Cafe Culture

Commonwealth Coffee, London OntarioWhispers of “Summer is over!” have been spreading like wild fire across London. With the first day of school behind us and Mother Nature turning down the thermostat, it’s little wonder this has become a September chant.

However, summer isn’t officialy over until September 23rd so let’s not fall into that pit of despair just yet people! Let’s squeeze out every last bit of joy the season gives us. Let’s sit on patios, indulge in ice cream and don’t you dare even glance at the sock drawer! Let’s keep that summer feeling going as long as we can!

What is over for me, however, is having time off to induge in cafe culture. It’s back to work. No more slow days lingering over my iced mocha. No more catching up on delicious summer reads or eavesdropping on some even more titillating conversations (yes, I know it’s not polite but…).

In an effort to extend that glorious summer sentiment, I wanted to share with you my two favourite summer haunts which I hope become yours as well…all year long.

First up is CommonWealth Coffee Co. Bookending Richmond St with the Grand Theatre, this bright hipster hangout will supply you with ample caffeine, a bit of a sugar rush, and plenty of hangout/work space. With a catchy motto “Life is too short, Stay awake for it” the shop introduces its customer to higher end artisan beans and coffee producers, as well as refined baked goods.

Commonwealth Coffee, London OntarioCommonwealth Coffee, London Ontario Commonwealth Coffee, London OntarioCommonwealth Coffee, London OntarioCommonwealth Coffee, London OntarioCommonwealth Coffee, London Ontario  Commonwealth Coffee, London OntarioCommonwealth Coffee, London OntarioCommonwealth Coffee, London OntarioCommonwealth Coffee, London OntarioNext it’s Reset Social Cafe. Nestled beneath the brand new Azure condo building on Talbot St., this cafe serves its premium coffee, juices, shakes, and lighter fare (must try the chicken curry) in a colourfully industrial setting. A comfortable space filled with students, well heeled Moms with curious toddlers, and smartly turned out business set, Reset has something for everyone.

Reset Social Cafe, London OntarioReset Social Cafe, London Ontario  Reset Social Cafe, London OntarioReset Social Cafe, London Ontario20190720_111717 (2)20190720_111901 (2)  20190720_111807 (2)20190720_112007 (2)Reset Social Cafe, London OntarioRain or shine, summer or winter, both CommonWealth Coffee and Reset Cafe will satisfy your social needs and your caffeine dreams. Give them a try!

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Porcino Returns

20190706_114959 (2)Like a phoenix from the ashes (a fire consumed the restaurant and neighbouring businesses in 2016) or like a mushroom after the rain (porcini mushrooms are a gourmet addition to menus around the world) the Italian restaurant has popped up once again to open its doors to London.

Porcino is an Italian eatery located on Hyde Park Rd. with a decidedly contemporary aesthetic. But the clean and modern design belies the traditionally Italian menu of appetizers, pasta, and pizza which one would expect from European based restaurant. There is even a wood burning oven to give pizza that authentically charred taste….you know the one!

On a recent weekend, the boy and I decided to pop in for a quick bite between running errands. We were met with a friendly hello and a choice of seats. Although the restaurant wasn’t packed, a few diners chose seating in the back, the space didn’t feel empty. The sounds of cooking from the open kitchen and low buzz of conversation from the back gave the place a relaxed atmosphere.Porcino Restaurant, London Ontario  Porcino Restaurant, London Ontario20190706_121003 (2)Porcino Restaurant, London Ontario  Porcino Restaurant, London Ontario  Porcino Restaurant, London Ontario

We ordered a few appetizers: fried calamari, meatballs, and a trio of spreads. All three were delicious but the calamari was the standout with a perfectly crisp coating and tender flesh. The dishes were a quick treat to satisfy grumbling tummies since we didn’t plan to linger very long.

In full disclosure, there were a couple of hick-ups with our table settings which I wasn’t impressed with, but which were remedied quickly.

I hope that Porcino enjoys much success in its second incarnation and wish them all the best!

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You Made It Cafe

20180725_100507So it has been about a billion years since I last posted on my blog. Life …what can I say. The boy and I bought a place last summer. We renovated it floor to  ceiling. And between the stress of renovating, decorating, and balancing budgets there was little place for much else. Both self care and blog went on the back burner. I didn’t need any more pressure in my life. I have always thought of Cobblestones and Cappuccinos as an avenue for my creative expression. A way to share some of my funventures and finds with those of you who pop on here from time to time (by the way…thank you for reading!). I didn’t want to keep posting “just cause” and especially not until I had something special to share. Until now!

