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London: Monmouth Coffee Company

When my friend M and I arrived at London’s Borough Market, I noticed a very long line that snaked around the corner and into the Monmouth Coffee Shop.  I love coffee, especially when its over ice on a hot summer day!  So when I saw this line, well frankly, I needed to find out what all the fuss was about.  Yes, I stood in this line and ordered my first Monmouth coffee.  In Canada, I’m used to the espresso machines, traditional home coffee machines and french presses – but this is the first I’ve seen a drip ceramic filter sitting directly over the cup.  The coffee was strong and delicious!  Perfect for sipping while browsing the market.

Monmouth

Long line into Monmouth Coffee Company cafe.

Monmouth - inside

Inside the cafe.

Monmouth - interior

Seating area to enjoy your coffee.

Monmouth - filters

Ceramic filters all lined up and ready to go.

Monmouth - filters

Coffee dripping through filters.

Monmouth - full filters

Hot water poured into filters full of ground coffee.

Monmouth - simple interior

Monmouth’s simple interior.

 

London: Pho

This is how much good food I had in London, I’m still not finished talking about it!  We’re in some sort of deep freeze here in Toronto and do I wish I was in London right now eating some of this delicious Vietnamese food.  Just located around the corner of Oxford Circus, my friend M took me to a cool little spot called Pho.  One of my all time favourite Vietnamese dishes is Bun – vermicelli noodles.  Its a cold thin rice noodle dish that is traditionally topped with shredded lettuce, herbs, bean sprouts, some sort of protein (I love it with marinated beef) and peanuts.  Its served with a spring roll and a dressing, nuoc cham, that is brought to you on the side and then poured over the dish.  If you’ve never had Bun, like a lot of asian dishes, its a perfect sweet and sour combination with a lot of crunch!  And the best way to finish it off….a glass of ice cold and strong Vietnamese coffee with a good thick layer of sweetened condensed milk!  Soooo good!

Pho - appetizer

Nem Nuong – pork and lemongrass meatballs with peanut sauce.

Pho - mango salad

Goi xoai – spicy green mango salad!

Pho - pho chin

Pho chin – traditional vietnamese noodle soup with tender brisket.

Pho - Bun

Bun – vermicelli noodles with beef, lemongrass, onions and chilli fried toppings, bean sprouts, herbs, peanuts and a veggie springroll.

Pho - vietnamese coffee

Vietnamese iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk.

Pho - lemongrass tea

Lemongrass tea.

Pho - inside

Inside Pho.

Pho

Pho

 

Sanremo Bakery

A friend of mine mentioned a delicious breakfast pizza they got delivered to their office one morning, so of course, I had to find out where this pizza came from and try it.  Well, I found the place but I have yet to try the famed breakfast pizza as it has been sold out every time I’ve gone.  The bakery is Sanremo and is located west of downtown Toronto in a small residential neighborhood.  As soon as you walk in, you’re hit with shelves of Italian goods and the hustle and bustle of a really busy bakery.  The bakery not only offers typical baked goods like breads, pastries, cakes, donuts and cookies but also ready-made dishes like lasagna, calzones, etc. but also an espresso bar!  Although I haven’t tried any of the the hot/cold dishes, their apple fritters are the best donuts I have tasted in a very long time!  I equate them to my experience in New York City with Doughnut Plant’s doughnuts.  The fritters are moist with a crisp outside and coated with just enough glaze!  Well worth making the trip!

My favourite item - some of the freshest apple fritters I've had!

My favourite item – some of the freshest apple fritters I’ve had!

Lots of cakes!

Lots of cakes!

Shelves of pies and cheesecakes.

Shelves of pies and cheesecakes.

So many different types of baguettes.

So many different types of baguettes.

A variety of Italian cookies.

A variety of Italian cookies.

Scones and cookies.

Scones and cookies.

Jelly and custard filled donuts.

Jelly and custard filled donuts.

Sanremo.

Sanremo.

London: Ruby Dock Cafe

We visited Camden Lock Market on an early Wednesday morning and of course, we planned on finding a place there to have breakfast and our most important morning coffee! Roaming through the alleys we came upon Ruby Dock Cafe.  With a breakfast/brunch menu and some delicious looking baked goods displayed on the counter we couldn’t resist.  I’m obsessed with anything iced (and yes, I still order iced coffees in this frigid Canadian weather!) so it was an iced latte and toasted banana bread topped with cinnamon butter – it was delicious!  A perfect way to start the day!  If you’re in for something lighter, the friand (a small french cake that is apparently popular in Australia) is a good choice.  I didn’t know this prior to popping into Ruby Dock but it looks like the owners also own two other popular restaurants in London: Lantana Cafe and Salvation Jane.  I think I need to add these onto my next visit :)

Ruby Dock Cafe

Ruby Dock Cafe

The beautiful counter of Ruby Dock Cafe.

The beautiful counter of Ruby Dock Cafe.

Inside Ruby Dock Cafe.

Inside Ruby Dock Cafe.

Cold and hot lattes.

Cold and hot lattes.

Latte and friand - love the latte art!

Latte and friand – love the latte art!

Toasted banana bread with cinnamon butter!

Toasted banana bread with cinnamon butter!

Toasted corn and chili bread with chutney!

Toasted corn and chili bread with chutney!

London: Damson Cafe

Hello LONDON, I love you!

Its been just under two years since I’ve been back to London and I’ve missed it.  And in a city as densely populated and cosmopolitan as it is, its small quaint places like Damson Cafe that really make the city unique.  Hidden on a side street just a block a way from the Oxford and Tottenham Court Road tube station, the “country farm” atmosphere is inviting and a perfect place to grab a coffee and catch up with a friend.  The front counter perfectly displays homemade baked goods, one of which catches my eye – the Victoria Sponge!  Just landing in London, how can I resist a cake named after Queen Victoria!  Typically made with raspberry jam, the Damson’s version is made with blueberry preserves and whip cream sandwiched between two layers of sponge cake!  It was deliciously moist and totally hit the spot.  And to go with the cake, a “Flat White” – espresso with steamed milk and no foam, the perfect afternoon snack!

A counter full of yummy baked goods!

A counter full of yummy baked goods!

My first taste of a slice of Victoria Sponge!

My first taste of a slice of Victoria Sponge!

My first "Flat White"!

My first “Flat White”!

Victoria Sponge

Victoria Sponge

Yummy offerings.

Yummy offerings.

Homemade salads.

Homemade salads.

Damson cafe's beautiful interior.

Damson cafe’s beautiful interior.

Love how they've covered the walls - yes, those are drawers, windows, etc.

Love how they’ve covered the walls – yes, those are drawers, windows, etc.

Damson Cafe

Damson Cafe

Iceland: Kristjans Bakari Konditori

Getting an early start to the day as we head out to see two of the largest waterfalls in Iceland, we stop in at Kristjans Bakari Konditori for our morning coffee and something sweet to eat.

Kristjans Bakari Konditori

Kristjans Bakari Konditori

Assorted baked goods.

Assorted baked goods.

Snudur.

Snudur.

Inside Kristjans.

Inside Kristjans.

Kristjans - interior 2

My breakfast - snudur.

My breakfast – snudur.

A close up of a piece of Saelustykki - snack for later that morning.

A close up of a piece of Saelustykki – snack for later that morning.

