Archives for November 2013

TIBS! The Barista Handshake

TWO IF BY SEA CAFE tasting with ZANE KELSALL and guest ROBERTA BARKER from DAL THEATRE

In this lively podcast, meet DAL theatre professor Roberta Barker and owner of Two If By Sea Cafe in Dartmouth, Zane Kelsall as we taste famously flaky and giant croissants, cookies, and wicked locally roasted coffee.  Learn a secret barista handshake and hear about favourite less-than-healthy childhood dinners from our guests, as well as stories of the beginnings of the I HEART DARTMOUTH movement.  Fave Halifax restaurants the Brooklyn Warehouse and Ko-Doraku on the menu as well.

twoifbyseacafe.ca – DAL Theatre

LOCAL TASTING TOURS:

This is Claire with Local Tasting Tours.  Today we have crossed the harbour, and for very good reason.  We’re sitting at Two If By Sea, the wildly popular cafe and bake shop.  And I’m here with the founder and owner, Zane Kelsall, and Roberta Barker, who is a theatre history professor at DAL.  She also teaches at King’s College, and she won Best Professor in the Coast’s 2013 awards.  So we’re here – we’re sipping some of this beautiful coffee.  We’ll start with you, Zane.  How much has this area changed since you opened?

ZANE KELSALL:

It changed really drastically.  It took about a year to open after we secured the location, so it’s been about five years that we’ve been really close to the neighbourhood.  And it’s been- it’s all the young families who have moved into the neighbourhood, and cheap housing – but that’s created this awesome sense of community.  So I live two blocks away from the cafe and, yeah, we love it.

LTT:

That’s great.  We’re in Anchored Coffee, which is the roastery next door to Two If By Sea – and when did you get this underway?

ZK:

So BDC, the Business Development Commission came to me and said, ‘We’re doing a contest – we think you should enter it.  It’s for youth in business; if you have an idea on how you’d like to expand your business that we could classify as innovative, you should apply.’  And I did.  Roasting coffee was always something that made sense from a vertical integration standpoint, but it also made sense from a passion standpoint for me.  We made a video, we put it out to this contest and we ended up winning.

LTT:

The coffee that you sell at Two If By Sea, is that all your own roasted coffee?

ZK:

No.   I started TIBS to focus on quality coffee, and I think if I was to only feature my own coffee all the time that I’m patting myself on the back.  So being where we are in the world, I think it’s important to bring in coffee from everywhere I can to feature roasters from, anywhere from Portland, San Francisco, we’ve had a roaster in from England a couple of times – just so that we can offer something unique and really good to our customers.  But primarily we use Anchored.

LTT:

So Roberta, I just want to talk a bit about your projects.  You teach a number of different courses at both DAL and Kings, and I know that you also pursue research and some publishing.

ROBERTA BARKER:

Well, I think the different aspects of what I’m working on right now are quite entwined, actually, because in the theatre department right now I’m teaching two classes this term.  I’m also teaching a class for first year, a seminar for first year students across the faculty of arts and social sciences at DAL, so that’s really really cool – that’s on the performer in society.

LTT:

So that’s students from all kinds of different programs.

RB:

Yeah, anyone who wants to take it who’s in first year.  It’s kind of a pilot thing at DAL to help first year students have more of an intimate experience, so they’re like small, first year seminars on particular topics.  It’s really fun, it’s a really neat opportunity to meet students from all over the world and get to work kind of more one-on-one with them about, you know, getting used to university.  In the theatre department I’m teaching a class on stars and stardom on stage and screen.  I’m also teaching a class on 19th century theatre, from melodrama to realism.  And that hooks into my – they both hook into my research, so, it’s really neat to have the opportunity to kind of share my research with students and also have the students’ enthusiasms and insights feeding into what I’m researching.

LTT:

Right.  And you were in Europe recently, is that right, doing some research?

RB:

I was, yeah.  I’m sitting here looking at a really, really beautiful looking croissant and it’s reminding of my weeks this past June in Paris.  So that was really great, really fun being in the old 17th century Bibliotheque Nationale all day, and then coming home in the evening, seeing some great theatre, eating some really great food – so it was awesome.

LTT:

So yeah, let’s sample some of these snacks and talk about the coffee that we’re drinking.

ZK:

So this is just a filtered coffee.  We feature a coffee every day.  It’s a Honduras – roasted by Anchored.  It’s grown by a guy named Efren Guadalupe Munez, in the Ocotepeque region of Honduras.  And then as far as treats go, we have a prosciutto and provolone croissant, and a chocolate chip cookie.

LTT:

Classic, yeah.  We were talking about – how I’ve tried most of your croissants but actually never the butter – just because all the other flavours are always so enticing.  Ok so let’s have a sample.  I want to get a sound clip of the like, flaky flakiness. If you…

RB:

That weight of that croissant is beautiful.  You can tell that’s pure butter.  Mmm.

LTT:

And these cookies, it’s like it’s still sort of soft in the middle, like it’s just come out of the oven.

ZK:

We make them fresh every day so they’re unbelievably good out of the oven, and we tweet every day when they come out of the oven – we call them “freshies”.  So a tweet that just says, “Freshie!” – that means the cookies have just come out of the oven.

