Foodie Districts: Mirvish Village!

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After sharing the goodness of portobellos, avocado, and honey-nut bread from Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches this past week, I thought it would be a great time to do a Foodie Districts post on the quaint, yet flashy, Mirvish Village!  Named after the late business tycoon, theatre connoissuer, and philanthropist, Ed Mirvish, the little district that could is sandwiched between The Annex and Koreatown near Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street.  Mirvish Village is a tiny neighbourhood with a loud voice, a little bit of cheese, and a whole lot of retro, vintage, and character. 

Flashing lights from Toronto’s historic flagship discount store, Honest’s Ed, flicker like bedazzled jewels at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, vibrant, colourful murals and graffiti paintings adorn the brick walls of the shops and Victorian house storefronts, and the wining and dining is one big pub and carnival affair.  While the bulk of Mirvish Village is concentrated within one or two blocks on and around Markham Street, its character and quaintness more than make up for its tininess, and the food in the area is fabulous.  You have a terrific pub, a southern cajun and creole powerhouse, vegetarian delights, and a board game cafe to boot!  Here’s a food snapshot of Mirvish Village in all its glory:

Southern Accent, Toronto headquarters for all things cajun, creole, and carnival!  Southern Accent has become one of my absolute favourite places to eat not only because of the food but because of the flamboyant decor and big and brash, party atmosphere.  With its colourful lanterns, psychic readings, boozy purple lighting, and southern fare, every day is Mardi Gras and it is just so much fun having a meal here.  My boyfriend took me here for our very first Valentine’s together because he knew I would go crazy-happy with the atmosphere and decor and because I have a real soft spot for cajun cuisine.  I love learning about the food culture (especially in New Orleans) and because there aren’t too many places in the city that serve this style of food, coming here is always a huge treat.  Hush puppies, collard greens, gumbo, okra, oysters, southern corn bread, jambalaya, catfish – it’s all here.  I am crazy about their creme brulee and my favourite foods thus far have to be the grilled corn on the cob with paprika along with my pork tenderloin and grilled mango skewers and my cod fish dinner. 

I’ve enjoyed a number of delicious dishes over the years and what I love about the menu is that there are always new selections every so often depending on the season.  Aside from their permanent, every day menu, Southern Accent has a running price fixe that changes throughout the year, huge annual Mardi bashes, and consistent appearances at both Winterlicious and Summerlicious.  Located at 595 Markham Street, open at 5pm Tuesday-Sunday.

Thanks to my grad school friends and grad school activities, I became very acquainted with the Victory Cafe!  I held conference committee meetings over juice and snacks here during the summer, attended an end-of-the-year sociology bash where I stuffed my face with a chicken club and a rich, decadent, delicious slice of chocolate milk and cookies cake (pictured up top), and an evening or two here and there for some drinks and classic pub food with classmates and professors.  Their menu is a classic pub menu with fabulous variety and portions.  There are curry and rice meals, plenty of vegetarian yummies (chili, spinach and cheese quesadillas, lentil and veggie curry, and veggie chili poutine among others), in addition to pub classics such as fish n’ chips, club sandwiches, calamari, wings, and nachos. 

The Victory Cafe houses some great memories for me because it was one of the first pubs I ever frequented as a grad student and because it gave me one of the best mac n’ cheese meals ever!  One of my fondest memories is my first visit to the Victory.  While walking in the direction of the pub spot, I stopped to ask someone if the Victory was around the corner to make sure I was heading the right way (this was before I knew my neighbourhoods inside out and backwards).  The nice young man told me it was just down the road and then went on to say, “you have to try the mac n’ cheese, it’s the best!”  I took the advice (I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!), ordered the mac n’ cheese and from that moment on, I was forever grateful to that young lad.  I absolutely cannot wait to go back during the summer so I can eat it out on the patio and get a fab photo.  Located at 581 Markham Street.

