Cocoanymph: Wonder and Whimsy
Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get. – Tom Hanks.
People who know my mother understand that there are two tenets she holds sacred: a clean house and a good box of chocolates. One of my strongest memories growing up was snuggling in my mom’s bed with my siblings around a half-empty box of truffles. There was always that excitement about which chocolate I would sample next, and I would intently study the guide that came with the box as if it could divulge the mysteries of the universe.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my family and I moved around a lot when I was younger. My dad was born with a mole on his foot, which in our culture signifies a lifetime of traveling. He moved my mom from Hong Kong to London to San Francisco to Vancouver and finally back to Manila. Moving was not easy. Every time they packed up and moved somewhere new, my dad would acclimatize my mom by sniffing out the best chocolatiers in that city and buy her a box big enough to keep her occupied for days. Knowing what the city had to offer in terms of chocolate, helped my mom to appreciate and accept the place a little more easily.
Over the years, my family and I have developed a list of our favourite places to get truffles from around the world. For example, in London, it’s off to Harrod’s food hall to peruse what the rows of chocolatiers have to offer us. In Hong Kong we make our way to the basement of the Peninsula hotel where the chocolate shop boasts of fine white chocolate truffles with the softest, creamiest centres. In Hawaii a trip to Honolulu Chocolate Comnpany is a must for their decadently gooey macadamia turtles. Here in Vancouver, our regular haunts include Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut in Steveston and Daniel Le Chocolat Belge. Today, I officially add a new place to my list: Cocoanymph.
There are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles.
I passed Cocoanymph on my way to work a couple of times and was always drawn by the lyrical fantasy of the name. It seemed positively providential when I then heard about an event that a friend of mine went to a few months ago which involved listening to two local artists playing guitar as people sat around sipping wine and nibbling on treats. I was immediately intrigued. A chocolate bar in Vancouver? The idea was too fabulous to be true.
The chocolates at Cocoanymph are all handmade by the nymph herself: chocolatier Rachel Sawatzky. The difference between handmade chocolate and mass-produced chocolate is astounding if you’ve ever had the good fortune to try them. First of all, the freshness of handmade chocolates lends a distinctive sharpness to the chocolate in that the flavours are more intense. Of course, making the chocolate in store also ensures that the chocolatier retains ultimate control over the quality of the ingredients that are used to make the truffles as well. Sawatsky uses all natural ingredients in her pieces.
What I most love about Cocoanymph, however, are the whimsical combinations of flavours and essences. Traditional chocolate shops are fairly predictable in their offerings—you have your darks, your milks, and your whites combined with some kind of predictable fruit, nut (usually hazelnut) and liqueur; and by the eighth or ninth one, they all seem to blend into oblivion. The chocolate at Cocoanymph are each distinctive and unique, resulting in exotic creations that push the boundaries of a chocolate truffle. One of my favourites was the Elphaba—pistachio-flavoured white chocolate ganache is layered on cardamom-flavoured dark chocolate and topped with a crunchy pistachio. Indeed, if life were like this box of chocolate, it would be one thrilling ride.
Make a list of important things to do today. At the top of your list, put 'eat chocolate.' Now, you'll get at least one thing done today. Gina Hayes
It’s getting down to the wire with Christmas shopping. The malls are packed and if you’re like me, you’ve got maybe 50% of your shopping accomplished. A great gift idea? Hand pick a box of chocolate to suit the person you’re giving it to (and get a few for yourself). Cocoanymph has a lovely Christmas menu with concoctions such as Gingerbread, Candy Cane and Winter Whiskey. A few highlights of the Christmas specials:
Mirth: Close your eyes and imagine a cup of eggnog blended with a hint of chai. Amazingly, it’s not too sweet.
Pumpkin: Picture a freshly baked pumpkin pie cooling off on the kitchen counter. This little truffle smells remarkably like that! Who knew that pumpkin and chocolate would be the perfect complements?
Basque Square: My favourite truffle. Melts in my mouth like my friend Noreen’s scrumptious butter tarts.
3739 W. 10th Ave. (at Alma St.)
Tuesday to Saturday 11:00am – 7:00 pm
Sunday 1:00 pm- 5:00 pm
Any of their chocolates. If you visit this place, however, you cannot leave without sampling a cup of their hot chocolate. It’s like getting chocolate IV therapy. They have four flavours: white, milk, dark and dark chili. Absolutely amazing. Trust me on this.