Tag Archives: coffee

Weekend In Review

8 Jul

Since summer has arrived I have noticed that my home-cooking has become almost non-existent and has, instead, been replaced with a lot of meals out. I don’t know where my motivation has gone but it disappeared when the sun arrived. Thankfully, for me, there are so many good options around town that I’m kept very happy in this cooking down-time.

On Saturday morning, before our ritual of Revolver coffee, I made my first, and highly anticipated, trip to the Aussie Pie Guy. I, and almost every other child in Australia, grew up eating pies so this was always going to be a winner for me. I ordered the Aussie Pie, which is full of chunks of beef, onion, and gravy for $8 (I would have preferred a slightly richer gravy, but that is just personal taste). FYI, they have a card machine too so you don’t need to worry about cash-only. I will definitely return for a taste of some of the other pies but I am a traditionalist, so I’ll likely always return to the Aussie Pie.

Saturday afternoon was a warm one and so B and I stopped at Earl’s patio on West Broadway for a Caesar pick-me-up (their Caesars are really quite delicious) before making our way to the new Salt restaurant in Kitsilano for dinner. For those who haven’t heard, Sean Heather has opened a sister restaurant to the Gastown Salt, on West Broadway and Trafalgar. We popped in for the soft launch on Saturday night and are absolutely thrilled to have this place in our neighbourhood. Although it was quite loud, the patio was a great spot on a warm Saturday night to enjoy some carefully selected cheeses, meats, and wines. We’ll be back for sure.

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On Sunday morning we did something that we haven’t done in a long time; we cooked a weekend breakfast at home! It was just a bacon and egg sandwich but it was nice to have it sitting on our patio and not have to make the decision on where to go for brunch. We followed breakfast up with a sit-in at Matchstick for coffee with a friend (it is so great to see that place doing so well).

On Sunday afternoon, I met up with my sister at Bella Gelateria for a walk and gelato. Talk about another place doing well for itself – the line up was out the door and they are opening a second location in Yaletown very soon! The dulche de leche was incredible but it was hard deciding as every flavour there is so delicious!

After our relaxing walk through Coal Harbour and Stanley Park, we stopped in at the Milestones in English Bay for a bottle of bubbles on the warm and sunny patio. It is just so hard to say “no” to patio drinks in the summer.

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And because we were in the area, it was very easy to convince ourselves (and B) to have dinner at our favourite place, Nook on Denman street. Nook is the perfect place to wrap up a sunny, summer weekend.

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Crushed peas and burrata crostini

Whipped ricotta, honey, and hazelnut crostini

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Pizza Daily Special: Pancetta, green onions, and cabbage pizza

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Daily Pasta Special: Spaghetti and meatballs

After a weekend filled with good food and drinks, I always feel so blessed to live in this city. We are truly spoiled when it comes to diverse, tasty food.

Where did you try this weekend? Did you try somewhere new? What places are currently on your wish list?

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Habit Coffee, Victoria

13 Dec

552 Pandora Avenue
Victoria, BC
V8W 1N7

P: 250 294 1127
www.habitcoffee.com

With the holidays coming up, a lot of people will be travelling (lucky you!). If your travels happen to take you to Victoria, BC, I have a recommendation for you!

If you find you need a break from the family and are looking to escape to a cozy café for a warm, strong coffee – look no further. After two recent visits to our fair provincial capital, I highly recommend (and encourage) a visit to Habit Coffee. The lattes are so good that I’ve found myself ordering two on one visit. Snacks are decent and they have some interesting magazines to read (and buy!) whilst you are sipping on your morning brew. It’s a shame that there isn’t a location in Vancouver!

Habit Coffee on Urbanspoon

Too much of a good thing?

15 Oct

Over the past two months, I have been conducting a little experiment on myself. After watching a fascinating TED talk that focused on the effects of addiction on the brain, I started to look at the things in my life that I felt I have a fixation on (the word “addiction” is probably too extreme in my case). Coffee and food stood out as the most obvious things that I have a dependency on.

What I learned from watching the TED talk was that dopamine, a chemical that activates pleasure centers in certain parts of our brain, is released by rewarding experiences such as food, sex, and drugs. According to the TED talk, over time we start to become accustomed to this dose of dopamine and slowly become “numb” to the pleasure that we once received from these experiences. It got me thinking that maybe there is some truth in that old adage “Too much of a good thing”. For a foodie, I equated to this meaning that if I ate at The French Laundry every day, after a certain period of time I wouldn’t get the same pleasure that I would get if I only ate there sporadically. I would start to get used to the dopamine levels that would flood my brain after every meal and I would start to become bored by The French Laundry. *Gulp*. Bored with The French Laundry?! Well, this can’t be good. Time for a change!

