Welcoming the Fall Season – Bearing Fruit at The Fall Harvest Festival at Ben Nobleman Park & Community Orchard

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Tomorrow is officially the first day of fall! ūüėĬ† To celebrate this joyous occasion, I’m posting photos from the Fall Harvest¬†Festival that took place this afternoon and early evening at Ben Nobleman Park and Community Orchard.¬† I thank Twitter, specifically¬†Wychwood Barns, for passing along this information yesterday because I otherwise wouldn’t have known about the event!¬† I try my hardest to keep on top of foodie events that happen in and around the city (read: the monthly Food Calendar), but there are things that I miss and I often kick myself (figuratively) for not knowing about them until it’s too late.¬† Thankfully, I caught the news about the fest at Ben Nobleman just in the knick of time and did some really quick mental day-planning to make sure I had the time and accessibility to get there.¬† Lucky for me, Ben Nobleman Park is literally across the street from Eglinton West subway station and that worked to my advantage considering I needed to sub northbound back to Downsview afterward.¬† Score for Team Connect-the-Transit dots!

Let it be known that¬†I’ve never actually been to Ben Nobleman Park, nor have I ever exited from Eglinton West, so this was all new to me today.¬†¬†Ben Nobleman Park and Community Orchard is exactly that:¬†a park with trees,¬†a nice big grassy area for playing, picnics, and strolling, and a playground for¬†the little ones.¬† What makes this park especially unique is the inclusion of a community orchard.¬† Back in 2009, 14 fruit trees were planted and this space has since become an important green space¬†used to educate¬†everyone about tree planting, and¬†for¬†those in and around the Eglinton West community to come together¬†and contribute to the cause.¬† Given how the trees are only 3 years old, it’ll be some time before they really start baring any substantial fruit, but it’s the concept that matters.¬†

It reminds me of a time last year when I noticed for the first time that there were pear trees on campus.¬† I walked by a tree and did a double take when I looked down and saw the surrounding area covered with fallen pears – small bright green ones!¬† They were so cute and I thought, “good squirrel food!”¬† Even though I can’t enjoy most fruits that grow on trees¬†in¬†their natural states, I completely recognize the importance of fruit trees in our fall harvests.

The Fall Harvest fest that took place today from 4pm-7pm was¬†such a cute event.¬† There were SO many kids there playing, eating food, drinking juice,¬†making their own juice at the juicing booth (how cute!), and learning about the different fruit trees during the little orchard tour given by the volunteers.¬† There were bowls upon bowls of fresh fruit for everyone to take (none for me.¬† Thanks, allergies), tea sandwiches (of which I had two), and plenty of juice to go around.¬† And to my delight, there were magazines to take home from the promo material and raffle ticket booth and I came away with two Homemakers’ magazines.¬† Score¬†one for Team I-love-Homemakers’-magazine!¬† My favourite part¬†of the park?¬† The beautiful painted shed¬†of fruit trees and people holding hands.¬† Awww.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

There’s so much I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks and even though I’m probably going to be mumbling and grumbling about the earlier sunsets and all, all the exciting things happening in the near future will eclipse that.¬† For one thing, my camera is going to be so incredibly happy when the leaves start changing colours.¬† Allan Gardens and Main Street Unionville are my favourite places to capture the natural beauty of fall and I can’t wait to show you all some photos from previous years to get all us warmed up and excited!¬† And for another, I am beyond excited to start my Fall Harvest series on the blog!¬† I can’t wait to show you all the delicious fall foods in the city.¬† Fall might be a short season, but there’s more than enough for us to enjoy.

*****

Ben Nobleman Park and Community Orchard is located on Eglinton Ave. W. between Everden Rd. and Strathearn Rd. across the street from Eglinton West subway station.  For more information about the park and the community orchard, click here.

