Monday, June 29, 2009

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie

Have you heard of Thomas Haas yet? Perhaps you've seen him before on Martha Stewart, or maybe you remember him as the pastry chef at Daniel in NYC? Twilight fans will soon know him as the creator of Bella's birthday cake, appearing in the upcoming New Moon movie. Regardless of what you've heard, this award winning 4th generation pastry chef is sure to become one of your favorite chocolatiers!

During our trip to Vancouver last month, hubby Kris and I heard so much praise about Thomas Haas and his handmade chocolates, we decided to make a pilgrimage out to his patisserie in North Vancouver, oddly situated in an quiet industrial park on the northshore of Burrard Inlet (perhaps I'm being overly dramatic by using the word 'pilgrimage' - going to North Vancouver is not really that big of a deal, it's just across the bridge from downtown Vancouver).

Despite the busy lunch crowd (the patisserie also serves soup and sandwiches), we were lucky enough to find a parking space right in front:

Inside the patisserie (notice the gorgeous red damask-covered ceilings):

Some awards/accolades:

Handmade chocolates (a bargain at only $1.05 each):

Individual desserts ($5.25):

Hot chocolate (how cute is that heart on top?):

Goodies to take home (more about the award winning Chocolate Sparkle Cookies below):

We shared a double baked almond croissant ($3.75), #4 on
Vancouver Magazine's 101 Things to Eat before you die:

Toasted almonds, buttery soft interior filled with melt-in-your-mouth marzipan:

A sampling of 6 handmade chocolates/truffles (made in small batches and preservative free):

These chocolates were some of the best we've ever tried (and my chocolate snob hubby has tried a LOT of 'designer' chocolate, usually at double the price). Our favorites out of this bunch were the green cardamom (hint of whisky warmed you up like a cup of Indian chai) and the lychee (dark chocolate ganache with a thin layer of fresh lychee).

Hey, isn't that Thomas Haas behind the counter?

Ever the gracious host, he came over to say hello, thrilled that we came all the way from New York to visit his patisserie:

And then to our surprise, he treated us to a piece of his Manjari Chocolate cake - layers of chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, and rum creme brulee, made with
Valrhona Manjari dark chocolate (Madagascar):


A sampling of chocolates, selected by Thomas Haas (lemon thyme, hazelnut lemon zest, cocoa nib, and aztec):

Seriously amazing, flavors were so fresh, especially the lemon thyme.

And for Kris, a cafe mocha made with Valrhona Guanaja dark chocolate (South America):

Chef Haas even brought out some Valrhona couverture for us to try (Manjari and Guanaja):

Honestly, we just meant to stop in for a couple minutes, only to be treated to a chocolate feast! Thank you to Thomas Haas (who so humbly told me to write "anything I want" about his chocolates on my blog, "good or bad!") for making our visit so special.

So why hasn't such a celebrated chocolatier opened a shop in NYC or in other foodie meccas around the world? Because he's perfectly happy right where he is, enjoying the customer interaction that comes with an owner-managed business, with his lovely wife/co-owner Lisa behind the counter (I only realized later on that it was Lisa who helped us pick out chocolates when we first got there).

And for those who still refuse to make the trek out to North Vancouver, Thomas Haas will be opening his 2nd location this August in Vancouver, next to Daniel Boulud's Lumiere and DB Bistro Moderne!

You can also order Thomas Haas chocolates and cookies
online, or find his creations at fine retailers throughout the Lower Mainland.

Thomas Haas Fine Chocolates & Patisserie

Unit 128, 998 Harbourside Drive
North Vancouver, BC V7P 3T2
(604) 924 -1847

Thomas Haas Chocolate Sparkle Cookies, the Best Cookie in the World?

A week prior to our visit to Thomas Haas, we stopped at Granville Island Public Market. As we strolled by Edible BC, I couldn't help but notice this sign:

Who could ignore a sign like this?

The cookies are sold frozen and need to stay frozen until baked. So we quickly paid for them (6 for $8.95), abandoned our plans for the next few hours and headed for our friend (and fellow chocoholic) Liz's house. Her toaster oven would do just fine.

