Top of the Chocs

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

At least that’s what I told myself when I saw that, as part of Porirua City Council’s Choctober celebrations, 16 local cafes would be offering up a signature hot chocolate for the general public to try and then rate online.

I’d left it a little late. It was already the middle of October so I only had 2 weeks in which to try 16 hot chocolates. Well, 15 if you take out the offering from Sandbar in Mana which is a vodka based martini style drink. And 13 if you take out the Mint Chocolate Chip Cookie Shake from Regular Cafe and the Local Chocthaurity milkshake from Local Authority (it’s the name of the café, not a branch of the council as I first thought!) because in my book, cold milkshakes do not qualify as hot chocolates.

Now, could my wallet and my waistline afford to buy and drink 13 hot chocolates in two weeks?

“How many?” asked my husband, wearing the usual exasperated expression that he saves for my more stupid and spontaneous suggestions.

“13,” I answered.

“Are you actually going to drink them all?” he questioned.

No, I’m going to wear them.

“Well, I thought I’d maybe bring some of them back for the kids to try,” I suggested. ” You know, so I don’t consume 6 months worth of calories in a fortnight.”

The interrogation continued.

“How much is this going to cost?” was the next question.

Geez. The man knows how to suck the fun out of things.

“I don’t know,” I whined.

I actually don’t remember what he said next because I’d chosen to ignore him from this point and was mentally planning out which cafes I was going to visit first.

1. The Minty Waffle from Columbus Café

I don’t know Porirua very well yet and so had no clue where this café was. The kids decided that they wanted to come with me on this first hot chocolate tasting expedition which was fortunate as I needed their navigation skills. We drove around a few streets for a while until I asked my son to see if he could find the address on his phone. A few quick taps with his nibble fingers revealed that the cafe’s location was in a nearby retail park. We found the entrance and pulled in only to be confronted by the enormous aircraft hanger style building of Mitre 10. Mitre 10 for those who don’t know is the New Zealand equivalent of B&Q.

“It’s in there?” my son asked, incredulously.

Sure enough, on the sign next to the Mitre 10 logo was the logo for Columbus Café.

Well ok then.

We parked in the carpark and went into Mitre 10, looking around to see if we could see the café. It was just past the indoor plants and actually looked pretty nice.

I baulked at the price. $9.50? At this rate, there was no way I could afford to buy 13 hot chocolates. Make that 14 because today, I’d promised the kids one each.

There was no backing out now. The kids took a seat at a nearby table and I put the order in for two Minty Waffle Hot Chocolates. Within a few minutes, two green cups were placed on the table and the kids eyes lit up.

I nibbled a bit of the waffle and had a slurp of the peppermint flavoured hot chocolate and was pleasantly surprised. It was really good! Not at all what I’d expected from a café in a DIY warehouse. Topped with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and little green sugar sprinkles, it had a nice strong flavour and was not too hot. My daughter quietly confided that she was here for the waffle and that she didn’t like hot chocolate so my son obligingly finished hers too.

Hot chocolate: The Minty Waffle

Score: 8/10

2. Dark Doris Top to Bottom from The Little Green Olive

The Little Green Olive was apparently in Mana which is just down the road from us and somewhere I drove through all the time so I was surprised when I realised I hadn’t seen it before. When I checked the map, I saw it was at the beginning of the esplanade, close to the turning off to Paremata in what I always thought was just a car park.

I was going to work for this one. I had decided that I was going to walk the 6km and back to Mana in an attempt to offset the calories I would be consuming. Thankfully it was a nice but overcast day, perfect walking weather for me. In just over an hour, I had made it down to Mana and once I’d crossed over the road, could see The Little Green Olive housed in what looked to be a repurposed shipping container.

The lady was very friendly and took my order for a Dark Doris. Taking a seat at one of the wooden benches, I waited for her to bring my order. I was looking forward to this one because a) I love the combination of chocolate and plum (which is what a Black Doris is in case you didn’t know) and b) it was unlike the other hot chocolates on the list because came with an edible cup.