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Shredded Kale Slaw Is the Delicious Newbie in Fresh Town! The Love For Kale Continues On, Part II

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The love for kale continues on!¬† Yesterday I introduced the Italian raw bowl from Fresh to the blog (and to those of you who haven’t stuffed your face into it yet!), with its delicious crushed kale chips, basil pesto sauce, and zucchini noodles.¬† Today, my foodie love letter goes out to¬†Fresh’s shredded kale slaw because it is absolute heaven in my mouth and if I could,¬†I would sneak into their kitchens and eat their entire supply of it!¬†¬†By the bowlful.¬† And then¬†pass out from delicious happiness.¬† And then probably wheeled out in a wheelbarrow by kitchen staff.¬† It would be so worth it.¬†

Their shredded kale slaw is another newbie in¬†Fresh town¬†and from what I gather from other Fresh enthusiasts is that it’s already made quite the impression!¬† The side order of kale slaw comes with all burgers and wraps and replaces the¬†cabbage slaw (which had chopped celery, red onion, and vinegar dressing) that was on the old menu.¬† I was in conniptions after I¬†ate it for the first time last month and¬†I am so glad this new side order is here to stay!¬† Cabbage coleslaw, I will always have fond memories of eating you with my grilled vegetable and basil pesto wrap filling on greens¬†and with my mushroom onion burger.¬† I loved you too, but it’s time to say goodbye as I go on with my life with the¬†new kid in town.

Farewell, cabbage slaw

I went full out GREEN this time with my build-a-bowl fun and ordered sides of kale slaw, sunflower sprouts, edamame beans, and Fresh’s signature house dressing with a warm bowl of brown rice.¬† Fresh is such a fun place for me to eat at because I try things I’ve never eaten before, I enjoy foods I don’t eat on a regular basis, and I get to learn about tasty combinations of foods I never would have otherwise thought of putting together.¬† I had sunflower sprouts for the first time here months ago and aside from times I eat yummies at Freshii, the only other time I eat brown rice is at Fresh and that’s simply because I eat steamed white rice at home and other places.¬†

You can tell how extensive Fresh’s menu is because after eating here a number of times, I have still have plenty of meals and foods I haven’t tried yet!¬† I’m still working my way through it and yet to try a Fresh weekend brunch, soup, salad entree, or smoothie!¬† Mixed fruit juice, yes, smoothie, no.¬† This was my first time having their brown rice and in combination with the kale slaw, sprouts, edamame, and house dressing, I shovelled the rice into my mouth and ate every last grain.

Fresh’s house dressing was the biggest surprise for me.¬† I knew it would be good, but I had no idea that it would be THIS good!¬† Made with a mixture of flax and sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon, dijon, garlic, and tamari (ingredient list¬†taken from the menu), the house dressing is one of a number of dressings and dips that come with salads and as individual additional sides to any meal for an extra $1.¬† The flavour of the dressing is¬†amazing.¬† Think of it as dressing with a subtle savouriness to it without the harsh tang from straight up vinegar or lemon.¬† The sunflower oil gives the dressing body while the apple cider vinegar gives it that sweet and sour taste that adds a kick to blank canvas foods like rice and plain noodles.¬† The shredded kale slaw itself is tossed with a bit of vinegar dressing of its own so the whole meal was just bursting with flavour and texture with the nutty, starchy flavour¬†coming from the edamame beans and the crunchiness¬†coming from the sunflower sprouts and kale.

I’m really excited to feature kale in my upcoming ‘5 Great…’ series on the blog and with so places utilizing the versatility of¬†kale in their dishes, there’s bound to be some great hidden gems and showstoppers around the city to showcase.¬† The kale slaw at Fresh totally has my vote¬†to be in the top 5.¬† It’s not fancy, but that’s the beauty of it because food doesn’t need to be fancy pants to¬†make an impression.¬† All it has to be is fresh and delicious and made with love.¬† And of course, enjoyed with love.¬†¬†No contest here.¬† I just might order¬†two sides of it next time.

*****

Ate by Ate currently has 8 blog entries on Fresh.  To view all the Fresh goodness and scrapbook layouts, click here.

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)

Spotlight on Fresh – Zucchini Noodles, Basil Pesto, and the Love for Kale in the Italian Raw Bowl, Part I

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Dear Fresh, thank you for having fantabulous kale dishes on your menu to stuff my face with.¬† With love, me.¬† Ever since I started eating kale last winter, I’ve been so excited to find places that serve it and finding different ways to cook it and combine it with other vegetables.¬† I bought my first fresh bunch of kale at the farmers’ market earlier in the month, I got my delicious steamed kale fix at Kale Eatery the first few times I ate it, and I enjoyed it in a wonderful salad at my beloved Mela Cafe.¬† And now, I get to it in a plethora of other ways at Fresh!¬† Fresh rolled out a slew of new menu items to spruce up their revamped menu during the summer and the one I was most excited to try – the Italian raw bowl – was just one of them.¬†

