Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France

January 31, 2012
I bought a $32 Groupon for a 3-course chocolate tasting for 2 (regular $64) at Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France, a boutique chocolate shop in East Vancouver. I've been putting it off, but as the expiration date drew near, I finally made a reservation to visit with Dodo, Ka and Kish on Friday night. I don't think any of us are huge chocolate fans, but I was in it for the experience. The store was closed by 6 pm and no one else booked for the 6:30 pm seating, so we had the place to ourselves. The kitchen and counter area took up more than half the space. The seating area with 3 small wooden tables was only large enough to accommodate 3 couples, but the atmosphere was intimate and cozy with a bit of country charm. I wasn't allowed to take pictures of the store, but at least I could take pictures of the food. The tasting menu started with a small sample of treats including a raspberry, a creamy truffle, a chewy toffee and a pile of cocoa-dusted whipped cream. The truffle was definitely the highlight. It was unbelievably dense and creamy. I found it hard to believe that so much richness could be packed into such a tiny ball.

The toffee was very soft and chewy with a smooth caramel flavour. The surprise was in the few grains of salt inside that rounded out the taste.

Drinks were also included with the tasting. There were a lot of options including tea, latte, cappuccino, juice, and hot chocolate. Of course I had to get hot chocolate in a chocolate shop! I chose the orange blossom flower flavour, but I thought Dodo's jasmine flavour tasted a lot better. I had no idea that jasmine would go so well with chocolate. The jasmine fragrance was strong and blended well with the creamy chocolate, yet the drink was very light as a whole. The orange blossom flower felt a lot richer and heavier. It was not bad either, but paled in comparison to the jasmine.

Finally it was time to begin the official tasting.

1st course
banoffee tart:
I was under the impression there would be coffee in the tart due to the name banoffee. It turned out that "offee" referred to "toffee" and not "coffee", but chocolate and banana was just as good a combination. On the bottom was a bed of graham cracker crumbs, followed by a thin layer of hazelnut chocolate spread and banana slices, then finally topped with whipped cream and toffee chunks. I loved the contrasting flavours and textures, though I would have preferred more banana and pie crumble and less whipped cream.

s'more tart:
The s'more tart was a lot sweeter than the banoffee because of the meringue topping in lieu of whipped cream. There was no banana to complement the chocolate, and I personally could not tolerate the intense sweetness. But the chocolate was equally rich and the pie crumble equally crunchy, so I think this tart would be perfect for people with a major sweet tooth.

2nd course
72% pot de chocolat
This was a very thick chocolate mousse. The texture was almost like ice cream, and even the taste reminded me of traditional chocolate ice cream. It was so rich and creamy (but not really smooth) with crunchy cocoa nibs on top. I was surprised that the 72% dark chocolate mousse was not bitter at all, but actually rather sweet and cloying. The first few bites were great, though the richness eventually got the better of me and I gave up after finishing off the cocoa nibs.

64% pot de chocolat
The 64% was lighter in colour and was decorated with gold leaf instead of cocoa nibs. I didn't get to taste this as Ka was the only one who decided to go for it. He said it was a bit sweeter than the 72%, but not by much. I probably wouldn't have liked it anyway because I rather enjoyed the cocoa nibs. Besides, even the 72% was a tad sweet for my taste.

3rd course
espresso-soaked brownie and vanilla gelato
The last course was probably my favourite part of the menu. The brownie was served in a cup of cold espresso with a scoop of vanilla gelato (though it tasted more like regular ice cream to me). The texture wasn't very dense like typical brownies. It was rather light and moist like a slice of luscious chocolate cake. Although by this time my taste buds were exploding with a cloying sweetness from the previous dishes, the dark espresso did a great job to balance out the flavours.

Overall the tasting was a lovely experience as everything tasted great, but the food was just too rich and heavy and sweet to take in one go. After all, it was pretty much like eating 3 desserts in one meal without any savoury dishes to balance it out. I talked to the girl who served and prepared most of our food, and she told us the tasting sessions were organized specifically for Groupon, but they have plans to hold regular tasting events for the public starting this summer. A word of advice though is that while they are skilled in creating delicious chocolates, hospitality does not seem to be their forte. Don't get me wrong. Everyone in the store was nice and friendly, but our server seemed a bit timid and had such a strong French accent that we could only make out about 60% of her words when she was trying to introduce the dishes. If they really plan on hosting regular tasting events, service is definitely something they could brush up on.

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  1. wow was this dinner?! omg that is way too much chocolate! like I said, I'm not the biggest chocolate fan -- a small bite or whatever is already totally enough for me. the jasmine hot chocolate sounds so delightful though!

  2. that is A LOT OF CHOCOLATE!! Holy molys!

  3. @Janice: We didn't know the portion sizes beforehand, so we planned to go for either dinner or snacks after the tasting depending on how full we were. We ended up going to Benkei for ramen not because we were hungry, but because we needed something savoury lol. I wish they gave us crackers or something savoury/bland to make up for all that richness/sweetness. The jasmine hot chocolate is totally worth trying though!

    @Kirby: Haha yea it was hard eating all of it in one go (and I didn't finish everything), but it was a fun experience.

  4. good chocolate and good coffee make the most awesome combination.

  5. @pyaria: Agreed! But usually the coffee is just added as a flavour to the chocolate. I didn't expect there to be actual espresso, so that was great. It really balanced out the sweetness of the chocolate.


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