Thursday, December 3, 2015


First, before I get to my latest cafe find I must tell you about my visit to the One of a Kind show yesterday...where I spent 4 hours!? I had only intended to go for two..but it is huge..

I met the designer of this gorgeous outfit - her company is called "Metamorphose" from Montreal - it's her first time at the show. Her name is Karine Demers and she is delightful..her style is right up my alley - feminine and gorgeous - lots of flower prints..this two piece outfit which I couldn't resist buying is amazing. The fabric on the skirt is a mix of stretch on the section and some kind of soft waxed cotton on the floral part - you have to feel it to believe's called "Clara". Very unique clothing and oh so cutting edge chic - what we expect from Montrealers...there are also kids outfits.

Now to coffee - this relatively new cafe - Constantinople Bakery and Cafe has been on Queen West near Bathurst for a few months but I have only discovered it recently. I think it's the urge to hibernate which has lead to these new cafe discoveries! It's Turkish themed with lots of space - a great spot for meetups. There are Turkish delicacies - they do a lot of their own baked goods, soups, sandwiches and even have chocolate for sale...I bought some chocolate covered pistachios which are "scrummy" to use Mary's phrase from the "Great British Baking Show". I don't know about you but I have never encountered chocolate covered pistachios before - every other kind of nut, yes..

If you order traditional Turkish coffee they serve it with Turkish delight. Staff are welcoming and accommodating.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Cocoa Latte, Rooster and Green

cocoalatteContinuing with exploring cafes outside my immediate neighbourhood, last week I checked out three places that were new to me

First up was Cocoa Latte on St. Clair - the photo above is from - a great source for restaurant reviews. I initially had gone up there to visit the new Mandala Designs shop - I love the clothes that I buy at Fresh Collective..however, they were closed on Monday and Tuesday which is when I ventured up matter...on a cloudy day refuge in a cafe was in order and merely wandering St. Clair was interesting.

I was looking for another cafe called Krave Coffee but it was very busy with no seats! Oh well...time to check out another pick..Cocoa Latte. I enjoyed a table at the front of this cozy place a delicious latte and a roasted cauliflower soup and side salad. They also have vegan treats from Sweets From the Earth.

The following day, Remembrance Day it was over to 479 Broadview to visit the celebrated Rooster Coffee House at the edge of Riverdale. It too was extremely popular and very full inside..I noticed that they had a few comfy chairs always a plus with me. Fortunately it was warm enough to sit outside and enjoy the parade of dogs and their companions who stopped in to the cafe. Here I enjoyed a Matcha Latte - good. They also have a new location on 343 King Sreet East at Jarvis...

You also get a great view of downtown Toronto and the park across the street...

Finally my favourite discovery came after my Book and Brunch meetup at Old School on Dundas. I wandered up to check out Green Grind on College which was my favourite find of the week..extensive menu cozy chairs and environmentally responsible! I will be back. I noticed they had french doors which are likely opened in warmer weather too..

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Comfy chairs!

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Monday, November 9, 2015

Bean and Baker Malt Shop

Recently I have decided that perhaps I am in a cafe rut - just going a few blocks to my fave places in the King and Queen West neighbourhood so I ventured a little further north to this very cool retro shop/ Yes,  you can get ice cream (they have Coconut Bliss for vegans!) and malts along with coffee, tea ,cocoa, baked goods, soup and sandwiches - while feeling you are travelling back in time. The soups sounded good too as I heard them describing the rotation including tomato split pea and minestrone.

The staff are even dressed to the period and the music is also nostalgic. The owner has a history in the coffee and spice business and his wife is a pastry chef. The red stools and chairs and tables make me regret losing my old set - at the time it was 30 years old and still going strong. I asked the owner about them and there is a distributor in Cambridge that sources them from a place in the U.S. Midwest - made in America! I believe it's called "Nostaligia Inc".

The spot is at the corner of Harbord and Grace and is bright and cheerful - my soy latte was great and I had a cookie and a vegan pie to go...I'll be back. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Proud to be Canadian again!

After 9 long years of a punitive, anti-science, anti-arts, anti-healthcare, anti-immigration and just about anything else you could name we as Canadians rewarded the Liberals for offering a positive message during the election - one of hope and caring! It was wonderful to see the results of a non mud-slinging, positive campaign led by Justin Trudeau bear fruit. There was a lot of scepticism about his leadership but he proved himself by bringing the party back from the brink of oblivion.

Photo taken from the NYT website via Reuters.

Throughout the campaign the Conservatives ran ads that said Trudeau was "just not ready"...well it seems the population was indeed ready for Mr. Trudeau and to dump Mr. Harper - the robot that almost seems human.  It is my sincere hope that we can take our place in the world stage again as peacemakers, environmentalists and all around polite and caring individuals.

Congratulations Mr. Trudeau - I'm sure your dad would be proud.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Nerja, Ronda, Sevilla, Merida, Madrid

View from the end of the "Balcon de Europa"
As promised my final installment (!) of our journey to the beautiful land of Spain. After leaving Granada behind it was time to venture to the famous "Costa del Sol" - Sunshine Coast which is very popular with tourists and Brits in's easy to see why...

