Showing Our Pride – Cookie Style! Flags, Rainbows & Drag Kings & Queens From All the Best Fine Foods

Leave a comment

DSCN2556

Happy weekend, everyone!  It’s a crazy one with Pride going on, the first weekend celebrating the end of the school year and the official start to summer vacation, World Cup, and Canada Day weekend!  And if you’re one of the lucky ones who gets or is taking Monday off to make it a long weekend, you must be feeling elated!  Sorry for missing the last few days here though.  I’ve been under the weather and in a lot of pain and discomfort and honestly, I just need some serious TLC for both my mind and body because the stress of everything – finding work, losing sleep over finding work, and then getting sick – took its toll for the greater part of this past week and I’m really looking forward to mindlessly watching tv to calm everything down.  BUT!  I did manage to enjoy a bit of Pride Week/World Pride, foodie-style, before a bout of sickness took over so I’m so excited that I was able to squeeze that in because after getting an e-mail about these babies, I did NOT want to miss out: Pride maple gingerbread cookies from All the Best Fine Foods in the Church-Wellesley village!

DSCN2530

DSCN2528

DSCN2526

DSCN2518

I subscribe to e-mails from All the Best Fine Foods, a gourmet food shop here in the city with two locations (one by Summerhill station and the other by Church & Wellesley; check out my first post on them HERE, featuring their chocolate fudge cupcakes!) and I received one last week with a whole bunch of summer news and goodies, including the news about Pride and the Church & Wellesley location selling special Pride-themed gingerbread cookies.  I saw it and freaked out because the little picture of them looked so darn adorable!  So amidst all the chaos of this week, I managed to make a trip down to grab a bunch of these beautiful cookies to celebrate Pride.  It is SO awesome seeing the community decked out in all its rainbow glory and even just walking through the neighbourhood and buying these cookies for the occasion felt special.  It was like being a tourist in my own city.

DSCN2532

DSCN2534

I picked up five cookies ($1 each!) including a set of rainbow maple leafs, a rainbow Pride flag, a rainbow Canadian Pride flag, and a cutie-patootie drag king and queen, ha!  And to round out my purchase, I picked up a few Russian doll Pride keychains because I’m a total sucker for cute accessories and knick-knacks like that.  And you know what?  They taste AMAZING!  The cookies, not the keychains.  Some might dismiss decorated cookies as just that: cookies that are decorated but bland in taste and purely admired for their aesthetic.  Not these.  The maple gingerbread cookies are so soft and delicious and I love them.  The icing wasn’t hard (seriously, there are decorated cookies out there that have the capacity to chip a tooth!), the sweetness was perfect, and they screamed fun and cuteness.  I’ve already eaten four – three maple leaf ones and one of the flags.  My brother and I are totally gorging on the rest of them for the rest of the weekend.

However you’re celebrating this weekend, I hope everyone has a fun one.  Happy Pride and fingers crossed for a rain-free parade tomorrow!

DSCN2562

DSCN2564

*****

All the Best Fine Foods is located at 493 on Church Street near Wellesley in the Church-Wellesley Village.  Their 2nd location is south of Summerhill station at 1101 Yonge Street in the Rosedale neighbourhood and area.

Timbits Love! Featuring the New Strawberry Glazed Cuties on The Ate by Ate Daily, Vol. 013

1 Comment

DSCN2354IT’S TIMBIT TIME!  Has everyone tried the new strawberry and birthday cake sweets yet?!  I don’t know about all of you, but I looooove when Tim Hortons comes out with new Timbit flavours and I looooove when I stumble across flavours that I can’t get at every location, like the cherry ones (which I always see at the Dufferin Mall location along with a few other spots) and the Boston cream ones (which, sadly, I have no idea where to get now since I used to be able to get them at the Tim Hortons inside the Sears at Eaton Centre which is now, you know, no longer there).  So yes, I love me my Timbits and my new flavours and since we’re on the topic, my favourite is the sour cream glazed, my least favourite is the chocolate, and I’m dying for them to come out with some delicious coconut concoction!

Now I know the new limited time line of strawberry pastries and donuts is being promoted and offered pretty much everywhere this summer, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from feeling giddy over the the ‘new’ness of it.  I was so excited to try Tim Hortons’ new strawberry glazed Timbits that I staged a mini photoshoot with them and posed them in a bowl of strawberries that I had just happened to have in the fridge.  Seriously, the timing couldn’t be more impeccable.  They’re so darn cute!  And they taste so yummy.  I would have taken photos of the birthday cake ones too but everyone in the house ate them before I could do anything so I’ll have to go out and get me a 10-pack of them one of these days so that I can get proper photos.  They would look so stylish with my cupcake tablecloth background.

