My Hood: Allison

Our latest My ‘Hood: Allison talks about living in Condo Land AKA Lower Spadina.

The kitten and my view.
Moving into a condo at Spadina and Bremner was meant to be temporary; a short-term solution while I looked for a house in a “cooler” neighbourhood. Cut to two-and-a-half years later and I’m still loving living in the sky. While the City Place mecca might one day fall into ruin, as recently suggested by The Grid, it’s pretty shiny and new right now.
Best running motivation there is. 
Photo via Flickr.
On a typical weekend morning I’ll elevator down to the gym, hit the pool and finish up in the steam room. If it’s a particularly nice day, I’ll jog down along Lakeshore via the Terry Fox Miracle Mile (designed by Douglas Coupland). After that, it’s right to Thor for quick coffee or Le Gourmand for a leisurely breakfast over a newspaper.
Thor Espresso Bar
Image via Torontour.
If I feel like shopping, I’ll walk west on Queen or up to Kensington Market if I need to grab groceries (there’s a Sobey’s in my building but nothing beats Essence of Life). For retail therapy closer to home, there’s Riant, a cool boutique new to the neighborhood that carries a ton of great labels including Mackage and Rebecca Minkoff, and the Drake General Store on Bathurst (which happens to be my favourite of all three shops).
Coziest Drake General Store
Image via SheDoesTheCity
In the summer I’ll bike down to The Power Plant to check out the latest exhibit, or head over to the Harbourfront Centre for a free show or movie. I’m also right next to the Sky Dome Roger’s Centre, so I’ve gotten to know the nosebleed section quite well. In the winter I tend to hibernate but if I do go out, it’s to grab dinner at KitKat (my local gem) or a movie at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. The Island is also cool to visit in the winter; every Sunday, the residents play shinny on the ice against the backdrop of Toronto – so neat to watch.
Quite the rink
Image via SpacingToronto
So that’s my ‘hood. Future ghetto or not, I love my little sky pod.

Rave: Coffee & Baked Treats

If you are anything like us, your morning does not begin until you’ve had a cup of coffee. We are cranky without it. While you can never start your day off wrong with a latte, coffee goes best with baked goods. Really, what doesn’t go best paired with something sugary, flaky and full of fat? Mmmm…

Back to coffee. There are a ton of great cafés in Toronto, so choosing a favourite is tough. We are known to indulge in the occasional cup from Canada’s favourite hockey-player-turned-coffee-guru chain for the quick hit of caffeine needed for work. But when we really want to sit down and wrap our hands around a steaming hot mug of java, these are our first picks.

It may be famous amongst the Queen Street crowd for its chocolate chip walnut cookies, but trust us: its scones are just as good. Arrive early in the a.m. before they are all sold out, and choose from butterscotch, cranberry and blueberry flavours. For a quick caffeine fix, try one of their cappuccinos, a perfect blend of espresso and milk. Le Gourmand has delicious scones and super cappuccinos; need we say more?

Donuts are back in a big way. Let’s just say that this season they are to baked goods what Proenza Schouler is to fashion. Since you would never say no to a bag by Proenza Schouler, you really could never turn down a donut from Little Nicky’s Coffee. Hit up this recently opened coffee hot spot, and watch as mini donuts come fresh off the conveyor belt. 

The donuts are then tossed in cinnamon and sugar, and into a paper bag for easy eating. Wash them down with Little Nicky’s special blend of espresso, which is a house blend made especially for them. 

When you think about it, muffins are really morning cupcakes. And who doesn’t love cupcakes? But if you need a healthier take on the icing-topped mini cakes, muffins are the answer to sweet tooth cravings before noon. Check out Cherry Bomb for a daily selection of mixed-berry and almond muffins. 

On weekends, try their special banana espresso chocolate chip variety. A great joint for take-away coffee, choose between the ultimate in lattes or some of city’s best hot chocolate. 

Lit just opened their third location on the first floor of the Burroughes building (danger alert!). Yes, delicious espresso, French-press coffee and lattes are now just downstairs from the fourth floor. Like we said, danger.

Lit Espresso Bar carries Stumptown Coffee Roasters, based out of Oregon, who pioneered direct trade coffee. This tastes great and makes you feel good.

To make things even more dangerous, Lit carries baked goods from Circles & Squares bakery. Their banana bread is amazing. We now have access to coffee practically 24/7. Yikes.

Tip: When buying baked goods, it’s best to buy in bulk. Pick up enough for your office, and you’ll instantly become the most popular coworker. Ever.