A well made Cappuccino in North America should always transport you to Europe
I think Spring has finally arrived everyone! We’ve had a couple of weird weather days here in Toronto. On one hand, it’s finally getting warm! On the other, crazy 10 minute blasts of rain have been soaking the city. Today, I had just finished shooting a little video down at graffiti alley (Thankfully not in the rain). You know, the whole ballerina-in-the-city shebang. A half naked dancer wearing nothing but a leotard, tights, pointe shoes and a tutu in the middle of the street. Honestly I don’t know why people love it so much, but I guess it’s considered one of those classic these-two-things-don’t-go-together picture shoots. Once I was finished, I decided to find myself a nice cup of coffee. I would never give up an opportunity to find a new coffee haunt There are so many hidden places in this city, and so little time to find them all! Some say that Toronto is Canada’s New York. (Though I’d take Trudeau over Trump any day, thanks very much) Call me ambitious but I hope that one day I could even complete Narcity’s recently released map of coffee shops by subway stations. Maybe even this summer!
As I was walking down the street, tutu in hand and wet pointe shoes dangling from my backpack for all to see, I could feel people’s stares. I knew I looked like a total bunhead (which I hate). Fortunately, I soon found a little french cafe called Jules Cafe Patiserie. I entered and was greeted to the sound of Ave Maria sung by Andrea Bocelli. Love at first listen. I was greeted upon my happy arrival by the friendly owner who welcomed me into his establishment. It didn’t take me long to notice how many regulars seemed to frequent this shop and how the owner seemed to know them all by name (without having to write them on a paper cup first, yes starbucks I’m talking about you). This patisserie is right in the heart of the entertainment district but they have two other locations, Mount Pleasant and Bloor street. Regardless of where you end up, you will feel like you’ve been magically transported to Europe even before your first sip of coffee or your first bite of pastry. The friendly atmosphere gives you the impression of being in a little town where everyone knows each other (Beauty and the Beast anyone?). Unlike many of the new hipster coffee pop-ups around town, this one has been around for quite a bit of time, since ’92 to be exact.
After having the inevitable little chat with the owner about my tutu, we talked about my on-going projects and future plans and I finally decided to have a drink. They have a very classic menu so I decided to go for my all-time favourite, a cappuccino. Little did I know, this was no ordinary cappuccino. As soon as I took the first sip, I was transported to the streets of Barcelona. It is true when they said that North America has a long way ahead to learn about the coffee culture. The only place I’ve ever tasted coffee like this was in Spain. This heavenly cappuccino is made of a special roast from Social Coffee. I found it so sweet and smooth that it didn’t need any sugar at all. It tasted like a cloud from the top of Mount Olympus (yes, I just watched Hercules). I didn’t think anything could make this experience any more perfect until I tried the Mille-Feuille. “Mille-Feuille” literally translates to ‘A thousand sheets’. It is made with layer upon layer of super-thin pastry dough. I have no words to describe how perfectly these two paired together. Life at this moment seemed so simple yet so full of flavour. My tastebuds themselves were on top of Mount Olympus.
There is so much more than I imagined that goes into creating a great cappuccino. When I asked the owner what the secret to the perfect cappuccino was, his only answer was “skill”. It turns out that this drink is one of the hardest to perfect, even for the well-trained barista. If, for some reason, too much milk is added, it becomes a latte. Not enough milk, and it becomes a cortado. Some say that making a real cappuccino is an art that should not be attempted by your average at-home barista. One thing’s for certain, your cappuccino should NOT have bubbles. The real secret lies in perfectly frothed milk at just the right temperature. After some research, I found out that it’s best if the milk used is cold, straight out of the fridge. Even better, a thermometer is used to reach the correct temperature. This lets the barista know if the milk gets too hot (you definitely don’t want curdled milk). The mark of a good cappuccino is its smooth and velvety texture, almost like shaving cream.
I realize now that on my search for new coffee drinks my old favourites had fallen by the wayside. This little cappuccino adventure reminded me why I love coffee so much. The joy one can find in a sip of well-made coffee is incomparable. This has also encouraged me to learn more about different coffee-making techniques. In the meantime, I will be exploring as many coffee shops around the GTA as I can. I’m looking for drinks I’ve never tried but also rockstar baristas. Maybe one (or more) of them will be awesome enough to teach this clueless girl their secrets.
My next stop will be Arvo coffee again this Saturday. As I mentioned last week, they are hosting a coffee tasting that I’m pretty exited about. Keep tuned to read all about it in next week’s post! Until then y’all!