The Bubble Tea Conundrum

 

When I moved across the Atlantic Ocean, do you know what I craved the most?  It wasn’t bagels and lox and it wasn’t kreplach.  It was bubble tea.  From my first sip, I developed a love affair with the Taiwanese beverage.  Toronto just so happens to be an incredible city to satisfy a bubble tea fix.

Bubble Tea Lamb411

 

Drive north of Sheppard Avenue, on Yonge Street and you’ll find one bubble tea house after another.  If “905” is more your style, drive east along Hwy 7 between Bayview Avenue and McCowan Road (try Go For Tea for an authentic experience) and you’ll be covered.   Downtowners, don’t have to look past the Spadina and Dundas/OCAD area. But what happens if you leave the confines of Toronto and venture off into the world?

 

I was having a bubble tea conundrum when I discovered bubble tea was not a universal drink, particularly in EU countries.  To double check, I spoke with a few business school classmates who were posted around the world.  It’s confirmed: Bubble tea is not universal.

 

So what did I do to satiate my craving?  I researched and travelled.  Wherever I was due to travel to a new European city, I purposely sought out a bubble tea cafe.  Hot or cold, green or black tea, with or without milk, and filled with all the dark brown, chewy tapioca balls I could suck through the oversized straw.  I was determined to sample them all.  However, I draw the line at those popping boba; the ones that burst upon mastication and splash sweet syrupy juice onto your tongue.  I guess you could call me a bubble tea purist.

 

What I discovered was fascinating:  Bubble tea was in fact, alive, kicking and even thriving in certain cities.  Leave it to the UK, Germany and Austria to lead the pack.  London’s Bubbleology, a bubble tea café themed after a science experiment, has five locations in the city, while Baburu Bubble Tea in Vienna has six shops and Berlin’s Boobuk also has six outposts in the creative city that never sleeps.

 

Stick with Western Europe and you will find bubble tea emerging in Barcelona, where Wow!Boba is not too far from La Rambla, and in Paris’ 5th arrondissement where you can sip le bubble tea at Bubble Fever.  Even Copenhagen has the Mad Hatter Bubble Tea Emporium in Norrebro.  I didn’t stop there.  In eastern Europe, you have Bubbletea 7 in Warsaw, tongue twister, Bubu Bubble Tea in Budapest and my personal favourite, Tea & Go in Prague, which opened in Karlin (Prague 8), by three Chinese Studies students from Charles University who share a passion for Chinese and bubble tea.

 

While the availability of bubble tea in European cities may not reach the same scope as in Toronto, there are plenty of good options at home and abroad and I look forward to continuing my taste test through the continent.  By the way, if you are new to bubble tea, may I recommend trying a litchi green tea bubble tea, cold with tapioca.  It is the perfect summer drink.

 

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A Toronto Marathon (not the running kind)

I just returned home after spending 12 days in Toronto visiting family and friends.  What a whirlwind of a trip.  While there was no running involved, I felt like I just completed a marathon.  I was downtown, uptown, east, west, north, south and in suburbia multiple times in 12 days.  I saw babies, dogs, friends, (no foes), doctors, and family.  Despite a sore back from all the driving, I had a blast and can’t express how much fun I had being back in the city.

A few shots:

The Ultimate Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls

Lamb411 Visits Toronto

Baby Visit #1

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A little retail therapy at Jacaranda Tree & Co on Mount Pleasant- A favourite home decor and accessories store

 

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Brunch at Celestin Restaurant on Mount Pleasant

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Baking up a storm for a Countlan Magazine Issue 04 photo shoot.  I tried one of Hedy Goldsmiths’ recipes from her new book, Baking Out loud– Highly recommend this one if you like fun, American-style, comfort food desserts.

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Brunch again- this time at Emma’s Country Kitchen on St. Clair Avenue West.  I had the Red Velvet pancakes and my mom had the French toast.  We decided we liked the French toast better.

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Multiple refills at David’s Tea.  I must have gone there at least five times in 12 days. Yikes! Where is my loyalty card?

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I learned about a new cookbook (from the Mile End Deli) from my Aunt which is now on my ballooning Amazon wishlist.

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I completed not one, but three photo shoots for Countlan Magazine!  Here is a picture snapped at the first one.  Good work team + helpers.

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Hey Meatball- Meatballs are becoming very popular around the world. I see these meatball only restaurants popping up everywhere.  I tried Hey Meatball in Toronto on College Street.  Very nice vegan balls with risotto.

 

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Monocle is my favourite magazine in the entire world.  They opened a shop late last year in Toronto, so it was rather fitting I pay a visit while I was in the neighbourhood.

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As part of my marriage proposal, my husband sent me on a scavenger hunt around the city- Lit Espresso bar was one of my stops where I had to learn how to make a Cortado before I could get my next clue.  Here is a stop in at Lit for a pick me up.

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Baby visit #2

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Delicious loaves of challah staring at me over Passover.

 

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Finally, a look at the new Aroma Espresso Bar that opened at Bayview Village.   Nice interiors don’t you think?

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And that my friends, is what you call a marathon- Believe it or not, this is only 1/4 of my trip.  Of course I do not want to bore you.

