Papa Chocolat

Papa Chocolat proved to be worth the wait. We picked up their limited edition chocolate box on Tuesday, and got to meet the master chocolatier himself. It was rather exciting to meet Monsieur Callebaut. His name has been a regular word in my vocabulary for nearly 25 years – ever since we stumbled upon his gorgeous pinky bronze boxes of chocolate delights – they have ever been my favourite chocolates in the world. Until now.

Meet Papa Chocolat’s first box of choccies. The new packaging is a completely new direction from euro-inspired Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut. Here is the Limited Edition Christmas box:

Papa Chocolat

Brown, with a surprising lime green interior. It’s in line with the logo featuring the master chocolatier with his young son – fun, family, and full of surprises!

Ahhh the anticipation.....

We opened up the box which has 6 chocolates each of the 6 different flavours: La Mer, Cortez, Solo, Bella, D’oree and Orange.

Chocolate perfection in a box

Hubby, Alice (my dear uni friend) and I sat at the table munching away. La Mer – a milk chocolate caramel with Normandy sea salt – was my and Alice’s hands down favourite. We couldn’t get enough! When hubby popped the last one in his mouth, and seemed to gulp it down without due reverence, we were both horrified. These chocolates are to be savoured.. contemplated…. made to last as long as possible! I was  also miffed he ate the last one as I had been eyeing it greedily….

Cortez had roasted cocoa nibs in it, which made the chocolate sensation so much more intense – biting into the chocolate was more like stepping into a vast chocolate cloud. Amazing. The nibs also gave the chocolate a delicious crunchiness – sort of like a cross between nuts and chocolate chips.

My mom and her friend Agnes also got into the tasting fun. Their favourites were the Mandarin (with a slice of fresh mandarin orange in it!), and D’oree, a gorgeous dark chocolate.

Solo is a milk chocolate with a roasted hazelnut in the middle. Sounds kind of boring? Well, in the hands of Papa Chocolat, it is everything but. Monsieur Callebaut explained to us that his milk chocolate only has something like 20% sugar – making sugar the 2nd or 3rd ingredient, rather than the first in common milk chocolate. You can totally taste this – the milk chocolate is smooth, melt in your mouth rich, and yet not at all cloying. And add to this the roasted hazelnuts from BC.. heaven! They make a bar version of this chocolate which I am just going to have to get too.

Bella had a pistachio wrapped in white chocolate.. also delicious. Though, if given a choice between a box of La Mer, or a box of the others, La Mer wins hands down every time!

D'oree with flecks of gold

Too soon our box went from full to empty. So sad.  We really must get more!

After our chocolate orgie, hubby and I headed out to the Rockies for some much needed exercise.

I never get tired of  the drive into Banff National Park. From Calgary, on a clear day you can see the Rockies splashed across the horizon.

Rockies in the distance

Getting closer – Kananaskis is halfway between Calgary and Banff.

Kananaskis Country

We decided to stop for lunch at the Grizzly Paw in Canmore – awesome fish and chips, homemade rootbeer (B – it was awesome!  They use way less sugar than then norm. I wish they would export to London).  Such a great town – nice local vibe, surrounded by mountains.  And even better- a fantastic yarn shop!

Canmore Main Street

We popped into Knit and Caboodle as I have wanted to go for years, and finally we had a leisurely afternoon perfect for yarn shopping. I was really impressed. This is an A-1 fabulous yarn shop.

Knit and Caboodle, Canmore

Full of wall to wall yarn, malabrigo, mad tosh (sock, pashimina & dk), indigo moon, schaeffer, Pagewood Farm, dream in color, and more. They also are one of the retailers participating in Yarns on Stage (Buzz at All the Fun of the Fair in London also carries this!).  Yarns on Stage is a collection of limited edition hand dyed yarns from some great dyers.

Yarns on Stage

I was super excited to see my patterns there too with the yarns. Fiori and Mince Pie Mayhem.  How cool is that?

My patterns!!

KLC 2011: Cashmere Merino Yum!

There is still time to sign up to the 2011 Knit Love Club. As a little treat for all 2011 members, I’ve decided to include Sokkusu-E (which I renamed Sokkusu-X, for Xtra special), my nice round and lofty 3 ply 70% merino 20% cashmere 10% nylon yarn which is incredibly soft, and just plain yummy, as one of the yarns for next year’s KLC. I figure everyone deserves some TLC (tender loving cashmere) in their lives, n’est-ce pas?

I also met up with Sam from Yummy Yarn Studio, an indie dyer based here in Calgary, on Friday. Funny how small the world becomes when the network you’re plugged into is extensive and strong. Also met Bess from Make1 Yarn Studio which is my favourite yarn stop in Calgary. Love the space and the area, and Bess was so friendly and lovely when I stopped in.

Meanwhile I am snuggling up with some Handmaiden Mini Maiden since it is rather cold outside (-19 centigrade!!) and knitting a last minute Xmas gift for an elderly family friend. It’s 50% wool 50% silk, light fingering weight in a pretty blue with streaks of bronze. It’ll be an Annis shawl, one of my favourite gift knits.

Managed also to order some Papa Chocolat chocolates… am totally excited to try them. Will pick a box up tomorrow to test them out and report back!

I finally posted my secret santa sock swap kit (very very late, but I sent it extra fast post so it should land tomorrow at the latest), and can’t wait for the recipient to get them. I designed the socks just for her, and really want to show you!

