Posted on January 21, 2012


Thursday was a day that reminded me I was in Canada.  Finally the snow storm came and it blew hard.  That day I was going to meet two friends to cook up a whirlwind of business schemes and I started questioning the idea of meeting at Dufferin farmers market located downtown by Bloor and Dufferin.  On my way to the market, as expected there were delays and traffic and I was 30 minutes late.  I was wondering how many vendors would show up to a farmer’s market when it seems a bad idea to be out and about.  Finally locating the farmers market, I was pleasantly surprised on how many patrons and vendors braved the weather. Apparently, this market is a sea of vendors in the summer, extending tables of local produce outside.   Seeing my friends, Karen and Abe, I walked inside with high expectations and I was not disappointed.  But my friend Karen pulled a curve ball at me, telling me that we are not going to eat at the market.  There was a tinge of regret as I decided not even to spend time to take pictures of the vibe of the market, beautiful produce and artisan breads.   I don’t think I could ask for more minutes in the market since I was already tardy.

We walked one block down south and we ended up at College St.  The sight of Arabesque Cafe lifted up my spirits as the cafe front takes on an understated polish.  Not too flashy, but certainly with curb appeal, stained glass borders its big picture windows.  The idea of soothing tea or coffee was welcome on a blistering cold day.  We walk in and the cafe has a soothing, cozy and relaxed ambiance.  On each round concrete table, newspapers were folded neatly and a row of magazines line the window.  I assume the owner encourages patrons to sit for a while and take comfort on a hot beverage.

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I approach the counter and I am amazed at the wide selection of middle eastern pastries. From my previous work, I am aware of the intricate and delicate deliciousness of baklava and this cafe offers so much variety.  Added to that are more choices I haven’t heard of.  Abe suggested Shybieh, similar to the ingredients of baklava but with cream cheese filling.  How can you go wrong with something buttery and creamy?  Since the pastry was sliced big, Abe talked me into splitting mine and in exchange, I get a half of his baklava.  How can I say no to an opportunity to try more than one pastry?

Looking at the beverage menu, my eye stopped at the Arabesque coffee with cardamom.  I enjoy this coffee each time I visit another friend and I miss the treat.  But Karen tells me she comes back to this restaurant because of their  Blood of the Pigeon tea.  Just by the name alone, curiosity would grip you to try this Bedouin mint tea with honey.  It was so pleasantly aromatic, its flavor wafting gently to me as I was handed my cup of tea.   Soothing and comforting, my regrets of leaving the farmers market prematurely has long since vanished.  The sweet treats were decadent, buttery without being overly sweet.  Now I understand why the place is Karen’s favorite.  If this were close to my own home, I probably would be a regular.  I don’t normally crave sweets but I don’t think I would mind going out, even on a cold winter’s day for another cup of Arabesque’s Blood of the Pigeon tea and baklava. Food that good gets me out of my hibernation.

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