This year marks the 8th Annual Hot Chocolate Festival in Vancouver, as well as my first year attending! Deciding on a café was a difficult task because there are 35 locations participating and 75 flavours to choose from. I’m by no means a hot chocolate connoisseur, but I know that I love caramel. So naturally, when I saw “caramel” on the list, I was sold. I went to Eternal Abundance Organic Market & Café on Commercial Drive to try out the “Turtle Hot Chocolate” which is both organic and vegan. It was a caramel hot chocolate with coconut whip, caramel drizzle, and pecan. It also came with a turtle chocolate on the side.
The hot chocolate was rich and creamy, and the coconut whip and crushed pieces of pecan on top were a nice touch. However, it had a dark chocolate flavour to it that I wasn’t a huge fan of. The caramel flavour was subtle and not very noticeable. I would recommend this hot chocolate if you’re a fan of dark chocolate and coconut. If you’re looking for something with a more distinct caramel flavour, then I would probably pass on this one. The festival runs from January 20th– February 14th (dates vary by location) which means there are two days left if you’re interested in checking out! Did you try any flavours this year? Comment below if you have any experiences or recommendations to share!
Chai is the perfect drink for a variety of occasions: in the morning as your caffeine intake while reading the paper (or religiously scrolling through social media), get-togethers with family and friends, or to sip on during a rainy day. At this point, I’ve started to associate the drink with family gatherings that are marked by story-telling and laughter. It’s also my go-to drink when I’m feeling stressed, anxious, or low. I’m not sure if it’s the blend of spices, the creamy flavour, or the familiar scent, but something about it is so comforting.
The great thing about chai is that it can be tailored to your desire. India’s languages, food, and customs vary from region to region. Similarly, the preferred way of making chai varies across regions and even households. There are a variety of spices that can be used or excluded depending on your preference. You can adjust the amount of milk, sugar, and spices to get the perfect cup for yourself. My grandma prefers her chai sweet, while my dad opts to go easy on the milk and sugar. I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle. This is the basic recipe that I like to use, but feel free to adjust it to your liking.
How to: Make a Cup of Chai
- 1/2 cup milk ((I recommend using 2%))
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cardamom
- 1-2 cloves
- Pinch of fennel seeds ((about 10-12 seeds))
- 1/4 cinnamon stick
- 1-2 tsp sugar or other sweetener
- 1 tsp loose tea leaves ((I recommend using Lipton Yellow Label Tea, Brooke Bond Red Label Tea, or Taj Mahal Orange Pekoe Tea))
Crush the cardamom and cloves using a mortar and pestle and put to the side
Bring water to a boil
Add the spices (cardamom, cloves, fennel, and cinnamon) and reduce to medium-low heat for two minutes
Add 1 tsp loose black tea and steep for one minute
Bring to a boil, add the milk and sugar, and bring to a boil again
Strain and enjoy!
I recommend using 2% milk to increase the creamy flavour, but your preferred type of milk will work as well.