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Monday, February 16, 2009

Monday Mug Shot

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Another set of demitasse in the collection, these ones are memorable for many reasons, but including in a big way, the coffee!

As an adult, traveling with my parents was always a ton of fun. I got to enjoy their company with all of us as adults, but they still spoiled me like their kid, but in an adult way. They took me places I couldn’t especially afford without really saving up, then they told me to put the money I’d saved away. I eventually learned it did no good to protest, but I could afford extra spoils for all of us. On this trip it was the coffee!

In February of 1997, The three of us took the train from Windsor to Toronto. Dad is not, nor has he ever been, a train geek like my husband, but Dad is where I got the rail bug. The appreciation of watching the trains and travel by rail is something Pop brought with him from San Marino when he emigrated at 13 years old. They lived near local tracks that at the time of his teens and my childhood were busy and while he’s never admitted to sneaking trackside to squish pennies on the rails, something I did when we visited Noni, we did always count the cars and celebrate the lights coming on when we neared the tracks when visiting. Pop had gotten, or anyway, had Mom get, a set of first class tickets on the Friday morning VIA train. Our weekend was to include seeing The Phantom of the Opera at The Pantages Theater, Brunch at the CN Tower and a visit to The Hockey Hall of Fame.

David’s eyes will roll when he reads this, but the coolest thing about arriving at the station in Toronto was the coffee shop before you even had to go into Toronto’s cold February air. One of the things Dad loves about Toronto is when he asks for a small coffee cup, 8 ounces, of espresso, no one looks at him like he’s on a death wish mission. The truth is, if you’re jittery after a cup of espresso, you’re reacting to the rich flavor of the robust coffee or the conditioning of your brain to react to it, not the caffeine. A shot of espresso has less caffeine than a cup of light breakfast blend coffee. The lighter coffees don’t have the caffeine roasted out while they get their flavor! Anyway, our first stop just HAD to be the coffee shop!

We checked in to our hotel, the Westin Harbor Castle for the weekend, where, you guessed it, there was a coffee cart in the lobby! The coffee cart was a full espresso and cappuccino cart! You could have room service bring you a cappuccino too!

Everywhere in Toronto was bustling with activity, people bundled up to brace themselves for the cold, but the outdoor newsstands and carts were still in full force. Hearty Canadians, eh? I had to make frequent stops indoors to get warmed up, even though I too was bundled! What Dad has always loved, at least as a tourist, about Canada is the melding of his favorite characteristics of Europe with his favorite parts of the US. I don’t think I’ve ever been in Canada with my Dad that he didn’t smile all the time.

The coffee theme was pretty much a mainstay. We had street vendor coffee with hot roasted chestnuts, a stop during intermission at the coffee bar at The Pantages with wonderful after dinner cappuccino at Alice Fazoulis, where we had reservations for after the show.

The brunch at CN Tower included Mimosas. Oh yeah, the other great thing about traveling with my parents was I didn’t have to drive. Well, okay, we’d taken the train. No one had to drive. But a champagne breakfast is always a cool thing anyway. After brunch...yep, MORE CAPPUCCINO! About the only place we went that did NOT have a coffee bar was the Hockey Hall of Fame. That's a shame. They have that great giant coffee Cup there too. ;)

The toughest part of the weekend for cold-allergic me was the sub zero wind chills in February in The Great White North. Ah, but all the rich, warm coffee drinks helped me get through!

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