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Chiang Mai is heralded by food critics and top chefs as the holy mecca of Thai food. After watching Anthony Bourdain and Andy Ricker destroy the plates of roast chicken while praising this place non-stop, we knew we had to make a trip while we were in the city.
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.
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.
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.
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.
World renowned French chef and restauranteur Joel Robuchon – the only one in the world who has received as many as 24 Michelin stars – has opened a Salon de Thé in Taipei’s Bellavita high fashion complex. Beautifully decorated with not a single item out of place, the furniture, the floors and the couches alternate between a jet black and a bright red, providing a stark contrast. We went around 11 am, a little early for afternoon tea granted, but we were anticipating waiting for a while, having heard that lines to get a seat inside are common. To our surprise, it was completely empty! We were the only customers until a few minutes before we left as some more groups started to trickle in. The place is gorgeous – as are the pastries served here.
With three locations across the city, Yeh! has steadily risen in popularity since its opening in 2008. Being the first self-serve frozen yogurt bar in Canada, customers are invited to choose from a variety of flavors that change seasonally and mix and match toppings that range from fresh fruit to Captain Crunch cereal to Reese’s Pieces chocolate, among many others. Costing 48 cents per ounce, Yeh! is as expensive as you want it to be. Fat-free and low in its calorie count, Yeh!’s tasty treats are readily available to satiate your desire for cold sweets on a hot summer’s day. There is usually at least one staff member around the self-serve yogurt area with paper cups in hand ready to give you a tester of whichever flavor you desire. With its open concept, FatBoy bean bags (St. Laurent location), and its vibrant color scheme, the place is casual chic – perfect for an afternoon snack, a meeting place for friends or even a date!