LTT:

Good to know!

ZK:

Another coffee I ordered for us just showed up.  It’s called the Macchiato Special.  So what that is, we start you with a single espresso, and then follow you with a single macchiato.  We kind of joked around about doing it when we were first openeing, cause it’s kind of like the barista secret handshake.  Like if you go into like a really quality focused cafe, say you’re like in Montreal or something, and you’re like, “I’ll have a single espresso followed by a single macchiato,” it’s kinda like… “Step up!” you know?  Like… you know? So we thought it would be fun to put it on our menu as like one drink.

LTT:

It was more than awesome.

ZK:

The point of that is to like have the espresso like really coat your palate, and then the like awesome sugars and fats that are in the milk then react with the acidity of the coffee that is already on your palate, to create an olfactory reaction.  We’re the only shop in Canada that I know that you can come and order like just basically a deconstructed macchiato.

LTT:

That’s so great.  Roberta, I think that should be yours.

RB:

I’m so excited to find out about this secret, this…

LTT:

Now you can be cool in cafes all over the world.

RB:

This is my plan!

ZK:

Our espresso is like a true medium, so not dark roasted at all, but it is a little darker than our filter, to try and like neutralize some of the acidity that’s in the coffee, because espresso’s like a magnifying glass for acidity, so if you don’t roast it a little bit darker, the shots are unbelievably sour.

RB:

I often drink macchiatos, and I see exactly what you mean about having had the espresso first.  Just kind of… yeah it does, and kind of magnifies the caramel-y flavours, and … really delicious.

LTT:

And you also, I find you sort of appreciate the milk more, because you’ve had this like, totally straight up, and then you, then you get the creaminess of the milk.  Oh yeah, I just – before I move on to our questions, I want to point out your I HEART DARTMOUTH slogan campaign, cause you guys started that, yes?

ZK:

Yes we did.  We expected to open our doors and have no one come.  Like for the first year, we thought it would be like a really hard slog, thought the community would come around us but we didn’t expect it the very first day we opened. After week one, we were looking at how everything had gone, and it was actually my wife went out and wrote I HEART DARTMOUTH on our chalkboard sign.  Just to say, ‘Wow, this has been awesome’ -like  people were bringing us flowers and cards…

LTT:

Kind of like, ‘Thank you, Dartmouth,”

ZK:

Yeah.  Then got a stamp made, that had I HEART DARTMOUTH on it…

LTT:

Which goes on all your bags now, right?

ZK:

Yeah, and then we were like, ‘We need to put this on a t-shirt,’ – and I think there’s – we’ve sold 5000 I HEART DARTMOUTH shirts.

LTT:

Oh my gosh.  That’s like your – your second business.

ZK:

Yeah we can’t keep them in stock.

LTT:

Ok guys, well, we’ll wrap up by asking our two usual questions: Do you have a treasured childhood food memory that you’d like to share with us?  Roberta?

RB:

Well, if my mom hears this she’s going to kill me, because my mom is a really – gourmet, absolutely fabulous – so, throughout my whole childhood I can remember really amazing food, amazing baking.  She would really be loving this food today.  However, my most treasured food memory from my childhood is what we used to call ‘goulash’ although having since had goulash in Hungary, etc, it didn’t really have much to do with goulash.  It was basically Kraft dinner, ground beef, and a can of tomato soup, sort of stirred together.  And when I think of my childhood I think of goulash nights, you know?

ZK:

I did not grow up with gourmet parents, but I’d say my favourite childhood memory are those – the nights that we got to have breakfast for dinner. It was pretty awesome to come home.  My dad would make crepes, and then we just sprinkled powdered sugar, and rolled them up.  That’s what we had for dinner.  Probably, like, you know… once or twice a month. (laughs)  So…

LTT:

And what about a favourite local business?

RB:

Well there’s so many of them.  I would want to mention the Ko Doraku sushi in Spring Garden.  They have such awesome lunch specials and particularly the Ko Doraku roll – I’m a big fan.

LTT:

And Zane, what about you?  A local business?

ZK:

My favourite restaurant in town is definitely Brooklyn Warehouse.  The owner’s a good friend, or has become a good friend cause I go there so often.  But like, especially since having a kid a year ago, like that’s – if we have a babysitter – that’s where we’re going.  They’re just an amazing restaurant – young chef, young owner, and – yeah.

LTT:

Great.  Yeah those guys are great.  So Zane: Two If By Sea, are you open – you’re open every day of the week, right?

ZK:

Yep – 7:00 – 6:00 during the weekdays, and 8:00 – 5:00 on the weekends.

LTT:

And Roberta – in terms of getting in touch with you?

RB:

Yeah sure – you can find my email and phone number and etc on theatre.dal.ca – and if you check that out you can also see the details of our theatre season and all sorts of cool activities that are going on in theatre at DAL.

LTT:

Wonderful!  Well I want to thank you both so much for being here today – and I’m so excited to have come over to Dartmouth!  So this is Claire with Local Tasting Tours.  Take a tour, take a bite out of Halifax!