Fresh introduced some new mains, starters, salads, and add-ons to their existing menu, as well as some colourful changes to their restaurant details including bright orange chopsticks!  Some of their new menu items include the Sam Houston burrito (soy and sweet potato taco filling with lettuce, sauteed peppers and onions, chipotle avocado sauce, and alfalfa sprouts), Eat Your Greens! salad (edamame, napa cabbage, cucumber, sunflower sprouts, parsley, cilantro, and a Fresh Protein Boost mixture of nuts and seeds), and the return of an old favourite, the Ninja bowl!  When I looked over the new menu, I instantly knew my tastebuds wanted to tango with the Italian raw bowl.

The Italian raw¬†bowl ($9) is a cold, quasi-salad starter with zucchini noodles¬†dressed in a basil pesto sauce (you can tell¬†why I wanted¬†to eat this so badly now, don’t you?), served with a generous helping of grape tomatoes, Fresh¬†Protein Boost mixture, sundried tomatoes, and kale chips!¬† Okay, first things first, let’s break it all down.¬† Fresh’s Protein Boost is¬†a combination of brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pistachios, sesame, flax, hemp, and sunflower, pumpkin, and chia¬†seeds, included on several dishes on their menu or as an add-on or individual side for an extra charge ($2).¬†

Next, I describe the meal as a quasi-salad starter because in my opinion, this is a full-on entree meal!¬† This is not a dinky small bowl appetizer.¬† This is a nice big bowl of fresh, succulent zucchini noodles (think linguine pasta or soba noodles married with zucchini that’s been julienned so thinly and finely it becomes¬†long noodles) that is so savoury and crunchy it makes you lick the bowl clean.¬† If you love contrasting textures and flavours, the Italian raw bowl is delicious.¬† There’s the cold freshness from the zucchini, that burst of cured salty flavour from the sundried tomatoes, and amazing roasted flavour that comes from the kale chips, nuts, and seeds.¬† The kale chips are like tiny heavenly leaves of roasted crunchiness and I love them.¬† I love them even more knowing I can make kale chips in my own oven at home too!

I know I kind of defeated the “raw” in the raw bowl by adding some grilled tofu steaks, but I really wanted to try Fresh’s tofu and they were so good I inhaled them.¬† I totally understand the hemming and hawing some people go through when it comes to tofu, whether it’s because they find it too bland or because they want to limit the amount of processed foods in their diet, but I’ve enjoyed tofu for nearly my entire life and Fresh does it SO GOOD.¬† They were thick rectangles of flavourful tofu with the prettiest of grill marks!

I haven’t had the chance to try any of Fresh’s other new menu items (yet!), but I’m so happy my first foray into new¬†dish territory was as delicious as it was.¬† I’m reeeally hoping to get my scrapbooking on for some new Fresh scrapbook layouts in the future because I miss doing them!¬† Stayed tuned for Part II of¬†the kale love at Fresh with another post tomorrow!¬†

*****

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)

The Cupcake Life – My First Day As the Newest Icing Sugar Queen at Le Dolci Cupcake & Design Studio!

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Bags of icing sugar.¬† Tubs of buttercream frosting.¬† Cooling racks with fresh, golden brown vanilla cupcakes.¬† Aprons, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, spatulas, and a mixer that rivals the Energizer Bunny!¬† I was surrounded by all of these tools, goodies, and everything in between on my first day interning at Le Dolci today and I had such a fun, wonderful time with Lisa and the other ladies learning about the business and getting my mixing and baking on!¬† For those who saw my happy announcement on my facebook page, you knew about my soon-to-be adventures in flour and frosting bliss, but for those of you who didn’t see the news,¬†¬†yours truly has joined the Le Dolci team as the newest Icing Sugar¬†queen in their¬†cupcake, baking, and design studio!

Hailing from the UK, Le Dolci is Lisa’s cupcake and baking empire which now resides in the heart of downtown Toronto.¬† Located on Portland Street between King Street West and Wellington Ave., Le Dolci is a cupcake studio that specializes in teaching, catering, and creating a fun atmosphere to build relationships and baked goods!¬† Le Dolci hosts and organizes cupcake decorating and baking classes and parties, catering for corporate and personal events, and fun Iron Cupcake challenges for businesses who want to treat their employees to a day of team-building and fun!¬† Have you always dreamed about getting your girlfriends together for a day of cupcakes, frosting, and decorating with oodles of supplies and yummy goodies at your disposable?¬† Le Dolci is at your service.¬† Thinking about ordering cupcakes for a reception?¬† Done.¬† Yearning for a creative outlet to learn or perfect a baking or decoraing skill?¬† Also done!¬† The studio is so versatile because aside from cupcakes, Lisa and the girls host classes for baking cake pops, macarons, cookie decorating, and so much more.

My first day was so much fun.¬† With some of my favourite music playing in the studio, I helped Lisa, Miya, and Lisa’s mum¬†with the basics today, making tubs¬†of vanilla buttercream frosting in pretty pastel colours (a tub of white, bubblegum pink, pale yellow, and mint green) and oodles of freshly baked vanilla cupcakes for orders and events!¬†¬†

Even though I do cupcake and cookie baking myself, this was such a different experience because for one thing, I was using a stand mixer (I use a hand held electric one at home because we just don’t have the counter space in¬†our kitchen for one) and for another, we were making cupcakes and frostings in VERY large quantities.¬† Thanks to my foodie reading material, I’m well aware that baking in large quantities calls for a different way of measuring out ingredients, using mass “weight”¬†measurements as opposed to cup measurements.¬† Even though I knew about this very important nugget of baking knowledge, today was the first time I actually had to utilize it and I know I probably sound like a nerd when I say this, but measuring out ingredients is so incredibly relaxing and therapeutic.

I have cake pop making in the near future and lots of experimenting, designing, and baking!¬† I’ve learned so much on the¬†first day already and I can’t wait to help out in bringing some ideas the others are bouncing around to life, as well as creating some of my own.¬† It’s going to be a lot¬†of fun posting more photos of everything we’re doing at the studio as we go along, so I’m definitely going to¬†be adding to¬†these¬†posts!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

It’s hard to put into words how much being here means to me right now.¬† Scrapbooking, food, photographing food, cupcakes, baking, designing pretty things…they all make me so happy.¬† I’ve never felt good without a creative outlet.¬† To be soul-baringly honest, my life has felt so empty¬†during times¬†without art in it in some shape or form.¬† I struggled for years against my parents’ idea of what constituted a lucrative career versus my own aspirations and true loves, and I’ve worked really hard for my happiness.¬† Sometimes fate works out in peculiar ways and I am so grateful that things worked out and that I’m here, even if it may not forever.¬† Everything about my time at Le Dolci screams “ME!!” and it’s exciting because it’s just the beginning.

*****

Le Dolci is a private studio located at 75 Portland St., just east of Bathurst near King St. West.  The studio hosts cupcake decorating classes and handles catering for both corporate and personal events.  For more information on classes, schedules, rates, and more, visit their official website here and their Facebook page here.

Special thanks to my friend Sophie for the inspiration for the post title!

On My Kitchen Table: Vegetable Fettucine Alfredo With Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Mushroom Alfredo Sauce

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It’s been awhile since I last posted photos of my mum’s home cooking, so I figured I’d try my best to get in at least one more post before the sun really starts setting early.¬† I’ve come to the realization that if I want to take photos of my mum’s cooking, I can only do so during the spring and summer months with the exception being weekend breakfasts.¬† If I’ve learned anything over the past year writing this blog, it is¬†that I absolutely HATE using flash on my camera, I HATE the yellow glow that my kitchen light casts on everything in photos, and chasing the sun does not always result in the nicest photographs.¬† Taking 10 photos resulting in only one nice one and cursing about it later also does not help.¬†

Okay, so I took away more than one nugget of knowledge over the past year, but I’m not lying when I say that I can’t take any more photos of home cooked dinners after September.¬† By the time I get home, wash up, put away my things, and head on down to our kitchen table, I’m already squinting and reaching for the lightswitch.¬† And I know other food bloggers who face the same dilemma!¬† How did I manage to post so many photos of my mum’s culinary endeavours last winter then when I first started the blog?¬† Here’s a secret: they were all “backlog” photos, meaning I had a stockpile of photos I had saved for months, even before I went live with the blog.¬† Aside from some of the scrapbooking, I don’t talk about “behind-the-scenes” stuff¬†much (maybe I should?!), but this was definitely one of the ways I prepared weeks, even months, in advance before Ate by Ate’s launch and I’m relieved it paid off!

