Hot Chocolate at Stubbe (part 2), Ottawa, Canada

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Last week we paid a visit to Stubbe Chocolates in the Byward Market in Ottawa, where I reviewed their standard hot chocolate that they offer. At the time I was told that they had another hot chocolate and I promised them that I would be back to try it.

We went back today, and I’m so glad we did.

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Heinrich often travels to Columbia, the birthplace of his life partner Pilar and also the source of a lot of their beautiful chocolate. On their regular trips they work on plantations harvesting cocoa pods, fermenting beans extracted from the pods, drying and roasting them. They also contribute to chocolate apprenticeship programs run by the Columbian government.

On one of their trips they came back with a magical substance called “nectar de cacao” or the nectar of chocolate which is the bean that is pressed so much that the cocoa butter is extracted. Cane sugar, cinnamon, cloves and powdered vanilla are mixed in at a low speed and this creates the base for the other hot chocolate that they offer, and the one I was so eager to try.

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I loved this hot chocolate, especially the presentation. It was served in a colourful Mexican expresso cup with a dash of cream on the top. Next to this was another colourful little plate with a little cookie dipped in chocolate. All of this was served on a small silver tray and presented to us at our table.  We had three choices of flavours, regular, cinnamon & clove and chili. I ordered the cinnamon & clove. I have had many hot chocolates with cinnamon but never clove, and the combination of the two together is so much more interesting than any one of the two alone. The cinnamon gave it a that beautiful aroma and the cloves a nice but subtle little kick.

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Verdict: Not only do they have beautiful chocolates, all hand made in store, but they have two very different and very nice hot chocolates. To top that all off, everyone there is so friendly. If you have ever had any questions about chocolates, or are in Ottawa and want a beautiful hot chocolate, this is the place to come and ask. Stubbe Chocolates, 375 Dalhousie Street, Ottawa, Canada

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Hot Chocolate at Stubbe (part 1), Ottawa, Canada

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I was so excited to go to Stubbe. It doesn’t look like much at all from outside but I had heard so many good things about their chocolates. I walked by the front window last week and saw that they had some tables and chairs. Tables and chairs in a chocolate shop pretty much always means there is a hot chocolate for me to taste.

Stubbe Chocolates

They have no menu at Stubbe, just a lot of incredible looking chocolates. I asked a very friendly woman who came out from the back, that magical place where they seem to be actually making the chocolates, “Do you have a hot chocolate?”  Yes she answered.  Would you like a normal one, or one with a bit of chili, available with or without whipped cream? We ordered one the normal one, and one with chili, both with cream on top. She nodded, and walked to the back to make the drinks while we took a seat at one of the tables near the window.

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While today the Stubbe store is situated near the Byward Market in Ottawa, there is quite a history behind the store.  It was all started by Petrus Stubbe, who started making chocolate in 1845 in Germany. Almost 150 years later, his great great grandson Heinrich Stubbe opened a new chapter in the history of the chocolate family business, by moving to Ottawa Canada.

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With this rich history, I had high expectations for this hot chocolate, very high, maybe too high. I was expecting some gorgeous, rich, slightly bitter, chocolately delight. What we got was more a large mug with hot milk and a hint of chocolate. Once I shifted my thinking from rich chocolately delight to beautiful every day drink though, I really liked this one. Mine had a very nice hint of chili, the nicest hint of chili I have had in a hot chocolate.

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We picked out a few of their beautiful hand made truffles and went to pay. As we were leaving I ask her “Do you made any thicker hot chocolates” Yes of course they do, and in three flavours. Ahhhhh why didn’t you tell me this earlier!! Hence this is part 1, and for part 2 of Stubbe you will have to wait until next week.

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Verdict: Their normal hot chocolate is very nice and their truffles (I had the champagne truffle) are very very nice. Stubbe Chocolates, 375 Dalhousie St., Ottawa, Canada

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Hot Chocolate at Cafe 55, Ottawa, Canada

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The Byward Market in Ottawa is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets. It is filled with museums, specialty shops, pubs, restaurants, galleries and of course the market stalls themselves.

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The Byward Market Building which is at the heart of the market was first built in 1848 but renovated and reopened several times over the years, most recently in 1997 when it was transformed from a market building into a center for food merchants, specialty boutiques and artisans.  Here you can get all sorts of yummy things including, but not limited to bagels, tacos, some fantastic Indian food, fish and chips, as well as icecream. But if you are looking for a hot chocolate visit the terrace at Café 55.

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Café 55 sits right at the front entrance of the Byward Market Building. It has a large seating area inside and during the summer months a covered terrace outside. From the terrace you see all the hustle and bustle of the market, stalls selling hats, maple syrup and flowers. The Café has a large display case with a good looking range of treats in particular salads and some fantastic looking Panini. We skipped all that today and went straight to the hot chocolate. It was presented in a little white mug with a bit of sweet whipped cream and a drizzle of equally sweet chocolate sauce. Although a bit sweet for my taste I can see how this would be a popular choice for any sweet tooth especially during the winter months.

