The Vegetarian Sandwich Series: Thirteen Veggie Sandwich Choices at Gayley’s Cafe on Dundas Street West

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As promised, here’s the list of vegetarian sandwiches available at Gayley’s Cafe on Dundas Street West!  Like I mentioned yesterday, their sandwiches are served on your choice of calabrese, rye, pita, multigrain, or white bread.  These items are taken straight from the menu which I photographed for my own reference.  They don’t have a website and their menu isn’t accessible online for the time being, so I hope this helps!

  1. Avocado, cucumber, roasted peppers, alfalfa sprouts
  2. Avocado, roasted peppers, alfalfa sprouts
  3. Avocado, melted cheese, sautéed mushrooms
  4. Roasted zucchini, cheese, sundried tomatoes
  5. Avocado, sundried tomatoes, roasted peppers, lettuce
  6. Grilled zucchini, cheese, sundried tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts
  7. Grilled zucchini, cheese, olives, alfalfa sprouts
  8. Roasted peppers, cheese, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts
  9. Cucumber, cream cheese, sundried tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts
  10. Lettuce, tomatoes, cheese
  11. Hummus, red peppers, alfalfa sprouts
  12. Grilled cheese
  13. Fried egg sandwich

*****

Gayley’s Cafe is located at 1424 Dundas St. West, east of Dufferin St. off Gladstone Ave.  They serve all-day breakfast as well as a number of meat sandwiches and coffee drinks.  The next time I go, I’ll jot down their breakfast dishes, well as their other non-sandwich meals!

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The Vegetarian Sandwich Series: Crunchy Calabrese & Veggie Sandwiches at Gayley’s Cafe on Dundas West

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Some of the best discoveries are purely accidental.  Remember that ridiculously long walk I took on Dundas Street West back in April?  The one I took because I was curious and feeling ambitious?  And remember how I said I made a bunch of really great foodie discoveries along the way?  Well, Gayley’s Cafe was one of them!  Thinking back to that long walk I took on that gray, overcast, chilly day, I’m amused.  I remember wearing my knit hat, a scarf, and my fuzzy mulberry purple winter coat and little flurries floating around when I left downtown to go back home.  And when I actually came back to Gayley’s for a meal a month and half later?  I was hot and sweaty in the blazing sun *chuckles* That’s the passing of time for you!

Located east of Dufferin St. near Gladstone Ave. on Dundas Street West, Gayley’s is a beautiful, homey breakfast, brunch, and lunch cafe with enough sandwiches to last us all a lifetime!  Gayley’s is gorgeous with an air of lightness and sunnyness.  It grabbed my attention with its exterior of pale yellow and cornflower blue, and it delighed me with its interior of neutral colour bricks and colourful, whimsical paintings and artwork.  The brick walls are studded with the work of local artists that are actually for sale, and all I could think of was, “what I would give for such beautiful artwork!”  Not only is Gayley’s a feast for the tummy, but it’s a feast for the eyes.

Gayley’s menu speciality is their sandwiches.  And if you’re looking for vegetarian options, boy do they ever have a list!  I’ll write out a list of all their vegetarian sandwiches soon, but a quick count from their menu shows 13 vegetarian sandwich options.  Most of their vegetarian sandwiches have a combination of vegetables such as roasted peppers, roasted zucchini, avocado, alfalfa, olives, cheese, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and spreads such as cream cheese and hummus.  There’s also grilled cheese and a fried egg sandwich too. 

Their sandwiches are served on your choice of calabrese, rye, pita, multi-grain, or white bread and all come with a side green salad with vinegar dressing.  It took me forever and a half to narrow down my choices because there were so many, but I finally decided on an avocado, melted cheese, and sautéed mushroom sandwich on crunchy calabrese bread.  If you ask, they’ll put additional ingredients in your sandwich with an additional charge, so I also added roasted red peppers to my sandwich for an extra dollar.  I can’t say for sure exactly what type of cheese was used, but it tasted like a combination of cheddar and jack cheese. 

I loved my sandwich.  It was HUGE!  The bread was nice and crusty and the best part of my sandwich was the way the melted cheese meshed with sautéed mushrooms and roasted peppers, while the avocado provided the sandwich with some fresh creaminess.  The avocado, although not the creamiest I’ve ever had in my life, was very good still and was sliced in cubes in my sandwich.  I also enjoyed my salad which was comprised of romaine lettuce, mixed greens, sliced carrots, and red cabbage.  If you’re not into vingear dressing though, tell them to hold it because they do dress their salad generously.  I don’t mind the vinegar dressing at all because my tastebuds like the slight sour tang to it.  It makes sense considering how I love salt n’ vinegar potato chips!

