Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hot Chocolate Festival at Leonidas Cafe

Leonidas on Urbanspoon Hot Chocolate Festival at Leonidas (downtown Waterfront Convention Centre)? Well, not exactly. The festival is long over for this year, but they are introducing the flavours they presented into their regular menu.
I only found this out Saturday night at their lovely 100th anniversary Easter weekend event.

Disclosure: How did I get outed as a blogger? I wasn't in there five minutes and somehow I got tagged. C'mon! I don't even have my picture on this blog. So, okay, I guess I should say that the staff got me pegged as a food blogger from the get go. I normally go undercover. Incognito. Couldn't get away with that this time, though. But hey, it's not I was the only one who got free treats here. Everyone did, and you could have too, if you'd signed up for it.

About a year and a half ago, Leonidas opened at the new Convention Centre at the Waterfront in downtown Vancouver. You may have attended their Grand Opening special in December 2011. The emphasis there was chocolate chocolate chocolate. Belgian chocolate made in Belgium and flown in weekly.

Obviously they still proudly carry Belgian chocolate, but their location -- downtown Vancouver, in the middle of convention and cruise ship traffic -- has made them adapt and offer what people drop by looking for. Maybe chocolate as a gift -- the Leonidas motto is "Think of Someone" -- but some people are also looking for a cafe, a bite to eat, maybe even tea (! -- they have a row of Mighty Leaf tins on a shelf behind the counter).

This Easter weekend, they took the opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the "since 1913" Leonidas chocolate company as well as re-introduce their store. The Thursday / Friday / Saturday event featured free wine from Coal Harbour Liquor Store (white Terra Andina, and red Fort Chevalier Bordeaux 2009 exclusive to Coal Harbour Liquor Store and on special this month); a chocolate fountain with thick chocolate for coating strawberries, bananas, and waffle chunks; full mugs of their hot chocolate, available in white chocolate.

Perhaps more interestingly they featured their new cafe offerings, including bruschetta sampler versions of their paninis: A goat cheese, honey, and walnut; and a very flavourful pesto, havarti, pepperberry turkey, goat cheese, and avocado.
(Yeah, I know, it can feel weird going in for a panini. It's like walking into a Purdy's and asking for a breakfast sandwich. But then, Leonidas isn't stuck in a mall, either).

Did I mention it was free? You even got a chocolate Easter Bunny to see you off.

They also have locally sourced, specially made macarons. As mentioned, their offerings for the 2012 and 2013 Hot Chocolate Festival are being worked in as regular menu items. Their hot chocolate festival flavours feature interesting ingredients like tumeric and pineapple, so it's definitely worth a look if you're curious. (I personally feel the Hot Chocolate Festival is sometimes just too short when I can only coordinate an outing with friends on a weekend or some such.)

Leonidas is run by a sincere sister-team of owners/staff, plus additional helpers. Even their so-fresh-from-France-she-has-the-sexy-accent "Brand Ambassador" / marketer can properly make you one of the specialty hot chocolates. They are friendly, social media aware, Twitter savvy. Follow them on Facebook so you don't miss out (like I did) on things like International Macaron Day (3 macarons and Mighty Leaf Tea for $5).

SNAP Downtown Vancouver was on site this Saturday evening to cover this incredibly generous Easter event at Leonidas, so pick up the next publication of that "Facebook in print" of downtown events to see what you missed (or to see yourself in print, if you gave them permission to publish your photo).

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