It’s the Season of Fresh Fruit & Vegetables and Healthy Baked Goods: Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market!

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The snow is gone, the sun is out (on some days anyway!), and the temperatures are warm.  You know what that means: farmers’ markets across the city!  I fell in love with going to farmers’ markets last summer after going to Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Phillips Square several times over the course of a few months.  It’s so heart-warming seeing everyone there picking up yummy baked goods, homemade jams and honey, and lugging around bulging bags of fruits and vegetables.  Farmers’ markets are so much more than just offering people a great deal.  It’s about connecting the public with the local economy and showcasing the talent and hard work that may not always get noticed on such a large scale.  There’s always something new to see (I saw and tasted gooseberries for the first time last summer!) and my camera will be there to capture it all for the next few months. 

First up: the farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park in downtown Toronto, located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm until October 25th.  I was there today with my mum and brother and I snapped some photos of the delicious food at some of the booths and picked up some vegan oatmeal coconut cookies (these things are HUGE oh my lord!) among other things.  There were booths selling bundles of fresh asparagus, baked bread, jarred honey and jams, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan sweet goodies including .  You can bet I’ll be going back for all those amazing treats.  Enjoy the photos!

*****

The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm until October 25th.  Check out other farmers’ markets and foodie events in and around the city on my Food Calendar

Lemon Vanilla Panna Cotta & Lemon Macarons: The Gourmet Delights at Daniel et Daniel in Cabbagetown – Part II

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Have you ever had the experience of making a fabulous foodie discovery only to reluctantly tear yourself away because you found it after you already ate?  Or because the weather wasn’t nice and you couldn’t be bothered to take your food to go in the rain?  Or because you already had other plans in mind and you were too stubborn at the time to change them for something else?  I’ve had all three experiences. 

Daniel et Daniel has been mocking me for a year.  I feel kind of foolish that it’s taken me this long to eat their delicious desserts because it was a little over a year ago (last March to be exact) that my hun and I found this Cabbagetown gem.  For one reason or another, we just never got around to getting food from here.  Last month though, I dug my heels into the ground and finally went back for those desserts that I had been longingly staring at through the shop window for ages and I am SO glad I did.   You stare at their glass displays of beautiful tarts, pies, macarons, chocolate truffles and bark and a little squeal slips out because you can’t believe what’s in front of you.  The desserts here are delicious and sweet and decadent and everything your sweet tooth could possibly desire.

Daniel et Daniel is a gourmet food shop and event catering business that serves not only desserts, but plenty of gourmet jams and jellies, chocolates, sauces, vinegars and oils, and antipasto among other things.  Along with desserts and great pantry style items, they have a fantastic selection of lunch foods that are priced by weight – think stuffed peppers, salmon, chicken parmesan and lots of cold picnic salads like tomato and bocconcini; asparagus, snap pea, and cherry tomatoes; long string green beans and mushrooms; beets and orange fennel; and chick pea and corn salad.  It’s a gourmet food, grab-and-go kind of shop.  It’s SO perfect if you’re looking to have a picnic at Riverdale Park West which isn’t too far of a walk from the shop – just several blocks east of Parliament St. which you can get to if you walking on Carlton St.

There were so many amazing desserts staring back at me.  I can never resist a lemon dessert though, so I bought – get this – a lemon vanilla panna cotta (!!!) and a lemon cream macaron!!!  OH.MY.GOD.  The lemon loving part of me was going berserk!  In a nutshell, panna cotta is a firm, Italian gelatin dessert that is made with milk, cream, sugar, and gelatin and is similar to a custard and pudding.  Panna cottas are incredibly soft, silky, and smooth and the lemon vanilla panna cotta was delicious in both taste and texture.  

The body of the panna cotta  was so nice and firm yet it still had that beautiful milky silkiness to it which was important.  Too jelly means too delicate and it’ll up end flopping around and losing its shape (basically making a mess of itself).  Too firm and it’ll end up tasting like a flavourless blob.  To me, the texture was great because the firmness was just right and it allowed the lemon glaze and citrus peel to stand out without overwhelming the body of the dessert.  It had a delicious lemon glaze on top along with a scrumptious piece of soft, chewy, lemony candied citrus peel that was all sorts of amazing.  It had that amazing mix of sour and sweet and ugh, it was just SO good.  Not to mention the price was fab: $3.  So worth it and I am whimpering for another one just looking back the photos now. 

And the macaron!  Oh man.  Thumbs up.  There are a number of places around the city that make the beautiful, delicate French macarons, including Petit Thuet (which I blogged about and liked), Nadège Patisserie (with locations on West Queen West and most recently, Rosedale), Pusateri’s, and Whole Foods Market.  I’ll tell you why I enjoyed the lemon macaron from Daniel et Daniel so much and why I would recommend their macarons.  The lemon flavour was absolutely phenomenal.  Even though lemon is a single fruit flavour, it’s often a very difficult  flavour to execute well.  Often times it comes across too strong in its sourness and other times, it’s tamed too much by sugar and it ends up being sickly sweet and artificial.  Their lemon macarons have the PERFECT balance of sour and sweet.  Creamy, fruity, tart, and sweet, they nail the lemon flavour and the macaron itself is delicate, airy, and crispy without being too chewy. 

Another reason why the macarons are great?  The price.  All other places charge around $2 for their macarons.  Daniel et Daniel charges $1.50.  And if you’re trying several at a time, it makes a BIG difference, especially when others are the same size.  With the exception of Whole Foods Market who makes theirs a little bit bigger for $2, I would totally give everyone the push to try the macarons here.  Obviously I’m only taking into consideration the traditional French-style macaron and not the jumbo-sized ones at Metro supermarkets.  I LOVED the lemon macaron and could honestly eat a dozen of them.  I am so incredibly happy with the desserts I got from here and I can’t wait to try some of the more savoury stuff.  And you know, some chocolate and dried fruit bark.  But that’s for another time.  Enjoy the scrap pages and photos!

*****

Daniel et Daniel is a gourmet food shop in Cabbagetown that does event catering.  They are located at 248 Carlton St. near the intersection of Carlton and Parliament St.

Scrapbooking materials used: beige and buttercup yellow cardstock (Recollections); patterned cardstock (The Sweet Stack by DCWV); pink and lime green argyle patterned paper (Making Memories); lime green daisy vine felt borders (Forever in Time Scrapbook Collection); alphabet stickers (Make It Special Crafts); black and floral epoxy stickers (Horizon Group).

The Old-Town Victorian Feel of Cabbagetown and the Gourmet Delights at Daniel et Daniel: Part I

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When I recommend good eats to friends and tell them about my fun walks and exploration days in the city, my friends will often ask, “how in the world do you find these places??”  I know my brother has asked me that very question on more than one occasion and the only answer I can give everyone is that I walk.  A lot.  And I look at maps of the city.  A lot.  I have a hunger and a thirst to see and do as much as I can and to learn about my surroundings.  I’m fascinated by the different neighbourhoods and enclaves in the city and their histories.  Every part of town has a story and exploring it all on foot (or bus or streetcar) is like experiencing a visual playbook.  Finding food gems in every Toronto neighbourhood is one of the best – and most rewarding – parts of exploring and discovering Cabbagetown has been no different.  Walking east from my favourite indoor garden conservatory in the city, Allan Gardens, seemed like a no-brainer for me and this “just keep walking” mentality of mine led me to one of my favourite foodie discoveries last year.

The cheerful “Welcome to Old Cabbagetown” billboard sign sits right at the intersection of Carlton & Parliament St. and it beckons you to take a stroll and to take a look at what is now one of the largest areas of restored and preseved Victorian housing and architecture in the city.  And you feel it and see it when you walk around.  You see the historial significance of the neighbourhood’s name when you pass by a house donning an old green-and-white Cabbagetown flag, indicative of the Irish immigrants who settled into this neighbourhood in the 1800s.  You feel as though you’ve entered some parallel universe where the contemporary and the old have fused into one.  You see where the old has been retained and at the same time, you see where the gentrification has happened.

On the one hand, Cabbagetown makes you envision old school general stores and barber shops with the iconic striped twirly outside along with vintage bicycles and horse-drawn carriages roaming through the streets.  You envision men in tweed and women carrying parisols.  But on the other hand you have hip home decor stores and cafés amongst buildings reminiscent of the early 1900s.  There’s so much history; from Cabbagetown being dubbed by media outlets as an impoverished slum from the effects of WWII and the neighbourhood’s proximity to low-income social housing by Regent Park to the gentrification of the area in past decades, you can’t help but get immersed in it when you get to know the neighbourhood. 

