February 19th, 2010
The city has coffee bars and tea lounges aplenty, but where to go for an energy boosting shot of yerba mate?
Look no further than El Almacen, Toronto’s first yerba mate café. Made from the leaves of a tree that’s in the same family as holly, Argentina’s national drink tastes a bit like green tea and is loaded with anti-oxidants.
At Almacen, your mate is served in a traditional cured gourd with a bombilla (a filter-tipped metal straw) to sip it from.
Mate can be drunk at any time of the day, but the most important part of the tradition is that it’s drunk en masse.
Get your Gaucho and head on over.
El Almacen, 1078 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-516-2898.
February 2nd, 2010
What’s a stitch 'n bitch without a little yarn envy?
Turn up to your next shindig with bundles of Americo Original's beautiful yarns and you’ll certainly give the girls something to bitch about.
A Queen Street gem, the shop carries unique, handspun yarns (alpaca, wool, cotton) in piles of colours. You can also find custom knitwear patterns and accessories as well as customized leather couches, handbags, and boots all crafted with the finest Argentine leather.
Just make sure someone doesn’t swap their acrylic tat for your good stuff, or needles will fly.
Americo Original, 456 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-777-9747, www.americo.ca
January 26th, 2010
Although seriously shortsighted, Dorothy Parker never wore her horn-rimmed glasses in public. “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses,” she observed.
How times have changed. Lure over the lads in a pair of über-cool Moscot specs. Hyman Moscot began selling ready-made spectacles from a pushcart in New York in the early 1900s and four generations later Moscot remains the go-to for the chicest geeks around.
Pick from two collections – Moscot Originals, based on the company’s vintage designs ('30s to '70s) and Moscot Spirit, which fuses retro styling with modern design.
The website is very cool and even has a 'try on’ option where you choose a face that most matches yours, select a pair of frames, and voilà! Fancy Four Eyes.
At Spectacle, 752 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-603-0123, www.spectacle-eyewear.com
January 25th, 2010
Macarons might be the new cupcakes in the land of confection, but when it comes to skin care, we’re still faithful to the delicious cupcake soaps ($6) at Tval.
Made with a blend of vegetable oils and cocoa butter, the soaps are gentle on the skin and come in a variety of flavours like blueberry, chocolate-almond and banana cherry pie.
Bring a bunch to your next girlie gathering – just make sure no one takes a bite.
Tval, 1-799 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-815-7627, www.tvalskincare.com
October 26th, 2009
The craft-loving shopper has no shortage of options in Toronto, and joining the city’s handmade community is a new boutique boasting bags, belts and baubles from colourful Peru.
Sure, we’d rather be snapping up handicrafts in Cuzco, but for now, Queen West will happily do.
Lady Mosquito, 1020 Queen St. W., Toronto, 647-637-9335, www.ladymosquito.ca
October 14th, 2009
Madrid-born Jaime Galindo’s accessories are wacky and raw but with a sophistication often lost when designers try too hard to push the envelope.
But if his sculptural headpieces (helmets covered in studs, fringe and decapitated Barbie dolls) prove too outrageous for your taste, why not consider an attention-grabbing necklace or two?
Constructed from zippers, fringe, felt, ribbon, buttons and beads, these wearable works of art ($165-$200) are true conversation pieces. Stand in a corner and watch as the party gravitates towards you.
Available at Delphic, 706 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-603-3334, and Finn Boutique, 1 Yorkville Ave., Toronto, 416-961-0101, www.finnboutique.com
September 29th, 2009
Imagine all the things you love sitting pretty in one beautiful boutique.
Like a modern day house of curiosities, Love of Mine houses heady scented candles, decoupage plates, gorgeous bijoux and a wall of multi-hued butterflies.
Everything in this gallery-cum-boutique wants to be sniffed, touched and talked about. The John Derian paperweights, platters and trays ($50-$300) are hard to resist, as are the baubles and bangles from Alexis Bittar.
Scoop up some antique-style wrapping paper ($7) a delicious Icon candle ($34) or a luxe scarf ($179) from New York’s Leigh and Luca.
With plenty more treasures still to come, our love affair with this store has only just begun.
Love of Mine, 781 Queen St. W, Toronto, 416-368-4999, www.loveofmineboutique.com
September 25th, 2009
Quaff: To drink a beverage, esp. an intoxicating one, copiously and with hearty enjoyment.
There’s nothing boozy about the beverages at Quaff, but the teas, coffees and soft drinks at this new Queen West café are certainly enjoyable.
And with the refreshing limonatas and robust teas comes a selection of homemade pastries and panini and soups so good you could dive into them.
Eiffel chairs, distressed walls and National Geographic-worthy photography give this café a decidedly sophisticated feel.
Locals with laptops, Bugaboos and terriers will be quaffing here all day long.
Quaff, 668 Queen St. W, Toronto.
September 22nd, 2009
In this post-plastic era, we seem to have amassed enough eco totes to open up a small shop. And now we’ve got our sights on yet another.
It’s hard to resist a Fluf tote. Hand-cut and sewn right here in Toronto, this gorgeous line of bags is made from the same sustainable, printed fabrics as the company’s chic and comfy cushions.
Our favourite is the Misha ($118) in smoky grey—versatile, stylish and perfect for packing those mini-pumpkins in.
At Heel Boy, 682 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-362-4335, www.heelboy.com
September 1st, 2009
Last year brass knuckles received a style redux in the Elizabeth and James accessories collection.
The twins worked with artist and jewellery designer Robert Lee Morris to create the line. A veritable legend, Morris has also collaborated with the likes of Donna Karan, Michael Kors and Karl Lagerfield. This fall consider the sterling silver Butterfly Ring ($270) from his Concave Collection. Simultaneously classic and modern, simple and bold, we think this piece metamorphoses perfectly from day to night.
At Eko Jewellery, 288 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-593-0776, http://ekojewellery.com/