Memories of the holiday always bring up the heavenly taste of shortbread, gingerbread, chocolate, and stollen – all paired with glasses of rich egg nog. And of course, sweets are even better when they’re shared (or hoarded all to yourself if you’re feeling Grinch-like).
Happily, the calibre of Vancouver’s pastry chefs has grown exponentially in the last few years, with them dreaming up all sorts of decadent goodies for this Christmas season.
Here are two places in the city where you can share your favourite course – dessert – together over a lovely hot beverage or a winter cocktail or two.
Beaucoup Bakery & Café (2150 Fir Street)
I knew that the holiday season was in full swing when I started to hear carols on the radio and in the stores everywhere. One of my favourites is “The Christmas Song,” with the famed line, “chestnuts roasting on an open fire.” Food-obsessive that I am, I immediately started thinking about eating chestnuts and enjoying their sweet and nutty flavour. If you’re also a chestnut fan, you’re in luck. The charming Beaucoup Bakery, owned by Jackie Kai Ellis, was inspired by the French adoration of all things chestnut in December when they came up with their holiday offerings.
I’d recommend the chestnut panettone feuilletée which consists of the flakiest of pastry filled with candied lemon peel, rum-soaked raisins, and chunks of chestnut, and covered in a roasted chestnut glaze. In other words, it combines the flavours of panettone, an Italian sweet bread, with French pastry bliss.
There’s also the coffee mont blanc, a mont blanc being a traditional dessert consisting of puréed sweet chestnuts with whipped cream topper. Beaucoup has revamped this classic with chestnut vermicelli, crunchy meringue, coffee Chantilly cream, and coffee streusel crumbs.
Every time I visit Beaucoup, I make sure to get one of their outstanding croissants. Usually, I get their plain ones with a side of jam, but next time, I think I’ll order the lemon chestnut double baked croissant. Enough said. I’m heading there today.
All items are available for pre-order to avoid disappointment.
YEW seafood + bar (Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, 791 West Georgia Street)
Talented executive pastry chef Mark Burton at YEW seafood + bar has many desserts on the regular menu, which are perfect for the autumnal/wintry weather. A true comfort item is the Harvest dessert, featuring semolina cake, whipped winter green Anglaise, and butternut squash ice cream. Chocolate fans will adore the milk chocolate tarragon, with caramelized milk chocolate, vanilla pressed apples, tarragon crème, and milk crumb. YEW’s chocolate orange is equally tempting, with an orange chocolate brownie, blossom pastry cream, and salted caramel.
For their special Christmas eve dinner, brunch buffet, Christmas dinner, and New Year’s Eve dinners, you’ll also be able to treat yourself to some very special holiday creations. I have a particular weakness for their Snow Storm, with white chocolate mousse, vanilla shortbread, orange jam, and crispy meringue.
Also, excellent is their mont blanc tart, with salt and pepper caramel, thick vanilla crème, chestnut vermicelli, and milk chocolate cake. And their version of classic sticky toffee pudding is also well worth the indulgence.
The Christmas brunch will also include a selection of holiday tarts, cookies, and squares. It will also feature the Four Seasons’ famed stollen, which is available for purchase as well at the Festive Desk.
YEW’s cog nog is a must with these sweet offerings. The cog nog is a take on the egg nog you grew up drinking; in this case, it’s house-made and spiked with cognac. Even better, it’s served in a whimsical moose mug.
Lauren Mote, expert mixologist, has also crafted a few specialty holiday cocktails, including the Finnish cobbler, with Finlandia vodka, plum wine, apple honey, dry vermouth, and Zingiber crabapple bitters.
After you’re done satisfying your sweet tooth and imbibing, take a look at the BC Children’s Hospital Festival of Trees on display in the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and Level M2 of CF Pacific Centre Mall until January 2, 2017. Vote for your favourite one and donate to support a worthy cause this season!