I could be doing this anywhere in the world and I would be using the freshest food possible and local ingredients.
—Constance Popp, choclatier
Constance Popp has been a land lover from way back.
Formerly in natural resource management, Popp was charged with thinking local and promoting sustainability.
Today, as the name and creative force behind Chocolatier Constance Popp, she embraces that same sensibility inside her two chocolate boutiques in Winnipeg.
While it might be a bit of a head-scratcher how chocolate can be truly local, Popp takes every chance to infuse made-in-Manitoba ingredients into her signature truffles, chocolates and bars.
Choclatier Constance Popp prepping Manitobars (Robin Summerfield)
Case in point, Popp's Manitobar is an edible homage to Manitoba-grown foodstuffs. The dense, rich bar is half angel, half devil--a granola-like bar with heaps of bliss-inducing dark ganache and enrobed in Belgian chocolate.
Manitoba-grown hemp, flax and sunflower seeds are ground and interspersed in layers, adding toothsome texture. A layer of ganache, laced with local John Russell honey, also completes the buy-local picture.
"I could be doing this anywhere in the world and I would be using the freshest food possible and local ingredients," says Popp, who opened her first shop on Portage Avenue five years ago. In late November, she opened her second Winnipeg location in the concourse inside downtown's Richardson Centre.
Manitoba-grown beets and birch-tree syrup are also found on her ingredients list. The new Original Birch Bark Bar is the latest addition to her special local line of cocoa delicacies.The luscious white and milk chocolate slab is made using birch syrup harvested near The Pas. Popp also had a one-of-a-kind mold made from a piece of birch bark she found in her own front yard.
Meanwhile, Popp's Manitoba-shaped, Manitoba-infused Manitobar remains a best seller. While she's mum on just how many Manitobars sell each week, the kitchen regularly pumps out 32-bar batches.
A host of regulars make special trips to her Portage Avenue shop to stock up on bars, and they're also a hit with tourists wanting a piece of Manitoba to bring home, she says.
"It's special. You get something unique to the place you're in."