Friday, 26 May 2017

A Visit to Station Cold Brewed Coffee Company

Today I stopped into the Drake Hotel Cafe to see if they had any iced coffee on the menu. They pulled out a can of nitro infused cold coffee from Station Cold Brewed Coffee Company. I took it home, poured it over ice and really loved it, but it turned out that I did it wrong. The instructions on the can say "Shake Well, Pour hard, Fuel Up." I neither shook it well nor poured it hard.

The can also said the company is located in Toronto and when I Googled it, I discovered their shop is located about a five minute drive from where we shop. Nice! Now Teena and I could drop in, pick up some more, and do it up right!

Station was opened in the summer of 2014, by Steve, Mitch and Mike, who discovered the world of cold brewed coffee during a trip to Brooklyn in 2013.

There are a variety of sizes and I wanted to try the cold brewed coffee which comes in a stubby bottle and uses CO2 for carbonation, plus get the can with the nitro in it, so I bought a 6 pack of each of which they just charged me the same price as buying a dozen.

As I had it explained to me, where Guinness uses a widget to bring out the creaminess of its beer, a little nitro is added to the can of coffee to so the same. The can needs to be shaken and poured hard to release the nitro properly into the coffee.

According to their website: We are committed to sourcing the best quality, responsibly sourced coffee that is sustainably grown. Our signature cold brew is a blend of both Ethiopian and Brazilian regions, locally roasted by Hale Coffee. Our beans are responsibly sourced using direct trade policies to support our commitment to outstanding coffee, growing community and improving the lives of every person involved the process.

Direct trade is a term used by roasters who buy straight from the growers and farmers, cutting out traditional middleman buyers and sellers as well as the organizations that control certifications such as fair trade. Direct trade models build mutually beneficial and respectful relationships with individual producers or cooperatives in each individual country. This provides more control over the quality of the coffee, our social impact as well as environmental concerns.

And how does it taste?

First of all, I love the fact that its ingredients are water, coffee and a little chicory. No additives!

The Nitro (pictured up top) after being vigorously shaken pours with a storm, much reminiscent of the Guinness storm, but one does not last long. What this does, though, is smooth out the taste and make the coffee silky smooth. My first coffee, which I did not shake had a hard edge to it, I liked it, but for those who don't, shaking the nitro does smooth out the bitterness.

A very nice coffee that I will have again, that is after having the five that remain in my fridge.

The Stubby

As there is no nitro action in this brew, I decided to pour it over ice.

The cold brew in the stubby is slightly carbonated, but not soda or beer like. The carbonation is quite subtle. There is more of a bite in the coffee here and I imagine that the ice may have tempered that a little. I really like the bite. It's a much more edgy coffee than the nitro and more to my preference.

I can see that my little back room fridge will always be having bottles of this cold brew handy in the future, as well as the nitro. Both are delicious. I can even picture whipped cream with some bitter chocolate shavings being added from time to time. Now that would be a great way to start a weekend!

Monday, 22 May 2017

Brunch at Cafe Neon

Teena and I decided to celebrate the holiday Monday by going to Cafe Neon on Queen West, just a little west of Ossington for brunch. It was highly recommended by our neighbors and I can see why.

I had the Eggs Benny but substituted the trout for the pulled pork. Great choice! It was fabulous. I wasn't big on the scone, though, not a big scone fan anyway, so next time I would make a substitution for it.

The eggs were perfectly done, I loved the dressing on the salad and thought the potatoes were great!. Usually I only eat half my home fries but not today.

Teena had the Blueberry pancakes and loved them.

We would go back again for sure. I saw the trout fish cakes hit other tables and am dying to give them a try.

If you're in the area, it's definitely worth a visit.

Floating at Float Toronto

This morning Teena and I went for a one hour salt water float at Float Toronto at 1159 Queen Street West, Toronto, just across from the Drake Hotel.

Floatation therapy, also known as floating, floatation, sensory deprivation, or R.E.S.T (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy) involves lying in a salt-water solution in a spacious tank. It is one of the most effective means of stress relief and relaxation available. Now widely accepted as a legitimate therapy, floatation is also used to treat a wide range of ailments and conditions and has been proven to lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone).

The term sensory deprivation is often used as the environment is designed to limit sensory input and allow your body to fully relax.

During your float, the outside world is gone and amazing things happen. It turns out that when you’re not fighting gravity or receiving sensory input, your body has a lot of extra resources at its disposal. 

Your mind is free to navigate without distraction, your brain pumps out dopamine and endorphins, and the parasympathetic nervous system gets to work helping you rest, de-stress and heal. It’s likely to be the most relaxing thing you've ever experienced.

It is a super relaxing experience. We have been a few times and the first time is a little freaky as you are floating in water but with nothing but your own buoyancy holding you up. It took a few minutes to fully trust laying my head fully back, but once I did, everything was fine. There is not a time I have done this that I haven't fallen asleep. Today was no different.

The tank.

Inside the floating chamber.

What you see inside the chamber when the door is closed.

Music comes on to signal the end of your session. When you get out the water recycles, purifies and more salt is added. There are showers in each room to wash off the salt after.

I would say that floating is the equivalent of a very deep massage.  It's been awhile since we have done one and won't wait as long to have our next.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Book Review - "Fire" by C.C. Humphreyes

C.C. Humphreys is a Toronto-born writer who now lives in London, England. He not only writes novels but plays too and is an actor who has performed on stage all around the world as well. He once was a fencer whom I had an opportunity to briefly speak with him in the fall and was happy to hear that when he did fence, he fenced the finest of the three weapons, the Sabre.

Humphreys has written three series of books. I really enjoyed his Jack Absolute series, which were inspired when he took on the part of Jack Absolute in a play in Vancouver.