My order was brought over to me and it was beautiful.

Topped with lightly whipped cream, biscuit crumbles and a drizzle of plum syrup it really did look stunning. Unfortunately, this was a case of looks being deceiving. To my dismay, the hot chocolate itself was pretty watery and didn’t taste at all of plum. I thought I’d really enjoy tucking into the edible cup but that too was devoid of flavour. I give them marks for making an edible cup though – no-one else has done that.

Size wise it was pretty small which would have been perfect had I not just walked 6km to get it. Not to mention the 6km I now had to walk back. Uphill.

Hot chocolate: Dark Doris Top to Bottom

Score: 6/10

3. Raspberry Gateau Hot Chocolate from Greedy & Co.

Annoyed at having to walk 12km for a very small watery hot chocolate I decided that the next day, I was going to stay closer to home and pay a visit to Greedy & Co, based in Pukerua Bay.

Greedy & Co is run by two local ladies and isn’t technically a café, more of a coffee caravan. It’s very popular with everyone here in Pukerua Bay and what was more important, was that it would only take me 10 minutes to saunter over to it’s parking spot next to the church.

I was served by the ever cheerful Sarah although her smile seemed to faulter when I did my usual trick of opening my mouth before putting my brain in gear and telling her that the hot chocolate I had tried yesterday was a real disappointment.

“Really?” she asked, genuinely taken aback.

Trying to hold back the lemmings from jumping over the cliff, I told her that perhaps my expectations were too high and that I was sure her hot chocolate would be lovely.

“No pressure!” I added with a smile. And then inwardly winced as I realised that was such a dumb thing to say.

I watched her make it and was delighted to see that she used chocolate ganache for the base rather than a power and coated in the inside of the paper cup with raspberry syrup before pouring in the hot chocolate. She then topped it with a generous helping of whipped cream, more raspberry syrup and a light dusting of chocolate powder.

Anyone who knows me will know that you can read my face like a book. I can’t hide anything even if I try really hard. So rather than tucking into the hot chocolate there and then and risk offending Sarah further by having to pretend I was enjoying when I very clearly wasn’t, I thanked her, grabbed the cup and the spoon, and started the walk home intending to drink it on the fly.

I needn’t have worried. It was very nice! Much, much better that the Dark Doris and nearly as as good as the Minty Waffle.

Hot chocolate: Raspberry Gateau Hot Chocolate

Score: 7/10

4. Hot Chocolate from Kafe Oranje

My next hot chocolate destination was in Plimmerton which is the town next to us. It was a rather cold day and I hoped that the hot chocolate offering at Kafe Oranje would brighten my mood.

I have no idea why they spell ‘café’ with a ‘k’ or ‘orange’ with a ‘j’ but branding issues aside, this is a really sweet little place and very popular with the locals.

This was the first time I was going to have to sit in a café by myself rather that get a takeaway and I felt a little lonely as I made my way to a small table at the back of side room after placing my order. I found myself wishing my sister was with me; she would love this.

I spent a few minutes amusing myself by taking photos of the orange tableware and then my hot chocolate was brought out to me.

It was back to basics with this one. Just a plain hot chocolate with two little marshmallows on the side. It didn’t even have a fancy name.

But it was absolutely delicious. Super rich and creamy, not too sweet, not too hot and small enough to enjoy without the guilt. This drink wasn’t actually created for the competition; they serve this all the time and for $5, it was the cheapest I had tasted to date. Marvelling at their confidence for putting forward such a simple drink for the competition, I drained my cup, stuffed the marshmallows into my mouth hamster-style and left.

Hot chocolate: Hot chocolate

Score: 9/10

5. Right in the Nuts from Ruby’s Café

This was another café on the Mana esplanade that I didn’t know about. It’s sandwiched between an apartment block and an interior design shop in a small shopping precinct, and very easy to miss.

