Cuckoo for Cocoa
Chocolate lovers rejoice. Winnipeg is home to a cast of star pastry chefs and chocolatiers. Here are some great chocolate parties along with the best places to give into temptation.
Chocolatier Constance Menzies' Manitobar is a sweet homage to the province made with local ingredients. Photo by Robin Summerfield
Constance Popp Chocolatier
Be warned. You may visit this Winnipeg chocolate shop intent on buying one treat, but you will leave loaded up with chocolate. You won’t be able to help yourself. Blame Constance Menzies, the woman behind the cocoa craziness. Menzies is mad for made-in-Manitoba ingredients like honey, flax, hemp, birch syrup and even beets. She uses home-grown ingredients and Belgian chocolate to masterfully concoct dreamy truffles, chocolates, bars and chocolate-dipped delights. Bacon, pretzel and peanut-topped truffles are a must try as are the cocoa-dusted roasted almonds, caramel truffles and chai truffles. Menzies also makes great distinctly Manitoban chocolate souvenirs. The Birch Bar is a work of white-and-dark-chocolate art that resembles a slab of bark. Menzies scouted her own yard to find a great piece of birch bark to make a mould for her chocolate bar. The Manitobar, meanwhile, is a crunchy and creamy smooth bar made with layers of hemp, flax and sunflower seeds interspersed with ganache and dipped in Belgian chocolate.
Constance Popp has two locations in Winnipeg: 1853 Portage Avenue; and in the Lombard Concourse inside the Richardson Building (corner of Portage Avenue and Main Street). For more information click here.
Mordens’ of Winnipeg
The Morden family started building their chocolate empire in the late 1950s in Winnipeg. Today, third generation chocolatier Fred Morden helms the West End chocolate shop. Mordens’ Russian Mints, which won top prize at the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans, are a favourite. Name a chocolate bon bon and Mordens’ likely has it on their menu. The shop stocks boxes (and boxes) of its specialty chocolates. Customers can also build their own box of favourites from the counter case. Holidays like Christmas, Easter and Mother’s Day bring out the creativity in the kitchen. This Valentine’s Day, Mordens’ chocolatiers loaded heart-shaped chocolate boxes with white-and dark-chocolate-dipped strawberries. The Mordens’ team is always pushing the definition of chocolate and inventing new treats to wow their customers.
Mordens’ of Winnipeg is located at 674 Sargent Avenue. Look for the bright yellow store front. Call 204-783-4551 for information.
Chocolate Fest and Tour de Chocolat
April 1 to 30, 2013
Give into your cravings during Chocolate Fest, a city-wide chocolate extravaganza presented by Ciao! magazine. This year, local pastry chefs, chefs and chocolatiers were given a mission: Go sweet, sinful or savoury. Thirty-plus city and area restaurants will serve chocolate infused bites, nibbles, desserts and treats all for $7 each. For a list of participating restaurants and their Chocolate Fest creations click here. (Menus are posted every year by the end of March.)
From 1 to 4 p.m. on April 20 and 21, pick up a $5 passport and explore The Forks Market during Tour de Chocolat. Get your passport stamped after sampling chocolate delicacies from participating restaurants and retailers.
April 20, 2013
This first annual event is a veritable orgy of chocolate, made by some of Winnipeg’s top-shelf chefs, pastry chefs and chocolatiers. This all-you-can-eat spread features French pastries, truffles, cheesecake, cupcakes, chocolate-coffee petite fours and a spiked hot chocolate cocktail bar. Chocoholics Buffet will be held inside the ballroom at The Gates on Roblin, a restaurant set on the banks of the Assiniboine River in Headingly, just west of Winnipeg (6945 Roblin Blvd.). Tickets are $53.99 each and are available here.