Cafe Review: Cafe Zen on Yew

A couple of weeks ago I went on my first breakfast outing in Kitsilano. It’s taken me five months to get over the bridge, which is pretty poor form I know, so when I finally went I decided to try one of the top rated Kitsilano breakfasts on Yelp: Cafe Zen on Yew.

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Blueberry pancakes with a side of eggs, my new favourite breakfast

REVIEW: Cafe Zen on Yew
1631 Yew St
Kitsilano, Vancouver

Rating: 3/5 Stars

The first thing to know about Cafe Zen is that it is open. There’s a mass of construction happening out the front, so it’d be easy to disheartened and assume it was closed. But never fear, the tiny sign on the door isn’t lying and you should definitely head in.

Once you get inside it will probably be packed. We went at 9:30 on a Saturday and although it only took a coupe of minutes to get a table, the cafe was very busy. It’s definitely a popular place.

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One enormous coffee!

Truth is I didn’t go to Cafe Zen for it’s coffee. I was mostly there to try the breakfast so many people were raving and on that front I wasn’t disappointed. It’s not the fanciest cafe you’ll every go to. They’re definitely not trying to keep up with design trends. But the prices are reasonable and it’s a proper hearty breakfast. I can see why it’s a local favourite.

And to be upfront, the coffee itself was good. Proper roasted flavour, could have been a little stronger but it was nicely creamy for a latte. I don’t think that I’ll be going back for another though, because as strange as it sounds the coffee was too big. It must have been twice the size of a normal coffee and could easily have come in a small soup bowl. And that’s just too much latte for me in one go.

That probably sounds ridiculous right. Too much coffee? How fussy do you want to be? But it was enormous! I’m not even sure they have smaller sizes. I left breakfast feeling jittery and a little too wired. I understand that it was fairly priced. To have the kind of flavour it did, there were at least two shots in the latte (possibly more). So for $4.20 I got a pretty good deal. But I’d rather pay $3.60 for one shot than $4.20 for two. It’s less economical but I don’t need that much caffeine in the morning. If you do, however, don’t let my review put you off. Cafe Yen on Yew is the place for you!

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Back at Finches and Accepting 2014

So I’m back at Finch’s Tea & Coffee House on a Friday avo, enjoying my hot & spicy apple cider and soup. And I can’t barely believe it’s 2014. February 2014 at that. Where did 2013 go?? Or January at least??

New Year in Finches
A relaxing friday avo . . 

First and foremost, I’m just going to be honest. I’ve been a bit MIA recently and I probably won’t be posting as often this year (though I’ll still be aiming for once a week atleast). As much as I’ve been enjoying blogging and reading other people’s blogs, I’ve found a full time job! It’s in my field, is looking like a challenging and rewarding position and is super exciting! The only downside is I’ll have less spare time.

Sunrise in Vancouver
Sun rise in Vancouver, it’s still enough to stop me in my tracks.

In addition to finding a job, another milestone that I’m quickly approaching is 6 months in Vancouver. That’s half a year and almost two full seasons. Although the city is definitely becoming familiar to me and has started feeling like home, it still easily takes my breath away. Vancouver is such a beautiful, vibrant place. I feel incredibly lucky to call it my home.

So here’s to an exciting 2014 in Vancouver. I hope you’re all as excited as I am!

Cafe Review: Finches Tea & Coffee House

In another attempt to get out of my coffee comfort zone (namely Davie St), I decided to head into Downtown and Finches Tea & Coffee House for my latest coffee adventure. I’d peaked through the door a couple of weeks ago, on my way to lunch, and the hints of wooden furniture and overgrown pot plants made me think this could be my kind of place.

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Finches Tea & Coffee House

REVIEW: Finches Tea & Coffee House
353 W Pender St
Downtown Vancouver

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sometimes I wonder, no I’m sure, that there’s an interior decorating formula for pleasing people like me. Take one part retro china and add one part lush greenery. Make sure there’s a solid foundation of wooden furniture and that none of is matches exactly. Then top off with indie rock music and you have one happy customer.

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Pot plants galore! I was too scared to go up and touch them, but they looked real.

Honestly though, I don’t think I care. I love these kinds of cafes and their comforting kind of  charm. And with a menu that includes hot & spicy organic apple cider, Horlicks, steamed soy and maple and hot/cold blackcurrant juice, what more could you ask for?

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A pretty little centrepiece

Ok, to avoid sounding like a groupy there were a couple of negatives. The music was a little loud at the start. It’s a pretty busy cafe and, with no wifi, it’s not really somewhere you can lounge around for an afternoon. None of these things were deal breakers for me, but I just wanted to prove I could look past the the decore.

And, to get to the big issue, the coffee was good. Not amazing, but still a decent well made coffee. I thought mine was a little thinner than I’d like and maybe there was more foam on top than I was expecting for a latte. But now I’m digging deep and being super picky. Overall it was a very satisfying mid-morning coffee and my chocolate chip oatmeal cookie was the perfect compliment.

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Midmorning sugar and caffeine

Finches Tea & Coffee House manages to combine hipster fun with an accessibility that stops it from being pretentious. And just to prove it, their playlist included a little Tina Turner. Just to mix it up. Tina Turner and Hot Blackcurrant juice. I’ll definitely be back.

It’s Snowed!

