All Good Things Come to an End: Saying Goodbye

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As I write this, I’m holding back tears and my heart feels like a twisted knot of Christmas ribbon because I’m about to do something that brings me a lot of sadness, something I never thought I would do, especially at this time of year: say goodbye to Ate by Ate.  My beloved Ate by Ate, the little corner of the web that I called my own for the last 5 years, will no longer be updated from this day forward.  I actually had intentions of posting the cute photos I took last week during a trip to one of my favourite bakeries, Yummy Stuff, but it just so happens that I’ve completely run out of space on my blog and can’t post any more photos unless I purchase another upgrade so I’ve taken the liberty of posting a handful on Ate by Ate’s twitter instead.  I don’t even have enough MB to post one last photo here so it makes it all the more bittersweet with this final post saying goodbye.

I’m SO sorry for being away and for not keeping up for so long.  For those of you who have followed me on this journey, you know that things in my life have been rough and I hoped so much that things would look up so that I could come back and post with some sense of normalcy and positivity, but unfortunately…things have changed in my life and not for the better.  So I’ve made the painful decision to put Ate by Ate to bed, to lovingly say goodbye to everything it has meant to me for what feels like a lifetime.

Throughout this painful phase in my life, I’ve lost a lot of hope and a lot of faith, but Ate by Ate has always been about happiness and seeing the good, so I want to try my best to make this a bittersweet goodbye instead of one filled with rants.  As one of the characters in an old Sweet Valley novel said (if you’re curious, it was Nick to Jessica in SVU #47), “Leave me with your love, not your anger”.  So that’s what I want to do here.

Thank you so much to everyone for their love and support for the blog from the very start, it means more to me than you’ll ever know.  I’m happy that you liked my work enough to read, comment, and make it a part of your foodie world and for some of you even a part of your daily lives because even though it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, I’m really proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish because of it.  Which is why Ate by Ate will simply stay here in this corner of the interwebs.  It won’t be updated and it’ll be dormant but I’ve invested so much of my heart and soul in it that I don’t want to take it down.  It’ll be here for those who just want to look up a cookie recipe, look at pictures or read old posts.  Maybe someday blogging will be a part of my life again.  Because I love the work I do and when you truly love something it never leaves you and is always a part of you.

Ate by Ate has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined (oh god, now I’m really crying).  It has brought me happiness, inspiration, confidence, strength, comfort, a sense of belonging, a place to be myself, and above all else, pure love.  It has seen me through grad school, the trials and tribulations of writing my wretched Master’s thesis, making friends, finding and being embraced by a whole community of foodies, finding my first job out of school, losing that first job, finding the love of my life and losing the love of my life.  I took a million photos, scrapbooked to my heart’s content, ate the most delicious things, learned and grew, and spent hours, days, weeks, months and years developing content that I thought people would like.  I gave Ate by Ate everything I had and I will miss it so much.

I’m not the best at ending things, but I’ll make this last part short and sweet: goodbye, you were loved and appreciated and you’ll be so greatly missed.

 

You Are What You Eat…and Read, 2.0! Ate by Ate’s Favourite Foodie Murder Mysteries & Other Novels

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The Donut Shop Mysteries by Jessica Beck!

This past week I made a startling discovery: I am THISCLOSE to running out of precious real estate on my bookshelf.  Translation?  I’m going to have to figure out, in Sheldon Cooper’s words, “a new organizational paradigm” or stop buying books.

Yeah, that’s not an option.  New organizational paradigm it is.

I know this won’t be easy but there’s just no other way around this snafu.  I love books too much to stop buying them.  I just bought 5 Nancy Drews yesterday from a used book sale to add to my collection for goodness sake.  And I know off the top of my head there will be 3 new books coming out this year for a few of my favourite series.  Not to mention there are plenty of books that I haven’t gotten around to buying yet (and series that I haven’t even gotten around to reading/starting/collecting yet, like the Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle or the Orchard Mysteries by Sheila Connolly) because I believe in pacing myself.  So before anyone says, “oh, well, that’s easy, just get a kindle/kobo/e-reader/whatever other tablet device that’s available out there and you won’t run out of space” I should warn you that if you dare to utter anything even remotely close to that sentence I will chase you down with a wooden spoon.  I don’t do e-readers.  End of story.

