Yuanshan (圓山) hike + chocolates

This past weekend, I met up with a few friends (including Jun Jun, who came back from the States for a visit). We decided to go for a hike up Yuanshan, because it was convenient to get to by MRT (less than a 10 minute walk from Jiantan stn), and it was a relatively easy hike. It was a nice day for a hike, not too hot and not too cold. We got lost a few times along the way, but there were nice people who stopped to help us out! Too bad it was foggy that day, so the view wasn’t as nice as it could’ve been. That’s okay though, because I plan to go back during the Chinese New Year holiday (which starts tomorrow!), and take mom and dad this time.

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After the 2 hour hike, we had lunch, then visited a chocolate store near Yuanshan Stn, called “Is Taiwan Is Chocolates”. The chocolates were so cute, but so expensive! They had exquisite chocolate pieces that were molded to look like cups, and there were apple chocolates and strawberry chocolates, with the price ranging from NTD30 to NTD88 (1CAD to 3CAD). Their coffee uses coffee beans from Taiwan. Hazelnut, who knows a lot about coffee and loves coffee like there’s no tomorrow, said that Taiwan coffee beans don’t produce good quality coffee, and described it as being bland. I ordered a dark chocolate mocha, and it tasted alright, but less flavourful than other mochas that I’ve had. Their chocolates were good (we tried the passion fruit and lavender), but with their price comparable to Godiva, I’d still go for Godiva.

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All in all, it was a fun day, and it was really nice to catch up with all my friends and hear their stories. Now I’m off to work for one last day before my 6-day break for the Chinese New Year holidays. It’ll be the first time that I’ll be spending CNY in Taiwan in 10 years!

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone~

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Cookies galore

My sister baked lots of cookies today: chocolate chip cookies, black tea cookies, and chocolate cookies with chocolate chips and almonds. That’s a lot of baking in one day! They’re so delicious and make the perfect study snacks. I started studying accounting recently (on my own, with my mom helping me from time to time), because I wanted to keep my brain active even though I’m not in school anymore. It hasn’t been easy though because the content is dry, and I’ve sort of fallen into a state of laziness and relaxation… I’m going to keep trying though.

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Bread Pudding

As I mentioned in my Fleuri post, I attempted to make the chocolate croissant bread pudding after having it at the chocolate buffet in Sutton Place Hotel.

The recipe I used came from allrecipes.com: Bread Pudding Recipe.

I tweaked the recipe up a bit so that it would fit into one loaf pan. I basically halved the recipe, but added extra milk and egg into the pudding mixture. I didn’t add any raisins nor cinnamon. I also sprinkled in some semi-sweet chocolate chips into the bread, then topped it all off with a croissant (broke it into pieces) and more chocolate chips. I personally don’t like it when bread pudding is too sweet, so I added a bit less sugar.

The product:

Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding

Yum! :) Success!

The result was a bread pudding that smelled like buttery croissants, swirled with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips, and tasted moist and eggy. Mmm~

Capstone Fondue

There aren’t that many places that offer fondue here in Vancouver. The first fondue place that I have ever tried was Capstone Fondue on Robson Street. I had their cheese fondue and overall, my experience was just average. Nothing special, and too expensive for what you get. This was a couple of years back, and a while ago I noticed that there was a Groupon for 50% off of fondue at Capstone, so I decided to give them another try.

I really like how they have an online reservation system on their website, especially because they don’t pick up phone calls so there would be no way to reserve by phone anyway.

Exterior of Capstone Fondue

Interior of Capstone Fondue

MilkTea, Mochi, JL, and I arrived at around 4pm, and it was already quite busy inside. The colour scheme inside was white and green. It was well-lit and it looked very pretty. They used to have bubble tea, but now they offer teas such as herbal teas and tea lattes (probably trying to change their image from a bubble tea place to a classy tea place).

We were promptly seated but we had trouble flagging down someone who could take our orders for us. After finally making our orders, we waited for quite some time before our orders came. We ordered a decadent cheesecake fondue for two and an ice-cream truffle fondue for two.

Individual pots of melted chocolate with a candle below

I liked these individual sized pots for the chocolate fondue. They didn’t have these the last time I was at Capstone.

Decadent Cheesecake Fondue for Two – $24.95
3/5

This is the cheesecake fondue. It came with cheesecake cubes, ice-cream balls (green tea, mango, strawberry, cookies&cream), lemon cake, banana bread, green tea(?) shortbread, and 4 toppings. The server didn’t even ask us what toppings we would like to choose.