Okay, time for bed. It seems my internal clock will not give up on waking me at 3 am MST. I am usually awake for an hour or so, then zonk out till 830. Very annoying. Wish me sleep-through-the-night luck please!

Canucks, eh?

Am back in Cowtown for the holidays. There is snow afoot, and below zero temperatures (it’s been down to -19 centigrade these last couple days).  And it is glorious!  Blue sky, frozen nose hairs… sounds grim but somehow it’s comforting. I’m looking forward to watching Rudolph, the Grinch and Anne of Green Gables (all regular Christmas specials here) on Christmas day.

The past couple weeks have been lots of fun.of fun.  After shipping out the last sock club kits, and the first Bloodlines kit (Tru Blood themed!), I headed off to Austria for a week’s skiing.

Arlberg slopes

The Rockies and Banff hold a very special place in my heart – I grew up there, spending most my winter weekends on the slopes when I was in high school.  Something about the mountains just makes my heart sigh with content and completely relax.  When we reached Austria… I felt at home.  I think my heart recognized Austria as a kindred place! The mountains, the air, the feel of it… so familiar, but with Austrian touches.

View from my window

We stayed at the cutest hotel where most of the guests were regulars. I went with Bittersweetie and her family who had been going for years.  11 years for the head of the family, and 4 years for Bittersweetie.  Definitely a special place.

The skiing was very civilised – quiet slopes,  heated seats on the superfast lifts, and almost no queuing.  The runs are rather narrow compared to Sunshine or Lake Louise, but the Arlberg ski area has alot of mileage – almost 300 km of runs.  I think Sunshine and Lake Louise together have about 200km.

Number 38 run

It was such a treat to ski with a fun group of people. The hotel offered ‘ski guiding’ as part of our stay, and so we were put into a group of 4 ladies with our instructor/guide Pepi.  The theme of the week was ‘Princess Tours’ – we really were treated like princesses and our ski guiding was no different. We would meet Pepi, ski a run or two, then have a midmorning break for a drink, then ski on towards our lunch destination.  Pepi was great – he totally indulged us but I think he was sneaky too in making us do a little bit of work!  By day two our first run of the morning was always the hardest run of the day. One morning with almost zero visibility he took us down a black that was pretty much all sheet ice.  At one point I was standing there and I could barely make out our group – literally standing next to me!  Pepi told us if we can’t see the slope, we must feel the slope! Hmmm. I’m not so sure I like that. Sure I can feel the slope, but I don’t want to feel any fellow skiers as that would mean some kind of collision and those I would definitely rather avoid.

Hot on the heels of coming home from Austria, we headed out to Canada for Christmas.  I love coming back home, for so many reasons, but a very simple one is for the blue sky. I don’t mind the cold since the insulation and heating is awesome here, and there is a plethora of underground heated parking – and in exchange we have the most glorious expanses of blue sky.   Our first few days were shopping and shipping frenzy, but from today we’ve got a more measured schedule. Tonight a big old Chinese dinner at one of our favourite places, Bill’s, tomorrow Tina & Stef’s wedding, Monday a tour at Big Rock brewery.  Then three days of skiing at Sunshine (can’t wait!!), then home again for Christmas.

I’ve also been trying desperately to order some chocolates from Papa Chocolat, Bernard Callebaut (the person)’s new chocolaterie, after Bernard Callebaut (the chocolaterie) went into receivership and Bernard Callebaut (the chocolaterie) was given to his creditors and the person lost the right to use his name as the chocolaterie. The only problem is that they only have a phone number to place orders… and so far you can only leave an answerphone message. Fingers crossed I’ll get to order some chocolates from Papa Chocolat in time for Christmas.

First & Last 2010

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks – we had our first Bloodlines shipment go out at the end of November (Bill Compton & Eric Northman colourways) and today the last of the Knit Love Club 2010 sock kit parcels were posted out.

KLC2010 Last Kit

It’s all a bit sad – I’ve had a great time this year with the KLC club – regular swaps, meeting members at Knit Nation, seeing everyone’s socks (and shawls! Jaq you know who you are! 😉 ). Here’s a little retrospective of the year’s socks patterns (minus the last sock, as it’s still under wraps until Christmas).

KLC 2010 Collection

Next year will be really exciting – I’ll have my own line of yarns, which I’ve christened Sokkusu. Here’s the new logo for the belly bands.

Socktopus Sokkusu Yarn

And the Sokkusu mark:

Sokkusu

The plan is to have Sokkusu-L (lightweight), Sokkusu-O (original, the high twist yarn) and Sokkusu-E (extra, as in extra cushy with cashmere).  All sock yarns, but each with their own personality.  More details next year.

And of course, Christmas is fast sneaking up on us. Amanda sent me a lovely little Christmas brooch – felted wool Mistletoe!

A little Christmas spirit

The Christmas love doesn’t stop there! You’ll recall I received a great parcel with handknit socks last week.  Well, I got a little carried away and signed up twice for the swap -once for hand knit socks, and once for a sock kit (ie yarn and pattern).  So number two arrived in the post today.

SoSeSaSwa 2011

Thank you HJ! The yarn is Leith from The Yarn Yarn in the most delectable chartreuse colour. Fudge, chocolate, sock pattern by HJ herself, daisy seeds and very useful post it notes.

Today is Paul’s birthday – one more year to a decade milestone! Happy birthday Paul. Hope you are ready for some serious bowling tonight! We wanna see Turkeys!