Our annual Santa Claus Parade graced us with cute and colourful floats this weekend, Christmas music is playing on the radio stations, and my mum has already
harassed asked my brother and I for a list of things we’d like this Christmas (does two things really constitute a list?). Christmas is just a little over a month away and each passing day feels more and more like a winter wonderland, sans the snow – for now. There’s a cold nip in the air, I’m decked out in my oh-so-fashionable scarf and mitten ensemble, and instead of visions sugar plums dancing in my head, I have soup and hot chocolate partying in my tummy.
The hot chocolate series is here! Like I mentioned on my first Bits & Bites post, the hot chocolate series is one of two holiday and winter series I’m starting on the blog and after talking to my fellow Le Dolci icing sugar queen, Miya, today, I might squeeze in some peppermint posts in between too since I know some of you are huge fans! I’m so excited to share this post with you all today because it involves NUTELLA! Yes, nutella! In hot chocolate form! The chillier weather sounds a little more appealing now, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but at least us throngs of nutella fans have another nutella yummy to enjoy in the city! I’ve made it my mission to track down the best nutella food and drink items in and around the city and I’m very pleased that this does double duty for both the hot chocolate series and the future “5 Best” nutella post I’m working on.
Hot chocolate has really taken on life of its own, going in a gourmet drink direction with all the different culinary interpretations: white chocolate hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, chili hot chocolate, the list goes on! And let’s not forget the childhood favourite, hot chocolate with marshmallows. All it took was a chalkboard sign sitting on the sidewalk outside a cafe to entice me get the hot chocolate series in motion, a sign that I saw while riding the streetcar no less! I saw the words “hot chocolate” as I passed by on the streetcar, along with a list underneath. More than one kind?! SOLD. This visit to Le Gourmand, located by Spadina and Richmond, has been a long time coming. Much like Fusaro’s Kitchen, I’ve passed by Le Gourmand countless times and just never went in. Seeing that chalkboard sign was definitely the sign that I needed to finally see what yummy surprises this cafe had inside, and c’mon, the name of the cafe is me in a nutshell! No, not glutton! Gourmand as in a person who takes great pleasure in food and eating. And that would be me!
Le Gourmand is a grocery cafe (similar to Fusaro’s in cafe layout and concept) that sells packaged truffles, cookies, chocolates, pastas, canned beans and tomatoes, jams and preserves, olives, olive oils, and balsamics among other pantry staples and sweets. They serve a full breakfast, weekend brunch, and lunch menu chock full of sandwiches, salads, egg breakfasts, breakfast burritos, and more. I came here for the first time for the hot chocolate, but I’m telling you, I’m coming back for breakfast and lunch one of these days because their menu of sandwiches and salads made my mouth water and I’m a sucker for breakfast/brunch food.
They have a full-length display of flaky croissants, pastries, and breakfast croissant sandwiches (including bacon, egg, and cheddar) that you can order by the cash while everything else is made to order. Their coffee menu includes espressos, macchiatos, americanos, cafe lattes, cappuccinos, cafe mochas, chai lattes, and regular roast coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, so aside from the occasional latte, I always go for the teas instead and Le Gourmand has these yummy sounding iced drinks that I can’t wait to try! I saw a raspberry-lemongrass ice tea and a mojito peppermint ice tea, both of which are on my mental “to-try” list.
As much as I would loooove to get into the breakfast and lunch menu, I’m going to save the food talk for next time and just entice you all with the drinks and nutella hot chocolate. The cafe serves 5, count ’em, FIVE different types of hot chocolate! They have a Belgian white hot chocolate, a French 32% caramel chocolate, a Dominican 64% bittersweet chocolate, an African 85% Grand Cru, and finally, the Italian nutella hot chocolate. I didn’t get the prices for a large, but small hot chocolates (which are really more like mediums, in my opinions) are $2.99, tax inclusive.
The photos honestly don’t do the hot chocolate justice. The nutella hot chocolate is DELICIOUS. Now I know what some of you must be thinking. You’re thinking, “if you enjoy nutella, then it’s a no-brainer that you would enjoy this hot chocolate!” Not necessarily. Let it be known that some places use the name and branding of nutella to sell particular products that are not actually made with nutella. I’m not kidding. Some will use it as a guise to make you think you’re eating nutella when in reality it’s just chocolate. Us foodies are not dumb and it’s insulting and disheartening that some would even think to do such a thing. Those of us who love nutella know nutella when we taste and smell it. And this hot chocolate is nutella through and through.
It’s silky smooth, light and airy, and just slightly frothy on top. It’s not a heavy hot chocolate in the sense that it’ll make you feel gross afterward, but when you drink it, it feels like you’re drinking something so decadent. The rich cocoa flavour is what hits you first when you drink it and the very distinctive aroma and taste of the hazelnut that makes nutella what it is sits on your tastebuds after and the hot chocolate is so good it makes you want to go back for more. Which is fine because we have the whole winter ahead of us to enjoy it.
Le Gourmand is located at 438 Richmond Street West at Spadina Ave.