cait +tiff


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T / happy monday / cookie monster

Photo Credit: Kristin Rosenau for Pastry Affair

Photo Credit: Kristin Rosenau for Pastry Affair

I don’t know about you, but it feels like the winter holidays are a distant memory. Cait is currently buried under a pile of fabric bolts. And I am running around the city looking for a wooden hand (can anyone help a girl out?).  An impromptu trip to Vietnam also got coordinated in the middle of all of this, so I will be really feeling the burn in the next 48 hours.

Naturally, the only thing I can think of today are cookies.  And sure, I’m participating in this year’s Paleo Challenge (aka the Whole30), but a girl can still look.  Amid all the things to do, I found myself revisiting this sumptuous little video from Ashley over at Not Without Salt.  We featured their cookie mix in our gift guide this past December, but these little guys are game all year.  If you’re in Phnom Penh, you’ve got to check out cookies from our favourite baker, Mama Heang.  Or if you’re counting down the 30 days, like me, have one of these gluten free guys.

Happy Monday! And remember to have a cookie.


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humpjump

nov-25

Photo Credit: Adele August

The days before Thanksgiving are some of my favorite days, because it feels like the wind up to the holiday season. Living in Asia, we don’t have tinsel and pumpkin-spice-flavored-everything shoved in our faces since August, so it actually is really fun to get in the mood. Little things like making hot chocolate (and turning up the air conditioning) and watching Elf help us with the illusion of coziness. Tiff has been hosting friends from out of town and brushing up on her super human hosting skills. She’s even making stuffing waffles today. STUFFING WAFFLES. Cait is in design mode and has decorated her house with meters of fabric and colored pencil shavings. She will be taking a break today to focus on mashed potatoes. Happy Thanksgiving week!

Because gift-giving season has apparently already started, here are a few great American retailers making great stuff.

Just in case you were wondering – the lowdown on Canadian Thanksgiving vs. American Thanksgiving.

Finally, justification for my sweatpants. I mean “leisure track suit.”

A treatise on what should probably be an acceptable outfit for the Thanksgiving table.

How awesome is this blanket? “Luke, I am your father. Let’s snuggle.”

Jessica FREAKING Jones!  All ready for your non-food binging.

Alternatively, I could just chill out here.

Listening to the Land Down Under” YouTube mix this morning, and it’s really, really good.

I am into this knotted dress, it’s a simple way to make a basic dress a little more interesting.

Not Thanksgiving related: I’m keeping all of these words in my pocket for the low days.


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T / go away / my toronto (now)

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Gaudi-esque at Bar Raval

So Anthony Bourdain came to Toronto last year and throughout the entire episode, he didn’t sound very impressed. Such lack of enthusiasm! Naturally, I was a little offended. Now I get it, Toronto’s not a very good looking city.  Our neighbours to the south burnt us down in 1813, and we burnt ourselves down in 1849 (oops).  So a lack of historical architecture combined with a post-industrial aesthetic and the lot of ugly condominium high rises that have penetrated the city make for a not so pleasant facade.

Thank goodness for its neighbourhoods.  Tiny enclaves built on the backs of early 20th century immigrants from Scotland, Portugual, Italy, Korea, China, India and beyond that have now become the gentrified centers of delicious for the current generations. My trips back to Toronto have always involved discovering whatever neighbourhood has become the next big thing.  On this one, I had to get the advice from cadre of local authorities who made sure that I was going to spend my short time here well. As a result, I’ve been equal parts stuffed and hungry all week by just being surrounded by all this gastronomic glory. Let’s begin shall we?

Brunch

Farmhouse-TavernThe wedding post-mortem is a tradition among our friends that didn’t exactly work out this time considering the hangover.  So while my pals slumbered, I needed to soothe a grumbling stomach and lumbered my way over to the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto where my pal Mojan had ordered me to brunch at the Farmhouse Tavern (1588 Dupont Street near Dundas Street West). Sadly they were out of their signature Mother and Child reunion which consists of breaded and two  deep fried duck eggs paired with fine slices of duck prosciutto. I had to bear with their Eggs Benny, probably more appropriate prescription for a hangover, with smoked trout gravlax served on cheddar and chive biscuits that made me melt into a messy but satisfied puddle.

Saving GraceIn the Dundas West neighbourhood there is a huge selection of possible brunches.  From the classic Federal (1438 Dundas Street West near Ossington), to the white walled and light filled Saving Grace (907 Dundas Street West at Bellwoods Avenue).  If you’re more akin to a weekend brunch later in the morning and have a craving for the brightest waffles topped with the freshest of berries, you’ll find Saving Grace packed to the brim. Thankfully, you can put your name down for a table and mosey across the street for a coffee at Ella’s Uncle.

Coffee

ManicIt’s only natural that Little Italy offers a very saturated market for quality java, right?  I like heading to Manic Coffee & Gelato (426 College Street West, near Bathurst).  Not only do they offer some cold creative treats (there’s miso caramel if you’re adventurous, however black sesame is a personal fave), but their baristas are great conversation.  One of my faves is Mikhail who hails from Costa Rica and has the coffee trade in his blood.

Academy-of-LionsAnd I couldn’t write this post without mentioning one of the inspirations for the Kettlebell Café in Phnom Penh.  Academy of Lions not only has a beautiful post-industrial space and the friendliest of staff in an old kitchen supply store for its work outs, but they also serve some great post-workout coffee. If you’re a Crossfitter looking for a friendly gym, go west and do a hundred burpees here!

Aperitifs

Bar-RavalTo call Bar Raval only a location for libations would be a misnomer.  I wound up spending three hours here catching up with one of my oldest friends, and we just kept ordering tapas upon pintxos upon planchas upon queso and beyond.  And highly curated absinthe-based (apparently now legal in Canada) beverages of course.  If you find standing space inside, you’ll be surrounded in Gaudi-esque structures from top to bottom which match its Barcelona-inspired menu so well.

Rock-LobsterOne should also not miss a new institution just welcomed to the world last year. The Bloody Lobster Caesar is just perfect for a warm day on the patio at Rock Lobster (3 locations across downtown Toronto).  And if you’re feeling indulgent, and we know you won’t be able to help yourself: go for the lobster poutine.

Dinner

Bar-IsabelIn the weeks leading up to my trip back home, I posted about a profound desire to feast at the Black Hoof.  Very shortly after, my new friend Julia (also a Toronto-to-Phnom Penh transplant) intervened and implored that I go to Bar Isabel, Grant van Gameren’s new outpost instead.  And I am so happy that Julia stepped in. Reunited with a dear old friend, we spent the three hours at Bar Isabel feasting on roasted bone marrow, smoked sweetbreads atop raw albacore tuna, a whole seabream ceviche, patatas bravas that were truly imperial with house-made blood sausage and boquerones layered on top and finished off with a sour cream ice cream with rosemary and candied orange.  Oh right, and cocktails.  And yes I was stuffed and tipsy. 

So that’s it for my Toronto.  I hope you enjoy my hometown if you ever make it above the 44th parallel! 


All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use.