best chocolate in Ottawa
What I love about Chocolatouring around a city is discovering the various faces of chocolate you’ll find in any given location if you keep your ears and eyes open. While attending a 2013 conference in Ottawa, Ontario, I had the good fortune to make a couple of outstanding chocolate discoveries thanks to tips from local chocolate-loving residents of the Canadian capital. What’s really interesting is how opposite each of these chocolate discoveries is, proving that when you’re on a chocolate tour you will undoubtedly find something to please your palate and chocolate personality if you heed the right advice and do your research.
Let’s begin with Stubbe Chocolates, where I met Anne Stubbe, a sixth-generation chocolatier and confectioner whose German heritage and family traditions heavily influence the style and offerings at the Stubbe chocolate shop.
What I really loved about Stubbe is the old-world ambiance, where tradition and the history of the family business is honoured by a wall of photos reminding you of the family’s German heritage.
If you’ve never had German florentines, you’re missing out on a delicious offering of a thin chocolate disc topped with candied with nuts, fruits, and caramel. Stubbe also specializes in high quality chocolate novelties such as chocolate shoes, champagne bottles, gondolas, and edible boxes to hold the chocolate truffles and treats you have selected. Candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate is their most popular product. Stubbe also has a few cafe tables, where you can enjoy a coffee or hot chocolate with a slice of one of the sumptuous tortes they offer in the German tradition. If you can’t make it over to Germany, this is the next best thing, and Stubbe is located just steps from Ottawa’s Byward Market where you can buy all sorts of fresh and handcrafted delicacies and foods.
Another terrific chocolate maker based in the Ottawa area is Hummingbird Chocolate, a bean-to-bar company in Almonte, Ontario, run by Erica and Drew Gilmour. Hummingbird offerings are limited in comparison to Stubbe, but they are well worth searching out and are continually experimenting with different cocoa beans and adding to their product line up. They hope to soon have a shop of their own, and currently offer their handmade dark chocolate bars at selected Ottawa stores and at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market held at Brewer Park, where Erica is pleased to give you a taste and explain the flavour nuances of the intense chocolate to you.
Of the four flavours of bars in Hummingbird Chocolate’s 2013 lineup, I loved the Patanemo bar made of Criollo cocoa beans from the coastal region of Patanemo, Venezuela—also known for its excellent surfing. Erica creates her own tasting notes for each bar, and the fruity taste of the Patanemo bar is described as featuring hints of toffee, fresh bread, and strawberries. You can bet that a trip to Venezuela is now high atop my list, as Hummingbird makes chocolate with beans from three different growing regions of Venezuela, as well as some wild beans from Bolivia which were also extraordinary and intense.
If you’d like to learn more about the non-chocolate highlights of Ottawa, please check out this post on the highlights of Ottawa.