Several years ago now, I was new to a neighbourhood I didn’t know at the time was quite up-and-coming. It was on the “wrong” side of town and at times I heard gunshots at night, and, on my first day living in our little home, a sex trade worker showed me the best place to cross the busy thoroughfare across from where we lived.
Needless to say, I felt a little out of sorts; a little disconnected from the affluent neighbourhoods close to the university where I’d rented flats throughout my post-secondary years. I was bound and determined, though, to make this community feel like home. I volunteered for a local health board, and I went about my daily business just as I had on the tree-lined streets across the harbour: I went for a run many mornings of the week, before the sun rose and washed out the blanket of stars that stretched across the night sky.
As I ran my route I began to notice some changes taking place on the ground floor of one of the first apartment complexes to signify the gentrification of the area. The weeks went by and the kilometers ticked past, and I realized that the space was being transformed into a little cafe, and soon, the giant street-level windows that I had been casually peering into as a ran by sported an awning that said “Two If By Sea Cafe.”
Each morning I ran by I would glance in at the bakers and take solace that at least a couple of other people were awake at this ungodly hour, even if they did appear to be warmed by melting butter and flaky pastry while frost gathered on my eyelashes. When I realized that this little place not only served up some of the best espresso I’ve ever tasted but also baked croissants the size of my head in flavour combinations like prosciutto and provolone, tomato, basil and mozzarella, and rhubarb white chocolate, I was in heaven.
The call of a larger house and a bit more proximity to woods and lakes has uprooted me from that community on the wrong side of town, but I still find every excuse I can to visit Two if By Sea Cafe. As I am sure it is for many who live in the city, TIBS holds a special place in my heart. One of my favourite things to do (right up there with nuzzling the top of my daughter’s head while reading her a story or curling up in my pyjamas with a great book) is to throw my road bike into the back of the car and head across the harbour, go for a 40km ride and strategically end up at Two if By Sea nursing a latte, nibbling a croissant, and writing in my journal. In fact, it was this routine and these very croissants that I craved on a weekly basis throughout my pregnancy. The cafe acted as my home base during that time, where I was able to indulge a little and reflect on the imminent changes to my life.
Last week, Tara, baker and co-owner of Two if By Sea, released a cookbook called TIBS Guide to Desserts. I piled the kiddo in the car on a rainy Saturday and raced to the cafe to snap up a copy. Less than 24 hours later, the book was smeared with butter and chocolate and these cookies were piled high next to a glass of milk.
It’s not often that a little cafe on the wrong side of town carves out a place in your life with giant croissants and exceptional coffee, but I am so glad that Two If By Sea has. And I’m glad that, even though I live across the harbour near the woods and the lakes, that I can have a little taste of TIBS at home.
- 2 cups salted butter
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 tbsp. vanilla
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp. baking soda
- Pinch salt
- 3 cups chocolate chips (or more!)
- Preheat your oven to 350F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Cream the butter and sugars together. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix together. Whisk the rest of the dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips) together in a separate bowl. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until they are fully incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips.
- (if you can, refrigerate the dough for at least an hour before baking. This will make your cookies stand up to the heat of the oven better, staying thick and soft in the middle)
- Form the dough into balls and place on the parchment paper. Bake 12-17 minutes, or until the cookies begin to brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.