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So, how did this mini bout of panic over bookshelf space come about in the first place?  After posting the recipe for the Twin Chocolate Delights cookies from Joanne Fluke’s Blueberry Muffin Murder last Friday and tweeting about the first book of the series being made into a tv movie (I was so excited that I squealed after finding out about this), I received a very enthusiastic response from friends who were really intrigued by the foodie murder mystery genre.  Being the aficionado that I am, I started yammering about how much I loved the series and mentioned how I read and followed a number of other foodie murder mystery series.  Well, that just opened up a can of worms: “There are other series?!” and “Wait, this [genre] is a thing?!”  I haven’t posted about my love for the foodie murder mystery genre in a long time so it’s understandable folks may not have seen those posts.  So I took inventory of my growing collection and took brand new photos to show you all.  And that is when I realized I really needed to reevaluate things!  I am queen of organization and squish though so I have no doubt I’ll come up with a solution to remedy the situation.

Here is my book collection in all its glory and may new ones find a comfy space on my bookshelf in my soon-to-be new “organizational paradigm”.

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I love the Donut Shop Mysteries by Jessica Beck but unfortunately, my collection has to stop at 9 because if I’m not mistaken, the series went exclusively digital from the 10th book onward and are now only published as e-books.  This makes me sad, sigh.  Anyway, below you will see:

  • the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay
  • the Cookie Cutter Shop Mysteries by Virginia Lowell
  • the Ice Cream Shop/Mystery a La Mode Mysteries by Wendy Lyn Watson
  • the Magical Bakery Mysteries by Bailey Cates
  • the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries by Victoria Hamilton
  • the Fresh Baked Mysteries by Livia J. Washburn
  • the Pizza Shop/Lovers Mysteries by Chris Cavender
  • the Lucy Stone Mysteries by Leslie Meier (the series isn’t a foodie one but there are a number that are food-themed, like this one!)
  • and while the Icing on the Cupcake and the Christmas Cookie Club aren’t mysteries, they are food-themed and they are wonderful novels that I adore to itty bitty pieces and I highly recommend both if you love food as much as I do.
  • And finally, my beloved Hannah Swensen Mysteries collection by Joanne Fluke!  This is, hands down, my favourite foodie murder mystery series and one of my all-time favourite book series in general which is saying a lot because I am a die-hard Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley, and Nancy Drew fan!  I love these books like crazy and I get so excited every time a new one is released.  I am waiting with baited breath for the latest one, Blackberry Pie Murder, to be released in paperback at the end of the month and for the newest one in the series, Double Fudge Brownie Murder, to come out next month in February!

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Just When You Thought You Couldn’t Love Chocolate More – A Recipe for Twin Chocolate Delights Cookies!

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I made the closest men in my life (my boyfriend, my brother, and my dad) very happy this past week.  I didn’t buy them presents.  Or give them money.  No, I baked and gave them cookies.  Double chocolate ones.  6 dozen of them on a total of 5 pans.  And it’s unanimous: out of all the recipes I’ve tried so far, this is their favourite cookie of all-time.  And I have to say, I freakin’ love these cookies myself.  They are heavenly.  But their love of chocolate borders on obsession (or addiction; it’s really almost the same thing in this context) baffles me.  I enjoy chocolate as much as the next person, but their addiction to chocolate is just on a whole other level.  I watch guys eat chocolate and it’s like they’re eating their last meal on earth.  My brother will excitedly chant, “chocolate, chocolate, chocolate!” when I simply mention something about chocolate.  And I once scolded my boyfriend for eating too many chocolate chip pancakes because he wouldn’t stop moaning and groaning about how full he was from his chocolate chip pancake breakfast.  “Well why did you eat so many?!  Why didn’t you just stop at two??”  “They were so good…”  Cue deadpan expression.

Anyway, I made brown sugar shortbread over the holidays and while I will admit that they were just so-so (it needed a little finesse and a part 2 experiment), I ate my share while the boys just sniffed at them.  Sigh.  “Fine,” I said.  “I’ll make you guys double chocolate cookies next time.  Sound good?”  Eager bobblehead nods.

Boys.

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You don’t have to be a crazy chocolate addict to love these cookies though.  These epitomize cookie perfection in so many ways: they’re crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, the cracking on the outside is beautiful, the recipe doesn’t require a mixer, you can easily substitute the chocolate chips for other mix-ins such as chopped nuts, candies, or dried fruit, the recipe yields a very generous amount making them a perfect option for parties and cookie swaps, they freeze well, and they’re a cinch to make.  And did I mention they’re double chocolate and fudgy as heck?  WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?!  I thank another one of my beloved Joanne Fluke Hannah Swensen foodie murder mysteries for this amazing cookie recipe, courtesy of Blueberry Muffin Murder, the 3rd book from the series.

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Recipe for Twin Chocolate Delights (yields approx. 6 dozen/72 medium-sized cookies)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 2-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (no need to sift)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t use nuts so I simply substituted with extra chocolate chips)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips

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Directions

  • Line several baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. (The dough needs to chill in the fridge so there’s no preheating of the oven at this point).
  • Melt butter in large microwave-safe bowl.  Add the sugar and mix. (*Deb’s Note: I just used a spatula for this step as well as for the rest of the recipe).
  • Add the cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla and stir until smooth.
  • Add the beaten eggs and stir thoroughly.
  • Mix in the flour, nuts (if you’re using them), and chocolate chips (*Deb’s Note: using the spatula, I gently folded the flour in until it was incorporated.  Then I used my hands (freshly washed hands!) to mix in the chocolate chips.)
  • Cover bowl with a piece of plastic wrap; chill cookie dough in refrigerator for about 30 minutes (*Deb’s Note: I added this step because the dough was still a bit too gummy to handle)
  • Place rounded teaspoons of dough on baking sheets, 12 to a standard sheet (*Deb’s Note: I used my hands to grab mounds of dough, gently shaping them into small rounds.  As well, I fit 15 on the first 4 pans and 12 on the last one.)
  • Heat oven to 350°F.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely (*Deb’s Note: this allows you to use the same pans for multiple rounds of cookies.  Two pans are enough.  I know because that’s what I did – I don’t actually have 5 baking pans at home!  While the first pan is in the oven, you work on shaping the dough balls for the 2nd pan.  When the first pan comes out and the 2nd goes in, there’s enough time between taking the cookies off the pan and re-filling with another batch for the pan to cool down enough to not cause your raw dough to start melting/spreading.)

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*****

Recipe adapted from Joanne Fluke’s Blueberry Muffin Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2002.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on pages 136-137.

In Love With the Three “S’s”: Sandwiches, Sweets & Scones – Afternoon Tea at Annona at the Park Hyatt in Yorkville!

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This past week has been bitterly cold (by Toronto’s standards; folks from Edmonton or Winnipeg are free to chuckle and/or roll their eyes) so it’s no surprise that I’ve been guzzling cup after cup of hot tea to warm me up from the inside out: milk oolong, apple custard herbal, green dragon pearls, and birthday cake rooibos just to name a handful.  All warm and cozy, all yummy.  I’m making a nice dent in my tea collection which makes me super happy because the more my family and I drink, the more room there is for new ones!  So amidst all the jolly tea chugging, I thought to myself, “hmm, I’m really behind on afternoon tea blogging, I should get on that.  Like, now.”  I have folders upon folders of photos I have yet to post just waiting to be shared with you guys so I hope y’all are in the mood for some afternoon tea posts because there’s going to be a generous amount of them in the coming weeks and months!

I’ve done afternoon tea about 15 times now and it’s become one of my favourite things in life, not just because I’ve enjoyed many of them with my best friend but because they’re such luxuries.  Some folks go on trips.  Others buy shoes.  Or nice electronics.  I do afternoon tea.  It’s a treat, one that delights me and inspires me, so much so that I’ve devoted an entire bulging scrapbook to it with a sequel waiting in the wings.  The tranquility that comes from pouring hot tea from a beautiful teapot into an equally charming and dainty teacup; the anticipation of the tiered stand being placed on the center of the table, brimming with finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets; and the utter joy that comes from appreciating pretty things, yummy things, and the awesome company and friendship that’s right in front of you.

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While I’ve enjoyed each and every single afternoon tea experience for different reasons, my favourite place, hands down, is Annona inside the swanky Park Hyatt hotel in Yorkville on Avenue Rd.  I’ve been to Annona twice and both times were absolutely fantastic.  Not only is the food delicious and the space relaxing, the service is beyond gracious.  One of the things I love about having afternoon tea here is the sense of balance.  Their dining room feels luxurious without being too formal or stiff, their dainty china is colourful and whimsical, and their menu, which changes every so often, is chock full of variety.  You can tell how much effort they put into their menu because it’s unlike anything you’d see or get at any other place.  You can tell that they’ve made a conscious effort to give you a different type of experience and taste sensation with each finger sandwich and dessert: there are pinwheels, savoury tarts, sweet tarts, savoury cones, white bread, wheat bread, pumpernickel, cakelets, cupcakes, macarons, different cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits, the list goes on.

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Their afternoon tea, available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm for $36 per person, is comprised of a gorgeous assortment of five different finger sandwiches, three small scones, and SIX different sweets and desserts in addition to the loose leaf tea from their tea menu and clotted cream, jams, jellies and preserves for the scones.  There are 12 loose leaf teas to choose from including several different greens, blacks, and herbals, my favourite being the Eros, a yummy orange and vanilla dessert tea.

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They bring you your plate of finger sandwiches first, followed by a silver tiered stand containing the scones and sweets.  While their menu does change periodically (which you can view on their website here), here’s an idea of the type of savouries you can expect based on the delicious assortment I enjoyed the two times I went: crispy cone filled with a creamy Boursin cheese mixed with cranberries and crushed walnuts; smoked salmon and chives with cream cheese on pumpernickel bread; chicken and asparagus salad pinwheel; watercress and cheddar cheese whole wheat pinwheel; shredded cucumber and carrot with hummus on white bread.

And if five different scrumptious finger sandwiches weren’t enough to tickle your variety-loving self, the desserts surely will!  There is seriously no shortage of awesomeness when it comes to all the different types of sweets you get with your afternoon tea.  There’s a mix of fruit desserts, chocolate ones, and ones with nuts (just a note to those with allergies – which I’ll actually get to later on in the post) including a lemon white chocolate vanilla cupcake, mixed berry tartlet, plum tart, raspberry macaron, peppermint white chocolate layer cake, and a decadent pistachio double chocolate eclair with chocolate custard filling, chocolate drizzle, and plenty of crushed pistachios on top.  I just love how Annona mixes things up, plays with different flavour combinations and textures, keeping things fresh and exciting.  Their afternoon tea is, in my opinion, so modern, contemporary, and fun.

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It’s crazy to think that there’s even more to love about Annona, but there definitely is.  I mentioned how gracious their service is earlier in the post and I meant it whole-heartedly.  It’s not just in the way their staff services you in person but also in the care and attention they give you when you make your reservation.  Annona is the first place I’ve ever placed a reservation for online and I absolutely love it because I’ve written notes for them regarding requests I’ve had for seating (given how I’m a blogger and obviously take photos, I always request a table beside a window so that I’ll have good lighting) and regarding my best friend’s allergies, asking them if there is any way to substitute those with other menu items and they have taken every single word to heart and have granted me everything I’ve requested with no question or hesitation on their part and with no reminders for them on my part.

I can’t even begin to express how much those gestures mean to me because it shows me that they truly care about making the experience a good fabulous and memorable one.  Not only did they grant my request for a window table each time, they actually went out of their way to make different pastries for my best friend.  We were floored.  So much time, attention and care was taken and we were never made to feel guilty or like a burden for making these requests which I really appreciate.

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If you love afternoon tea as much as I do, enjoying it at Annona will be a happy foodie experience you won’t soon forget!

*****

Annona is located inside the Park Hyatt Hotel in Yorkville at 4 Avenue Road, just north of Bloor St. West.  Their afternoon tea is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm; reservations are not specified as absolutely required on their website but I would highly recommend making them just in case.  You can call them at 416-324-1567 and also visit their website: http://hyatt.com/gallery/torphannon/tea.html.

 

New Year, More Tea – A Look at Ate by Ate’s Holiday David’s Tea Haul with Eggnog, Apple Custard & More!

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Happy new year, everyone!  It was quite nippy out on Wednesday so for those of you who par-tayed that night, I hope you had fun!  And for those who stayed inside (like me), I hope you kept toasty and also had fun.  I’m not much for new year’s eve celebrations (eating pizza and watching the adorable Anderson Cooper on tv are about the most exciting things I do and that suits me just fine) but I’m not going to lie: I “celebrated” on the inside when I kicked 2014 out the proverbial door and slammed it shut when the clock struck 12 and the big, shiny ball dropped.  Good riddance.  Teeth-grinding frustration, anger, and emotional agony is the only way to accurately describe this past year.  There were definitely some really wonderful, happy moments throughout the year that I clung onto like little life preservers but as a whole, 2014 was terrible.  At this point I don’t know if 2015 will be better, but all I can really do is hope for a brighter year.  It’s Ate by Ate’s first post of 2015 and we’re starting the new year on a yummy, tealicious note: David’s Tea winter and holiday haul post!

At this very moment I am both excited and miffed.  Excited because I just got David’s Tea’s new e-mail about their brand spankin’ new Sunshine collection (nothing like hitting us hard with more “oh-my-god-I-need-these-in-my-life” tea products after the holiday rush, huh?  Seriously, no mercy) and all the new stuff on their website looks so fun and colourful and vibrant (squee!).  However, I am also miffed because the content of this post is now soooo last year.  Like, we’ve totally moved on and little Deb over here is still playing with last year’s toys.  In hindsight, I really should have made this post on Wednesday but in my defence, I had no idea that they were going to steal my thunder.

Hmph.

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No matter.  I am totally enjoying all of my holiday and winter goodies to the fullest and all of it makes me smile, especially my “snowy village” latte mug which is just so darn cute.  I loooove all my new stuff.  I think I did a pretty good job with my haulage this season if I do say so myself.  Granted, half of the things you see in the photos were Christmas gifts, so I wasn’t a total crazy maniac who bought out the whole store.  Just some of the store.

For me, my favourites from the holiday and winter collections are the Eggnog, the Cocomint Cream, and the Apple Custard and as you can tell from the photos, I was totally spoiled in all three flavour categories.  I picked up the ginormous Eggnog collectible tin, the Eggnog Christmas ornament, and the cute little stackable tin.  Not only do I think the tea is delicious but I adore the beautiful bright blue colour the tea products are outfitted in.

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Next, the Cocomint Cream.  The Cocomint Cream tea is included in the “Christmas Morning” trio set AND I was able to take advantage of a very limited edition product that I only found at Yorkdale Mall: tea and cookies!!  I was so shocked when I found the adorable little tea and cookies set at Yorkdale and while I’m still confused as to why the product availability was so limited, I am ecstatic that I was able to get my hands on a set before the holidays were over.  The tea and cookies set comes with a little tin of Cocomint Cream tea as well as half a dozen chocolate chip cookies.  Um, hello, DEB IN A NUTSHELL.  LOVE.

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Finally, the Apple Custard.  Oh how I love this tea to itty bitty pieces.  This is probably my favourite out of all the holiday and winter flavours.  It smells divine and you should taste it cold/chilled/iced too.  It is yummylicious.  Thank goodness it’s part of the winter collection that is still available in stores until the spring collection replaces it come March.  My best friend got me the cute-as-a-button Apple Custard tea house (equipped with a nice big baggy of tea and bottle of vanilla agave) for Christmas and I picked up the little yellow stackable tin from the boxing week sale.

And speaking of which, I couldn’t resist adding one more item to the holiday haul during my last David’s Tea visit on new year’s eve: the Earl Grey trio collection!  It was marked down as a boxing week sale item, both my brother and mum love Earl Grey tea, the box is really pretty, AND – get this – there’s a Star Trek reference on the box.  Now, I’m no Trekkie, but my boyfriend is and I do have some knowledge of the series from my TNG-watching days so I can appreciate the very cheeky Star Trek quote on the packaging: Tea.  Earl Grey.  Hot.  *waves to Patrick Stewart, aka. Captain Picard*

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The holidays are sadly coming to a close, but winter is definitely sticking around so I’ll be happily enjoying these teas for weeks to come.

The Kind of School You Want to Go to – A Holiday Hashbrown Poutine Brunch at School Restaurant!

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I think everyone will agree that one of the best things about the holidays is/was getting a break from school.  These two beautiful, glorious weeks are like pure gold (unless of course you happen to have homework to do in which case the pure gold becomes more like a lump of coal.  Seriously, that’s just mean, but for the sake of keeping this happy, we’ll go for the homework-free holiday).  So what if I told you that there was a type of school that you’d actually want to attend during the holiday break?  One where you could educate yourself about delicious food and be surrounded by stacks of mouthwatering pancakes and French toast dripping in syrup, hot plates of eggs, bacon, and homefries with all the fixins’, and waffles outfitted with sweet and savoury accessories?  I probably wouldn’t need to twist your arm to haul your tooshie out of bed then, would I?  Because the only ‘school’ worth waking up to attend over the holidays just happens to be one of the city’s favourite breakfast/brunch spots, School Restaurant, located in Liberty Village!

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School Restaurant lives up to its name with their fun chalkboard diagrams (I could totally ace a test based on the anatomy of an ice cream sundae), their wall of clocks with all hands pointing to 3:30pm (quittin’ time!), bills slipped into little report card envelopes, and clipboard menus featuring fun menu items such as “teachers pet” basket of baked goodies, “headmaster omelette”, and “apple-a-day waffle”.  So not your average cafeteria garb.  If you love themed stuff, School is right up your alley.  And if you don’t care for it, you’ll love the food anyway, especially if you’re a breakfast and brunch fanatic like me!  I got the chance to eat from their special, limited time, “12 Days of Christmas” menu (which was available from December 13 – 24) last week and while I know you won’t find the same menu or exact items in their restaurant anymore, at least this gives you an idea of what the style is like and the type of food you can expect off of their regular menu.  And lucky for you guys, my item is actually available on the regular one!

What I love most about brunch places is their mix of sweet and savoury dishes.  While I usually err on the side of savoury, the sweet ones make me salivate just as much and I only wish I had found out about the special menu earlier, that way there might have been a chance of me squeezing in an extra trip.  But no matter, I enjoyed my incredibly delicious breakfast choice and I can still look forward to eating off their regular menu which boasts just as many scrumptious options: black ‘n’ blue flapjacks, $15 (pancake stack with black and blueberry sauce with brown sugar butter), krispy krunchy French toast, $15 (crunchy French toast coated in rice cereal with marmalade), roasted apple-a-day waffle ($15), cheddar-chive biscuits with honey butter ($7), and smoked salmon breakfast salad ($15).

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Their “12 Days of Christmas” limited edition menu featured lots of holiday cocktails and drinks such as mulled wine, bourbon eggnog, and winter rum punch as well as festive candy cane pancakes, eggnog waffles, gingerbread krispy krunch French toast, omelettes, buttermilk chicken and waffles, cheesy bacon French toast, and my dish: the joyeux noel hashbrown poutine!

Like I mentioned above, this is one of the dishes that is actually available on the regular weekend brunch menu as well so if you like what you see, you can enjoy this awesome deliciousness on Saturdays and Sundays too!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the main components that make up this dish: hashbrowns/homefry potatoes, cheese/cheese curds, and a gorgeous sunny-side up egg.  These three things alone make me a happy camper so have them all together in one dish sitting atop a generous ladle of rosemary gravy (have I told you I freakin’ love gravy nobody’s business?!  Well, if I haven’t, now you know), with tons of yummy leeks, and a side of tomato jam makes it ultra fabulous.

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The potatoes were perfectly diced (not mushy or dry or undercooked) which made forking mouthfuls of potatoes, gravy, and gooey cheese super easy, the cheese was perfectly melted and stringy and delightful (I love me my cheese curds but it takes the fun out of eating them if they’re cold lumps, you know?), the egg was beautiful and runny, and – wait for it – the leeks were awesome.  I know.  You wouldn’t think the leeks would play such a starring role but they did.  They were sliced thick enough so that you could taste them and see them in the dish with no trouble but not so thick that they were awkward to eat.  I’ve had dishes in the past where the leeks just weren’t prominent enough and I love that they were prominent here.  In all honesty, it was such a nice surprise that the leeks weren’t treated like an afterthought and I thoroughly enjoyed them.  I could do without the tomato jam (it didn’t taste bad, tomato jam just isn’t my thing) but I understand why it’s there (a little acidity is needed to break up the flavours) and can appreciate its presence even if it’s not my cup of tea.

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This was my first time coming here and I’m really glad I had the chance to enjoy my food during the holidays as it definitely made the experience fun and festive.  Going to “school” is definitely that much more bearable when the assignments are this yummy and when a perfect attendance record is this easy to achieve.

