October 25, 2012

Coffee with babies


Toronto has some great cafes. Like, really great. So great that I was spoiled for three weeks, and missed them once I was back in Edmonton.

I don’t mean to say Edmonton doesn’t have any good cafes, because it does. A few of my favourites are Credo, Transcend, Remedy, da Capo, and Elm. But to my mind, none of them manage to combine great coffee and wonderful atmosphere (not to mention GF baked goods!) like several of the cafes in Toronto.

It was so wonderful to have such an extended visit with my sister Claire. Especially since we both have little babies at the same time. Claire and Alex’s son Cash is just seven weeks younger than Lucie. What could be more fun?? The four of us (sadly, Alex and Jacques were both working) spent a lot of time in various Toronto cafes, one of our favourite activities. We relaxed, nursed our babies and our lattes, and enjoyed the good life of mat leave together. Claire and Cash, Lucie and I miss our cafe times!

Crema – 3079 Dundas St. W (also other locations)


I visited Crema a handful of times during my visit. It is Claire and Alex’s neighbourhood coffee shop, located just a few blocks away from their apartment in the Junction. It also has some of the best coffee in the city. The baristas here were always friendly, there were plentiful GF baked goods, and when Jacques arrived in town he really enjoyed the panini. What’s not to like? Well, I guess my one quibble is the decor and atmosphere are a bit stark … but I’d still happily go there all the time if I lived in the neighbourhood.

Te Aro – 983 Queen Street E.


We went to Te Aro on one of my best days in the city. Claire and I took the long trek on public transit out to Leslieville, a great neighbourhood in the east of Toronto. We started our day at this hip cafe, which roasts its own beans. The lattes were truly delicious and the atmosphere on the outdoor patio was perfect (the first shot above of Claire nursing Cash is also at Te Aro). Lucie slept in the stroller throughout this whole coffee date, allowing me to drink my latte before it got cold. What a treat!

Rooster – 489 Broadview Avenue


We truly visited cafes all over the city! Rooster is an amazing place tucked away even further east, in Claire and Alex’s old neighbourhood near the Danforth. We managed to make it here on one of my last days in Toronto, and I’m so glad we did. Site of the epic “two babies on one lap” photo shoot (see above), Rooster has cozy, eclectic neighbourhood charm in abundance. The clientele is wonderfully diverse – we chatted with an older woman, and I observed a few families with elementary-age kids dropping by after school for a pick-me-up. Rooster gets its beans from Te Aro, so you know the coffee is good. And again, GF baked goods! There is one baker in Toronto who peddles his or her GF muffins all across town, and I was happy to run into them almost everywhere I went, especially the orange and fleur-de-sel variety.

Writing this is making me miss these great cafes even more. For now, I will rely on Edmonton’s best cafes and our own home espresso machine with delicious Transcend beans. Maybe that’s not so bad after all.

Other places to get great coffee in Toronto:

Dark Horse – 215 Spadina Ave. (also other locations)
Ezra’s Pound - 238 Dupont St. and 913 Dundas St. W
The Common – 1071 College St. and 1028 Bloor St.

October 23, 2012

The Calgary Farmers’ Market

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Jacques and I were in Calgary for a few days in July, right after we left Canmore. Since we were in the city on a Saturday, I wanted to check out one of the farmers’ markets. There are many of them, but the one that seemed the biggest and easiest to get to from our hotel was the Calgary Farmers’ Market.

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The market is big, and since it’s open four days a week, many of the stalls are semi-permanent. In that sense it reminded me a bit of Halifax’s Seaport Farmers’ Market, though it’s bigger. There is a great mix of vendors, with lots of ready-to-eat food stalls, and plenty of people selling meat, vegetables and fruits, and cheese. We started off with some delicious coffee from Fratello Coffee.

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Jacques went for some dim sum. He loves it, but hardly eats it anymore since there isn’t much choice at dim sum for celiacs (that I know of).

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There were also many stalls selling desserts and baked goods, including the one below which specialized in middle eastern sweets. I’m not sure what exactly these kataifi are, but they look good. Jacques enjoyed his baklava from this stand.

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I was excited about visiting Miss P’s Gluten Free stand. Here are some of her cupcakes. I bought a loaf of focaccia bread and some chocolate chip cookies, both of which I enjoyed. The bread had a delicious flavour, though the texture was on the dry side.

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I had a gluten-free buckwheat galette for lunch. A galette is a type of French crepe made with buckwheat flour. I chose a filling of spinach, tomato and goat cheese, and it was tasty.

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We really enjoyed strolling around the market. Lucky Calgarians who get to shop there all the time! Though I love our markets in Edmonton, it would be great to have one that was open more than one day a week.

Calgary Farmers’ Market
510 77th Ave. SE (Just off Blackfoot Trail and Heritage Drive)
Open Thursday – Sunday 9 am – 5 pm

Life these days


Being at home with Lucie is awesome. I love the relaxed pace of my days, my morning coffee ritual, going out with Lu to run errands, being able to meet friends whenever I like. It’s really great.

Lucie is doing wonderfully. It’s hard to believe she is almost five months old. It sounds like a cliché, but we find ourselves loving her more and more every day. She changes all the time, becoming more aware of her surroundings and interacting with us and with her toys. Last week Jacques’ parents were here for a visit, and they remarked that she had changed so much even within the course of the week they were in Edmonton.

One of the best parts of maternity leave is having so much time to cook and bake. I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen, and I hope to share some of that with you soon. Despite the cold weather here, I definitely felt ready for the change of season, and we have been enjoying delicious autumnal meals: lots of soups, baked casseroles, and the hearty flavours of lentils, squash, swiss chard, and kale.

I still lots of catching up to do from the summer here on the blog, however. Over the next week or so I hope to write a bunch about my travels and culinary adventures on the road. Hope you enjoy it!