Even though I didn’t try their all-day breakfast, I did order a side of home fries with my sandwich.  I know, I eat like a horse, and no, I didn’t eat the whole dish of home fries!  I shared them with my boyfriend and we brought the rest to-go with us when we finished our meal.  Anyway, Gayley’s home fries are awesome!  Every place that serves breakfast has a different way of serving home fries; some places will do them beefsteak, potato wedge style (like Futures Bakery), while other places dice them into small cubes, or serve them like scalloped potatoes (coin home fries as I like to call them) among other ways. 

Gayley’s home fries are like half circle (or half moon) wedges of potato and gosh, are they ever good!  I really love my home fries in wedges like these, and they weren’t dry, overly starchy, or overly chewy.  They were delicious meaty potato home fries that I would order again in a heartbeat!

Prices here are well worth it.  Their vegetarian sandwiches are all around $5.95-$6.95 and I was so satisfied after my meal.  I haven’t had any of their breakfast dishes yet, but judging the plates I saw on others customers’ tables they are biiiig.  Their breakfast and lunch menus are together on the same menu, so if you want a sandwich on rye at 10am, you could totally go for it!  The only blip in their menu that I noticed was the very last vegetarian sandwich listing which was, well, not vegetarian, but hey, one minor mistake at the end of the menu isn’t too big of a deal for a place that has over 30 sandwich options.  It’s a bright sunny cafe with a ton of options for both carnivores and vegetarians alike, so I would definitely recommend Gayley’s for those who loves sandwiches, and for those who adore breakfast, brunch, and lunch meals 😀

*****

Gayley’s Cafe is located at 1424 Dundas St. West, east of Dufferin St. off Gladstone Ave. 

Scrapbooking materials used: pale yellow and blue cardstock (Recollections); patterned paper (Green Tea stack by DCWV); bright blue alphabet stickers (Recollections); adhesive flower embellishments (Posies by Autumn Leaves, Creativity Inc.); paper corner rounder (ek success); black felt tip Sharpie marker.

Short & Sweet Cupcakes Has Found a New Home on Avenue Road!

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I’m excited to pass the word along that Short & Sweet Cupcakes has successfully moved to their new home, 3 blocks north of their old location.  Previously on Old Orchard Grove off Avenue Rd., they are now operating all shiny and new at 1945 Avenue Rd. and I am really looking forward to seeing the new place and of course, picking up a cupcake or two!  To celebrate, here’s a look back at their old location where I found my holy grail cupcakes in the city.  When I first embarked on this cupcake tour of mine, never did I think that I would find a cupcake shop that has made me feel more welcome and at home than Short & Sweet.  Coming here has become much more than just getting a cupcake or sugar fix; it has become a muse for me, and a place where I have made genuine relationships that I can only see growing as time goes on.  To Short & Sweet, congratulaions on a successful move and to everyone else…get yourself some awesome cupcakes 😉  To view all my past Short & Sweet scrapbook layouts and to relive all the Short & Sweet cupcake love, click here.

*****

Short & Sweet Cupcakes is now located at 1945 Avenue Rd., south of Wilson Ave.  If you take public transit (like me) the easiest way to get here is to get off at Wilson subway station and take the 96 bus to Avenue Rd. and walk south.  You can also get here by getting off at York Mills subway station and taking the 165 Weston Rd. North bus to Wilson Ave. and Avenue Rd. and walking south, or getting off Yorks Mills subway station and walking west to Avenue Rd. from Yonge.

Crepelicious! Juicy Strawberries and Golden Yellow Crepes at Futures Bakery

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In honour of the ridiculously early morning outing I had yesterday, here’s some breakfast for anyone and everyone who needs a delicious energy boost!  Yesterday morning reminded me just how much I adore breakfast and breakfast foods (especially in a state of ravenous hunger), and also how much I’ve missed being in the water.  I used to be a hardcore swimmer when I was little, taking my fins all the way to Whalers life-saving class (Level 8 in my swim program and the first of three life-saving levels) when I was 11 years old.  I stopped swimming on a regular basis shortly after and only took it up again, briefly, when I started high school.  It’s been nearly 10 years since I last went swimming and I went to the pool with my dad yesterday morning at the crack of dawn for the first time since I was 15.  Needless to say, I had one hell of a workout!  It’s going to take some time for me to get my groove back (most of the time I was just flutter kicking, doggy paddling, and treading water), but it felt so good to swim again and I’m really glad I stuck it out and ran out of the house in a sleepy stumble at 6:15am! 😀