If you’re in the market for a spot that is both vegetarian-friendly and meaty, Butler’s Pantry is at your service!  Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, Butler’s Pantry is perfect for those who want to dine among vegetarians and carnivores alike.  Their menu is chock full of mains that showcase the diversity of different regional and ethnic cuisines and comfort foods while at the same time showing the versatility of vegetarian cuisine as starring mains.  They serve a selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch, egg breakfasts and French toasts for brunch, and a host of pasta, rice, meat, and veggie dishes for lunch mains and dinner.  They have two locations in the city (one in Mirvish Village and the other in Roncesvalles) and I’ve been itching to go for the longest time because their menu is just spectacular in terms of variety and very reasonable when it comes to pricing.  Located at 591 Markham Street.  Open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-11:30pm, and Sunday 10am-10pm.

 

I’ve been meaning to do a big post on Snakes and Lattes for ages now, but I need more food photos!  Snakes and Lattes is Toronto’s super popular board game cafe.  With a selection of over 200 board games, comfortable couches, and food and drinks, it’s the perfect place to go to when the weather isn’t cooperating and to spend time with a group of friends.  It’s such a fun place to go to and given how crowded and busy it can get during the afternoons and evenings, I’m not the only who who feels this way! 

How the cafe works: $5/person for all day play.  You can stay for as long as you want, order whatever drinks and food you want, and have a blast with your friends.  If you know you’re going to be coming with a group of friends, they also take reservations, just give them a call and they will save or section of the cafe for you.  They have a fabulous menu of drinks (cold and hot) and quite a bit of lunch and snack food including freshly made sandwiches, quiches (meat and vegetarian), mini donuts, and vegan cupcakes!  Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches and Snakes and Lattes sit on the border of Koreatown and Mirvish Village, but I like to include them in the mix.  Located at 600 Bloor Street West just west of Markham Street.  Open at 11am into the wee hours of the morning!

*****

Mirvish Village is located near the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst, between The Annex and Koreatown

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A Weekend Vegan Brunch of Tofu Scramble, Grilled Spinach, Home Fries, and Tempeh Bacon at Fresh!

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I love breakfast and brunch so much.  Even as I write this, I’m daydreaming about tofu scrambles, poached eggs, omelettes, breakfast sausages, and veggie skillets and this is a few hours before bedtime!  Clearly, that doesn’t deter me – I love breakfast food at any point in the day and I’ve been known to eat eggs and hash browns for dinner!  Morning munchies make me happy (especially since I’m ravenous minutes after I roll out of bed) and I go through breakfast phases all the time where I’ll crave different things.  For the longest time it’s been fruit with some bread with cream cheese, but lately I’ve been going out of my mind with peanut butter on toast with almond milk.  I’ve always enjoyed peanut butter okay (more so with jam), but it’s almost as if I can’t go a morning without my PB and toast now!  Needless to say, I am all over the place with my preferences but one thing is for certain: weekend brunch is a treat and totally qualifies as one of the best things in the world. 

It’s been a little over a year since my first visit to Fresh and I have been having the best time eating here.  Their menu constantly inspires me and I can’t imagine ever being bored with the food here.  After building my own custom rice and soba noodle bowls, and having one of their veggie burgers, burritos, appetizers, and soups, the only menu categories I hadn’t yet dipped my tastebuds in were the salads and the weekend brunch.  When my dear friend and vegetarian partner in crime, Wini, wanted get together for some Fresh eats on a Saturday, I was in conniptions.  Weekend brunch at Fresh, finally!  Neither one of us had tried their brunch yet so we were both excited.  It had been months since we had done any vegetarian noshing together, so it felt especially great to catch up with a close friend at one of our favourite spots in the city.  Just as I said in my breakfast scrapbook post yesterday, friends and brunch truly go hand in hand.

