Sad News: CocoaNymph is Closing

I generally have a no-bad-news-policy on this blog. But this bit of bad news cannot go unnoticed. 

Not just because I've collaborated with Rachel Sawatzky and CocoaNymph for the past 4 years; but because it's disheartening to see a business that poured so much heart and soul into everything they do need to close down. Everything that Rachel and her team did they did wholeheartedly: from their craft of making top-notch chocolates and confections, to educating new entrepreneurs in the art of chocolate making. They served their community as a neighbourhood gathering place and home-away-from-home environment for many of their patrons, something I have witnessed and experienced every time I stopped by for hot chocolate or for picking up fragrant bars. CocoaNymph has become part my family's life on our weekly stops from our horseback riding lessons, and recently even became a work-training hub for for my autistic daughter (who was a proud member of the team every Thursday this past fall and winter as part of her "work experience" at school). 

CocoaNymph supported countless Canadian musicians, who frequently performed on the chocolaterie's grand piano, contributing to the city's much-needed nightlife; hosted many workshops and tasting events to cultivate the West Coast palate and co-promote other local artisan businesses - from craft beer brewers to perfumers.

I don't know if there is a "positive" way to look at CocoaNymph's closure. I can just hope that it serves as a lesson to us all to support your favourite artistan while their business is still alive and can thrive and create more jobs for us (or our kids, for that matter). 

It will be hard to live without your chocolates, but even more so without this dream. 

P.s. Don't panic! The fragrant chocolate bars we've co-created will still be made especially for you despite CocoaNymph's closure. So please keep ordering them and help us keep this project alive!

Beer & Chocolate Pairing

Day 723 - Paddle of beer by Clive C
Day 723 - Paddle of beer, a photo by Clive C on Flickr.
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend a Craft Beer & Chocolate Pairing night at CocoaNymph, as part of BC Craft Beer Month. It just so happened to be on a Friday (October 25th, to be exact), and by the time I got home I was too tired to blog about it and had to prepare for my last tea party. But it was a memorable beer night and I took some tasting notes - which is how I am able to still write about what I tasted intelligibly. The event was co-hosted with Lundy from Pink Pints.

All the truffles served were delights no one ever tasted before - either seasonal truffles, or the ones that are part of the steady collection were actually the future-version of themsleves. And I got to tell you: if you liked CocoNymph’s truffles so far, brace yourself for the type of goodness that makes one wax poetic or just swoon on the spot.

Beer no. 1: Black Betty Blackberry Saison (Vancouver Island Brewery). It’s a fizzy light amber coloured brew with a raspberry aroma. The flavour is beer with raspberry notes, bitter, fresh-tart, sweet and leaves a stinging fizz afterwards.

Chocolate pairing: CocoaNymph’s new recipe for the Glinda truffle: blackberry sage. Tart, fruity, musky and earthy-herbaceous. Beautifully complemented the beer.

Beer no. 2: Sweet Punk Dunkelweizen (Longwood)
Dark brown beer that looks (and tastes) like thin drip coffee. If it does not sound appealing, it’s because it’s not my taste. At all. It also has a very strong coffee, roasted notes, and mocha notes (hints of cocoa).

Chocolate pairing: Melissa, CocoaNymph’s hazelnut crunch truffle, with a whole candied hazelnut in the centre. Nutty, sweet and a soothing honey aftertaste. Great redeeming point for the harsh coffee-beer prior experience. By the way - once this truffle’s recipe was modified, it completed the task of turning the entire CocoaNymph chocoaltes & confections gluten free.

Beer no. 3: Sap Sucker (Fernie Brewing Company)
This maple porter is frothy, even darker than the previous beer. Malty flavour.

Chocolate pairing: Barnabas the Tortoise, which is a milk chocolate filled with orange brandy ganache and caramel.

Beer no. 4: Pumpkin Pearzen (Moon Under Water)
Unclear, pale golden liquid, looks like unfiltered pear juice. Aroma is spicy and reminiscent of pears and pumpkins simultaneously, but also surprisingly sour and bitter in flavour. Very smooth mouthfeel with hints of spice.

Chocoalte pairing: Prancer, which is CocoaNymph’s first seasonal truffle - a pumpkin ganache that is just absolutely wonderful and gets better every year!

Beer no. 5: Spirit Chaser (R&B Brewing)
A porter made with Sumatra coffee from Salt Spring Coffee Co. Looks like a very dark coffee. Aroma of smooth coffee, roasted beans. Flavour is bitter and sour, just like a too strong coffee.

Chocolate pairing: Ultra Dark truffle, with cacao nibs on the outside. I believe this is a completely new truffle that is not part of the steady collection of truffles yet.

Beer no. 6: Lost Souls (Parallel 49)
Chocolate and pumpkin flavoured beer, which was apparently too much for me. I think by this point I had too much beer! But not too much to form the opinion, that I do not like coffee and beer together, and strangely enough, when it comes to craft beers, I probably lean towards the light and fruity ones. While with “normal” barley beers, I prefer the darker actually.

Chocolate pairing: Illa - the salted caramel truffle that started Rachel in her sweet chocolate path (very similar to the SeaNymph bar, which is what the chocolatiere is probably most known for). It practically goes with everything and enhances everything. Personally, I prefer it with a glass of dark red wine such as Shiraz or Zinfandel.

Sights and Textures from the Zangvil Tea Party


For those of you who missed the Zangvil tea party - here are some photos that will I hope you will find inspiring for creating your own wintery tea party this holiday season!

