Friday, July 20, 2012

Summer in cashmere

I received this giveaway cashmere dress on a hot June afternoon in Phoenix. While the heat couldn't stop me from trying it on immediately, I knew it would be long before I step out in this dress. I was diligently storing it away when our upcoming trip to Vancouver flashed across my mind. Of course, it was the first thing that went into the suitcase!

The weather was perfect to wear this dress with a cardigan, considering I get the shivers once the temperature hits the 50's, rather 60's. The cardigan was a blessing as we planned to window shop in sunny downtown, and, watch a play on the chilly beach, on the same day. I carried the faux fur bag to compliment the animal print in the shoes and belt. The bag is very comfortable for long days of walking, and, the long strap allows you to wear it like a cross shoulder bag once those shoulders start giving in. A truly practical bag that doesn't compromise on style.

Dress: Opportuno
Shoes: Zara (Other options here and here)
Bag: Forever21 (Sold out, but, a smart option here)
Cardigan: Blanco, Spain
Belt: NY&Co.

After exploring Stanley Park, and, window shopping in downtown, we were ready for the much awaited brunch at Medina Cafe. Want art on your plate without the price tag that's usually attached to it? This Middle-Eastern cuisine inspired bistro is the place for you. Fresh ingredients, great presentation, interesting flavors, and, a casual chic vibe - all for a reasonable price. What better in a city that's generally expensive for travelers and locals alike?


The Paella I ordered came with a brunch twist, a fried egg, which complimented the sour-spicy sauce well. I cringed to let my hubby taste it, because the portions are perfectly sized (for a hungry me!), and, I certainly did not want to finish my meal, longing for more! The greens provide the crunch, and, the avocados actually blend well (I wonder how?) with rest of the textures and flavors.

Nevertheless, it was worth trading for spoonsfull of his Moroccan meatballs that came with focaccia, and, raita infused hummus. The flavors in the raita were spot on, and I was surprised it worked so well with focaccia. An illustration of how good fusion food doesn't always have to be a fussy blend of cuisines. Medina Cafe brought two simple everyday staples, from across the globe, together to form a winning combination.

The mandatory waffles were ordered to share. How could we leave without trying the dish that made Medina famous? The toppings spoil you for choice - how does one possibly choose ONE from white chocolate pistachio rose water, salted caramel, and, dark choclate?

The cafe exudes warmth that makes you want to stay, and, the sign outside which reads "life is too short for bad coffee" made us linger with a hot cup of mocha, long after everyone who walked in after us, was gone. We finally make our way out, feeling light yet content. The way only food made with good quality ingredients can make you feel.

After taking in the sunshine at Kitsilano beach, and, napping in the park, we were ready for some cocktail gastronomy. While walking in the hip Kitsilano neighborhood, we couldn't resist the touristy vibe of Las Margaritas - colorful patio, sun umbrellas, margarita pitchers, and, Mexican artifacts. What we thought would be a tourist trap turned out to be a delish margarita experience. They make their margaritas with freshly squeezed fruits, and, you can taste it in every drop! They were truly delicious.

Soon we were walking again, this time to Bard on the Beach, a Shakespearean theatre festival that is set up, every summer, along the beach. A must do the next time you guys are there. The play ended close to midnight when we were forced to snack up at Tim Hortons before hitting the bed only to catch a flight back home in less than five hours. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Yes, with a spot of milk please!

Dress: Forever21
Shoes: Old (Similar shoes on sale at ALDO)

I have a soft spot for small entrepreneurs, cute cafes, local boutiques, and, hole in the wall food meccas. I will now be extending my support by featuring them on my blog. The minute I heard about English Rose Tea Room from a boutique owner at a fashion event, I knew I HAD to go there. I came back home, looked it up online, and, made reservations even before I checked where it was located! However, the hour long drive was worth it.

We spotted the tea room thanks to the flowing curtains, hanging potted plants, the British flags and of course, the tea cup chandeliers! Soon I met with the owner, Jo Gemmill, a lovely Englishwoman, who not only runs the traditional English tea room but also, a store next door where she sells European antiques. Hailing from Hampshire in the South of England, Jo grew up amidst rolling hills, and, ancient castles. Picture perfect views were something she would wake up to every morning, and, a piece of that is what she has tried to create in this tranquil oasis.  

Jo Gemmill

The Patio

The tea-pot chadelier

We were browsing the store filled with gorgeous pieces of jewelry, antique porcelain tableware, quirky signs, pretty chandeliers, and, had to be nudged more than once to take our seats for tea. Little did we know the tea room next door is merely an extension of the gift shop, quite literally.

 The gift shop

 Cozy Corners

 Pretty table lamps

Tea pot to go with your dress, anyone?

 The necklace I fell for!

The display of unique collectables continued into the tea room where I could wait for hours for a table (which you may have to, unless you make a reservation), and, not get bored. How can one get bored with so much to take in?

The entrace to the tea room

Soon, we were seated in the cozy tea room where it took us five whole minutes to look into the menu. We were lost admiring the corset backed chair covers, glass chandeliers, the exquisite tea cups on our table, the beaded table lamp on every table, and, the adorable paintings of dogs, by a local artist, adorning the walls.

 More cozy corners

The formal afternoon tea is served alongside a three tiered cake stand filled with tea sandwiches, scones, and, Petit Fours. We saved this for another day, but, caught the lovely waitress on her way to another table for a picture.

The three tiered cake stand

A quick debate in my head between the English pie, and, soup with assorted tea sandwiches ended in favor of the soup and sandwiches. The cold cucumber soup didn’t have to try hard to please me in the 100 degree afternoon, and, the tea sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, chicken and cucumber make me want to go back.

 Effort was put into every detail on the table

 Soup and tea sandwiches

We had the Paris tea, whose mild fruity notes were an absolute delight. Jo even has a trunk full of hats that you could wear while you are sipping your tea. I chose this pretty straw hat with pastel roses.

The hat with pastel roses

The Tea

On our way out, we bought some loose tea, tea time accessories, and, some postcards, and we promised to return. Why wouldn’t we? This time on a Monday, or a Thursday afternoon when the Tea Reader visits. What better than listening to what the future holds for you, while sipping on a wonderful cup of tea?

Go for the tranquility, go for the great food, go for the wonderful teas, but most of all go to feel like a Queen!