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Verdict: Café 55 has a prime spot right in the heart of the Byward Market. I will need to try the Panini next time. They looked absolutely fantastic. Café 55, Byward Market building, Ottawa, Canada.

Hot Chocolate at The Cupcake Lounge, Ottawa, Canada

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There are a lot of cupcake shops dotted across North America, but I doubt many of them are as good as The Cupcake Lounge in Ottawa.

Owner Claudia Arizmendi, born in Mexico, started baking cupcakes more than 10 years ago and my gosh she bakes a beautiful cupcake. The Cupcake Lounge serves 50 different flavours of cupcakes including all the classic cupcakes, like chocolate chocolate, red velvet and vanilla. On the side wall a giant blackboard outlines which cupcakes they offer on which days, with interesting flavours such as carrot cake, apple dulce de leche, lemon coconut and maple.

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Here our favourites are the chocolate chocolate and a special cinnamon bun cupcake that has apples in it and is so delicious. They use no preservatives, no artificial colours or transfats. All the cupcakes are made right there in the shop in an open kitchen visible from the counter where you can watch them taking cupcakes out of the oven, carefully scooping icing onto each cooled cake and spreading it out evenly. The cupcakes taste fantastic, aren’t too sweet and have just the perfect ratio of icing to cake.

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I also noticed that they had a hot chocolate on their board of offerings, so naturally I asked them if it was any good. “Everything we make is good! The Hot chocolate is real dark cocoa powder”. I ordered one, and they were right – it was good. They use Zuma’s 100% Fairtrade Dark Chocolate, 33% dark roast cocoa beans from Santo Domingo with fair trade sugar from Paraguay. It was served in a paper cup, which I forgave, not just because I enjoyed it, but also because this isn’t a café. There are a few tables inside for those who can’t wait to eat their cupcake and a small table outside where we sat ourselves down, enjoyed our treats and watched the locals go by.

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Verdict: You would think that the combination of a hot chocolate and a cupcake would be equal to a week’s worth of sugar. At The Cupcake Lounge it doesn’t feel that way. I recommend both…at the same time… and often. The Cupcake Lounge, 6 Byward Market Square, Ottawa, Canada

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Hot Chocolate at Planet Coffee, Ottawa, Canada

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The Byward Market in Ottawa is one of my favorite markets in the world…in the summer at least. There are dozens of market stalls overflowing with beautiful local produce. The peaches are out of this world, the berries are impossible to pass by and the apples smell crisp, if that is even possible. And then there is the maple syrup of course.  But it isn’t just about the fresh produce; the market is all about restaurants and interesting stores, shopping, and lots and lots of people, locals and tourists alike.

Planet Coffee

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Of course no market is complete without little coffee shops with terraces and the coffee shop with the nicest little terrace in the Byward market is probably Planet Coffee. Tucked away from the bustle of the market on a pedestrian courtyard, this little coffee shop seems to have a dedicated group of regulars who come early, many by bike, set themselves up on their favorite table, take out the weekend edition of the paper and read it while enjoying a hot drink and a sweet pastry of some sort.

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We did the same (minus the Saturday paper). The hot chocolates came in small, well loved white mugs, topped with a little bit of whipped cream. As the name would suggest, this place is focused on coffee, but the hot chocolate was also ok. It was an easy one to drink, especially to warm up once winter arrives (Ottawa gets very cold).

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Verdict: A hot chocolate I would have again just so I can sit on Planet Coffee’s terrace. Inside is spacious with some interesting bits of art spread out across the walls.

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Hot Chocolate at Simply Biscotti, Ottawa, Canada

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Preston Street in Ottawa is all about Italy. Also known as Corso Italia, this is the main street that goes straight through Little Italy and is home not only to many Italians, but to almost all other things Italian. There are pizzerias, reception halls, baby clothes stores, all inspired by and often made in Italy. But the best thing by far about Preston Street are the dozens of little coffee/pastry shops that line both sides of the road.

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Today we tried out a new one called Simply Biscotti. Simply Biscotti is a very cute, very tiny old house. On the main floor there are a handful of tables and chairs packed into a very small area (there are also more up on the first floor). The whole time we were there, a line up could be seen that started at the front door and went all the way to the back where the ordering counter is. The majority of the people waiting were crowded around a large display area packed absolutely full of delicious looking pastries. On the back wall they have an impressive display of what gave this place its name. There must be at least 10-15 different kinds of biscotti, all in different baskets and in a variety of different flavours including chocolate, coffee and almond to name but a few.

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For some reason, even though I was drooling over the biscotti, I ended up ordering a cinnamon bun (it was speaking to me….). I took my cinnamon bun and a small hot chocolate (of course) and went outside to their large terrace. Today was a beautiful summer day, but just cool enough to be able to enjoy my hot chocolate. And enjoy it I did, quite a bit. Other than being a little bit cooler than I would have liked it was very nice, smooth, with just the right amount of chocolate (I’m guessing it was Ghirardelli chocolate..). A very good everyday hot chocolate and a very enjoyable spot to have it in.

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Simply Biscotti has a couple of things it seems to be known for, other than biscotti of course. They make a pretty good looking homemade icecream sandwhich and also make Nutella Frappes (with or without a shot of espresso).

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Verdict: I like it! Next time I need to get my hot chocolate with a biscotti. Unfortunately Simply Biscotti has not yet gone national or international, but there is a second location in Westboro. Thanks Rosa! Simply Biscotti, 354 Preston Street, Ottawa, Canada

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Hot Chocolate Truffle Treasures, Ottawa Canada

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There were several spots I wanted to try while visiting Ottawa but as always happens during Christmas holidays, things got busy. We only had time to visit one and luckily we choose the right one.

Truffle Treasure must be the ultimate hot chocolate in Ottawa. This little chocolate shop in the Glebe carries not one but literally countless combinations of hot chocolates. The board tells it all. First you choose your flavour, anything from peanut butter, mocha, caramel, Belgian, peppermint, Aztec, ginger & orange, pumpkin spice, banana and hazelnut. Second you choose your type of chocolate; milk chocolate, 55% dark, 72% dark or white chocolate. Last but not least you can choose your milk; regular, almond or soy milk.

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We made our choice, and went and sat near the window. I was joined by Rich and my dad, a converted hot chocolate fan. The store is very cute, obviously covered in Truffles and other delicious looking chocolate products. The walls are painted a variety of bright colours, dark blue on the ceilings, orange and red on the walls. There is a large map on the wall behind the cash covered in little dots, perhaps showing where all of their customers are coming from. It was cold and snowy outside but a fireplace on the back wall warmed us up. Granted it isn’t a real fireplace, it’s a flatscreen TV set on the fireplace channel which shows a burning fire 24 hours a day (how cool is that). Real or not, it does the trick.

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The store also has a range of colourful glass products which hang form the windows, walls and above the cash. They are obviously supporting a local artist as each of these products has a little price tag hanging from it. It adds a very warm and artistic touch to the seating area. The final touch, a box of dog biscuits outside the front door. Even with all the snow, every dog being walked stops at the box of cookies which gives their owners a chance to see all the chocolate inside. Smart move!

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Our hot chocolates arrived in large colourful mugs, absolutely perfect for hot chocolate if you ask me. I had ordered an Aztec with 72% dark chocolate. Rich and my dad ordered the Belgium with 72% dark chocolate. I tasted both and am not sure which I loved more. Mine had a beautiful rich chocolate flavour with little kicks of cinnamon, chilli, cloves and cardamom. Theirs had a delicious dark and slightly bitter kick to it. We were given big mugs filled to the brim but we had no problem finishing every last drop.  I loved every second of my hot chocolate. It was the perfect temperature, the perfect thickness, not too sweet, not too bitter. This mug warmed my hands and made my day.

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Verdict: Ottawa has done me proud. This is definitely on my lists of best hot chocolates around the world so far. I will be back soon, maybe to try all the other flavours…or maybe I’ll stick to my favourite. Truffle Treasures,  769 Bank Street, Ottawa Canada

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Hot Chocolate at Beaver Tails, Ottawa Canada

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Countries around the world are proud of their national dishes; curries in India, ceviche in Peru, Nasi Goreng in Indonesia. When asked what Canada’s national dish is you could say Poutine, Canadian bacon, pancakes with REAL Canadian maple syrup. But if you live in Ottawa the answer is simple, Beaver Tails.
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I love the look on people’s faces when I mention Beaver Tails. Despite what the name suggests, no Beavers were harmed in the making of a good beaver tail. Beaver Tails are whole wheat pastries stretched out by hand to resemble the tail of the beaver and then cooked in oil and served fresh and hot with a choice of toppings. The best topping in my opinion is the Killaloe sunrise, which simply has cinnamon, sugar and a little squeeze of lemon added. There is always a long line of tourists and locals looking for their Beaver Tail fix. The little wooden cabin in the beautiful Byward market in downtown Ottawa serves them year round but if you visit in the winter you should make your way down to the Rideau Canal, the longest skating rink in the world. Along the 7.8km of the Rideau Canal Skateway are a handful of small beaver tail cabins and these pastries are the perfect fuel to help you get through your skate.

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We ordered our Beaver Tails and a hot chocolate because this has always been the tradition. The hot chocolate was simple but good, not sweet like you’d expect but more of a subtle malty chocolate flavour that is a good accompaniment to the Beaver Tails, especially when it’s below freezing outside. The Beaver Tail of course is one of my favourite things in the world…maybe even better than the ultimate hot chocolate!

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Verdict: My official vote for national dish is the Beaver Tail accompanied by a hot chocolate. When it is cold outside (which it often is in Ottawa), this is a perfect combination. Beaver Tails Pastry, Byward Market, Ottawa

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