Chocolate is one of my favourite things in the world. It has a history of over 2000 years. The first people who discovered the secret of cacao (Kah-Koo) were the Maya and the Aztecs. They consumed it as a bitter drink with spice, much different from the now conventional 'hot chocolate', and was considered a luxurious beverage for royalty. Chocolate also played a role in the event of religious ceremonies. It was presented as an offering to the Gods in these cultures.
A good place for Aztec style hot chocolate in Vancouver is Chocoatl, located at 1127 Mainland St. in Yaletown. The hot chili pepper flavour in hot chocolate is very unique.
More information about the history and making of chocolate can be found here.
The video is very interesting and now I'm craving for chocolates!
Fine & Raw, a Brooklyn based chocolaterie, produces raw chocolates without sugar, dairy products and any other additives. It uses natural ingredients to produce the most natural form of this luxurious good. Cacao has high nutritious values. It is one of top food sources for antioxidants and magnesium.
Please don't think that all chocolates are nutritious. It is a common misconception. Firstly, dark chocolate is more nutritious than milk chocolate or white chocolate. Secondly, the ubiquitous chocolate treats that kids eat today (chocolate bars) contains large amount of sugar and additives.
The ingredients used in Fine & Raw products:
The Blue Agave Nectar: This natural nectar is extracted from the Mexican high desert cacti. It is sweeter than sugar, but lower in calories.
Coconut oil: virgin and cold pressed.
Himalayan Sea Salt: The purest form of sodium found deep within the Himalayan Mountains. It contains abundant minerals and is convinced by natural health practitioners that it can improve people's health.
I went to bed pretty late last night; however, I got up fairly early and decided to go for a walk. I started walking down 10th and was amused by how cute some of the houses were. It wasn't a good day for taking photos. It was a dark, gloomy day (at least in the morning). I still enjoyed myself though.
Bottom Right photo: This house looked quite out of place. All the other houses were cottage-like little houses and this one was more modern looking than most. At the top window, a mannequin can be seen. Every time I walk or bus by, the mannequin is always dressed in a different garment. I wonder what the owner of this house does for a living? A designer? Perhaps.
According to Ryan, I never shut up about this bakery. The thing is, it is so peculiar and inviting. It's extraordinary. It stands out from its surroundings. I have yet to try the bread there. My intention was to get the artisan peasant bread from there today, but it was closed today. It seems like most unique patisseries and boulangeries are closed on Mondays. One of my favourite places, Patisserie Bordeaux, was closed today as well. I was craving for an almond croissant...
I've gone to Transivania Bakery numerous times to try to get the famous, rustic peasant bread, but I was always 10 steps too late. They sell out very quickly. When I eventually get a loaf, I will write another blog.
Folkart Interiors is a Canadian antique store located on 10th just before Alma. Like the bakery, the shop has character. Many stores weren't open yet when I was taking my walk so I could only peek in. It looked like a very fascinating store. It reminds me of a lifestyle in the country. It's soothing and relaxing.
PS The weather seems to be getting better and better. Maybe summer is finally coming..
On April 1st, 2009 at 7am, the Steel Bridge Team of University of British Columbia commenced its ~1163km journey down to Helena, Montana.
We rented two vans and 1 car for 14 people in total. I was in the van with Justin, Jared, Kurtis and well, a lot of steel. The road trip was amazingly long but I slept through most of it listening to Justin's er.. heavy metal lullaby. We crossed the border by White Rock and drove eastward across Washington, Idaho, and parts of Montana.
The eastern part of Washington was quite beautiful. We passed by beautiful hills and fields, a huge windmill farm, an enormous reservoir with the dam barely visible in the distance, a picturesque castle and many more that I slept through. Idaho was quite flat and desert-like. I dozed off constantly during the ride, and every time I wake up, I see a different scene - snow, rain, sunny, snow, desert, a lot of snow, rain, a lot of rain, sun, snow, etc...
We stopped by Perkin's for lunch and along with my Granny's omelette, I had a cranberry cream muffin. It was the best muffin I have had in a long time so I thought that was worth mentioning.
There were a lot of snacking along the way, but I suppose that's normal for road trips.
When we finally arrived in Montana, it was late and everybody was exhausted, except for the ones who went to the gas station that same night and got alcohol. Cheap. I was 25 days until legal drinking age.
It really didn't take all that long to explore around the capital of Montana. I didn't see most of it though because well, I had company. Melody and I had crepes for breakfast. It was absolutely to die for. I hadn't had crepes since last year and this creperie made my stay in Helena so much better.
I had delicious crepes in France but hadn't had any since then that really made me go crazy. I am completely obsessed with them now and am currently finding the most authentic French creperie in Vancouver.
Today was practice day. We went to Carroll College where the Steel Bridge Competition took place. It was interesting to see how the competition was set up and the bridges built by other universities in the Northwestern Region. There were some extremely creative ones and some that made you go "huh"?
Our construction team consisted of 3 members - Justin, Kim, and Kurtis. We helped to set up all the members and watched them practice. We had high hopes for nationals. We had really high hopes. We watched the other teams practise and timed them. We were feeling very optimistic!
First things first: Breakfast at the creperie.
Other then the fact that Justin accidently dropped 3 bolts, we had a very decent construction time. We were happy... until the harsh judges looked and measured carefully at the bridge dimensions. Uh oh, disqualification.
The weld was sticking out of the required length of the bridge.
The width was too large!
14 teams competed in Montana, 8 teams got disqualified! That's horrifying! Over 50% of the participating universities competing in Montana got disqualified!
It was a sad day for everybody. We drowned our sorrows and disappointments with alcohol that night.
Time to go home.
Of course, we all had crepes for breakfast! I also picked up a "bearclaw" from a bakery nearby for the road. It was like a apple strudel in a bearclaw shape pastry. It was delicious.
The road trip home was long. There was a traffic jam on the highway somewhere in Washington where an avalanche had occurred a couple of days earlier. We were stuck there for quite awhile.
We got back to campus super late. As I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep, I had to listen to a Korean couple fight outside of my building. They were yelling so loudly and it was nearly 2am! I lied there thinking that even though we didn't do so well in the competition, I had a really good time. It was a fun trip and I'm definitely going on the trip next year!