Alright so this is the post that all of you coffee fanatics have been waiting for. Trust me, it is worth the wait-I promise. But first, let me tell you the story behind this marvellous mocha.
In my last post I described every last detail of my trip to Kelowna, British Columbia where I visited primarily for my mother’s wedding. There was a small and intimate ceremony and reception, the meeting of new friends, and some time put aside to admire the breathtaking scenery. I also shared an incredible plant strong recipe featuring the most vibrant produce from this season’s harvest. You can read all about it and get my “Summer Harvest Salad” recipe here.
Once I returned home from beautiful British Columbia I had two days to unpack my comfortable west coast summer maxi dresses and repack some trendy and urban outfits to head out east. I was off to Toronto with eight of my closest girlfriends to parade around the city and have one last hoorah before one of them signs her life away to her fiancé in November.
I had only been to Toronto once before and I’m not going to lie, I did not enjoy it. I am definitely more of a small town girl where I can hear nature singing in my ears and where I can move at my own slow, curious, and indecisive pace. Busy cities where with one wrong turn that will leave me stranded and lost is not a party in my mind. I have major crowd anxiety. This is why I cannot go grocery shopping during the day on weekends. I have this urge to run people over with my cart as each person closes in on me, taking up precious space in the aisles or stopping in the middle of nowhere to pick their nose. My level of irritation increases at an alarming rate when I’m immersed in tight crowds. I turn into a mega monster where my resting bitch face is no longer a misconception-it is alive and very real. With Toronto being one of the busiest cities in Canada, you can now understand why I was a wee bit fearful for this trip, yes?
However, to my surprise I actually really enjoyed T-dot. One of my friends lived there in the past for a couple of years and fell in love with it so we had a jam packed agenda of unique things to do and places to see since she knew all the ins and outs. The first thing I noticed was the abundance in little corner stops of vibrant cafes and bright restaurant signage indicating health conscious options. My nerdy nutty eyes would light up each time we passed an eatery that had anything to do with natural eating. Our hotel was downtown and literally just a two minute walk from the St. Lawrence Market which I adored. I honestly could have spent an entire day there but I felt bad grazing into each and every store admiring the different varieties of salsas, for example, I could buy when my rather trendy and not so foodie friends were ready to move on to the next destination um...as soon as we got there ha-ha. I was okay with this as I like to shop and graze ever so slowly all on my own anyway (even at home in Winnipeg). I did have a chance however to have the best barista ever fix me the most loving iced mocha I have ever had the pleasure of sipping on.
I am not a huge chocolate fan by any means which might lead you to thinking that I am not female, but trust me I am. I would normally choose vanilla flavoured anything over chocolate but every now and then, we all need to include some mocha goodness in our lives. This however, is rarely ever an option for me as most quick stop coffee shops do not offer any milk alternatives or the mocha mixture comes already prepared loaded with dairy and sugar which ain’t my thang. For the most part I am happy with my Americanos and lattes as plain Jane as they are but it would be a treat to have other specialty beverages as an option should I feel fancy one day. Well this one barista rocking it at an adorable coffee shop tucked away in the lower level and far corner of the St. Lawrence Market offered to make both my friend and I iced mochas from scratch. She explained each step as she went along and gave us ideas for additional ways we could enjoy the specialty beverage. I was grateful for the detailed how-to as I obviously appreciate how a creator prepares their recipes, and why. I could barely contain myself when she confidently stated that a dairy free iced mocha with little to no added sugars was completely doable. She warned me that it’s a process that requires a few minutes and I said that is totally fine as I was certain it would be worth the wait. And I was right. It was a highlight of the trip honestly (something only a foodie would say ha-ha) and I just knew that as soon as I got home, I would be playing barista in my familiar kitchen as my fur babies watched curiously behind me.
Other activities we embarked on included a visit to the beach (which was gorgeous), a trip to Yorkville (where we explored Pusateri’s Fine Foods which was the only time my crowd anxiety showed face) and Kensington Market (where I visited Bunner’s vegan Bakery and it blew my mind), and a classy dinner at a restaurant called Coquine on Yonge St. (a European style bistro where all the food was exquisite). The distillery was definitely a memorable visit. The area reminded me so much of Old Montreal which I love and adore. Balzac’s has to be the most gorgeous café I have ever stepped foot in. I finally got to meet my long time Instagram friend Sheereen (@dieffs) and she took me to Fresh Café for which I will forever be thankful as that was the ONE place I knew I had to visit. It was more impressive than I ever could have prepared myself for. If a Fresh Café made its way to Winnipeg…I’m pretty sure I may as well just direct deposit my pay checks into their account.
Of course, considering the occasion of the trip, we had some girls nights out where we got our drank on and danced it up at clubs that featured the best body grooving tunes. My friends that are mommas had some much needed time off and were able to let loose. We also went to a male strip club (which was my first time) and it was hilarious-eventually. I knew I would be hella awkward at first and the things these guys did…unbelievable. As uncomfortable as I found myself, I knew it was nothing more vodka couldn’t fix. The more vodka, water, limes we drank the funnier the experience became. I found the most amusing part to be watching the reactions of my other girlfriends. Seeing their jaws literally drop and their eyes bugged out as wide as possible was priceless. Man we are such prudes.
All in all, Toronto was a busy blast and I cannot wait to go back to further explore all that the city has to offer. I also unfortunately did not have time to visit Meghan Telpner and her glorious kitchen where all of her nutrition goddess vibes stem from. I would have loved to see in person where all the magic happens and where the content from my Culinary Nutrition Expert course I took last spring was filmed. So much to do and so much to see in Toronto and I will be back but until I do, I will be sipping on my homemade iced mochas, forever thanking that passionate barista.
*Makes 1 large serving or 2 small
- 2 espresso shots
- 1 Tbsp. good quality cocoa powder (I bought mine from Upaya Naturals)
- 1 Tbsp. (or to taste) coconut palm sugar (she used 1 tsp. honey)*
- Ice cubes
- 1 ¼ cup milk or milk alternative of your choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
*She used 1 tsp. honey for my iced mocha and if you choose to do the same, be sure to melt it in with the espresso and cocoa powder over a low heat until it dissolves. This step is crucial as you are preparing an iced mocha where the honey may turn clumpy when combined with the ice. I chose to use coconut palm sugar because it has a low glycemic index and I love the subtle sweet taste. My recipe does not create an overly sweet mocha. Use any all-natural sweetener of your choice and add it to taste.
- Fill a large glass with ice cubes and your milk of choice. Set aside.
- Prepare your espresso shots and pour them into a medium sized bowl (element safe if you are using honey as your sweetener).
- Add your cocoa powder little by little and stir immediately with the hot espresso. Add your sweetener and combine thoroughly until dissolved. *Note: if using honey, transfer your bowl to an element and constantly stir the espresso, cocoa, and honey over low heat for 2 minutes (or until the honey has fully dissolved).
- Pour the mocha mixture into your glass of ice and milk. Stir and enjoy!
If you've been to Toronto (or live there), what is your favourite part of the busy city?