Cocoa Locale perfects the cake
Cocoa Locale, a cozy cake shop on Park Ave., is everything that a bakery should be. It is whimsical, homey, and has smells so tantalizing that it’s hard not to buy at least one of everything.
Reema Singh opened the shop five years ago, and has been churning out cakes and baked goods with her own two hands every day ever since. She’s a one-woman show, and she likes it that way. The shop is her baby.
“I would never hire anybody else, I like that everything is up to me,” she said, elbow deep in vanilla cake batter.
Cocoa Locale is just one room consisting of a counter with a display case, behind which Singh has her baking atelier. She mixes and pours her confections as she serves and greets customers.
Artfully decorated, the place is brimming with personality. Corkboards the length of the walls are adorned with picture frames, 1950s ads and postcards, kitschy quotes, and retro baking paraphernalia.
The only seating is a wooden bench under the window, and a wooden swing beside it. This is a take-out shop, and customers can pre-order cakes and other goodies or else pick them up on the spot.
“I do cupcakes but my specialty are cakes,” she said. For Singh, cupcakes are really just a miniature version of her larger cakes. You won’t find thousands of flavours to box up by the dozen, but the select recipes she has leave no conceivable room for improvement.
“I’m a vanilla person,” Singh said of her favorite recipe. “I’ve spent a lot of time perfecting that.”
And perfect it is as this vanilla is anything but boring. With hints of rose, the cupcake is fresh, sweet and melts in your mouth.
It was, however, the chocolate chai cupcake that sent me reeling into what I can only describe as the elusive taste-bud orgasm. The cake is rich and decadent, with complex spices and a hint of ginger against the bittersweet chocolate.
The third cupcake I sampled was lemon coconut and was a nice contrast against
the richness of the chocolate. This one was sweet and buttery, with zings of lemon that hit you with each bite.
Cakes are baked fresh every day and while she retains customer favourites, she occasionally alters the menu at her own whim. Her three classic recipes are chocolate valrhona chai, vanilla rose, and lemon coconut. Each cake or cupcake is decorated as deliciously as it tastes, with a feminine sprinkle of flower petals or coconut shavings.
A box of six cupcakes is sold for $15, a small cake ranges from $10 to $12, and a large one from $18 to $20. I guarantee it’ll be worth every penny.
Cocoa Locale is located on 4807 Park Ave.
Cacao 70 brings you a taste of home
When away at university, the comforts of home seem to be far and few, especially when it comes to food. One thing I definitely miss are my mom’s home baked goodies, her brownies in particular. So when I stepped into Cacao 70, I felt that I had found a home away from home for all my chocolate-treat needs.
If you ever find yourself walking down Ste-Catherine St. and in need of a quick chocolate pick me up, pop into Cacao 70, a unique resto, dessert, and chocolate bar. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, a much needed relief from the below zero temperatures outside, with a sweet aroma of chocolate in the air.
There is a sit down menu or you can get your goodies to go, either way you cannot go wrong with a treat from them. My personal favourite is their brownies. I find it difficult to find a really good brownie as they’re always too soft, too hard or too rich. What seems to be such a simple dessert is actually really difficult to get just right.
However, at Cacao 70 the brownie is simply to die for. It is light, not too rich, and each bite leaves you wanting just a little bit more. This delicious dessert is comforting and warm, like it was baked in your mom’s kitchen.
You can have the brownie plain or add whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce. Along with the dessert, you can also enjoy a homemade hot chocolate that comes in a variety of flavours such as dark, milk chocolate, and spiced. You can also choose from several decadent chocolate pizza options that include chocolate peanut butter and Nutella with ricotta cheese. Another sweet surprise on the menu would be the 10 different flavours of chocolate soda that Cacao 70 offers, including banana and passion fruit.
No matter what chocolate needs you have, Cacao 70 has something to offer. It is just a quick walk from the downtown Concordia University campus, so make a pit stop after class to satisfy your chocolate cravings and be comforted with a one-of-a-kind dessert experience.
Cacao 70 is located on 2087 Ste-Catherine W. St.