Iceland: Blaa Kannan

Landing in our second city, Akureyri, on our tour of Iceland we took a stroll along the main street of downtown Akureyri looking for a place where we can grab a bite to eat before heading out to the Nature Baths in Myvatn.  Located in a royal blue building is a cafe called Blaa Kannan – which means Blue Teapot.  We enter and are welcomed by a beautiful interior made of timber, giving it a “log cabin” vibe with large chandeliers throughout.  Most of the seating provided are communal-type seating giving it a more social atmosphere.  I went for a spinach quiche that came with a side salad and of course, a coffee, for a late lunch.  Although I wouldn’t say that Blaa Kannan blew my mind away with their food, the environment and atmosphere of the cafe is great – casual, relaxed and there’s a constant buzz which makes for awesome people-watching!

The main street in downtown Akureyri.

The main street in downtown Akureyri.

Blaa Kannan

Blaa Kannan

Inside Blaa Kannan.

Inside Blaa Kannan.

My late lunch at Blaa Kannan.

My late lunch at Blaa Kannan.

Spinach quiche along with a salad and ranch dressing.

Spinach quiche along with a salad and ranch dressing.

 

Iceland: Nesbraud

I don’t know what it is but my appreciation for cafes and coffeehouses have grown on this trip to Iceland and London.  On our way out of Stykkisholmur we stopped by a bakery we saw the previous day driving into the town.  It was early so the pastries were bountiful.  I had read about   some traditional donuts called Kleina and so when I saw them you know I had to try them :)  The donuts are made with a “cake” dough but unlike most of the donuts available in North America, they are unglazed and therefore you actually taste the dough and not just the sugar.  Pretty tasty!

Nesbraud

Nesbraud

Selection of pastries.

Selection of pastries.

Kleina - traditional Icelandic donuts.

Kleina – traditional Icelandic donuts.

Vinarbraud

Vinarbraud

Inside Nesbraud

Inside Nesbraud

Seating area of Nesbraud.

Seating area of Nesbraud.

My Breakfast - Kaffe and Kleina!

My Breakfast – Kaffe and Kleina!

Lit Espresso Bar

Posted on

A coffee house is the perfect place to meet with friends to plan a vacation trip to Europe!  There’s a number of them around the city and the popularity of independent coffee houses has completely fuelled my coffee addiction!  On a Sunday morning I, S and myself decided to meet at Lit Espresso Bar – an espresso house located in the Roncesvalles area of Toronto.  A neighborhood joint, the espresso bar was busy with locals enjoying their morning coffee and a line-up 6 people deep that never let up.  Although the espresso and coffee should be the star of any coffee house (Pig Iron Coffee supplies Lit), the pastries need to be up to par and offer something a bit different than the regular Tim Horton’s.  Only problem is, you need to go early to get the best selection – they had the most scone selection I’ve seen in awhile!  So I ordered the double dark chocolate scone, a chocolate scone with large chunks of bittersweet chocolate topped with crunchy sugar crystals, it was decadent and delicious standing up to the strong iced latte!  I would definitely come back!

Inside Lit espresso bar.

Inside Lit espresso bar.

Double chocolate scone - chunky and decadent.

Double chocolate scone – chunky and decadent.

Iced skim latte and a double chocolate scone.

Iced skim latte and a double chocolate scone.

Beautiful coffee art.

Beautiful coffee art.

Lit Espresso Bar

Lit Espresso Bar

My New Favourite Summer Drink!

Posted on

Last Monday, as I stepped into my favourite Starbucks located in my office tower (I love the fact that they know my daily drink and how I like to have it!), I noticed a new sign launching a new drink called Refreshers.  Curious as I am for anything NEW, especially when it comes to food, I enquired with the Baristas and they described it as an energy drink!  A great afternoon pick-me-up using what they call, green coffee extract.  So of course, I had to try one – they all recommended the Cool Lime Refresher!  I must say, if you are a fan of the Mojito, you will love this new drink!  Perfect for a hot summer day, it has all the components of a mojito without the alcohol…..and frankly, I wouldn’t mind having this with a little somethin’ somethin’ – if you know what I mean ;)

Verdict: A bit on the pricey side but worth at least one try!

Starbucks Cool Lime Refresher

Cool Lime Refresher with real lime!

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