The Vegetarian Sandwich Series – Grilled Tofu & Eggplant Panini and Hot Chocolate at Dark Horse Espresso Bar

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Sandwiches?  Vegan sandwiches?  At a coffee shop?!  Yes siree.  Bring a book, a magazine, or a friend to the popular java haunt and sit back and relax with some sips and eats.  Dark Horse Espresso Bar, with 3 locations around downtown Toronto, is your one stop coffee shop for sunny laptop and tablet fun, coffee, lattes, summer and winter drinks, sweet treat baked goods, and grilled panini sandwiches.  I’ve sat back with an apple cider and a latte on two separate occasions and with its pretty orchid flowers and beautiful artwork on the walls, it’s a really nice coffee shop to be in.  It’s one of those perfect “oh my goodness, I need to get some work done but staying at home by myself makes me want to stab myself with a pen” spots because it’s airy and open with big communal tables, so it provides the space to be anonymous without being completely alone AND you get to enjoy food and drink while doing it!  

Recently, I’ve been hemming and hawwing about getting some work done at my local library but I’ve been hesitant about going just because the area lacks food options (I’m not kidding, the closest food option is a dot on the 3 km radius map) and we all know we can’t start breaking out the 3-course meals from our kitchen tupperware containers in the middle of the library.  So, Dark Horse poses itself as the more appealing option for a day of web work and after I had my lovely vegan grilled panini sandwich and hot chocolate, it posits itself as very delicious one too!

 

I love how I can go to Dark Horse and ask for cute latte art.  I know, you can get latte art at several other coffee shops in the city but I haven’t been to those yet, so humour me!  I asked for a cute heart in my hot chocolate ($3.09) and I got the most adorable heart/tulip heart shaped flower!  It was unintentionally (or maybe it was intentional on the part of the nice barista…) perfect for spring and if you like foamy hot chocolates, Dark Horse is your spot.  Don’t do what I did though and leave it sitting for too long.  I was so busy snapping photos of it and my sandwich that the foamies stuck to the inside of the mug and while it was kind of funny having to scrape some of the hot chocolate off, it’s not something I would suggest to anyone else. 

Their hot chocolate is very mild and foamy in taste and texture.  It’s not a fudgy type of chocolate taste, nor is is straight up cocoa powder in taste either.  It’s airy and light and if I had to compare it to something, I’d say that it tastes more like an unsweetened mousse that’s been air whipped into a hot chocolate drink.  For those who don’t like it sickly sweet and just want something that tastes more natural and light as opposed to rich and decadent, this is what you want.

I’ve had my eye on their vegan sandwich for months and months and it has taken me so long to finally get to it, but it was worth the wait because I really enjoyed it!  While I would have loved a big, stacked vegan sandwich baguette style or just a thicker sandwich in general, the vegan sandwich delivers in flavour on all counts and it’s hard to be hard on a panini sandwich based on its thickness; a panini is, essentially, a flattened grilled, toasted sandwich.  Dark Horse serves up a number of grilled panini sandwiches during the day (come after 11am and they’ll all be ready), with both meat and vegetarian options ranging from $6-$7.  These include grilled cheese, hot salami, turkey, and avocado and asparagus in addition to the vegan sandwich. 

The vegan sandwich is filled with a mix of firm tofu, grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, avocado, and a coriander pesto spread.  I was totally expecting a run-of-the-mill grilled vegetable sandwich but what I got was an out-of-this-world warm, savoury, slightly spicy, ginger taste that emanated throughout the entire sandwich.  It took me completely by surprise and I found myself enjoying the sandwich more and more with every bite.  The bread was fantastic in texture with crunchy, grainy bits that had tiny pockets of savoury saltiness to it and the tofu wedges were perfect because they were firm without being rubbery and it fed off of the coriander pesto and grilled vegetables, absorbing their flavours while still retaining its own, well, tofu-ness. 

The bread and the spread totally did it for me and I had flavours in this sandwich that I had never come across before in other sandwiches and for that, it makes it unique.  Do I wish panini sandwiches in general were bigger and less flattened?  Sure.  But I’m more happy with the fact that it tasted great and that it was something I could see myself having again.  After all the dishes and things I’ve had in my life, especially since I started Ate by Ate, I’ve come across things that have been not-so-great and at the very least, forgettable, but this was a sandwich that I truly savoured and liked.          