Their hot chocolate offering looked delicious but very calorific due to the nut content so I timed my purchase to coincide with my son coming home from school so he could have most of it. The café shuts at 3:30pm so I arrived at 3:20pm. The only other people there were a large gaggle of new mums with babies on some kind of antenatal group outing and an older white bearded man in workman’s gear and a hi-vis jacket.

I stepped up to the counter to order my hot chocolate, my juvenile self inwardly sniggering as I heard myself ask for a ‘right in the nuts’. The lady kindly explained that I would have to get it to go as they were closing soon and I said that was fine. Once my order was rung up, she got to work making my beverage and I took a seat on a worn red velvet bench.

In attempt to be helpful, the man in the hi-vis dutifully took his empty plate and cup up to the counter and then proceeded to politely ask the new mums if they could help him with something. A lady friend of his in Australia who was expecting a baby had apparently asked him to make something for her but he didn’t know much about it. The new mums at the table were apparently ‘the right age’ and so he thought they might be able to enlighten him. Try as I might, I couldn’t hear what what it was they were talking about. Something ‘New Age’ that was apparently ‘good for the womb’. What on earth had she asked him to make? I’m not sure I wanted to know.

I was mercifully pulled away from the disturbing conversation when my hot chocolate was set down in front of me.

If the last hot chocolate was back to basics then this one was the polar opposite. It looked unashamedly decadent, topped with whipped cream and a jumble of broken chocolate pieces, peanuts and marshmallows. Chocolate syrup had been liberally drizzled across the top and a Pocky biscuit was balanced across the top like a paddle on kayak.

My eyes widened as I mentally calculated the calories. If memory served, according to the description on the website, there was peanut butter in the hot chocolate itself too. Egads!

I took my drink back to the car and took a sip using the straw. It was so good! The combination of chocolate and nuts is always a winner for me. I helped myself to one of the marshmallows, the Pocky biscuit, one of the chocolate pieces and drank half of the hot chocolate. I then forced myself to put it in the car’s cup holder and drove back home where I put it out of my sight awaiting my son’s return home from school.

This was a damn good hot chocolate but for me, it was too large with too many toppings.

Hot chocolate: Right in the Nuts

Score: 8/10

6. Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate from The Little Goat

The Little Goat used to be a travelling food truck but now it has a permanent home in a small shopping precinct in central Porirua. It specialises in Cypriot food, selling everything from pitta pockets to goat burgers. It’s only open during the week and closes at 2:30pm so I drove down there mid-morning to avoid the lunch rush.

This was one of two spicy hot chocolates on offer from Top of Chocs, the other being from The Coffee Cart in Elsdon. I’m not overly keen on the chilli and chocolate combination but because it was different to the others, I felt it was worth giving it a shot.

I placed my order, sat down on a slightly grubby wooden bench and waited.

When my name was called out, I went up to the counter and was handed something that looked very promising.

It didn’t have a plethora of toppings, just a little bit of whipped cream, two little pieces of chocolate and some fresh chocolate shavings but that was ok by me. I took a sip, waited a moment and then was mule-kicked in the throat by the chilli. It was a really nice combination of sweet and spicy and certainly tasted like an adult hot chocolate. It wasn’t watery nor too hot and although I liked it, something bothered me. If you’re going to call your hot chocolate ‘Aztec’ then you absolutely have to throw in some cinnamon. I couldn’t taste any and that was a real shame.

Something else bothered me too. It was the cup. Or rather what was on the cup.

They look like characters from The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. That Chief Blue Meanie is one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen……..apart from the pictures in the Homepride Cookery Book that is. I haven’t removed points for the cup though. That would be unfair.

Hot chocolate: Spicy Aztec Hot Chocolate

Score: 7/10

7. Milk Tart Hot Chocolate from The Regal Shortbread Company

“Oh this is going to be a good one!” I giggled to myself as I pulled up on Discovery Drive in front of The Regal Shortbread Company.