Having just finished the renovations on a 40 year old place, let me tell you…I believe in second chances. And often third…and fourth, sometimes to my detriment. So when I finally had the opportunity to visit YOU Made It Cafe, I was not disappointed. A business that has not only breathed life into an old, underutilized heritage building (something London has a lot of) but also offers a comprehensive program of employment services to youth dealing with homelessness, unemployment and/or lack of education. Second chances are everything.

The Cafe has been around since 2012 and is owned and operated by Youth Opportunities Unlimited. It offers a skills training program under the mentorship of professional staff the results of which can be witnessed in the service and food prep in the cafe. It also sells Mushed by YOU preserves featuring jams, jellies, spreads, salsas and BBQ sauce made by youth employed in Enterprise Services. The only draw back of this business model are the limited hours of operation. The cafe is only open for breakfast and lunch Monday to Friday. They occasionally host special evening events, Cornerstone Cuisine dinner series with guest chefs and creative themes, which are worth watching for. 20180725_090831 (2) 20180725_090954 (2)  20180725_091115 (2)20180725_090839 (2)20180725_090847 (2)20180725_090856 (2)20180725_090903 (2)20180725_090911 (2)20180725_090918 (2)    20180725_090942_HDR (2)20180725_091045 (2)20180725_091835 (2)20180725_091133 (2)20180725_091204_HDR (2)  20180725_091328 (2)  20180725_094214 (2)20180725_094243 (2)20180725_092644_HDR (2)With a good book and time to spare, I filled my morning with a spot of good coffee, bacon grilled cheese with apple butter, a side of freshly made home fries, and a great feeling that I was supporting not only my city but also the youth of its future.

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A Lunch at Langdon Hall

20170816_144448 (2)A trip to the elegant and luxurious Langdon Hall has been on my “must do” list for something like….forever! The beautiful Relais & Châteaux designated estate (the only such property in Ontario) offers a unique hotel, spa and restaurant experience. Based on a strict criteria for the highest order of service, character, and cuisine, it is a favoured destination for special anniversaries and birthdays. The perfect place to pamper your body and your belly.

After months of hint dropping about this gourmet food heaven, the boy planned a funventure escape to Cambridge with a lunch reservation in the Main Dining Room of the Hall. With the sun high in the sky, we made the one hour drive that concluded with a treelined winding drive to the 75-acre estate and the mansion on top of the hill.

The massive main house sits surrounded by woods, an orchard, and private seasonal gardens that are a primary source for the Langdon kitchen. As we made our way around the estate, a soft murmur of conversation drifted from the area around the sparkling lily pond where guests engulfed in fluffy robes flitted between the spa, the pool, and the former stables turned guest suites. This is what I call “la dolce vita” – the sweet life.

20170816_115656 (2) 20170816_115907 (2)20170816_115913 (2)But the boy and I headed for the dining room of the 120-year-old main house and the star attraction of Langdon Hall, the seasonal creative cuisine that I had been salivating over for months.

Although most of the guests chose the sunny patio for their lunch spot, we sat in the cool of the dining room and feasted on beautifully presented mains and gloriously rich desserts served with tea from Langdon Hall’s extensive tea collection (they offer 48 varieties!). With prices representative of the quality of ingredients and service, the cost of a meal may be prohibitive to some but I have three words for all those considering a visit….ALL WORTH IT!20170816_120510 (2)20170816_120335 (2)     20170816_120515 (2)20170816_120249 (2)20170816_124848 (2)20170816_124918 (2)20170816_124932 (2)     20170816_132801 (2)20170816_121834 (2)20170816_121629 (2)20170816_121808 (2)      20170816_121734 (2)20170816_121741 (2)20170816_121714_HDR (2)20170816_121700 (2)    20170816_121705 (2)20170816_121608 (2)20170816_143148 (2)20170816_143006 (2)20170816_143011 (2)     27292531_10154982318341046_1372562504_n20170816_143713 (2)20170816_143951 (2)20170816_143840 (2)20170816_144252 (2)20170816_144235 (2)21640622_10154686451466046_1358031544_oWe were blown away by all aspects of what Landgon Hall has to offer.  Not only were we treated to an exquisite meal and attentive service, but the buildings and the grounds reflect the the highest level of care and attention to detail. A visit to Langdon Hall truly feels like an escape into luxury…even if for a few hours. I hope you experience it yourself soon!

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Birthday Surprises in Chatham

Retro Suites Hotel, Chatham, OntarioAnyone who knows me knows how much I love birthdays (especially my own)! Every year, I take a fiendish delight in planning a birthday scavenger hunt for the boy, a trip into the unknown filled with food and fun. All he has to do is follow Brigitta’s (our appropriately christened dictatorial gps) directions to the surprise destinations. The boy’s birthday is usually accompanied by a beautiful autumn sun and vibrantly hued foliage as we wind our way through Ontario’s back roads.

