November 15, 2011

Some Secrets Are Worth Sharing: It's to Die For Banana Bread

Before you read anything about this Vancouver secret, please ask yourself the following very important crucial questions:
Do you like banana bread?
Do you like chocolate - the really reallllly good kind?
Do you like a little salt here and there?
Do you like macadamia nuts?
Do all these things sound great together?

If you answered yes to any of these (especially the last one), it means you will most likely love Erin Ireland's Banana Bread. Just take a look at the photo below...

Believe me now?

Although her bread might not be a surprise to some, I am always blown away when someone says they haven't heard of it. Why? Because it really is the world's best - or as Erin says: It's to die for. Don't believe me? Ask the lucky person who got the Vancouver Canucks signed banana bread. Or how about world famous chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten?? No joke.

Canuck signed banana bread

I met Erin over Twitter last fall and was obsessed with her suggestions about food places in Vancouver. I had moved here that summer and had NO idea where to start looking. Turns out that if you send her a Tweet asking "What's a good place for brunch?" she'll answer with a place and why she loves it (you can also see the fabulous go-to list here). The girl knows food without a doubt. After a few months past, I started hearing little rumors around town about her banana bread and how it's full of great (and healthy) ingredients. Over time, her bread was finally being sold at the Commune Cafe - which is how I finally met Erin and, of course, her bread.

Sadly I missed the official launch of the bread, but had the chance to meet her the following day and also delivered some macarons (she actually took the photo for Chanel & Caviar's banner). To say the least, Erin is incredibly kind, thoughtful, and so easy to talk to you would think you've known her forever. Throw in some of her bread and you would not want to leave her side - promise!

The bread is something of what I like to call "a special combination." Something about the salt and chocolate, and the softness that makes this bread amazing - small confession, I never went out of my way for banana bread before I had hers.

Another reason I wanted to feature the bread is because of how Erin has managed to get it into the hands of just about anyone in all kinds of forms! What about in a smoothie? Yup! You can have that too... and boy, is it good! On top of that, for every smoothie sold from The Juice Truck, $1 will be donated to Movember Canada. Smoothie + Banana Bread + Movember... Who knew the three would work so well together?
In addition, Erin entered the contest "Recipe to Riches" not too long ago and had a chance to showcase the famous bread. The contest was for the next President's Choice product and the winner would receive $250,000 and mass distribution of the product. Although she didn't make it to the finals in Toronto, Erin agrees that this maybe wasn't the best way to get her bread out into the world since it doesn't exactly fit the brand. Her ingredients are expensive and the winner would lose all rights to the recipe. "It's definitely more of a 'Whole Foods' or 'Choices Markets' kind of product." she says.

Urban Rush interview about Recipe to Riches

I think the best way to fully understand just how great this bread is, is to read the next 2 questions I asked Erin. She's a pro when it comes to explaining just how good this bread is without just saying "nom nom nom!!"

How did you start and who on earth would think of adding macadamia nuts to banana bread?!
Erin: This whole unplanned whirlwind of banana bread began a year ago when I started giving loaves to friends and coworkers as thank you gifts (baking was pretty much the only option back in the day as a starving broadcaster!). One of the recipients told me they loved it so much, they'd buy it for $100. Similar 'extreme' compliments ensued, which made me wonder if I was onto something special.

Banana bread turned out to be a pretty hot topic online. Social media single-handedly propelled this product into a public stratosphere. Demand for the BB steadily increased, so as a stunt, I decided to hold a bake sale. On a Monday, I posted an order form to my website, planning to take orders for the week. On Tuesday night, I removed the order form from my site. I'd received over 30 orders in the two days and at that stage, didn't quite have the capacity to make so much BB.
Very positive meetings with Whole Foods and Choices Markets had me realize that the opportunity was real and that I had to start a business. 'It's To Die For Foods' was born. Since then, life has never been busier as I prepare the banana bread for retail and increased distribution.

As for the macadamia nuts, I'm a huge believer in the simple principle that fat tastes great! I also consider macadamia nuts to be some of the most delicious things on the planet. Fortunately, my recipe doesn't need much of the -- the BB's calorie and fat content are not bad at all: 160 cals and 8g of fat per serving.

Who loves your bread the most?
Erin: I think I do! You're looking at the worst saleswoman in the world -- and I absolutely hate to push anything on anyone. There's no way I could 'sell' my product unless I truly believed it's amazing. That said, my marketing skills are not traditional -- I simply love having fun with the product and getting it out there in as wild 'n crazy a way as possible. I think people can tell that the growth of ITDF BB is completely natural. Others who love it: my boyfriend (although he hates having it around the house because he can't stop eating it when he starts), my grandma, and my mom. 

Cory Schneider doing an official taste test

So, you can see why I was delighted when she said she would do this feature. If you haven't tried her bread yet (which by the way, she currently makes each loaf herself), you can get your very own at the following places:
Commune Cafe
Ethical Bean Coffee Roastery Cafe (Kootenay St. location)
Milano Coffee Roasters (Gastown)

The Dirty Apron Delicatessen

If you are looking for something different to bring to those holiday dinners, may I be ever so bold to recommend bringing some It's to Die For Banana Bread? xoxo

November 04, 2011

Q & A with Monika Hibbs

I couldn't be happier to have Monika Hibbs from The Doctor's Closet featured once again (see her "Scribbles" here)! Since the last time she was featured on Chanel & Caviar, she's been a busy bee with her blog and even more so with her ever-so trendy bfrend bracelets (be sure to check out the new site!)

Besides being creative on a daily basis, her content is always fresh, on trend, and inspiring. If you are looking for home decor suggestions, party planning tips, the latest trends or even ways to support our alltime favourite month, Movember, she has it all. Not to mention, she loves fur vests this season as well, so we know I am in the clear!

Listed below are some great questions and answers about what she's been up to and a few things we can look for in the near future! Enjoy! xo

Since your last Q &A with Chanel & Caviar, what's changed with The Doctor's Closet?
Monika: Time has been going by so fast! I don't even know when and what happens. I guess the biggest change has been my bfrend bracelets. It's fun to see something you've created becoming so trendy! 

Bfrend bracelets?! What a genius idea! How did you come about them?
Monika: I was making friendship bracelets at home one day, I was getting a little tried of making the full length, so I decided to cut my time in half and just add some chunky sparkly chain for length. I made a few extras, so I decided to use them as a giveaway on my blog.

When I posted them, I had an overwhelming response with people wanting to order one, two, or even three! I wasn't at all planning to start a business out of them, so I had no idea where to even collect payment. One of my girlfriends suggested I create an Etsy site to make the ordering process super simple and fast! So I did! That night I created an Etsy account and it just took off from there! 

What has been your favourite project with The Doctor's Closet?
Monika: Oh, I can't pick one! There are so many amazing things happening in the city! I'm currently working on some fun things with Violet Hill, Jeweliette and Barefoot Contessa! Keep your eyes pealed!

What can you NEVER leave your house without? Any items that are ALWAYS in your bag?
Monika: Oooh yes of course! Let me grab my bag and see...
1. Sunglasses... I rotate through three at the moment, Chanel, Ray Bans and Marc Jacobs. 
2. My tory Burch mini makeup case with about 12 different shades of lipstick. Always prepared!
3.Emerg items:  Tylenol, Advil, Bandaids, Nail File, Lip Balm, Hand wipes, hand sanitzer, cuticle treatment....
4. Wallet
5. iphone- with TB case
6. Hand Cream- I don't have a fave, I rotate through many.
7. Mints or Gum
8. Tide to GO Pen
9. Keys
10. Leather gloves in the winter! 

What is your favourite trend this fall?
Monika: I adore the fur vest! I'm so excited to see more people rock it this year! It's such a fun trend!

Top daily reads?
Monika: Are you ready for this?? Okay here we go...
EVERY MORNING I pop onto...
Atlantic Pacific
The Glitter Guide
Cupcakes and Cashmere
Made By Girl
Sterling Style
The Glamourai
Chetah is the New Black

Others that I LOVE!
Style Struck, aliciafashionista, Jillan Crago Styling, Her Waise Choice, Urban Walls, Delightful Bitefuls, Belle Epoque, 212 Designs, Miss Melissa, To Vogue or Bust, 9to5Chic, Sparkling Footsteps, Just Dandy, Coco and Vera, Discovering Elegance, Solo Lisa, AND MANY MORE. I can seriously keep going!

What can we expect to see from The Doctor's Closet in the near future?
Monika:  Everything seems to happen very fast! That being said, the best things that have been happening have sorta been unplanned! I love to have everything planned out "a + b = c", however I've found that the best things that have happened haven't gone that way! The most exciting new project is the launch of the bfrend site. It's still in the process of getting ready, for now you can visit and sign up. We'll be sure to keep you in the loop! 

Favourite Boutique or store in Vancouver and why?
Monika: I have a few, but my favourites right now have to be: Violet Hill in Steveston, MUSE Social House in Morgan Crossing, Holly Boutique in Gastown, Obakki in Gastown and Ishara in Gastown.

There are SO many great designers and so many great brands that really need to be discovered! Living in Vancouver I feel like sometime we head back to the same STORE(s) ... I'm sure you can guess! And then it just ends up being tons of walking Vancouver Clones. I "try" to stay away from that as much as I can. Finding gorgeous one of a kind pieces in boutiques around town really defines a girl's personal style. If all else fails.. I'll check back to Robson street. But I always start at the small boutiques first! 

What is your favourite item in your closet for the fall?
Monika: I love coats and boots! I have a few (PLURAL) of each! My faves: A pair of 4 inch black leather Micheal Kors boots and a pair of Tory Burch Riding Boots! My favourite coat right now is, BB Dakota camel coloured coat, with a black trim. It's gorgeous! I picked it up at MUSE Social House.

What is your 'best kept secret' in Vancouver?
Monika: One of my favourite gals in Vancouver, Clio de la Llave from Booje Media just introduced me to a fabulous new restaurant in Gastown called House Guest. It's only been open for 2 weeks and it's def already a VanCity Fave! The food is amazing, the music is amazing, the decor is amazing, the vibe is amazing and the dessert is AHH-mazing!

Once again, thank you so much Monika for taking the time to share what you've been up to! Remember to check out her bfrend shop & sign-up for their newsletter to stay updated with all things bfrend! xo