Give Your Lover Something a Little Different This Valentine’s Day (With Locally Made Chocolates, Obviously).

In the same way that dedicated drunks stay home on St. Patrick’s day in order to let the amateurs, sloshy and truculent, take charge of the streets for the night, so to do I, a career romantic, prefer to leave St. Valentine’s to people who prefer to fete their lovers only at the time sanctioned and appointed by whoever invented this holy day of love. Nevertheless, the chocolate season is fast upon us, and great threads of last-minute men will be cued up along the road outside the well-known chocolate stores on Government St., hoping for some sweetness for their lovers. You ought to know, whether you are looking to sugar up your lover, or simply looking to place a small square of pleasure on your own tongue, that there are possibilities ranging from large and well known to small and boutique here in Victoria.

I went about town and investigated a few different locations that are making chocolates locally (as opposed to shipping stuff from a factory into different outlets). Often the small scale of production means that the ingredients are fresher, more organic, and reflect the creativity of the individual chocolate maker. As always, my list is not comprehensive, and if anyone has suggestions they would like to add, our Facebook discussion page would be a great place to offer your own discoveries. I also am aware that I have left the excellent work of Sirene Chocolate off the list. This is because I am focusing on truffles. The places I do list are in no particular order. I liked them all.

Chocolat, Chocolatiere de Victoria

Chocolat, part chocolate shop and part café, occupies a prime location on Fort St, just above Douglas. I sat down and spoke with Angela, who runs the shop. She told me that the business began in 1986 when her mother came home with a press and began making chocolates in the living room. From there they have expanded into their present location.

The chance to sit down and sip one of the cocoas, or a coffee, while sampling truffles and chocolates makes for a pleasant way to pass time and escape for a moment from the jostling crowds outside the window. I tried a number of treats while I was there, and a few stood out in my mind:

Beyond the excellent dark chocolate mouse (pronounced, and also shaped, like the animal), and the always popular champagne truffle, Chocolat has a few fun and exotic choices. The Samurai Wasabi starts creamy and finishes with a hit of Japanese horseradish to the sinuses. Counterbalanced it with a refreshing Kalamansi truffle, made from a citrus fruit of the Philippines. Reflecting the Greek heritage of the owners, there is an interesting (and possibly addictive) sweet goat cheese and nut truffle, mixed subtly with cacao. I’m also a big fan of chocolate mint, and they do this very, very well.

Chocolat uses no additives or preservatives, and they have a focus on fresh and local ingredients where they can. As is the case with all the places I am going to discuss, the freshness and the focus on preservative free cooking means that these chocolates do not last long. They are at their best up to eight days from purchasing.

chocolate - river road counter

River Road Chocolate

John Moloney at River Road Chocolate starts by telling me to put a slice of chocolate in my mouth. “But don’t chew it,” he says, “just let it melt on your tongue and experience the flavours!” After a moment, he hands me a small cup of his own cocoa blend. I drink it and, all of a sudden, the chocolate begins to crackle on my tongue. This chocolate infused with pop rocks is an interesting gimmick that does instruct people on the subtlety of chocolates and truffles. Flavours and textures blend into each other; they appear at different times during the consumption of each small piece.

Working from a stall in the Victoria Public Market on Wednesdays and weekends, Moloney pairs his organic chocolate with all sorts of local products. His salt comes from Salt West Sea Salt. His champagne truffle is made with bubbly from Unsworth. He makes a chocolate with balsamic from Olive Your Senses.

Local connections are one thing, of course, and flavour is another. Moloney avoids refined sugar when sweetening his chocolates. Instead, he brings out the natural sweetness in things by blending flavours and playing on their chemical properties— for example, milk can be made sweet through gentle heating and then used as a substitute for sugars in a ganache. The effect is similar to what one might get from a dulce de leche, but without the initial sugaring of the milk.

Moloney is most proud of his secret cocoa recipe, which he sells at his stall and quite a number of locations around the island. He still does everything by hand and works with limited productions, but his reputation is growing and he deserves the appreciation.

chocolate - pure lovin tray

Pure Lovin’

Run by mother and daughter team Cyndy and Leah Blackburn, Pure Lovin’ makes chocolates that are organic, fair trade, vegan, and gluten free. They began working in farmers markets around town and have now graduated to wholesale and have a storefront in Fan Tan alley, across from the extraordinary La Tana Bakery (see our First Look here).

chocolate - pure lovin counter

The products here are once again made in collaboration with other local producers and international fair trade organizations. Salt Spring Coffee and Level Ground Chai Tea both have hints of their flavours in the chocolates Pure Lovin’ makes. I try a few different selections, without even knowing exactly what I’m picking. The chocolates are infused with hints of fruit, coffee, mint, and other such things, which subtly come through the flavour of the ganache.

chocolate - terrible truffles trays

Terrible Truffles

Located in the basement of the Humboldt Bed and Breakfast, Terrible Truffles is the brainchild of David Booth, a decorated dessert chef who has worked both here and in Montreal over the years. Booth makes all his truffles, thirty-five thousand a year he estimates, by hand with a pastry bag. This gives the truffles he makes a unique and individual look that can’t be achieved with the regularity of a chocolate press. Each one is slightly different.

I try an Aztez truffle, made with 70% cacao, chili powder, and red peppercorns. This truffle begins sweet and chocolaty before the spice settles in. As I chew, the peppercorn texture and snap begins to manifest itself. It’s a unique concoction. Next, I try a chocolate Florentine—dark chocolate covering caramelized almonds infused with orange zest. Decadent doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Terrible Truffles doesn’t have a storefront, per se. They sell their products out of other stores (check their website) and they cater to guests in their own Bed and Breakfast. This is a fun operation.

chocolate - bernard callebaut counter

Chocolatier Bernard Callebaut

Although this is a somewhat larger chain, I want to give them a special mention because it is a good place to go to buy large blocks of fine Belgian Chocolate in bulk. They also do have some delicious chocolates, and their milk chocolate bars with chili, oregano, and sea salt are exceptional. The chocolate mint, also, which uses mint leaves instead of mint cream, is a great twist on the usual. It’s a good place.


It’s been easy for me over the years to just devour bad chocolate bars (and even good chocolate bars) in bulk, and not really think about it. These small chocolates with their blending of flavour and texture take chocolate to another level. The point here is that a single bite can provide up to five or ten minutes of sensory adventure for the mouth. They can compliment desserts, drinks, or simply intimate passages of quality time between people in love. Go out and have fun, forget boxes of Pot of Gold and have some scrumptious fun this Valentine’s Day.


Chocolat, Chocolatarie de Victoria

703 Fort Street, Victoria BC

River Road Chocolate

Victoria Public Market,
1701 Douglas St, Victoria BC

Pure Lovin’ Chocolate

#102 – 3 Fan Tan Alley, Victoria BC
V8W 3G9

Terrible Truffles

867 Humboldt Street, Victoria, BC
V8V 2Z6
Telephone 1.250.383.0142
Toll-Free 1.888.383.0327

Bernard Callebaut

621 Broughton St, Victoria BC
V8W 3J2

Written By:

Born and raised in the mysterious East (by which I mean Ontario and Quebec, not Asia), Adam migrated out to British Columbia in search of adventure and fortune. He had been at different times a scholar, a musician, a poet and a ...

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