5 gift ideas for chocolate lovers

As the holidays approach, it’s time to start thinking about what to get all of the special people in your life. Here are 5 gift ideas for chocolate lovers (or anyone really), because what’s a better gift than chocolate? Nothing? That’s what I thought.


1. Pana Chocolate

If you are looking for raw, organic, handmade chocolate, Pana has got you covered. They offer creative flavours from hemp and cacao nibs, to rose, to fig and wild orange. Or for the chocolate purists out there, they also make both 60% and 80% unflavoured raw chocolate. Also, all of their bars are made with coconut oil so they melt on the tip of your like no other.

Chaleur 2

2. Chaleur B Chocolat

This artisanal chocolate producer operates out of Quebec, Canada, producing single origin bars from Uganda and Madagascar to name a few. Their Ugandan milk chocolate is creamy and caramely beyond belief. If you can stop without eating the entire bar, power to you.

Sirene 2

3. Sirene Chocolate

Sirene’s bright yellow packaging alone is enough to perk up anyways day as we enter the wintery months. Sourcing beans primarily from Madagascar and Ecuador, this Canadian company produces a variety of single origin, bean-to-bar, award-winning chocolate. You could buy it for someone else, but I won’t judge if you save it for yourself.

Spencer 3

4. Spencer Cocoa 

Spencer offers only 2 bars; 42% milk chocolate and 72% dark chocolate, but it is a classic example of producing a limited amount of product and producing it really, really well. All of their beans are sourced from Vanuatu, a collection of islands in the South Pacific, so if you’ve got someone in your life that appreciates the unique, this is the chocolate for them.


5. Montezuma’s

This UK company is making flavoured chocolates that are well worth crossing the pond for (or if you can’t do that, order them online). From British flavours like eton mess, and treacle tart, to citrusy offerings like sea salt and lime, and white chocolate with lemon and sour cherry, Montezuma’s makes eating chocolate even more fun than it already is.

Vanilla Black

This piece is long overdue. As in, well over a year overdue. I ate at Vanilla Black in London during my trip to Europe at the end of the summer of 2014. It was by far one of the dining highlights of the trip. When you travel for food, that consequently means it was also one of the overall highlights of the trip. Undoubtedly the menu has changed since my visit, but that’s all the more reason to go and check out what they are currently offering. Regardless of whether or not you are a vegetarian, add Vanilla Black to your must-dine-at restaurants should you ever find yourself in London, and hungry. Tell them Mallory from Canada sent you.

Vanilla Black isn’t named like most vegetarian restaurants, nor does it look like most vegetarian restaurants, but that’s because it isn’t like most vegetarian restaurants. No eclectic décor, no quirky service and thankfully, no uninspired vegetable pasta dishes. Frankly, dining at Vanilla Black is one of the best meals you can get in London, vegetarian or otherwise.

Vanilla Black

Like many vegetarians, Chef Andrew Dargue and his wife Donna Conroy started out as meat-eaters but over time failed to see the necessity of consuming it. Instead, he now takes classic British dishes like gamon and pineapple and transforms them into vegetarian counterparts that are better than the originals could ever hope to be. The re-imagined Ribblesdale cheese pudding, a double-baked soufflé of sorts, with pineapple chutney, smoked potato croquette, poached egg and homemade “ketchup” make for a dish that is ever so reminiscent of a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, ketchup and hashbrowns, but with flavours that are amplified to a more sophisticated level. Not to mention, it is surprisingly filling for a vegetarian entrée.

Vanilla Black - entree

“You would never go to a restaurant and order a dish that is entirely comprised of meat so I don’t want to offer vegetarian dishes that only contain vegetables,” explains Chef Dargue. “I like to make sure that there is a protein, a starch and a vegetable on every plate.”

Well perhaps not EVERY plate, but if that means inventions like brie ice cream with blackberries and quinoa, you won’t hear any complaints from me. Not your typical starter, the brie ice cream is subtle and creamy, more of a semifreddo than an ice cream really. Paired with blackberries in various forms, a quinoa cracker and green onion gastrique, it is surprisingly savoury for something you would expect to be sweet. You wouldn’t think twice about hot, baked brie with fruit compote so why not create a chilled version?

Vanilla Black - appetizer

Sometimes Dargue’s creative dishes don’t go over as well as he might hope but that is the nature of food of all sorts – it is utterly subjective. At the same time, he has a deft hand that understands the virtues of simplicity over an abundance of ingredients, textures and techniques. “I use certain {modernist} techniques sometimes but they are not the centre of the plate,” Dargue says. Instead, he prefers that diners are surprised by interesting bites here and there over the course of meal.

Which naturally brings us to dessert. The smoked paprika fudge sounded too interesting not to try and that it was. Individually, each component on the plate wasn’t miraculous in isolation, the fudge a tad too sweet and the Builder’s tea ice cream a tad too not. However the brilliance of great cooking is the ability to combine flavours in a way that makes them taste better together than they ever could on their own. All in one bite, the perfect spoonful contained a bit of everything on the plate, all singing in harmony.

Vanilla Black - dessert

Unlike most vegetarian restaurants or tasting menus, you will leave Vanilla Black full and happy; because regardless of your dietary choices, you experienced a mélange of dishes that achieved a Taoistic balance between sweet and savoury, light and dense, soft and crunchy, hot and cold. Most importantly, at Vanilla Black they have figured out how to both feed people and nourish them, all the while serving food that meets and exceeds all expectations of vegetarian cuisine.

Vanilla Black

17-18 Took’s Ct, London EC4A 1LB, United Kingdom

+44 20 7242 2622

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies

double chocolate mint cookies

Ask anyone and they will tell you I’m not a huge fan of mint chocolate. More often than not it ends up tasting like cheap chocolate mixed with toothpaste, and I just can’t endorse that. However, I do like cookies. Especially chewy double chocolate cookies laden with an almost overwhelming amount of chocolate chunks. And if said chocolate chunks happen to have a subtle, natural (read: non-toothpastey) mint flavour, then I can be ok with that. Green & Black’s Organic Mint Dark Chocolate is ideal in this situation. It has just a hint of real peppermint oil so that the chocolate doesn’t get lost in the mix. Plus, if you’re ok with the fact that it *may contain* dairy, but milk isn’t listed as one of the ingredients, then these double chocolate mint cookies are totally vegan as well. I’m not sure you can call me a convert quite yet but these cookies make a convincing case for the viability of GOOD mint chocolate.

Double Chocolate Mint Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 9-12 cookies
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ⅔ cup brown sugar
  • 1 bar Green & Black's Organic Mint Dark Chocolate, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp. water, as needed
  1. Cream together the brown sugar and coconut oil until smooth.
  2. Add in the flour, cocoa power, salt, and baking powder. Mix to combine. If the dough is too dry and doesn't hold together when you squeeze a clump of it in your hands, add water to reach the desired consistency.
  3. Lastly, mix in the Green & Black's Organic Mint Dark Chocolate.
  4. Portion onto a parchment or Silpat lined sheet tray and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. The tops of the cookies will lose their sheen once cooked.
  5. Cool and enjoy.

double chocolate mint cookies 2

Fall in Montreal

Fall is my favourite season. Farmer’s markets overflow with produce, the air turns cool and crisp, and the leaves colour and fall, their musty scent permeating every breath you take. Fall invigorates every one of your senses, but given that all I’ve got are pictures, you’ll have to settle for looking at the moment.


A bounty of organic squash at Jean-Talon.


Plus all of the shrooms, many foraged in Quebec nonetheless! See the chanterelles hiding in the back? You can run but you can’t hide you sneaky chanterelles!


And apples. If I have anything less than 10lb of them in my fridge at any given time, I know I need to stock up.

apple crisp

Fall means apples, apples mean apple crisp. Am I right or am I right? Cut back on the sugar and you can justify eating it for breakfast AND dessert.

Boulangerie Guillaume

I’ve discovered my new favourite boulangerie here in town, Boulangerie Guillame. Bread is easy to come by, superb bread, not so much. They make these blue cheese and walnut buns that are dense and chewy, yet crusty and doughy all at the same time. Makes you want to tear your teeth right into them and chow down!


Marou chocolate

Good chocolate. This bar is made by Marou out of Vietnam, which I picked up during my visit to La Tablette.

blue cheese


mushroom gravy

The highlight of my Thanksgiving feast; mushroom gravy. Is it socially acceptable to consume gravy on its own by the spoonful? This was too good to care. I pretty much cried when I finished the last of the stuffing drenched in gravy leftovers.

delicata squash

Roasted delicata with hoisin and soy. Perfectly suitable for eating straight off of the sheet tray.

purple cauliflower

When cauliflower doubles as art. First off, look at the size of it! Second, that colour! Almost but not quite too pretty to eat.

pickled carrots

Sometimes you want pickled carrots and you only have enough to make a single jar. This IS being saved for a special occasion.

Kem Coba

A couple of weeks ago it was still nice enough to eat ice cream (half almond milk, half Vietnamese coffee from Kem Coba). **Sidenote: It was good but I kind of regret not trying their homemade soft serve instead. And now they’re closed so I’m going to have to wait until next year.

hot chocolate

And now I’ve switched to this. Bring on the snow Mother Nature. I’ll take any excuse I can get to make a warm mug of homemade vegan hot chocolate. Forget that. Chocolate doesn’t require excuses.

Happy fall!

Little things


This has nothing to do with food, and everything to do with food. Food is the common ground. Food is for sharing. Food brings us together.

A Saturday morning walk to the boulangerie? Always better travelled hand in hand.

Bourbon on the rocks after a stressful day? Something is missing without another glass to clink.

A warm mug (or two) of chai when you just can’t seem to shake a chill? It’s that much worse when you know there’s a pair of arms that would willingly wrap you up, but they can’t because they’re on the other side of the world.

No one said long-distance relationships were easy. On the contrary they are pretty damn hard. Texting, phone calls, FaceTime – they all help. But there’s no substitute for the little things you miss out on every day. A hand caressing your hip. A good morning kiss. A shared meal of crusty baguette and blue cheese. Silence. Except perhaps for the crackling of crust. You can talk from afar but you can’t just be. Sometimes there aren’t words and you don’t want there to be. I want nothing more than to not talk.

No one said long-distance relationships were easy. What in life that is worth it ever is? They are devoid of instant gratification and tangible affirmations. Misconstrued words can deliver unintended messages with regretful consequences. It works though. You make it work because you know you wouldn’t be doing it otherwise. Otherwise meaning you’ve found someone who makes 16000 some odd kilometers apart seem easy and you won’t go down without a fight.

We fight because we love.

No one said long-distance relationships were easy. Life is not easy. Find the right person and loving can be, no matter what the distance in between.