Tag Archives: Coffee

On Toronto, Coffeeshops, and Cooking Together

Sam James Coffee Bar on Harbord. A seriously ‘Less is More’ aesthetic and killer coffee.

Travel is always an adventure, right?

While it may have been work travel, it’s still pretty sweet to get out and enjoy a new city when the opportunity presents itself, especially when it’s a gem like Toronto.

I grew up visiting family in this city (I have always been a West Coast girl) and have many fond memories of it.

Toronto is where I got my ears pierced (behind my parents backs), where I first rode public transit on my own, and where the many colorful stories of my immediate family history originated (of which there are so, so many).

Turns out it’s still a pretty cool place. It may not have the hills, the ocean, and the ozonated air like home does (how many great cities actually do?), but it’s got its charms.

Sam James sidewalk.

Having visited a lot of coffee shops in my life (what can I say – it’s my job!), Toronto has a little something special going on as far as the local coffee scene.

Add to that the bustling, gritty charm of Kensington Market, the gorgeous grounds of the University of Toronto, and the many great restaurants that pop up out of no where, and downtown is not a bad place to traipse around.

Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.

~Frederick B. Wilcox

Sitting pretty at Kensington Market.

IPOM is certainly not a travel blog, but it is a place to celebrate the little things, and traveling is a bit of treat (IMO), whether work related or not (unless it isn’t).

Here are just a few of the moments I snuck in between more serious tasks.

Thanks for joining me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

As always, I am a total nerd for market style food shots. Lettuce and live herbs outside the convenience store on College Street? Why not?

If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.

~ Unknown

The same goes for these apples, proving there is always a healthy alternative within reach in big cities.

It’s not Whole Foods, but it might just be as good (or maybe better).

A stroll through Kensington yielded a visit to a very inspiring and beautiful store called Good Egg.

I could have spent a week in there looking at food, cooking, and agriculture (the list goes on) books, drooling over their refined selection of kitchen stuff, and generally trying to memorize everything about it so I could open my own here at home. I am always dreaming.

Listen to the color of your dreams.

~ The Beatles

Seriously. I was so, totally in love.

I’ve said before that grocery stores are my happy place.

Well, I’d like to take that a step further and say that outdoor vegetable markets are my ultra happy place!

Baskets of gorgeous, bright fruits and vegetables are always a feast for the eyes and this stall at Kensington Market was no exception.

My husband thinks I am downright nuts on account of this (always has).
I maintain that’s just a part of my charm.

Cruising the University (cutting through from Yorkville to Little Italy) – I got a nice hit of charm from the gorgeous buildings and green everywhere. All these years I’d never seen this.

It was gorgeous, and a breath of fresh air in the middle of town.

Artisans are everywhere in this city, from behind the espresso machine, to behind the roaster, to behind the glass windows of the local flower shop.

I am a sucker for roses, especially this antique pink. This lovely arrangement stopped my breath at a little shop called Jaiden’s Petals on Ossington, I loved the sparse interior and the taste of the flower selection and merchandising in there.

Are you a sucker for flowers like me?

Catching a spot of sunshine was easy on the patio at Mercury Espresso bar in Leslieville.

Just looking at the seats made me happy. Imagine once I sat down πŸ™‚

We also visited Te Aro, a new roaster from New Zealand doing superb things with coffee here in Canada.

I was so inspired there I bought myself a Chemex coffee maker and risked the trip home in my luggage (not that I couldn’t have picked one up here at home).
It totally made it unscathed – and I am now on the hunt for the right filter (thinking of the Coava cone) and a new grinder (considering a hand grinder for this).

Visiting the Junction, we headed to Crema Coffee, and a stop at a little shop getting a tremendous amount of buzz from locals and folks here at home – Mjolk – I’ll let you discover them here – is a pretty amazing store.

Honestly, I wasn’t feeling rich enough to afford anything in there (and if I could have would not have risked trying to get it home unbroken), but it’s worth checking out if you are at all interested. These guys have a totally cool blog too, that is super styley and worth a look at if you are inclined!

Of course looking at these gorgeous wooden cups now, I am kind of wishing I brought one home after all. At least they have an online store!

The street art is pretty prevalent, and I love the bright vibes and loose feel to this. Kinda makes you want to dance in the streets a little!

Dance is the hidden language of the soul.

– Martha Graham

Me and my buddy dressed identically.

Imagine us looking each other up and down at 8 in the morning. Ridiculous.

There were a lot of super fun highlights. Great dinners with great company at Delux and Gusto, and proof that I am not the only vegetable nerd around that loves a good raw kale salad and shaved brussels sprouts with vinaigrette.

My fave moment of all?

Training for Paris, of course!

Returning home has been fabulous, and the weekend was spent enjoying the pleasures and comforts of home, complete with plenty of time in the kitchen πŸ™‚

On that note – I’m going to leave you with an invitation to a little party coming up!

Annie over at an unrefined vegan has completely blown me away by arranging a blogging feast for this coming Saturday, May 12th.

Many of you are attending, but for those who wish to join us for the feast, there will be 60 bloggers taking part with 60 vegan dishes prepared just for the party – not all of the bloggers are strict vegans (including yours truly) but the deal is the dish for this little shindig has to be.

So watch for it! I am looking forward to it and am super excited to see what everyone has in store (and I am pretty excited to share mine!).

Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?

~ Frank Scully

So thanks to Annie for her amazing effort in putting this all together, and to all the blogging buds far and wide taking part!

Here’s wishing you all a super fab Monday!

Welcome to all the new IPOM readers this week, I am so happy to have you here, and I hope you’ll join us in the conversation too!

  • Are you a potluck fan?
  • What’s your favorite potluck dish?
  • Anyone out there from Toronto (I know a few of you are!)
  • Anyone make the kale salad over the weekend?

Let us know how you all are doing!

Your comments are always welcome here with open arms.

Yours in Less,


Filed under Family, Food, Happiness, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Photography, Travel

Finding More in coffee and (just a little) fun with friends.

More Chocolate anyone?

This one is pretty straight forward.

Like Chocolate? Check.

Like Coffee? Check.

Like sweet, iced, lusciously energizing beverages? Check.

Let’s not talk about our occasional jaunts to Starbucks, K? I won’t tell if you won’t, and for the record, they do a lot of things pretty well, and I kind of have to credit them with getting me hooked on coffee in the first place (and life is (just a little) better with coffee in it, in this girls’ very humble opinion).

In all seriousness, I consider myself very fortunate to have access to some of the very best roasted coffee in the world – check out the roaster I work for here – and I don’t really hit many Starbucks, unless I am traveling.

But who doesn’t love a decadent pick me up now and again?

Crafting this insanely delicious concoction isn’t rocket science, but you do need to be prepared (as in you have to have made the almond milk and the ice cream from the last two posts)…

Almond Iced Mocha:

Combine everything in your blender and enjoy!

You might also want to cover your bases with a good activity planned for after ingesting this.

(No, really).

Chances are you’ll be pretty juiced and I’d really hate to see that energy go to waste…

Got a book to finish? Write it. Gardening? Have the shovels and gloves ready! 10K time you want to beat? Now’s your chance.

Or, if you are anything like me, you might just kick back and enjoy another kind of activity that I wish I could do more often.

The joy of doing nothing.

The energy of the mind is the essence of life.

~ Aristotle

However you choose to enjoy your time, do it well.

And do it often!

So that will wrap the sweet stuff for a bit…(I promise)..

I am excited to share some wonderful savory recipes and an idea for a series I’ve been working on.

Here are a few shots of the Not So Fast photo shoot we did on Sunday, it was a blast!


Huge thanks to all the new readers who have shared your enthusiasm with me, you are all amazing!

  • What do you do with your excess energy?
  • Are you a coffee drinker too?

Happy Wednesday folks!

Yours in Less,


Filed under Desserts, Going Without, Happiness, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Nut Recipes, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Running, Success, Vegan

Finding More in NYC and loving it.

One of my best girlfriends – Julie (she with the inspirational art blog Spaark) – recently asked me where I ate when I was in New York a few months back.

I got to recalling the trip and realized I really hadn’t lamented adequately on what a delicious (and fun) journey we had. Having eaten there a few times before, there are a few haunts we know and love, starting with:

Cafe Gitane:

Our absolute must do when in NYC. Worth the hour wait to get in. Just pull up a spot and people watch.

Located in the absolute heart of maybe my favorite neighborhood in the world (Mott & Prince in Nolita), there is no better people watching paradise than this, short of sitting at a cafe in the Marais in Paris. I have heard that Vancouver’s own Medina took inspiration from this funky little spot – and it turns out Medina has my heart as one of my favorite spots in this fair city!

My baked eggplant at Cafe Gitane (burnt my tongue)

Expect Moroccan/Tunisian/Mediteranean goodness with lots of great vegetarian options – veggies, feta, all made right there in front of your eyes. I should say that Cafe Gitane is the only place I have ever seen that offers my all time, world’s best, favorite food: avocado on toast! I swear every cute girl and guy (that is who tends to eat there) was eating this. I almost died as I did not remember this from my last visit there in ’07. Major win!

Avocado on Toast? Where am I?

Cafe Mogador:

More Mediterranean influence πŸ™‚

The site of my first meal ever in New York City. The restaurant where we enjoyed the meal following the closing of the purchase of our home, and my first foray into experiencing New York. More (surprise) Moroccan food – couscous, salad, hummus – a wonderful oasis! It’s been there forever. Warm, cozy, inviting, and highly recommended.

Ninth Street Espresso:

I need my coffee!

Strolling up to Ninth Street

The folks at Ninth Street Espresso are hipsters in every sense. Coming from the coffee scene here in Vancouver, which hosts one of the most vibrant and hardcore coffee cultures in North America, Ninth Street offered a home away from home in the East Village. We went to the one on Ninth and hung for about an hour each morning. Heaven.

Finished the spro.

Cappuccino - poured with love by my new barista friend πŸ™‚

We also enjoyed lunch at the Moma Cafe – high quality fare with a nice glass of white wine (a must at lunch when vacationing). We also discovered a pretty cozy little localvore wine bar in Nolita call Ten Bells. Packed with locals, this place was super coze to stop and enjoy a glass of wine and a few bites of local cheeses.

A break from the art assault at MOMA. Good food. Good people. It's New York!

Our trip was just what we needed – a quick getaway from kids and work life. I swear if I didn’t have such a great life here, I would live in Paris or New York – of course if I could manage to make enough money – there is so much to see and do. I think to survive I would have to live in Brooklyn, which we also enjoyed with an afternoon coffee at El Beit (serving a West Coast coffee but not ours) and dinner in an old apothecary turned lively Italian joint.

So much inspiration comes out of a place where anything goes, and as usual I was impressed and inspired by the general state of being in folks living in that city. Everyone walks, and there is a fruit stand on every corner. It’s not a hard gig to eat well in a place like NYC, and I am inspired by the health and wellness community there.

And no, I did not shop. (That much). But that’s another story.

Dining with good friends Roscoe and Mary Lee in Brooklyn. So much fun!

Hanging at Washington Square. Bumped into the SATC actor Chris Noth for the 2nd time.

There he is, Noth. The guy with the red hair is thinking WTF?

Alas, we returned home to take stock after our break. No matter where you go, there is no place like home. I can’t wait to go back again though, sooner rather than later.

What are your favorite food haunts in New York? Care to help Julie out with your recommendations (I am sure she will be grateful!)

Yours In Less,


Filed under Happiness, Inspiration, Rejuvenation, Travel, Vegetables