Restaurant: Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France
Last visited: January 11, 2011
Location: Vancouver, BC (Riley Park/Little Mountain)
Address: 198 East 21st Avenue
Price Range: $10 or less
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Owner & Chocolatier Anne-Geneviève Poitras
- Opened late 2009
- Fine French chocolate boutique
- Handmade, all natural, no preservatives
- Classic French technique
- Modern flavours
- Artisan/Artistic chocolates
- Home made caramels
- Great for gifts
- Sipping hot chocolate
- Vegan options
- Mon-Sun 12-6pm
**Recommendations: Everything I had was excellent, but my favourites were the dark chocolate square collection, tea infused truffle, orange blossom truffle, vanilla bean caramel, and Fleur de Sel caramel
So Valentine’s Day is just a week away, therefore I thought it would be appropriate to launch this chocolate post. If you’re a chocoholic or chocolate lover, I strongly recommend you to grab some before you continue reading… it’s okay I’ll wait…
18 Chocolates & 3 Caramels in 30 minutes. Yes, another post that will give me bragging rights! Leave it to me to over indulge in chocolate just to be able to write about it. For the love of food, or chocolate… or this blog… or just all of the above! Okay, well to be honest I ate half of all of them, which means I had 9 chocolates and 1.5 caramels… see, I do have self control!
I have my lovely cousin to thank for this post, who surprised me with these 2 lovely boxes of handmade chocolates from Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France. It’s an authentic French chocolate boutique shop in East Vancouver and I have yet to visit its actual location.
Chocolatier Anne-Geneviève Poitras completed her pastry and bakery training at the Institut du Tourisme et d’Hôtellerie du Québec in Montréal. She offers authentic French handmade truffles, chocolates, caramels, sucre à la crème and drinking chocolate. Everything is hand made and all natural and the website says they only use the most premium French chocolate in all their recipes to ensure that the cocoa beans are coming from a single origin or plantation. She does use some traditional French techniques to make her chocolates, but she incorporates modern flavours to keep things new and fresh.
I tried all her hand made truffles, caramels and chocolates and overall I was quite impressed. I could taste the passion and feel the love in these chocolates. That’s why I love chocolatiers, they’re so dedicated to this one ingredient and they create pieces of art from it. We actually have fabulous chocolatiers in Vancouver and I had the pleasure of indulging in many of their creations at The West Coast Chocolate Festival last year – see here.
As much as I did love the chocolate from Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France, I didn’t feel like it reached the level of sophistication as others of its caliber. The quality of the chocolate was top notch and the flavours were creative, but I didn’t find they reached the fine details and intricate execution as say the chocolates from Chocolatier Thomas Haas‘s (see here), Xoxolat, or Pastry Chef Thierry Busset’s (see here).However the fact that I’m even drawing comparisons to these veteran Vancouver chocolatiers says a lot about what I thought about these chocolates.
Nonetheless I would still recommend it as a place for serious chocolate lovers. I say “serious” because these chocolate are pretty expensive, but worth it if you can appreciate the quality of ingredients and labour that goes into making them.
On the table:
The Truffle Collection – 4.5/6
- $10 for box of 6 or $1.26-1.44 each (depending on weight)
- Really rich, creamy, decadent truffles with a beautiful dusting of bitter sweet cocoa powder. Earthy undertones and espresso like aroma.
- I would prefer chocolates to truffles, but for truffles these were very good.
- Plain, Orange Blossom, Earl Grey Tea, Black Currant Tea, Cayenne Pepper
- I had one of each in one box, but my problem was I couldn’t tell exactly which ones were which so some of the infusions weren’t strong enough.
- Cayenne Truffle – heat comes after and lingers a while, this one was obvious. It reminds me of the chili torte from Charm Modern Thai – see here.
- Earl Grey Truffle – I could taste the infusion of aromatic tea leaves, and smell and taste the aromatic scent of orange. At times I couldn’t tell if it was Earl Grey or Orange Blossom though.
**The Caramel Collection – 6/6
- $4 for box of 3 or $1 each (without box)
- I felt like Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as I carefully opened these delicate wrappers awaiting a delicious surprise!
- These were delicious, but a tad oily or greasy in texture, although made from all butter.