*****

Dark Horse Espresso Bar serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 215 Spadina Ave. (nearest intersection is Queen St. West and Spadina, about a block or two north of Queen on the east side of Spadina)
  2. 682 Queen St. East (located in the Riverside neighbourhood, west of Broadview Ave.)
  3. 684 Queen St. West (located at Euclid Ave. on the north side of Queen)  

Spring Has Sprung! Baby Potatoes, Empanadas, and Food, Food, Food at the Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns

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In just a few more weeks, the amazing market at Wychwood Barns will be heading outdoors during the May long weekend into what we all hope will be a happy summer market season for 2012.  I wanted to make one more indoor market visit though, so I took advantage of the pretty weather and made a day out of it, complete with brunch, window shopping, and LOTS of walking!  I walked from the Wychwood Barns neighbourhood on St. Clair West down to the Queen West and Trinity Bellwoods area, then proceeded to stroll along Ossington back up to Bloor and then to Dufferin.  It felt invigorating while I was doing it but I realized just how tired I was from all the fancy footwork when I nearly fell asleep on my laptop after I came home. 

It was so worth it though!  It never ceases to amaze me how I can make these trips to the farmers’ markets and come away just wanting everything.  I was waffling on whether or not it was smarter to go this week or to wait for the first outdoor market later on this month, but my craving for Earth & City’s raw, vegan nut burgers with pesto pushed me out the door at the crack of dawn.  So there you have it.

$8 for a dozen beautiful gerbera daisies!

My beloved baby potatoes, especially the blue ones!

You might be inclined to think that going to these farmers’ markets means seeing and eating the same things over and over again (especially when you make multiple visits during the same season), but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I was actually surprised at all the new things I saw at this week’s market.  Sure, I saw ChocoSol, Earth & City, and Yorktown Pie Company there among other familiar vendors, but everything felt new and vibrant, like everyone was itching for the new season to take hold and couldn’t wait to dish out new and delicious items to try.  The place was absolutely buzzing (it was actually very difficult to take photos this time because of the sheer volume of people grabbing things in front of me and don’t even get me started on the line-ups and crowding!) and people were picking up goodies and beautiful spring daisies and flowers left and right.  It’s a buzz that you’d only get at an early morning farmers’ market.

Earth & City had containers of some brand new savoury dips and spreads (sweet walnut sauce and preserved basil pesto, $5 each), the Yorktown Pie Company had brand apple cheddar mini pies that looked amazing, Allis Fresh Baked busted out a basket of mac n’ cheese corn muffins (seriously, they need to stop tempting me with all these cheesy, savoury muffins!), and Primeridge Pure Dairy had some of the most delicious soft cheese I have ever had melt in my mouth! 

Peanut butter chocolate thumbprints!

Earth & City's dips and vegan burgers

If it wasn’t for the brand new package of cheese I had sitting in the fridge at home I would have been all around their cheese like mud on a pig.  They had a BLACK PEPPERCORN SOFT CHEESE.  I LOVE freshly cracked black pepper and peppercorns like nobody’s business.  Ask anybody who has eaten in my company, I put the stuff on almost everything.  The fresh cheese was creamy, melt-in-your-mouth, and hella peppery and spicy.  And SO GOOD.  I imagined this on a crusty wedge of French bread and baguette.  I imagined this on a bit of pasta.  Hell, I even imagined it on my raw, vegan nut burger but then I felt bad because that would have made it unvegan.  But you get the idea.

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The Sweet Sight of Sprinkles, Frosting, Chocolate Chips, and…Cardstock?! Scrapbooking Paper Cookies

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Ah, the sweet sight of colourful sprinkles, frosting, chocolate chips, and…cardstock?!  Contrary to what this looks like, I did not, in fact, spend an entire day baking and decorating 7 different types of cookies!  Not real ones anyway.  To kickstart my new cookie and baking scrapbooking project, I got down to the nitty gritty (and I mean nitty gritty – I had glue residue stuck on all ten fingers by the end of all this) and created a “yummy” batch of paper cookie embellishments! 

