Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Bella Gelateria: Hot Chocolate Festival 2014

Hot Chocolate Festival 2014
"Hot chocolate festival? There's such a thing?" 

That's the reaction I get from many of my friends when I am trying to find someone to go with me. It's fourth year running, Vancouver's Hot Chocolate Festival is steadily growing in participants. With an extra hour to kill between watching Frozen and dining at Mosaic Bar and Grill, we took the opportunity to take part in the festival. Bella Gelateria is only two blocks away from Mosaic, so we decided to pay a visit.

Hot Chocolate Festival 2014 menu
The Three Nutty Crumpets came to Bella Gelateria for during the Hot Chocolate Festival last year and since then, the menu of hot chocolate has incredibly expanded. I remember having about three or so choices, and it costing a lot more. I'm extremely impressed with the creative flavours Bella Gelateria has to offer this year; if my stomach was bigger, I would've loved to try more! A gelato bar in hot chocolate? My love for hot and cold food together is calling...

Black Sesame Hot Chocolate ($5.50)
Since dinner was around the corner, I limited myself to having just a cup of hot chocolate. My heart was set on the Black Sesame Hot Chocolate the moment I saw it on the menu. Knowing how ah-may-zing their black sesame gelato is, I was really excited for this drink. For $5.50 (tax included), this generous cup of hot chocolate is creamy and packed full of the flavours advertised. It wasn't overly sweet, as the base of this drink was half white chocolate and half 85% dark chocolate. I drank about half of this and packed the rest to go. As I was pouring it into my paper cup, I saw how much black sesame paste went into this drink. A thick layer of black sesame paste lined the bottom of the cup; remember to stir while drinking. No wonder it tasted so good! 

All Hot Chocolate Festival drinks at Bella Gelateria come with half a slice of Erin Ireland's To Die For Banana Bread. I was pleasantly surprised that this year, the slice of banana bread was of normal thickness. Not exaggerating but last year we got half a slice that was only one centimetre in thickness. That's half of what is seen in the photo! Like seriously, you must be kidding me... -shakes head- However, the banana bread isn't as good as I remember it to be. It was missing the crunchy bits of salt that contrasts the sweetness of the loaf. There was even less macadamia nuts than before (it didn't start off with much in the first place) and it just tasted sugary. Nevertheless, the side of banana bread is a nice treat that, with the drink, will satisfy any sweet tooth.

Italian Honey Moon Hot Chocolate ($5.50)
My other two friends both ordered the Italian Honey Moon Hot Chocolate. "Hazelnut" totally caught their attention. I saw little chunks of honey nougat and hazelnuts floating on the surface. This one should be a little sweeter than the black sesame since it is made with 65% cocoa chocolate. The Clumsy One said that there was a generous amount of hazelnuts in the drink. Our other friend commented that she had to open her mouth a little wider to get the bits in as she drank. The serving size of the hot chocolate here is very large, be prepared to feel very full after gulping down the whole cup! (And a experience a bit of a sugar rush as well) Both drinks are well worth the very reasonable price. A specialty drink at Starbucks costs just as much, if not more, and they just use flavoured syrups and blech.

I'm very glad we decided to make a stop here, as it is probably one of the best places to join in on the Hot Chocolate Festival. Bella Gelateria's menu contains more flavours than most of the other participating cafes, making it a good choice for larger groups that may have different preferences. And ice cream bars in hot chocolate sounds insanely cool. If I get the chance to come back to try more of their Hot Chocolate Festival offerings, I have my eye on the London Foggy, Black Magic, and Extra Dark Chocolate drinks. Peanut Crumpet had the extra dark chocolate last year and it's not sweet at all. Those that love a true dark and bitter chocolate should definitely try Bella Gelateria out!

Bella Gelateria Handcrafted Gelato on Urbanspoon
Love from Coconut Crumpet & Co.

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