

 

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Sablé Florentines Series 

 

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Fruit Macaron Series

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During our media event, they also created a huge rooster display made entirely of chocolate. It’s just missing it’s eyes!

 

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Overall, Wild Sweets has a great selection of gifts if you’re looking for something a little different this lunar new year. The sweets are a work of art with many items decorated or painted by hand. Plus, the beautiful red packaging makes it perfect for the occasion.

 

Wild Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Milk & Eggs

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Milk & Eggs is one of the newest spots in Richmond, located in the plaza on Odlin and Cambie. They started off with only dessert, but looks like they have expanded their menu for dinner. I decided to check it out with J on a weekday for dinner, but was surprised to find we were the only patrons dining. Seems like not many people know about the place. However, later in the night, it did pick up but most people only came here for the desserts and not dinner.

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Garlic Butter Fries

We started off with the Garlic Butter Fries which came with a side of home made ketchup and aioli. The flavour was on point, but I have no idea why the fries were so short. It made it very annoying to eat and it felt like we were given the scraps. If they could fix this, then they would be perfect.

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Mussels in White Wine Cream Sauce

We ordered the Mussels in White Wine Cream Sauce but got it in the appetizer size, which was great for sharing. Sadly, we found these to be just average. Nothing wrong with them, but the sauce was not as good as many other restaurants we have tried. For the price, I would much rather go to Rodneys.

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Shitake Mushroom stuffed Meatballs on Fettuccine 

What we enjoyed the most for dinner was the Shitake Mushroom stuffed Meatballs on Fettuccine. The flavours for the pasta was spot on and we loved the cheese on top. The meatballs were stuffed with shitake mushroom and were huge and crispy on the outside. Really tasty, but the portions are quite small for $15. For a cafe style restaurant in Richmond, the prices are hard to compete even if the quality is there since there are so many options for diners.

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Ice Cream Party Bowl

We decided to go all out for dessert even though we were super full and got the Ice Cream Party Bowl. It’s recommended for a maximum of 4 people, but J is a huge dessert guy, so I was counting on him to finish this. Milk & Eggs is known for their homemade ice cream with many Asian flavours, such as durian and thai iced tea. We got M.E. Vanilla, Black Sesame, Thai Iced Tea, and Earl Grey. The flavours were all really strong and we especially liked the Thai Iced Tea. However, they can work on the consistency of the ice cream as it’s not creamy enough. As for all the decorations for the party bowl, I honestly didn’t really like it as they were too sweet with fruits and oreo cookies. Therefore, next time, I would just stick to the individual scoops of ice cream and skip the fancy party bowl.

Overall, service was friendly and attentive. Ambiance is dimly lit and very cozy for a restaurants in Richmond. However, I don’t know if I can justify coming back for dinner with some of the prices and portions you get. It’s hard to compete with chain restaurants and I feel like the clientele in Richmond just won’t pay these prices. However, I am excited about their ice creams as we really don’t have any homemade ice cream shops like Earnest Ice Cream in Richmond. Plus, they open late so it’s a great place to go for a date or hang out with friends.

Pros:
– Ice cream flavours are very strong
– Open late

Cons:
– Dishes for dinner are slightly on the pricey side

Price Range: $20-30

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

Milk & Eggs Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wild Sweets: 2016 Holiday Collection

NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

Still looking for last minute holiday gifts? With the launch of the 2016 holiday collection, Wild Sweets has you covered whether you’re looking for the perfect cake to bring to your holiday parties or if you’re looking for a box of chocolates for a gift.

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Venezuela Ocumare Chocolate ‘Bûche de Noël’

A beautiful and elegant cake that will be a showstopper at your parties, this chocolate brownie cake has a variety of textures. The cake features crispy crêpes hazelnut praliné, dark chocolate & vanilla bean ganache, dark chocolate Crème Brûlée cream, dark chocolate sabayon mousse and dark chocolate gelée.

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Crispy Chocolate Cherry Orange ‘Tea Cake

One of the most surprising cakes for most of us was this one. They based the cake with the ingredients in a traditional fruit cake but completely modernized it. Usually, I hate fruit cakes because of how dense it is, but this had so many layers, creating a lovely texture.

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The cake is laced with dried cherries, cranberries, and orange peels which have been soaked in brandy. The cake is then placed over a crunchy buttery ‘sablé’ cookie topped with a hazelnut chocolate praline cream with crispy crepe flakes, and finished with a dark chocolate coating. I highly recommend giving this a try.

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Crispy Cherry Ganache Collection

This has a similar cake component to the Tea Cake, but is placed on top of hazelnut chocolate praline cream with crispy crepe cookies. A soft ganache made with different fruit-based liquid caramels is poured over the crispy praline / cake components.Each collection features an assortment of 4 chocolate bouchées with the following flavours,

  • William Pear & Chestnut Cream Caramel Ganache
  • Lychee Rose & Raspberry Caramel Ganache
  • Cassis Blackberry & Elderberry Ganache
  • Mandarin & Orange Zest Caramel Ganache

These reminded me of moon cakes but a chocolate cake version.

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Cocoa Bean Chocolate Tea

I believe when you make a purchase for both the Tea Cake and the Crispy Cherry Ganache Collection, you will receive a pack of the Cocoa Bean Chocolate Tea. I was confused when they told us we were trying chocolate tea. Did they mean they were going to melt chocolate in tea? But how come it looked literally just like tea? Well, the secret is the tea is made entirely from roasted cocoa beans and husks only. There is no sugar other than vanilla bean powder added. Seriously very tasty and something everyone should try!