We had pasta night yesterday and I thank my lucky stars that my brother made the initial suggestion because, really, we don’t eat pasta as often as we’d like because of my dad’s distaste for it.¬† But as my mum likes to say, “it’s one meal, he can suck it up!”¬† She says this any and every time she wants to make pasta for the three of us or when she wants to go to Frankie Tomatto’s¬†for some occasion or another.¬† Ah, marriage ūüėĬ† And funny enough, these photos are actually of my dad’s plate of pasta just before he sat down at the dinner table.¬† When my mum asked me why I was taking photos of his and not mine, I said, “his looks a little prettier on the plate” to which she replied, “oh…I’m sorry!”¬† *snort* I had a good laugh over that and told her I didn’t care how the heck mine looked; I was just grateful to be having pasta!¬†

Anyway, the pasta of choice was fettucine alfredo and we had ourselves a gorgeous Fall colour inspired dinner that left me in a happy food coma for the rest of the night: fettucine pasta noodles with green and yellow bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and chopped green onions (I love green onions/scallions so much I will eat it with almost everything) with a creamy fusion of roasted red pepper and mushroom alfredo sauce.  I relish meals like this and it was the perfect meal to warm us up on a chillier day.

In less than a week, the official first day of fall – September 23rd – will be upon us and I don’t know about you, but I am so, so excited about all the fall activities going on, the cooler weather, and the anticipation of tree leaves changing colour.¬† I’m really hoping to get out to¬†an apple orchard this time around (can you believe the last time I went to one was when I was 6?!) and¬†continue getting in as many farmers’ markets visits as I can before the outdoor ones start packing up for the year.¬† I’m preparing SO much fun stuff for the¬†blog and I can’t wait to unveil a fabulous¬†Fall Food series at the end¬†of the month!¬† There will be lots more details¬†to come, but for the time being I leave¬†you with my weekend food baby. ¬†

Winding Down the Summer Season With Italian Vegetarian Magic – Kale & Zucchini Couscous Salad at Mela Cafe

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I have a confession to make.¬† I love Mela Cafe so much that I was thrown into conniptions a little over a month ago when I made plans to go for lunch and found the cafe closed with its lights off, its chairs off the floor, its shelves normally stocked full of tomato sauce completely empty and bare, and¬†its signature “garage door” storefront covered with newspapers.¬† I smushed my nose against the glass door, peered inside, and¬†nearly had a heart attack.¬† I turned around to face my boyfriend with my mouth gaping open, speechless for about a minute before I found my vocal cords and started babbling like a hysterical nut.¬† “Oh my god…oh my god…why aren’t they open?!¬† They couldn’t have packed up, that doesn’t make sense!¬† People love it here!¬† I love it here!¬† There would be a sign!¬† But why are the tomato sauce cans gone?!¬† Are they renovating?¬† I’m panicking.¬† Am I panicking?”¬† I walked around in a daze for the entire day and had no idea what to do with myself.¬†

Fast forward two weeks later.¬† I was in the area again during the day so I took a deep breath, and went over to Yorkville Ave. to see my beloved Mela.¬† To my utter relief, delight, and elation, Mela’s storefront was open with a smiling Roberto and a fresh coat of paint inside.¬† They had closed for renovation!¬† I skipped on inside, got a hug¬†from Roberto, and was grinning from ear to ear – crisis averted.¬† I could go back to eating myself silly!¬† And just think, with fall upon us, I’m positive Roberto has a host of new menu items to dish out with fall fruits and vegetables.¬† I’m mega¬†excited.

