On Our Radar: Sam James Coffee Bar

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If you’re one of those people who drink coffee from corporate coffee shops due to the fact that you’re trying to reach that 12th star or 8th stamp, chances are you’re drinking coffee for the sake of receiving that next free cup, rather than the quality of the roast. It’s time to walk into a smaller locally owned chain where the vibe is completely different. Everything from the music playing on the speakers, to the smell of brewed coffee in the air, and even the relaxed atmosphere, local coffee shops gives us a different kind of coffee splurge. For all the caffeine addicts, Sam James Coffee Bar is definitely a must try.

Sam James of Sam James coffee, now has over four locations scattered across the city of Toronto, serving some of the most delicious coffee you can find in the city. Jame’s love for coffee started with humble beginnings, where he worked as a dishwasher at a downtown restaurant. After his shift, James would take it upon himself to learn how to use the espresso machine.James didn’t realize his love for coffee until he took a trip to Barcelona, where he had the opportunity to kick it in some of the city’s most laid back coffee spots. When James returned to Toronto, he came back and worked his way up around some of Toronto’s best coffee shops such as Cherry Bomb, Dark Horse, learning all the tricks of the trade when it came to pouring the perfect espresso. Eventually, James decided to make the leap. By using his savings and borrowing the other half from his parents, James opened his first Coffee Shop on Harbord Street in Little Italy back in 2009.

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Since the opening of his first shop, Sam James has now grown his coffee shops into his own mini empire. The Coffee shops are now scattered across the city in areas such as the Annex, The Financial District and even the West side of the city. Each shop has their own distinct look and  feel but they all serve the same delicious coffee the Sam James brand is known for. No matter if you’re a serious coffee connoisseur or just a weekend sipper, who enjoys instagramming their latte art, James’s goal for all his shops  is to make an espresso, latte, or cappuccino that appeals to just about everyone. Along with serving his coffee in a unpretentious and customer service friendly fashion, people have resonated with the James’s  passion of serving quality coffee in a friendly manner.

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Follow them on instagram @samjamescoffeebar and tag @novellamagazine #novellamag to share your coffee shop experience!

 

Novella’s May Feature: On Our Radar

Toronto is a diverse city filled with an array of talent in various industries. From music to fashion to foodies to artists to entrepreneurs and even to tech-savvy individuals, who make our lives a little bit easier with just a simple ‘click’, there is no question that the amount of talent Toronto produces is not only impressive but inspiring.

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For the month of May, Novella will highlight certain Torontonians who are bringing positive and influencing change to our flourishing city each day. Starting today May 1st, keep track of the city’s inspiring entrepreneurs who are making headways not just in our neck of the woods but across the globe as well. Stay tuned for our special month feature – On Our Radar.

Small Town Food Co.

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It’s finally beginning to look like summer in the city, which means new menus with the freshest ingredients.

At Small Town Food Co. located at Parkdale, co-chefs Trish Gill and Charlotte Langley have created their new menu with the vibrancy and freshness of the changing season. The co-chefs have been working together for three years at two other restaurants and have come to Small Town Food Co. more recently to collaborate on ideas to incorporate the mantra of “Canadian nostalgic comfort cuisine”.

“It’s a hometown spin on Canadian cuisine,” Langley said, describing the menu choices. The chefs prepared an ultra rare fresh Albacore tuna rolled in a dill, celery, and lemon gremolata, with an mayo aioli, lightly roasted Albacore and oyster with hints of celery, paired with a salad consisting of diced celery, cucumber, and potato. They also served a brioche-based flatbread with charred green onion pesto base (without any nuts!), asparagus, courgette, ramps, fiddlehead and peas all topped with Parmesan.

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“My background is in fish preparation so, we thought for this menu, we would do a meat friendly menu with some vegetarian options,” Langley explains. “So taking from memory, on Sundays, my grandfather would make pig’s bum, scallop potatoes and creamed corn for dinner, so we are going to be doing a riff on that – something that I enjoyed growing up, but refining it.”

The chefs work with Ontario farmers, as much as possible, and encompass that “small town, big city” feel of the restaurant by working with those around them. Plus everything in the restaurant is made from scratch and in house.

“It’s like what your grandma would make when you would go home for the weekend,” echoed Gill. “But the portions are a bit different and it’ll look a bit prettier. Keeping the same flavours though, and lots of memory while you are eating.” It’s a conversation piece, which allows their food to take you back to a time and place of comfort and warmth, and to share that nostalgia with the people you are dining with.

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The drink features will change to compliment the menu. They are doing a house negroni with some espresso bean and coconut flavours, as well as a twist on a basil smash with raspberry and lemon.

Small Town Food Co. is located at 1263 Queen Street West, just east of Brock Avenue. Be sure to hashtag #smalltownfood #canadiancomfortfood #novellamag

Made With Love Cocktail Competition

Bartenders, get ready to shake, shake, double strain, and taste because MadeWithLove™ is back in Toronto!

The country’s largest mixology competition continues its tour across Canada, after an extremely successful run in Montreal last December. Founded in 2009, MadeWithLove™ has hosted over fifty competitions across Canada and Mexico with a mission to expand the cocktail culture through sharing recipe secrets, creativity and innovation.

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Twenty-one of Toronto’s finest bartenders will be competing in the finals in front of over a thousand mixologists, with groundbreaking cocktail creations. Each masterpiece will be judged based on taste, originality and creativity. This year will also offer a first-ever food pairing portion, which will serve to enhance the experience of the cocktail and event.

Finalist from both the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice will represent Toronto at the National Finale in Toronto on May 25th, 2015. MadeWithLove™ finals are on March 30th 2015, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Liberty Grand, located at the Exhibition Place. Ticket includes full tasting of the competition cocktails, food pairing and voting privileges.

Take a picture of your favourite cocktail and hashtag #enjoyMWL #novellamag so we can see which drink you prefer. Cheers!

All photographs courtesy of MWL 2014.

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Buonanotte Revives The Supper Club Dining Experience in Toronto

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Buonanotte is bringing the supper club dining experience back to Toronto. Since Buonanotte opened its first location in Montreal in 1991, it has been the prime location for the ultimate mixed dinning and clubbing experience.

“We love the idea of having a supper club that’s so focused on quality food and service but at the same time be able to transform into this outrageous party we have on the weekends”, says Geoff Chen the manager of Buonanotte.

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The seasonal based menu provides an array of delicious delicacies provided by the culinary skills from Executive Chef Davide Iannaci and Chef De Cuisine Evan Dickinson. When deciding on a starter, Novella recommends the Affettati Misti, which is a selection of daily cured meats. For the main course, many customers cannot seem to get enough of the array selection of pizza and pastas. Buonanotte’s Pizza Chef, Enrico Dal Sasso, makes some of the best pizzas in the city offering a variety of flavours to satisfy any taste bud. The pizzaiolo oven is imported from Italy and heats up to 1000 degrees, allowing the pizza to be prepared within a couple of minutes. Novella recommends trying the mouthwatering Asiago pizza that’s served with crushed san marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, asiago cheese D.O.P, spicy salami, shallots and extra virgin olive oil. The pizzas are made from scratch and all the pastas are made in-house. If you like mushrooms then we recommend ordering the delectable Tagliatelle Con Funghi Selvaggi pasta served with tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, demi glace, extra virgin olive oil and fresh thyme. To finish off the heavenly meal, Novella’s must-try dessert is Buonanotte’s savoury cannoli.

Asiago Pizza
Asiago Pizza

Tagliatelle Con Funghi Selvaggi
Tagliatelle Con Funghi Selvaggi

On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays Buonanotte transforms the dining room into a dance party. Tables are removed, bottle service is added and a DJ spins top 40 music. “Like any supper club, it’s all about the transformation”, says Geoff. The supper club attracts a mature 27+ crowd, those who appreciate delicious food and the ultimate party. There are many large groups celebrating birthdays and other events. At Buonanotte, it’s all about the grand appeal, “Everything is just a grand party. We’re just here to wow people”, continues Geoff. At Buonanotte they want to create a family styled dinner vibe with big shareable portions and even serve a whole pig and ribs on a rack.

In addition, Buonanotte hosts happy hour from 5pm-7pm on Thursdays, a meet and greet for professionals in the city. This allows professionals from local businesses and offices to meet and network with people outside of their work yet still allowing them to meet people in their related field. Buonanotte offers complimentary snacks and bites.

Follow Buonanotte on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.