Here they are before being baked:

After 12 minutes at 350 degrees F:

And 'dusted' with powdered sugar as per instructions (OK, more like slopped on, who has time to look for a sieve?) Check out the molten goodness:


But is it the world's best cookie? Not exactly. Although delicious, they weren't very cookie-like, more like mini flourless chocolate cakes. But they certainly lived up to the claim on the packaging: "the only chocolate truffle in the world you can bake!" If I lived in Vancouver, I would always have these gourmet delights on hand in my freezer (perfect for last minute company). And good news for celiacs - these cookies are gluten-free! And if you don't live in Vancouver, order them online
here. Or make them at home with this easy recipe.



Heavenly Housewife said...

What an awesome post, Its exactly the kind of thing I love :D, what a gorgeous place. I think its kind of good that the pastry chef likes where he is. As someone who kind of lives like an hour from civilisation, I would love it if cool stuff like that opened by my house--we only have Subway, Mcdonalds and Pizza Hut in my town centre. I have bookmarked that truffle cookie recipe--so glad it doesn't have any impossible to find ingredients :).
p.s. So, what is your favourite cookie then :)?

Justin said...

how cool you got to meet him.

Anonymous said...

Wow, amazing chocolates and pastries, and also that cafe mocha and the hot chocolate! How neat that you had a chance to meet Thomas Haas!

Phyllis said...

Heavenly Housewife: Haha - the only thing my town centre has that yours doesn't is a Wendy's! I know there's some cool local stuff around here somewhere, I just haven't found it yet.
So what's my favorite cookie? I'm a sucker for homemade chocolate chip cookies, but for special occasions hubby sometimes buys me these giant chocolate chip cookies from Dessert Delivery in NYC. These substantial cookies contain chocolate, peanut butter chunks, m&ms, nuts etc and weigh a ton (think of it as a protein bar, you can nibble it all day and not have to eat any meals). The inside is still soft and reminds me of raw cookie dough. I want one right now (Kris are you paying attention?)

Justin: He was the nicest guy too! We were so full from all the chocolate that we could barely eat lunch afterwards.

Phyllis said...

5 Star Foodie: I think Thomas Haas is there everyday, either making desserts and chocolate in the back or helping out with the "front of the house". I tend to get a bit starstruck sometimes and I was really overwhelmed by meeting him -he was so lovely, generous and humble. When I got back from my trip I realized that I was so flabbergasted at the time that I failed to write down any notes!

KennyT said...

Phyllis, Thomas Haas is so cool!

Lemon thyme chocolate sounds delish to me.

Phyllis said...

Kenny: I typically don't like herbs or anything florally (like lavender in my chocolate), but everything I tried that day was awesome!

Jenn said...

Eek! Chocolate overload. I shouldn't have looked at that. I'm getting a massive craving for chocolate now.

That's so cool. Awesome post! I just took a glance at their online shop. I'm so tempting to buy some right now.

Chocolates said...

Such a Yummy Post!!!
I love chocolate and all chocolate related items.
Your posted pictures are looking great.


Tangled Noodle said...

I simply don't know where to begin. What an awesome experience! The chocolates and pastries alone were magnificent but then to meet the man behind them must have been wonderful. He sounds really nice and down-to-earth, while his confections are out-of-this-world! Thanks for sharing it with us although I'm more than a tad bit envious - I would love to have just any one of the treats you tried!

Phyllis said...

Jenn: Thanks! I hope you get a chance to try Thomas Haas chocolates but I think you might have to wait till the fall because they don't ship during the summer due to heat concerns. But you could always make the chocolate sparkle cookies in the meantime ;)

Chocolates: Thanks so much! Gorgeous photos on your chocolate website.

Tangled Noodle: Perfect time to head to Vancouver - the weather's amazing in the summer! Then you can have your very own Thomas Haas experience :)

TheChocolatePriestess said...

Your pictures are lovely. Thank you for letting me know about this place. If I ever get up to Vancouver I'll give it a try.

Phyllis said...

TheChocolatePriestess: Thanks for checking out the post!