Search This Blog

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Rebirth, Regrowth and Regeneration of Cafe Kiffin: Flavors Forged by Fire

 fresh baked scones


Natasha and i stood in silence outside Kiffins entryway that fateful morning of May 1st. Her lower lip showed the tiniest hint of a quiver before a single shiny precious tear drop managed to sneak its way out and went streaking down her cheek at the speed of light.

My first visit to Kiffin was a few days after the grand opening. Their vegan mac and cheese wooed me with its eclectic mix of flavors and I found myself already planning my return even before I walked out the door on my first visit.  Serendipitously, the day i chose to return was the morning everything went up in smoke. Natasha had just been informed and arrived at the cafe the exact moment i did and our worlds collided.

Looking back, i wonder if my presence being there was meant as a good sign for her. Like a little angel sent to the scene as if to say "this isn't the collapse of your dream, it is the beginning of it." My name is Angelina and the word "angel" happens to be in my name so i guess that every so often the higher powers that be arrange for me to be an angel of sorts.

***Here is a summary of Kiffins story. Founder Natasha Alani had a dream of making healthy affordable meals more widely available to the public. "Good food is a right" is the philosophy Kiffin was founded on in 2013. Hailing from San Fran, she realized that due to high cost of living, her vision was simply not feasible there. In 2015 she put roots down in Montreal and established Kiffin firstly as a catering business that would eventually extend to a cafe where people could eat nurturing, nourishing meals for as low as $10***

Standing there staring deep into Natashas devastated eyes, i wish that that i could have had the power of psychic vision to tell her that in 6 mths we'd be toasting to the relaunch of Kiffin in our pjs. Then again i really don't like making it a general habit to come across as a nut job to someone I've never met before in my life. But 6 mths later, there we were on Nov. 18th at a fundraiser entitled "We didn't start the fire pyjama brunch."  In that very space that went up in flames, every bite i took sent my tastebuds up in foodgasmic flames

I'll end with some food for thought on fire. When a forest fire rages uncontrollably, it destroys all life devastating everything in its path. However, after the destruction of the forest, new species of trees were seen emerging from the ruins. It was discovered that there were certain species of cones filled with seeds that would only explode and release their seeds under the heat of the fire. Rebirth. Regrowth. Regeneration.

Something deep inside me can't help but feel that Kiffins new flavors are somehow forged by fire.

tarte au philo aux légumes-racine

Monday, March 27, 2017

My Cities......My Lovers: Dating Buenos Aires and Discovering True Love in Montreal

Japanese themed Le Falco cafe

There has been an interesting thought swirling around my head recently. I've never been in a long term relationship with a human, but i have been in a relationship with a city. And I've been thinking that if cities were lovers, how would i describe our affair?

In the case of Buenos Aires, i didn't choose the city, it chose me. I had only planned for a "one night stand" of 6 mths but the city seduced me into a 3 and half yr affair that was characterized by love-making and tears. It was the kind of romance where when you had a "high" it was truly high and you felt this magic and chemistry that leaves you convinced this is something you'll never have anywhere else.

 But the lows were equal to being in Dantes 7th circle of hell. Yesterday may have been a magical nights of tango but what the next day held was your cellphone getting stolen, a transportation strike, inflation so that your budget is screwed cuz everything is 5 pesos more than yesterday as well as some cronies trying to rip you off because you are a foreigner.

But every single time i thought about breaking up with Buenos Aires, the city would burst forth to life in song, dance, passion and parades. Much like a lover who comes thru the door with your favorite things after a toxic fight. The city knew that our relationship was on borrowed time and wanted to keep me in a tango dance for just a little bit longer.

Relationships in ones 20s is all about CHEMISTRY. However come your mid 30s the dating game changes drastically.  In ones mid thirties you begin to realize that you don't have to be a slave to just "chemistry" in a relationship, but you know who you are and what you want and what works for you and what doesn't. So you get a say in dictating the terms of what would be a fit for you. 

Now i see what i couldn't have seen so many yrs ago, that as passionate, fiery, mystical and magical Buenos Aires was, it was a lover complete incapable of a healthy functional long term relationship. Earlier i wrote a heartfelt post about my break-up with Buenos Aires. Here is the link to it below:

Montreal however is neither a fresh fiery romance nor a boring loveless marriage. Instead it lends itself to being an amazing partner by everyday magic as opposed to high "highs" and low "lows" that summed up my complicated dating relationship with Buenos Aires. Our break up was the worst thing and the best thing that could have happened to me. 

