January 18 marks the start of the 4th annual Hot Chocolate Festival in Vancouver where chocolate connoisseurs can taste a variety of hot chocolate creations from many restaurants around town. Running longer than Dine-Out Vancouver, the festival lasts 28 days until February 14. First up is the famed Bella Gelateria whose award winning gelato has been reviewed by news outlets around the world. Let’s see if it has the same reputation for hot chocolate…
This place is all the rage in Vancouver. Even in the winter, Bella Gelateria is packed with customers– They ran out of dine-in cups tonight! Bella is serving the following during the festival:
gBAR made from banana liquer and swirls of “To Die For” Banana Bread crumb.
gBAR flavoured with black sesame and matcha tea.
gBAR flavoured with salted caramel – Argentina style.
gBAR flavoured with vanilla and Earl Grey tea.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPER
gBAR flavoured with chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne.
DARK AND DANGEROUS
A seriously chocolate-y gBar composed of a blend of three different chocolates.
Each comes with a slice of banana bread prepared by Erin Ireland, a separate artisan from Bella Gelateria. This banana bread is allegedly “to die for”.
As a banana connoisseur, I ordered the Monkey’s Uncle. The gelato component is the “gbar” which is a banana bread gelato bar (on a stick) which is used to dip into and/or stir the hot chocolate.
On it’s own, the banana bread gelato is orgasmic. It undeniably tastes like banana bread. It is however, a small stubby bar. I decided to stir it into the hot chocolate hoping to create a magical creamy banana chocolate mixture that would blow my mind. However, the two items failed to fuse well.
The hot chocolate is made of 64% real chocolate which overwhelmed whatever banana flavour there is. The gelato bar made little effect to the drink. I could slightly taste a hint of banana due to the banana liquor and banana bread bits already dissolved in the drink. To me, it was like a regular hot chocolate. I was somewhat disappointed. A good point is that the cup size is comparative to a grande at Starbucks.
The “to die for” organic banana bread was an unexpected bonus. I do not know what defines “to die for” bread but this one was certainly baked well. The banana is strong in this one. Initially stored pre-sliced in the kitchen’s fridge, the banana bread tastes very banana and buttery. Despite the great albeit cold preparation, the slice was very thin. Anorexic thin.
For a whopping $7.50, this drink is definitely expensive and overrated. Bella Gelateria sports steep prices for their award winning desserts, which is expected. Personally, I’m not a fan of the gelato here. The flavors have major depth and authenticity, but I find the variety lacking and overly sophisticated at times (How about plain banana instead of banana bread? And what is a rosewater and noodle flavor?). Whether it’s worth it is a matter of your taste vs price ratio. However, for the sake of the Hot Chocolate Festival, I thought I might give it a try.
Should you wish to give it a whirl, be ready to line up. Vancourites love to empty their wallets at Bella Gelateria. Queues extend outside the premises and seating is limited! They are also a 2014 Dine out participant!