As I’m not about to change my eating habits, I thought it best to start with my coffee intake. I love coffee. I love it so damn much. It really is a morning ritual for me: wake up, zombie to work, locate coffee shop, have a warm, milky latte, begin day. I wondered what would happen if instead, I made myself drink the crappy (like really crappy) coffee at my work for four days of the week, and save the “good stuff” until Friday and the weekend? Would this make a difference? Would my brain anticipate the “good” coffee on the weekend? Would I enjoy the “good” coffee more because I am comparing it to the awful, watery stuff that I drink most of the time?

After more than two months of doing this experiment, I can say that it has been a really interesting experience. Perhaps it is mind over matter, but after four days of watery, bitter coffee, I actually do get excited for coffee on Friday mornings and the weekends. Hence why that first sip of coffee is a euphoric experience (hello dopamine!). The experience has taught me to be more disciplined – I can’t always have everything that I want whenever I want it (something I need to learn when it comes to sweets) – and that life really is about contrasts. To enjoy and appreciate the good things in life, you really do need to experience the mediocre or bad things. And, without a doubt, it has reminded me that there really is no substitute for a strong, well-crafted cup of coffee.

It’s OK, coffee, I still love you.

First Glance – Cafe Bica – August 2012

17 Aug

1809 Fir Street
Vancouver, BC
V6J 5E2

T: 604 733 8818
www.cafebica.com

Cafe Bica, the stylish coffee shop close to Granville Island, has me puzzled. I’ve been to this cute cafe a handful of times and my most recent visit was the first time I had a seamless experience. The service used to be slow, unfriendly, and a visit there was usually marked with customer service errors ranging from forgotten coffees, to incorrect food orders. Even though he was aware of the poor service, B has been a frequent visitor of theirs and has said that things have been turning around, for the better, lately. Based on my most recent experience, I’d have to agree.

You probably want to know why I would keep going back if the service was so poor? Well, truthfully, I’ll put up with a lot for a decent cup of coffee and a yummy breakfast. In my experience I have received both, good food and good coffee, from Cafe Bica. I like their breakfast menu which has simple hot food – a far cry from the usual cling-wrapped breakfast wraps or muffins found in other coffee shops. They offer soft poached eggs with soldiers, quality breakfast sandwiches (no cling-wrap!), poached eggs on toast, and it appears that they have just started selling Cadeaux baked goods (I love Cadeaux!).

Latte Art

Chorizo Sandwich

Poached Egg on Vegetable Tartine

Cadeaux’s Blueberry Custard Danish

I truly hope, for their sake, that their service has indeed improved. Vancouver needs all the good non-chain coffee shops it can get. I’ll keep popping back to see if the improvements are consistent or fleeting, but for now, I am a fan.

Cafe Bica on Urbanspoon

Photo Visit – Matchstick – August 2012

11 Aug

639 E 15 Ave (Fraser & Kingsway)
Vancouver, BC
V5T 2R6

T: 604 558 0639
www.matchstickcoffee.com

It is another glorious, sunny Saturday here in Vancouver and that means coffee, food, and fun. B and I like to start our weekends with coffee at one of our favourite coffee shops. That could be Revolver, JJ Bean, Bica, or Matchstick. We haven’t been to Matchstick as much as we would like (the location isn’t that convenient for us) but occasionally we make our way there, as we did today.

I took a few snaps whilst I was waiting for my latte (which was fabulous, thanks for asking). What sets Matchstick apart from the rest is their quality coffee and friendly, neighbourhood-vibe cafe. They also appear to be doing more food now, such as sandwiches, in addition to the baked goods that they sell.

Don’t mind if I do…

Bread ‘n Apples

Bags o’ coffee

Pretty space

What we really came for…

Matchstick Coffee on Urbanspoon

My top coffee shop picks in Vancouver

28 Mar

Since I moved to Vancouver, there have been many changes in the Vancouver food scene. The most noticeable change that I’ve seen is the gradual improvement of the coffee scene. In the past few years we have seen the introduction of many new coffee shops in Vancouver and I am now far more impressed with the coffee scene than when I first arrived in the city, more than 7 years ago.

I wanted to make it easy for you to find good coffee in Vancouver so I put together this list of coffee shops that I recommend (these are in no particular order):

UPDATE AS OF APRIL 27, 2014

Greenhorn Coffee

The West End finally has a good neighbourhood coffee shop in Greenhorn Espresso Bar, which opened recently on the corner of Nelson and Nicola. A cute space with quite a bit of seating, but very popular so can be busy at times.

Another addition to the Gastown coffee scene is Timbertrain Coffee Roasters. I’m excited about this place as not only is their coffee done well, they are also open on Sundays.

Timbertrain Latte

I have recently been made aware of South Granville‘s Dose Espresso Bar at 1517 West Broadway (at Granville). This tiny coffee shop does a great brew. They have limited baked goods to compliment your coffee.

