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14 International chocolate award wins this year

Posted by Brett Roy on

Last night in Florence, Italy, a panel of judges came together to reveal the winners of the World Final leg of the International Chocolate Awards competition for 2018. The chocolates they judged were the final award winners for each country participating.

We were honoured to have taken home nine awards for Canada in October. Last night we were awarded another five awards in the World Final. What an exciting year of competition.

You can read all the details here:

https://www.internationalchocolateawards.com/2018/11/world-final-winners-2018/

Our award winners this year are these chocolates.

CANADIAN FINAL WINNERS:

Pure Nacional - Gold

Chilli Diablo - Silver

Raspberry Noir - Silver

Orange Grove - Silver

Passion Fruit & St. Germain - Silver

Herbsaint - Bronze

Teaism - Bronze

Passion Kalamansi - Bronze

Lime - Bronze

WORLD FINAL WINNERS:

Pure Nacional - Silver

Herbsaint - Silver

Raspberry Noir - Bronze

Passion Kalamansi - Bronze

Teaism - Bronze

Thank you to everyone who is committed to crafting fine chocolates. We’re always striving to get better each year, and this competition is a rewarding way to recognize these efforts.

 

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Sniffing out a truffle

Posted by Brett Roy on

It’s hard to imagine a world without chocolate.  It was in the early 1500s that explorers Christopher Columbus and Hernan Cortes introduced Spain to the wonders of Aztec cocoa. About a hundred years later, the secret treat made appearances in France and Great Britain as a hot chocolate drink. Today, chocolate is something we enjoy around the globe as a drink, a bar or a delectable truffle.

The truffle was said to have been invented by a pastry chef in Chambéry, in France in the late 1800s.  The story goes that Louis Dufour ran out of ingredients making his end-of-year pastry lineup and was inspired to invent something new with what he had on hand. He blended some  crème fraîche, vanilla and cocoa power (now called a classic ganache), formed a small ball shape and dipped it in chocolate then dusted it with cocoa powder.  It tasted wonderful.  But it looked a lot to him like the sought-after mushroom, the truffle. So, that’s the he name he gave his earthy-brown concoction and it’s still around today.

Cocoa was originally hard to source and so truffles were reserved for the very upper class in society.  Today, there are so many options available.

Our truffles are made with the best cocoa we can source and champagne cognac.  It’s a decadent treat that makes just about any occasion a little more special.

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800 Finalists meet in London in October 2017

Posted by Brett Roy on

No matter what your chosen path in life, there are always ways to measure your progression in your craft -- to see how you fare with others pursuing the same passion around the country and around the world.  

Chocolate is no different. Every year, chocolatiers have an opportunity to enter their creations into the International Chocolate Awards.  The competition has two stages -- the first is a match in your home country with chocolatiers from coast to coast. If you're lucky to be recognized at the national level, the award-winning chocolates are invited to be judged in the World Final.  

The World Final takes place during Chocolate Week in London, England in October.  This year, thousands of products were judged by a panel of experts, food journalists, sommeliers, pastry chefs and members of the international Grand Jury, who travel from around the world to London to savour and assess the entries. 800 products made it to the world final to be judged for awards.

It's a nerve-wracking experience, particularly for Canadian chocolatiers because the finalists in our country are announced just days before submissions are due in the World Final.  It doesn't leave much time to prepare between competitions.

There are several categories in which chocolate makers can enter.  For us, we focus our efforts on the ganache or truffle category. This year we were delighted to win a total of 14 awards in both competitions.  

Pure Nacional (Gold Canada, Gold World Final)

The Orange Grove (Gold Canada, Gold World Final)

Almond Coconut Praline (Gold Canada, Silver World Final)

Lime (Silver Canada, Bronze World Final)

Teaism (Gold Canada)

Herbsaint (Silver Canada)

Raspberry Noir (Silver Canada)

Passionfruit and St. Germaine Caramel (Silver Canada)

Matcha Green Tea (Silver Canada)

Salted Butter Caramel (Silver Canada)

international award finals 2017 twitter image.jpg
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Japanese documentary about an Olympic giant

Posted by Brett Roy on

We were excited last month to pick up the phone for a truly out-there request by a Japanese film crew interested in visiting and filming in our shop.  Oh and by the way, would we have time to be interviewed and hang with Karoi Icho? They explained that they were producing a documentary about 32-year-old Japanese Olympic medalist, Kaori Icho and they wanted us to be a part of it.  

If you're not familiar with Kaori, she's a Japanese freestyle wrestler who has never lost a bout at the Olympics -- can you believe that!  She won her first gold medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004. She went on to repeat that win at Beijing in 2008, London in 2012 and most recently at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Those impressive accomplishments make Kaori the first female Olympian to win four consecutive titles in the same discipline. It's made her a legend at home in Japan, in her sport and now here in Edmonton too.

Now you're probably asking, what does Kaori's impressive international accomplishments have to do with chocolate and Edmonton? Well it turns out, she trained here leading up to the Rio Olympics and frequented our shop for her favourite after-workout treat -- our chocolate bonbons.

In recognition of her impressive achievements, Ichō received the People’s Honour Award from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo in September, 2016.  As you can imagine, she's a rock star at home.  We're excited to watch the documentary about her life and her rise to Olympic history when it's released. It's exciting to think our chocolates played a very small role in Icho's journey.

We had the chance to talk to our own local Olympic reporting legend, CBC's Edmonton AM host Mark Connolly about it this week.

Listen to our interview with CBC's Mark Connolly

 

 

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What's behind the name?

Posted by Brett Roy on

We often get asked about our name, Sweet Lollapalooza.  Where did it come from? Why did you settle on that name for your shop? Well, as it turns out, it was a name that found us really.

If you're a fan of late, great jazz vocalist and pianist Blossom Dearie, you might be familiar with a tune she sang, Thou Swell. In the song, she sings about a sweetheart and among the lyrics, these always stood out for us, “…Both thine eyes are cute too, what they do to me. Hear me holler, I choose a sweet lollapalooza in thee…”  

When we thought about opening up our chocolate business in 2003, those lyrics surfaced again and made it difficult for us to think of any other possibilities. So, we did a little digging on the meaning of the term lollapalooza.  Turns out, it’s a word with Gaelic roots that the Merriam Webster dictionary defines as, “one that is extraordinarily impressive; also: an outstanding example.” While our chocolatier, Brett is Australian, he has both Scottish and Irish heritage, so it seemed fitting that the song that wouldn’t elude us with a Gaelic word in the lyrics was lingering for a reason. After all, we strive to create chocolate that is outstanding and extraordinarily impressive. With a name like that to live up to, we’ve been inspired every day to work hard and improve and enhance every morsel we create. 

You can listen to the song that inspired us here.  Thank you to the Blossom Dearie family for allowing us to share this song with you.  If you’d like to learn more about Blossom, you can explore her music and history here: https://www.blossomdearie.com/.

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