The assembly of desserts (except for the whipping cream that joined the midst of the pears only later on).
You can also see snowballs (or Mexican wedding cakes), orange-ginger icebox cookies, halva, and barks of the new White Potion chocolate bar!

Setting up the desserts in eikcam's handcrafted and painted birch pottery. Get into the winter mood with rustic style bypassing cliches.

White Brownies & Ginger Marshmallows
White chocolate brownies with sour cream frosting. I the background - CocoaNymph's ginger marshmallows that topped the steaming chai we cooked!
And the lovely tea tumblers by eikcam - each has a different emblem - so it's quite easy to remember which cup is yours!

Zangvil Tea Party Sandwiches
Tea sandwiches:

Asian Pear + Cheddar + Quince Mustard tea sandwiches

Orange +Fennel + Tarragon Tea Sandwiches

Kabu + Yuzu Tea Sandwiches

The Carrot + Ginger proved to be unnecessary for this very full menu... We had enough ginger already anyway ;-)

I've also served freshly baked cheese & chive scones, but they were gone before I had a chance to snap a photo!

Zangvil tea + White Potion chocolate bar

So excited about the new (4th) fragrant chocolate bar that we launched this weekend!

The White Potion white chocolate bar was created together with Rachel Sawatzky of CocoaNymph, and has white chocolate, vanilla beans, roasted almonds, toasted coconut, and... tuberose essence! It's amazing and not to sweet at all :-)

As for the Zangvil tea - it's the first time I'm launching that is all my doing. I've designed the tea, a perfumed tea which is so fragrant and can be infused up to 7 times!

Silver needle jasmine white tea
Ambrette seeds
Sliced vanilla beans
Cryztallized ginger

I'm very happy with how the new labels turned out as well. All the tea labels are going to be re-done, and the teas will be relaunched in the springtime.

Zangvil Tea Components

Zangvil tea demo - 3 types of white tea and the other ingredients that make my new Zangvil tea!

Red Bartletts
A word about the poached pears: I felt like a genius finding this underaged pears at the Winter Market. If it wasn't for their lack of desire to reach full pear size, I would have had to serve them cut into cubes (shame on their seductive shape!) or as spoon dessert (which defeats the whole purpose of a tea party). Little Asian pears also work well for the same purpose.

Ginger Marshmallows
Handmade ginger marshmallows (by CocoaNymph, naturally!), that we served with the homemade chai. Already a winter favourite!

Birch Vases
And last but not least - the birch vases, so wintery and festive in a twisted way... I think I might just need to keep them here at the studio - they are a perfect match to the pussy willows I keep year-around.

Hot CocoaNymph + Giveaway

Hot CocoaNymph, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

I heard about the hot chocolate festival pretty late - when it was already halfway through.
And of course, I had to at least make a pilgrimage to Cocoa Nymph (3739 West 10th Ave. @ Alma) and try her legendary hot chocolate. All of my visits there were purely business so far, and very busy at that - so I never actually just sat down and enjoyed a cup of hot CocoNymph before! Fortunately for me, Rachel was taking a little break, and we were able to just hang out, relax, chat and enjoy her company as well as a few other regular customers and friends whose faces I already recognize (and sometime can even guess their name right...). CocoNymph should be a weekly pilgrimage to Kitsilano just for that atmosphere alone. And did I mention they do live music shows there - almost every weekend?

Back to hot chocolate: You can find 4 flavours on a regular basis - white, milk, dark and dark spicy (inspired by the original Aztec power drink), made on site from real wholesome ingredients and topped with Rachel's marshmallows.

During the hot chocolate festival there is a new limited edition flavour at CocoaNymph every week - for both the hot chocolate AND the marshmallows, which are made on site from scratch!

The first week, it was the reverse switch - white hot chocoate topped with a milk chocolate marshamllow. Second week it was hazelnut hot chocolate topped with Crown Royal marshmallows. Last week - Earl Grey hot chocolate topped with Guilt inspired marshmallows (made with orange oil and juice!). The Earl Grey was sold out that weekend, but I have I tried the Guilt-y, orangey marshmallow, and am thrilled to report they are utter bliss and I just can't wait for the Earl Grey infused hot chocolate to return.

This week, the special flavour is a black-pepper infused hot chocolate topped with salted caramel marshmallows!
Salted caramel is CocoaNymph's signature flavour - the first bonbons Rachel made and got this business started were her salted caramel chocolates. Her most popular confections are the English Toffee (highly salted and crunchy) and the SeaNymph bar (with sea salt and crushed pieces of the above-mentioned English toffee).

I sipped the dark hot chocolate, topped with the salted caramel marshmallows, which really balanced it well - and made it very easy to drink up what turned out to be a whole cup of heavy cream (!) with melted dark chocolate. This is hard core hot chocolate indulgence, yet I had no trouble at all getting to the bottom of it...

The experience was inspiring, and I'm really intrigued by the combination of tea and chocolate together... Or any infusions into liquid chocolate... Mmm... Maybe an idea for something to serve on my Valentine's Day "Spice It Up" Tea Party next Sunday? What do you think?

Last but not least, I'd like to use this opportunity to mention a giveaway via Vancouver Foodster Magazine - who are giving away a box of chocolates from CocoaNymph (value of $60) and a Roses et Chocolat mini + chocolate bar (value of $60 as well). All you need to do is comment, and tweet about it, and you will be entered :-)

P.s. In the photograph: Top right is white hot chocolate topped with vanilla marshmallow. Bottom left - dark hot chocolate with salted caramel marshmallow.

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