DSCN2360

DSCN2355

DSCN2358

All Hail the Breakfast Hash! Mushroom Gravy & Fried Eggs – Weekend Brunch at The Gladstone Hotel on Queen/”Queer” Street West

Leave a comment

DSCN2391

I was going to save this post for early July but given how I just watched Michael Symon and Daphne Oz make mouthwatering breakfast hashes on The Chew earlier today and how I’m totally smitten with the street name change of Queen Street West to Queer Street West in honour of World Pride and Pride Week here in the city, I decided I would post these photos today instead.  So, to celebrate amazing breakfast hashes and “Queer” Street West (gosh, this is never going to get old), I present to you all weekend brunch at the Gladstone Hotel!  This is Ate by Ate’s 2nd post on weekend brunch at the Gladstone (check out the 1st one HERE) and I’m hoping that I’ll get to post many more in the future because I’ve enjoyed both my experiences here so much.

The Gladstone Hotel’s weekend brunch menu (served on Saturdays and Sundays from 8am-4pm in the Gladstone Cafe) changes every so often with new and different dishes which is why both of my posts are unique from each other.  It’s totally worth it to go back for repeat visits.  Even if the menu was the same, I would still come back (if I love a place, one visit is never enough) but for those of you who enjoy the spice of life and love new things and variety, this fits right into your wheelhouse.  The great thing about the weekend brunch menu is that while the dishes might be different from menu to menu, the selection and variety is just as great because you’ll always have those egg breakfasts, sweet dishes, and savoury plates to choose from.  The menus don’t necessarily favour one brunch category over another so you won’t ever feel like you’re stuck eating only one type of dish.

DSCN2368

DSCN2382

DSCN2387

The current weekend brunch menu features yummies like the Lumberjack (eggs, bacon, potato hash and a short stack of pancakes, $15), the Queen (and egg white and caramelized onion frittata with arugula, cheddar and multi-grain bread, $12),  the Sweetie (bread pudding French toast served with caramelized apples, maple caramel drizzle, and bacon, $10), the El Completo (fried or scrambled eggs with tomato, onion, lime and feta black beans with chorizo sausage and corn tortillas or toast, $12), and Jerk Chicken Tacos (3 spicy pulled jerk chicken tacos served with mango chutney and crunchy sweet rice and black eyed pea fritters, $13; my boyfriend ordered this one and I sampled some of those fritters with the mango chutney and oh my gosh they are to die for) among others.

I was hemming and hawing between the Sweetie and the Hash ($11), a dish featuring a red-skinned potato and onion hash smothered with vegetarian mushroom gravy and topped with a beautiful fried egg.  In other words, weekend brunch sexiness.  Two entirely different, contrasting dishes vying for my undying love and attention.  Ultimately my savoury craving won out because 1) I am a potato freak, 2) I am also a fried egg freak, and 3) I am a gravy freak.  I was drooling even before my plate came.  THAT is how you get my weekend brunch motor running and THAT is how we get our freak on!

DSCN2397

DSCN2394

DSCN2400

This dish is truly the epitome of comfort food, brunch style because the crispiness of the hash and the savouriness of the mushroom gravy just takes it to another level.  The hash, which was shaped into a giant potato patty-like pancake, was fantastic because it maintained its texture in spite of it being covered with gravy and the gravy itself was possibly the best gravy I have ever had in my life.  It was thick and so ridiculously flavourful and the actual mushrooms served with it kept the consistency from getting congealed or gummy with its juices and it kept the flavour coming in spades so everything just worked.  The egg and arugula brightened up the dish visually and offered the tastebuds something a little different to latch onto throughout the meal so that the savouriness of the hash and gravy wouldn’t get too heavy or overwhelming, with the egg being a blank canvas so to speak to absorb some of those flavours and the arugula contributing its signature peppery bitterness to break up the saltiness.

