Kusmi Tea on the Up and Up

I got home from school this afternoon to read an exciting email about tea.  Word on the street from Adagio Teas is that one of my favourite tea brands from Paris, Kusmi Tea, is on the up and up with plans to embark on an international expansion of tea bars!  How wonderful that the world will be filled with more colourful, ornate tins of tea.

I love the story behind Kusmi tea.  Sylvan Orebi and his family who specialized in trading coffee and cacao, purchased the defunct Russian tea brand and revitalized the moniker turning it around into a luxury tea success story.  I am a big fan of their green jasmine tea as well as their Be Cool herbal blend with liquorice and mint.

Note, if you have never tried or purchased this brand before, I am warning you, don’t cringe at the price per tin.  This tea is not for those who prefer Lipton’s tea bags.  It is “special” tea to enjoy, versus sipping in mass quantity.  Kusmi can be particularly pricey depending on where you purchase it in North America.  Best bet is to find a friend in Europe and ask them nicely to bring you back a tin.  If the exchange rate is favourable, even better!   Any favourite flavours out there?

Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3 


Modern Grocery Stores

What makes a grocery store a cool place to shop? Rephrased in another way, what are the components that need to be present in a retail store that would make me want to come back again and again to do my food shopping, a task that is repetitive, monotonous and sometimes outright annoying?

I was pondering these questions earlier this week when I noticed that the grocery store down the street changed (upgraded) the refrigeration units that hold the store’s meats.  It appears that the store installed a modern glass refrigeration section to enhances the look and experience of shopping for the rather unexcited and dull packaged (sometimes mystery) meat.

I wish more food retailers would ask and execute on the same questions to make food shopping a more pleasurable experience.  As a customer, you may be focused on your shopping list and grocery mission but it does not mean you can’t also enjoy the experience at the same time.  These two things are not mutually exclusive.

There is nothing I like more when I travel than to visit grocery and specialty stores and see how food is merchandised and sold in different cities around the world.  There is something special about discovering (and shopping in) a grocery store that has clearly worked with an interior designer or an architect to plan, design and execute its food retailing concept.  My favourite concept which I am sure will continue to evolve is the restaurant, market, retail store concept-

Here are some of my favourite modern grocery stores around the world.  Where do you like to shop?  What stands out for you in a store?  Any interesting food retailing concepts you would recommend?

Three Sixty (Hong Kong)- The Whole Foods of Hong Kong.  It offers lots of organic products spread out over two floors, spacious aisles, natural light and soft interiors. I enjoyed shopping there when I was living in Hong Kong.

Photo Source: 1, 2

Pimlico (Paris) Organic epicerie, local, specialty food shop.  Love the white walls with exposed bricks.

Photo Source: 1

Mpreis (South Tyrol, Austria) Super trendy, industrial, spacious, modern store which I hope to visit in two weeks when I go skiing in Austria.

Supermarket Chain

Photo Source: 1, 2

 Unpackaged (London) You bring the bags, containers and cartons.  It reminds me of a hipper farmer’s market meets, Bulk Barn (a bulk food store in Toronto).

Photo Source: 1, 2, 3

Kochhaus (Berlin) A gourmet chef’s delight.

Photo Source: 1, 2, 3





Macaron Day Toronto March 20th

If you have been following my blog, you’ll know I have a soft spot for macaron.  I’ve blogged about some of my favourite macaron shops around the world including MadMac (NYC), Adriano Zumbo (Sydney), Bottega Louie (Los Angeles) and Thurel & Thomas (Mexico City) to name few. There is something about their colour, size, texture and taste that I just can’t get enough of.  Macarons were also part of my scavenger hunt marriage proposal that my fiance organized last February.

Toronto macaron lovers rejoice.  The city wide event you have all been waiting for is almost here.  On March 20th, over 15 bakeries around the city will be offering free macarons in support of the Red Door Shelter. The list of participating bakeries in Toroto include several of my favourite shops in the city (I have blogged about a handful of them over the years).

(photo via Macaron Day TO)

The macaron day event, is not new to the world stage.  In fact it started in Paris back in 2005 under the name “Jour du Macaron” by Pierre Herme. The event has spread to far reaching cities such as Berlin, Brussels, Luxembourg, Tokyo, Alsace, numerous cities around France, and  New York.

