Fred Bonatto carries on Jutland Station’s Sunday Cafe series by taking a stroll down town and discovering a little gem for a cozy afternoon hot chocolate.
Next time you find yourself tucked up to a fire-place, sipping on a sweet concoction popularly known as hot-chocolate, remember the Azteks. The drink’s roots span back over three-thousand years, to the depths of central-american jungles, when tribal leaders came upon a variation of cocoa drink, trying to brew a celebratory beer.
Is hot chocolate your thing? Well, it’s not really a daily indulgence for me – I keep it reserved for those lazy, mid-winter afternoons. When I do opt to have some, I will either enjoy it from the comfort of my own couch or, if I’m feeling more sociable, somewhere down town.
It happens that these particular types of crisp afternoons tend to fall on Sundays. You know, that part of the weekend when you begin dreading Monday’s menacing creep and don’t have anything overly exciting lined up. You’re yearning for a nice, rich cup of hot cocoa, it’s Sunday, and you are in Aarhus? Not to worry. Despite the city’s late weekend, off-the-clock appearance, there are still a few cafes that will cater to your chocolaty cravings.
Located within earshot of the Aarhus Domkirke, I was kindly invited to taste café Gemmestedet’s take on the classic hot beverage. The café itself is unassuming, but in good European fashion, located on a street corner with outdoor tables. There is not much to mention regarding the décor or layout, other than it offers a cozy, low ceiling main floor, with a mix of single tables, bar stools, and soft couches. Imagine a vast living room, full of people, and with a full service bar and kitchen just off to the side. It has buzz…
I was warmly greeted by one of the baristas, offered a table outside, and because of the unremarkable weather, was also offered a pair of fleece blankets. Though I’m not a huge fan of these, the ones given to me were quite clean and presented no fuss. A nice touch.
After a quick chat, I was invited to photograph the hot chocolate as it was prepared. A mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate chips are placed into a flask, fresh milk is added and everything is steamed to a frothy mix. A dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of chocolate chips top off the mugs, and a handful of toffees are set on the side as a finishing touch.
The hot chocolate, like café Gammestedet, is simple. But simple works well for these types of things, and although there are plenty cafés offering an array of more /gourmet/ iterations, it really boils down to the sweetness, quality of the chocolate and milk and the temperature.
The hot chocolate I tasted struck a fair balance, without the overpowering sweetness found on some more run-of-the-mill counters. I can’t count how many times I’ve managed to burn my tongue with a hot drink, so I was happy to see that cafe Gemmestedet’s interpretation was served just right – warm enough not to get cold too quickly!
I was once told a story of a man who was asked about his favourite wine. Now, this was a man who knew his grapes and showed no shame of it. To the other party’s surprise, the answer was underwhelming – an inexpensive bottle of Bordeaux or Chardonnay, he couldn’t remember. When pressed about such irreverence to more prestigious labels, he simply replied, “you didn’t ask me who I enjoyed it with”.
Sometimes it’s more than just the drink, and Café Gemmestedet’s take on the ubiquitous beverage is just that. The vibe offers a good enough excuse to get out of the house. Take a walk through the nice part of town, spark up a chat, and warm your hands and soul with a thick, homely mug of hot cocoa – it’s just milk and cocoa after all…
Hot chocolates cost: 38 DKK (10% off for students)
Cafe Gemmestedet, Gammel Munkegade 1, 8000 Aarhus C
If interested, call Cafe Gemmestedet for booking; 89 13 55 00 or you can join the the facebook page: Cafe Gemmestedet.