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Tag Archives: Inglewood

Tea – Harries’ Toffee Cream

Harries' Toffee Cream

While in Inglewood, I picked up some tea from Tea Trader called Harries’ Toffee Cream.  I found it a bit hard to choose something, but only picked up the one, since I already have a basket full of tea!

The woman who worked at the shop told me that this tea was an excellent substitute for individuals who were trying to go off coffee, and I can understand why.  The first scent and taste after steeping was a smoky flavor, followed by a subtle nutty flavor, and then I could taste a very subtle taste of toffee.  I liked it reasonably well plain (without milk or sweetener) but it was just as good with milk and a bit of sugar.

If you’re looking for a tea that really tastes of toffee or caramel, there are other teas I would recommend, however this is still a nice, enjoyable black tea.

Do you have any favorite toffee or caramel-flavored teas?  Share them in the comments below!

Harries' Toffee Cream steeping away!

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Posted by on May 14, 2011 in Downtown Calgary, Tea & Beverages

 

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Bite Groceteria

Bite's great sign

It’s been a long time since I was in Inglewood, but on a recent visit, Connie and I popped into Bite Groceteria – a hole-in-the-wall type of grocery store tucked into one of the older buildings in the area.  Why hole-in-the-wall? The grocery store is actually set back substantially from the sidewalk, and if it weren’t for the huge sign with the intriguing name, we would likely have walked right by.  If we hadn’t been walking, we likely wouldn’t have seen it at all.

If we had missed it though, we would have missed a treat!

Within the relatively small shop, Bite has filled every shelf and rack with delightful, eclectic goodies.  Our first distraction was a very small cooler filled with unique chilled beverages (we both picked up a Grizzly Paw Ginger Beer to go). Next, while she was looking at another display I was intrigued by a very small display of tinned T|Nik tea.  The Earl Grey smelled wonderful, and there were several other varieties that looked interesting, but I settled on ‘Glacier Springs Marzipan Rooibos’.

At that point Connie was looking at spices (and having a hard time choosing between the Himalayan pink sea salt, the smoked black sea salt, and the black Hawaiian sea salt) while I was looking at the unusual pastas, and then at the cooler where there was an amazing assortment of delightful things, including a small selection of caviar and duck eggs.

Rose jam mixed with plain yoghurt

The meat and deli case was uninspiring (since that’s not really my interest anyways) but I headed to the jams and jellies area where I picked up some delightful Turkish Rose Jam.  I’d been thinking of rose jelly or syrup for a while, and didn’t imagine I’d find it – so I was very happy to pick up the jam instead.  (As an aside – the jam is fantastic, with a very clear, quite sweet rose flavour.  I would have preferred a jelly though, and something more ‘pink’ in colour for the visual effect.)

We wandered to the front of the store where there’s a small selection of fresh produce, as well as candies and a cappuccino bar, and paid for our selections.

Overall, the shop had a great atmosphere, is laid out in a way to encourage exploring, and the staff were friendly- but the prices were high (as specialty goods usually are), and several items seemed to be lacking price tags.  I personally find that a bit frustrating; as though I’m missing out on something. I’d highly recommend checking out Bite if you’re wandering through Inglewood, and see if some of the hard-to-find foods you’ve been looking for are nestled happily on the full shelves there!

Have you been to Bite?  What hard-to-find items did you discover there?  Please comment below!

Want another blogger’s opinion on Bite?  Check out Dan’s post on Dan’s Good Side from August 2010.

Bite! Groceteria
1212 9 Ave SE
Calgary, AB
(403) 263-3966

Looking into Bite

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Downtown Calgary

 

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Tea: Tea Trader in Inglewood

Tea. Photo by Modomatic

In April, Connie and I checked out Tea Trader in Inglewood on the suggestion of a friend of mine. I was keen on finding a Calgary source for amazing, fresh teas, and was told that Tea Trader had a great selection.

To start off, I should say that I’m not the kind of tea drinker that pays much attention to the pedigree of my tea. I drink herbal teas (not actually tea). I drink Rooibos tea (not actually tea), and I drink flavored black/green/white teas which apparently are equally as radical to tea-snobs. I couldn’t tell a Margret’s Hope Darjeeling from an Orange Pekoe if I had to, and I don’t much care at this point.

Tea Trader is up a narrow flight of stairs in one of the lovely old buildings in Inglewood. (As an aside – how much do you LOVE stores that are brave enough to keep the quirks and oddities of these old buildings intact?  Love it!)  The shop has a few shelves with travel mugs, eco-mugs, strainers, tea pots and other paraphernalia, but the tea is all behind the counter in lovely matching and labeled tins. They don’t actually serve any tea (Unlike Steeps or Oolong Tea House) much like my favorite (so-far) Banff Tea Company shop.

We started off with the printed catalog, while the clerk shared the different general classifications of tea she had in stock, talked about the size of leaves and a bunch of other things that I kind of got overwhelmed with… Just too much information!  But, if you’re very into that sort of thing, I’m sure you’ll find the information useful and interesting!