I LOVE scrapbooking stickers and pretty adhesive embellishments as much as the next scrapbooker, but I wanted to incorporate some cute handmade things, both for fun and to cut down on the cost of materials.  I’m really excited to do an online order for some cookie and baking stickers in the next week or so, but making some of my own embellishments means a little less money spent and a whole lot of creative fun for me!  It was exactly like the time I created a giant paper s’more for one of my Prairie Girl Bakery layouts, and the time I made little sprinkled, frosted paper donuts for a Short & Sweet Cupcakes layout.  Recreating food out of paper has always been super fun for me since I was little.  Like I mentioned in a previous post last year, when I was 6, I took my very first pair of scissors (pink ones) and went to town on my very first pad of coloured construction paper making eggs, cheese, and ham!  

I used some of my new patterned paper as inspiration and came up with these cookie styles: frosted vanilla sugar cookies with sprinkles, frosted chocolate cookies with sprinkles, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate peanut butter chip cookies, heart shaped frosted sugar cookies, star shaped frosted sugar cookies, and chocolate cookie sandwiches with vanilla cream.  I love how I talk about these paper cookies as if the ingredients and components were real, ha!  I used a pair of crinkle edged decorative scissors to achieve the look for the chocolate sandwich cookies and I used a single hole punch to create the circular sprinkles.  And yes, I glued down every single one of those tiny paper sprinkles one at a time, which resulted in some very sticky fingertips!  I’m going to continue this paper cookie making adventure throughout the duration of the scrapbooking project, but I just had to show you all the first batch I made.  I think they look good enough to eat.     

Fresh Market Produce & Asparagus Love – Farmers’ Market News, Updates, & Events for the Upcoming Season!

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In just 5 days we’ll be welcoming the beautiful spring month of May and we all know what that means: outdoor farmers’ market season, fresh market produce overflowing from bulging canvas tote bags, and oodles of asparagus!  I know the last part makes many people giddy with glee so I just had to throw that in there!  There are SO many markets and market events to look forward to in the coming weeks and months and I am bursting at the seams with excitement!  

Just the other day I looked over at my sidebar and realized I had 44 (44!) farmers’ market and local food market posts and till this day, I can’t believe how much fun it’s been visiting all these markets and writing about the Good Food Sector and local food movement.  What an incredible difference a year makes.  Last May, my tastebuds were still unacquainted with Earth & City‘s amazing raw, vegan food, Toronto’s big-time markets, Evergreen Brick Works and The Stop at Wychwood Barns, weren’t even close to entering my orbit, and it would be months before Toronto Office Markets graced the city with its local food and first appearance.

Because of the sheer number of posts in the Farmers’ Market category and series, I’ve started to break things down to make it easier for you all to find some of the posts.  It’ll continue to grow as I visit certain markets more and more, but for the time being, I’ve broken part of the series down into 5 markets.  You can now easily check these posts out in these subcategories on the sidebar:

There’s lot of news to share, so let’s hop to it!  The city will be dishing out some brand new markets in previously unchartered market territory while annual favourites will make their highly anticipated return to the summer spotlight.  New markets include Edwards Gardens at the Toronto Botanical Garden (OH.MY.GOD!) on Thursdays and the Junction Farmers’ Market on Saturdays, while markets in the Distillery District, University of Toronto (St. George), and Bay-Adelaide have yet to be confirmed at this point.  My eyes and ears are on high alert though so I’ll report back if and when I find out anything new about these ones!

In addition, the beloved Eglinton Appletree market celebrated its last indoor market this past Thursday in the North Toronto Memorial Community Centre and will be RELOCATING to Mount Pleasant Village for the spring and summer market season!  I just read about all the trouble this market has faced in recent weeks with its relocation to the Yonge-Eglinton area, what with the construction and closure of the Yonge-Eglinton Pedestrian Square and the closure and sale of the Canada Post outlet and front terrace property a block north.  I’m really excited about the temporary relocation of the Appletree market to Mount Pleasant Village, but good lord at all the bureaucracy.  For those of you who are interested in reading about the market’s recent updates and news, click here.

Finally, let’s talk annual market festivities and special farmers’ market events!  I’ll give everyone the lowdown in greater detail in May’s Food Calendar, but for the time being, here’s the scoop: May marks the return of Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market, an all-day street festival with food vendors, live music, and a ton of fun!  Pedestrian Sundays take place on the last Sunday of every month from May to October and I’ve only ever been to one once so I’m hoping to change that this summer.  Fresh Wednesdays at Nathan Philips Square return in June, Tasty Thursdays return in July, and Evergreen Brick Works will be celebrating its’ 6th birthday on May 5th so get ready tp break out the noisemakers and party hats because it’s going to be one big, happy occasion!

And to make the month of May even more special?  Mark your calendars for Jamie Oliver’s global Food Revolution Day on May 19th!  Our dear Mardi of Eat.Live.Travel.Write and Food Bloggers of Canada is spearheading the Toronto leg of this initiative, campaign, and inaugural day of action and I’m going to do whatever I can to help her out, including promoting events happening in the city and spreading the word!  This is all preliminary, sneak peek information to get us pumped and ready for the season, so I’ll let you all know when I have the official goods!     

Being involved has been a rewarding, eye-opening experience and it has made me appreciate the food I eat, the people who produce it, and the conditions under which the food is produced so much more.  When I started this market project on the blog last May, I had no idea I would become as dedicated as I have to it.

Reminiscing Memories of Newfound Love, and Quail Eggs on Salmon Tower Rolls at Sushi Xtra on Queen West!

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This might sound sentimental, but I have to ask: do you have a special food place that makes you smile every time you walk past it and/or every time you go into it because it reminds you of happy memories you shared with someone you love?  It doesn’t even have to be with a significant other; it can be with your family, with a sibling, or with your best friend.  I have many of these “happy” places strewn throughout the city and each one of them is attached to a very heartfelt experience and memory from my past.  I’ve said this time and time again and I’ll say it once more here: food is love and food is ingrained into some of our most vivid memories, both good and bad.

Case in point: I’ll never forget the first meal out that I shared with my boyfriend before he was actually my boyfriend (sushi pizza) and I’ll also never forget the awful experience I had with caramel corn at the age of 6 which involved one too many trips to my grandma’s bathroom to throw up.  But let’s not relive that.  I’d much rather relive happy moments eating sushi, particularly at Sushi Xtra on Queen Street West just east of Spadina Ave. in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Yours truly...3 years ago!

Awww ❤ I love you too!

Nearly 3 years ago today (April 29, 2009, to be exact), I basked in the glow of newfound love.  My boyfriend and I had just started dating about a month prior (our friends’ responses?  “What took so long?!”, and “Why don’t you two just be together already?  Wait, you are?  Oh, well…carry on then!”) and we were out and about enjoying a nice spring day in the Queen West neighbourhood when we decided to grab some sushi for lunch at Sushi Xtra.  We held hands, took photos, chomped on rolls and rice, and made memories that would last a lifetime.  At least for me.  I have no idea if he remembers these details.  Boys are tricky like that.  We’ve been out on countless sushi dates since but this one was special.  Everyone knows that love evolves and love grows.  If you’re lucky, you grow together and you handle that love with gentle care, giving it space and treating it with respect.  But everyone also knows that those idyllic first few months are irreplacable and in a league of their own.  The little details still resonate in me.  Like how he was so cute when he drew a heart in the condensation on my water glass when I wasn’t looking.  Sushi love, in more ways than one.

And I’ll keep coming back to this fab sushi spot not only for the happy memories, but also for the fantastically delicious sushi!  Sushi Xtra definitely ranks VERY high on my sushi list and that’s saying a lot considering how many places I’ve been to over the years!  It’s not an exceptionally large space, but this sushi spot packs a punch when it comes to their menu.  While they do have a number of appetizers, sushi and sashimi combos, sushi and rice dishes, and bento boxes among other dishes, it’s their rolls (and to an extent, their appetizers) that totally do it for me.

