2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

I’m on a train travelling through rural Ontario as I write this, and staring out the window at the snowy country side is making me increasingly excited for the holidays. It has been quite the year and an admittedly absent one from this space. Mainly because I’ve been writing for other publications, but also because admittedly, I’ve lost my vision for what I want my own site to be about. Maybe that will change in 2018. Frankly, I’m not sure yet. In my other life as a PhD student in psychology, I spend the majority of my time researching, discussing, and trying to elucidate around topics pertaining to emotional eating and weight. I’d like to write about what I do in that field in a more informal way in this space (after all, the name “Because I Like Chocolate” always came from a place of wanting to help people have healthier relationships with food). Now that I actually do that in my day to day, it feels appropriate to have an online outlet to share about it. What do you think? Is that something that would interest you?

Because I like chocolate..I made Sarah Kieffer’s pan bang cookies (multiple times)

I did do a bit of food/psychology writing this year, like this piece for Eat North on emotional eating. Actually I did a lot for Eat North. I was super proud to be a part of this piece in celebration of Canada’s 150. Through the process of putting it together, I got to chat with some pretty cool Canadian figures, which lead to interviews with people like Gail Simmons and Jay Onrait. Interviewing is one of my favourite parts of what I do. I love chatting with people and learning about their stories. It’s fascinating and I only want to do more of it in 2018! You can check out everything I wrote for Eat North here (PS there’s a lot of it, 52 articles to be exact).

Probably my best meal of 2017 at Montreal’s Candide

I also began contributing more regularly to Eater Montreal, mostly putting together maps of local restaurants in certain areas or with specific offerings, like this one showcasing some of the best bakeries for bread in Montreal. Plus I had the opportunity to compile this map of the 18 Essential Calgary restaurants, which allowed me to showcase the ever-expanding food scene in my home town (I’m getting sappy now given that I haven’t been home in awhile and am clearly starting to miss it).

Beautiful bread from boulangerie Merci La Vie in the Laurentians

What else, what else? There was the usual writing for Culinaire (I always love getting to do their “Spice it Up” column, like this one from earlier in the year). And in between that, a trip to Japan happened (still figuring out how to write about that from a food perspective, because boy was there a lot of food), many weekends were spent up at the cottage, I wrote my doctoral comprehensive exam, and before I knew it, the year was almost over.

Japanese whisky tasting – the only sad part is that you can’t find most of it in Canada

Wishing you all the best this holiday season, with plenty of festive food and drink to be shared with those you love of course! I plan on making too many baked goods, roasting a turkey, and drinking all the BC wine I can get my hands on! If I can find a bottle of this, that would be the icing on the cake. Happy holidays!

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5 Ice cream shops to check out in Montreal this summer

5 Ice cream shops to check out in Montreal this summer

August is upon us, which means that there’s one more full month of summer to melt (pun intended) in all of the frozen treats your heart desires. That’s right folks, the time for ice cream indulgence is here. Here are 5 places to check out before the snow starts to fall again in Montreal. Dalla Rose 1

Dalla Rose 2

Dalla Rose

The new kid on the block, Dalla Rose recently opened down on Notre Dame in St. Henri (right next to Arthur’s, the modern Jewish deli that also recently took up shop). Try their ice cream offerings on their own, or sandwiched between a variety of homemade cookies (the only complaint here is that some of the cookies are a bit on the hard side, making the ice cream sandwich difficult to eat without squeezing out all of the actual ice cream – hopefully this is just the result of growing pains and they will work out the kinks). Flavours include tournesol (sunflower seed), which is especially good paired with vegan chocolate coconut.

Dalla Rose Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Diperie

La Diperie

Less about the ice cream and more about the bajillion different dips and toppings you get to chose to coat it, La Diperie brings out the kid in anyone who visits. Start with basic vanilla soft serve, and choose from at least a dozen varieties of melted chocolate to dip it in (salted chocolate and dulce de leche are both winners). Roll it in a mélange of toppings from crushed pretzels, to Oreo crumbs, and you are in for a treat.

La Diperie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kem Coba 1 Kem Coba 2

Kem CoBa

Kem CoBa has been a fan favourite on the Montreal ice cream scene for awhile now, so much so that there is even a Twitter account dedicated to monitoring the size of the line to get some (be prepared to line up around the block if it’s a scorcher out). It’s worth the wait though for their Asian-inspired flavours of ice cream and sorbet like pandan and chai. Don’t forget to try their homemade soft serve either, which is an ever-changing sorbet/ice cream combo, making for a refreshing, creamy treat.

Kem CoBa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pandan

Pandan Cremerie

Easily the most unique “ice cream” on the list, Pandan is one of only a handful of Thai rolled ice cream shops in the country. Given that all of their ice cream is frozen and rolled right before your eyes, it does take at least 4 to 5 minutes per customer, but time goes by quickly when you are watching the novelty of it all (honestly it’s worth it just to get a video of the process in action). Try the Vietnamese coffee ice cream topped with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk.

Pandan Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ripples

Ripples

Located on St. Laurent right across from the infamous smoked meat shop, Schwartz’s, Ripples may look like your typically old-timey ice cream shop, but it is anything but, as indicated by unique flavours like kulfi and pistachio (loaded with pieces of actual pistachio). It may not be the lightest option, but it is decadent, full-fat ice cream at its finest, ultra dense and super smooth.

Ripples Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vanilla Black

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

Vosges Haut Chocolat

Vosges Haut Chocolat

If there is one thing I have learned in growing my blog it is that you should never be afraid to reach out to people. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They will say no, exactly. Nothing to fear. So when Vosges Haut Chocolat agreed to send me some chocolate samples, I was over the moon. Actually I don’t want to be over the moon, I don’t think there is too much chocolate in outer space. But I was pretty happy. When I received 12 different Vosges Haut Chocolat bars, I was even more ecstatic.

Vosges Haut Chocolat
Vosges Haut Chocolat
The first one I tried was their reishi mushroom and walnut bar. Don’t worry, I was kind of skeptical of the whole mushroom/chocolate concept too, but fear not, the combination works! Because the chocolate is relatively dark, the mushroom acts to enhance its earthy qualities. If it was milk chocolate I’m not sure I could say the same. The walnut pieces also added a bit of texture without being so big that they took over the entire bar. Also, this is totally aesthetic but I love the little lady with her purse that they etch into some of the squares. 5/5 for design Vosges Haut Chocolat!
Vosges Haut Chocolat
Vosges Haut Chocolat
Vosges Haut Chocolat
I am really looking forward to trying all of the other bars. Some of the combinations are pretty wild, that’s for sure! I love Matcha green tea so I am thinking I will like it even more in chocolate. As for the Vosges Haut Chocolat Super Dark coconut ash and banana bar, I think it will be perfect melted on top of some nanaimo bars, considering that they already contain coconut in the crust.
They also sent me some bars from their sister company Wild Ophelia and things get even crazier. Why put mushrooms in a chocolate bar when you can throw beef jerky in there instead? Or bbq potato chips, depending on your salty cravings. Personally I am looking forward to trying the Southern hibiscus peach bar. An icebox cookie with the sweet cherry pecan bar is also in the works. Looks like I’ve got a lot of chocolate consumption ahead of me!
Wild Ophelia Chocolate
Wild Ophelia Chocolate