Since we were the only customers in the store at that point, we went a different route and told her the kind of things we liked. Connie talked about green teas, while I talked about sweetness, flavors/blends, and blacks. She made a few suggestions, and we asked to see a few different things from the book. Ultimately, I selected Harrie’s Toffee Cream, a black dessert tea flavored with toffee caramel, while Connie selected Lichee, a Chinese black tea flavored with the fruit.

Final thoughts: I found the experience less inspiring than other tea shops, where you can shop more independently.  I think that this would be a great experience for someone who knew exactly what they wanted, but the ‘polite Canadian’ in me doesn’t like to inconvenience a store clerk, when I’m just browsing. (Yes, I know that some places will consider this to be very good one-on-one customer service, but I like the choice I guess is my point.)  I think that when I get to the point of really knowing tea a lot better, and be able to appreciate the pedigree’s of the teas I’m drinking, this will be an awesome resource. OR.. perhaps some of our readers will be able to recommend teas we should try? 😉

If you’ve been to Tea Trader, what would you recommend from their selection?  Comment below please!

Tea Trader
1228 A – 9 Avenue S E
Calgary, AB T2G 0T1
(403) 264-0728
http://www.teatrader.com/
Tea Trader on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Downtown Calgary, Tea & Beverages

 

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Tea: Glacier Springs Marzipan Rooibos

T|Nik's tea

While at Bite Groceteria, I picked up a small tin of  ‘Glacier Springs Marzipan Rooibos’ from a company called T|Nik. (Which apparently isn’t listed on their website right now.)

I thought that I would share my impressions.

Firstly, what drew me to this tea was the smell – the sample tin in the store had nice large chunks of marzipan and it smelled absolutely gorgeous.  I also really like rooibos, since I can drink it at night without worrying about being up all evening, and frankly, the tin was adorable.

They also had a TINY sampler tray with 17 miniscule tins; each with a different tea.  While I thought it was an adorable idea, it looked like each tin would make MAYBE 1 cup of tea each, which just isn’t enough to really enjoy a tea in my opinion 🙂

Cost: It was on the high side – an (approximately) 2 oz (60mL) tin was $7.00 plus tax but I have certainly bought other ‘expensive’ teas… my tea basket at home is a testament to that.  With such pleasures a bit of a higher cost is worth it!  (But, if you’re used to only drinking grocery-store tea, this might seem ‘steep’ (ahaha, punny!).

Scent & flavour: I was disappointed to find that the small tin I purchased didn’t have the chunks of marzipan in it, and it didn’t smell nearly as heavenly as the sample in the store.  The smokiness of the rooibos sort of overwhelmed the sweet nuttiness of the marzipan.  The steeped tea did have a delicious marzipan/almond scent and flavour though, although not as intense as I had hoped for.  The flavour was enhanced with sweetener (white sugar in this case) added though, which brought back out the flavor I’d been looking for.

Final thoughts: I was disappointed that the tin I purchased didn’t match up with the sample as closely as I had imagined it would.  Although this was a nice tea, I likely wouldn’t buy another to replace it when I am done, but that being said, I’d be very interested to try another tea matching up the sweet nuttiness of marzipan with roobois tea!  I might go back and try T|Nik’s Earl Grey though – even though I have several Earl Grey teas at home, I’m a sucker for bergamot!

In reading Julie’s blog ‘It must have been something I ate’ I found out that T|Nik is actually a Calgary company, which imports teas from all over the world, and the awesome tins come from Lee Valley!  (The T|Nik website seems to be still under construction and the Calgary connection didn’t seem to be up there yet.) If you’re interested in learning more, go check out the blog!

Have you tried any of T|Nik’s teas? Recommend your favourite in the comments please!

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Downtown Calgary, Tea & Beverages

 

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Treats: Chocolate from Choklat

Fresh Peppermint truffle

 Fresh peppermint – When I got home I read on the sheet they gave me that it was actually called Fresh Peppermint with White Chocolate, but there was no distinct chocolate flavor. Don’t get me wrong, the chocolate shell the inner filling had been dipped in was a lovely chocolate, the right buttercream percentage so it didn’t melt on my fingers, but melted almost immediately on my tongue, and the peppermint flavor was fresh and minty (though it was probably peppermint oil, and not actually peppermint leaves, so I’m not sure how that works with the whole ‘fresh’ promise) but again, it was like eating two very different items. The chocolate flavor didn’t permeate the peppermint filling (the white chocolate it was apparently mixed with was either very low in it’s own flavor, or completely overwhelmed by the peppermint) and the chocolate shell hadn’t had the time to absorb any of the minty flavor of it’s filling.