That morning swim worked up quite the appetite, so to celebrate all yummy breakfast things, I have fresh and fruity strawberry crepes from Futures Bakery for you!  Futures Bakery has a mouth-watering breakfast menu (along with a hunger-inducing lunch and dinner menu), that boasts thick slabs of French toast and several different kinds of eggs benedict, omelettes, breakfast sandwiches, pancakes, and of course, crepes!  Their spinach and feta omelette was the first breakfast dish I blogged about and I absolutely raved about their portions, their home fries, and everything in between.  I made a solemn foodie promise to myself that I would eat my way through their menu, so this is my second breakfast post with much more to come in the future (no pun intended).

Futures serves 3 different kinds of crepes on their all-day breakfast menu ($6.95): strawberry, blueberry, and maple.  And if you can believe, between myself, my mum, and my brother, we’ve eaten through all 3 kinds!  And we love all of them.  I love crepes, but I’m always a little wary about them.  And what I mean by that is their potential to fill you and satisfy you as a full-fledged meal, without falling into the dessert category.  I’ve had non-dessert crepes that tasted good, but that have sadly left me hungry and a little empty in the end.  Off the top of my head, I know Demetres has GIANT dessert crepes (which prompted an old friend of mine to look at our non-crepe dessert plates and say, “why does mine look the most gluttonous?!”), and there are plenty of other places in the city I would love to go to that specialize in crepes, both savoury and sweet.  I am to say though that Futures breakfast crepes are AH-MAZING.

It was the combination of crepe and filling that makes the dish so good to eat.  One doesn’t trump the other because both are equally as delicious and of stellar quality.  The filling is so fruity and sweet and fresh.  You are not eating some lame filling that resembles jam out of a jar.  You’re literally cutting into a thick, yummy crepe and watching the juicy strawberry puree ooze out and let me tell you, there’s a lot of it. 

As well, they’re not the paper thin kind that we’re accustomed to seeing.  They’re thicker, like a pancake, but chewy instead of cakey.  If I could make an accurate comparison of their appearance and texture to any other kind of food, I would say that they resemble blintzes.  I say this time and time again, but Futures does not skimp and it’s great quality food at bang-for-your-buck prices and portions.  The crepes are plump, wonderfully crispy on the edges, golden in colour, and folded into cute little “envelopes” of strawberry fruit filling.   This meal reminds me so much of summer mornings with baskets of fresh fruit, and why breakfast is so much fun to eat.

*****

Futures Bakery and Cafe is located at 483 Bloor St. West, in between the main intersections and subway stations of Spadina Ave. and Bathurst St.  It sits right at the corner of Bloor St. and Brunswick Ave. on the south side of Bloor.  They are open from 7:30am to 2am 7 days a week.

On My (Chinese) Kitchen Table: Ground Pork Fried Rice with Green Onions

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Rice has always been a part of my life.  Coming from a Chinese girl like myself, that probably doesn’t sound any alarm bells, but hear me out.  Rice has played a role in some of my funniest memories (according to my uncle, my aunt was enjoying her fried rice so much she flung a few grains into his ear with her rapid fire chopsticks), and in my early stages of socialization in true-blue Chinese culture where my great-grandmother would cook me baby portions of congee as a toddler.  It wasn’t until I finished high school and started university though that I started feeling restless about the consistent rice noshing.  I wanted to experiment, I wanted to try new things.  My dad has never had any qualms about inhaling on an everyday basis, but I knew my mum and I wanted to branch out and eat other kinds of meals.  In short, my mum and I started feeling bored and we could feel ourselves falling into a food rut. 

Mixing things up has pushed us to get more creative and to leave behind the safety net of the traditional Chinese white dinner, all the while reminding us that rice is still very much an integral part of our food culture.  The whole point was to seek a balance and I think we’ve found it: don’t necessarily abandon it, but don’t rely on it too heavily for the sake of tradition and routine.  For this reason, fried rice has functioned as a happy-medium, as a way of breaking up any form of monotony in the kitchen without denying the fact that we are Chinese and hey, we consume a lot of rice!  Even though I don’t consider fried rice in particular to be the defining dish in Chinese and/or Cantonese cuisine (this quick association actually makes me cringe because it’s so awfully misguided and stereotypical), I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love fried rice, or at the very least enjoys one specific kind.  Pineapple and chicken, egg and shrimp, seafood, mixed vegetables – I love them all, especially when I have it at the really nice sit-down Chinese restaurants with the banquet-style set dinner meals and the little dim sum tea cups! 

My mum has always made fried rice every so often as a treat for my brother and I when we were growing up, and my mum’s ground pork fried rice is one of my all-time favourite comfort, home-cooked meals.  Similar to the lemon green onion rice I posted a week and a half ago, it’s a white rice dish comprised of lean ground pork, chopped green onions, lots of minced garlic, sautéed buttom mushrooms on occasion, olive oil, and our special light-hearted touch: red pepper chili flakes!  Normally, I would sprinkle on some Worcestershire sauce (geep-jup, as we call it in Chinese) or sweet chili sauce, but this time around I felt like something cold on top of the hot rice, something with a little bit of tanginess to it: sour cream!  With a plate of pork and green onion fried rice, a dollop of sour cream, and a smattering of chili flakes, I have myself a plate of home-cooked comfort.

The Keys to My Heart: Beautiful Summer Days and Fresh & Flaky Fish n’ Chips at King’s Table in the Beaches

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It feels like eons since I last talked about my favourite foods and where to get them!  I guess it makes sense though because favourites are difficult to narrow down and it takes time to try out different variations of the same dish.  I may have nailed down my favourite spicy salmon sushi rolls and my favourite cookie dessert, but I have a long way to go before I figure out my be-all and end-all for every other food category!  Not to mention there’s always a chance that your favourite now may not be your favourite years later.  There’s always the possibility that your current faves will get replaced by even more amazing eats in the future, but for the time being, I have a gut feeling that the handful of favourites I’ve selected are here to stay on my list.   

Fish n’ chips is a treat to me.  It’s that one guilty pleasure, comfort food type of indulgence that I go for once a year.  And I love it.  I would take fish n’ chips over a burger any day.  And lucky for me, I’ve found my holy grail fish n’ chips!  One food category down, a gazillion more to go 😀  King’s Table, located on Queen St. East in the Beaches, is by far my favourite place to go for fresh, flaky, buttery fish n’ chips.  I went here for the first time last summer and I instantly knew this place was a keeper in my book.

There are so many things I love about King’s Table.  I love that it’s a beautiful, intimate place (with a romantic-looking little patio out back!) that evokes that light, breezy feeling of summer happiness and comfort.  Whenever I think of fish n’ chips, I think, “Mmm, yummy.  Greasy spoons!”  We’re talking fish n’ chips here, not rainbow trout or lobster or other seafood delicacies.  We’re talking your good old fashioned fish n’ chips with plenty of haddock, halibut, and cod with starchy, potato-y, delicious fries.  When I think of fish n’ chips, I envision tiny diner style places with a lot of take-out and paper bag sacks.  Although King’s Table could be considered a neighbourhood diner, it has that inviting atmosphere that draws you in to sit and stay and have a good meal.  I love the rich yellow colour of the walls and napkins, the red curtains by the front window, the cute fish memorabilia hanging (and painted!) on the walls, and the peacefulness inside the restaurant.  When I eat here I feel relaxed, like I can take my time to enjoy my meal without being rushed.  It’s a lovely fish n’ chips diner that has amazing food to boot.

Prices for meals depend on the type of fish and their sizes.  Halibut is the more expensive option while haddock and cod are the lesser expensive ones.  If you order a meal like mine (one piece of 4oz. haddock with chips), it’ll run you $8.65.  I’m more than satisfied with this, but if you have a heartier appetite, your meal will probably run closer to $12-$15.  They have fish n’ chips meals, fish n’ chips with salad meals (which are the meals that are closer to the $12-$15 range), and fish only meals.  As well, they have large portions of panfried fish and salmon fillet meals (around 70z. and 8oz.) that are more expensive if you feel like you want to splurge.   

King’s Table fills that fish n’ chips love of mine with some amazing haddock and chips.  I plan on trying other dishes from their menu (such as their shrimp, their clam chowder, their mushrooms with garlic and chive sauce, and maybe even a dessert), but I have to tell you, I’d be a happy camper for life if I came back here and ate nothing else but the haddock and chips I love so much.  And that’s saying a lot coming from me, Little Miss I-always-want-to-order-and-try-something-different-each-time-I-go-out-to-eat!  The haddock is buttery, flaky, crispy, crunchy, and everything you could want in a piece of battered fish.  It’s not greasy or oil-laden in the least.