Tomorrow¬†marks the 1-year anniversary of my very first visit to Mela.¬† Exactly one year ago, I¬†walked along Yorkville Ave. like any other regular day in the neighbourhood, saw Mela’s bright orange storefront, saw the words “Italian Vegetarian Magic”, stepped into the Italian vegetarian and vegan eatery, and never looked back from that day on.¬† This past year at Mela has created so many¬†sweet memories and as my favourite¬†vegetarain and vegan place in the city, I can’t imagine it ever being absent from my life.¬† I took my mum, brother, and best friend here for the first time during the spring, got my best friend obsessed with their ravioli and vegan banana cream pies, made a sweet friend named Jennie who frequents Mela on a weekly basis, got to know Roberto and the other ladies who help him make his mouth-watering dishes, asked my boyfriend for his metropass while he was working at school so I could eat ravioli in the dead of winter, and had¬†so much delicious food, including¬†this salad!

Last time, I showed you all Roberto’s quinoa salad¬†with crunchy cabbage, green beans, tomatoes, olive oil, and lots of parsley, and the time before that I proudly displayed¬†his springtime salad¬†with watercress, green beans, Shanghai bok choy, cauliflower, chickpeas, and olive oil.¬† THIS time, I have for you a sunny summer salad of fluffy couscous with zucchini and leafy kale!¬† It was a summer salad chock full of juicy tomatoes, yellow bell pepper, celery, cabbage, zucchini squash, and lots of fresh, crunchy kale.¬†¬†When I saw the mountain of salad up on the food counter, I had to restrain myself from¬†grabbing the large metal spoon used for scooping and just going to town with it.

I¬†ate kale for¬†the first time last winter (funny enough, I did so at Kale Eatery¬†by Yonge & Eglinton) and I¬†bought my first fresh batch from the¬†Trinity Bellwoods Park farmers’ market¬†earlier in the month and¬†these days I just think to myself, “where have I been all this time?¬† I’ve been missing out!”.¬†¬†Mela has not only been a place to make great friendships and to eat¬†happy wiggling-inducing food but it’s also been a place to learn, specifically about all sorts of vegetables and yummy ways to pair them up with other vegetables, grains, and proteins.

I could eat the salads here endlessly and what I really¬†love about the food here is the variety of vegetables and the ways that they’re paired together.¬†¬†You’ll find everything from sweet potatoes to kale, rapini, beets, watercress, green beans, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, asparagus, and more.¬† Not to mention there’s always a grain or a protein involved (chickpeas, quinoa, and couscous thus far I’ve seen) which bulks up the salad even more in its nutritional levels.¬† Mela’s salads aren’t overladen with dressing, they’re not¬†dry and boring (lettuce and tomato does not make an exciting salad, ever), and there’s always something different.¬† This is the 3rd salad I’ve tried and I anticipate there will be a hundred more to try as time goes on!¬† Oh, and¬†if you’re wondering about the¬†plates of food on the table, no, they were not all mine!¬† I love to eat, yes, but¬†I¬†do not have the¬†stomach to eat 3 plates of food!¬†¬†¬†

Summer might be winding down, but the memories of food and friends last forever.¬† Thanks for the memories, friendship, and an amazing delicious year, Mela.¬† I can’t wait to see what another year will bring.

*****

Mela Café is located at 7 Yorkville Ave., north of Cumberland St. and just west of Yonge St.  All dishes are either vegetarian or vegan and prices range from $4-$8.50.  They are primarily a lunch cafe during the week, open until around 4:30pm-5pm from Monday to Friday, and with later closing hours on Saturday.  They are closed on Sunday.

Scrapbooking materials used: neon green, goldenrod yellow, indigo, and cobalt blue cardstock (Recollections); red paper; Grass & Flowers patterned paper (Sandylion); burgundy, beige, and black alphabet stickers (K&Company); green-and-brown alphabet stickers (Make It Special Crafts by Dollarama); olive green alphabet stickers (Recollections); violet flower stickers (Sticko); yellow jewel adhesive gems (Sandylion Essentials); red and black adhesive gems; scalloped edge scissors (Provo Craft); black felt tip Sharpie.

Pink & Black Balloons, Mini Cupcakes, and Lots of Sprinkles – It’s a Cupcake Party in Short & Sweet’s New Digs!

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Those gorgeous, colourful glass bottles of cake sprinkles might as well have been happy pills because happy is definitely what was in the air last weekend at Short & Sweet Cupcakes new shop on Avenue Road!  To celebrate their relocation and successful move, Short & Sweet threw a fabulous cupcake party chocked full of giveaways, free drinks, and free cupcakes last Saturday afternoon as a way of thanks to everyone who has supported the cupcake bakery since its sweet beginnings back in 2009. 