Visually, gourmet haunt Daniel et Daniel near the corner of Carlton and Parliament St. tips their hat to this history with its old-fashioned lamp posts and their logo of a man riding a vintage pennyfarthing bike carrying French baguettes.  Daniel et Daniel is a foodie’s gourmet dream.  With walls of gourmet jams, jellies, mustards, antipasto, and chocolates, along with glass displays featuring mouth-watering picnic salads and fresh baked desserts, it would take a lifetime to feast on everything the shop has to offer.  So, consider this post as a little intro into my exploration of Cabbagetown and its good eats as well as a teaser to tomorrow’s thorough Daniel et Daniel post, complete with scrapbook layout and food porn of tarts, chocolate bark, and lemon luscious desserts.  It’s going to be good 😉    

*****

Daniel et Daniel is a gourmet food shop in Cabbagetown that does event catering.  They are located at 248 Carlton St. near the intersection of Carlton and Parliament St.   

Sushi in the Shape of a Flower? How Cute, Count Me In! – Avocado Rolls With Tempura Bits and Mayo at Sushi Garden

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I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again: I love the challenge in finding the unique in the mundane.  Especially when it comes to sushi.  Although every sushi place is special and different in their own way, they all serve many of the “basics” when it comes to maki rolls: the california roll, salmon, tuna, avocado, spicy salmon, spicy tuna, etc.  It’s precisely because  these rolls are so ho hum that make the challenge of finding something special that much more fun.  For instance, The Sushi Shop makes their salmon rolls with crunchy green onion, Pacific Mall’s Japanese Express serves my favourite spicy salmon rolls in this world with dollops of spicy sauce on top of the rolls, and Big Sushi makes their Philadelphia rolls with cream cheese and crab meat while many others pair the cream cheese with salmon.  You know all how much I love trying out different rolls with wacky combinations and cute names, but I also love ordering the basics and seeing how each sushi place will interpret it differently and make it their own.  So it made me squeal with joy when I came to eat at Sushi Garden, located at 30 Eglinton Ave. W., and learned that the plain Jane avocado roll was dressed up in the shape of a flower (!!!).

Sushi…in the shape of flower petals?!  *breathes into a paper bag*  That is just WAY too cute not to love.  There was no way I could resist that.  Especially because I felt rather foolish for not noticing this adorable presentation earlier – I’ve eaten here more than once!  Foolishness aside, I was excited to order their spicy avocado rolls for my light mid-afternoon meal and admire the sushi flower petals by staring at them adoringly before shoving them all in my mouth.  The avocado rolls are made with some sushi mayo and crunchy tempura bits (I LOVE tempura bits in my sushi!  And nowhere else I’ve been to serves their avocado rolls with it, so score!) and are shaped like teardrops.  When you put them together, they look like a flower.  Awww. 

Let it be known though that although they tasted delicious (the combination of flavoured mayo and avocado was delightful creaminess to the max and the tempura bits were fantastically yummy), the spicy didn’t really exist.  I mean, sure, I felt a liiiittle bit of prickling on my tongue, but the rolls by no means made my taste buds dance like jumping beans.  If you don’t care about that and just want good flavour and good texture and pretty sushi, it’s awesome.  However, if you’re reeeeally looking to cry from the heat, steer clear because it’ll disappoint; it’s just not “spicy” in the true sense of the word.  But I assure you they’re soft and delicious nevertheless!  For those who like the heat, I’ll compile a list of great spicy sushi in the future to put on the blog, but for the time being my recommendation for spicy rolls is Big Sushi on Bloor St. W., this stuff will make you huff and puff!

Sushi Garden actually has a number of locations in Toronto and the one here on Eglinton Ave. W. by Yonge St. is just one of them.  To my knowledge, there is one on Yonge St. not too far north from St. Clair Ave. and just south of Heath St., as well as a location at the corner of Yonge St. and Wellesley St.  Their menus are a bit different though, so just keep that in mind if you’re interested in trying them out.  The one by Yonge & St. Clair is the largest of the three with a menu to match.  The location at Yonge & Wellesley also has a very extensive menu (my favourite thing to order is the salmon sashimi roses!), but is smaller in size and veeery busy during lunch hour.  

Even though the Yonge & Eglinton location has a smaller-sized menu, it has a more peaceful, spacious environment and the great thing about this particular branch is that they offer a 10% discount off your total when you pay in cash.  I’m looking forward to trying out some other items and revisiting some others (they have fantastic tempura green tea ice cream!) and of course, reporting back here!  In the meantime, enjoy the flower sushi 😉

******

Sushi Garden is located at 30 Eglinton Ave. West, just west of Yonge St. on the north side of Eglinton.

Taking Advantage of Summer’s Colour and Bounty – Not Your Ordinary Lunch Box Sandwiches

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This ain’t no ordinary kiddie lunch box lunch 😉  It’s been really fun mixing and matching vegetables and sandwich fillings with whatever we have in the fridge for the week and getting fresh bread from the bakery.  If you like mixing things up and hate eating the same thing twice in a row, you’re like me.  It’s quite fun, actually, challenging myself to get creative with combinations.  It’s like playing a sandwich puzzle, haha!  Here’s a thorough photo recap of some of my sandwich lunches over the past few months.

  • Sandwich #1: turkey, baby spinach, red and yellow baby bell peppers, hot banana peppers, sweet vidalia onions, mozzerella cheese on a submarine bun
  • Sandwich #2: oven roasted turkey, mesclun salad spring mix, green, red, and orange bell peppers, alfalfa sprouts, sweet onions on a kaiser bun with cantaloupe on the side
  • Sandwich #3: roast beef, baby romaine, roma tomatoes, mozzerella cheese, cilantro, lemon dill hummus spread on a wheat bun
  • Sandwich #4: roast chicken, alfalfa banana sprouts, hot banana peppers, avocado on a wheat bun 

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Me, My Boyfriend, and the Turkey BLT Panini: A Fond Love Story

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Let it be known that this is the only Grad Lounge dish being featured on the blog that has not been “nom, nom, nom”ed by me personally.  Yes, that is right, this panini sandwich has actually never been in my mouth, has never graced my digestive tract.  Not in its entirety anyway.  I know, shocking!  Especially considering this is a permanent menu item available every day.  So, how exactly did I get photos of it?  Easy.  My sweetie of a boyfriend, Richard, orders it all the time when we eat here and I simply go click happy with my camera before he starts eating it.  He humours me.  He drums his fingers on the table, looks out the window, and looks up at me expectantly when I appear to be finished giving the sandwich the red carpet treatment.  Now, I know it seems a bit weird to feature something from The Grad Lounge that I’ve never actually eaten on the blog, but I wanted to put these photos up because 1) if I can show off a menu item I haven’t yet blogged about, I will and 2) there’s a cute story behind this dish.

I mentioned up top that I haven’t eaten this turkey BLT in its entirety.  So obviously if you read between the lines, you gather that I have eaten some segment, some portion of it, if not the whole thing.  And I have.  I have eaten the tomato and the pickle spear.  Oh, and the little dipping mayo sauce.  *laughs*  I’m not kidding.  Richard doesn’t really care for dill pickles or sauce (he likes his food “naked”, hee) and he hates tomatoes with a passion to my dismay.  He basically loves this sandwich because of the other three compenents (namely the bacon, turkey, and romaine lettuce) and happily munches away while I eat his tomatoes and crunch on the delicious dill pickle.  And dip whatever it is that I’m eating (or a few fries off his plate) in the dipping mayo.  I like tomatoes and I looooove dill pickles and sauce so the arrangement, albeit a bit weird, works for us. 

I look back at these memories fondly.  It’s something that doesn’t even need discussion.  I order whatever meal it is that I’m ordering, he orders his sandwich and fries, he picks the tomatoes off and grins at me, I roll my eyes at him, I eat the tomatoes, and at the end of the meal I spear the juicy pickle off his plate.  And we call it a meal.  I may never be able to get my boyfriend to eat tomatoes the way I’ve gotten him to eat other things he previously believed he disliked, but that’s okay.  It makes for some sweet memories.

*****

The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  The Grad Lounge’s summer operating hours are from 11:30pm-6:30pm, Monday to Friday.

Ate by Ate’s First Foodie Calendar of Events! Eating Our Way Through May and June

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I’m so excited to unveil this new feature on the blog: The Foodie Calendar of Events! 😀  I’ve always loved taking advantage of free festivals and events around the city, and of course, shelling out the money for the occasional food fest, bake sale, or charitable cause.  Winterlicious, Summerlicious, and Veggielicious, I’m looking at all of you!  I think it’s so important to feel connected to the community and I always look forward to the different seasonal things that go on as well. 

I’ve done some research and I’ve compiled a bunch of great events that might be of interest to you all.  Most of these events take places in Toronto and the GTA, but I’ve also included some a little further away for those who are interested in having a weekend away or taking a mini road trip.  This is a work in progress, so I’m going to be consistently updating and adding to this.  Please feel free to comment and let me know of anything new that comes up or anything I’ve missed.  After this first installment, I’ll be putting this feature up under the header image so you can click and peruse anytime you want without having to sift through old posts.  I hope you guys like this and hopefully you’ll find some stuff here that you’ll want to bookmark and check out!

Charitable Causes

  • Hunger Awareness Day in Canada, sponsored by Food Banks Canada – Tuesday, May 31st.  For more info on how you can get involved, how and where to donate to the cause, and how to do get involved in the Great Canadian Lunch-In, click here.

Community Events, Seminars, and Speakers

  • The Culinarium Speaker Series: How to Grow an Urban Garden – Wednesday, May 25th from 7:30pm-9pm with speaker Nikki Holwell.  Ticket price: $20 each (you can purchase up to 5 tickets).  Located at 705 Mount Pleasant Rd. at the intersection of Soudan Ave.  Click here for more info.
  • The Culinarium Speaker Series: An Evening with Mario Pinque – Wednesday, June 1st from 7:30pm-9pm.  Learn more cured meats and charcuterie from Mario Pinque, owner and co-founder of Niagara Food Specialties.  Ticket price: $20 each (you can purchase up to 5 tickets).  Located at 705 Mount Pleasant Rd. at the intersection of Soudan Ave.  Click here for more info.
  • The Junction’s 1st Annual Vegetarian & Vegan Potluck!  – Saturday, June 11th at 5pm.  Location: Green Lavender Eco Store & Yoga Studio at 2842 Dundas St. West, just east of Keele St.  Click here for all the details on what you can bring, what everyone else might be bringing, and to RSVP to the event.
  • Toronto Vegan Scavenger Hunt – Saturday, June 25th from 12pm noon-6pm.  Location: Kensington Market.  For more info on what the vegan scavenger hunt is and how to register and play, click here.

Farmers’ Markets

  • Oshawa Centre Farmers’ Market – every Friday from 8am-5pm, starting May 6th to October (419 King St. W., Oshawa)
  • The Distillery District Farmers’ Market – every Sunday from 10am-4pm, starting May 2nd to September 26th (55 Mill St, south of Front St. E and east of Parliament St.)
  • The Stop Farmers’ Market @ Wychwood Barns – every Saturday from 8am-12pm noon (Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St. at St. Clair Ave. W.)
  • Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market – every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm, starting May 10th to October 25th (the market is located at the northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park at Dundas St. W. and Shaw St.)

Festivals

  • June 3rd-5th: Unionville Village Festival @ Main St. Unionville.  Friday night Street Fest with food.  Located in Markham, ON.  For more info, click here.
  • June 12th: 15th Annual Festival on Bloor.  Located along Bloor St. West from Spadina Ave. to Bathurst St. from 12pm noon-6pm.  The road will be closed off and open to pedastrian traffic for the festival.  Live music, yummy food, and craft vendors.  For more info, click here   
  • June 16th-18th: 6th Annual Niagara Italian Festival.  Located in Thorold, ON.  For more info, click here.
  • June 17th-18th: Markham Village Music Festival (with farmers’ market & food).  Located at Main St. Markham.  For more info, click here.
  • June 17th-19th: 3rd Annual Beach BBQ and Brew Festival.  An event focused on bringing together those who passionate about barbeque!  Located at Woodbine Park.  For more info, click here.
  • June 19th-21st: FrancoFête @ The Harbourfront Centre.  A celebration of francophone culture, with music, dance, and FOOD!  For more info, click here.
  • June 19th-25th: Oshawa Fiesta Week.  A festival celebrating European, Asian, and Caribbean cultures and food.  For more info, click here.
  • June 25th-26th: 9th Annual Taste of Asia Festival @ Pacific Mall.  Located in Markham, ON.  For more info, click here.

Paid Ticket Events

  • May 26th: Recipe for Change @ The St. Lawrence Market.  Located in St. Lawrence Market North.  For more info, click here.