Thunder Bay’s Organic Garden Cafe

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A breakfast that two weary travellers devoured in a very short time. Tofu Lettuce Tomato sandwich and a Spinach Pesto pizza

For those that bite off more than they can chew in terms of driving a particular stretch of a road trip, there’s no doubt that there comes a point where you may need to fuel up more than the car does. We drove into Thunder Bay in the early hours of the morning. The city was overcast with low, grey clouds that suggested the city may indeed be aptly named. In need of breakfast, a quick search of happycow.com suggested The Organic Garden Cafe.

Finding the cafe wasn’t very difficult in an unfamiliar city and upon turning a corner we were greeted by an inviting green sign. The cafe turned out to be in a shared space with a wine shop, tucked cosily on the right side of the building. The green barn opens up at 11 for breakfast, and serves veggie burgers on Tuesdays.

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Orders are taken by filling out a slip of paper that can be found in a box on the wall by each table and handed to the front staff. The atmosphere of the Organic Garden is perhaps the coziest and friendliest I have ever experienced in my history of dining. The majority of the staff were young ladies, but the team captain was a man with a great white beard and a vibrant multicoloured hat that tucked his dreadlocks away named Pat. He even went out of his way to provided me with Daiya cheese for my pizza from his own personal stash when the rice bowl I originally wanted turned out to contain honey.

“See what happens when you take the higher road in life,” he quipped after I assured him that I didn’t mind changing my order.

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The restaurant is furnished with light wood  tables and ornate blown glass lamps and vases in shades of blue and amber. A self-serve coffee and tea station is tucked into the left-hand corner of the kitchen door. I’d thought of myself as an experienced tea drinker, but I was completely taken aback by their delectable tea selection sourced from the International House of Tea. Their Ginger Lime Tisane is decidedly the best tea I have ever sampled.

Our time at the Organic Garden was short, but it was a welcoming stop that left us with full bellies and a cheerful gait. Before we left, Pat told us about the animals that are frequently spotted along the roads of Northern Ontario such as bears, moose, and wolves. Leaving this cafe was like leaving a new friend’s house. Next time I’m in Thunder Bay it will be no mystery where to find me at breakfast.

 

Minimalist Lookbook – Little Black Skirt

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There are few things better than making more from less. In the case of this amazingly versatile black skirt one can manufacture multiple outfits for various occasions with just a switch of shoes and tops. This high-waisted black skirt provides a solid foundation on which to build an abundance of looks without cluttering the closet or breaking the bank.

My favourite pieces to pair this skirt with are always solid coloured blouses with unique textures, with matching shoes. It’s easy to use the black skirt as a barrier between the same colours such as with my white knit Zara top and white shoes.

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top: Zara     skirt: H&M     shoes: Zara

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The multitude of outfits that can be sourced from a simple black skirt is essential when you may be limited by storage space. Another dilemma many of us face is purchasing articles that end up sitting untouched or getting little use. It is sad when things are bought only to take up room and remain untouched.

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top: H&M     skirt: H&M     shoes: TOMS     sunglasses: Vogue

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Pairing anything with TOMS is the ultimate comfort. These shoes can take you anywhere from the beach, to the office, to Whole Foods… You can cycle in them, eat Chinese food in them, travel the world in them. Come to thing of it, I’ve done a lot of things in my TOMS.

Taking it from the comfort zone to a look with an elegant edge just requires trading the loafers for heels, and the simple crop top for a laced blouse.

28405389631_2733903b28_otop: H&M     skirt: H&M     shoes: Steve Madden

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Animated Flesh & Bone Tapestry

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Clothing is a second skin that you put on to change your character. I know I felt like a different person in these pinstripe bell-bottoms. It’s the accumulation of details that weaves a curious tapestry. I would say that every human on earth is an animated 3D flesh and bone tapestry. The colours and textures we choose say a great deal about the state of the ghosts driving the meat-coated skeletons we wear. Our ghostly souls are the medium at the other side of the earthly membrane. Curiously enough they are our real selves.

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As much as we try to differentiate ourselves, or in some cases conform, the fundamental truth is that we are all naked underneath our cloaks and masks. As much as we put on fronts to escape from the different circumstances that we find ourselves drawn to, or entwined in — sometimes against our better judgements — we are naked underneath.

Beneath our fleshy nakedness I imagine a different kind of bared vulnerability. I believe we are much more similar to our fellow humans on the inside than we may be on the outside. The inner spirt appears to me to be a shimmery and soft mass suspended in mid-air at chest-level pulsating like a gently plucked harp string.