Fresh’s weekend brunch is served at all 3 of their locations on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 10:30am-3pm.  With the exception of optional sides of cheeses that you can order with your meal, their brunch menu is entirely vegan so you won’t find any egg breakfasts here!  Instead, Fresh’s brunch menu focuses on tofu scrambles, tempeh bacon, veggie sausage rounds, brunch burritos and tortillas, and pancakes – LOTS of pancakes!  The menu is divided into two parts: pancakes and brunch entrees ($11).  Pancake meals ($6-$10) are served in doubles and triples and come in five varieties including plain, banana, blueberry, banana nut, and blueberry almond.  Even though I ended up choosing a savoury brunch entree (because I do generally enjoy savoury breakfasts more), I can’t help but feel like I need to introduce more pancake breakfasts into my breakfast world after my Mardi Gras & Pancake Tuesday post!

My first brunch of choice at Fresh?  The full monty, full breakfast with tofu scramble, grilled spinach, baked beans, toast, home fries, and a choice of either veggie sausage rounds or tempeh bacon!  As usual, I had a difficult time choosing which brunch menu I wanted to try first but ultimately, the combination of tofu scramble with grilled spinach won me over this time.  I love spinach so to have it with tofu scramble sounded scrumptious.  Wini and I ended up ordering the same thing (great minds think alike!) and decided that we both wanted to try the veggie sausage and the tempeh bacon so each one of us chose one to order so that we could share them between the two of us.  Weekend brunch with friends is not only fun in and of itself, but it is also wonderful when you get to share food!

This brunch meal made me feel so warm and cozy.  It was hearty and delicious and it made me feel as though I was sitting in a winter log cabin by the fire enjoying some good old fashioned breakfast comfort food, veggie style.  My absolute favourite things had to be the tofu scramble, grilled spinach, and the home fries.  I adore tofu and having tofu scramble in my life has just made this love that much greater.  My very first tofu scramble was at Sadie’s Diner and I love both Sadie’s and Fresh’s equally because they’re both delicious, different, and unique in their own way.  While the texture of Sadie’s scramble is reminiscent of fluffy scrambled eggs, Fresh’s scramble is more like a chopped up hash with amazing herb and onion flavour with tiny diced sauteed onions strewn throughout the tofu scramble. 

Between the tempeh bacon and veggie sausage, Wini and I both loved the tempeh more, hands down.  This was my first time eating tempeh and while I knew of tempeh since my foray into vegetarian and vegan eating several years ago, I had to find out what tempeh was first before actually trying it.  In a nutshell, tempeh is made from soybeans and often used as meat substitute.  After careful fermentation, soybeans are binded into what looks like bricks of cake-like SPAM.  I know that isn’t the most appetizing description, but that’s what it reminds me of and it tastes great so that’s all that matters!

While it didn’t have the crispy texture of traditional bacon, they were in adorable “strips”, they were soft, and they had this great savoury tomato flavour to it that was very unique.  Not a sour tomato taste, but more like a stewed tomato flavour with warmth and depth to it.  The grilled spinach was just like scrumptious collard greens and I absolutely adored the style and size of the home fry cubes and chunks.  They were crispy and golden on the outside and fluffy with meaty potato and starchiness on the inside.  They were sturdy (not mushy or greasy in the least) and the hold up perfectly to sauce. 

Yes, sauce!  Fresh serves their breakfast toast plain so if you’re cool with that, there’s no need to mess with a good thing.  I, for one, love dipping or having my bread with a spread or sauce though so I took it upon myself to add a side of garlic mayo from Fresh’s regular menu and I had a field day dunking some of my toast and my awesome home fries into my garlic mayo.  With one brunch from Fresh down, I’m revved up and ready for more!  I can’t wait to have their tortilla scramble, the burrito, and the banana nut pancakes in the future.  Brunch is one of the most enjoyable things in my life and while I don’t know how long it will take to cycle through every single amazing breakfast diner and weekend brunch spot in the city, but I’m more than happy savouring every experience for as long as it takes.

