Sherman's Food Adventures: July 2016

Wild Sweets

Were you aware that Wild Sweets is one of the "24 best chocolatiers in the world" according to Chocolate - The Reference Standard.  Moreover, it can be found right here in RichmondProprietors Dominique and Cindy Duby are also winners of the 4 consecutive 'Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America Awards from the International Chocolate SalonSo it was a real "treat" (sorry for the pun) that I was invited, along with others, to a tasting at their lab and retail store out on Hammersmith Way, South of the Coppersmith Shopping Centre.

If you were expecting just chocolates here, you might be surprised to see that they offer an array of desserts including Tartes containing housemade cookie, cream and fruit.  The first one was the Lemon Custard Cream & white chocolate Chantilly.  Nicely creamy and rich, the custard had a balanced amount of tang and sweetness.  I found the Chantilly to be light and not as sweet as expected (which was a good thing). Next was something similar in the Raspberry Custard Cream with white chocolate Chantilly.  Naturally, not as tart, but also still balanced, the raspberry was rather refreshing.

We had 2 more tartes including the Banana Custard Cream and Chocolate Cream, both with white chocolate Chantilly on top. Okay, I need to reiterate my bias against banana anything other than eating an actual banana (not too ripe) and the occassional banana bread.  So this was a bit too pungent for me but I'm sure some will like it.  As for the chocolate, well that was another story.  It was rich and silky while purposefully sweet with a mild bitter finish.  I rather enjoyed the sable cookie underneath as it fluffy while having an appealing sandiness to it.

From tartes, I moved onto the Mousse with crunchy rice topping, fruit and parfait.  I absolutely loved the Milk Chocolate Mousse & Passionfruit Creme Brulee Cream.  I thought this had really nice balance with the initial hit of tartness then giving way to the sweet chocolate and ending off on an appealing bitter note.   Not pictured was the Raspberry Fruit Creme, but it was very similar to the passionfruit except not as tart. The Dark Chocolate Mousse was more focused, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing because it was silky, smooth and slightly sweet.  There was a certain smoky finish the exuded depth. As much as the chocolate crisps on top were not house-made, they were certainly a nice textural contrast.

The last set of treats consisted of Ice Cream including the Pistachio Strawberry.  This was a combination of strawberry sorbet, vanilla ice cream & pistachio butter parfait. I found the pistachio to be aromatic with a faint hint of saltiness giving way to the sweet and tart strawberries.   The 2 other flavours were Hazelnut Passionfruit (passionfruit and apricot sorbet, chocolate ice cream & hazelnut butter parfait) and Peanut Butter (banana ice cream, chocolate ice cream and peanut butter parfait).  Of the 2, I was surprised to have liked the peanut butter more, even though I prefer passionfruit.  Something about the creaminess and although I'm not a huge fan of banana anything, the ice cream was subtle enough to blend in (not pictured though).

After these Prêt-á-Manger desserts, we were given a rundown of their chocolate creations in their retail store.  There were so many items we tried that it would require another post!  So I'll keep it short and sweet (pun intended).  Some of the highlights were the Butter Toffee (think Almond Roca but better) and Dark Chocolate Bark.  I really enjoyed the Fruit Macaron (pictured) since it wasn't overly sweet while the texture was on point.  We were given some chocolate to take away as well and the Vanilla Bean Caramel, coffee & walnut dark chocolate.  Hidden within the silky and bitter chocolate was little crunchy bits and a subtle hint of coffee.  Loved how it wasn't sweet at all.  Wild Sweets really surprised me as I plead ignorance before this particular tasting.  Only wished it wasn't so far from me!

*All items were complimentary*

The Good:
- Carefully crafted products
- Purposefully sweet
- Diverse selection

The Bad:
- For those who don't live in Richmond, location is a bit out there (although things can be shipped too)


Crumb Sandwiches

The whole gourmet sandwich phenomenon is anything but new, especially in Vancouver.  We've seen an array of spots open up offering premium ingredients for made-to-order creations.  There are really too many of them to list and frankly, I'm just too lazy to go through my old posts.  Let's just say there is no shortage of choices and each have their positives and negatives.  Now a new spot has opened up, yet it really isn't a store at all per se.  Located within the food truck commissary kitchens near Beta 5, Crumb Sandwiches offers up products that can be ordered ahead of time for pick-up or deliveries.

Recently, I was invited along with Diana, Tina, Sharon and Peter to check out some of their wares.  After we got these pictures out-of-the-way, we got right down to it.  I quickly snatched the Fried Chicken first.  This was on point with a succulent brined chicken breast coated with an airy light batter that was well-seasoned and crispy.  The initial hit of sweet honey gave way to a touch of chili and cilantro.  Radicchio, pea sprouts, apple and lime rounded out the ingredients and helped provide balance in terms of texture and taste.  Another impressive offering was the Prosciutto & Caramelized Pear with onion jam, arugula, triple cream blue brie on fig & walnut bread.  As expected, the complimentary flavours of the sweet jam and pear offset the saltiness of the prosciutto.  A touch of pepperiness from the arugula and sharp creaminess of the brie made for impactful hits of flavour.

Featuring succulent and moist meat, the Chicken & Bacon was really good.  I've had tender roast chicken before, but this was off-the-hook.  Brined and sous-vide beautifully, the chicken practically required no chewing.  Add in the double-smoked bacon and yep, the saltiness and smokiness added depth and body.  The tart and sweet pop of the cherry tomatoes combined with the aromatic 5-spice aioli and onion jam provided layers of flavour which were pretty distinct from each other.  The one sandwich that wasn't my favourite was the Beef Brisket braised in soy and Szechuan spices.  I found the brisket rather dry and overwhelmingly licorice-tasting from the star anise/five spice blend.  I did enjoy the spice from the chili though. Rounding out the ingredients were radicchio, snow pea, mint, cilantro & lime.

The last one I tried was the Curried Pork & Grape where the sous-vide pork loin was so tender, I originally mistakened it for turkey!  Loved the flavours in this one as the curry aioli was impactful enough without being overwhelming.  The caramelized grape was sweet and noticeable while the black currant added another hit of sweetness.  Finishing the sandwich off was pea tendrils and fennel on multigrain bread.  After trying a few of their sandwiches, we came away impressed.  Featuring house-made breads, ingredients and unique flavours, it is clear that Crumb does have enough to stand out amongst the many choices in Vancouver.

*All sandwiches were complimentary*

The Good:
- Unique flavours
- House-made everything
- On point meats (except for the brisket)

The Bad:
- Waiting for an actual storefront, at this point, only pick up from commissary
- Parking is a challenge at the current location    

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