Alforno Bakery and Cafe

Today we found ourselves downtown on the North side at Alforno Bakery and Cafe.  This is a beautiful location, but it is very hard to get to with all of the one way streets and restrictions of where you can park.  There is 30 minute parking everywhere, so if you plan on a quick run in, that’s great but if you want to get breakfast or lunch there is parking on the adjacent street.

The building is white with just their logo on the outside and when you walk in you walk through a small vestibule and up a couple stairs.  Once inside there is a long bar where you can order anything from breakfast to lunch items.  It was very clean and wide open.  On the left side of the bar there where some stairs to head up to some seating, whereas on the left side there was a cooler with Cru Juice and assorted beverages.  On the far left there was a coffee bar where you could sit and watch the barista create the drinks.

Beside the coffee bar there was another little bar where you could get water, milk, and cream to add to your coffee.  The way they set it up was absolutely wicked, they were like beer taps that where hooked to the coffee necessities.  We noticed that they had a little section of items for purchase which included Swell Bottles, little terrariums, and some teapots.

After examining the space and the menu a couple times, it was finally time to order and if we hadn’t already had breakfast we would have ordered it there.  After examining their coffee menu, we realized that they used Vendome Coffee in their beverages.

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Everything sounded amazing.  Instead I ordered a Blackberry Cornflake Muffin, my wife ordered a Snickerdoodle Cookie, and my daughter had a Raspberry Bran Muffin.

As for the beverages I decided to order a Vanilla Latte and both my wife and daughter had London Fogs.  The Vanilla Latte was delicious and there was a subtle vanilla flavouring, as for the London Fogs they were delicious and they found that there was something super sweet at the bottom of the cup.

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While we were finishing our beverages and people watching, my daughter noticed that one of the waiters working there was grabbing a pastry for someone and he threw two in the garbage before selecting the one for the customer.  We were shocked because there is so many organizations that could use the leftover food and donate it to those who could really use it.

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PIPS Board Game Cafe

Located in Marda loop in the SW.

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It’s a small place with tons and tons of board games, hence the name of the place. What surprised me was that they are more of a restaurant than a coffee shop. I walked up expecting it to be a small coffee shop and it is two levels. I later found out that they were expanding to the lower floor for more gaming. Looks to be very family oriented. A few families with small kids were here.

Pips is a fully licensed restaurant with a library of over 500 games. If you are there to just play games they charge $5.00 per person to play unlimited games. The have a games master to recommend or even help you pick/play games.

Pip , a noun

A. A dot indicating a unit of numerical value on dice or dominos

B. A mark indicating the suit or numerical value of a playing card.

On the walls of the cafe was some cool artwork that was for sale by a local artist.

One thing I noticed was that Pips supports other local businesses such as Rosso Coffee Roasters, Village Brewery, Last Best Brewing & Distilling, and Wild Rose Brewery. That’s great to see.

Sunday morning was not a good day for coffee because today, I think I had one of the worst coffee’s I have ever had. I ordered a Caramel Latte and it lacked flavour and almost tasted watered down. My wife ordered the Earl Grey Latte, it too lacked flavour to the point she had to add sugar to give some flavour.

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At this point in time I really hope the food is good because the beverages certainly were not.

My wife ordered the Traditional Eggs Benny and I ordered the Chorizo Eggs Benny. Both meals were mediocre. Nothing really impressed me about today’s meal. The hollandaise sauce on both of the eggs benny had an acidic taste to it. Not sure what to think of that.

The most positive thing I can say was the young lady that was serving us was excellent. She was super friendly and very helpful. At the end of our meal when she came over with our bill, I asked her a few questions and her answers were very thorough and informative. Kudos to you, make sure you keep her.

All I can say to finish this off is, based on what I have read/heard and now my personal experience, go for the gaming and eat/drink before you go.

Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters

On Saturday we decided to go to the Symons Valley Ranch Farmers Market to pick up a few last items for Turkey Dinner and there is a Phil and Sebastian’s here.  This is a small little location located in the back food area, there is a lot of reclaimed wood tables and banquet style chairs.

