No wider than a postage stamp, the Elphaba truffle’s small size belies its complexity. Beneath its chocolate shell, layers of white and dark chocolate alternate between pistachio-and-cardamom ganache, creating a symphony of unexpected flavours. Inspired sweets such as these have earned CocoaNymph accolades from the Vancouver Observer, which praises the treats as “exotic creations that push the boundaries of a chocolate truffle.”
Chocolatiers pass on their expertise during chocolate-making classes that allow each student to decorate their own batches. All classes take place in the shop, whose romantic atmosphere complements its chocolatey aromas. Punched-tin lanterns illuminate mauve and violet walls and the baby grand piano where staffers belt out ballads about their love for truffles.
Modelled after sweets from classic European chocolatiers, Xoxolat's award-winning chocolate makers concoct an assortment of bars, truffles, and artisanal chocolate creations. Since June 2007, they have treated palates to fair-trade and equitable-trade chocolates and single-origin selections from artisan lines such as Republica Del Cacao, Amedei, and zotter. In addition to selling an assortment of gourmet chocolate bars and truffles, Xoxolat holds a Chocolate 101 class where participants learn cacao bean-facts and the ethics behind eating chocolate Easter bunnies.
Eschewing modernity's machine-based baking, European Breads handcrafts artisanal loaves using ancient recipes that are hundreds or even thousands of years old. Bakers start with natural and unrefined ingredients, which they ferment into dough, knead until it's the right consistency, and mould into chewy baguettes, sweet challah, and convincing replicas of Rodin's The Thinker, assuming the statue had raisins for eyes. At the tables in European Bread's airy café, guests can also help themselves to delicious European specialties such as crepes, perogies, and stuffed cabbage rolls.
After building a loyal fanbase at the farmers' market, Bonchaz set up its own shop in 2010, unveiling a tasty array of baked goods, savoury baguette sandwiches, and aromatic french-press coffee. Taking its name from a Mexican-French milk-bun pastry, the café outfits its signature treat in an array of decadent flavours kissed with a hint of coffee and lovingly torched to a golden-brown crust. The speedy kitchen staff rolls out the fluffy pastries alongside an ever-changing lineup of soups as well as sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, pulled pork, and smooth, creamy hummus.
Corduroy uses organic, local ingredients and an independent eye for craftsmanship to stitch together tasty food trousers for the tongue-legs of Vancouver foodies. Slip your taste buds into one of Corduroy’s starters, such as prawn cakes ($12), a Dungeness crab salad ($14), or the restaurant’s popular poutine ($11), with two-year aged cheddar, Guinness jus, and truffle oil atop fries. Corduroy’s main dishes are few in number, but they rebound in quality like a strike team of hardened criminals who find redemption in their mission. The pizzas ($14) boast a whole-wheat rosemary and honey crust, with topping combinations including roast chicken and barbecue sauce, chorizo and goat cheese, and roast zucchini and smoked gouda. Savour an organic beef stew braised in red wine with vegetables ($17), spool spaghetti and meatballs ($16) around utensils, or embrace the butternut-squash risotto ($17) with open mouths. Corduroy also livens up melancholic livers with drinks of the beer, wine, cocktail, and martini persuasions.
A bakery outlet for Canada Bread Company Limited, McGavin's offers rows of loaves at wholesale prices. Fill bare cupboards or secret floorboard compartments with discount bread facing a dwindling shelf life, surplus bread from overzealous production lines, and fresh bread from local bakeries. McGavin's white or 100 per cent whole-wheat loaves (five loaves for $10.49) prove eminently slatherable. Other yeasty feasts include Dempster's Bagel six packs (three packs for $8.99), english muffin six packs (three packages for $6.99), and tortillas (three packages for $8.25). The popular discount special section, meanwhile, invites gluten gourmands to mix and match an ever-changing cast of short-dated dough bookends: every product, regardless of size, grain, or resemblance to Winston Churchill costs $1.39, and shoppers can mix and match an assortment of ten loaves for $12. Discount selections change daily and vary by location.