When I read what his book Fire was about, I had to read it.

The epic tale of the hunt for a serial killer threatening London's rich and poor during the Great Fire of London. 

Fires don't start by themselves. They need someone to light them. What are friends for? As the Great Plague of London loosens its grip at last, Charles II's court moves back to the city, the theatres reopen and a new year arrives. 1666. It cannot be more terrible than the previous year, surely? But it can. For many will strive to make it so; to finally rid London of the curse that brought the plague upon it. A wholesale cleansing is required if society is to be born again. What's more it seems that a serial killer who stalked hand in hand with the Plague might not be dead after all. Together with actress Sarah Chalker, highwayman William Coke and thief-taker Pitman come together as one, determined to stop the brutal murder of London's rich and poor once and for all.

But another threat is on the way. It hasn't rained in five months. London is a tinderbox--politically, sexually and religiously. The Great Fire of London is about to ignite. And the final confrontation between Coke, Pitman and Sarah Chalker and their murderous adversary will be decided against a background of apocalypse.

This is the second book of a new series. Plague was the first.

I found the pace of the story fast moving but sometimes the way the heavy accents were written were hard to follow. Then again, to hear them spoken out loud, they likely would be hard to understand too.

As if the desperate fight to save London from completely burning to the ground and the flight of those trying to escape it wasn't excitement enough, put a serial killer in the midst of the story and it becomes quite the tale!

I really enjoyed the writing and characters in this story and now want to step back and read the first book of the Captain Coke series Plague. If it is anything as good as Fire, I'll be anxiously awaiting a third Captain Coke book the same as I am awaiting a fourth book of the Jack Absolute series.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Toronto Wolfpack Clash for First Place with Barrow Raiders

This evening the Toronto Wolfpack played their second home game against the Barrow Raiders in Kingstone Press League 1 action.

The Toronto Wolfpack is a professional Rugby League team dedicated to progressing through the RFL’s ranks, from League 1 to the Super League. We are Canada’s first professional Rugby team, and the world’s first transatlantic major professional sports team. We’re the newest club in the English Rugby Football League (RFL), beginning journey to glory in the Kingstone Press League 1 competition. Our home matches will be held at Lamport Stadium aka “The Den”.

The RFL was founded in 1895 in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom. The professional game is split into 3 divisions – the First Utility Super League, the Championship and League 1 – with promotion relegation between them. It remains the standard for Rugby League in the northern hemisphere and the Super League second most watched and followed professional sports league in the UK.

The Wolfpack and Raiders came into the game in first place with identical 7-0 records. Toronto had scored 412 points to just 71 against, while Barrow had outscored their opponents 352-88. It looked to be a classic battle.

The She-Wolves came out to cheer on the Wolfpack.

Fan favorite Fuifui Moimoi warms up before the game.

The National anthems.

Teena and I in our Wolfpack gear.

The opening kick-off.


It seems there are three guys in on every tackle.

Number 8, Fuifui Moimoi, drives for a try (4 points) but just is tackled short.

The two point conversion after. You can see the ball splitting the uprights. Many times it sails over the fence and onto King Street with the fans cheering for it to hit a streetcar.

Another successful conversion by Wolfpack captain Craig Hall.

Barrow scored two points on a penalty kick about three minutes into the game to take a 2-0 lead. Then the Wolfpack took over and put up 40 points by half-time.

Teena and I.

The hot dog gun was out.

The She-wolves put on a performance.

Second half action.

The game ends and although rugby is a hard hitting game, the players take time to informally shake hands and embrace.

The She-wolves come on one last time.

The Pack then take a team moment after.

Final score.

After the game, the beer garden stays open. It was fun watching the players going around talking with the fans, signing autographs, having selfies taken and even having a beer with them. This is a very fan friendly team.

Players even came into the crowd to have their picture taken with this young girl.

Fuifui Moimoi took the longest to make his way around as he stopped to have his picture taken with anybody who asked. Teena received a high five from him.

Today there were 7,144 fans at the game today. I think most will be back for the next one. Teena and I had a great time and love going. We'll need a real good reason to have to miss any future games. Their next home game is June 3 against the Hunslet RFLC.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Jays Lose to Atlanta

This afternoon was an early 4:07pm start for the Toronto Blue Jays against Atlanta at the Roger's Centre. This meant I could head over after work. It was just a short walk and I was in my seat half way through the first inning. Unhappily Atlanta already had 2-0 lead.

Marco Estrada was pitching for the Blue Jays.

The view from my seat.

Kendrys Morales takes a ball.

Canadian Freddie Freeman homers for Atlanta. If Kevin Pillar can't keep it in the park, nobody can!

With the Jays down 5-3 and coming back, Atlanta had a meeting on the mound after Justin Smoak was walked and changed up their pitcher. It didn't help them as the Jays scored two more runs to tie the game.

Darwin Barney strokes an RBI single.

Danny Barnes in the wind-up.

Freddie Freeman is gunned down trying to steal second.

Pilllar flies out to deep centre field.

OK. Justin Smoak made a brilliant catch behind first base of a hot line drive. He flipped it the ball to Ryan Tepera who came over to cover first. Their timing was perfect, however, the timing of my shot was not!

The view from the Jays Flight Deck.

Justin Smoak takes a might swing and fouls one off.

With Morales on first, Atlanta pitcher Vizciano throws one in the dirt which is blocked by catcher Ohlman.

In the end, the Jays lost 9-5. One more hope, though. The 50/50 draw.

Nope. No winner there either.

The Jays are coming back on the season, though, having won five of their last seven games. Hopefully they get even with Atlanta when they play their next two games in that city Wednesday and Thursday.