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Monastery Bakery & Deli

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I have heard on multiple occasions from multiple friends about Monastery Bakery & Deli in Oakville, Ontario.  So after a morning stand-up paddle session, my teammates and I took a “field trip” out to Monastery Bakery for coffee and a bite.  I didn’t realize it was more a market than a bakery cafe but regardless, it lived up to my expectations!  The front portion of the market houses the deli, ready made food section, Italian groceries, cheeses, pastries and coffee.  However, the magic is really in the back room – a room full of bread and baked goodies, racks of them!  Everything from homemade bread sticks, croissants, loaves of bread, baguettes, danishes, turnovers, donuts and panettone.  Yes, fresh panettone!  With so much variety, I had to hold myself back but vowed I would come back.  So on this initial trip I tried the bread sticks, croissants, spinach and feta stuffed phyllo and mini chocolate danishes.  The best however, were the fresh baked Italian cookies and biscotti – buttery, crumbly and not too sweet.  My favourite were the biscotti dipped in white or dark chocolate.  They weren’t too hard and the chocolate gives it the right touch of sweetness, the perfect treat!

Monastery Bakery & Deli in Oakville, Ontario.

Monastery Bakery & Deli in Oakville, Ontario.

Danishes, elephant ears, cinnamon buns and chocolate croissants.

Danishes, elephant ears, cinnamon buns and chocolate croissants.

Racks of donuts and fruit turnovers.

Racks of donuts and fruit turnovers.

Loads of their signature croissants.

Loads of their signature croissants.

So many different types of bread sticks - garlic, cheese, sundried tomato and olive.

So many different types of bread sticks – garlic, cheese, sundried tomato and olive.

Loaves of artisan bread.

Loaves of artisan bread.

Housemade hot deli sandwiches.

Housemade hot deli sandwiches.

Hot homemade pasta dishes.

Hot homemade pasta dishes.

More pasta dishes.

More pasta dishes.

So many varieties of Italian cookies and cakes.

So many varieties of Italian cookies and cakes.

Housemade pasta packaged for easy cooking at home.

Housemade pasta packaged for easy cooking at home.

Spinach and feta filled phyllo pastry.

Spinach and feta filled phyllo pastry.

A box full of Italian biscotti and butter cookies.

A box full of Italian biscotti and butter cookies.

Italian panettone made fresh in house.

Italian panettone made fresh in house.

Life is Sweet – A Cupcake House

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After a beautiful Sunday morning OC1 (outrigger canoe) paddle session, We decided to hit the Toronto Beaches’ high street, Queen St. East for a morning coffee.  There’s a bakery that I’ve been following on Instagram for awhile and wanted to stop by and finally try it out but found out it was closed.  So taking a stroll down the street, we found Life is Sweet – A Cupcake House.  With its vibrant turquoise front porch, we decided to take a peak.  They’ve turned a house into a bakery and shop keeping the house structure in place.  In the hallway, staircase and back room are shelves and displays of beautiful housewares like dish towels, cake stands, homemade soaps and greeting cards.  When you walk in the front foyer, you’re greeted by a counter full of baked goodies.  There’s a lot to choose from and all looked delicious.  We ended up going with a half dozen mini-cupcakes, it is a cupcake house after all – and seeing that they are “mini” I felt less guilty eating them…lol.  My favourite was the earl grey tea cupcake which had a very subtle earl grey flavour however, it was contrasted with a bold and citrusy orange buttercream full of actual orange zest – a unique flavour combination I haven’t seen before.  I love neighbourhood joints like this, so happy I dropped in!

Life is Sweet - A Cupcake House.

Life is Sweet – A Cupcake House.

The entrance to the cute Life is Sweet bakery and gift shop.

The entrance to the cute Life is Sweet bakery and gift shop.

The bakery counter.

The bakery counter.

A counter full of delicious baked goods.

A counter full of delicious baked goods.

An order of iced coffee (unsweetened, no milk) and some cupcakes to go with it.

An order of iced coffee (unsweetened, no milk) and some cupcakes to go with it.

A half dozen order of mini cupcakes.

A half dozen order of mini cupcakes.

Earl grey with orange buttercream mini-cupcake.

Earl grey with orange buttercream mini-cupcake.

Chocolate mini-cupcake with mint buttercream.

Chocolate mini-cupcake with mint buttercream.

Inside the shop.

Inside the shop.

The back room full of beautiful items for the kitchen and home.

The back room full of beautiful items for the kitchen and home.

Baka Gallery Cafe

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I haven’t seen my friend M in a few months and its been just as long since I’ve ventured into her neighborhood of Bloor West Village.  Upon her recommendation, we decided to hit a up Baka Gallery Cafe, a local cafe serving not only the typical coffee and pastries but also breakfast, lunch and dinner.  A modern, white space inside with a good sized patio and a second floor dining room with a bar, it was a busy afternoon with the cafe full of customers.  When I first walked in I noticed the cafe was open to mobile phone store attached to the front of the cafe – apparently its owned by the Baka Mobile store.  I ordered an iced latte and the sausage bagel, one of their three breakfast entrees.  You can’t see the sausage patty in the photo, dwarfed by the fried egg resting on top, but its there.  Made with pork and fennel, fried and then topped with the fried egg, a slice of havarti, roasted tomato and served on a toasted poppy seed bagel.  M’s arugula salad looked really fresh, with tons of strawberries, walnuts, cashews and feta.  The food is definitely decent but what makes this place great is the local vibe it exudes.

The entrance and patio of Baka Gallery Cafe.

The entrance and patio of Baka Gallery Cafe.

The counter inside Baka.

The counter inside Baka.

Window seating at Baka.

Window seating at Baka.

The 2nd floor seating space of the cafe.

The 2nd floor seating space of the cafe.

A large iced latte to stay.

A large iced latte to stay.

A beautiful summer salad.

A beautiful summer salad.

Sausage bagel.

Sausage bagel.

East Coast Roadtrip: Hella’s

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There were two places that I needed to come back and visit on my trip back to Tarpon Springs, Rusty Bellies (check my previous post) and Hellas.  I love greek desserts, everything from baklava to their cookies…they are all delicious.  Even with my trips to Little Greece in Toronto (on the Danforth) I’ve never come across chocolate covered baklava and two years ago, I tried it for the first time.  So I was craving for some baklava and my favourite, diples.  These are rolled, deep fried dough that is then dipped in a honey syrup and topped with chopped nuts and cinnamon.  I discovered diples at Hellas and fell in love with this airy, sweet dessert.  Its a perfect place to stop by for dessert and a coffee…heck, do what I did – dinner at Rusty Bellies and dessert at Hellas, you can’t go wrong!

Hella's located on the main strip of the Sponge Docks.

Hellas located on the main strip of the Sponge Docks.

So much baklava to choose from.

So much baklava to choose from.

More pastries.

More pastries.

Homemade egg bread made especially for Easter.

Homemade egg bread made especially for Easter.

Delicious freshmade diples.

Delicious freshmade diples.

In addition to traditional greek desserts there are a number of cakes and pastries available as well.

In addition to traditional greek desserts there are a number of cakes and pastries available as well.

I love the name of these pastries, elephant ears!

I love the name of these pastries, elephant ears!

Hella's Tiramisu and Milfe.

Hellas Tiramisu and Milfe.

Napolean baklava.

Napolean baklava.

My order of diples.

My order of diples.

A delicious cup of greek coffee.

A delicious cup of greek coffee.

The retail bakery side of Hella's.

The retail bakery side of Hellas.

East Coast Roadtrip: The Daily

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Following other bloggers/instagramers is awesome because you find gems like this.  And I’m always on a mission to find a good cup of iced joe (aka, coffee) and we found it here at the Daily.  Owned by the Butcher & Bee, a restaurant that sits right next to it, you know this place is going not only have good coffee but good food too.  Before going on our carriage ride through old town Charleston, we stopped by to grab breakfast.  My iced coffee was satisfying but my breakfast was surprisingly delicious and fresh, I felt like I was eating at a farmer’s market.  On a large slice of sourdough that was perfectly toasted, Z’aatar seasoned and mashed avocados were spread as the base with two slices of ripe heirloom tomatoes topped with a drizzle of good olive oil.  The ricotta toast, made with the same sourdough but topped with fresh ricotta, honey and walnuts; and the breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs and chorizo looked just as yummy!  I wish I lived here just so I could make a stop at the Daily a part of my everyday routine.

Daily

The Daily by the Butcher & Bee

Daily - inside

The beautiful interior of the Daily.

Daily - interior

Another view of the interior.

Daily - latte

Great looking latte art.

Daily - iced coffee

My order of iced coffee using Stumptown coffee.

Daily - ricotta

Ricotta toast topped with walnuts, honey and black pepper.

Daily - avocado

Avocado toast topped with Z’aatar, heirloom tomatoes, olive oil on sourdough.

Daily - tacos

Breakfast tacos filled with chorizo, scrambled eggs, cheese, cilantro and salsa verde.

Daily - cookies

Sweet goodies available at the Daily – rugelach, chocolate sandwich cookies and mini butter tarts.

Daily - pastries

Some more yummy pastries – butter croissants, brownies and bourekas.

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East Coast Roadtrip: Baked & Wired

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I know it seems as though I was just in Florida but here I go again, 2 months later, this time for dragon boat training.  This time, instead of flying down to Tarpon Springs, Florida, a couple of my teammates (I and S) and I decide to take a bit of a detour and hit a few cities on the way down.  Our second stop was Washington D.C. – the first was Woodbury Commons for some well-deserved shopping.  Once we checked into our hotel, we drove down to Georgetown to stop at a cafe called Baked & Wired for a cup of java.  Named Washington’s top rated cafe and after my visit I know why.  Comprised of a space that is semi-divided into a “baked” side and a “wired” (coffee) side, the exterior is accented in pink (a old basket bike painted in pink sits just outside) and the interior is just as cute and inviting, a really chilled vibe.  We weren’t expecting to grab a bite but the line up of cupcakes along the counter just called to be eaten.  After ordering a cold drip, we decided to try the homemade raspberry pop tart and the car bomb cupcake.  The pop tart was unique with a thin shortbread base, a layer or raspberry preserves and topped with icing.  It was sweet so its perfect for sharing.  The cupcake is larger in size than most and comes wrapped in parchment so it has a “homemade” touch – it was a good cupcake with a moist cake.  The stop at Baked & Wired was a great way to recharge before heading back out to explore Georgetown’s high street.

Baked & Wired.

Baked & Wired.

Cupcakes all lined up as far as the eye can see.

Cupcakes all lined up as far as the eye can see.

The Baked counter of the cafe.

The Baked counter of the cafe.

A pile of raspberry pop tarts.

A pile of raspberry pop tarts.

The gluten free pop tart.

The gluten free pop tart.

The Car Bomb cupcake - a chocolate cake topped with Bailey's buttercream and a Jameson ganache filling.

The Car Bomb cupcake – a chocolate cake topped with Bailey’s buttercream and a Jameson ganache filling.

A look Inside the Car Bomb cupcake.

A look Inside the Car Bomb cupcake.

A ham quiche.

A ham quiche.

A cup of cold drip and a hot chai latte from the Wired side.

A cup of cold drip and a hot chai latte from the Wired side.

The Wired side of the cafe serving up coffees and espressos.

The Wired side of the cafe serving up coffees and espressos.

Inside the Baked & Wired cafe.

Inside the Baked & Wired cafe.

Miami: David’s Cafe Cafecito

Located in the up and coming area of Miami’s Design District (similar to Toronto’s King East which is lined with furniture shops), is a retail space called Chrome Hearts that allows emerging artists and designers a space to sell their goods.  And tucked away past the black gates right beside the open air atrium and patio is David’s Cafe Cafecito.  Normally we would have walked right past this cafe if it weren’t for the folks across the street at Jonathan Adler‘s store.  Taking their advice on getting some good coffee we ventured to David’s.  And what a gem!  Such a funky locale and the perfect weather to sit out on the patio.  Being an iced coffee junky, I ordered the iced cafe con leche.  Made with milk and a giant coffee ice cube – an ingenious way to avoid coffee dilution.  The menu is simple but we didn’t go there to eat.  It’s all about the coffee and the details here, even down to the designs on the sugar cubes.  Great place to sit, have a cup of coffee (iced for me) and catch up with a friend.

Chrome Hearts in Miami's Design District.

Chrome Hearts in Miami’s Design District.

The beautiful outdoor patio to David's Cafe Cafecito.

The beautiful outdoor patio to David’s Cafe Cafecito.

The counter at David's.

The counter at David’s.

Inside the funky space of David's Cafe.

Inside the funky space of David’s Cafe.

David's Iced Cafe Con Leche.

David’s Iced Cafe Con Leche.

A close up view of the coffee ice cube in the iced cafe con leche.

A close up view of the coffee ice cube in the iced cafe con leche.

Mango pastry.

Mango pastry.

Guava and cheese pastry.

Guava and cheese pastry.

Deliciously light guava and cheese pastry.

Deliciously light guava and cheese pastry.

A cup of David's cafe con leche.

A cup of David’s cafe con leche.

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