DSCN2395

What made this brunch even more fabulous was my drink: tea!  The Cafe offers a bunch of different loose leaf teas from Tealish including their Coconut Chai, Lemon Meringue, and Toasty Almond among other black, green and rooibos tea varieties.  For whatever reason, I didn’t order a tea during my first visit to the Gladstone nearly two years ago so I decided to order one this time.  I went with the Blueberry Lagoon since I hadn’t tried that one yet and oh my gosh, I almost jumped out of my seat when my tea came: a teapot accompanied by an adorable china tea cup!  Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.  I was not expecting that.  I was expecting just a regular cup with my loose leaf in a filter or something.  I was completely taken aback by the cuteness of it all and it made my tea-loving self so incredibly excited and happy!  And the Blueberry Lagoon tea was delicious to boot so that made me even more happy.  I was on cloud nine; a new Tealish favourite to add to my tea scrapbook!

DSCN2405

DSCN2389

DSCN2408

The Gladstone Hotel Cafe is such a nice and relaxing place to have weekend brunch (or any meal for that matter) and I love that each experience offers something new and exciting, at least for me.  I just might have to make another return visit before the end of the summer to try that Sweetie dish and to be delighted once again by another delicious meal.

*****

The Gladstone Hotel is located at 1214 Queen Street West (or Queer Street West during Pride Week!).

 

A Passion For Artistic Cuisine – Food Graffiti Art on Ossington Ave! The Ate by Ate Daily, Vol. 012

Leave a comment

DSCN2465Okay, so I’m going to preface this post by saying that nothing here is edible, but I HAD to show you all these photos I took yesterday during my morning out on the Ossington strip: AWESOME FOOD-THEMED GRAFFITI ART!!  I found this entire spread on Ossington just north of Foxley, I believe, and I went nuts with the camera.  Carrots!  Bananas!  Limes!  Chili peppers!  Considering what a food mecca the Ossington strip has become in the past few years (on my to-eat list: Fishbar!), the presence of the food graffiti art is rather appropriate!

For those of you who don’t know, I LOVE taking photos of graffiti art in the city.  Obviously I’m referring to the gorgeous stuff painted on the sides of buildings all over the city, not the vandalism form of it!  That I don’t support.  But the art?  Can’t get enough of it.  My boyfriend and I have been photographing these amazing works for over 5 years now and I’ve created quite a photo collection for myself, both on my computer and in a real photo album where I’ve chronicled a large portion of my shots.  I’ve even organized my photos by neighbourhood so I can remember where I took them and, up until yesterday, I didn’t even THINK to create a separate set of just food-related ones.  Duh, right?!  New project in the works!

DSCN2458

Being an artist myself, graffiti art ignites such a creative fire and passion in me and I really have my boyfriend to thank for fueling this passion in the beginning.  In addition to taking me to enjoy and photograph flowers on our first date, my boyfriend also took me to the side streets of both Queen West and Richmond to photograph all the graffiti art that was tucked away because he knew the art would make me so happy (quite the keeper, huh?).  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  So much colour, so much personality, so much talent.  I’ve actually seen graffiti artists up close and in person doing their thing with the spray cans a few times and it is so inspiring just to watch them.  It’s mesmerizing.  These are talented folks who are hired by building owners and/or the city to create these artistic masterpieces for everyone else to enjoy and to juice up the visual landscape of the city.  Seeing the focus and drive and artistic wittiness reflected in these works is a beautiful thing.

DSCN2461

DSCN2478

DSCN2470

DSCN2471

DSCN2476

A Scrumptious Catch! Delicious Battered Halibut & Shrimp with the Works at Captain George’s Fish & Chips in Stouffville

1 Comment

DSCN0479

Words of wisdom for the day: a photographic memory definitely comes in handy when it comes to finding awesome places to eat.  And it’s because of my photographic memory (and a little help from my brother) that, years later, I was able to track down Captain George’s Fish & Chips in Stouffville!  Yes, Stouffville.  “But, but, you blog about places in Toronto!”  Yes, I know.  “But, but, you live in Markham!”  Yes, I know that too.  I like to expand my horizons.  “But you take public transit and there isn’t much of that in Stouffville!”  True.

So what the heck was I doing in Stouffville in the first place to compel me to go back there and eat?!  Before you scoff and dismiss it as an ‘it’ place to stuff your face, here’s the story: a number of moons ago, I started taking driving lessons with the intention of getting my driver’s license.  My brother and I took our lessons together, alternating getting behind the wheel with our instructor as we tentatively navigated the streets of Markham.  However, there were some days where we’d drive out a little further during those longer sessions.  And that is how we ended up in Stouffville, Markham’s friendly neighbour to the north.  Now that’s not to say that I had never been in Stouffville prior to that.  I remember a few trips to the Stouffville flea market when I was little as well as one to Bruce’s Mill Conservation Area and even a visit to a super Wal-Mart!  But to eat?  Never.  To explore a bit?  Hardly.

DSCN0469

Thus, it was during these quiet drives through the main arteries of Stouffville that I was able to somewhat see it with fresh eyes and have certain images imprinted in my brain and in my memory.  Years later as my brother and I were randomly discussing possible fish and chips places to eventually check out during one those odd ‘brother-sister same-wavelength food cravings’, an image, albeit a bit fuzzy, of a giant blue sign off the side of a road started formulating in my mind as I remembered driving past a fish and chips place during some of those lessons.  And I distinctly remembered my instructor recommending it my brother and I.  So I did what any modern foodie would do.

I went on the computer and start Googling.

DSCN0475

DSCN0478

DSCN0476

Given how I only had a mental image of a blue sign and the knowledge of it being in Stouffville to go on, I had to do a little more than just key things into the search box.  So after a little memory jogging with my brother and Google image search (way more useful when you need your memory to zero in and ‘match up’ to something), we figured it out: Captain George’s Fish & Chips at 5505 Main Street in Whitchurch-Stouffville!  Located between Hwy. 48 (also known as Markham Rd. in most of Markham until you hit 16th Ave.) and Ninth Line, it’s actually incredibly easy straight-forward to get here.  Just go straight up north.  No crazy turns, no weird side streets, just main roads and a smooth drive.  I do wish public transit was more accessible and readily available in this area but hey, that’s a whole other discussion for another time.

DSCN0473

Captain George’s Fish & Chips is as delicious, fantastic, friendly, and down-home as they come.  The owners are incredibly sweet, the nautical decor adorning the walls of the diner is quite cute and kitschy, and the food is out of this world.  The portions of food will honestly make your eyes and tummy sing.  And I’m not talking nasty and disgusting portions, I’m talking freakin’ awesome bang-for-your-buck portions, the type of portions that fill you and make you feel good about the money you slapped down for it.  It’s all about the halibut, haddock, cod, shrimp, scallops, and calamari here (okay, there are chicken fingers on the  menu but I truly believe that it’s a default for those folks who accompany seafood-loving friends and family but who don’t actually eat it or enjoy it themselves.  Shrugs.  To each their own) with a generous dose of chips and salad.  There are so many fish/seafood and chip and salad combinations that there is just no way you wouldn’t be able to find something that strikes your fancy.  Sometimes you don’t want as much fried food so you go with the grilled fish and salad.  Sometimes you want the full monty and go all out on the comfort fish and chips with the salad and other times you just want to gorge on fish alone.

The menu works for everyone.

DSCN0482

DSCN0483

DSCN0484

I felt like the full monty for this meal so I went all out with the works with one of the Fish & Shrimp Combos: 1 piece halibut, 5 shrimps, a garden salad and chips ($12.95).  With some lemon wedges, tartar sauce and cocktail sauce on the side, this was heaven on a plate!  There is just something SO satisfying and yummy about perfectly crispy, battered fish where the meat is juicy and flaky and there are those fab air pockets between the crunchy batter and fish.  The battered shrimps were huge, the chips were those cute stumpy ones that are nice and starchy and potato-y with that nice crunchy crust on the outside and even the salad was wonderful because it was chopped in a way that made it easy to fork generous mouthfuls with a little bit of everything.  It was a simple chopped garden salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber drizzled with my choice of dressing, good old fashioned tangy ranch which rounded out the scrumptious meal.

I love it when I find gems like these, the ones that make it worth your while by giving you a meal from the heart and a delicious, memorable eating experience that will never be forgotten, photographic memory or not.

*****

Captain George’s Fish & Chips is located at 5505 Main St. in Whitchurch-Stouffville between Hwy.48 and Ninth Line.

A Happy Kombucha From David’s Tea = A Happy Deb! The Ate by Ate Daily, Vol. 011

Leave a comment

DSCN2444I know, I know.  It’s summer, not spring and we’re closing in on Canada Day, not Easter.  So theoretically, I should be posting photos of an awesome summer haul, right?  In theory, yes.  But when you’re sipping tea left and right and trying your best to keep up with the dizzying array of delicious options available, you’re going to fall behind.  I’m still bummed about not exhausting the spring collection before it went off the shelves!  So I’m playing a bit of catch-up right now with my sets.  I FINALLY cracked this baby open (in my defense, it’s only been 2 months, not 2 years!) and played around with the adorable peek-a-boo egg-shaped flaps and tea tins in this cute-as-a-button 12-tea set which includes favourites such as Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Macaroon, Strawberry Rhubarb Parfait, Lime Gelato, Chocolate Rocket and more.

I wanted to try something different though so I decided to try the Happy Kombucha tea ($9.75 for 50g in-store and online), an Oolong with mango, pineapple, kombucha powder, and safflower and HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL is it ever fruity and refreshing and delicious!  To me, it tastes similar to the Long Life Oolong but with more of a tropical twist to it as opposed to a peaches and cream and with a subtle sweet tea scent and flavour mixed in as well.  Its looks are deceiving; in appearance it looks like a mix of rolled tea leaves with chili flakes and sundried tomatoes but in taste it is all brightness and fruitiness.  I instantly loved it and it’s now on my list of favourites.

DSCN2448

DSCN2450

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “well, you love everything!”.  I actually don’t.  There are a bunch of teas I’ve tried that I don’t care for and that I wouldn’t buy or bother to drink again.  I only post about the things I love because ranting or focusing on the things I don’t is a waste of my time and energy and it’s funner to talk about things I enjoy.  So if any of you ever want to know which teas I’m not fond of, pop me a message and I’ll message you back privately with my honest opinion, no holds barred!

Lovey-doveyness aside, Happy Kombucha is truly where it’s at for a yummy summer iced tea option.  It’s a fab tea and its name is fun to say!  At first, I thought kombucha was just a fun name but I looked it up online and found out that it’s actually a type of tea that goes through a fermentation process with all sorts of probiotic and bacteria culture stuff going on.  For more info on kombucha, check out this great blog called The Kitchn where Emma explains the food science behind it with great photos and descriptions.  Drinking this amazing tea totally made my day.

DSCN2451

DSCN2453

DSCN2456

Sweet, Lemony & Bursting with Blueberry Sass – A Photo Spotlight on the Blueberry Lemon Cupcake From Desmond & Beatrice!

3 Comments

DSCN1730

Have any of you ever felt that your to-do list, whatever it may pertain to whether it’s errands, chores, or a bucket list on life, is never-ending?  I’ve been writing this blog for nearly 4 years and I still feel so behind on everything I want to eat, photograph and write about.  I suppose that’s just the nature of blogging.  So much to do but so little time.  And money.  And, well, person.  If only I could clone myself so that I could be in multiple places at once!  That way, I could be at multiple markets at the same time, check out all the Summerlicious spots I want within that tiny 2-week window, and take advantage of festivals that happen on the same day.  How accomplished I would feel!

Case in point: when I started Ate by Ate I wanted to knock it out of the park by posting lots and lots of yummy coconut, lemon and blueberry things (coconut and lemon desserts and blueberry breakfasts for the most part) among other delights but when I look at my current catalogue of posts I think, “pft, SO not good enough.”  I was hoping to have at least 1 post on coconut cake (or pie or something), 5 on blueberry pancakes and a ballpark of around 10 on lemon cupcakes.  Cue disappointed shake of the head accompanied by tsking.  I’m getting closer to that benchmark on the lemon cupcakes front but I’m nowhere near where I want to be in the blueberry department.

DSCN1732

So I’m, shall we say, putting pedal to the metal on this one and ramping things up a bit.  Since we’re on the topic of awesome lemon and blueberry sweets (re: my recent post on the lemon blueberry scones from Cobs Bread), I’m continuing on with a photo spotlight on the fantabulous and yummylicious blueberry lemon cupcake from one of my favourite bakeries and cupcake shops, Desmond & Beatrice!  The blueberry lemon cupcake ($2.75) is a vanilla cake studded with juicy blueberries topped with a generous amount of lemon frosting and a cute little dried blueberry.  Perfect for lemon lovers and blueberry muffin lovers who want to jazz things up cupcake-style!  If you haven’t already, check out Ate by Ate’s Cupcake Chronicles feature page on Desmond & Beatrice or enjoy some picturesque scrolling fun through all the D&B posts HERE!

DSCN1735

DSCN1737

DSCN1741

DSCN1740

DSCN1742

*****

Desmond & Beatrice Bake Shop and Cupcakery is located at 750 Queen Street East, just one block east of Broadview Ave. in the Riverside District.  They are open 7 days a week from 10am-7pm.  You can visit their official website at https://desmondandbeatrice.com/ and follow them on Twitter @dandbcupcakes