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Where The Cute Boys Roam

Uhhmmm, is that a heart in my latte or are you trying to tell me something?

I am by nature a generous person.  Perhaps generous to a fault.  If I should happen upon a Wifi hotspot where hottt boys grow aplenty on trees like wild crab apples, who am I to hoard such valuable information?  Isn’t hoarding one of the seven deadly sins?  Maybe you’ll meet the next great romance of your life, fingers grazing passing the Demarra sugar or borrowing tall, dark and handsome’s Blackberry charger.  Stranger things have happened.  And haven’t you heard?  3 hook-ups and you go straight to heaven (ahem, yes I made this up). 

Hottt Boys Guide:  Barristas & Espresso Lovers Edition

  • Lit Espresso Bar - (810 College Street) With outposts on Roncey and Queen West, you should have ample eye-candy whilst dipping your biscotti in your double whip, skinny, mocha latte.
  • The Dark Horse Cafe – (215 Spadina Ave.)  This successful independently owned cafe is adjacent to The Centre for Social Innovation.  Its open area and long communal work tables are ideal for striking up a conversation with that hottie with a brain and a heart type (the ideal right?).  The newest location (682 Queen St. West) is at the corner of Queen West & Euclid.  Smaller, more intimate with a pretty tin ceiling, the hottie per square footage is quite high.  And I don’t know about you, but my latte is more delicious when served by cuuuute boys with tattoos.  Heart x 3.
  • Terroni – (720 Queen St. West) Okay, there is no Wifi here but you can have an espresso.  There is also my fave combination of Funghi salad, thin-crust non-sliced pizza and hottt waiters, bartenders and generally pretty good looking people.  This joint lines people up every night for dinner.

And, yes I realize this list only includes the SW quadrant of the city, however, I will confess my bias for not travelling north of Bloor or east of Yonge.

Gratuitous Kevin Zegers (bc I love him even though he's 11) & Tay-Tay Momsen sipping on my bevie of choice, A Canada Dry. Photo courtesy Just Jared

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January 19, 2011   No Comments

Gimme Some of That Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip…

PBC: You don't say no to this...or kick it out of bed, even if you have a no crumbs allowed rule.

Nothing makes the holidays more warm and cozy that taking out a tray of steaming, goey cookies from the oven with ridiculously oversized gingham mitts (silicone is for boobies).  The only thing I was missing was a 50’s style floral ruffle apron from Anthropologie (cough-cough-hint-hint). 

My roomie, akin to the rest of the world, has an allergy to gluten and one afternoon she lamented, “If you could bake me flourless peanut butter cookies, I would love you for-everrrrr.” Or some variation on that comment.  Perhaps I embellished to give you a gist of the fervour behind her request.

This Old Thang: Bake some cookies, then go out in your turquoise halter Anthropologie apron. Just kidding. Please don't go out in your apron.

This recipe is taken from the Kraft website  jazzed up with my LC special touch.  Cooking is an art, baking is a science.  It takes mad skills to mess around with baking.  Even if you want to health-ify it, please refrain from using buckwheat flour. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
  • 4 heaping tablespoons of flour (you can use rice flour for your gluten intolerant friends)
  • Yields 24 cookies

Directions (Prep time 10-15 minutes)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl combine the peanut butter, eggs and sugar. 
  3. Fold in flour gradually.  Stir until mixture becomes a stiff cookie dough consistency.
  4. Drop in chocolate chips and peanuts.  The amount you add in is optional.  I choose more chocolate.
  5. Since the dough has minimal flour, you may want to put the bowl into the fridge for a half hour to stiffen. 
  6. Using a tablespoon drop cookie dough onto a non-stick pan.  You should be able to fit a dozen on a tray.  You can also roll the dough into 1″ balls but I enjoy the ‘made with love’ appearance of bumpy cookies. 
  7. Bake for 18 minutes for a softer cookie or until the edges brown.
  8. Remove cookies carefully using a flat wooden spatula and allow to cool before serving with cold milk. 

Why did you ask?  Of course they are fattening.  But sometimes you can’t take the fat out of delicious.

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December 17, 2010   No Comments

Hostess Etiquette 101

Ooh French Country in Red: A pretty table setting from Dinner Party Wars

In an attempt to avoid time suckage, I choose to live in a television free zone.  Though having stayed at my mother’s place for a few days, I could not help but succumb to the home improvement shows on HGTV and fanciful cooking segments on Food Network.  I still quite enjoy Jamie Oliver’s lisp. 

One show in particular that had me intrigued was Dinner Party Wars, where three couples competed in a challenge to host the best dinner party.  Having been a hostess and a guest at many social gatherings, both exceptional and fall dead asleep boring, I could probably fill a novella with quips and useful advice.  With the holiday season fast upon us, I thought I could share some of these useful grains of wisdom with all of you.

Brush up on your social skills: Kate Spade Occasions

  • Guestlist, guestlist, guestlist – I once read a hilarious blurb in a book about seating people alternating funny-boring-funny-boring-etc  If it were up to me, there would be no boring!  But there is some truth to this statement that the personalities should mesh well.  When throwing an intimate dinner, the best ones have a good blend of friends and strangers who will hopefully connect on their commonalities – “Oh, you love red velvet cupcakes? OMG, me too!”  And ’tis the season for love connections.  Did you know that if you hook up 3 friends successfully, you get a green light straight to heaven?  You haven’t heard about this?  That’s because I made it up.    
  • Decorate Good Times –  I have had many themed parties – Japanese, French Wine & Cheese, Summer Al Fresco.  Even if you don’t go over the top with party decorations, a lush bouquet or some tealights helps to set the mood.
  • Greetings and salutations – A good hostess welcomes new guests into the fold by greeting, then taking around the new arrival to strangers.  A conversational starter is how they know each other and letting the individuals know if there something mutual between them ie. a similar career, a sport or activity, where they live, etc.  It’s always nice to leave a guest with few acquaintances at the party with a friend (co-hostess) who is very accomodating – this way, they never feel awk-ward. 
  • Feed the People –  Although it is not uncommon to start a dinner party late, you should have drinks, nibbles and appetizers ready for guests.  Even if you have special prepared warm appetizers, it won’t kill you to leave pretzels, nuts or chips on the tables.  They knew they were coming to a party so they have been saving their appetites.  For smaller gatherings, a fixed menu is manageable, however, for larger parties a buffet style may please more people’s palettes and food preferences. 

Dessert served up on these Natural World plates from Anthropologie. Bugs and grenouilles never looked so appetizing!

  • No Prohibition – Never let the drinks run dry.  Always top off glasses but offer water when you notice people crossing the line into OOC (out of control) territory. 
  • It’s a Party – Parties are meant to be enjoyed, by everyone including the hostess.  Let your guests get involved if they offer.  Allow them to bring out plates of food, refill wine glasses or help you put dishes into the dishwasher.  You should be giggling, clinking glasses and dancing too!  What’s the point of having a social if you’re going to be a party pooper and boil over like a stress pot?  A memorable party is one where everyone has a great time.  Remember, a happy hostess sets the tone. 

Careful now! Don't cry over spilled wine...unless it's red and your couch is white. Busted, so obsessed with Anthropologie.

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November 14, 2010   2 Comments

Dining Decadence: Fried Mars Bar & Nigella Lawson

It's true with the Fried Mars Bar: Once on the lips, forever on the hips. Share it, then do some serious cardio the next day. Photo courtesy Food Network

The first time I tried a Fried Mars Bar, I was at the super-slick and chic Montreal hotspot Time Supper Club.  The dessert was paired with vanilla bean ice cream and neatly presented on a contemporary dish with raspberry coulis drizzled just so.  Last Friday, I was having dessert at The Lakeview with my good friend C and I suggested this decadent treat since she had yet to try it. 

A candy shop Mars Bar is battered then thrown into the deep fryer; once bitten, melted caramel and nougat ooze out.  It’s an artery clogging heart stopper and ten million calories but you probably shouldn’t think about this while you are eating.  And you should probably only eat it once a decade, if you know what’s good for you.

For your experimental pleasure, here’s a Fried Mars Bar Recipe I found on the Food Network.  Upon deeper investigation, I learned that the origin of the FMB is in Scotland, where many fish & chip or fry shops carry the dessert.  The domestic goddess of comfort food, Nigella Lawson, also has her own version which uses Bounty bars or Cadbury Creme eggs.  Apparently, Fried Mars Bars are declasse in Europe since it’s often associated with chavs (trashy folk). 

Nigella's show is addictive. Love it when they show her sneaking into the fridge for a second helping.