View from our hotel room - the other direction

Once again, we stayed at a Rick Steves recommended hotel which is was bright and spacious and perfectly located on the "Balcon de Europa". Fraser noticed how things had changed in the time he had been there with his sister Marilyn back in the 80s. Apparently post Franco as torrid Spanish soap opera set in Nerja popularized the area from a more sleepy place. We had a devil of a time trying to figure out where to park the car...for future reference - park it in the open lot nearest the area and walk in - it's not far unless you have an unseemly amount of luggage.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at an Indian restaurant - they were very very accomodating and the next morning a "full English" at the Coach and Horses..complete with veg sausage. Other than that we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around..

Our hotel

Shopping on one of the side streets

Trying to make friends...
Enjoying the full English

Clever awnings to keep the sun out...too soon it was time to head inland to one of the many charming hill towns of Andalusia - in our case Ronda.

There was someone playing flamenco guitar here..

The enormous cacti...

Speaking of flamenco it was time to visit "flamenco central" - Seville!

Because cars aren't allowed in the old quarter we parked ours in an underground parkade and walked in with our bags...this is our hotel...

It had the most complicated shower instructions we had ever seen and in the end you only needed two knobs!

Oh well, it makes for an interesting story to enjoy wandering the streets of the old Jewish quarter.

We noticed groups of small children walking along with their families, dressed up and carrying these wooden boxes or rather pushing them...I guess we should have asked what it was all if anyone knows...

Thanks to Happy Cow after wandering around the streets for a bit we enjoyed dinner atVantana

On our way through the neighbourhoods there was a lady handing out flyers for a flamenco show. According to our guru Rick Steves it's much better to go to these small performance spaces than the usual tourist traps with a 2 drink minimum that last for 2 hours. We decided to make a reservation for the next night..

A small selection of the amazing archctecture there..modern and historic...
We decided to check out Veganitessen - which is located in a farmer's market for lunch...

I think we had some sort of sandwich and of course dessert - a banana based one which was yummy. The market seemed sadly, kind of barren - lots of empty stalls - I'm sure due to the economy.

Some photos of more of our wanderings near the river..

This fellow was handing out, what else in Spain, olive samples...

How nice there was a lovely park just outside the quarter with these amazing purple flowering trees - I should really find out what they the way it was fairly hot during our time in Seville...

A lovely tiled bench

The famous and famously bitter Seville oranges....great for marmalade!

Ole - Flamenco time

There was a male and female dancer, a singer and guitarist. The walls of the space were beautiful even and the show was captivating and perfect! It was called Auditorio Alvarez Quintero.

We had a Mediterranean dinner at a sidewalk cafe not far away and I was a little ambitious on drinking a glass of wine and THEN Sangria - needless to say I had to have an espresso afterwards so I could remain upright...

Time to leave lovely Sevilla - also a great place to purchase fans and souvenirs - even miniature flamenco dresses for girls! Now onto Merida - a halfway point on our final destination Madrid. Merida is known for its Roman ruins..some of the finest we've seen. It was a sleepy Sunday..

We stayed at a charming centrally located hotel Hotel Rambla Emerida which overlooked a park - from there it was a short stroll over to the main site of the Amphitheatre but en route there were some sites to see as well..

There were very few tourists around this well preserved site - we practically had it to ourselves. Not many shops were  open either with it being a Sunday..we did find a veg place though for a meal..

Lovely garden at the Roman site

A cetnral square in Merida

Enjoying our lunch at the Shangri La restaurant -note the ever present glass of Sangria!

A restful Sunday and off to Madrid the next day - our final stop. F dropped off the car and first me at the Atocha Hotel which was very nice - we had a huge room on the main floor. I am a big fan of coffee vending machines in Spain - you can get great cups of coffee from them - they had two in the lobby of the hotel.

Off to wander around Madrid - we had last been here over twenty years ago! So we had to revisit the Prado and Reina Sofia museums and just generally wander around the amazing city that is Madrid! Of course we had to sample some veg food as well and went to the fabulous Yerbabuena!

That is the proprietor in the background - he is so charming and hard working...the food is delicious and silly us we should have shared a Menu del Dia between us...way too much food and it was a shame we couldn't finish it all - we even had dessert! Highly recommended...there was also a new vegan restaurant across the street  - brand new Al Natural- buffet style and you could get it to go...sorry we didn't go that for our trip back to Canada..but we did enjoy a light supper there after our lunchtime feast! They hooked us on the street by handing out free and delicious vegan croquettes!
 A walk in Retiro Park to burn off some of those calories...we didn't see any of the crazy tufted earred squirrels that were so assertive the last time we were here...

Adios Espana...we left all too soon....
I am not sure but this may be the exterior of our hotel....we stayed at Atoch hotels and Barcelona and Madrid - very nice!