I had passed the Regal Shortbread Company many times when I used to drive my kids to school in Whitby but it nearly always seemed to be closed. I thought this might have been due to COVID but having checked out the website, it’s because, being a ‘micro bakery’ it keeps very short hours. It’s only open from 10am to 2pm Wednesday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday

But what makes The Regal Shortbread Company different from all the other cafés in the competition is that it’s a one woman band. And that woman has the most eccentric sense of humour.

This extract is taken from the ‘About Us’ section of the company website:

It all started one afternoon  in a kitchen in Whitby as Anita (aka The Grand Duchess of Shortbread) tried to think of ways to raise funds that would not kill her regal spirit. Playing to her strengths (creating beautiful baked things that her loyal subjects loved to devour) she came up with the idea of selling home baked shortbread to the unsuspecting neighbourhood. ​It soon became apparent that the people wanted more. And more. And more. ‘Let them eat shortbread,’ she declared while polishing her tiara and grooming her unicorn, ‘and let them have different flavours to choose from!

Oh, the whimsy!

The café itself is right in the middle of suburbia, nestled between the houses on Discovery Drive in Whitby and I suspect might actually be part of Anita’s home. It has no indoor seating but has a couple of wooden benches outside. The interior is decorated with pictures of Elizabethan royalty and still life paintings of fruit along with a fabulously eccentric portrait of Anita in a gown and wearing a tiara, delicately clasping a shortbread biscuit between her thumb and forefinger.

The hot chocolate itself is billed as having a South African influence (Anita’s home country), and would apparently be topped with Italian meringue and served with a shortbread spoon and a side of milk tart custard. As Anita only made 20 per day, I had to pre-order it online and a cost of $14, it is the most expensive hot chocolate in the competition.

I was way too excited about this one. I jabbered away inanely to Anita as she put the finishing touches to my hot chocolate by browning the top of the Italian meringue with a tiny blow torch. She the handed me a metal teaspoon, explaining that she didn’t put it on the saucer because it spoils the look.

I carefully walked my hot chocolate outside sat down on one of the benches.

Served in a delicate white and grey bone china tea cup with matching saucer, this hot chocolate looked regal in every sense. The milk tart custard had been sprinkled with cinnamon as had the little shortbread spoon and the meringue had been caramelised perfectly.

I started with the milk tart custard which was absolutely heavenly. Rich and sweet, I would have eaten a whole bowl of it was put in front of me which made me kind of grateful only 3 rosettes had been piped onto the saucer.

And this lady knows shortbread, let me tell you. The spoon was sweet, buttery and crumbly and again, I would have eaten a whole tin of them given the chance. The meringue posed a bit of a logistical problem as I couldn’t really cut it with the metal spoon while it was floating on the hot chocolate and something told me I’d lived to regret it if I tried to shovel the whole thing in my mouth. I put the teacup on the bench and lifted the meringue on to the saucer where I could cut into it more easily. And it didn’t disappoint either. It was soft, glossy and sweet, an extremely well made Italian meringue.

The hot chocolate itself, although muted in comparison to it’s companions, was perfectly balanced. It had a lovely thick texture but wasn’t cloying, and so acted as a clever counterpoint to the sweeter shortbread, cream and meringue.

I took my empty cup and saucer inside and told Anita that, hands down, her hot chocolate was the best I had tasted so far. She beamed and then asked me how may I’d tried. I said that hers was the seventh and that seemed to please her even more. After promising her that I would rate it on the council website, I wondered back to the car thinking wistfully how much I would dearly love to experience that hot chocolate all over again.

Hot chocolate: Milk Tart Custard Hot Chocolate

Score: 10/10

8. Pocky Me S’More from the Karaage Kid

This one was a long time coming. It’s no secret that I’m a huge karate fan and this place seemed right up my street. I’d deliberately left it until I could have either my son or my husband with me because from the photo on the website, it looked gargantuan and not something I’d be able to finish So on our way back from Tawa at the weekend, we decided to search it out.

In true karate fashion, this tiny little food truck hid itself away in the back of a car park next to a shopping precinct, only making itself known when we were a few feet way. Curiously, it was parked with it’s back to the street with the serving hatch facing a brick wall, a confident pitch orientation if ever I saw one.

The menu was written in stereotypical oriental-style font, the kind you’d expect to see in a 1980’s karate movie. And talking of 1980’s karate movies, here you could order burgers by the name of Mr Miyagi, Daniel San and Sensei Lawrence.

I loved this place.

I approached the serving hatch and asked the man inside if I could order his hot chocolate. He paused for a second and then told me that of course I could but did I realise that it was a milkshake?

Ah.

As I mentioned before, milkshakes were off my list not only because I don’t particularly like them but also because they’re not a hot chocolate in my book.

“It’s alright, go ahead and order it,” said my husband gallantly, seeing my crestfallen face. “I’ll drink most of it.” If he was bothered by the $14 price tag, he didn’t show it as he tapped his card onto the machine. Not yet anyway.

So we placed our order and took a seat on a low wall opposite the serving hatch.

A young bespectacled boy of about 11 in a baseball cap and a hoodie came and stood next to us and waited a moment before politely asking if we were in the queue. We told him we weren’t and so he marched up to the serving hatch and ordered some K-Pop karaage bites. The man told him how much it was and the boy handed over a blue $10 note. I knew that the K-Pop karaage bites were $13 because, amused by the kitschy name, I had looked at the menu to see if I could find what they were.

“Is that all you’ve got?” asked the man, not unkindly.

“Uh, yeah,” replied the boy quietly.

“Ah, it’s all good,” said the man with a smile. “Don’t worry about the rest.”

That. That right there. That’s why kiwi’s deserve the reputation as being the some of the friendliest people on the plant.

The drink arrived moments later.

Topped with six toasted marshmallows (presumably the S’more part), a Pocky stick, a Biscoff biscuit and a couple of square of chocolate, it looked like dieters nightmare. My husband passed it to me so that I could have the first taste. Man, it was thick. I sucked as hard as I could on the straw, my cheeks puckering dramatically as I tried in vain to get the chocolate sludge to move against gravity. In the end, I gave up and removed the straw from the cup so I could just lick the end.

It was a chocolate milkshake. A thick, chocolate milkshake. Nothing really that special about it, apart from the generous toppings and the fact that you could probably use it to lay a patio. In comparison, The Milk Tart Custard Hot Chocolate, which cost the same, had homemade toppings and sides, things that took skill to make such as meringue and shortbread. All the toppings on this milkshake came out of a packet so to ask $14 for it, seemed a bit cheeky.

The score below is what my husband gave it. Because I don’t like milkshakes, I don’t think it would have been fair to give a score.

Hot chocolate Milkshake: Pocky Me S’More

Score: 7/10

9. The Creamy Vegan from Get Fixed Bicycle Café

As I didn’t drink the Pocky Me S’More, my husband agreed that I could get another hot chocolate on the list. Get Fixed Bicycle Café was just around the corner so it seemed like a sensible choice.

My husband went back to the car to finish his milkshake and I crossed the soggy grass at the back of the car park to find the café.

It was a tired looking converted shipping container with a weathered deck surrounding it. It took a couple of yanks on the badly fitted patio-style door to get inside and to my surprise, it was actually quite pretty.

I ordered my hot chocolate (checking that it was actually hot) at the counter and handed over $8. As I was paying, a small grey dog bounded up to me and started jumping around my ankles. Cute, I thought. Until it ran straight into the kitchen……and the staff did absolutely nothing about it. They obviously knew the dog as they called it by name but I couldn’t believe they were ok with it being there. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have a problem with dogs in restaurants. But I DO have a problem with animals being anywhere near areas used for food preparation. The dog stayed roaming around in the kitchen until it got bored and frolicked back into the café, whereupon it quickly disappeared out of one of the open patio doors.

Sometimes, kiwis can be a little too laid back.

A mutt in the kitchen wasn’t going to put me off a hot chocolate and so my daughter and I took a seat and waited patiently for it to arrive. The café wasn’t busy so it was brought out pretty quickly and it looked a real treat.

This was completely vegan and I was concerned it would taste a little thin. I took a sip through the straw and found that although it tasted nice, there wasn’t lot of depth of flavour. As I continued to slurp up the hot chocolate, I absently picked up the Chocotober Fest flyer which was balanced in a little wooden holder on the table and started reading about my Creamy Vegan.

The words ‘edible straw’ jumped out at me. I had forgotten about that. I took my mouth off the straw and looked at it, head cocked on one side and brows furrowed. Edible? In my mind, ‘edible’ was chocolate or wafer or biscuit but this thing just looked like a beige coloured straw. Putting my faith in the flyer, I bit down hard on the straw.

It instantly shattered with an audible crack and I froze, shards of the straw still in my mouth.

Oh my god. Had I made a mistake? Was it plastic?

Hesitantly, I crunched up the straw fragments and swallowed them, all the while wondering if I was actually pica eating and hoping that no-one else had noticed. It had no discernable flavour and certainly wasn’t pleasant to eat. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what it was made of.

My daughter bravely offered to try it and she too made a face after breaking off a shard or two and crunching them up.

“It tastes like dried pasta,” she said screwing up her little freckled nose.

That was it. It was like eating dried pasta. I frowned. Ok, dried pasta is technically edible but you’re not supposed to eat it in it’s pre-cooked form. I went to slurp up some more hot chocolate but the splintered pasta straw no longer served its purpose. Sighing, I removed the it from the glass and noticed that the ice cream, which I had intended to eat with a spoon, had got tired of waiting and disappeared into the hot chocolate below. It was now just one homogenous, creamy, slightly warm milkshake. I guess I couldn’t complain; the clue was in the title of the drink. And at $8, I wasn’t going to waste it so I drained the last of it and we left.

Just as soon as we could get the patio door open.

Hot chocolate: The Creamy Vegan

Score: 6/10

10. Caramel Sliced Hot Chocolate from T Bay Café

We decided to tie this hot chocolate in with brunch on Sunday morning so we all piled into the car and drove to Titahi Bay.

Sandwiched between a vets and a pharmacy, T Bay Café was one of the few places in the small shopping precinct that was open on a Sunday and it was buzzing.

We took our seats and were brought some menus to look at. The tables were decorated with eclectic kitsch, including an old syrup tin which housed the cutlery and napkins and tiny succulent garden planted in a paua shell.

After a few minutes a waiter with a bright green ‘T Bay Café’ t-shirt came over and took our order.

My hot chocolate came out first and it looked really exciting!

This was an interactive experience in that you had to pour warm caramel from a tiny white jug on top of the chocolate disc to melt it into the drink below. So I did just that.

I did wonder if it would actually work as after watching countless episodes of MasterChef, I knew that heat of the caramel and the thickness of the disc would have to be spot on to melt the chocolate in a timely fashion. Well, it looked as if someone also watched MasterChef because it melted perfectly.

I dipped the biscuit into the top, making sure it was coated in both chocolate and caramel, and took a bite. It was delicious! However, I was rather disappointed to find that the hot chocolate itself was pretty average and was completely overshadowed by the theatrics of the disc and the caramel.

Snapping the remainder of the biscuit into pieces, I handed them out to my son and daughter so that they could try it too. They both agreed it was a lovely hot chocolate and deserved a place near the top of the list.

Hot chocolate: Caramel Slice Hot Chocolate

Score: 8/10

11. Elsdon Campfire ‘Hot’ Hot Chocolate from Elsdon Coffee Cart

The journey to get to this hot chocolate turned out to be more eventful than the drink itself, although not as pleasant to experience.

The coffee cart is in Elsdon which is a small suburb of Porirua and so I took my usual route, getting on to State Highway 59 and heading towards Plimmerton. I was driving along, minding my own business, listening to Socialist Dreams and Beauty Queens by James Maslin (a couch-surfer’s experience of Venezuela), when a motorbike zipped past.

That in itself wasn’t unusual but there was something really odd about the rider. Although wearing a helmet, he was dressed in a brown shirt and brown shorts and I remember thinking that if he came off the bike at speed, he’d really scuff up those hairy legs. Then suddenly, he pulled in front of me and slowed down, swerving erratically and waving his arm. He kept checking over his shoulder too, and so at first I thought he had a friend further behind that he was trying to signal to. I glanced in my rear view mirror but there was no-one there.

The strange behaviour continued as, while still travelling at some considerable speed, the man took both hands off the handlebars, half stood up on the footrests and adjusted his shorts by grasping the waistband and yanking them up further.

“What the hell?” I said aloud.

As we approached the roundabout, the motorbike accelerated and shot off, careening around the corners at a frightening speed. Just as I was about to get on to the roundabout, a police car who had been waiting in a side round pulled out in front of me and turned on his flashing lights. Instead of slowing down, the motorbike went even faster, clearly trying to evade capture.

“Ha!” I exclaimed triumphantly. There is nothing more satisfying that knowing someone’s dangerous driving has been spotted by a copper.

But to my surprise, instead of accelerating after the motorbike, the police car slowed down causing me to brake. For one heart-stopping, buttock-clenching moment, I thought I was going to get pulled over. I felt my face flush and I replayed the last couple of minutes in my head trying to work out what I might have done.

“But Officer,” I imagined myself frantically squeaking to the policeman in a voice not unlike Minnie Mouse after rolling my window down. “I was only driving to get a hot chocolate!”

Time slowed as I practiced my statement over and over in my head while the police car continue to crawl along at 30kmph until, without warning, the sirens went back on and it took off at some speed through a set of red lights n the distance.

I breathed an audible sigh of relief. I carried on through Plimmerton carefully watching my speed when I saw the police car make an abrupt u-turn and come back towards me.

Oh no.

Just then, the motorbike came zipping past again, and it suddenly dawned on me that this crazy chap had probably been going up and down State Highway 59 for a while and was being watched by the police. My suspicions were confirmed when I spotted a copper at the next roundabout. The police were trying to block off his path but doing it in such a way as to not endanger other road users. I kind of wished they’d hurry up and get him off the road as he was already quite capable of causing an accident.

When I got off the roundabout, there was no sign of the motorbike or any more police cars and the rest of my journey passed without further event.

I pulled up outside the coffee cart, still a little shaken and thinking that I deserved a hot chocolate right about now.

It was a tiny, black shipping container located in an industrial park. The lady was chatty and friendly and when I asked for a child size hot chocolate, she was more than happy to oblige.

When I asked if I could take a picture, she arranged the hot chocolate artistically on the board, saying that I could move the board if I wanted a different shot. I explained that I was pretty bad at taking photos anyway and that her arrangement was good enough for me.

This hot chocolate came with a little s’mores-style biscuit which was plucked from a draw with a pair of tongs and balanced on the top of my cup. It was a lovely addition to the hot chocolate which, although tasty, was quite sweet thanks to the inclusion of what I think was vanilla syrup.

There was something missing though. This was supposed to be spicy and it wasn’t. Not at all. I wondered if my asking the lady for a child’s size hot chocolate had translated to “don’t put chill in it” but as I had already climbed back in the car, I didn’t feel like going back and questioning it her decision.

Hot chocolate: Elson Campfire ‘Hot’ Hot Chocolate

Score: 7/10

So in 14 days, I had manged to sample 11 hot chocolates from all over Porirua. The clear winner for me was The Milk Tart Hot Chocolate from The Regal Shortbread company but at the time of posting this, the results from the general public haven’t been tallied.

As soon as I find out, I’ll update the post to let you all know!

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