Spice Safar

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing for a freelance position to help further the Spice Safar brand. As a result, I was allowed to experience Spice Safar as a customer as well.

I entered the King West location in the morning, and approached the front desk. I explained to the attendant (I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes and call him a Barista) that I was here to meet the founder and CEO, Wilhelm Liebenberg. I was told he was in a meeting, and asked if I would like a coffee. Not hungry enough for a milk-based drink, and certain I didn’t wanted a full dose of drip coffee (I’ve been trying to cut back on the caffeine), I made a snap decision and asked for an espresso. This turned out to be the perfect choice… the attendant told me to go sit down and he’d bring it to me.

As I waited, I pulled out my iPod Touch and scanned for wireless connections. I saw one for Spice Safar, and when the attendant came over, I asked him for the password. I logged on, and happily checked my email (I love this wi-fi being provided for free to customers in many places downtown – right on, Toronto).

But more importantly, the attendant had brought a rectangular, white plate arranged with a small espresso mug on a little saucer, a beautifully shaped spoon, a long, thing bag of raw sugar, a shot glass filled with sparkling water and – my favourite, of course – a little bowl with the most perfect portion of chocolate cake you’ve ever seen – about 8 small bites on the spoon.

I was in heaven. The espresso had a light, frothy head, felt creamy to the tongue and tasted nutty and chocolaty with just a hint of coffee flavour. I wanted to savour it, so I took small sips and ate some of the chocolate cake in between. When I was done, the sparkling water was the perfect accompaniment to clear my mouth and throat of any stickiness. I find I always want water after espresso – Spice Safar certainly gets the whole experience right.

My partaking was complimentary, but Wilhelm mentioned the price being the same as what you pay at Starbucks. If that’s true, I think I’ll start going to Spice Safar more often!

Look out for their flagship store, launching in the next couple of months at King & Spadina.

Salad of the Gods

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years on eating healthy, choosing the right foods, and eating a well-balanced, varied diet. I’ve tried exercising, cleansing, whole food diets and vegetarianism, and have found that a combination of the main principles of all of them are really the best approach to living a healthy life. I still eat meat, though less of it, and focus more on the good fat types of meat – mainly seafood. Of course, what I’ve discovered to be the healthiest approach is really tailored toward my own body – I note my mental and physical energy whenever I eat, and know what foods to eat more of and what to avoid.

The salad I’m posting today is the best recipe to come out of all this obsession, and it is my own. I call it the Salad of the Gods because it pleases me in every way: tongue, belly, and brain. I always feel energetic after eating it, it tastes delicious, and it helps me stay sharp.

Equipment needed:

Clean coffee grinder, or a coffee grinder that you reserve for seeds.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ of a large cucumber, sliced, slices halved OR ¼ green pepper, diced
  • ¼ medium-sized ripe avocado, sliced in chunks
  • 1/3rd package of Sea Quest King Crab flavoured Alaska Pollock, diced into cubes
  • 2-3 cloves raw, fresh garlic (depending on your palette, you may wish to use more for a stronger flavour, or eliminate this altogether; 2-3 cloves gives a medium bite)
  • 1 tablespoon hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • 1 dessertspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • 1 dessertspoon oregano flakes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon your favourite DHA oil blend
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Place the baby spinach in a large bowl. Throw on the sliced cucumber or diced green pepper, chunked avocado and cubed King Crab. Place the bowl in the fridge while you prepare the sauce to keep it fresh.

Place the hemp seeds, flax seeds and nutritional yeast into the coffee grinder, and grind until powdery. Scrape out the result from the grinder into a measuring cup (I find this is easiest for mixing, and then pouring when done). In the measuring cup, pour in the parsley and oregano flakes. Pour in the oils, and then the balsamic vinegar. Use a garlic press to press the fresh cloves into the mixture, and then stir it all together until it’s well-mixed.

Get your bowl back out of the fridge. Pour the mixture over the bowl. You can either mix it now, or just begin eating – I find the sauce will spread fairly well over the salad as you eat it, if you’re careful.

Recommendation:

I highly recommend a large glass of the strained juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon in cold water  to accompany this salad. It complements the flavour mighty well, and helps curb the scent of the garlic when you’re done. It’s also highly alkalizing, so if you find the balsamic vinegar a tad acidic, this will counteract that.