Everyone knows of Dreams of Beans, the beautiful cafe and coffee bean dispensary that sells homemade pastries such as the famous spinach and feta boureka.
This was one of our favourite study spots as students, and is still a space where we enjoy having writing dates.
The comfortable lighting, exposed brick and plentiful local artwork make for a productive and relaxing workspace. This little cafe is changing the game in coffee culture, introducing a new menu that features organic and homemade Spanish cuisine.
That’s right, authentic Spanish food, a refreshing game-changer amidst the concentrated coffee scene in Peterborough.
Jin Chanana, owner of Dreams of Beans for almost four years, discusses the new addition to this well-known cafe on Hunter Street.
“Everyone knows us for our pastries, samosas and coffees, but what we were finding was that people who came here to do work would often have to leave to eat lunch and then come back. So we now have Fresh Dreams, a local couple that prepares and serves the lunch menu,” Chanana said.
We can attest to that, having lamented over having to uproot ourselves to refuel with a meal in the midst of being in a writing groove, disrupting our workflow.
A dynamic husband and wife team, Fresh Dreams is featured at Dreams of Beans during their lunch hours 11a.m. to 3p.m.
Alvaro De La Guardia and his wife Monica Silva have been perfecting their Spanish cuisine for years, and are excited to showcase something new in Peterborough.
La Guardia is the brains behind the business and Silva is the talented chef who worked in the restaurant and catering business in Spain for many years. They have brought their knowledge of a disparate culture of food to the table.
One of the best things about the menu is the pricing. Silva and La Guardia grow their own produce from a personal vegetable garden. This allows them to surpass the high prices Canadians are currently paying for produce.
They acknowledge how it’s difficult in the current Canadian economy to maintain a healthy lifestyle. By growing their own food they are able to provide delicious, healthy and fresh meals at a much lower cost!
La Guardia expressed very poignant views on Canadian food culture.
“Food here is a necessity, not a pleasure. People don’t take their time, and most food is processed. Fifty-two per cent of our daily food intake is supposed to be raw, but the prices are outrageous.
“In Spain…in most of Europe, we share food. Food is a community and everything is centered [on] food. We go out, we talk and we eat communally.
Here, the attitude towards food is very individualistic, a very ‘this is my meal, that is your meal’ kind of sentiment exists. So, we are trying to bring some of that attitude here. We don’t mind sharing and teaching people better and healthier ways to eat.”
In fact, La Guardia happily provided us with the recipe and instructions on how to make their delicious gazpacho at home.
Silva explained the method behind her food, something different from the generic variety of food available in North American culture.
“Where we come from, when you order a meal you are given an amount of food where you can sample different things throughout. By trying something different in one meal it’s a real experience of eating and enjoyment, you get to share everything, it’s a whole other culture of food,” said Silva.
“Coming to Peterborough, there are so many foods that are deep-fried and unhealthy. I believe in making everything fresh to order, and it’s so healthy while being cheap. You actually get more food for the price, whereas other places nearby will charge far more than $8 for the exact same thing.
This is the food of our family, of Spain, I made it for dinner every night just as our parents made for us,” she continued.
Each item on the menu is accompanied with the health benefits it provides, which is pretty cool if you know you need a boost in any specific vitamins. You can experience this communal and shared eating experience at Dreams Of Beans, as they offer tapas! Cafe culture in Spain is aligned with the common order of tapas, which is a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine.
Now, on to the food! Please note, all of the following experiences were had sitting on a beautiful patio facing historical buildings on Hunter Street, enjoying the sun on our skin.
Gazpacho ($5/full order): Zesty Gazpacho, served with homemade croutons, fresh bread, and Spanish extra virgin olive oil arrived as our starter.
There is also an option to add chorizo to the mix, and if you’re a vegetarian, finely chopped bell peppers will do the trick! As we exclaimed excitedly at the taste of the cold, tomato based soup, a nearby table of girls came over and asked what we had ordered, having seen our reaction.
They ended up with the gazpacho as well and were as delighted as we were. For the unseasonably warm weather we’re experiencing in April, the gazpacho was a beautiful way to cool down our bodies. A full order of gazpacho costs $5, but a half order is $3.50.
Pasta ($3/half order): We also had a half order of the pasta salad, which also had a surprising twist from the regular creamy salad one is accustomed to at a picnic.
Homemade sauce with a sweet twist incorporated apples and bacon to give it more depth than the traditional noodles and mayonnaise found in the general salad.
Next, we indulged in a couple of open faced sandwiches, though if you are brie lover there is a peameal and brie toast that is sure to satisfy that cheese and bread craving.
Dill Marinated Salmon ($8): The first bite hit my taste buds like the smell of the ocean at the beach. This is no ordinary sandwich. Salmon fresh from Toronto, delicate dill is infused on a secret recipe of sauce that asserts creaminess to the lemony and zesty Calabrese toast.
Escalibada ($8): For all those eggplant and zucchini junkies out there, this is a must! Grilled fresh eggplant, zucchini, onions and sweet peppers over a tomato base gives you the satisfaction of a sandwich while remaining refreshing in this spring heat.
A sweet, secret and special sauce graciously topped the sandwich, adding to the tones of this plate. It tasted as gorgeous as it looked.
So enjoy a little slice of Spain at Dreams of Beans Cafe. On a hot day, a light cool lunch is just what you might need if you’re craving something filling that won’t leave you feeling bloated and stuffed.
Silva’s catering has been featured in Elle Magazine, and she was also a finalist for the New Canadian Centre’s entrepreneurs of 2016.
Her catering can be accessed through Fresh Dreams, and she is popular for weddings with her high-end food with extraordinary quality and home-style cooking. Contact Fresh Dreams at 705-558-7731, or visit them on their Facebook page if you are interested in hiring this wonderful husband and wife team.
Or if you’d like to see what we’re so excited about, visit Dreams of Beans during their lunch hours, grab a coffee and pretend you’re in Madrid, right in Peterborough.