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The Common Guelph

The Common in Guelph

Last month, some friends and I took a trip to Guelph for Kazoo Fest. I had never been to this unassuming riverside town. It definitely wasn’t on my radar and I must admit that my expectations were low. Turns out Guelph possesses its fair share of small town charm. Highlights included lazing by the water, The Cornerstone, live music, a print-makers market and The Common.

This buzzy coffee shop has a sister store, right here in the city, on Bloor Street. That said, the Toronto location is distinctly different from its Guelph-counterpart which is truly a community gathering spot. During our visit, the bright, airy space was filled with families, couples, market goers, dog-walkers and caffeine addicts alike. Every corner hummed with conversation and the smell of fresh ground coffee permeated the air.

 

Near the front windows too adorable little girls in hats with rabbit ears were playing. Toys provided by the shop were scattered across the floor as if they were in their own home. Another parent watched his toddler crawl around the floor while sipping his latte and chatting on his cell. Stacks of board games, cards, books and newspapers perched on counter ledges. Two older kids and their dad played foosball near the back.

While we waited for our drinks my friend Coutts pointed out slips of paper taped to the wall behind the cash. They were handwritten tabs. Locals names scribbled at the top and little doodles or scratched out balances underneath. I fell in love instantly. It was as if this café stood in place of a town square. Half-nursery, half-coffee shop, half-soup-kitchen, half-living-room.

  

It might seem cheesy or over-rated but I believe good food (coffee too!) brings people together. We need more places like The Common to reinvigorate our sense of community. Eating or drinking is a social activity — a time to reflect, take a break, express gratitude, nourish loved ones. Sadly, we are losing that in this fast-paced world. The Common in Toronto is populated by a rather stoic crowd of millennials, hunched over their laptops, headphones blocking out the possibility of interaction. Next time you grab a coffee consider chatting to your barista, find out who supplies their beans or meet a friend to catch-up.

If you enjoyed this post please let me know in the comments. Also, feel free to share it via the sharing buttons below and look for me on Facebook and Instagram. More recipes and foodie musings coming your way soon.

 

the everyday ayurvedic cookbook

Review: The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook

who should read it

Anyone who wants to learn more about Ayurvedic practices and cooking.

Note: Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.

recipes i tried

Yogi tea, spring spice mix, queen green soup.

highlights

Learning about the general principles of Ayurveda (i.e. eating seasonally, balancing foods and flavours, using ingredients for specific reasons like cooling or warming the body).

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cinnamon bun

Cinnamon Bun at Bunner’s Bakeshop

I’ve spent a lot of time in Kensington Market lately. It’s one of my favourite spots in Toronto. This might have something to do with the high concentration of vegan food options. My last stop was Blackbird Baking Co. More recently, I conquered Bunner’s Bakeshop. I always frequent an establishment at least three times before I feel qualified to write about it. On my last visit, I had a cinnamon bun. I don’t think I’ve had one of these since going on a vegan diet. It was pretty amazing.

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bread

Bread from Blackbird Baking Co.

I love bread. It is a staple food in my diet. Naan bread alongside my veggie curries is one of my favourite things. A fresh baked sourdough loaf is usually on top of my fridge. We use it for toast or sandwiches or dipping in soup. I used to bake baguettes with my roommate in university. She had special pans that we would take out every couple weeks. The warm soft bread was delicious with crumbled blue cheese, jam, butter or honey. Since that time, my diet has changed but my love for bread remains steadfast and true.

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hummus toast

Simple Hummus

Spring is upon us! The weather is warming up in Toronto. We spotted a woodpecker, a chipmunk and a robin this week. Camping has been the singular topic of conversation around the house. What festivals are you planning on attending? Do you want to come camping in the Rockies for a week? Should we buy a tent? Naturally, I am already planning the meals for the trips I haven’t even booked. Hummus is definitely on the menu.

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squash noodle bowl

Squash Noodle Bowl for the Starving Artist

Welcome to March. That point in the winter when you wonder why you have chosen to relocate to a frozen tundra when you lived in Sydney, Australia not six months ago. While it is true that I miss the fine weather and the white-sand beaches I could never sacrifice the community I have here in Toronto for a sun-tan. However, I might be willing to trade in all my friends for better wages.

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french toast

Citrus French Toast

When I was little my Dad would often prepare elaborate breakfasts for us before school. Most kids I knew started their day with cereal. Whereas my siblings and I enjoyed omelettes, french toast and crepes. No pancake mix from a box. No canned fruit on the side. My father made everything from scratch with fresh ingredients. My mum, who is not a chef, but remains an excellent cook followed suit. We feasted like kings almost every morning.

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How To: Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats became my new favourite breakfast item about six months ago. I started working at Bridgehead as a barista — it’s a local, Ottawa coffee chain that focuses on fair-trade and organic products — and they served steel cut oats. They were creamy, warm and topped with fruit compote or maple syrup. The best thing about them was they were pre-made, which sounds like a bad thing but with steel cut oats it isn’t. They keep well and take awhile to prepare. So it’s better to cook in bulk. At work, we stored them in trays like a cake. When someone ordered them we simply lifted a slice out of the tray, heated it and put on their desired toppings.

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vegan donut

Best Vegan Donut in Town

I recently decided to go on a hunt for the best vegan donut in Toronto. Other foodie magazines, vegan blogs and culinary writers are always going on “a mission for the best (insert food here)”. Why shouldn’t I? Well, probably because a hunt involves going to more than one location. There is sampling involved, comparisons drawn, contenders cast aside and from the pile of crumpled up review notes on napkins, emerges a victor, one food to rule them all. Read More

Toronto Weekends – Brunch, Brunch, Brunch

Last week, I went to brunch four times. That is too many times for someone who is unemployed. Before you judge me, however, or assume I’ve won the lottery, please note that my fridge was broken. The only solution was to dine out for every single meal. I know. Sounds terrible, right? Just kidding it was the best thing ever. In my foodie-frenzy I discovered three sweet brunch locations that you should check out if you’re in Toronto.

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