It’s been a pretty exciting week for me. I’ve changed jobs, got tickets to the Vancouver John Butler Trio concert in Feb (woohoo!!) and it officially snowed on Monday! Real snow!

Snow!

What is it about  snow that always turns me into a little kid? Maybe it’s the surprise. I never actually expect it to snow, it’s not normal for me yet. It’s like walking into a Christmas movie. Doing errands that morning I had this big, irrepressible smile on my face. I had really come to Canada.

Snow!

And I know, I know, that wasn’t real Canadian snow. People have been telling me all week. That was light, a little wet and only lasted a day or two. There are a million places in Canada with better snow than that. Probably places like Yellowknife, which at the moment has an air temperature of -38C, but when you factor in the wind chill feels like -48C.

-48C

That’s not a temperature in my books. That’s the inside of a freezer. If I was surprised by a little snow in Vancouver, I am definitely not ready for real Canada winter snow or temperatures. I might need to ease into that.

Yellowknife Temp

Sadly now the snow is all gone and all that’s left are my photos and excited facebook posts. But if you’re in Vancouver I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. And if you didn’t, here’s my favourite John Butler Trio song to make up for it (Feb 16th people, tickets on sale now and the first show’s already sold out!).

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas . .

I started noticing the change a week ago. Lights and decorations are going up everywhere. With only a few weeks to go, I think it’s finally ok to start getting excited. Christmas is coming!

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St Paul’s Christmas Lights

I know Christmas can be a stressful time for most people. Present giving, fighting Christmas highway traffic, not to mention lots of time with family and in laws. We all love our families and in laws. But there’s not denying that the people we love the most often cause the most drama.

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St Paul’s Christmas Lights

In spite of all it all, I still get really excited about Christmas. I look forward to making presents and sending out Christmas cards. I thoroughly indulge myself on all the food and treats (brandy custard is my seasonal favourite). But most of all I enjoy how excited everyone else is at Christmas time. How people fight through the stress and chaos and make the time to celebrate. I really believe it’s a time of good cheer and good will.

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Christmas cheer

This year I’m particularly excited because I’m spending Christmas in a new city and an entirely new season. As a way of easing myself into all the Christmas excitement, I’ve started working my way through the downtown Christmas light displays. I really like the display at St Paul’s. It lights up the whole street and apparently requires 10km of lights!

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Christmas Lights off Davie St

If you’re also interested in Vancouver’s Christmas lights, below are some I found and will probably be posting about. Hope you’re all as excited as I am!

St Paul’s Hospital

VanDusen Botanical Garden

Stanley Park Christmas Train

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Vancouver Parade of Carol Ships

Jack Poole Plaza 50 foot Christmas Tree

Cafe Review: Union Market

The week before my New York trip, I stumbled up on a rare coffee treat. I was doing errands on East Hastings and a friend recommended the Union Market as a cute place to get a coffee. It was a couple of blocks off the main road, but well worth the walk. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I always love a good surprise!

Union Market
Union Market

REVIEW: Union Market
810 Union St
Strathcona, Vancouver

Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Union Market is a local corner store crossed with a café. The surrounding area is super cute. It was full of painted wooden houses; the kind that hang Halloween decorations and own fat, friendly cats. Inside the store has a nice mix of fresh produce, convenience items and then right in the middle is the cashier/coffee bar.

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Union Market

As a general rule I haven’t had the greatest coffee from tiny corner stores. But this was a pleasant surprise. It was aromatic with proper, unburnt flavour and a nicely balanced milky. Given that I’ve previously had a disappointing coffee at a fancy looking café, maybe it’s fitting that I had a good coffee from an unassuming corner store.

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Locals on Union St

To top it off, their hot apple cider sounds interesting. I was told that it’s made from organic apple juice and a chai mixture. If I could have justified ordering the latte and a hot apple cider I would have.

I’m not sure how often I’ll be in the area, but if you are stop by the Union Market. Try the hot apple cider and let me know what it’s like!

Hello Snow!

It’s finally here! The lifts are open, puffy jackets are being pulled out of storage and thighs are being psyched for days of hard work .The ski season has started!

Whistler
Oh Canada . . 

Last weekend I finally got to go snowboarding at Whistler. I missed the 2013 Australian ski season entirely, so it’s been over a year since my board’s had a workout. I was pretty nervous at the start, but once I’d thrown myself down a run or two it all came flooding back. Nothing’s more fun than flying down a mountain on your board (or skis if you’re a skier, the debate rages on).

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The snow’s finally arrived!

It’s pretty early in the season and my Canadian friends told me it will definitely get better. Only a few runs were open, they complained, so it was really busy. And the snow coverage wasn’t that great. But don’t worry, they’d reassure me, this is nothing. Wait a few weeks and then you’ll see what Whistler is really about.

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You think that’s patchy snow? This is patchy snow – Mt Hotham’s 2013 season opening
Photo Credit: News.com.au

As an Australian though, I thought it was pretty bloody amazing already. Yeah not all the runs are open so it was busy, but I’ve seen worse. And some of the runs further down the mountain had patchy coverage. It was still nothing compared to a bad day back home (check out this article and video if you want to see really patchy runs).

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Back on my board

So as far as I’m concerned if last weekend wasn’t impressive, what I’ve got to look forward to is going to be brilliant! Bring on the snow!