Friday, 22 March 2013

Scrumptious chocolate tasting at Xoxolat!

So, last night was one of the greatest nights ever!  Imagine an hour being surrounded by some of the most amazing chocolates you've ever seen, learning the ins and outs of chocolate, and then tasting chocolate for an hour straight.  I was pretty excited when I saw the groupon for Xoxolat's Chocolate 101 tasting, but the actual class was better than I had expected.  Our presenters were very knowledgeable, personable, fun and true and through chocolate lovers...and we got to taste way more samples than I had expected.  I was in heaven! 

If you're looking for a fun evening out, this class is definitely a great option...all for the same price as a movie and popcorn!  ($18/person, regular price)  They also have an amazing selection of chocolate, so if you're looking for something yummy for that special chocolate lover in your life, definitely a fabulous place to peruse.  Although, I don't promise that you won't end up leaving with more than you came in for!

Interesting Facts Learned During the Class (from presenters and fellow classmates)
  1. Cocoa beans are only grown within 20 degrees North and South of the equator.
  2. Cocoa beans are grown in pods that grow around the bark of the tree.
  3. If you were to try to grind a cocoa bean like a coffee bean, you would get mush.
  4. Single-origin chocolates are made from beans from one location in the world (e.g. Madagascar)
  5. Cocoa beans from different parts of the world have significantly different flavours.
  6. There are up to 400 notes (i.e. flavours) in chocolate.
  7. There are no chocolate makers in Vancouver.  The closest chocolate maker is in Seattle.
  8. You can take a chocolate making and tasting class at Theo chocolates in Seattle for approximately $10. (
  9. Hawkins cheezies taste amazing dipped in chocolate (duly noted for my next chocolate fondue).
  10. A delicious chocolate treat can be made by taking parmesan cheese and grating it all over a pan.  Pop the pan in the oven and and bake it until it melts, then let it cool so it turns into a crisp.  Drizzle with dark and milk chocolate and serve.
  11. To make drinking chocolate, melt equal parts chocolate with water and warm in a pot on the stove.
  12. To make milk chocolate add 2 parts dark chocolate to 1 part white chocolate, melt and combine together.
  13. Chocolate never goes bad.
  14. White chocolate is made largely of cocoa butter which has the majority of the natural oils and nutrients of cocoa.
  15. Legally the cocoa content must be 35% or higher in order to be labelled as dark chocolate.
  16. Xoxolat is the largest importer of foreign chocolate in Canada.
  17. All of Xoxolat's chocolate is junk free and fair trade.
  18. Xoxolat's own line of chocolate is wrapped, labelled and sold at the store.
  19. All products purchased the night of the tasting are 10% off.
I'm not going to lie.  I take no responsibility for the above being partially incorrect, or the fact that there were many more important facts which I missed.  I did listen the entire class, however, my thoughts were often overtaken by the "aaahhhh" in my head as I tasted the chocolate.  

The tasting tray!!!  We started by tasting nibs which is pure chocolate with no sugar added.  These just had a hint of what you'd traditionally think of as chocolate, but I still enjoyed them and my chocolate-eating partner in crime had a great idea of putting them in home-made granola bars or trail mix.  Next we tried a 90% chocolate which tasted like a very crumbly dark chocolate.  Up next were the 80%, 70% and two 75% chocolates.  I thoroughly enjoyed all of them but my favourite was the 75% chocolate from Venezuela....I picture a bar of it and glass of scrumptious red wine in my near future. 
Next we moved on to Xoxolat's flavoured chocolates.  We tried lavendar and nib...very interesting.  My chocolate tasting partner in crime (Fitness Junkie - nailed this flavour, but my tastebuds were obviously out to lunch because I thought it was ginger.  Next up was a dark cherry and chili.  Amazing!  Then there was Tortilla Chips and Lime...interesting but not my favourite...would be great with a Corona.  One of the crowd favourites was the Westcoast Breakfast (maple carmelized bacon with a touch of espresso).  I was blown away by how powerful the smoky bacon taste was.  Delicious!  Next were the classic coffee followed by sea salt. And, last but not least, was one of my favourites...coconut curry.  Imagine a dark chocolate with coconut flavours in it, then, just as you think every last flavour from the chocolate has left your mouth, a fiery curry flavour explodes in it.  Amazing!
The evening ended with two drinking chocolate tastings: milk chocolate orange, and dark with three chilis.  My favourite was the dark, hands down.

 View of part of Xoxolat's single-origin section of the store, with their trade mark high-heeled shoes displayed on top.

View of Xoxolat's flavoured chocolate selections.
My take-home treat!  Who can resist dark chocolate, apricots and chili?  My favourite are the quotes on the wrapper: "Chocolate is the answer...whatever the question" and "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving pretty and well preserved, but rather to slide in sideways, totally worn out, champagne in one hand and chocolate in the other, cheering "Woohoo!  What a ride!""  I also thoroughly enjoyed the fact that Love is included as ingredient.  Surprisingly reasonable at $4. 

My favourite chocolate shoe...Dorothy's slipper!  Unbelievable that it's fully edible.  ($30-$50, depending on the artwork on the shoe)

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