By Eden Ramsay
This week I will introduce you to what I think is hands down the best chocolatier in Winnipeg, and according to a number of sources, one of the best in Canada. Chocolatier Constance Popp at 1853 Portage Avenue is a haven of gorgeous chocolates made with high quality and often uncommon ingredients.
The chocolates are so good that they have been served at highly esteemed events like the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, the 2010 Golden Globes in L.A., and the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
The product even has a celebrity following. An autographed photo of Winnipeg-born singer-songwriter Sierra Noble is on display inside the store. On the photo Noble has written, “To Constance my favourite chocolatier in the world… seriously! Love, Sierra Noble.”
Even the Queen has sampled Chocolatier Constance Popp’s chocolates on her last visit to Winnipeg in 2010. A beautiful box of maple syrup butter cream chocolate and a Manitoba red beet truffle with pepper, salt, and caraway seed chocolates were presented to Queen Elizabeth II during a lunch hosted by Lt.-Gov. Philip Lee for the Queen and 72 other guests.
I was fortunate enough to meet chief chocolatier and proprietor of Chocolatier Constance Popp, Constance Menzies at the Directions Business Conference I attended on Wednesday. She was a host of one of the few entrepreneurial tables. Red River College students got to approach her and ask her questions. She told our group her professional journey with a tone infectious enthusiasm to her voice.
Constance has a masters degree in natural resources development, but decided to pursue her pastime of making chocolate as a career instead. She studied chocolate making in one of the world’s chocolate making hubs, Montreal. After learning from the chocolate masters in Montreal, Constance, whose maiden name is Popp, opened Chocolatier Constance Popp in Winnipeg about four years ago. She did her research and purchased state-of-the-art chocolate making machinery for her store from Paris, France and networked with business owners and organizations around Winnipeg.
Soon locals caught word and taste of Constance’s product and she quickly gained a following. Her dedication to creating a unique, quality product and to the Manitoba food industry has earned her several awards including the President’s Award at the 2012 Manitoba Food Processor Association’s Industry Excellence Awards. It stands proudly on display in her shop.
Constance often buys locally and frequently incorporates Manitoban ingredients into her products. The Manitobar, which is made in the shape of our lovely province, is one of her most popular products. It includes many locally sourced ingredients such as Manitoba Harvest Hemp Seed Nut, Manitoba flax, and Eco-Farms Sunflower Seeds.
She also offers customers the option of having their chocolates beautifully packaged in one of her handmade containers. Some of these include stained glass purses and modern, stylish, single or multi-level stained wooden boxes. All of which are made by Winnipeg artists.
Constance is constantly updating her product line and often has seasonally themed treats so be sure to check back often. I was given a sample of the caramel sea salt valentines heart. This chocolate will not only melt in your mouth, but your heart as well with its perfect combination of sweetness offset by a touch of saltiness.
Other favourites of mine include the rich, Manitobar, the luscious tart lemon cream truffle, the Mexican Truffle which is spiced with hot pepper ganache, and slight lime and tequila flavours, and the Cardamom Cocopod, which is hard to explain, but extremely good with its delicious distinct cardamom spice in dark Belgium chocolate. I also couldn’t resist trying the Sitting Chai Tea Buddha chocolate that was filled with chai and ginger flavoured cream inside. Its sweet and unique taste was a nice modern twist on a chocolate flavour.
With Valentine’s Day less than a week away why not step up your love game this year? Constance’s artfully designed and decadently flavoured selection of chocolates are sure to please even the hardest woman and man in your life to buy for… and even the Queen herself.
For more information check out the Chocolatier Constance Popp website.
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Eden Ramsay is a Creative Communications student at Red River College. She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) from the University of Manitoba and majored in graphic design. She loves culture, design in its many forms, and exploring the world around her. Follow her on Twitter: @EdenRamsay.