Hot Chocolate at Cocoamoda, Calvert, Texas

IMG_3333

I haven’t had much luck so far with hot chocolates in Texas, and in particular Houston. They usually range from mediocre to some of the worst hot chocolates I have had ever, anywhere. That is….until now. Today I had a hot chocolate somewhere along the highway between Houston and Dallas which easily rates as one of my favourite hot chocolates of all times.Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 08.36.04

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 08.34.20

We were driving along the rode from Dallas to Houston on a Saturday afternoon. The TX-6 state highway doesn’t make for the most scenic drive in Texas, but somewhere right in the middle is the gorgeous town of Calvert. It is a bit of an oasis really, as all of a sudden you are on the main street of this town lined on either side with colourful heritage houses. Looking like it could easily feature as the set of an old Western movie, it is the local railway that brought prosperty to this town over a century ago.  And right on queue, a train passes by on a track just half a block away – it feels like we have stepped back in time.

Today many of the inhabitants were outside, sitting on rocking chairs along the main street, waving American flags. We wanted to stop for a stretch and a coffee so we thought we would check out what all the fuss was about. A local told us that a firefighter had been killed the night before and they were having a procession of fire trucks along the highway for him. Once the trucks passed, we made our way to a chocolate shop called Cocoamoda, in the hope that they’d have a hot chocolate.

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 08.33.39 IMG_3358 IMG_3351

It was completely random that we found this chocolate spot, on this particular highway, in this particular town, but what a find it was. The owner and head chef is originally from the UK and found this beautiful building (the old Bank), completely renovated it brick by brick, and opened up a unique little spot that is a mix between a chocolate shop and a restaurant. He creates all the chocolates himself from scratch using his secret recipes. We ordered a few including the crème caramel truffle. They are apparently famous for their Key Lime truffle which, as one of the incredibly friendly staff mentioned to us, has won many awards and been featured on TV. The staff were fantastic, and treated us like family. They explained every element of the truffles to us, almost with a sparkle in their eye.

I asked if they have a hot chocolate….of course they did. I told them I’d love one and then asked what it was made of. The woman sent me to the kitchen out back to speak with the chef himself who was busy preparing the 7 course dinner he was putting on in the restaurant later that evening.  The chef was absolutely full of energy and more than willing to chat…about anything and everything. He discussed a lot of things in the 10-15 minutes we were standing in the kitchen watching him prepare that evening’s meal. He explained the whole tasting menu, and was quite insistant that we stay, and was even ready to have the staff arrange for an extra table. He gave us his opinion on all sorts of things, and had us so amazed and interested that we didn’trealize that our hot chocolate had already been placed on the table in the restaurant.

IMG_3329  IMG_3334

Ah, the hot chocolate.  My hot chocolate was beautiful, just beautiful. It was presented in a pot, from which I could fill my cup(I love it when they do that).  In the pot was enough hot chocolate for 4 full cups, and I drank it all, every last drop. I had a beautiful white cup and saucer, and also a small pot of freshly whipped cream to enjoy with my drink. The pot and the saucer were all Wedgewood, and beautifully designed as well as totally unexpected. When the chef came out again, I asked him about the hot chocolate because he still hadn’t told me;  it was made from 66% cocoa from a Caribbean blend because, according to him, that was a lot better than having it all from one farm because that’s the only way to ensure consistent quality from year to year as the quality from a single source can vary so much year on year.

When I judge a hot chocolate, I look at a lot of things. The taste and presentation of course is a huge part. But a hot chocolate can be made or broken by its environment, the staff, the location, the ambience in the café. This spot had it all, which easily put this in my top picks.

IMG_3344  IMG_3328

IMG_3345

Verdict: Obviously highly recommended. He also has a 7 course dinner that changes weekly that happens just on the weekend. Apparently after all that delicious food, and of course some chocolate desserts, he brings everyone outside to the backyard to make smores. How perfect is that.  Cocoamoda, 518 Main Street, Calvert, Texas

Cocoamoda on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Hot Chocolate at Bear Moon Bakery and Cafe, Boerne TX, USA

Boerne is a German Hill Country Town in Texas.   It isn’t easy drinking hot chocolate when it is 35degrees Celsius outside, especially if you choose to drink your hot chocolate while sitting outside. But at the Bear Moon Bakery just looked so cute and since Boerne (pronounced Bernie) is a charming Hill Country Town, sitting outside was part of the experience.

It is a lazy Sunday and everyone is out enjoying coffees and brunch, many while reading newspapers or catching up with family members. The table next to us has two good looking labrador’s taking up pretty much the whole side walk.

The hot chocolate came in the most fantastic mug. It was huge, a proper ‘hug’ mug as I call it, perfect if it had been maybe 25 degrees cooler. Unfortunately the hot chocolate wasn’t good. It was made with water and there wasn’t enough powder so it tasted like slightly chocolately water. The chocolate powder used too was quite sweet so I only had a few sips and left my giant mug almost filled to the brim. What a shame. Other than that this spot looks like the place to stop if you happen to be passing by Boerne.

