We’re on the trail again, the Nanaimo Bar Trail that is. A sweet adventure that leads you from North Nanaimo to Cedar and everywhere in between sampling the tasty Nanaimo Bar treats that the Harbour City has to offer. If you missed our first jaunt on the trail you can catch up (here). This week leads us from chocolates, to cupcakes, to cinnamon buns, and even milkshakes! The new Nanaimo Bar Trail brochure is out and you can pick it up at any of the locations on the trail or the Nanaimo Visitor Centre. Or you can view it (here) on the website or on your smartphone.
Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut
Nanaimo Bar: Nanaim-o-Mite!
Key tastes: Smooth, Buttery, Chocolatey
Chocolaterie Bernard Callebaut is located in Country Club mall. Double french doors welcome you into the store and your senses are immediately filled with chocolate! Nanaimo’s Bernard Callebaut is the only store that offers the Nanaim-o-Mite! chocolate…in the world. Yes, it’s true: you can only find these delicious treats at this Bernard Callebaut location! A Canadian company, Bernard Callebaut prides itself on not using anything artificial in their chocolates. There are no added animal or vegetable fats, waxes or preservatives, guaranteeing you a beautiful product. In addition, they use only pure cocoa butter so the chocolates are all so smooth and delightful.
The Nanaim-o-Mite! is a variation on the traditional Nanaimo Bar but in a delicate chocolate form. Filled with vanilla and custard buttercream, this treat is incredibly smooth. This chocolate even has the traditional bottom of chocolate graham and nuts. This is a Nanaimo Bar treat of luxury. Pick up a box as a souvenir or enjoy them all to yourself.
Bernard Callebaut also partners with Warm Buddies selling soft toy animals to raise money for eight different charities benefiting bears across the world. What a neat souvenir!
We asked owner, Christine what her favourite thing about Nanaimo is. Her response? The ocean! Christine especially enjoys driving past the beautiful Departure Bay on her way to and from work. She also loves all the great people she has met here in Nanaimo, especially in the business community.
(correction: we previously stated that Bernard Callebaut used only pure “coconut butter” in their chocolates, it has been correctly updated to “cocoa butter”)
A Wee Cupcakery
Nanaimo Bar: Nanaimo Bar Cupcake
Key tastes: Chocolatey, Moist, Decadent
A Wee Cupcakery is located on Fitzwilliam Street in The Old City Quarter of downtown Nanaimo. Open since January 2010, A Wee Cupcakery has been a fixture for cupcakes in the downtown area. This adorable (and delicious!) bakery is owned and operated by Medina who grew up in Nanaimo and graduated from Malaspina College in the baking and pastry program. Medina wanted to run a bakery where she could sell cakes but decided to open a cupcake shop instead – she hasn’t looked back since. In addition to baking and selling cupcakes, Medina also does custom orders for private events. She knew early on that she needed something that represented Nanaimo – the Nanaimo Bar cupcake was one of the first cupcakes she invented.
The cupcake itself has a traditional base, minus the walnuts. A dutch cocoa base makes up the actual cake in the cupcake! Finally, the Nanaimo Bar Cupcake is topped with a buttercream frosting made with Bird’s Custard, which is used in the traditional Nanaimo Bar. Medina uses butter and callebaut chocolate – only the finest ingredients in her cupcakes. It shows!
Living on an island, with such easy access to water, is important to Medina, which is why her favorite thing about Nanaimo is the harbour!
p.s.: A Week Cupcakery makes both gluten-free and vegan & gluten-free cupcakes, so even if you can’t sample the Nanaimo Bar Cupcake, be sure to taste one of Medina’s other delicious cupcakes!
Nanaimo Bar: Nanaimo Bar Cinnamon Bun
Key tastes: Fluffy, Gooey, Cinnamoney
CJ’s aka Cinnamon Joes; coffee is the “Joes” part and Cinnamon Buns is the “Cinnamon” part. Located on the corner of Victoria Crescent and Albert Street, CJ’s has a walk-up shop window where you can order an array of delicious menu items. If it’s a bit wet outside (as it was for our visit) you can also order from the counter inside the building. CJ’s is open Thursday to Saturday from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm. On Friday and Saturday nights, CJ’s opens its window from 11:00 pm until 3:00 am for the adventurous bar crowds. CJ’s specializes in homemade, good, yummy food. Other than Cinnamon Buns CJ’s offers Mac and Cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, various twists on the classic cinnamon bun, and more!
OK, on to the main event: The Nanaimo Bar Cinnamon Bun comes drizzled in chocolate and custard frosting, already stirring up the senses. Ben, owner of CJ’s, claims that this Cinnamon Bun is disguised in a Nanaimo Bar costume! They have revamped the traditional cinnamon bun dough recipe – starting with a delicious Cinnamon Bun base they add cocoa, graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and almonds to the inside of the Cinnamon Bun swirl. Ben decided to reduce the actual amount of cinnamon in the bun so it doesn’t overpower that sweet Nanaimo Bar taste. The top of the cinnamon bun has a vanilla custard glaze that gets drizzled over top, along with a chocolate ganache made from Denman Island organic chocolate. It’s an adaptation of the traditional Nanaimo Bar that he makes in the shop as well.
We asked Ben what his favorite thing about Nanaimo is and he told us he loves the ocean and the harbour. A popular choice!
Living Forest Oceanside Campground and RV Park
Owners: The Littlejohn Family
Nanaimo Bar: Nanaimo Bar Milkshake
Key tastes: Creamy, Chunky, Rich
Living Forest Oceanside Campground & RV Park is a picturesque campground located right on the ocean and the Nanaimo River Estuary. The campground offers sites for all kinds of campers from tents to full service RVs. This oceanside campground has 300 sites, 250 of which are fully serviced. It is a family business that hires up to twenty employees in the summer to help run the bustling campground.
With a beautiful view you can pick up a Nanaimo Bar milkshake at their cafe right on the campground property overlooking the ocean. We sat down with Scott, patriarch of the Littlejohn family, to get the scoop on their twist on the classic Nanaimo Bar!
The Milkshake has been tested and approved and the final verdict is that using Nanaimo Bar ice-cream, then blending at the last moment a frozen Nanaimo Bar, makes the the best milkshake. Topped off with whip-cream this treat is the perfect blend of rich and creamy goodness.
Another neat thing that Living forest does is they give 100% of their profits from the cafe to charity. So when you have the milkshake it’s all guilt free! Living Forest even lets its patrons decide who they would like to see receive the cafe’s profits – ever patron who buys any item from the cafe is given a coffee bean. The patron then decides which of the four proposed charities they want to receive a donation. At the end of the summer, Living Forest counts each and every bean, where they correlate the number of beans into a percentage. That percentage then determines how much of a donation each charity receives! Last year Living Forest was able to donate over $12,000! Wowza!
We asked Scott what his favourite thing about Nanaimo is and, like everyone else, Scott’s answer is the ocean! Anything to do with the water is paradise as far as he is concerned. We couldn’t agree more!
That’s all for this jaunt on the Nanaimo Bar Trail. Stayed tuned for more from us on this sweet and delicious trail!
~ Sarah & Sean