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The baristas were very nice and were willing to talk about their designs.  Today we ordered a Dulce and a couple of Hot Chocolates.  Each drink had different latte art which was really cool.  After learning about latte art last night we were able to name each of the designs on top of our drinks.

The dulce had a heart on top, one of the hot chocolates was a tulip, the other hot chocolate was a rosetta.

 

The hot chocolates were rich in chocolate flavour and the dulce was very delicious with a Caramel taste.

As we were sitting there enjoying our drinks, on of the barista’s called us to show us his signature latte art. His go to piece is a swan.

Vintage Behind the Bar Experience

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Last night my daughter and I went to Vintage to learn about Latte Art.  It was a very intimate event, only five people, Bina (the owner) and Isabella (the teacher).  We started off by a little learning session about the difference in coffee beans, robusta and arabica.  The robusta beans have a very woody earthy taste to them because they are produced at a lower altitude, whereas the arabica beans have a fruity citrusy taste to them because they are produced at a higher altitude.

After that we started to learn how to extract the espresso and how to properly steam the milk.  Bina showed us the correct way of levelling the espresso before you tamp.  You want to tap the sides of the porta filter on the sides and then set it down with your body beside the porta filter and the have your elbow at a 90 degree bend and push the tamp down of the espresso to compress.

We found out that every time Vintage switches to a new bean they adjust the grind time and the drip time from the espresso.

Before we started playing with steaming milk, we started with water and a drop of soap.  We were told that starting with water we could get the motion of steaming it, and how to properly pour in a cup.  Isabella showed us the technique of pouring the water, how to hold pitcher, and how to move your wrist to get those beautiful designs in the cups.  Once Bina and Isabella believed that we all had the skills, we got to move onto the milk.  The video is showing us how to properly steam the milk.

Bina and Isabella got the cups ready with an espresso shot in the bottom, then it was up to us.  We poured the right amount of milk into the pitcher and then steamed it.  We were looking for a velvety smooth consistency to the milk, that means little to no bubbles after steaming.  Once that was complete we pour a little into the espresso to get the right Caramel colour, then pour the steamed milk with the cup at a comfortable angle, when you pour the milk you want to aim for the corner of the cup (where the side connects to the bottom).  That way your design is more central in the cup then off to one side.  The video is showing us how to create a heart in your latte.

The first one my daughter did was not that great but mine was good, it actually looked like a heart.  We found it really helpful that both Bina and Isabella were watching over commenting to help you make your design better and help you pour the right way.

The second round my daughters was not good at all, she didn’t let enough air in milk so she didn’t have enough to make a design, so it was a frothy mess.  My second one had a design in it which kinda looked like a blobby heart.  The video is me pouring my latte art.

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Isabella and Bina realized we were having a few issues with how we were pouring the milk into the cups, either we were pouring too fast or not fast enough.  Bina decided we should go back to the water and soap for a couple times to make sure our technique was correct.  Bina wanted to check our speed of our pour so that the last few times we went to milk our designs would look amazing.

The third round my daughter got lucky and actually pulled off a design that resembled a heart and mine resembled an acorn.  I felt like we were getting better and better.  Clearly practice makes you better.  My daughter recorded me when I was creating my latte art.

Our last round, my daughter had some major skills and made a latte fish, it was a blob heart and then Isabella pulled out a stick and made it into a fish.  My final latte looked like a hologram heart balloon. I really believe that we managed to get better.

Everyone thinks that this is a simple skill, but I now know that there is a lot of skill and practice that goes into a nicely designed latte art.  There is a lot of work to be able to master this skill.

My daughter and I would like to thank Bina and Isabella for all of their knowledge and skills that they taught us.

Rosso Coffee Roasters

Rosso Coffee Roasters – Ramsay

On September 25 2016 we headed out to visit Rosso Coffee Roasters flagship store in Ramsay. This store is located in the old Dominion Bridge Building. This building dates back to 1927, and is a great old brick building that now houses several other businesses. Rosso has been in this location since 2007.

Rosso has made the shop look industrial and a little bit modern, this includes having their coffee roaster in plain sight and open for all to look at while in operation. The day we were there, they weren’t operating the roaster. I have been to three of the Rosso locations and they all have their own personality.

