What better way to celebrate Vancouver’s Hot Chocolate Festival than to visit multiple award-winning local cacao-heads Mink Chocolates. With Mink cafe locations in downtown Vancouver and beautiful South Surrey, we opted to try both in order to tempt your tastebuds and turn your tummy with delicious cocoa and disgusting crickets!
Yup, the Vancouver location has some crispy critters on the menu for Hot Chocolate Fest, so strong stomachs will want to make sure you stay with us til the end of the article…
To whet your appetite we’ll start with the sweet stuff at Mink Chocolates Morgan Crossing here in Surrey. The chocolate-and-cream interior set the right mood, although it was quite busy on the Sunday we went and we had to fight a bit for seating for our group of three. The baristas behind the counter were super friendly and attentive and seemed to be enjoying their day as much as we were. Definitely appreciated their service!
Besides their coffees, chocolates and bars, hot chocolate drinks, and chocolate fondues they also serve a variety of tantalizing treats baked fresh daily. It would normally be a difficult decision but due to Kimiko’s current dietary restrictions we went for the vegan and gluten-free Oreo sandwich.
The Oreo ($4.25) was pretty much your old-fashioned whoopie pie, uncannily creamy for a vegan dessert and with a bit more salt than expected in the mix which was a welcome addition that had us all raving.
Kimiko washed it down with an oat milk 16 oz. 38% cacao Hot Chocolate ($5.95, not pictured). The Hot Chocolate was rather sweet and pretty average in my estimation, probably just due to the oat milk since Mink Chocolates uses only the finest pure chocolate ganache for all of its chocolate drinks. Oat milk just isn’t as creamy as the real thing and doesn’t seem to lend itself well to cocoa though.
I was itching to warm my mitts on a glass of their Euro-style 70% cacao Drinking Chocolate ($7.00). I opted for the vegan version of this one as well, but with a creamier almond milk substitution. Darker and richer than a standard cup of cocoa, I was expecting something thicker off the open, but as I gradually drained my glass I found the texture I was hoping for further down the cup where the contents had settled. I haven’t had this style before, so with nothing to compare it to I’ll just say I enjoyed Mink Chocolates’ version immensely and would go back for seconds.
Craig ordered this Belgian Monkey Waffle ($6.25) but was none too pleased with the over-mixed density of the batter. With a bland and meh-inducing flavour, we batted around a few adjectives for this one and settled on stupid doo doo dummy (don’t ask…some of us were nursing hangovers and may have still been a little tipsy!). Toppings made it okay-ish though.
Jetting back to Vancouver’s downtown waterfront area, I braved Snowpocalypse 2020 to sample their special Hot Chocolate Festival menu. They were unable to source the sturgeon caviar (!!) from the Fraser River for their Legend of Daryl Hannah Sipping Chocolate due to the extreme weather conditions, so unfortunate as that was my wallet had the good fortune of being spared the $98 pricetag.
The Don’t Bug Me Hot Chocolate was a much more reasonable $8.50 and topped with some much less luxurious roasted crickets. They must have been high on cacao when they came up with this one. I don’t care how Canadian-farmed, organic, gluten-free, non-GMO, or free-range your whole roasted crickets are, they are crickets and they are gross.
…In this context at least. I’ve ate bugs in various manners all over the world and crickets are normally the most palatable of the creepy-crawlies, but for God’s sake throw some salt or chili or something in the pan when you roast them! These were done plain and the buggy taste was really strong and overpowering, and when combined with the oat milk in the 54% cocoa it was just all sorts of wrong. The sides of mini milk and dark chocolate bars helped cleanse the palate of bug juice at least. Interesting idea poorly executed, but a fun adventure nonetheless.
If anyone makes it down for the caviar version we’d love to hear your review in the comments below!