Hot Chocolate from Delysia, Austin, USA

IMG_2424You may remember about a year ago I did a review of a new spot that opened up in Austin Texas called the Hillside Pharmacy. The place was beautiful, but the hot chocolate left a lot to be desired! At the time I was told that they used Delysia Hot Chocolate but I suspected that something wasn’t quite right. The wonderful folks at Delysia read my blog and subsequently sent me a container full of their Lavender Hot Chocolate so I could judge for myself, and that is exactly what I did today.

Delysia is a chocolate company based in Austin Texas. They make truffles, and pretty much everything you can imagine made out of chocolate including of course hot chocolate. The owner, Nicole Patel is an engineer turned chocolatier which gives me hope that perhaps one day my engineer husband might too see the light and start a hot chocolate company. Obviously this is a good career move!

So Delysia makes two kinds of hot chocolate, lavender and cayenne (they even make their own vanilla or champagne marshmallows but unfortunately I didn’t have any on hand….the pictures of them on the website look incredible). I made myself a cup of the lavender, the first time I have ever had a lavender hot chocolate. What a great combination!

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The recipe calls for 3-4 teaspoons of the powder mixed into a mug of hot milk. I added an extra teaspoon because my mug is pretty big. This makes a nice light hot chocolate but if you want it a bit richer I found adding 1-2 more teaspoons makes it even more luxurious. The lavender is nice and subtle. At first it is quite intriguing, you can smell it a little and it smells exactly like the beautiful lavender plant I have growing on my balcony.  The lavender taste is subtle, which is good, and makes this very easy to drink. Between the smell of lavender and the taste of milk chocolate I find it very calming. This little container should get me through the first month of 2013 easily!

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Verdict: Who would have thought that lavender and chocolate would go together….but they do…and really well! Even my ginger cat Colby was intrigued by the smell. Definitely worth a try, either at home (you can buy their products online) or in one of the growing number of coffee shops across Austin (and I suspect further away too) that will prepare it for you. www.delysia.com

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Hot Chocolate at Hillside Pharmacy, Austin, USA

I had the pleasure of visiting Hillside Farmacy in Austin recently. I was really looking forward to visiting this place after reading different reviews online. It is newly opened (March 2012) but what is so fantastic about it is its décor. Hillside Farmacy is so called because it is housed in an old, perfectly intact pharmacy which used to be Austin’s first and only African-American run pharmacy for decades. The owners have kept the pharmacy cabinets and even an old soda fountain that was used many years ago (apparently one of the women who works here used to work the fountain back in the days when this was a real farmacy!).

Today it is a very cute café/restaurant/grocery store that sells not only a range of interesting meals but also cheese, breads, jams, hams and other tasty bits and pieces. We get a table inside and I quickly scan the menu for hot chocolates. I had high expectations. Everything is gorgeous about this place (they even have beautiful old blue medicine bottles as salt and pepper shakers!) so the hot chocolate just had to be good. It better be too because their ‘Coco Chaud’ as they called it in the menu was priced at 6$!

Five minutes later I am presented with a rather small white cup with a couple of wilted mint leaves draped over the side of the mug. I remember hearing in one of those reality cooking shows the chef judge saying “If it isn’t part of the dish, don’t put it on the plate”. Is the mint supposed to go in the cup? It looks nice but is so sad and wilted that I push it over to the side and quickly take my first smell.

The hot chocolate smells of nothing really and even worse tastes of nothing! My heart breaks. At 6$ with this décor I was expecting something fabulously chocolately and rich but instead I was given a small shot of frothy milk with just the faintest taste of chocolate. My disappointment was so great that I spent the next 30 minutes in the car with my husband trying to figure out how they could charge 6$ for frothy milk. Perhaps they milk the cows themselves? Perhaps the cows are massaged before they are milked? Perhaps the chocolate is so rare and special that only a tiny amount can be used (hence such a small cup).

We asked and the chocolate is from an Austin based company called Delysia. They also sell bags of it here too if you want to try it for yourself. I visited Delysia’s website and the descriptions and the pictures don’t look anything like what I got. On their site it looks dark and rich, this looks like some good quality hot chocolate (they also sell a Lavender hot chocolate which has completely intrigued me and that I am going to go looking for next time I am in Austin which is luckily in a few weeks time).

Verdict: Hillside Pharmacy is incredibly stunning coffee shop. The staff are outstanding, the food looks great, the prices reasonable. But something strange happened with their hot chocolate, not only is it priced so much higher than all their other drinks, it isn’t actually hot chocolate, at least not the one I got today. Hillside Farmacy, 1209 East 11th st, Austin, Texas.

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