December 5, 2008

A Lazy Saturday

A few Saturdays ago, J and I decided to take it easy.

We slept in. For me, it was that delicious kind of sleeping in where I woke up, and then lay in bed for about an hour falling in and out of sleep, cozy and warm, knowing I didn’t have to get up, knowing I had nothing at all to do.

We finally left for the Strathcona farmers market, picking up our friend Susan on the way. When we got there, J and Susan went off to find something to eat while I wandered the sunny aisles, picking up a squash here, some onions there, thin leeks and a bag of small, cute red peppers. When my bags were full I met up with them again and out we went. It was a beautiful day too – sun shining, wind blustering, but not very cold.

J and I walked down Whyte Avenue, a street lined with restaurants, cafes and shops. We stepped into any stores that looked interesting, browsing peacefully. We love to spend the afternoon this way, and it felt like a long time since we had done it.

We bought some pillow cases

A new clock

Some wonderfully retro plates

And this little treat to share.

The store where we bought the plates is marvellous. It’s called the Junque Shop and it’s down in a cluttered basement with no windows. It’s like stepping into a jumbled old house, owned by someone who has collected a lot of cool stuff. There’s a lot of second hand kitchenware, like old dishes, teacups, trays, and toasters. There was also some great vintage furniture, including a wooden sideboard with green-handled doors and some chrome tables and chairs.

I was fascinated by a whole bunch of old cameras that I wish I could have spent longer looking at. Ever since looking at some pictures by another food blogger (Molly Wizenberg of the wonderful Orangette) that she takes with her Polaroid, I’ve decided I want one. At this store there was an old Brownie camera, and one of those long thin ones that you slide apart.

It was the kind of place I could have explored for a long time. It was the kind of place that reminds me how much I love looking at old things.

But thankfully, the last stop of the day was also the best.

We took the bus back to the University to go to a cafĂ© that J has been telling me about. In fact he couldn’t stop telling me about it ever since he first went there a few weeks ago. It’s called Leva and it’s on a corner in this little squat building with yellow signs that looks inviting even when you spy it from a distance. Up close you can see people sitting at little tables and steam rising from the coffee machines through the window. You know you’re in for something good.

I spent a few hours falling in love with this place while we sat and read and ate, enjoying the live music. It’s a beautiful room with a long white marble coffee counter and glass cases full of delectable food. The tables are marble as well, except for the big wooden one where we sat. And along another wall is a long marble counter with stools where you can sit and sip your coffee and look out onto the street. J read his book and I wrote and read on the computer while we shared two pots of mint tea, a pizza and a platter of hummus and pita. The food tasted perfect. The pizza was salty and warm, the spicy Italian salami blending with the melted cheese. The crust was crisp and flaky, just like the bread that came with the hummus. It wasn’t like any pita I’ve ever had before: crispy but soft on the inside, and salted. It melted like a cloud of dough in my mouth. The hummus was garlicky, smooth and delicious.

(As we ate the leftovers at home, we realized that the pita and pizza crust were made from the same dough.)

We couldn’t resist dessert, beckoning from the glass case. J had a vanilla-chocolate tart and I had the angelfood cake. It was two thick pieces of cake stuffed with whipped cream and strawberries. It was elegant and delectable – the cream was thick and unsweetened, and the cake was perfectly sugared and light. My only complaint was there weren’t enough strawberries.

We sat in Leva as the sun set outside and groups of people chatted around us. The clatter of spoons against cups blended with the whirr of the milk steamer. Everything looked and felt wonderful.


apostrophe s said...

Leva is my absolute favourite place in Edmonton. The service is superb, they know how to make a mean espresso, and the ambience cannot be beat.

But shhhh...don't tell too many people about it - it should be a little secret...

Cheryl A said...

You just described what my Saturdays used to be - pre-kids and when we lived in Edmonton. I'm rather jealous. No, I'm really jealous.

Bodge said...

wow, what a gorgy day. i can't wait to come and visit you in the new year.

Anne said...

So good to hear all about you both being able to spend a relaxing day together, a rare treat in itself. I know you'll be busy when you com home, but I can't wait to see you! xoxo

hanne said...

I haven't been to Leva in years, so thanks for the reminder! I'll have to go back soon. It sounds like you had a perfect day.