Coffee and Doughnuts

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Some things are better together; milk and cereal for instance, or a warm bowl of soup on a cold rain-soaked day, and perhaps coffee and doughnuts?

I’m not exactly a doughnut person but I’ve been meaning to check out 49th Parallel and their doughnut venture, Lucky’s Doughnuts ever since I heard about it – I finally did a few weeks back.

What makes this shop fascinating is that it isn’t just a doughnut shop that has coffee, or a coffee shop with a few doughnuts on the side.

No, it’s a doughnut and coffee shop; the doughnuts are made on site from scratch, and as coffee roasters, coffee is what 49th Parallel does.

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The Kitsilano location is cute and rustic with lots of light, charmingly done in pale blue walls and giant glass windows – stone countertops, marble tables with metal and wood seating complete the decor which goes with the adorable blue tableware used in the shop.

The aroma of coffee and sweet sugary doughnuts is intoxicating, definitely has that ‘doughnut shop smell’ and even a non-doughnut person like myself could not resist the tempting assortment of doughnuts so beautifully displayed.

It’s a busy spot, seating was a little hard to secure, but worth the relaxed vibes when we ultimately did.

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Our coffees were well made and delicious, I had the almond milk mocha – the almond milk, I was gallantly told is also made in house.

The caramel topping on my old fashioned salted caramel doughnut was a little hard but the doughnut had a nice cakey texture.
More reason to go back and try other varieties, I thought.

I’ve always liked 49th Parallel coffee, they are renowned coffee roasters with a historied coffee past in Vancouver – this venture doesn’t take away from that, it just infuses a little variance into the coffee culture in the city.

Named for the circle of latitude 49 degrees north of the equator, part of which serves as an international boundary between Canada and the US, 49th Parallel supply beans to coffee shops and retailers all over North America, they’ve been roasting coffee since 2004.

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Speculoos Cookie Muffins

Speculoos Cookie Muffins

Long before the cookie butter craze, there were speculoos, the crunchy caramelized spiced cookies which is the main ingredient the cookie butter.

Speculoos are special in themselves, my local London Drugs used to carry the Belgian ones around Christmas time; crispy and thin with punchy flavours, they are so good with tea.

A while back, I discovered a package of speculoos lost underneath my stash of nuts, broken in pieces, looking forlorn and perfect for these muffins.

IMG_0060 Speculoos Cookie Muffins
Speculoos Cookie Muffins Speculoos Cookie Muffins

I can’t recall where I found this recipe, I really wish I could, because it takes the humble speculoos to new heights, I guess it’s similar to the cookie spread in that way

One idle grey morning, we watched the rain pour down the windows, and made these muffins, then we made coffee, sat down and relished the wonderful aroma of the muffins baking.

We ate them warm, right out of the oven with coffee and good company.

These speculoos cookie muffins aren’t the healthiest, but they have a delicious specialness and comfort that makes them perfectly suited for cold rainy days.

I really like how they turned out – wonderfully spiced, moist and cakey with a delightful crunchy streusel topping.

Speculoos Cookie Muffins
Speculoos Cookie Muffins by Elsa Brobbey


Speculoos Cookie Muffins

Roasted Vegetables Pasta

Roasted Vegetables Pasta

I think it bears repeating that I love the romance of love, it often times makes me wish I could fall in love repeatedly just for that delightful magical rush.

Perhaps that is what Valentine’s Day is, a reminder to celebrate the romance of love.

This year I thought about red themed desserts, and discovered Pinterest boards of adorable heart-shaped red and pink food and crafts.

Floral Arrangement Roasted Vegetables Pasta

And then I thought about flowers… of roses and anthuriums… bright in hues of red.
Somehow this pasta is what I saw; easy, light, tasty and fresh – so simple it’s magical.

It reminds me of simple things… early morning walks, dancing to your favourite songs, humble bouquets that gladden your heart and long quiet afternoons in bed.

Happy Valentine’s Day! May you find romance in the ordinary… Always.

Roasted Vegetables Pasta
Roasted Vegetables Pasta


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Black Beans and Okra

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I’ve been a little unwell lately, it started with a little tickle in my throat that turned into a cough, days later I’ve developed a cold or something like it.
Whatever it is, I hope it passes soon, I don’t like feeling this way and I can’t seem to do the things I want to do.
I’m lethargic and weak, and all I want to do is sleep.

I had plans for cook up a storm this past weekend but I got tired from a short trip to Bellingham.
I was going to make a nice rice and lentil salad with broccoli, granola, apple pies and this charming focaccia with garlic and cilantro for our breakfast.

But then, I’m glad I didn’t make my boring granola because I just discovered these buckwheat clusters – which I’m going to make instead when I’m feeling better.

It’s in these moments when I can’t bring myself to cook that I truly appreciate all those soups I have stashed away in the freezer. I tend to double soup and stew recipes I’m making and freeze portions for later.

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So I’m eating this black beans and okra this week, from a huge batch I made a while back.
Ladled over rice, it makes a comforting and satisfying meal – the kind of food I ate growing up.

Months ago we got a special delivery of red palm oil from Ghana, the good kind… with all the controversy surrounding palm oil, it’s the only kind I trust.

We’ve been savouring the memorable earthy flavours of palm oil in some of our favourite foods from childhood, and this black beans and okra is cross between gumbo and the okro stews my mom used to make.

It’s okra and a mélange of vegetables sautéed in palm oil with a tasty helping of black beans in a tomatoey sauce.

And the best part is, it freezes well. I wasn’t going to post this recipe initially because I didn’t like the way the pictures turned out – but I enjoyed it so much this second time around, I didn’t care about the less than stellar pictures, I just had to share.

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Coffee at Thomas Haas Chocolates

Thomas Haas Chocolates

I’m not even trying for dramatic effect when I say that I’ve been meaning to go to Thomas Haas for years!

Seriously, I’ve wanted to visit the café since the first location opened in 2005, back then I used to buy Thomas Haas chocolate bars at the Whole Foods in West Van, my favourite were the matcha tea bars, I used to load up on them when they’d go on sale.

Thomas Haas Chocolates

Several long years later, having eaten my way through the newer patisseries that have cropped up in the city, I ran out of reasons not to go to Thomas Haas.

So on a dark rainy Saturday, we went for coffee at Thomas Haas Chocolates, at the North Van location tucked away in a quiet industrial area with nice views of downtown Vancouver.

Thomas Haas Chocolates
Thomas Haas Chocolates Thomas Haas Chocolates

It was an afternoon of very few plans, one of those where you pull up a stool at a café, savour delicious coffee and delicate pastries, and linger – I’ve dubbed these ‘coffee & chat afternoons’ and I plan on having a lot of these this year.

And that’s exactly what I did; sat, enjoyed my coffee and had a great conversation… and took some photos

I love the other times when there’re no conversations too, just a few unobtrusive moments to just be and reflect.

Thomas Haas Chocolates
Thomas Haas Chocolates

Seating was limited and the place packed, yet it was a friendly and comfortable atmosphere with pastries and confections beautifully showcased, and a welcoming staff.

I had almond milk mocha with my almond croissant – it was perfect!
The croissants were buttery and flaky with lots of layers, and the mocha smooth and chocolaty, just what you’d expect from an award-winning pâtissier.

Thomas Haas Chocolates
Thomas Haas Chocolates


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