Monday, March 22, 2010

I Like-A Your Latte

That first morning sip sends a tingling wave of calm through my body like nothing else can. Any attempt I have made to cut ties with the heavenly brew has always resulted in a massive, throbbing headache. That, and the occasional coffee-related trembling of my hands, might make you think that I am a little addicted.

But, in my defense, I think that there are worse things to be addicted to, no?

In any event, I am making a half-hearted effort effort to reduce the amount of coffee I guzzle in a day. If I can't do that, at the very least I can ensure that the coffee I do drink is worthwhile. Some of my favourites*:

Cafe Castel (1015 Sherbrooke St. W.)
The lattes here are divine. The coffee is rich and has an almost savory quality. The baristas are friendly, skilled artists who have a knack for creating the prettiest designs in the white peaks of foam floating on the surface of your cup.

Art Java (857 Ave. du Mont Royal and 645 du President Kennedy)
When you walk into this cozy cafe, you are greeted by the most delightful aroma of freshly roasted coffee. I think that this pleasant and welcoming atmosphere contributes to what makes Art Java's latte such an utterly enjoyable experience.

Shaika Cafe (5526 Sherbrooke St. W.)
The cutest cafe. I love the patterned tin ceiling, the windows that face NDG park and the mismatched tables and chairs. The latte is tasty and reasonably-priced. The large comes in the most perfect oversized bowl of a mug. The sandwiches are good too. The perfect place to while away an afternoon.

Cafe Santropol (3990 Rue St. Urbain)
Sitting at one of the tables in the leafy backyard terrace is a quintessential part of Summer. I nearly always order the Midnight Spread sandwich (with strawberries, no lettuce). They roast the organic, fair trade coffee themselves and this makes all the difference. For the non-coffee drinkers out there, the Humani-Tea and chai lattes are also lovely.

*I wouldn't have discovered most of these places if it wasn't for Jill!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Tiffany Glass: A Passion for Colour

February 12-May 2, 2010 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

When you enter one of the dimly-lit, interconnected rooms of the exhibit Tiffany Glass: A Passion for Colour at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, your eyes are immediately drawn to the glowing jewels that dot the open space like pegs on the face of a Lite-Brite. Dazzling lamps cast kaleidoscopic shadows on waist-high islands throughout the exhibit—allowing the visitor to truly appreciate the fine detail and artistry of
each of Tiffany's creations up close. Ms. Rosalind Pepall, chief curator of the MMFA exhibit, has done an admirable job establishing a connection between art and theme. Each section of the exhibition focuses not only on specific periods in Tiffany’s career, but also on the sources of inspiration that impacted his work.

The seeds of Louis Comfort Tiffany's genius were planted at a young age. He spent his early years in his father Charles Lewis Tiffany's store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. He was mesmerized by the colourful precious stones that dotted the jewelry on display. Tiffany started out as a painter—some of his work is on display
throughout the exhibition—and then shifted his focus to interior design. He later turned to glasswork—taking his inspiration from the mosaics and stained glass windows he saw in churches while traveling as a young man. He was fascinated by the material’s malleability and the way light changed as it shone through a piece of glass. Tiffany found that inspiration abounded in the environment around him. Otherwise mundane objects—like the empty, green bottles of wine that littered a dinner table or the distinct curves of a pineapple—could inspire a piece.

Magnolia Window designed by
Agnes Northrop c. 1900, Tiffany Studios

A theme that emerges concurrently to those explicitly emphasized in the exhibition is that things are not necessarily what they seem to be. A stained glass window can mask an otherwise dreary view and the underside of one of the brilliant lamps is rather plain. Moreover, Tiffany did not design all of the pieces on display. It is only recently that these other designers were rightly given credit for their work. The exhibit underscores the important contributions both Clara Driscoll and Agnes Northrop made to Tiffany’s firm. This offers the visitor a different perspective—one that can perhaps be compared to the way things are altered when looking at the world through a mottled piece of glass.

For admission prices and opening hours: