Canada + Spain + Cupcakes=A Mix of Cultures that Works

(As previously seen on the Writer With A Passport blog.)

It’s 1pm on a Wednesday afternoon, and I’ve finally managed to get out of the house. I walk down a few blocks, past the supermarket, and past the park, and hang a left on Calle San Francisco. My intention is to make good on a two-week-old promise: to go to Canada Cupcake Cafe and interview the owners of the shop. It’ll be a sacrifice to drink good coffee and eat a cupcake, but hey, I’m used to hard work.

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Thankfully, Arthur—one of the owners—remembers me when I enter. I order an iced latte and a really yummy chocolate ganache cupcake that I eat (in total) before I can remember to take a picture. When Arthur has a minute, he comes to sit with me and has his own cup of coffee. His partner, Shawn, is sitting close by and helps out any straggling customers before the shop closes for siesta time.

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I do a quick recap for Arthur—I’m a writer from California, I’m living in Spain for the summer, and I love interviewing people and making new connections. Then, I get straight to the questions.

“How long have you been doing this?” I ask him.

Arthur tells me that he and Shawn opened CCC last August. They’re just getting ready to celebrate the shop’s one-year anniversary, and are still in the process of putting something together to show appreciation for loyal customers and draw in new clientele.

Like any “new and/or newer” business, there are loyal customers, newbies (like me!), a healthy rotation of students—especially Americans, and tourists. CCC offers a relaxing atmosphere, custom coffee, fresh desserts and bagels, and free WiFi. It sounds like a normal coffee/dessert shop in Northern California, but here in Spain, CCC is somewhat of an anomaly. Arthur and Shawn run a slightly different business model than other shops like them (there are only a handful of cupcake shops in Alicante, by the way), and walk a fine line between offering something culturally new while still providing some cultural comforts.

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“Alicante chose us,” Arthur explains.

When he and Shawn decided to create a new adventure for themselves in Spain, they weren’t planning on making it to the south. They initially went to Barcelona, but the cost of living there is very expensive, and most people prefer to speak Catalan—a dialect of the region. Alicante drew in these Canadians with its good climate, lower cost of living, mix of people, and business potential.

At CCC, Arthur and Shawn make everything by hand with high-quality ingredients. They don’t use anything frozen or pre-made. And though this sounds normal to a California girl, it’s not so normal for everyone here. When the guys first began their cupcake endeavors, some people commented that cupcakes are cool, but just a “fashion” or phase in Spain. In other words, they didn’t anticipate the store to be a big hit—especially long-term.

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But I think Arthur and Shawn will be seeing said people eating humble pie–or maybe humble cupcake. Canadian Cupcake Cafe seems like it will not only remain a part of Alicante, but also will grow and expand in the near future. Arthur shares with me that the goals of CCC are to make North Americans feel like they’re getting a taste of home, while allowing the Spanish to symbolically travel through their taste buds.

Even purchasing coffee at CCC is a different experience for most of the Spanish people here. For example, when I order a latte at a cafe I frequent here, it’s always in a porcelain cup—one size. But at CCC, you can choose a small, medium, or large size, AND can even have it customized to your preferences. Kinda like that one really popular coffee shop in North America that starts with a S… Plus, you can take your stuff to go (para llevar).

And the cups and utensils are unique as well. Both Arthur and Shawn take decreasing our carbon footprint very seriously. Therefore, they use biodegradable cups and utensils. They even have a sort of recycling center set up. Arthur joked that at times, it has “scared” the Spanish people here to see such a thing in the store. (See image below of the recycling center.) But customers are catching on, and Arthur and Shawn are teaching many people here something good—something that will help the environment and generations to come.

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Though things seem to be going pretty well, success doesn’t come without hardship. Arthur tells me of the difficulties of all the paperwork involved in starting a business in Spain.

“Things are constantly changing,” he says. “At times, it feels like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing—and that’s not a knock against the process; it’s just how it is.”

Especially for a foreigner to start a business, it can be a struggle. But Canada Cupcake Cafe made it through the hoops and jumps, and now, Arthur and Shawn can focus on things like defining their products (they have recently added bagels to the menu and offer ice cream in the summer), and defining their market.

To top things off, both guys are community-oriented. They host intercambio (language exchange) groups at their shop, and aim to create a comfortable and relaxing environment for everyone. Shawn also tells me that they are both passionate about animals, and have been developing treats for pets. They’d like to partner with a local animal shelter in the near future, and donate a portion of pet treats sales to the shelter.

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It’s safe to say that I’ll be making a return visit to Canada Cupcake Cafe—and soon. I’m glad I discovered this place and had the pleasure of speaking with its owners. If you find yourself in Alicante, be sure to visit them. You can eat your cupcake and drink your coffee in the store, or take them to go if you’re headed to the beach.

Virtually Connect with Canada Cupcake Cafe:

Website (English version)

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

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New Endeavors, Part 1

Today’s post is a short update regarding one of my new endeavors for the latter half of this year. I am excited to tell you that I’ve been accepted as a writer for examiner.com, writing on the topic “Healthy Living” for San Jose, CA!

My first article went live today and the feedback I received was only in regards to improving my formatting. They thought everything else was spot on! And now, without further ado, here is where you can read my article about Finding food allergy friendly restaurants in San Jose (or even in your own city):

http://exm.nr/12HKqvr

If you’d like to check out my author profile on the site, just visit by clicking HERE.