*****

School Restaurant is located at 70 Fraser Ave. in Liberty Village, east of Dufferin St. and just south of King Street West off the King streetcar.  They are open 7 days a week for breakfast/weekend brunch and lunch from 9am-3pm.  You can follow them on Twitter @schoolresto.

Making Christmas Memories at Bobbette & Belle’s Newest Location with Tea, Cookies, Alfajores & Macarons!

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I know Christmas comes and goes every year and I know it might not be the happiest occasion for some folks, but for me, it’s my favourite time of year.  I love Christmas even more than I love summer and that’s saying a lot because my birthday is during the summer and I love me my birthday celebrations.  I love Christmas so much and I look forward to the season and everything it brings each year and I always feel so happy when everything I love is happening within a span of a month (seeing friends, holiday menus, holiday displays, exchanging presents, and taking a ridiculous amount of photos of all of the aforementioned) and when it’s all over I always feel a little nostalgic and sad.  So I try my hardest to soak up every moment and to make as many fun memories as possible.

I made many of these wonderful memories yesterday when I spent one of the best days ever with my best friend for the holidays.  Part of the ultra fabulous day included an afternoon stop at Bobbette & Belle’s 2nd location in uptown Yonge-Lawrence village for hot drinks and sweets!

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Not only am I so in love with Christmas but I am absolutely smitten with Bobbette & Belle’s newest location.  I didn’t even KNOW they opened a 2nd location until late last week when I was just out and about in the area and happened to walk past it.  I was so stunned I nearly shouted, “WHAT!?” right out on the sidewalk.  Sigh.  This is what happens when I stop blogging and, for the most part, being tuned out of all my foodie outlets for nearly half a year.

I have no idea when Bobbette & Belle opened this new location but am I ever sure glad they did!  I love it even more than their original flagship on Queen Street East.  While the Queen East location is big and airy, the Yonge-Lawrence location has such a warm, comforting, communal feel to it.  The decor and aesthetic is very similar: gorgeous cake pedestals displayed on shelves, beautiful china dishes and tea plates hung stylishly on the wall, a chalkboard menu, wood floors, and platters and stands full of pastries and sweets (tarts, cupcakes, macarons, cakes, scones, cookies and so much more!) just waiting to be devoured.  The difference?  The cafe aspect and feel.  The Yonge-Lawrence one screams Parisian cafe to me with its small tables and seating section in the back and the beautiful cushioned booth seating right up in the front by the storefront window (which can seat 4 sets of 2) is prime real estate, baby.  It’s bright, it’s soothing, and with the cushiony seating and knitted pillows, it’s the perfect spot to spend time with someone over a delicious dessert and hot drink.

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I was so excited finding out about their new location that I took advantage of the timing and ordered something holiday-themed: a Christmas tree-shaped shortbread cookie (which is actually what I had the last time I was at Bobbette & Belle during Christmas, go figure!  Check out that blog post here) along with two delightful macarons in cassis and chocolate mint, an alfajores cookie, and a nice big hot steaming mug of Citron Calm tea from their selection of Sloane Fine Teas!  I am over the moon that they serve Sloane teas as their teas are delicious.

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Ugh, this was such a delicious afternoon treat!  I knew I loved their macarons and shortbread cookies and now I love their alfajores cookies.  A lot.  The cookie has such great texture (sturdy yet soft and moist) and the caramel was nice and thick and gooey without being mushy and the coconut it was rolled in gave it the perfect crunch.  LOVE.  And in addition to the Christmas-themed shortbread cookies, they had a chocolate candy cane peppermint cupcake on hand as well as some apple caramel pastries, apple cider, and several other holiday yummies.

Their new location is in an accessible part of town (walking distance from Lawrence subway station) and it’s in an area that I really enjoy being in as I love the Yonge-Lawrence and Yonge-Eglinton neighbourhoods.  I cannot wait to come back for scones and tea, or maybe a tart with a macaron, or a slice of cake, or just more alfajores cookies.  And a hundred plus more cups of tea.

*****

Bobbette & Belle is located at 3347 Yonge Street on the east side of Yonge at the corner of Snowdon Ave. (Fairlawn Ave. being the street on the west side of Yonge) in the Yonge-Lawrence Village neighbourhood.  Their hours are 9am-6:30pm from Monday-Friday and 9am-6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  Their original flagship location is in Leslieville at 1121 Queen Street East.