The new shop looks great and I’m so happy I get to show you all some photos of their new space!¬† For one thing, it’s bigger.¬† Gone are the squish-squishes and apologetic “excuse me’s” as you elbow a fellow customer.¬† I would discourage you from doing cartwheels in the shop, but just know that it’s physically possible to do so now with the increase in square footage.¬† There’s much more standing¬†room and to my delight, there’s a bit of seating now!¬† A few tables with chairs in Short & Sweet’s signature bright pink are available outside and inside should you wish to enjoy your cupcake on the premises.¬†

And believe me, you can bet I’m going to take advantage of this for photography purposes!¬† I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run around in vain, in general,¬†with a cupcake (or more) trying to find a suitable location to photograph it before it 1) melts or 2) gets squished or lopsided in transit.¬† I’ve been really lucky in finding some great spots to model my cupcakes during¬†for their¬†photoshoots and runaway frosting shows, but I’ll always take the seating in the cupcakeries themselves over all other options any day.¬† I know, I lead a tough life.¬†

 

As well, you can now admire their ever-changing window displays up close.¬† The old location had a half-wall type of glass barrier around it due to the shop’s tighter space; no fear of accidentally crashing it into now!¬† Finally, you can pick up a drink while you’re here and puruse through some of Short & Sweet’s kitchen and cake decorating wares on a floor-to-ceiling shelf filled with cupcake dishes and table accessories, rows and rows of bottled sprinkles in every colour of the rainbow, and some non-cupcake goodies including chocolate covered Oreos with sprinkles!¬† Short & Sweet has been experimenting with some new products and the cellophane wrapped packages of chocolate covered, decorated Oreos are the first to make their appearance.

Not only was I here to join the party, but I was also there to get my first taste of Short & Sweet on a weekend.¬† This¬†was the first time I visited the shop on a Saturday¬†so I got to see so many cupcakes I hadn’t seen prior to that day!¬† They have the largest selection of flavours on Saturday with Friday and Sunday following closely behind, so I¬†was the given the joy of drooling over the Bugs Bunny carrot cupcake with cream cheese icing (and a¬†very cute¬†icing carrot!), the sweet and sticky Dolce de Leche, the gorgeous sweet and citrusy Lemon Drop with its lemon cake, raspberry frosting, and lemon jube-jube candy, and the caramel-filled Caramela Soprano¬†cupcake¬†with its decadent caramel drizzle.

As¬†weird as it sounds, being here on the¬†weekend for¬†the first time reminded me of my time working at Claire’s years¬†ago.¬†¬†To many managers’ chagrin, it was required for all managers to work¬†one¬†Sunday a month (as¬†assistant, I¬†often came in two Sundays a month) and the reasoning behind this was¬†so that all workers would be acquainted with how business was on a Sunday versus the expected busyness of a Saturday, and the routine run-of-the-mill work week.¬† In a nutshell, the arrangement is meant to gather information on sales and differences between different days of the week.¬†

Given how I had never been to¬†Short & Sweet on a¬†weekend before,¬†there was definitely a different buzz in the shop, one that I hadn’t been accustomed to until that point.¬† I’m sure the party had something to do with¬†the excitement billowing around, but¬†everything was faster-paced as the door kept opening and closing and as cupcake stands were refilled moments after they were refilled¬†before.¬† I’m sure a lot of you understand the feeling I’m talking about if you’ve ever stuck to¬†a particular time of day or part¬†of the week for¬†certain activties.¬† It was very cool being part of the weekend crowd and if their selection of cupcake is any indication, I’ll have to set some time aside to make more trips on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays!¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†

It was a beautiful, warm day and the shop was hopping with people enjoying the party both inside and outside, sipping¬†drinks from¬†the¬†Jones soda booth, noshing on platters of mini frosted cupcakes (vanilla, carrot, red velvet, and apple cinnamon), and taking away a¬†Short & Sweet jar of special pink and black sprinkles as a souvenir.¬† You can¬†see why¬†I had¬†to play it safe at the Vegetarian Food Fair¬†earlier that day now, right?¬† It was a balancing act of epic proportions, but I wouldn’t have wanted¬†it any other way because I got the chance to enjoy two very amazing foodie events, on the same day no less.

*****

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.