Sweet treats in Vancouver: Bella Gelateria, Mink, Chocolate Art, Thierry, Cadeaux Bakery
Monday, October 29, 2012

I’ve been contemplating for a while now about where I’m going to go and what I’m going to do after Paris. I’m not even sure if I will stay until the end of my visa. It’s nice that I still have a few friends here at the moment, but everyone is going to head back to their respective homes soon. Paris just won’t feel the same anymore!

I admit, lately I’ve had thoughts of going home after my stage ends in December. But where is home now? I have my family in Vancouver, my friends scattered around the world, and Nelson who just moved to Philadelphia. More than likely, I’ll be moving back to Vancouver temporarily while I try to find a way to work in the U.S.

While I was home during summer, I took the opportunity to look for potential employers. Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many truly french pastry shops but I won’t limit myself to just that. My favourite is still Thomas Haas but it happened to be closed on the day I visited so I don’t have any pictures to share. There’s a few more shops that I didn’t get a chance to visit like Ganache. I’m also not very familiar with the fine dining scene in Vancouver. If you know any restaurants that serve innovative desserts, I would love to hear about them!

Anyways, here are some places I visited that I liked.

1. Bella Gelateria An artisan gelato maker that uses fresh ingredients, makes small quantities, and stores it in special silver canisters (called pozzetti cabinets) to keep the temperature and humidity consistent. The owner of the gelato shop, James Coleridge, won 1st place at the 2012 Florence, Italy World Gelato Festival. This is the only gelato shop I’ve come across that is comparable to Grom from Italy.

Seeing these pozzetti cabinets reminded me of Grom gelato in Paris. I’m so glad to have found gelato in Vancouver of equal or maybe even better quality.

First, we tried black sesame, hazelnut, and coconut.

Then, we got a second one (there were 4 of us) with salted caramel, earl grey, and fior di latte.

And since we didn’t have enough, we went back to get one of these wafer rolls with green tea gelato inside.

2. Mink Chocolates A chocolate shop and cafe located in downtown Vancouver and Surrey, B.C. They handcraft their chocolates (made with Belgian chocolate) at a location off-site in small batches, as shown on their youtube video here. They produce a line of chocolate bonbons (see picture below), solid chocolate bars, and ganache-filled chocolate bars. Their chocolates feature interesting flavour combinations with fun names like ‘open in case of emergency’ (fresh mint and kentucky bourbon), my favourite that I’ve tried. I highly recommend their ganache-filled chocolate bars.

Here are their chocolate bonbons: grapefruit vodka (left), coffee (right).

3. Chocolate Art. Another great handcrafted chocolate shop in Vancouver that focuses more on chocolate bonbons. They use both Belgian and French chocolate. They offer more of a variety in bonbons which are beautifully designed (you can see that it’s well tempered), a good place for gifts and catering for special occasions. They’re also relatively inexpensive compared to mass manufacturers like Godiva that uses cheaper filler ingredients (hydrogenated fat) to replace expensive cocoa butter. I was very happy with the bag of chocolates I tried.

I had the crispy mint stick, caramel, lemon and basil truffle, classic truffle, single-origin venezuela, and crunchy praline.

4. Thierry A truly French chocolate, pastry, and coffee shop opened by Thierry Busset. He comes from France where he trained in patisseries, and then 3 Michelin-starred restaurants in London. According to this article, Gordon Ramsay called Busset ‘one of the finest pastry chefs in the world’. Thierry  has a beautiful, luxurious cafe in downtown Vancouver with marble and wood interior, designed by Marc Bricault (Thomas Haas, Vij’s)

He offers a wide selection of classic French pastries, petits fours (cookies, madeleines), and viennoiseries (savoury and sweet croissants). They are my preference for macarons if I had to have one in Vancouver though still not comparable to Pierre Herme in Paris. However, they are more fresh than most places I’ve tried in Vancouver and the texture of their macarons has that nice delicate crunchy shell with a moist and slightly chewy (when cold) interior. However, I feel that it lacks in the filling but I suppose that’s an opinion based on preference.

I tried a passionfruit chocolate macaron and 2 chocolates. They’re chocolates were alright, not the best I’ve had in Vancouver.

Here’s a close-up of the passionfruit macaron from Thierry. As you can see, there is space between the ganache and the edge of the macaron, a big no-no in my opinion! A macaron should be a small bite of heaven and thus, it should be almost spilling with the filling. Also, the ganache appears to be ‘broken’. Either the ganache was not piped at the right consistency/temperature or it was cooled before being sandwiched with the other half of the macaron shell thus ‘crushing’ the ganache.

Thierry does do a good job with their macaron shells (delicate crunch of the shell with a moist interior), I suspect they use the Italian meringue method (used by Pierre Herme).

4. Cadeaux Bakery A french-inspired bakery in downtown Vancouver opened by previous pastry chefs, Eleanor Chow & Slavita Johnson from Chambar restaurant. They offer more North American style pastries like brownies, butter tarts, scones, cookies, cupcakes, carrot cake. I tried their cheesecake brownie and nut tart, both good though not mind-blowing. I’ll try their cakes on my next visit.

Cheesecake brownie with caramel. It’s rich, dense and moist; a perfect fit in the fudge-y brownie category.

Mixed nut tart. This tart was a good balance between nuts, filling, and tart crust.


One Glorious Comment
  • Elena
    March 11, 2013
    Hi Emily! I am from Vancouver too and I am currently enrolled in Ferrandi pastry program. I would love to get in touch with u via email as I have so many questions about stage and what to do next after Ferrandi! I would really appreciate if u can email me! Thank u!