*****

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)

Committed to Food, Committed to Friendship – A Scrapbook Snapsnot of the Breakfast Club Girls

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Eating breakfast classics, drinking cups upon cups of tea and coffee, and catching up with friends during a weekend or holiday brunch is one of the best feelings in the world and making this breakfast scrapbook layout made me so happy.  I’ve been down in the dumps lately and even though I know how much I love to write, scrapbook, and design, it still catches me by surprise when both of these loving pastimes calm me down and give me a little piece of mind.  Writing and scrapbooking function as both my creative outlets and my stress relievers and they have been so therapeutic for me. 

This scrapbook layout served as yet another reminder of all the reasons why I love food, story-telling, and the time spent with friends.  I feel so lucky to have a sweet boyfriend who humours me, supports me, and is up for anything when it comes to my blogging and photography escapades, and I love having different friends with whom I can enjoy different food activities.  I have friends who love to go on sushi lunch dates, friends who are just as obsessive about cupcakes as I am, and friends who are my vegetarian and vegan partners in crime.  Finally, I have my group of breakfast and brunch girl friends!

Friends since our first year of high school (and beyond for my other three girls who have known one another since sandbox and playground days), the four of us have formed a lifelong bond and tradition over breakfast get-togethers and have coined ourselves Team Commitment as an ode to our friendship and our commitment to delicious food.  This year we celebrated our 5th consecutive year as a group (our 3rd here at T&T Bakery & Cafe!) and each and every single our breakfast club gets together, there’s always fabulous food involved!  Not only have we noshed on waffles, poached eggs, bacon, sandwiches, bagels, and French toast, but we’ve also exchanged food gifts.  I baked cookies for my dear Lindsay over Christmas, Laura surprised us all with chocolatey Tim Tams and hot cocoa two years ago, and Lisa shared some of her fabulous homemade caramel, nut, and white chocolate bark and homemade cinnamon sticky buns!  Even some of our non-edible gifts have been food-related! 

Food has quietly (or maybe not so quietly) played a starring role in our get-togethers over the years.  It has anchored us, giving us a little stability and a lot of excitment and anticipation.  Over tea and coffee and plates of food, we have celebrated graduations, weddings, break-ups and heartbreaks, new loves, new jobs, new schools, and even a new country to temporarily call home.  Every breakfast get-together is, simaltanously, a sign of change and growth on the one hand and comfort and familiarity on the other.  The scrapbook layout is a snapshot of several moments frozen in time of four very different young women who, despite having their own aspirations, dreams, and goals in life, always make the time and effort to eat, laugh, and cry together.  We look forward to our breakfast meals as we reminisce and catch up on each other’s lives and this scrapbook layout is my way of capturing the story of four girls who come together to celebrate food and friendship.

*****

T&T Bakery and Café is located at 35 Main Street Markham at the intersection of Highway 7 and Markham Rd., just north of Highway.7 and on the east side of Markham Rd.

Scrapbook materials used: Cornflower blue, watermelon pink, pale lemon yellow, and textured beige cardstock (Recollections); breakfast waffle patterned paper (MMMMM Waffles – Mom’s Diner by Recollections); blue journalling tags (Darcy collection by Anna Griffin); glittery breakfast pancake and waffle adhesive embellishments (Waffle Baking stickers by Martha Stewart Crafts); floral and garden gold foil stickers (atd by Momenta); strawberry sticker (Sticko); sapphire alphabet stickers (Recollections); circle paper punch (ek success); deckle edged decorative scissors (Provo Craft).

A Photo Spotlight on a Prairie Girl Bakery ‘Treat of the Week’ – Cherry Cheesecake on Golden Buttermilk

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*****

Prairie Girl Bakery is located at Suite 106, 18 King St. East off King St. E and Victoria St.  The cupcake shop itself actually faces Victoria St., so it’s just a smidge north of King on Victoria St.  They are open 6 days a week from 10am-6pm from Monday-Saturday.  They are closed on Sundays and statutory holidays.  Their new 2nd location is located in the underground PATH in First Canadian Place in the Marketplace food concourse.  The FCP location is open from 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday.