Verdict: There is a long line waiting to sit down for the breakfast buffet, which not surprisingly has won a whole series of local awards. Everything else there looked good and my friends commented that the coffee was quite nice. Don’t worry about the hot chocolate though. Bear Moon Bakery and Café, 401 S. Main St. Boerne, Texas, USA http://bearmoonbakery.com/bearmoon/Willkommen.html

Hot Chocolate at High’s, Comfort TX, USA

Comfort must be the cutest little town in Texas. Established by German settlers in 1854, the main street is said to be one of the best preserved in all of Texas. We were here exploring the region on a long weekend (which was also a friend’s birthday).  Meyer’s Bed and Breakfast in Comfort seemed like a good, central place to be based, but it turned out to be so much more than that. Not only was the bed and breakfast gorgeous and the region full of interesting things to see and do, high street Comfort is so charming.  Each morning after breakfast we would walk down main street to High Café and Store.

High Café used to be the local firestation but it has been a café for many years now. The right side of the building has a range of seats and tables as well as a very interesting store with local products, wines and art. On the left side of the building is the café where they prepare a whole range of drinks and interesting snacks and meals as well. Out front there are two nice sitting areas in the shade, one on the porch directly in front of the café, the other on the side in the grass under a set of trees. From here you see many of the other charming little buildings on main street. The local barber, another B&B, some antique stores and a series of very interesting looking restaurants. (one called Comfortable has fantastic pizza and cactus juice, highly recommended).

The hot chocolate was made of Ghirardelli chocolate and I quite enjoyed it. A great “I could drink this often” hot chocolate, such a pleasant surprise.

Verdict: Hill Country in Texas is gorgeous for so many reasons, and sitting on the terrace of High’s Café and Store having a hot chocolate and admiring historic Comfort’s main street is definitely one of them. High’s, 726 High Street Comfort Texas www.highscafeandstore.com

Hot Chocolate at Magnolia Cafe, Austin, USA

After a mountain bike race, all one wants to do is eat so we were looking for something fast, filling and cheap but still cute and charming. Magnolia Café was perfect. This little café is very cute, partially because the décor is as random as you can get. Our tablecloth is African inspired, there is a skeleton of a dinosaur hanging from the ceiling, red neon squiggles on the far wall. We arrived at 4pm on a Saturday and I think the staff where exhausted from a busy brunch service because our waitress didn’t seem too keen.

The hot chocolate came in the heaviest white ceramic mug I have ever seen. I loved the mug and the hot chocolate inside was pretty nice too. Very simple, a little sweet but not too much.

It was the appetizer to our massive post ride meal which included pasta, lentil soup, cornbread and a couple of Magnolia’s popular buttermilk pancakes. We ordered ours with blueberries and bananas. Austin seems to have a love affair with pancakes. Believe it or not we finished every ever last bite of that meal. It was all delicious.

Verdict: A very cute spot for hot chocolate and a couple of pancakes. Just across the street is the river and a very nice pathway where you can enjoy a little walk afterwards. Magnolia Cafe, 2304 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, Texas, USA.

 

 

Magnolia Cafe on Urbanspoon

Hot Chocolate at Jo’s, Austin, USA

I like Austin. It has a cool, relaxed and colourful vibe to it that makes me happy whenever I visit. It is also full of unexpected surprises in the form of cafes, diners and restaurants. Jo’s was my hot chocolate find of the day. We were looking for a place to get a quick bite and a friend recommended it. I hadn’t planned on having a hot chocolate with lunch and since Jo’s looked like it was all about the food I had no expectations.

The hot chocolate was presented to me in a huge white mug, I call these hug mugs because when you hold them they almost feel like a nice big warm bear hug (if that makes any sense…it does to me). The hot chocolate is no frills, just my nice big warm mug filled up to the brim. I loved it. Funnily enough it took me back to France. It was hot, chocolately but not too much. It had a bit of a hazelnutty taste to it (I think it was Ghirardelli syrup). It wasn’t too sweet, the kind of hot chocolate I could wake up to every morning, something I say all the time when I’m in France but this is the first time I’ve found a hot chocolate like this in the US!

I ordered a Cuban sandwich, which came quickly and really hit the spot. The atmosphere at Jo’s is cool and relaxed. They also have a gorgeous terrace on a very busy and hip street surrounded by wine bars and restaurants.

Verdict: My new usual in Austin. Great hot chocolate (and cheap at $2.30!) but make sure they give it to you in their hug mugs and not a paper cup (like all coffee shops seem to want to do in this country). The mug is part of what makes this a nice hot chocolate. The food was great too.  Jo’s Hot Coffee and Good Food, 1300 South Congress Austin, Texas

Jo's on Urbanspoon