And their fries!  I know fries aren’t the star of the show but if you’re eating fish n’ chips, I think it’s necessary for the “chips” part of the meal to own it.  To me, even though you’re paying the bulk of your meal toward the fish, it ruins the meal if the fries are nasty.  Their fries are soft without being soggy and I dunk them (as well as my crispy, flaky haddock) in their seafood tartar sauce and it is heaven.  I know a lot of people like to eat their food “naked”, but I am not one of them.  I adore sauce.  So much so that I took my boyfriend’s sauce and ate that too.  He doesn’t use sauce so I offered my eating services to prevent waste.  And no one likes to see awesome sauce go to waste, right? 😉

*****

King’s Table is located at 2248 Queen St. East between Beech and Willow Ave. in the Beaches neighbourhood.  They are open for business from 12pm-10pm and I am pretty sure these hours are for every day of the week, but I will double check to make sure.  King’s Table also offers take-out.

Baking is No Monkey Business – Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies!

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Happy Monday everyone!  It’s the start of another busy week, so I’m kicking it off with some good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies.  But they’re not just any ordinary chocolate chip cookies.  Oh no, they’re BANANA chocolate chip cookies!  I don’t know about everybody else, but there are always bananas in our kitchen.  For those of you who know me well or who’ve been following the blog, you know that I have pretty bad allergies to a number of different fruits.  I’m allergic to the raw fruit flesh of apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, cherries, honeydew melon, and pineapples.  And those are the allergies that I’m currently aware of – there could be others lurking around! 

Thus, bananas are a staple in our household because it’s one of the few fruits that 1) I can eat without swelling up like a blowfish, 2) are pretty much available in good condition all year-round, and 3) won’t make baked goods and foods like pancakes soggy.  Bananas are one of my favourite thickening agents, not to mention it soothes an achy stomach.  So in the words of Ralph Wiggum, “Go banana!” 😀

I baked two sets of cookies over the weekend for my grandpa’s birthday (chosen from my foodie murder mysteries by Joanne Fluke) and these were definitely the winner between the two kinds I made.  I chose the Pineapple Delights recipe from Key Lime Pie Murder and Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies from Plum Pudding Murder.  These are SO INCREDIBLY SOFT.  Like melt-in-your-mouth soft.  Handle with care soft.  You get the idea.  I’m pretty sure the softness of the cookies is due to the combination of butter and icing sugar.  The resulting batter is practically like whipped cream, so airy and fluffy.  These cookies are thin, delicate, flavourful cookies and I love them.

I had to tweak the oven temperature after the first batch came out though because the edges were too charred for my liking (I’m picky, what can I say?) and they were teetering on the edge of burned.  Had I not taken the first batch out when I did, they definitely would have been crispy to say the least!  So what you see in the photos is the second batch, which I adjusted by 50 degress fahrenheit.  Perfect cookies!

Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies (yields 3 dozen large or 5 dozen small cookies)

Ingredients

  • 2  sticks (1 cup, ⅟₂a pound) softened butter
  • 1 and ⅟₂cups powdered (confectioners) sugar (only sift it if there are lumps)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅟₄teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour (pack it down when you measure it)
  • 6 oz. package (or 1 cup) semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
  • ⅟₂teaspoon lemon extract

Directions:

  • Beat the softened butter and the powdered sugar together until they look light and creamy.  Add the half teaspoon of lemon extract and mix it in.
  • Peel the banana and break it into chunks.  Mix them in until they’re thoroughly mashed and the powdered sugar and butter mixture is smooth again.
  • Sprinkle in the baking powder and salt, and mix them in thoroughly.
  • Add the flour in half-cup increments, mixing after each addition.  When the cookie dough is thoroughly mixed, mix in the chocolate chips by hand until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
  • Line with your cookie/baking sheets with foil (**Deb’s note: I used parchment paper and it worked fine).  Use a teaspoon to drop cookie dough 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets, no more than 12 cookies to a sheet.  (**Deb’s note: you can always use a larger spoon to make larger cookies, or scoop as little or as much dough as you want to get the desired size.  The cookie dough does spread, so just keep that in mind when dropping the dough on the cookie sheets).
  • Bake the cookies at 400 degrees F. for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown.  (**Deb’s note: 400 degrees was way too hot for mine so I decreased the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. and the cookies turned out perfect.  I also just baked them for 8 minutes).
  • Remove them from the oven and let the cookies sit on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes.  Remove the foil (or parchment paper) and cookies from the sheets, foil/paper and all, to a wire rack to cool completely.

*****

Recipe taken from Joanne Fluke’s Plum Pudding Murder.  New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation, 2009.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 178.