Vegetarian Sandwich Series – Wishful Thinking of Portobellos and Honey-Nut Bread at Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!

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It’s about time I made it to Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!  I’ve been meaning to do a post on them for the Vegetarian Sandwich Series for months now (months is actually an understatement – I’d say it’s been a good year!) and I’m thrilled that I got the chance to sink my teeth into one of their delicious veggie sandwiches.  The Vegetarian Sandwich Series was the very first special series I thought of and started on Ate by Ate back in June of 2011 and it was entirely inspired by my vegetarian friend, Wini, who wanted to know where the best vegetarian sandwiches in the city were hiding.  Since I started the series, I’ve been on the hunt for the yummiest sandwiches, the joints with the best selection, and the hidden gems and surprises and I’ve found some amazing eats! 

Even though I’ve barely knicked the surface (if I posted everything on my “behind the scenes” ongoing list all at once, there wouldn’t be anything to post 3 years from now!), I’m glad that Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches has finally made its way to the blog because it’s been on my hit list for so long.  A vegetarian sandwich series just without be complete without the sandwich cafe in town with half a menu of veggie sandwiches!

       

Located on Bloor Street West bordering the Annex, Mirvish Village, and Koreatown, Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches is the all mighty soup and sandwich cafe with over 20 sandwich choices on their sandwich menu!  With picnic, diner friendly red and white checkered tablecloths and cute sandwich names to boot, this is the perfect place for sandwich fanatics (think Joey from FRIENDS), deli lovers, casual diners, diners on a budget ($4-$5 sandwiches!), carnivores, and herbivores alike.  Their menu has so much variety and selection that when you read through it, you’ll be thinking, “oh my goodness, which sandwich do I love and want more?” as opposed to, “hmm, so, what are my choices?”  Knowing I wanted a veggie sandwich clearly wasn’t good enough when I had 10 choices to mull over! 

In terms of meat sandwiches, choices include oven roasted turkey (the One Wing sandwich sounds like a Thanksgiving sandwich constructed from heaven), slow roasted pulled pork, roast beef, smoked chicken, black forest ham, bacon, capicola (an Italian cold cut), and tuna.

Vegetarians can rejoice because their vegetarian choices are even more varied than their meat ones!  Chad of Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches tells me that the ho-hum lettuce, tomato, and sprout combination just doesn’t cut it when it comes to providing a menu that captures the essence of how creative vegetarian sandwich creation and eating can be.  Part of the fun of vegetarian sandwich creation is mixing and matching vegetables, fruits, and non-meat proteins with delicious breads.  Sky Blue Sky definitely has one of the larger vegetarian sandwich menu selections in town and choices include portobello mushrooms, avocado, almond butter and banana, mozzarella, tomato, and basil, cashew butter, roasted chick peas with curry and mango chutney, pear and Gouda grilled cheese, basil pesto, roasted red peppers, and SO MUCH MORE.

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Edible Rainbow Veggie Hummus Bowls, Cheese, and Sustainble Fish – A Winter CSI Lunchtime Market

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One of the best things about winter farmers’ markets is its capacity to instantly cheer you up.  While the weather outside is dreadful, dreary, and depressing, everything at the market is alive with freshness, vibrant colour, and vitality.  Going to the market is such a healthy mood booster and it’s been so much fun integrating these visits into my life on a regular basis.  These visits rev up my inspiration, expand my knowledge of food, and make me that much more excited about writing and future blog posts.  Aside from my highly anticipated first trip to the Saturday morning market at Wychwood Barns earlier in the month, my farmers’ marketing has been pretty sparse since the new year and it’s only because of bad timing and lack of opportunity on my part.  I desparately wanted to go to another CSI Lunchtime market, so I made my way over recently to snap some new photos and to scope out the tasty goods!  My last visit to the CSI (Centre for Social Innovation) Lunchtime Market was actually before the Christmas holidays so this post-new year trip was long overdue!

To my delight, there were market vendors at the Spadina market that day that I had never seen before at CSI!  In addition to ChocoSol and Monforte Dairy, Luscious Dips and Toronto’s very own sustainable fish and seafood shop and educational space, Hooked, were there to bring fresh, organic, local, and sustainable food to the table.  THIS is what gets me excited!  Being introduced to new, local businesses and learning about growing food enterprises right here in our city makes me feel like the world is at my fingertips without ever having to leave town.      

What you see here is lunch, courtesy of Jesse’s Luscious Dips and Sara’s Nice Buns!  These are giant “bowls” of red cabbage leaves with cucumber and carrot slices, wedges of Sara’s famous homemade fougasse bread, and generous dollops of Jesse’s homemade vegetable and hummus dips.  Luscious Dips are bright, super colourful spreads and dips that are vegetarian and vegan, and perfect for pitas, chips, crostini, sandwiches, vegetables, crackers, and everything else you could possibly enjoy eating with dip!  I LOVE dips, spreads, and sauces (I mop up sour cream, tzatziki, hummus, and bean spreads like there’s no tomorrow!) so this is right up my alley!  Jesse has previously sold her homemade, vegetarian delights at Leslieville’s farmers’ market and I finally saw her at the CSI during this visit.

Luscious Dips come in reusable containers for $5 each and by golly is there ever a lot of dip in each container!  When I went to the new Maple Leaf Garden Loblaws last weekend with my family, my mum and I picked up a little container of butternut squash and caramelized onion dip along with an arugula pesto.  We only requested half a small container of each and that lasted us for days, so I can only imagine how far the Luscious Dips would go.  At the CSI market, Jesse had two flavours of dip on hand for sale: a bright, fuschia beet dip and a gorgeous sunny yellow, Indian-inspired garam masala spaghetti squash hummus.   

The beet dip was comprised of beets, navy beans, lemon juice, tahini, garlic, sunflower oil, cumin, cayenne, salt, and lemon zest, while the garam masala spaghetti squash hummus was made with roasted spaghetti squash, navy beans, lemon juice, sunflower oil, garlic, garam masala, tumeric, cayenne, and kosher salt.  There were samples of each with slices of cucumber and corn chips for dipping on a wooden serving platter and the whole set-up with the edible hummus bowls was just absolutely gorgeous.  It looked like a beautiful painting with the colours and smooth textures.  You could totally put Luscious Dips into little bowls and make a makeshift food artist’s palette at your next dinner party.  There’s an idea!

The whole premise behind the CSI Lunchtime markets is fresh, healthy, local convenience and that means offering food for lunch that can be enjoyed on the go or in the office setting and environment with no prepartion whatsoever – forget the office microwave!  Furthermore, staying true to the “innovative” aspect is the name of the game at the CSI.  When we think about our food, we can’t just think about it as an isolated entity.  We ultimately have to reflect on our environment, our cooking methods, and our health when we consider questions such as, “how can we minimize damage to the environment?  How can we increase the longevity of our lives in a positive way?  How do my decisions and overall lifestyle influence local foodsystems and vice versa?”  One of the ways businesses strive to be environmentally innovated is to offer products that produce less waste.  LUSH has been doing this for years with their solid shampoos and other products by using less or no packaging at all.  At Luscious Dips, enter the edible bowl!  No paper plates, no styrofoam boxes, not even a utensil!  Colourful, healthy finger food at its finest. 

