Thursday, June 21, 2012

To Those Who Keep Us Awake...

For the past 10 months, we have been making a lot of jam, obviously, but there is much behind-the-scenes work involved in having a company as well, so we have also been doing an insane amount of paperwork. We often meet at coffee shops around our respective neighbourhoods to get work done and we wanted to share (a few of) our favourite spots with you.

We love the old features of this building, the tall ceilings that make us want to find a spot in one of their nooks and get comfortable.  The spacious cafe has been cleverly divided, with a barely separated kitchen that allows us to see our breakfast as it is being made. The big old comfy couch is as inviting as it gets, but we have to warn you that you may want to stay there for hours (that thing can't be good for business; there's very low turnover on that couch, we are sure of it.) 

Whenever I go to Cafe Bica, there is always someone sipping on a drink, enjoying a relaxing afternoon with a book and I get the urge to call in sick, pick up a novel and have a seat. This place is such a busy little spot, but it never feels like anyone is in a rush to go anywhere; no extra grande caramel lattes to go here, everyone seems to have the same desire to slow down and it is nice.   We love to sit at the big communal table and enjoy the beauty of the space; the barn doors that open up to the kitchen, the bookcase, the blankets, the frames on the wall. It is all in the details and we appreciate every one of them.

Coffee here is taken very seriously. As jam ladies, we appreciate people who dedicate time and effort into perfecting one thing and this is just the place. Needless to say, we have had some of the best coffee at Revolver and would send the biggest snob there with confidence.  However, they manage to take the pretentious out of the equation and have created an approachable space for any coffee lover to sit back and relax. The design is amazing, we almost want to kick them out so we could live there but then again, we would be at a loss because this place is too great to do without. 

Coco et Olive

This is the most peaceful place to have a cup of coffee and do some work. We love that everyone speaks French; the baristas, the customers, even the children seem perfectly bilingual. It can feel like being in another country for an hour or two and it the middle of rainy, grey Winters, there is nothing wrong with that. The pain au chocolat is to die for (of course!) and the tarts alone are worth the visit. 

We have to save this one for last. So much more than a coffee shop, Marche St-George encourages just the lifestyle that we believe in. If Coco et Olive makes us feel like we are in another continent, Marche St-George makes us feel like we are in another decade. Wether you are picking up a liter of milk or meeting a friend for an afternoon coffee, take a moment and enjoy the experience of a neighbourhood corner store with indescribable beauty and charm. This is the way we should be shopping for groceries. Their shelves stock some of the best and most appealing local goodies, but the store also has a few tables, just in case you happen to run into a neighbour and feel like staying a bit longer to chat. This place couldn't be further from the self-serve countertop superstore chains and we love them for that. They also host the occasional themed garden dinner, pop up brunch,  art gathering and pop up art store and we always look forward to their next event because we know we will have an amazing time.

To all those who brewed the coffee just right, who steamed the milk into frothy goodness and who steeped the tea leaves to perfection, thank you. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homemade Pop Tarts Stuffed With Rhubarb Jam and Ricotta

We are finding ourselves craving this Rhubarb Jam with Ginger almost every morning and the possibilities seem endless.  For the bakers out there, our Homemade Pop Tarts with Rhubarb Jam and Ricotta Cheese were a success and we are pleased to share our process with you.

This recipe is actually a slight modification of Brandi Henderson's  Homemade Pop Tarts from her blog I Made That! Brandi is a pastry chef and the co-owner of an amazing community kitchen in Seattle called The Pantry at Delancey, where you can sign up for all sorts of cooking classes with chefs and cookbook authors from all over the West Coast or take part in their casual, family-style dinners.

While we have made Brandi's version before and stuffed our little pastries with apples cooked in butter and vanilla, this time, we tried combining Sticky Spoon's Rhubarb Jam with a couple of spoonfuls of ricotta cheese and some orange zest and were very, very happy with the results.

The key to these Pop Tarts is definitely the dough. It is actually more similar to that of a Toaster Strudel, if you must know, with a ridiculously light and flaky crust thanks to the "schmear technique" described in Brandi's blog post. This dough is easy to make and very forgiving for those who do not normally attempts such pastry adventures in the kitchen. 

Needless to say, we ate more than our daily recommended dose of pastries that day but have no regrets whatsoever. This may not be the healthiest addition to Sunday brunch, but these Pop Tarts will be making a regular appearance at the breakfast table in our house. The combination of the flaky crust, rich ricotta cheese and zingy, gingery rhubarb made our day that much better and we are already dreaming of our next batch since, obviously, saving a few for leftovers proved too difficult a task. We hope that you give these a try and would love to hear your feedback. If your pantry is in desperate need of some Rhubarb Jam, let us know...