(photo via la fuji mama)

If you have never tasted a macaron in your life, this is a terrific opportunity to broaden your palette and see what you have been missing for so long.

(photo via The Culinary Life)

(photo via Girl Eat Girl)

Macaron Day TO participating bakeries include:

La Bamboche (my blog post)
Petite Thuet
Patisserie La Cigogne
Butter Avenue
J’adore Cakes Co.
Moroco (my blog post and my marriage proposal macarons came from these guys)
Bobbette and Belle (my blog post)
Ma Maison
Ruelo Patisserie
Cake Opera Co. (my blog post)
Daniel et Daniel
The Sweet Escape
Julio Bonilla
Patisserie 27


flower arranging: Jeff Leatham

This morning I woke up and was motivated to make a cauliflower fennel soup before going to my afternoon Czech class. While chopping up my soup veggies,  I had the Discovery Channel’s Travel & Living playing in the background where a show titled, Chic City was on air.  Today’s show was profiling Paris and the city’s most creative and talented people.

While casually tuning in and out to what the announcer was saying, one person, in particular caught my attention:  Jeff Leatham, Artistic Director for the Four Season’s Hotel George V in Paris.  I think it was the statistics of how many flowers the hotel uses in a given month that first made me look up from cutting cauliflower.   Don’t quote me on the statistics exactly but I recall that Jeff changes over the hotel’s floral arrangements every four weeks and goes through something like 17,000 blooms  (from Amsterdam) and has a budget of $1m for the year.  Whatever the gargantuan number of flowers the hotel uses in its displays, Jeff is the luckiest guy I know.  He gets to work with a magnificent backdrop and dream up ways to inject more life, energy, drama and mood into the atmosphere via his flowers. He now has a show called Flowers Uncut on TLC if you are interested in seeing more about him and his work.

Jeff’s work is breathtaking, especially because of its volume and density.  Everywhere you look, the George V is bursting with colour, texture, glass all positioned at varying heights and angles.  Preston Bailey (whose work I also adore), you have competition across the Atlantic ocean!

via simply couture weddings


via lexington dorothy


via ariel yve

via blooms by the box

via entertaining chic


via style voyeur


coutume cafe

I wake up this morning from having too few hours of sleep last night to a blackberry message on my cell phone from my fiancée.  What does it say?  He has found the best coffee shop in Paris called Coutume Cafe.  He is in Paris this weekend attending a wedding with his family and has a couple of days to explore the city and make me jealous (not really, but just a bit).  So I google Coutume Cafe and I am astounded at the space he got to sip his morning java.  Of course it is stunning, swanky interiors by French company, Cut Architectures and looks like part lab part vintage chic store.

Apparently, Coutume Cafe has made a good name for itself as a roaster and cafe in the city that is known for crappy coffee.  My parents have been to Paris a couple of times, both of whom are coffee drinkers and I always remember them saying how awful the coffee is.  My fiancée, another coffee snob (who has s siphon- if that means anything to you), bbm’d me this morning to tell me he found an awesome coffee shop.  For him to say that takes a lot, trust me.  More on Coutume, the owners, the space and the coffee situation in Paris, here, here, here and here.   Most recent bbm- he has made it to Laduree and vows never to eat another macaron again from anywhere else because they are so good.  Thank you Antoine Netien fo roasting such delicious coffee (compliment from my man + his sister).

If you find yourself in Paris, here is how to locate Coutume:

47 rue de Babylone, 7ème arrondissement
Metro: St-François-Xavier or Sevres-Babylone

via deezeen

via deezeen

via deezeen


8×10 Paris Colour Collection

Here is a neat photography project created by the blogger behind Little Brown Pen.  The 8×10 Paris Colour Collection was a two year project that has just recently come to fruition.  Nichole photographed and put together a collection of photography depicting street scenes in Paris and assembled the shots based on colour groupings.  The finished product is really beautiful so I thought I would show a sample online. I would be lying that I didn’t want to hop on a plane right now and go experience the photography in the Paris Colour Series in real life!  The collection is also available on Etsy here.

via Etsy

Via Little Brown Pen

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