All extraterrestrial and otherworldly matters aside, I enjoy the effect of pairing a simple white top with a busier pattern.  These pants were a fantastic find for their atypical cut in the everyday world. I was drawn to their smooth and almost velvety texture, as well as their French manufacturing. The bell-bottom is a fun cut to pull out from time to time, and it does well paired with an unassuming top and shoes.

Beechwood Doughnuts Still Owns In St. Catharines

I will always remember Beechwood Doughnuts as the place people lined up half an hour early for in negative degree weather when it first opened early last year. The lines have died down, but there is still frenzy and excitement surrounding the magical fried treats this little white-brick shop churns out.

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Located in a foot-traffic heavy spot in St. Catharines, just across the road from the beloved Rise Above, and next door to the charming Craft Espresso Bar, Beechwood Doughnuts attracts people from the neighbouring Niagara Region, all the way to the GTA.

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Behind the giant doughnut there are TONS of possibly the best doughnuts in the universe
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My personal favourite : Key Lim Pie beside a classic : Coconut Cream

A doughnut schedule can be found on their website, and seasonal flavours are featured. Best sellers like Cookies ‘n Cream can be purchased everyday, but more unconventional flavours such as Rosewater Pistachio and Caramel Chocolate Crunch only make an appearance a few days a week.

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Clockwise from right : Peanut Butter Chocolate, Strawberries ‘n Cream, Key Lim Pie

No matter when you are fortunate enough to make it into this dessert lab, you will find something that appeals to you. While this is a vegan doughnuts shop, it is not a heavily advertised fact. The bakers let the food speak for itself, and by doing so they prove that deliciousness does not have to be sacrificed for compassion. We can do without taking from animals and still have bomb doughnuts.

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Umeå, Lublin’s First Fully Vegan Restaurant

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My heart skipped a beat at the sight of the word “vegan” after three days in Lublin, Poland. Located on the eastern side of the country, near the Ukrainian boarder, Lublin is still warming up to the idea of veganism. Everyone is interested in this bizarre concept of abstaining from animal products, but quick to declare they could not pursue such a lifestyle. The food culture of this Central European country is laden with animal products, which are seen as a sign of prosperity and wealth. The national dishes are heavy with lard, butter, cream, cheese, and various meats. Explaining my dietary preferences is one thing that is familiar, but forgoing my daily staples has been difficult.

It was a joy to find familiarity and comfort in a vegan burger joint in Lublin of all places.

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Tucked away on a little side-street, we would have missed Umeå had it not been for the beckoning blue sign on the scaffolding of a boarded up facade. Ducking under the canopy of steel bars and walking a few steps, be sure to not walk past the unassuming first door on the left.

Food is ordered at the front counter where the daily options are listed on a blackboard. There is a category for Burgers, Dressings/Sauces, and Soups. If you order a burger you get to choose a sauce to put on it, and presto. I ordered a classic veggie patty with herb infused mayo, and my friends ordered an Asian-style patty with chilli sauce, and a classic seitan patty with bbq sauce.

Umeå  is cozy and the food is beyond amazing. It’s heartwarming to experience a fully vegan restaurant so far from home in a place where veganism is still relatively unheard of. I hope to make another visit here before I fly back home at the end of the summer.

Sweet Potato Fries with Wafu Ginger Carrot Sauce

1313751_origLike most Canadians, I am an avid viewer of Dragon’s Den. The show no doubt has a diverse audience across the nation. Some people watching are entrepreneurs and want to pick up tips and tricks that will serve them in their careers. Others want to scope out new products and services that are popping up across the country. Others just want to hear Kevin’s razor-sharp rebukes and have an entertaining evening in.

It was on one of those evenings in watching Dragon’s Den that I discovered Wafu Dressing Sauces. The pair pitching the sauce didn’t land a deal with any of the dragons, but my interest was peaked.

Wafu translates to “Japanese-style”. Anything that is not traditionally Japanese, but is tweaked or modified in a Japanese manner can be considered wafu. I decided to give the vegan ginger carrot dressing a shot, and it was delicious. Pairing it with sweet potatoes may be somewhat uncommon, but this was one of the tastiest dinners I’ve made at home in a long while. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

3 large sweet potatoes cut into fries or wedges

1.5 teaspoon curry powder

1.5 teaspoon pepper

Wafu Carrot Ginger Sauce

Chopped basil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees C

In a large bowl mix cut potatoes with curry powder and pepper

Arrange on a parchment lined baking tray, or glass baking dish

Bake for approx. 40 min flipping the potatoes about halfway through

Once they’re out of the oven, put the potatoes on a plate and add carrot ginger sauce and basil