Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Vanilla is one of the most important and valuable ingredients in the perfume industry; however, in the past few years it has been used in a dubious way. Instead of adding depth and exoticism to fragrances, the trend has been for perfumers to use vanilla the same way a baker would. The term “I could just eat you up” isn’t meant to be literal, is it? You shouldn’t really smell edible, should you? That shouldn’t be your thing... should it? Look what happened to Hansel and Gretel. While the aroma of marshmallows, chocolate bars and freshly baked cookies is delicious, it isn’t necessarily refined or elegant. Have you ever really respected someone who’s smelled like a sugar cookie? Keebler Elves are adorable, but you don’t want them to rebrand your business. Vanilla & Anise is a wildly heady and dramatic example of how vanilla could be (and should be) used.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
I tend to drink American-style coffee. While I love lattes and cappuccinos, there is nothing more satisfying that a lonnnnnnng shot of espresso or a great brewed coffee (with cream). I know this crazy talk offends the gods of java, but their logic is something I've never fully understood: Coffee purists advocate espresso-based drinks, but espresso as we know it today was invented in around 1900. Before that people brewed their coffee. Wouldn't the purists reject this newfangled gadgetry and opt for the ancient Ethiopian tradition of table-side roasting and service in clay pots? I guess my point is, drink what you like and leave the judging to nobody.
That being said, of course my selections are geared towards my taste. And that being said, I think my taste level is very high... so here goes. In no particular order, my favorite coffee shops in Toronto:
- Patachou (1120 Yonge Street, 416-927-1105) — I have a special place in my heart for Patachou. To me, everything about the place is perfect, from the food (especially the croissants and macaroons), to the décor (the perfect blend of old-meets-new French design), and yes, to the coffee. Served in very Parisian-feeling bowls, the lattes are definitely the most popular beverage consumed at Patachou; however, it's their Americanos that I crave. If you like a robust cup, order their double Americano and ask the server to not add hot water. Trust me, you'll be in heaven. Patachou's drip coffee is not to be ignored, either. I once brought a bag of this coffee home for Christmas and my family went wild for it. My sister-in-law now gets me to ship it to her home in Vernon (it's called the Patachou blend, if you want to ask for it by name). Added bonus: the crowd at Patachou is always the most interesting blend of people. You never know who you'll see.
- Caffe Brasiliano (849 Dundas Street West, 416-603-6607) — I swear a regular customer at Patachou recommended Caffe Brasiliano to me. Upon this recommendation I visited the venerable Dundas West location and loved it. When I raved about the experience to said customer, she claimed she'd never heard of the place. Go figure. I guess it was the hand of providence... funny, providence leads me to great coffee shops, yet I'm still single? I digress. I wouldn't say Caffe Brasiliano is the most elegant room in Toronto, or the food the most refined (actually I don't recommend the food); however, I am confident the coffee is some of the best you'll ever have in the city. Again, I am familiar with their strong double Americano — amazing. Added bonus: the bar seating at the windows facing Dundas Street is the perfect people-watching perch.
- Mercury Espresso Bar (915 Queen Street East, 647-435-4779, www.mercuryespresso.com) — Remember when I mentioned coffee purists in my introduction? I was thinking about these guys when I wrote that. In this case I don't really care where their coffee politics lean because their end-product is amazing. Truth be told though, Mercury Espresso Bar is one of those love-it-or-hate-it experiences. The music is always really loud and they play really hip stuff like... well I'm so unhip that I have no idea what they play, and you'll feel 50% more showered (and 50% less trendy) when you see the carefully disheveled baristas. BUT, and this is a big but, they really care about coffee. They are the grand champions of micro foam, the head honchos of créma, the captains of the latte art ship. Thank God for these guys, because nobody else on the East side knows how to make a decent cup of coffee. Added bonus: while the barista girl who wears over-sized glasses (I don't think they're prescription) and under-sized jeans will actively ignore you, she makes a mean Americano.
- b Espresso Bar (111 Queen Street East, 416-866-2111, www.bespressobar.com) — Where do the fashionistas of Toronto go for their daily jolt of java? I'm not sure, could you tell me? I need to start networking... just kidding. They go to the very Italian b Espresso Bar, of course! The place is always buzzing with fancy PR people, designers, magazine editors and well-to-doers, but this isn't the only reason to visit. Their coffee — both espresso-based and brewed — is amazing. And while they too take coffee seriously (often starting drinks over if they don't come out perfectly), here the customer is king. (There are no judgements when you order a small brewed coffee and load it with cream like me.) Added bonus: b Espresso Bar is perhaps one of the most beautifully designed cafés I've ever patronized.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Every season, I'm infinitely impressed with the way Joe Fresh Style provides shoppers across Canada with affordable — and very chic — fashions. While not every community may have a Banana Republic, Club Monaco or some other reasonably priced outlet, most centres have a Loblaws or Superstore that sells the Joe Fresh clothing line. (I really expect to see the men, women and children of middle Canada kicking it up a notch style-wise. No excuses!)
Ten years ago, the Canadian shopping scene was very different. If you wanted to find fashions for less, you truly got what you paid for — in quality and style. Things were different south of the border, though. The Target (tar-jay) phenomenon made thrifty fashion, well, fashionable. And it wasn't until Joe Mimran was tapped by Loblaws to create Joe Fresh that we Northerners could buy fashion forward clothing for miserly prices.
This season is no different for the Joe Fresh line. There are several amazing pieces available, especially outerwear, but I chose to highlight three accessories I think would punch up any outfit. While you may have to take a few moments to scope out the collection’s pleated skirts and ruffled shirts, try them on and make a final buying decision, you can easily breeze into the accessories aisle in between stops at the produce section and the deli and buy a pair of gloves or a cute hat. www.joe.ca