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August 8, 2010   No Comments

Life Imitates Art…Imitates Life

Meryl is such a chameleon. And no wonder everyone likes Amy Adams.

At social gatherings or cocktail parties, friends of friends have approached me by saying, “So I hear you’ve started a blog.  That’s so Julie & Julia of you.  I bet your blog becomes a book, then a movie.”  “Ha-ha-ha,” I laughed it off.  Intrigued by these statements, I thought I would rent the movie at my mom’s house (I don’t own a television) and see what all the fuss is about.  I thought to myself, ‘I worship Meryl Streep and she’s nominated for an Oscar for her performance, so why not?’

Expertly adapted for the screen by Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia is the semi-autobiographical story of Julie Powell who nearing her 30th birthday decided to start a blog cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, 524 recipes in 365 days in her tiny New York apartment.  I enjoyed the film because it paralleled Julie’s struggle to find passion again in her writing while contrasting with Julia’s own determination as an American taking on French cuisine and finally succeeding in publishing her own cookbook. 

Have you ever noticed that Oscar contenders are always based on a true story?  Well, the best stories are grounded in truth.  What better subject matter to draw from than our own experiences?

'You Go Girl!' Real-life Julie Powell. Dreams do come true!

Here are some of my take-aways from the film:

  • Heart shaped Valentines – OMG, this is sooooooo cute!  In a scene, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci entertain guests at a Valentines dinner while pinned with giant red heart brooches!  I am totally DIY (do-it-yourself) making these and handing them out to friends.
  • Talk the Talk – I thought it was really cute when Julia would greet Parisians en francais.  So when you meet strangers and they tell you, it’s a pleasure to meet you, you respond, “Enchante!”  (exuberantly, of course). 
  • Domestic Goddess Fashion – I am a foodie, but not one that really knows how to cook roasts or special sauces.  Being a vegetarian, has limitations you see.  I didn’t even realize that I had a gas stove until real chefs came over commenting on ‘how lucky I am.’  That said, I have been learning how to become a domestic goddess.  I believe a real fashionistah domestic goddess wears adorable, fashion forward aprons like the ones found at Anthropologie or at a local indie store.  I am definitely DIY creating these with ruffles, pom-poms, bright trims and contrasting prints.

Look good, feel like a confident cook! I cook, therefore I am!

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February 8, 2010   No Comments

Vita Coco, My Obsession

Gatorade is so over. Vita Coco is the new Vitamin Water.

Roughly translated, it means ‘coconut life’.  The name alone cracks me up.  Come on, what’s not to love?

Our story of discovery begins in an afternoon class of Ashtanga at Downward Dog (735 Queen St. West) where the faithfully devoted, hardcore Yogi’s teeter on their limbs while performing wall-less headstands and maneuver into Scorpion like it’s not a thing (hardcore!).  I mean, this is where Sting flexes his ballerinka limbs when he’s in town and the shortest class runs 1 hour and 45 minutes.  Not for the faint of heart. 

After more than an hour of multiple series of sun salutations and killer chaturanga (eek forearms!), our lovely yogi master begins to blast Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrop’ as the class individually perfected their poses.  Dizzy, because I forgot to bring my water bottle, I used the semi-break to scurry out of the class for agua.  There was no water to be found but the girl at the desk suggested Vita Coco as an alternative.  Desperate for hydration, I grabbed a drink box and the rest my friend is history. 

Vita Coco was born a few short years ago when two ingenious business men were speaking with (my guess: flirting with and trying to pick up) two Brazilian girls who missed coconut water, a popular native drink from their homeland.  Noticing there was an opportunity to import the drink from Brazil, they did just that uncovering a niche for natural, delicious healthy drinks (more electrolytes than sports drinks and no added sugar).  You may start to hear more promotion about the drink as Madonna and her Kabbalah friends (Demi, Ashton, etc) have recently invested in the company.

What does Vita Coco taste like?  Have you ever been to a tropical country where someone climbs a tree like a monkey, pulls down a green coconut, takes their machete, chops off the top and then sticks a straw in it for you to drink?  Like that.  The coconut water tastes a bit milky, a smidge almond-datey and a bit fruity.  I stocked up on it for the beach in Miami but my sister was not a big fan.  So although I am obsessed with it, it may not be to everyone’s taste.

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February 3, 2010   2 Comments