Drink hot chocolate and save the planet!

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I consider myself a pretty low consumer of hot drinks, compared to many people who head along to cafés one, two or three times a day for their fix.  I often arrive and then remember that I have forgotten my KeepCup, or it is a spur of the moment decision, and carrying a KeepCup around all the time is not overly practical (for me, anyway).  But a recent initiative has started to change all of this…where you can do something positive for the environment (with minimal effort) and save yourself some coin.  Now you want to know more, don’t you?

Responsible Cafes is asking cafés to consider offering a 20 cent reduction (or more) in cost to the buyer (us!) of hot drinks – providing the customer has a reusable cups.  And we all have a few of those kicking around!  Keep one in the car, in the office, at school, wherever you might find yourself in need of coffee or chocolate.  Some cafés have gone as far as not stocking disposable cups, so unless you have heat-proof and webbed hands, carry your cup!

But why is this important?  Are cafés trying to save money on cups?  Is this good for the environment?  Can you really make a difference?  The answer to all of these questions is yes!  Yes, cafés can save money (and passing that saving onto you – some are offering 50 cents and more off each drink!).  Yes, this is great for the environment (3 billion of these little babies end up in landfill, in parks, in waterways and all over our beaches each year!).  Yes, you can really help – think of how many cups you use a week, a month, a year!  And most cannot be recycled.  Sheesh.

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So look out for the funky Responsible Cafes poster, or click here for a list of participating cafés in your area, and support these businesses who are supporting you and the planet.  Your coffee, hot chocolate or tea will taste so much better. And if your favourite café is not on the list, ask them if they would like to get involved 🙂

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Images sourced from: Instagram/responsiblecafes & responsiblecafes.com.au

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Bursting at the seams with hot chocolate

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My best friend is about to have a baby. Possibly any minute. I am so excited to meet her new daughter, and since I asked my mum to make a quilt for her first daughter, Harper, we are planning quilt number two.  And how does this relate to hot chocolate, or am I now dragging quilting into this blog to broaden followers? Since I can barely sew a button on, quilting is not likely to become a focus. But, I had the fun job of picking out all the fabric for the new baby’s quilt…from a quilt store with a café AND a specialty hot chocolate menu 🙂 So there was nowhere else I was going but to Quarter Inch for my beautiful quilt material.

After what seemed like an age picking out nine different fabrics to ensure the quilt was not ‘baby’ looking (one that can grow with the baby, and not restrict her to a life of having to love giraffes, cute as they are!), we had worked up a thirst.  We stepped into the next room, the café,  with its comfy cushions and cosy vibe, and ordered our hot chocolates – the hazelnut for me and the Lindt Surprise for Jen.  Our drinks soon joined us in tall glasses with straws, and full to the brim with cream (I never said they were low fat!).  They looked amazing. I don’t think I have ever tried a hazelnut hot chocolate before, and it was great. A nice hit of Nutella and a new flavour experience.  I will be happy to stop buy for another drink when I decide on the colour of the quilt’s edging and backing fabric. The baby will likely be born by then, but I am sure the quilt will be worth the wait. If I don’t steal it for my bed 🙂

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Channeling the Nutpatch in the city

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Since it opened about 6 years ago, I have been a fan of Nutpatch Chocolates, a Kettering-based handmade chocolate store. What started as a small chocolate shop in the sleepy Channel seaside town, has recently expanded to include a waterfront store in Hobart. John and his team have also introduced hot chocolate to their cocoa repertoire.

So last week, I went along to the new Hobart store to try the hot chocolate. John greeted us in his usual jovial manner, and upon spotting our KeepCups, knew exactly what we were there for. Never one to shy away from promoting his very successful business, John quickly declared this hot chocolate as the best in Hobart – even before we had taken a sip! But that is John – never wavering in his ability when he knows he is on a winner.

He was right, in that is was delicious, but I couldn’t help but challenge him on the ‘best in Hobart’ comment.  The hot chocolate (Belgian chocolate, cream and milk), was very good.  Rich but without being shocking and very smooth. Nutpatch is a potentially dangerous place to stop when you couple the hot chocolate with any of the handmade chocolates John makes (I recommend the Petite Noir). Sugar coma, anyone?!

But was he right? Is this the best hot chocolate in Hobart? In my opinion, it is very close. But competition is healthy, so I expect it will not be long before this mantle is more closely contested.

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A Feast of hot chocolate and wintery yumminess

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Winter in Hobart conjures up images of rain, snow, blustery wind and grey skies. But inject Dark MoFo into this image, particularly Winter Feast, and this picture greatly warms and brightens.