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Santa-Sphere, Orna-Tree

Making great gifts, Wild Sweets also has Holiday cocoArt Sculptures for sale. These are made with milk and/or dark chocolate. And if you know the story of Wild Sweets, all their chocolates are made in-house from origin cocoa bean-to-bar chocolate.

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Tree

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Snowman

 

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Sleigh

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2016 Vintage Canadian Icewine Collection

Moving on to boxed chocolates, this box is perfect for those who enjoy ice wine. The box features an assortment of 12 chocolates, each comprising of 2 types of fillings: one is a honey nut and Canadian Icewine praline cream while the other is a soft ganache made with different Icewine and fruits purees associated with the specific tasting notes of 4 different types of Vintage Canadian Icewine with some as old as 1999. I’m a fan of ice wine, but I found that the ice wine flavour was too light and I could barely taste it.

The collection includes the following ganache flavours:

  • Cabernet Franc Icewine & Strawberry Apple Ganache
  • Riesling Icewine & Peach Orange Ganache
  • Vidal Icewine & Pineapple Passion fruit Ganache
  • Gewürztraminer Icewine & Lychee Rose Ganache

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2016 Vintage ‘Ganache Classique Nougatine’

This box features an assortment of four different types of chocolate made from Single Origin cocoa beans. Each ganache filling is topped with a piece of salted butter cocoa nibs nougatine before being enrobed in dark chocolate. Therefore, I loved the slight crunch and chew this collection had. This was probably my favourite of the chocolates.

The collections includes the following origins and percentages:

  • 70% Venezuela Ocumare
  • 70% Venezuela Canaobo
  • 70% PeruOro Verde
  • 64% MexicoChiapas

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pRaliNe & caRaMel Collection N°12

I really liked the visual aspect of this box. The ‘Enrobed’ version features a soft and creamy ganache flavoured a fruit juice caramel, and coated in dark chocolate. The ‘Moulded’ chocolate is hand-painted with cocoa butter colours and filled with a rich and smooth hazelnut butter & milk chocolate cream laced with crispy French ‘crêpes’ cookies.I really enjoyed the orange flavours paired with the chocolate.

The collection features the following assortment of flavours:

  • Hazelnut & vanilla bean praline cream
  • Raspberry caramel & vanilla bean ganache
  • Hazelnut & orange zest praline cream
  • Fresh orange juice and zest caramel ganache

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cocoArt ‘Praliné Noisette’ Collection N°17

This box features sweetened hazelnut butter or praliné in various forms and with distinct textures. The collection includes 2 types of chocolates: crispy or creamy praliné. With the glitter and beauitfully painted art, this box is sure to impress.

The collection features the following assortment of flavours including:

  1. Crispy – Cinnamon Spice Praliné
  2. Crispy – Orange Zest Oil Praliné
  3. Crispy – Lemon Zest Oil Praliné
  4. Crispy – Anise Seeds & Oil Praliné
  5. Creamy – Apricot Passion Ganache
  6. Creamy – Orange Zest Ganache
  7. Creamy – Green Apple Kalamansi Ganache
  8. Creamy – Salted Butter Caramel Ganache
  9. Creamy – Double Vanilla Bean Ganache
  10. Creamy – Origin Espresso Coffee Ganache
  11. Creamy – Raspberry Lemon Zest Ganache
  12. Creamy – Black Currant (Cassis) Ganache

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cocoArt ‘Honey Heart’ Collection N°20

Each chocolate within the ‘Honey Heart’ Collection features 2 types of fillings: one is a smooth lightly scented honey-nut cream while the other is a soft ganache made with different fruit and berry juices. Super pretty and perfect for a loved one.

  • Cassis – Blackberry Fruit Ganache & Elderberry Honey-nut Cream
  • Mango – Apricot Fruit Ganache & Saffron Honey-nut Cream
  • Lychee – Raspberry Fruit Ganache & Rose Honey-nut Cream
  • Strawberry –  Pineapple Fruit Ganache & Orange Blossom Honey-nut cream

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Overall, I was very impressed with the new holiday collection, and especially with the cakes. The cakes are also priced very well at around $20-25 each. Make sure to pre-order online in advance to guarantee your cake.

Wild Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On Yogurt

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NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own experience.

Last month, I was invited to a media tasting at On Yogurt organized by Jacqueline to try their new menu item, Taiyaki Ice Cream. It was my first time visiting On Yogurt, and I was excited because I have been hearing about their ice fried yogurt. Ice fried doesn’t mean the yogurt is actually fried. Instead, the yogurt is flash frozen so the outside is icy and crispy while the middle smooth and creamy. The yogurt is then rolled and placed in cups and you can add various toppings. I believe this is a popular dessert in Thailand, but we luckily have it in Vancouver now!

 

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Oreo

They currently offer five flavours:

  • Strawberry
  • Oreo
  • Creme Brulee
  • Matcha
  • Chocolate

The taiyaki is filled with their famous ice fried yogurt and topped with complimentary toppings depending on the flavour. The filling below the ice cream is different for each flavour as well, including custard, nutella, red bean, and coconut paste.

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Crème Brûlée

When we first tried it, one side of the fish pastry was croissant, while the other side was the typical cake batter we are usually familiar with. This caused one side to burn quicker. Since then, they have revised their taiyaki so that both sides are croissant and therefore crispier.

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Matcha

I have to say, I really enjoyed the texture of the ice fried yogurt. You get a much firmer texture and once its in your mouth, it melts into a very creamy and smooth texture.

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Strawberry

Overall, I really enjoyed the ice fried yogurt itself, but I found that paired with the hot taiyaki, the yogurt melted too quickly even though it is already very firm. Still, it is fun to watch the ice fried yogurt being made, and I think I would stick with the yogurt just in a cup next time until they have perfected the melting issue.

On Yogurt Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato