As a proud Kiwi, there are a number of Canadian traits I don’t buy into. Don’t get me wrong - Jesse and I love Canada. We truly do. We love the people, the welcomeness, the extreme weather, the opportunities for adventure. We take joy in adapting to the Canadian cultural norms, jokes and cuisine.
However there are some practices we have had to draw the line at.
To mention a few…
- Kraft Dinner (and its beloved cousin, Hamburger Helper)
- Doggie bags for restaurant leftovers (don’t get me started!)
- Supersized everything (is it really a good bargain if you can’t fit your supersize Mayo in your fridge?)
- Not calling a spade a spade (are you really using that room to wash, or rest, or take a bath?)
- Tim Hortons. The worst of them all.
We had our first Tim Horton’s experience the moment we landed in Canada for the first time (two years ago today!). Having heard so much about Tim Horton’s coffee we naturally (ignorant Kiwi’s) assumed it was a top notch coffee roaster that had sent the Third Wave of coffee viral in North America.
terribly horrified a little disappointed on the first taste. Ylech! This is Canadian coffee?
And so we embarked on seeking out what New Zealanders consider a cafe experience – quality beans, roasted locally, ground perfectly and prepared by a qualified barista (commonly in the form of a Flat White) in a boutique cafe served (always with a teaspoon) alongside homemade scones or fresh muffins served with yogurt.
No paper plates, no neon OPEN signs, no artificially-flavoured, dairy-free, hyrdrogenated-oil based French Vanilla creamer, no deep-fried mass produced donuts.
Our first month, spent in Vancouver, was less than fruitful, not knowing anyone in the coffee industry or down which alleyways the boutique cafes were hiding. Our following 18 months in Norman Wells, NWT were no better, where the only cafe in town serving quality coffee beans was mine. And I am certainly no barista.
What a relief to move to Calgary and discover not only true cafe experiences, but outstanding local roasters, perfected espressos and award winning baristas.
Our two favourite roasters in Calgary (really the only two competitive ones) are Phil & Sebastian (roasted at the end of our street) and Rosso (roasted in the neighbouring community). We had Rosso’s Nicaraguan beans on hand this last weekend and a friend (who also happens to be a barista at Rosso) treated us to a lesson in pour over coffee.
A new experience for us, pour over has quickly become a favourite alternative to espresso. This Japanese-style method is quite the art, producing a coffee where the flower and the fruit of the bean can be easily depicted and appreciated.
While it snowed outside, we enjoyed our pour-over coffee in the comfort of our home, alongside warm banana bread fresh from the oven, studded with crunchy millet and sweetened with creamy honey. Home baked goods, like this crinkly banana bread leaves any Tim Horton’s donut in the dust.
Honey & Millet Banana Bread
Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Unfortunately out of the 8 or so cafes that serve good coffee in Calgary, few have nailed the food side of things. Most import baked goods from another bakery or an external kitchen, never will your carrot cake be served with raspberry coulis and natural yogurt and good luck finding a gourmet savoury muffin with a homemade chutney. Until this improves we are happy providing our own baking, de la casa.
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 large egg
1/3 cup coconut oil, warmed until it liquefies, or olive oil
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/3 cup creamed honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup uncooked millet
Preheat your oven to 350°F and butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan. Place mashed bananas in a large bowl. Whisk in egg, then oil, brown sugar, honey and vanilla extract. Sprinkle baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves over mixture and stir until combined. Stir in flour until just combined, then millet.
Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until a tester comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on rack.