It is that time of year where the rest of Australia it seems, converges on Hobart to take in as much food, beer, wine and art as they can. I typically skip the art and other bits and bobs going on around town, and just visit the ‘Feast’.  And this year my favourite restaurant, A Tiny Place, made its debut.  Aside from amazing food, A Tiny Place is the home of Hobart’s best hot chocolate (my opinion, of course, but I am right!).  On the opening night of the Feast, and with relatively mild weather (for winter anyway, and too warm for my thermal clothing overload), we secured a good spot right next to an open fire, ready to devour our serves of confit duck (from A Tiny Place).  But I was pacing myself, since A Tiny Place also had their fabulous hot chocolate on the menu, but with a very special addition – fried bread 🙂  This just sounded too good to resist.

So when it came time for dessert (which aside from always being a good idea, was also an excuse for a few minutes respite from the cracking fire), I made a beeline for the hot chocolate with fried bread. And it was superb! I know it sounds weird, but letting the crunchy bread sit in the hot chocolate and do its thing for a few minutes, was absolute perfection.  Sort of like churros in chocolate sauce but without the overload of sugar that comes with it.

Aside from the scrumptious food and hot chocolate that A Tiny Place serves, the service is always great, and Phillipe always takes time to say hi – even up to his eyeballs in busy-ness at Feast.

But don’t feel like you have missed your chance…Winter Feast continues next weekend (16, 17, 18 June 2017), so get your frozen bodies along and visit A Tiny Place (in the centre of the shed, right near the middle outdoor entrance – clear of the queues and bum shufflers 🙂 ), and say hi to Phillipe and the crew.

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Adorable doors

 

This is a slight departure from my normal blog posts, but today I am in a reminiscent mood. Thinking back to all of the other amazing sights of France aside from éclair’s. I know it may be hard to believe, but I have other things that spark my interest, and take my mind off my belly, when I am on holiday.

Namely doors. I spend a lot of time taking photos of doors…and gates. Lamp posts too, but I will stick to doors for now. What interests me in them? I am not 100% sure. Some are ornate, others are decaying, some are new, more than a few are painted, but they each have an allure to them that makes me stop and take their photo. In Paris in particular, doors scattered all over the city conceal secret passages to nooks that would otherwise remain hidden if you did not peek beyond their shield. Some open, others do not, and you never know where a gentle push will lead you.

 

Winter warmer: Hot chilli hot chocolate

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I have to take a short break from my holiday éclair hunt musings, to share this AWESOME news.  One of my long-term favourite places for hot chocolate in Hobart is Parklane, as my loyal readers (hello, you two!) would know.  I was out for a lunch stroll yesterday and decided to pop in for a hot chocolate treat.  Aside from the standard hot chocolate, they have also introduced rum hot chocolate (which I personally found a bit strong and not a great drink for a productive afternoon in the office!).  But yesterday, I noticed, they have a new arrival – chilli hot chocolate! 

In my (vast!) chilli hot chocolate experience, the addition of chilli can be a token gesture.  Normally more ‘meh’ than ‘yeah’.  But thinking back to the amount of rum Parklane added to hot chocolate, I suspected the chilli might really make its presence felt.  This overthinking on my part, certainly panned out. The chilli was unmissable and a great warmer (and sinus clearer!) on a freezing autumn day.  If you are a little chilli-wary, then perhaps this is not the drink for you, but if you don’t mind it hot, this is an amazing winter mood lifter.

Parklane Espresso
Parklane Espresso Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

When two (éclairs) become one

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Following my first éclair, but I am quite sure completely unrelated, I got a tad sick for two days. So that slowed me up a bit.  But by Saturday afternoon, I was feeling better and ready for some fresh air and a walk.  And it happily coincided with time for le goûter (sort of like afternoon tea). This has become a favourite time of day and a French word I quickly caught on to.

So while walking around the old city of Le Mans (which is beautiful), we stopped off to refuel at Galand in the centre of the city. I have it on good authority that this is THE place for éclair in Le Mans, and this was not my first visit. The cabinet inside Galand offered an array very suitable le goûter treats, but I am hopeless and could not pass up an éclair.  So we ordered one each.  Deaux éclairs.

When our éclairs arrived, one seemed to be suffering some sort of defect, to the point where it was not actually an éclair. Fair enough, it was still choux with crème pâtissière inside, but it was still not an éclair.  With no explanation from the waitress, and knowing it would still be good, it was consumed.

My éclair (yes, mine was an éclair!), was just as good as I remembered. Outside of Paris you rarely see the ‘fancy’ éclairs, so I always stick to traditional chocolate.  As our drinks arrived, we asked the waitress about the deformed éclair we had received in case it was someone else’s order.  Nope.  It was ours, they just ran out of éclairs so this was the substitution.  All good. OK.

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This is an éclair…

 

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…and this is not

 

http://www.patisserie-galand.com/