Ice wine truffle

Ice wine – I was really looking forward to this one – I though about some of the lovely Ontario and BC ice wines that I’ve had – light, sweet, almost ‘bubbly’ on the tongue. Since I like sweet, I find them more refreshing than ‘sweet’ like some people do, and find them less heavy than other wines. When I took the first small bite, I was disappointed. There was a dark, heavy alcohol taste to me to begin with – something I’d associate with port or sherry (I don’t even pretend to know much about wines, only that this didn’t have the light, fruity taste that I had expected.) The wine flavor completely overwhelmed the chocolate. While I still had the texture of a chocolate truffle, I was very disappointed with the flavor.

Cream Cheese truffle

Cream Cheese – There wasn’t anything really special to this chocolate actually, it seemed to be a soft, blended cream cheese ball dipped in chocolate. I had expected more of a chocolate flavor mixed in with the cream cheese, but the two seemed to be almost separate entities, just wrapped in the same foil wrapper.

My final thoughts – this experience was highly overpriced, and I’ve had a more enjoyable experience with far lower-cost chocolates. The sales pitch raised my expectations of flavor and quality, and since I don’t really care about the pedigree of my chocolate, this ended up seeming pretentious instead of informative. The sales pitch also reminded me a bit of election promises – ei: instead of telling me how good they were, they focused more on how everyone else was bad.

Between a product that didn’t live up to the sales pitch, a hefty price tag, and chocolates that were nothing to write home about, Choklat left a bad taste in my mouth.

Have you tried visiting Choklat?  What do you think?  Please comment below with your thoughts!

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Downtown Calgary, Treats

 

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Treats: Chocolate from Choklat

Adorable plastic box from Choklat

In April Connie and I were in Inglewood, walking to check out a tea shop I’d heard about, when we walked past a simple shop with a name that caught my attention right away – Choklat. Of course we had to go in and check it out, but if the clerk hadn’t been attentive (there was only one other customer in the store when we went in) it’s likely we would have walked right out again. Instead of a case full of lovely chocolates to look at and select, there was a small display of brownies/cookies/etc (and I do mean small – perhaps only 5 of each were in the case) and then a kitchen visible behind the counter. No chocolates in sight!

The clerk helpfully described that they would actually make our chocolates for us while we waited. It would only take a few minutes, and we could choose the filling, shell, and what the chocolate (truffle) would be rolled in. There was a menu, and she also told us about the drinking chocolate they sold. (But she didn’t mention their two other products, chocolate lollipops covered in edible glitter and chocolate bars.)

One odd factor – the gentleman behind the counter was attentive when we entered, and then passed us off to the female clerk. She was helpful and did her job well, but he then sat behind the counter on his laptop and ignored everyone. I presume he was the manager or owner, but I found it a bit rude. I got a bit of an impression that he was a bit snobby, and that if I didn’t care about the pedigree of the chocolate, that I wasn’t worth paying attention to. Perhaps, on the other hand, he just had a lot of paperwork to do on a Saturday afternoon!

Another unexpected element to the shop – it REALLY smells like dark chocolate, and I was surprised to find that I didn’t like it.

The sales pitch on this was that several ‘other’ chocolate shops (ahem, not naming names, but I presume they mean Bernard Callebeaut, Purdy’s, and Oliver – which is just down the street) leave their product sitting on shelves for days at a time, use less chocolate and more sugar and other ingredients to increase shelf life, and don’t use the fresh ingredients that Choklat does because of the shortened shelf life. One part of the sales pitch even suggested looking at the size of Choklat’s fridges – too small for anything more than a few days’ worth of milk, butter, cream, and other fresh ingredients. Further, they talk about the origins of their beans, making their sources all sound like the one last really good place for cocoa beans. (Kind of like coffee or tea, where every shop seems to have discovered the last ‘really good’ source.)

Looking at the menu, frankly, I wasn’t sold. Mostly because of the price – $1.99 per chocolate. (The bars were between $7.50 and $11.99 each!!!) Yes, I’ve heard all of the talk about the price of chocolate going up, but $1.99 for a single chocolate truffle seemed at best, extreme. Even if things are organic, free trade, ethically sourced, yada yada yada, there’s still a limit to something that is ultimately just a luxury. I enjoy higher quality chocolates of course (I’d much rather have a small selection of something really good than a huge box of something from the drug store.) but still, with such high prices, I was only going to be able to sample a few.

We both decided to go ahead and make our selections. I chose the cream cheese (I love chocolate cheesecake, and thought it would be a different spin on this delight) fresh peppermint (mint chocolate has been another treat I’ve enjoyed lately, and since it seemed like a lovely idea to be dessert to the whole sweet experience, ice wine. All of my chocolates were dipped in milk chocolate and rolled in chocolate shavings. (There is a wide variety of what they can be rolled in too, but that’s the only one that appealed to me. I also didn’t want any other flavors competing with my chocolate!) My total with tax came to $6.27. For THREE chocolates.

We sat down briefly to wait, and within a short time were presented with an adorable plastic “chinese take out” style blue box with a brown ribbon containing our treats. The little box fit easily in my purse, where it stayed until I got home.

More on the individual chocolates to come!
Choklat on Urbanspoon

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2011 in Downtown Calgary, Treats

 

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