Unfortunately, my birthday doesn’t have the same fate. Falling smack dab in the middle of January, I’m lucky if the world is covered by a white blanket of snow and the crisp air pinches my face with frost. More often, grey slush coats the streets under heavy ashen clouds. Apparently, this year, in the first 26 days of January, we were lucky to see 12 hours of sunlight. Yikes!

Although the boy makes every attempt to make my birthday special, the weather foils most of his elaborate surprises. Curse you snow belt! That is why this year, I was shocked when he instructed me to pack an overnight bag for a birthday escape! Beside myself with all the suspense, I peppered him with questions and begged for clues. I did get 3. None of which came close to discovering our final destination, Chatham, Ontario.

Retro Suites Hotel, Chatham OntarioFacade of Retro Suites Chatham, ON         Fire Escape at Retro Suites in Chatham, ON              Front Door of Retro Suites in Chatham, ONIn the heart of downtown Chatham sits a remarkable getaway destination. The Retro Suites Hotel. It is exactly what a surprise escape should be. A turn of the century building conversion that preserves historic architecture and combines it with a wonderland of modern art, vintage artefacts, and 45 individually styled rooms. Within an hour drive of London, it is the perfect place to work, play or stay.

Decor at Retro Suites in Chatham, ONFull View of the Retro Suites Front Lobby - Chatham, ON        Eccentric Decor of Retro Suites in Chatham Ontario           Fornasetti lamp at Retro Suites in Chatham OntarioFun Decor Details in Retro Suites - Chatham, ON      Feather Pink Lampshade in the Lobby of Retro Suites in Chatham, ON         Front Lobby - Retro Suites in Chatham, ONLooking Down at Retro Suites Front Lobby - Chatham, ON3D Art Inside Retro Suites - Chatham, ONRetro Suites in Chatham Ontario     Cobblestones and Cappuccinos at Retro Suites in Chatham, ON          Vintage Elvis Microphone in Retro Suites - Chatham, ON With a great deal of squeeling and a million ohs and ahs on my part (boy, did he get this right!), we checked into room 217 “The Study”.

The Study - Retro Suites in Chatham, ON  Design Details of the Study - Retro Suites in Chatham, ON    Close up of Books Inside The Study - Retro Suites - Chatham, ONBookcases Inside The Study - Retro Suites in Chatham, ON       Door Leading into The Study of Retro Suites in Chatham, ON          Cobblestones and Cappuccinos inside The Study - Retro Suites in Chatham, ONArtwork in a Hidden Hallway - Retro Suites in Chatham, ONArtwork in the Halls of Retro Suites in Chatham, ONTennis Racquet Art Inside the Chilled Cork restaurant in Chatham, ON    3D Toy Car Art inside Retro Suites - Chatham, ON      Rolling Stones Inspired Artwork - Retro Suites in Chatham, ONUnique Artwork - Retro Suites - Chatham, ON    Red Sculpture - Artwork Inside the Retro Suites in Chatham, ON      Art in the Retro Suites - Chatham, ONColourful Sculpture Inside Retro Suites - Chatham, ON   Colourful Artwork at Retro Suites in Chatham, ON                Vintage Milk Dispenser - Retro Suites Decor in Chatham, ONI woke up on Sunday morning (my official birthday) to golden streamers of sunshine creeping in through the blinds. It was the perfect start to the day.

And since I’m a breakfast girl, we took in a lazy brunch at the Chilled Cork Restaurant & Lounge, the hotel’s equally eclectic restaurant. The place slowly filled with hotel guests and locals, a morning symphony of chatter, clanking utensils, and sighs of culinary delight followed. The menu, like the space, did not disappoint in either innovation or taste. The boy and I tucked into a cheese and ham omelet, hash potatoes, and strawberry and chocolate french toast. It was worth the linger.

Tables Inside the Chilled Cork restaurant in Chatham, ON     Vintage Poster in the Chilled Cork restaurant in Chatham, ON         Closeup of Tennis Racquet Art Inside the Chilled Cork restaurant in Chatham, ONInside the Chilled Cork restaurant in Chatham, ONInside the Chilled Cork restaurant in Chatham, ONBack Room of the Chilled Cork restaurant in Chatham, ON      Sunday brunch, Chilled Cork Restaurant, Chatham, Ontario           Chilled Cork Restaurant, Retro Suites Hotel, Chatham OntarioRetro Suites Hotel, Chatham OntarioWe took off for London shortly after brunch. The streets of downtown Chatham were quiet and still as we wove our way toward the highway. It was a beautiful and sun-filled drive back home. Birthday 2017 totally rocked!

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