Until next time, I wish you all a wonderful week! 😉

-Tamar

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Halibut Salad

The 6 Types of Baseball Fans

I’m not a huge sports fan in the least, but I do enjoy baseball. And give me the San Francisco Giants? Even better!

Last night, my dad surprised me by taking me to the Giants vs. Diamond Backs at AT&T Park. We always have a great time, no matter the game’s outcome–which, sadly, our boys lost last night. The highlight of the game for me was when Pablo “Panda” Sandoval made a great catch at the shortstop position and was blowing a bubble at the same time–hilarious.

Typically, we don’t have too many “tools” sitting around us, but last night must have been the exception. It was like the baseball gods said, “Sorry, Tamar, but we’ve been WAY too nice to you for the past few years. Now you get to enjoy mediocre crazy tonight.”

Despite my annoyance, looking at all the interesting folks surrounding us was actually fascinating. Were I not a writer to the core, I may have felt otherwise. I began to think about the “types of fans,” just like any other “types of [insert cliche phrase or descriptor here]” articles. So, without further ado, I bring you…

The 6 Types of Baseball Fans

1. The Awkward Loner: The Awkward Loner typically goes to the game by himself. He is a season ticket holder and wonders where your friend–a fellow season ticket holder as well–is, only to deduce that said friend must have given their tickets to you (the NOT season ticket holder) for the night. (Which is obvious from the long and awkward stare you are given by him.)

The Awkward Loner never says a word–he doesn’t even audibly cheer–but considers himself to be a die hard fan. T.A.L. does clap, however, and will stand tall and proud when a good play evokes the crowd to explode from their chairs. But if the game gets sleepy, T.A.L. will leave early–without a word–and will also leave his water bottle behind as the only sign that he was even there in the first place.

2. The Social Media Mom: This mom is “young and hip,” and knows all the cool social media platforms. She buys her children their favorite treat to give herself at least five minutes of bliss to post said offspring’s ice cream cone and churro to Instagram. She also knows all her hashtags, and has more “following” than “followers.” And, you better believe she’s gonna Instagram that snack and her kid’s (adorable) face to Twitter AND Facebook. The world needs to know that her kid is the most talented ice cream licker this side of the hemisphere.

Even her husband knows the cue for an Instagram or Facebook moment. He’ll avert his eyes from the game–no matter how intense the play–to make sure he doesn’t get yelled at later. He can turn his smile on like a faucet, appeasing his wife, then frowns back to the field. At least S.M.M. feeds her kids.

3. The Late & Loud Fake Fan: This fan is late and makes a big deal about people being in their seat. Late & Loud “can’t find” their ticket by the time they get to their seat, but has a friend or two to vouch for them. Once seated, they will cheer for the team regardless of what inning it is–or if there are even players on the field. They also obnoxiously boo the opposing team, and ignore glares from the surrounding section of more subdued fans.

L & L really belongs at Happy Hour, but they like to shout and draw attention to themselves. And what better venue than a baseball game? This fan also chastises the rest of the section for not being as enthusiastic as they. Could this person be drunk already at 6:30pm, or did they simply skip their sedative today? The entire section lets out an audible, relieved sigh when Late & Loud decides to leave early to join friends at a local bar. Must be a fake fan to behave like that.

4. The (Wannabe) Gangster Group: The (Wannabe) Gangster Group hails from the nicer part of town, but dresses like they just rolled in from East Side Compton. Hats are on sideways like a 90’s rerun of Fresh Prince, and their girlfriends are sporting the Chola make-up. But everything “gangsta” about this group turns out to be an upgrade of ghetto fabulous. In fact, all they sport–including the home team’s paraphernalia–is designer brand.

The girlfriends become a little too loud and cheerleader status when they run out of beer. And you better believe that the girls will have their way and get a group photo with everyone flashing gang signs with their hands. At least they leave early to join Late & Loud at the bar.

5. The Sign Artist: The Sign Artist comes prepared with every fan sign you can imagine. He rhymes all the players’ last names in a beautiful ballad which he will enthusiastically raise in the air–like he just don’t care. But all of us behind him do care. The Sign Artist learns quickly to keep his masterpiece in the air for exactly 3.5 seconds until the crowd begins to complain. He will continue to throw up those posters until the game gets sleepy. At that time, he does not feel the team is worthy of his beautiful poetry, but will save his works of art for next week’s game.

6. The Avid Aisle Walker: The Avid Aisle Walker makes us wonder if she even knows the score–or that she’s at a baseball game, period. The first time she sweetly says “sorry” while tripping over your half-empty popcorn bag is fine, but by the fifth time, you’ve had enough.

Perhaps A.A.W. has bladder troubles and has no choice but to frequent the restroom. Perhaps she is responsible for feeding everyone in her group. I’d even be willing to throw in Restless Leg Syndrome. But every time she comes and goes, it’s the same: “I’m so sorry; thanks for letting me through…” empty-handed and no better at avoiding your feet just like the last twenty times. The only thing to save one from A.A.W. is to leave the game before she does.

Hope you enjoyed my post today! What are some types of fans with whom you’ve crossed paths? Feel free to comment and share below. Until next time…

Cheers!

IMG_4369My Pops and me at the game. 🙂