Indie Coffee Passport

Back in 2013, I started compiling a list of indie coffeeshops in Toronto that I wanted to check out. The list, scrawled on a sticky note stuck to the wall in front of my desk, continued to grow longer and longer until it had surpassed 30 different coffeeshops.

Yet somehow I found myself back at Starbucks, time after time.

This afternoon I picked up an Indie Coffee Passport. It's an initiative that's available in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Vermont, Chicago, East Bay, Washington DC and Oakland. A bunch of indie coffeeshops participate; you pick up a passport and then you get to sample a coffee (out of a limited list) from each of the places participating.

Pretty excited to check out some local indie coffee spots over the next few months.

Ellie Goulding & HAIM @ Massey Hall (Rdio & TIFF)

"Why don't you be the artist and make me out of clay? Why don't you be the writer and decide the words I say?"
- Ellie Goulding, The Writer
On September 6th, Rdio and TIFF presented a live concert featuring Ellie Goulding and HAIM. Checked it out with C - was overall a pretty awesome evening!

It always comes to this:

There's just never enough time.

Bannock: Summerlicious 2014

For the last day of Summerlicious 2014, D and I decided to have lunch at Bannock (401 Bay St.), the Oliver & Bonacini restaurant branded as "Canadian comfort food." Although it was D's first time there, I'd previously been (and blogged about it) for Winterlicious 2014 and brunch. Bannock tends to be consistently good, so it's usually a pretty safe bet. 
To start, we both opted for the Iced Bloody Caesar Soup (Montreal steak spice, clams, celery), which turned out spicier than expected, but was still really good. As far as soups go, it was quite interesting in that: a) it was a cold soup, and b) it's a Caesar. (No vodka though!)
For the main, I went with the Roast Peameal Bacon Melt (Bannock sauerkraut, cheddar, smoked tomato marmalade), which was also excellent. Bannock uses thick slices of (Canadian?) bacon, it's great. The chips are always fantastic to have on the side as well. This was slightly spicy, but a good level of spicy.

D went for the Spelt Fusilli (mushroom fauxlognese, spinach greens, thunder oak Gouda) - he said it was fantastic as well.  
To finish it all off, we both had the O&B Artisan Croissant Bread Pudding (spiced chocolate, peanut butter, kaffir lime). The chocolate sauce was very fluffy, and complemented the texture of the bread pudding really well (although we were both confused about the croissant part). Neither of us detected the peanut butter either. The garnishing fruits were really fresh, and overall it was pretty yummy.

We also both really liked the decor; it has a very rustic/homey Canadian vibe. I thought the vacation moose with parasol figurines were hilarious. Another successful Summerlicious meal!

Bangkok Garden: Summerlicious 2014

Since today was the second last day of Summerlicious, S and I decided to go for lunch. Initially we were planning on going to T|Bar, but it turned out that they don't do Summerlicious lunch on weekends (same with Cafe La Gaffe, which C and I had originally tried for before ending up at Midi Bistro last weekend), so we walked over to Matagali, which was closed altogether. Ultimately we ended up at Bangkok Garden (18 Elm St.) - which, ironically, my roommate at the time and I had tried to check out last year for Summerlicious on a Sunday, and they'd been closed. 
We both started with the Mango Salad to start with (mango, shallots, coriander, red pepper, mint, fish sauce and peanuts). I was a little surprised upon tasting peanuts in the salad, and S made fun of me for ordering by only looking at the titles, and not actually reading the menu. In my defence, I was hungry, okay. Luckily all the courses arrived in a very timely fashion.
Then we both had the Basil Beef Stir-Fry as the main (flat-iron beef, vegetables, chili garlic & oyster sauce, served with jasmine rice). Before ordering, we'd been joking around about how tears may or may not be involved, depending on how spicy the food was; it didn't end up being spicy at all (I'd asked for mine to be mild, not sure if both had been made such though).
On dessert we finally diverged - he went for the Coconut Tapioca and I went for the Banana Fritters. Both were pretty good. Overall, the food was decent; it wasn't spectacular or anything, but good enough to fill you up.

The decor was probably the coolest part though. The restaurant doesn't look that big from the outside, but once you get in, it's actually quite large. There are two primary dining areas: the front half is airy and bright, very appropriate for brunch. The back half is actually separated into two floors, a ground level and an upstairs balcony area, which is a bit more Thai regal in terms of decor and has ambient lighting. (Which is also why the photos above weren't captured in the greatest light.) Interesting atmosphere for sure, and with all the plants in front of the ceiling-level windows and the rain outside as a backdrop today, there was definitely a bit of a Thai jungle vibe going on.

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