Finally, I met Kristin of Toronto’s sustainable fish shop, Hooked, for the first time and being a seafood lover, this bodes well for me!  Hooked is a fish store located in Leslieville on Queen Street East that offers fresh, local, sustainble fish and seafood and exciting, educational classes and workshops.  In addition, their shop offers a teaching kitchen, experience, knowledgeable culinary staff that know their craft and are happy and willing to answer questions and explain cooking methods, cleaning methods, and other seafood related concerns and issues.  The shop not only sells fresh catch, but the shop also supplies a selection of cookware to handle the delicacy of fish and seafood.  Kristin, her husband, and the staff at Hooked are completely devoted to the Slow Food movement and believe that the food we eat needs to be handled with care and with the utmost respect, which means buying directly from producers, knowing and developing genuine relationships with the fisherman who catch the fish, knowing exactly when and where the fish were caught, and making sure quality control is maintained at all times. 

In a nutshell, the Slow Food movement is a grassroots movement concerned with moving away from the corporate, fast food model and counteracting the erosion of local, long-standing food tradtions by emphasizing traditional cooking methods, accessibility to fresh and healthy food, and food knowledge.  Hooked is committed to these values and I am so excited to visit their shop on Queen East sometime to learn more!  I’m really happy that I was able to come the CSI market again, especially since it won’t be around for much longer.  Rumour has it that next week will be the last of the bunch before the Lunchtime office markets make their way to ING Direct on Thursday, March 1st!     

   

 

*****

The Lunchtime Markets at the Centre for Social Innovation in the Annex and on Spadina take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays respectively from 11:30am-1:30pm.  The Centre for Social Innovation (Annex) is located at 720 Bathurst Street, just south of Bloor Street West and Lennox.  They also have a location on Spadina at 215 Spadina Ave., 4th floor.

A Day of Gluttony and Indulgence – A Stack of Pancakes for Mardi Gras and Pancake Tuesday!

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I have a confession to make: I completely forgot about Mardi Gras this year until it was too late.  And by “too late” I mean yesterday when I saw celebratory parade footage from New Orleans on the news and let out a “D’OH!” when I came to the sinking realization that Mardi Gras would completely pass me by.  Forget planning out a fabulous Cajun meal or a few dedicated posts – there wasn’t even time to prance around in my cheeky Mardi Gras bead necklaces!  That’s right, y’all – holiday, seasonal, and special occasion obsessed Deb has finally missed out on a foodie holiday.  How shameful of me!  I feel even worse knowing I had made notes to myself about possible Mardi Gras related posts for 2012 last year after I had written this post! 

I remember being so excited about finding more Cajun and Creole places in the city, finding king cake recipes and places in the city that sold it (which is no easy task!), and just enjoying southern, New Orleans cuisine in the form of jambalaya, gumbo, hush puppies, and beignets.  I have every intention of coming through with these goodies at some point (there is no way I am missing out two years in a row!), but for those who are interested in engaging in some Southern feasting, Southern Accent (595 Markham St. in Mirvish Village), Blue Bay Cafe (2243 Dundas Street West in Roncesvalles Village), and Big Daddy’s Crab Shack (212 King Street in the Entertainment District downtown) are all popular places to get your Cajun food fix with amazing atmosphere and decor to boot!

I think I was so caught up in Chinese New Year and Valentine’s that Mardi Gras didn’t even occur to me until it was too late.  All is not lost though.  Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday) is also celebrated as the day of pancakes!  I saw Foodimentary‘s post on my Freshly Pressed homepage and thought the Mardi Gras foodie facts were cute, so in honour of this traditionally gluttonous day of indulgence I have a generous stack of pancakes for today, previously featured on the blog.  We have dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, and nuts with honey, apple cinnamon buckwheat from Sadie’s Diner, golden banana, and fruity tutti strawberry and blueberry with almonds.  The spread might not be the Southern feast I had hoped for this year, but it’s an ode to a much celebrated day worldwide nonetheless.  Happy Mardi Gras and Pancake Tuesday!