Up next. I am off to Munich and the Austrian Alps this weekend for a bit of R&R.  Now you know why.

Until next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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West Elm Market

If you are a West Elm fan, here is some exciting news for you: This past week, West Elm launched a new concept store called West Elm Market in Dumbo (I used to live there!), New York.

The Market concept is focused on comfortable, affordable, well designed items for kitchen, garden and personal care.

More West Elm Market stores (in shop-in-shop) format will follow in Toronto, Nashville, Philadelphia, Dallas, Los Angeles and Seattle.  This looks pretty exciting for all you West Elm fans.  I hope to visit the Toronto store when I am back in March.

 

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Photo Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 

 

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The Wedding: Photos + Details

And here we go…. some wedding photos and details (below)…

Venue: Revival Bar
Groom’s Suit + Shirt: Suit Supply, Shoes: Paul Smith, Socks: Happy Socks
Boutonnieres: The Little Red Button
Bride’s Dress + Bolero Jacket: Elisabetta Franchi – Headpiece: HT Headwear Jewelry: Stella and Dot necklace, JCrew bracelets, Rings: Fine Jewelry By Collette
Bridesmaids: Their own dresses
Lanterns: Luna Bazaar
Catering: Rustico Fine Foods
Photographer: Marcin Moka Photography
Make-up: Katie Dack + Julia Dorosh (Kirsh Cosmetics)
DJ: Bellosound
Cake + Cupcakes: Flour Studio
Flowers + Bride’s Bouquet: Pink Twig
Gelato: Hotel Gelato

 

 

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Wedding Day: Getting Ready

What does it mean to get ready the day of a wedding? Here is a sample of what my day looked like last Sunday.

8:00 AM Wake UPPPPP!!! We’re getting married today.  It’s time to get a move on.

9:00 AM My fiance and I started off by having a quick breakfast of pancakes and muesli at the George Street Diner on Richmond Street in Toronto.  We figured we might as well have at least one good, full meal, considering the rest of the day was only going to be scraps of food here and there.

12 PM Following breakfast, we ran four errands before returning to the hotel including picking up extra fishing wire to hang lanterns (just in case), little Kleenex packages for anyone who needed, Sharpies and a guest signing book for the bar plus a couple other little just-in-case items.

We packed up all the things we needed to take with us for the day, then hopped in the car to drive across the city to Parlour Salon on Ossington where my bridal party and I had our hair styled.  The team at Parlour was wonderful and fast.  I sought them out originally because they were open on Sunday and just down the street from the venue.  In Toronto, it can be rather difficult to find a good salon that is open!). I may have started in curlers but I ended with straight hair.

2:30PM After all the hair washing, drying and curling was complete, we jumped in a taxi and headed over to the venue on College Street (Revival Bar), where we got straight to work building the chuppah (out of PVC pipes and ribbon), watching all the paper lanterns get hung on the ceiling, getting our make up done, and enjoying the hustle and bustle of people arriving, waiting, clearing, moving, and organizing wedding event “stuff.”

5:00 PM After the rest of our family members arrived, we got dressed and handed out photo props for the upcoming photo session before the ceremony.

6:45 PM After we took our last photo, we were ready to start the first part of the wedding ceremony.

Photographer: Marcin Moka

Stay tuned for more wedding photos plus a complete list of day of vendors.

Hope you are having a good Wednesday! We just had an unbelievable sun shower in Prague and now the rooftops are glistening out my window.  What was your pre-wedding wedding day like?

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Butter Avenue

Between manicures and shopping for wedding decor, I managed to squeeze in a brief visit to Butter Avenue in Toronto to sample macarons.  Butter Avenue, located on Yonge Street just south of York Mills, opened the beginning of  2012 by Calvin and Tina.  Butter Avenue is both a shop for macarons as well as other delicate desserts such as pain au chocolat, tarts, cookies, and chocolates.  There is plenty of room to enjoy a treat in the shop’s all white, minimalist interior and modern furniture.

Calvin was behind the counter when I arrived and he helped me select four macaron flavours: Earl Grey, Sea Salt Caramel, Dark Chocolate and Lemon.

In my opinion, no one should eat macarons alone, so I brought along my trusty side kick (my mom) to help me taste test. Butter Avenue‘s macaron were good but not my favourite in the city.  The Earl Grey and Salted Caramel were taste-bud blowing (aka delicious) the two best in terms of flavour but I thought the meringues were a bit too hard on the exterior.

However, to be fair, the night before I indulged in a couple macarons brought fresh from Laduree  in Paris by a visiting cousin; the taste still imprinted on my palate.  That being said, a harder exterior is best avoided.  You want the crunchy chewy balance.

I would certainly go back for a  fix and Butter Avenue’s macaron towers are showstopping in the front window. My mother was tempted to order two mini towers last minute for the wedding.  🙂

Here are some other people who blogged about Butter Avenue:

1. BlogTo Butter Avenue

2. Amy’s Food Adventure: Butter Avenue Patisserie & Cafe

3. CJ Noms: Butter Avenue

4. Sammylicious: Butter Avenue

5. Allure of Simplicity: Butter Avenue

 

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