Snacks & Street Food
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Tunnel Espresso Bar is a new espresso shop wedged between the discount suit stores and hair salons in the tunnel connecting Eaton Center and Place Ville Marie. This place caught my eye for weeks leading up to the opening of the shop due to serious renovations going on and the bright blue neon sign that is hard to ignore.
So you’re walking around the Distillery District, checking out art, spending time in Old Toronto, taking in the view… out of nowhere, the smell of warm chocolate hits your nostrils. It’s sweet and thick, fragrant and unmistakable. The smell makes the taste of chocolate almost palpable. You don’t know where it’s coming from or what exactly is going on, but you know you have to find the source. If you follow your instincts, you should end up in front of SOMA Chocolate. Go ahead. Take a look inside.
Make it idiot proof and someone will make a better idiot
decorate the espresso machine
Now, for a change of scenery. We’ve left the hustle and bustle of Tokyo behind for the more quiet, rural city of Nagano. We’re here for one night, two days. Walking up the main street in Nagano, you’ll find shops that sell curio items, cute little souvenirs and dried goods en route to the Zenkoji temple at the top of the hill.
You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream! You get the idea. Ice Cream City is Japan’s premier destination for ice cream lovers. Whether you’re an amateur or a hardcore flavour seeker, this place can without a doubt satisfy your needs. National Geographic has even named it one of the top 10 places to eat ice cream in the world!
Our vote for Best Coffee in Toronto. Toronto has its’ fair share of independent coffee shops and boutiques, strewn across the city left, right and center. If you’re looking for a proper caffeine fix, we’ve got you covered. Here are some of our top picks
After a semi-satisfying dinner on St. Denis (more on this in a following post) at Mache, we were hankering for something sweet. Obviously, right. A quick search on Google showed me the closest ice cream shops and just steps away was the one and only Dr. Frost. I had passed by multiple times but never had the chance to visit. The bright pink sign had stuck in my mind, but for some reason I had recalled it as Pinkberry… We don’t have those here yet, unfortunately. Scanning over reviews and commentary from various users online, I learned that the “macarons givrés” were something they were known for, and that it was a must have.
Make your way through the hustle and bustle of the Jean Talon market, past the Boitre aux Huitres, the colourful flower stalls and the smell of a freshly baked bread, fragrant cheeses, and the spice shop boasting mixtures from around the world. Browse the boutique specialty food shops and stop by the fruit stands to sample the carefully farmed fruits and vegetables and you won’t be disappointed.
Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant is a fast food chain run by five brothers originating from Virginia. When we first spotted the location opening up, we found it peculiar – this red and white checkered fast food joint certainly didn’t blend in on the McGill street Old Montreal strip.
According to the endearing blog-style website Kem CoBa has up online, the name of the restaurant means “third auntie’s ice cream” in Vietnamese. That right off the bat tells you that it’s an operation that takes family into consideration. And it shows. The cheery little shop is run by the co-owners and husband and wife duo Ngoc and Vincent who have managed to create high quality, interesting products that just keep you coming back for more
Rumi Express is the junior counterpart to Rumi, a higher priced middle eastern restaurant on Hutchison. Short and sweet: Rumi Express is a no frills, quick service spot that seems to serve the St Laurent main lunch crowd.
After a delightful dinner at Kaza Maza with Diana, fellow food blogger of Foodology and her friend Jess, we decided to walk off the meal by heading towards Les Givrés for a cold treat. I had been to Les Givrés before around Christmas time, in search of one of their famous bûches de Noel or the unique igloo/marshmallow ice cream cake.
Lacking signage save for the colorful, hand drawn words across the glass door and an adorable cartoon character we can only assume is Léo, we passed by Léo le Glacier for a brief break from the blazing heat Saturday afternoon. After spending the majority of the day out in the sun in Park Lafontaine, gelato seemed like the perfect refresher. Stepping into the tiny gelateria, we quickly chose our flavor combinations.
Montreal’s beloved taco truck Grumman ’78 is all grown up with a stationary location to call it’s own. After years of leading a nomadic life, some weekends parking at Nouveau Palais, sometimes at 630 de Courcelle, Grumman ’78 has opened a shop without wheels in the faubourg.
With the recent popularity of froyo aka frozen yogurt – cue Yeh!, Pinkberry and others – gelato seems to have taken a back seat. Places like Havre aux Glaces and Leo le Glacier in Montreal as well as La Dolce Vita and Paysanne Gelato in the West Island are part of the growing movement to bring it back. Every bucket of gelato is unique, from the color, the consistency and of course, the taste.
After identifying an insatiable need for ‘authentic and traditional’ Japanese fare, we contemplated tripping out of town to Toronto to fill our bellies with the good stuff. Just as we started to make our preparations, the idea of New York City struck us. Toronto is somewhere we’d always be able to go – it’s less costly relative to the States and doesn’t require crossing an international border.
On the hunt for poutine while downtown is no easy feat. You would think it would be a quick fix given the number of clubs and bars around the area. If you think about it, the number of intoxicated people craving some greasy gravy covered fries must be huge! Especially during the weekend. Having had a few drinks at my apartment, a couple of friends and I set out our sights on La Belle Province on Peel just below Sherbrooke to sate our late night craving.
Established in 1919 by Russian immigrant Isadore Shlafman – Fairmount Bagel is Montreal’s oldest bagel bakery and I believe its best. I stopped by recently to get a half dozen sesame bagels. I was greeted by a giant wall of bagels which must have been on its way out to cafes and restaurants around the city. After carefully sliding through the towering stacks of bagels I got a deep whiff of delicious freshly cooked bagels being handled by handsome team of bagel professionals. It was all there, the huge mound of uncooked bagel dough the size of a fatboy, the giant wood fire oven and the piles of classic sesame bagels.
Pikolo Espresso Bar is exactly what its name suggests and so much more. The place primarily serves coffee in the form of lattes, espressos and the like while offering some tea options for those who prefer the leaf infused hot beverages (I’m one of them). Walking – no, running in from the harsh winter winds whipping up a frenzy outside, we entered the toasty coffee shop with great relief, ready to be brought back to life by a cup of hot something. Decorated with Christmas lights and a small tree, the place emanated holiday cheer and a relaxing, comforting and soothing atmosphere. Most people inside on both floors were equipped with laptops, helping create a semi-studious, quieter vibe than your average Starbucks or Second Cup. That’s not all that makes this place different. The portions here are smaller but pack a very big punch. Pikolo doesn’t joke around – at least not about the coffee.