- They were all very well infused with their obvious flavours coming through.
- These are soft chewy, buttery caramels and I think they’re best enjoyed by letting them melt away slowly in your mouth.
- I’m usually not a huge fan of caramel because I find them too sweet and they get stuck in your teeth, but the ones here changed my mind. I enjoyed them more than the soft salted caramel from Paul Croteau Confections – see here.
**Vanilla Bean Caramel – 6/6
- Buttery. soft, creamy, melt in your mouth caramel.
- It’s not sticky, but chewy and not too sweet and I could see and taste vanilla beans throughout.
**Fleur De Sel Caramel – 5.5/6
- If you like salted caramel, you’ll love these! The salty flavour doesn’t really come initially, but as you let it melt in your mouth the saltiness because more apparent and really balances out the sweetness.
- There’s actual sea salt crystals in the caramel and as it melts you’re left with these crispy bits of salt at the end that melt away beautifully. Since it’s Fleur de Sel it’s less sharp than regular salt and it dissolves faster so it really rounds out the savoury and sweet dual. It also keeps that salted caramel flavour lingering in your mouth.
Chocolate Caramel – 3.5/6
- This was more chocolate tasting to me than caramel tasting.
- It’s denser than the others and the flavour is a lot heavier and bolder.
- I think there’s a hint of espresso and it’s rich, dark chocolate. It also seems like coffee chocolate or a coffee liqueur chocolate. It kind of reminded me of a creamy version of See’s Candies.
- $1 each, or box of 12 chocolates for $13
- She offers milk, 66% dark, and 72% dark chocolate collections.
- I’m a fan of dark chocolate and I’m not sure if she makes all the flavours in each of the varieties, or if each flavour is specific to that one chocolate category.
- The quality of chocolate and all the ingredients are great, but I wish the flavours were infused into the chocolate rather than just being used as “toppings” or “decor”. I know it’s more cost effective, but these are the “finer details” I missed and was referring to above.
- I bolded my favourites in each category.
- Plain – sweet, no waxy flavour
- Almond – I got crunchy crumbs of almond, but would be nice to get almond flavour infused throughout chocolate in either extract or liqueur form.
- Almond & Fleur De Sel – crispy bits of almonds and salty cracklings of Fleur de Sel. Very aromatic with a hint of floral notes.
- Almond, Fleur de Sel & Coconut – candied coconut topping so it had a slightly crunchy texture. It tasted like those dried coconut candies served during Chinese New Year. Again it would be nice to taste coconut flavour infused in the chocolate not just as the garnish. I found the almond and Fleur de Sel really overwhelmed and I actually didn’t remember it was supposed to be in there.
- In this case the spices were strong enough and used heavily enough as the topping so they didn’t require to be infused. However I’d still prefer the infusion of them with a few spices used as garnish instead.
- Plain – rich, dark, heavenly! But for me the darker the better so I’m biased.
- Anise – sweet licorice taste and it was strong enough being used in as decor, but you are biting on pieces of whole toasted star anise so it gets very strong.
- Lavender – strong lavender taste, but since it’s the whole lavender flower you do get the bitter after taste from it as well.
- Cardamom – no cardamom flavour infused throughout the chocolate but it’s so strong when you bite into the cardamom seed. It’s a very strong perfume flavour especially in the aftertaste. I prefer Xoxolat’s cardamom creme brulee chocolate.
- Plain – even better! Crispier, crunchier and just richer with cocoa.
- Espresso – crispy crunchy espresso chips with nutty flavour and deep espresso bean undertones.
- Cocoa Nibs – crispy, crunchy and nutty. This was one of my favourites overall.
- Chili – no infusion of chili flakes in the actual chocolate. I found the heat stronger in the chili truffle.
I love the presentation of the square chocolates! They’re absolutely gorgeous. And a dollar for a box (a lovely box) seems quite fair. As much as I love Thomas Haas chocolates and packaging, I always cringe when I see the prices for the box + chocolates.
As a sad second best, I’m reading this post while eating a bar of Ikea’s dark chocolate. : )
$1 each, or box of 12 chocolates for $13
Hmmmm… Does this make sense? Or an additional $1 is charged for the box?
