Gem Chocolates is a small artisan chocolate shop in the Kerrisdale neighbourhood of Vancouver. I dropped in on National Chocolate Day to sample something different than your average store-bought variety.
The name Gem, says it all. The chocolates are small and a lot of attention goes into each detail, from the design to the ingredients, which are organic, fair-trade and Rainforest Alliance certified. They are all made in house in small batches with no preservatives. You can even meet and talk with the chocolatier, Glenn Knowles.. Although the name describes the chocolate to a T, it is actually an acronym combining the first initial of his name with that of his two children. Knowles worked in corporate finance before transitioning into chocolate making. He studied at the Ecole Chocolat in Vancouver and opened his shop in slightly upscale Kerrisdale in 2011. The neighbourhood is perfect for an independent chocolate maker as it is very walkable and full of boutiques that make it a perfect destination for a day of window shopping.
I selected two chocolates and a dark chocolate hot chocolate to enjoy in the store. My espresso chocolate had a Mondrian-esque design painted on the surface. I also tried the milky Dulce de leche chocolate. In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the latter was painted with pink ribbons with a donation going to the BC Cancer Agency. Every flavour has a different design; you could admire them for ages.
They are so decorative that I almost felt guilty about eating them. It may help to imagine yourself as being Marie Antoinette at this point. However, you won’t regret that first bite. The outer chocolate is thick and rich. Then the smooth, creamy insides hit your taste buds. The filling is flavourful and indulgent. The hot chocolate had a rich thick taste and was unmistakably made from real chocolate.
The shop does not have a coffee shop atmosphere, but you can drink your beverage and enjoy your chocolates at the window where there are five seats available. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but I imagine the shop is not normally very busy.
Of course, the design and ingredients add up, so this shop is more expensive than what you might be used to paying. Normally you will individually select your chocolates here, which gives you an opportunity to sample as many flavours as your wallet can bear. However, during the holidays, they sell boxes of chocolate.
Currently, they even have some eyeball Halloween designs on display. In addition to the hot chocolate (which comes in dark or milk chocolate), they have coffee, tea and gelato.
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