I thought that the ice-cream “truffle centres” were the best, but they had to be eaten quickly because the melted chocolate did not stick well to melting ice cream. My teeth hurt a bit when I bit into the ice cream truffle, but I soon got used to it and it was tasty nonetheless. :)

Ice-cream truffle
5/5

The cheesecake cubes tasted alright, but after being at room temperature for a while, it started to melt and would crumble when we tried to pierce them with the little fondue forks. The lemon cake was too dry, green tea shortbread was too hard to pierce with the forks so we had to use our hands, and the banana cake was probably the next best thing after the ice-cream balls.

Next up, the ice-cream truffle fondue for two:

Ice-Cream Truffle Fondue for Two – $22.95
3/5

This one came with 16 ice-cream balls, shortbread, lemon cake, and banana cake. The only difference between this fondue set and the cheesecake one was that the cheesecake fondue set had cheesecake cubes and this one didn’t. Again, the server did not ask us what toppings we would like to have.

All in all, we were stuffed by the time we finished. The portions were good, and the individual pots were cute, but definitely not worth paying the original price for.

The Good:

– Ice-cream balls
– Individual pots
– Pretty store

The Bad:

– Pricey
– Bad service
Capstone Tea & Fondue on Urbanspoon

Leonidas Coupon

There is another coupon for Leonidas Chocolates!
To see my previous post: Leonidas Chocolates

For $12, you can get 2 waffles, 2 hot chocolates, 2 chocolate-covered strawberries, and 2 Belgian chocolates! :)

The coupon is redeemable starting on March 28, 2012 and expires on September 28, 2012.

Click here to buy yours today: Leonidas Coupon
(coupon deal ends on March 28, 2012)

Leonidas Belgian Chocolates
#29-1055 Canada Place, Vancouver BC

Leonidas

One thing that I do when I am bored is to browse for some good food deals on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial. When Milk Tea told me about a deal for this new Belgian chocolates dessert place near Waterfront station, I was eager to try it out!

Leonidas, situated right beside the Vancouver Convention Centre with a great view of the water, is a small shop that specializes in Belgian chocolates. Leonidas chocolates have been around since 1913, and there are stores all around the world (from Paris to Hong Kong).

When Mochi and I entered the little dessert shop, the first thing we noticed was the large selection of chocolates on display. The store itself was not too big, with only five tables inside (outdoor seating will probably be available when the weather is a bit warmer). They also had a variety of other desserts such as macarons, gelato, and boxed chocolates.

Chocolate boxes

Cakes

Macarons

An assortment of Belgian chocolates on display

More Belgian chocolates - Chocolate cups

With the SocialShopper coupon, we were entitled to two cups of hot chocolate, two chocolate-covered strawberries, two liege waffles, and six Belgian chocolates. Mochi and I decided to have the six chocolates to-go. As for hot chocolate, we had the choice of either white, milk, or dark chocolate hot chocolate. I opted for the dark since I like my chocolates to be less sweet and more bitter, and Mochi chose the milk.

Hot chocolate - dark 4/5

Hot chocolate - milk 3/5

The hot chocolates were served in cups that had an insulating layer so that our hands were not burned. It was a cold and windy day. I warmed my freezing cold hands on the warm cup and took sips of my favourite hot drink. I liked my dark hot chocolate a lot; it tasted very chocolatey, and yet was not too sweet. The milk hot chocolate had a distinct milky flavour, and was sweeter than the dark, but tasted very good as well. According to a friend, the white hot chocolate is very sweet so unless you like your drinks super sweet, the milk or dark would probably be the better options.

While drinking the hot beverages and listening to calm music, the waffles and strawberries arrived:

Liege waffles 4/5 and chocolate-covered strawberries 3/5

The waffles had been warmed in an oven, and sprinkled with some icing sugar. Beside the waffles were two strawberries that had been dipped in milk chocolate, then drizzled with white chocolate. Sweetened whipped cream garnished one corner of the plate, and the plating was complete with drops of caramel and chocolate sauce that had been drawn into the shape of Leonidas’s signature L.

The liege waffle tasted soft and warm, and had bits of sugar in the corners. It was my first time having a Belgian waffle, and in my opinion it tasted really good, especially with some whipped cream. Mochi enjoyed his waffle too.

The strawberries were good, but my favourite chocolate-covered strawberries are still the ones from Wicked Spoon (Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas).

Before leaving, Mochi and I selected six different chocolates. It was hard to make a choice since there were so many different kinds. In the end we chose a dark chocolate ganache, dark hazelnut ganache, “I Love You” lemon cream filled chocolate, tiramisu cup, dark chocolate truffle, and a white chocolate marzipan cup. Their chocolates are smooth and at original price, cost a lot less than Godiva, yet is still good quality chocolates. It is made with 100% cocoa butter and pure chocolate.

For the quality that you get for the reasonable price, I would pay Leonidas another visit the next time I pass by Vancouver Convention Centre.
Leonidas on Urbanspoon

Fleuri

On Valentine’s Day, Mochi took me out for dinner at a nice restaurant in Sutton Place Hotel. It was on Valentine’s Day, so there was a set menu everyone had to get. It was a three-course dinner with a chocolate buffet at the end.

Fleuri's Valentine Menu

Fleuri is quite a big restaurant; there were quite a bit of people, but it was not crowded and there were empty tables, which meant hardly any line-up at the chocolate buffet!

To start, we were served complimentary bread and butter.

Complimentary bread with butter

The bread wasn’t warm, but they were soft and there were three different types: two different white breads, and a whole grain one with walnuts inside. I had the walnut one and it was delicious!

The first dish was an Albacore Tuna Crudo.

Albacore Tuna Crudo with orange, squid ink, cod roe, and crispy salami

Mochi really enjoyed the squid ink, as did I. I think the presentation of this dish is really beautiful and artistically plated. It tasted great too! The crispy salami and single piece of what I presume to be deep-fried noodle(?) really added flavour and balanced out the taste of the tuna and squid. The orange pieces added some sweetness to this dish. This unique dish was a great appetizer and all the flavours blended well together.

The next dish was the butter poached lobster:

Butter poached lobster with carrot pudding, carbonnara, fennel, and micro greens

The lobster was succulent and fresh, and the plating of this dish was again, elegant and beautiful. At first I thought the orange pudding was pumpkin, but it was actually carrot~ The greens served with all of their dishes also tasted very fresh and delicious.

For the main, I could pick between either the beef tenderloin or the sablefish and shellfish pot au feu. I picked the tenderloin, so Mochi picked the sablefish.

Beef tenderloin with forest mushroom ragout, horseradish foam, and aged cheddar croquette

Sablefish and shellfish pot au feu with creamy curry emulsion and consomme, clams, mussels, sweet peas, and curry squash

I asked for the beef tenderloin to be cooked medium, and it was cooked perfectly. It was tender and still pink inside. It was pretty filling though, and I had to give Mochi a lot of mine.

The sablefish that Mochi got was very delicious. A broth was poured over it after it was served on the table, and if you enjoy seafood, this is definitely a good dish to try! There was a generous amount of mussels and clams, and the sablefish flaked nicely and it tasted scrumptious with the soup. The only thing I did not like about this dish was the bitter plant that they put in this dish; I’m not exactly sure what plant it was, but it looked like a skinny carrot, but it was a lot paler in colour. It was some kind of root.

For dessert, we tried Fleuri’s chocolate buffet. Fleuri’s chocolate buffet is rated as being the #1 chocolate buffet in the world, and I can see why! I didn’t get to try every single thing, but from what I had, I enjoyed all of them. My favourite though has to be the freshly-made crepes.

Freshly made crepes

Crepe toppings such as whipped cream and Grand Marnier pastry cream

My crepe with a scoop of vanilla gelato

They offer other gelato flavours (such as chocolate, strawberry, and caramel) as well as sorbets to top off your crepe. The crepes here are one of the best I have had. They taste a bit chewy, and makes me wonder if they added mochiko flour into it? It reminds me a bit of the crepes that they serve at the Japanese konbinya on Robson st.

Here are some of their other desserts:

Chocolate mousse cup

Triple chocolate croissant bread pudding

This bread pudding was so good that I attempted to make it a few days after (and succeeded). Yum~ I’ll post up the recipe if I ever get around to it.

Almond macaroons

These macaroons are so cute; they are heart-shaped (for Valentine’s Day)! They tasted quite chewy, and the shell was a bit crunchy. Macaroons were not my favourite dessert (until I tried Soirette’s). At least the ones at Fleuri were not as sweet as the ones served in the Wicked Spoon buffet in Las Vegas.

Chocolate fondue with fruits

There were many different fruits, such as cantaloupe, honeydew melon, strawberries, grapes, and pineapple.

Additional toppings for the fondue

These are additional toppings that you can coat your fruits with after they have taken a bath in the chocolate pool. The dark chocolate shavings were great, and so were the toasted almond slices.

Cream puffs

I thought these cream puffs would be filled with pastry cream or whipped cream, but nope! Since this was a chocolate buffet, they were filled with chocolate mousse~

Opera slice

Here are some other desserts that I did not try:

White chocolate cheesecake

Milk Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

Pecan brownies

Silk Pie

Chocolate truffle cake

By the end of the night, I have eaten enough chocolate to satisfy me for an entire month! It was a delicious dinner nonetheless. Fleuri was also very thoughtful and gave each lady a beautiful long stem red rose at the end of the evening.

<3

Next time I will go back just for their chocolate buffet.

Thanks for the lovely dinner, Mochi! I had a great time. :)

Fleuri on Urbanspoon