I guess I will have to actually be there, but, somehow I will have to agree that, if it ain’t infused into the chocolate itself but just topped, I would feel a bit… Cheated!
As for single source, it could mean that, for that particular chocolate/truffle, single source beans were used, rather than a mix of beans.
I’ve only tried the lavendar chocolate and there was definitely lavendar flavour in the chocolate, not just because there were flowers on top. Lovely little place just off Main!
@Lia – lol you are too cute!!! That’s ok! Cheap chocolate does it’s job when it has to. I really like Twix and exotic Kit Kat bars… and Coffee Crisp.. so I won’t fault you 🙂 I’m eating a box of truffles right now as I reply to you… yum!
@KimHo – $1 is charged for the box! ahhh got it! So single source is probably what they meant… they should maybe change the info on the site b/c it seems like it’s only French chocolate. The single source would make sense. Thanks Kim!
@Nina – Are you sure? I have another box and I’m eating the lavender one as I type this to you…. there’s definitely no lavender taste in mine except for the flowers on top… hmmm… changed recipe perhaps?
Thanks Mijune for this very complete review of our products! I love that you took the time to try and review them with such care 🙂 It’s even making me hungry for my chocolates!
Here’s to answer some of your readers questions:
– Cocoa trees do not grow in Europe, the beans come from the cocoa fruit that grows in many southern countries such as Venezuela, Mexico, Tanzania,.
– When you hear the terms French chocolate or Belgium chocolate, it indicates where the chocolate was made. It also tells you a bit about the way it was made and the ingredients used. Just like ketchup for example is sweet and salty in North America, it is completely different in France where is tastes more like tomato, less sweet and salty. Most products are prepared to the taste of the people who live there. (If you want to know more about French chocolate compare to Belgium or American chocolate, simply ask when you come visit)
– Plantation chocolate means that the cocoa beans come from one single plantation. These are more rare, exceptional cocoa beans. You can clearly get a taste of the plantation itself as the cocoa fruit picks up the flavours that surrounds it.
Example: the Alto el Sol plantation in Peru is surrounded by banana plantations, therefore you get a natural sweet aftertaste of banana 🙂
Our chocolate caramel is made with a plantation chocolate (Oropucce in Trinidad), which is why it is pretty powerful, this one is my favorite caramel.
Single origin chocolate:
– Single origin chocolate means that the cocoa beans come from one or many plantations in a single country. The beans are NOT purchased on the stock market and NOT mixed together. You really get the flavours of the country, just like plantation chocolate.
Example: a chocolate made from Cuban cocoa beans can have aftertastes of tobacco leaves as tobacco trees grow all around Cuba ans their smell perfumes the air.
– Single origin or plantation chocolate: we work with 3 single origin chocolates on a regular basis and 3 plantation chocolates on a seasonal basis.
– Squares: We do not use flavouring, oils or anything like that. The flowers or spices are on top of the chocolates, the flavour you get is pure and completly natural 🙂
– No changes have been made to any recipe since our opening.
– We only use butter in our caramels, no oil.
Voilà! I hope I helped a bit 🙂
If you have any questions, pay us a visit!
@Anne-Genevieve – Welcome to Follow Me Foodie! Thank YOU for taking the time to educate me and my readers! I really love it when the owners are so interactive! Shows that you care!! I appreciate it a lot and will add appropriate notes within my post so that people know you have addressed them. I’m not a professional chocolatier so I’m very happy to get such an insight on your product.
– I knew chocolate wasn’t grown in Europe lol.. that was really stupid on my part =p sorry about that!
– Re: squares – I thought so! I could taste the spices and flowers on top, but I think it would be nice to infuse them in the chocolates as well. But that’s just my personal opinion 🙂
– Re: caramels: yes I could taste that they were buttery and I didn’t intend to mean they were made with oils, however I found they had an oily nature or texture that was from the butter… I will clarify that in the post.
Thanks so much for visiting and commenting. I will pay you a visit!
À mon plaisir et à bientôt j’espère!
My pleasure, hope to see you soon!
OMG…for a moment I thought I went to choco-heaven!
And don’t forget you got some Hawaiian treats waiting at my place…And it isn’t spam musubi!