Like all their other stores they offer a wide variety of baked goods and they also have a menu that offers breakfast and lunch items that are available all day.

Today my wife ordered the Chia Tea Latte and I ordered the Honey Latte. The one thing I have found since visiting several of the Rosso locations is they always serve a great drink. My wife absolutely loves their Chia Tea Lattes, she tells me this is one of the best she has ever had. My Honey Latte, or could be called a Sweet Latte, is sweetened with honey. Two Wheel Espresso is always a great blend for your espresso drinks. The coffee is always excellent.

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Rosso has not disappointed me after visiting several of their locations.
Rosso Victoria Park

Tonight we decided to go to Rosso Coffee Roasters down in Victoria Park. This location is small and intimate. There is four tables, a high bar, and a long table that could sit ten people. Their service bar is very clean and sleek and they have a wine cooler behind the counter filled with pop, beer, wine, and kombucha. Rosso has a limited menu, but everything is absolutely delicious.

Tonight we ordered a Chai Latte and a Sweet Latte. The Chai is absolutely amazing that my wife completely chugged it down. The Sweet Latte was made with Costa Rican Espresso which added a new level of taste. The Sweet Latte was absolutely excellent.

I also ordered a Turkey Havarti Sandwich it had Grape Tomatoes, Spinach, and Sriracha Mayo. It was so good that I completely forgot to take a picture until I ate half the sandwich.

They were having a Latte Art Competition and we were invited to stay and watch, but we decided since it was Rosso employee challenge, we decided to head out and watch online.

 

Una Pizza and Wine

This afternoon we are down on 17th Ave at Una Pizza and Wine.  We first entered the Takeaway side which is where you can buy pizza by the slice as well you can get coffee and desserts.  The other side of this location is the restaurant which was extremely busy.  We walked in and since our whole party was here we were able to be seated right away.  So word of advice if you are heading down make sure everyone is here before you head in, otherwise you will be waiting till your whole group is here.

We got a starter of a walnut stuffed Persian date, wrapped with prosciutto and baked finished with vin cotto.  It sounded good so we thought why not try it. It was excellent.

We decided to try two of their pizzas which were their Perogi Pizza (sour cream, fennel sausage, potatoes, green onion, friulano, and black pepper) and the Betline (double smoked bacon, fennel sausage, smoked mozzarella, and maple syrup). Both pizzas came on a thin crust. The perogi pizza was excellent. The Beltline pizza was outstanding. You think having maple syrup on a pizza may freak you out but you need to try it. It adds a flavour that totally compliments bacon and all the other ingredients on this pizza. The other thing I wanted to mention is that the crust is not soggy as you might think it might go that was with the maple syrup. Would definitely order both of these pizzas again.

The atmosphere was really welcoming and it looked like there was a wide range of customers in this location.  There were young couples, older couples, groups of friends, and families.  On every table it looked like their was at least one pizza, but most had two.  Una’s restaurant is long and narrow (20 feet wide) with enough tables for 50 people and a long bar that can sit 15 or so people.

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You don’t want to come here if you have a headache or if you are trying to study for an exam.  The restaurant is very loud and busy.

A really cool thing about Una is that they participate in the Meal Share program which is when you buy certain items on their menu they will provide a meal to someone in need. Today the Perogi Pizza was one of those meals.

Una took part in the YYC Pizza Week and they entered with a Cheeseburger Pizza (tomato sauce, hamburger beef, provolone and cheddar cheese, and pickled jalapeños).  I’m sure it is delicious, but not my kind of pizza.

One thing you should know is that Una does not take reservations. So be prepared to wait a while. Service was great, staff were very friendly and patient.

After we finished dinner we walked down 17th Ave and then came back around and stopped back at Una Takeaway for a caffeinated beverage and dessert.  The barista was absolutely amazing, he answered all of our questions, our concerns, and generally gave us a wicked idea of Una as a whole.  He was very personable and you could really tell he loved his job.  He told his favourite desserts and we ended up trying two of them.  We ordered a Churro Pie, Chocolate Pecan Pie, and Pumpkin Pie.  For beverage we had a Chai Latte and Cafe Miel which is a Honey Cinnamon Latte.