If i could go back in time and appear to my heart-broken younger self sitting on a bus to Chile about to leave Buenos Aires, i would have told her "4 yrs from now Montreal is gonna call your name and when it does, it will be the beginning of your discovery to the meaning of true love ....."

Buenos Aires may have been the birthplace of tango but Montreal gets to have the last dance :)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Living Loving and Learning the Meaning of "Honour"

Every yr i choose a word that i want to mark that particular yr with. Last yr my word was "fortification" and i made a focus to fortify myself in every aspect of life e.g. relationships, spiritually, mentally, emotionally

So after prayerful consideration, the word for to mark this yr is "honour". And i want to make the goal of this year to not only honour everyone and everything that has been placed in my world but to learn what it means to honour.

According to the merriam webster dictionary, the definition of honour is this:

  1. 1a :  to regard or treat (someone) with admiration and respect :  to regard or treat with honorb :  to give special recognition to :  to confer honor on
  2. 2a :  to live up to or fulfill the terms of <honor a commitment>

We can bring honour into every area of our lives. For the purposes of this blog I'm gonna focus on bringing honour to relationships and what that looks like from a practical standpoint. It became my hearts quest to bring this very definition of honour into my dearest relationships. To regard and treat my loved ones with admiration, respect and give special recognition. Also to become a person who lives up to and fulfills my words and commitment to them.

The idea seems to be embraced by a majority of cultures in the world except the western culture where it is all about my rights and my mood and what i feel. In the middle east both ancient and modern times now they honour a guest by taking the fattened calf and using it for their meal. This would have been the calf they have been putting all their time, money and resources into. So in a sense by giving it to the guest as a meal they are in many ways giving this person a good chunk of their income.  The same concept plays itself out in many cultures where one is expected to give the best of yourself.

So how does honour play out in my relationships in a modern day culture? I obviously don't own livestock that I've been fattening up to make for dinner when my friend comes over. The good news is that one doesn't need a fattened calf to show honour.....PHEW.

Making Love to Montreals Tango Scene

Montreal seduced me....she had me eating out of the palm of her hand the moment i touched down in Trudeau international airport. Not only did she seduce into the kitchen of Robin des Bois peeling potatoes as a volunteer, she seduced, me onto her beautiful wooden dance floors. It was on those floors that i began making love to Montreals tango scene.

Deep down in my heart i knew that a return to Canada would also mean a return to tango. It also made me abit nervous because breaking into a tango community can be extremely difficult. Locals who have been dancing with each other for yrs may prefer to dance with their buddies that they are comfortable and familiar with. It can result in a new comer sitting on the sidelines all night watching everyone else on the dance floor.

But nevertheless i decided to be brave and see where things would take me so i found a reputable tango school nearby and showed up at a practica on a snowy Sunday afternoon. I had no idea if anyone would talk to me or dance with me. What wound up happening no one could have predicted.

After sitting around for abit and watching others dance, i decided to chat with the people that run the studio. They welcomed me warmly and gave me info on their classes and events. They even told me about a promotional deal that was running on Tuango where i could get a card for 10 lessons for the price of 24 dollars. 84% discount off the price of normal classes.

At that moment i was thinking how wonderful it was that even if nobody dances with me at least i got a nice chat and info about a deal on lessons. Little did i know that by the end of the practica i would not only get asked to be danced with but i would also end up leading as well. My level of tango is just enough that I'm getting to the point of being the leader and not just the follower.

Chinese new yr good fortune must have smiled on me because shortly after someone looked at me and asked to get on the dance floor. I enthusiastically accepted and we ended up dancing very well together. Not long after that a girl who was new to tango chatted me up and i ended up being a lead for her on the dance floor and giving her practice in tango basics.

Little did i know that my beloved tango skills would crossover and be a great asset when i dove headfirst into the world of salsa for the first time. My 10 class pass i bought also applied to drop in classes of salsa run by the same school. I found that from dancing tango i have a natural ability to read a dance partner and be able to anticipate and flow with whatever move is coming next.

When Montreal is making love to me tango style it is reflective and about intimacy and connectivity. When the city makes love to me salsa style it is rhythmic and high energy. But either way my love making with the city never ends.....


***out of respect and gratitude to all the places I've danced at in Vancouver, Victoria, and Montreal....I've put their links below FYI  (vancouver) (Montréal) (victoria)

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas