I feel quite refreshed coming into the New Year – may have something to do with ringing in a fresh start in Cuba. Although, as much as I miss the warm weather and sandy beaches, it’s nice to have a routine again.
It’s also almost surprising how fast January has flown by. This past week, I went on a business trip to a city near the east coast, which I found incredibly charming. The seafood was also incredible, as expected when you are so near the coast.
Here is a list of things that I’ve enjoyed this past month.
Einstein smoothie from Copper Branch: This has become one of my favourite afternoon pick-me-ups in the PATH. Made with berries, coconut, maple syrup, and vanilla almond milk, it’s the perfect smoothie blend of fruity and sweet.
Mocha from Kupfert and Kim: I got the mocha here with soy milk, and it was absolutely divine – not too sweet, while still embodying the rich cocoa taste that I craved.
Peaches and Greens smoothie from IQ: For a lighter version, opt to remove the cashews from the smoothie for a straight fruits + veggies snack.
Cappuccino from Strange Love Coffee: I am so smitten by this small coffee shop on Spadina. When I tasted their cappuccino, my first thought was, “Wow, this is what a cappuccino should taste like.” It’s bold and rich in flavor.
Overnight oats from IQ: This is the perfect breakfast to keep you full for long – a mouthwatering blend of oats, cashew butter, coconut flakes, goji berries, and other goodies.
Shitake Teriyaki from Copper Branch: I got this protein add-on in my Aztec bowl, and it quickly became the star of my meal. It’s flavourful and has a meat-like texture despite being vegan. There’s often a massive line for Copper Branch at lunchtime, so I highly recommend ordering through the Ritual app (download using http://invite.ritual.co/JASMINE8295 for a free $10).
OM Bites: I tried the Matcha Macademia OM bites and was quite impressed. They carry quite a lot of flavor for something so small. Each bite is made with dates, rolled oats, macadamia, almonds, coconut oil, matcha and unsweetened coconut flakes. The bites come in a beautiful paper box – a healthy gift alternative to a box of chocolates.
Cocoon coat from Wilfred: I had to mentally prepare myself before purchasing this jacket (I don’t often make large purchases). This coat is fitted and sleek, and is made primarily of wool and cashmere – making it warm enough for even the Canadian winter.
Dr. Martens: I recently wore my black pair of Dr. Martens on a hike in the rain, and they proved to be quite sturdy and water-resilient. At some points on the hike, I purposely slid through the mud since my boots could take it and it made the hike more fun. I’ve had my pair for about nine years now, and I find the fading leather and creases quite charming.
Blueblood Steakhouse at Casa Loma: This extravagant restaurant in the grand Casa Loma castle is an absolutely unforgettable dining experience. I’m not typically a huge fan of steaks, but my 28 day Canadian centre cut was phenomenal. I was blown away by how tender and juicy every bite was; all the other dishes at this restaurant were also amazing. I highly recommend getting the side gorgonzola mac and cheese, the sweet potato ribbon fries, the kale chips, and the duck fat fries (which are massive). Also leave room for dessert – their baked Alaska (which they flambé in front of the table) was a complete star on its own.
Fiorentina café: Everything is made from scratch at this cozy small restaurant on the Danforth. I came here for brunch and would highly recommend the sour cherry compote pancakes – one thick cake-like pancake doused in syrup. The chili lime breakfast potatoes also carry a unique twist on the classic brunch favourite.
KOST at Bisha Hotel: This gorgeous restaurant on the 44th floor of the posh Bisha hotel was not what I expected it to be. Rather than embodying the typical fine dining scene of an upscale hotel, this restaurant was relaxed, airy, and carried fun bohemian vibes. It is the perfect sunny spot for brunch in the city. I recommend trying the chili potatoes and energy bowl.