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:
- $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.
- $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.