The new Matchstick in Chinatown (East Georgia Street) is a comfortable, large space to linger over a delicious cup of house-roasted coffee and some pretty good baked goods or toast. They are also licensed, although, I’m more keen for the coffee than a beer.

If you are in Kits and looking for a decent coffee hit, Momento Coffee House at 2766 West 4th (at MacDonald) has you sorted. Not open on Sundays.

JJ Bean, various locations: Good coffee to be had at JJ although the quality can be inconsistent. Their baked goods are made in-house daily and their muffins are absolutely huge! JJ cafes try to adapt to their location so the Alberni Street store is more chic for the downtown crowd, whereas the Commercial Street store feels more comfy.

Nelson the Seagull, Gastown: Any café in Vancouver that sells flat whites is alright by me! Nelson offers good coffee (although I’ve had a few sour ones recently) and I, personally, am a big fan of their lattes. They bake daily so you can grab yourself a muffin or a bacon and egg cup, or you can sit in and have something more substantial, like a sandwich. Nelson has the feel of a friend’s lounge room, with easy-going tunes, comfy couches and communal tables.

Breakfast at Nelson the Seagull

Revolver, Gastown: So hipster it hurts but these guys know their coffee. The space is well-decorated with lots of wood and exposed brick. I am almost intimidated with all of the coffee paraphernalia that covers the counters here. Limited snacks such as coffee cake and muffins are also available.

Revolver Latte

Matchstick, Mt Pleasant: Matchstick is reliable and consistent. Large windows, wooden commune tables, and a chic look encourage you to linger. The problem is can you get a seat? Matchstick has a loyal following and successfully fills a void in an area with few options. Pastries, sandwiches, and muffins are also available.

Matchstick Coffee

What are your favourite coffee shops? Send me some suggestions if you feel I’ve overlooked some good ones!

Good Morning Gastown!

9 Feb

Cadeaux Bakery
172 Powell Street
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1G1

T: 604 608 8889
www.cadeauxbakery.com

This morning my stomach made me do some crazy stuff. It was on a mission and there was no rationalizing with it. It made me get out of bed early (that alone is CRAZY!). It made me get on the bus. It then told me to get off at Main street and Hastings street.

“Why would we get off here?!” I nervously asked.

“Keep walking” my stomach instructed.

We turned the corner onto Powell street and we opened the door to Cadeaux Bakery…ahhh, it all made perfect sense now.

Pretty little Cadeaux welcomed me in and my sleepy eyes were greeted with mounds of freshly baked croissants, cookies, scones, and brownies. I could have been dreaming if not for the smell of butter in the air. I ordered myself a butter croissant and a white chocolate and pear scone (the things I do for research!). I ate the croissant sitting in the small café and “ooohed” and “ahhhed” my way through the layers of flakey, butter pastry. By the time I had finished I was happily covered in a snow storm of pastry flakes. This would have to be one of the best croissants that I’ve had in Vancouver. Absolutely delicious!

Butter croissant from Cadeaux Bakery – $3.50

White chocolate and pear scone from Cadeaux Bakery – $3.25

I saved the white chocolate and pear scone for morning tea and wow! This was good too! This little gem, nestled away on the outskirts of Gastown, is creating amazing baked goods and you should get yourself down there to try them out. Besides all of the goodies I’ve mentioned above, you can also order cakes and housemade ice-cream. FYI – their hours are hard to find but they are closed on Mondays, open 8am to 6pm Tuesday through Friday, and open 9am to 5pm on Saturdays & Sundays.

My stomach wasn’t done yet. It wanted to wash all of this deliciousness down with a strong coffee. Normally, JJ Bean is the coffee of choice but today Revolver was our go-to place.

Revolver
325 Cambie street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 1H7

T: 604 558 444
www.revolvercoffee.ca

I’ve actually been to Revolver many times since it opened in fall last year but I’ve yet to write it up (you can chalk that up to pure old laziness). Revolver is a trendy, coffee-obsessed Gastown café. Rustic wooden floors, exposed raw brick, and urban decor gives Revolver a modern, welcoming vibe. One of the design highlights is a wall-sized world map made completely from nails that showcases coffee-growing regions.

Revolver takes it’s coffee very seriously, which is interesting for people like me who are new to anything other than espresso drinks. The counter at Revolver looks like a science lab with all of the different types of coffee paraphernalia that they use! I’ll leave the technical stuff to these guys but I know that the coffee at Revolver is strong, and the coffee is good. If you are a bigger fan of the coffee process than I am, then you need to go and talk bean to the guys at Revolver. Me, I prefer to sit back with my coffee and watch the world go by.

Revolver also has freshly baked pastries and muffins but obviously I was already satiated so that was the last thing on my mind today.

Gastown, you may be difficult to get to in the mornings but you are worth it! My stomach and I thank you for being awesome.

Cadeaux Bakery on Urbanspoon

Revolver on Urbanspoon