If I remember to, I almost always take sushi bar take-out menus home with me so I can daydream and circle the items that sound the most foodgasmic – kind of like how we used to circle things in toy catalogues as children (if you still do it as an adult, that’s okay.  I won’t tell.).  When it came to Sushi Xtra’s menu, I couldn’t stop circling things.  There were SO many items I wanted to try including their panfried scallops and panfried spinach appetizers (I’ve had their mussels and they are delicious); their salmon lover’s combo; and enough roll sets to fill me up like blimp.

Their prices are also very reasonable (I’ll update this shortly with some specifics) and they have a ridiculously amazing deal on the weekends (Saturday and Sunday) from 12pm-4pm: HALF PRICE SUSHI.  I am not joking.  These are their happy hours and let me tell you, just thinking about this makes me happy!  So, word to the wise: take advantage of it and eat yourself silly with some friends and/or your partner.  Or both.  Then everyone will be happy.

What makes me happy: their special Salmon Tower rolls.  With quail eggs.  Sitting beautifully on top of chopped up spicy tempura and salmon nests.  On top of sushi rolls.  IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL!  I can barely contain my excitement!  I’ve been wanting to try this menu item for AGES and I finally have and oh my goodness, it is divine.  Their Salmon Tower rolls (4 pcs. $7.99) are big maki rolls with avocado, cucumber, and crab meat, topped with an amazing spicy mixture of red fish roe, crunchy tempura bits, green onion, and finely chopped salmon sashimi, topped with a bright, beautiful, sunny yellow quail egg.  It is, by far, one of the prettiest, most food orgasmic things I have ever had.

Everything meshes so well together.  You have the rolls, which are great absorbers (it’s so much fun mixing everything up together and getting mouthfuls of it all) and the spicy mixture of crunchy tempura bits and salmon which is heaven enough on its own.  When you combine it with the quail eggs though, it makes everything super moist and melt-in-your-mouth amazing.  It’s exactly like poking an overeasy egg in the yolk and dipping bread or home fries in it.  Only this is even better.

And quail eggs!  Can you believe it?  I’ve only ever seen quail eggs on The Food Network, used by Iron Chefs.  To have something so incredibly unique is a gem because to my knowledge, no other sushi spot in the city uses quail eggs on or in their sushi.  But do let me know if there are other sushi places that do because I would like to know about them!  You learn a lot when you try new things.  Prior to this, I had no idea quail eggs in Japanese cuisine and sushi weren’t uncommon.  They’re very mild in taste and they remind me of sunnyside or overeasy egg yolks, only the consistency is less tacky and thick and each quail egg is about half the size of a chicken’s egg yolk.  You get so many different textures in this sushi dish (smoothness from the egg, crunchiness from the tempura and salmon mix, and a mix of grainy, creamy, savoury, and juicy from the rolls which deliver cucumber, avocado, and crab meat wrapped in sushi rice and seaweed).  Fabulous sushi dish on all fronts.

*****

Sushi Xtra is located at 423 Queen Street West, just east of Spadina Ave. in downtown Toronto.  They are open 7 days a week, from 12pm-11pm Sunday-Thursday, and from 12pm-midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.  12pm-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays are Sushi Xtra’s Happy Hours and ALL sushi is half price!

The Oreo Anniversary Series – The Cookies n’ Cream “Ice Cream Sandwich” Macaron from Petit Thuet

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“Hello, my name is Cookies n’ Cream macaron and I will be your new favourite sweet confection.  I hail from Petit Thuet and I guarantee that I will be one of the loveliest things sandwiched between two meringue shells you’ll ever lay your eyes and teeth on.”  Well, now that the macaron diva has introduced herself to everyone, I’ll take it from here.  The Oreo Anniversary Series continues on, folks, with a Cookies n’ Cream macaron.  Yes, a MACARON!  We’re accustomed to seeing Oreo cupcakes, Oreo cheesecakes, and Oreo cakes in general, but Oreo cookies n’ cream macarons?!  When I found out about these during my visit to Petit Thuet on Macaron Day last month, my initial mental reaction was, “are you serious??  Oh my god, cookies n’ cream macarons!”  If you love Oreos as well as cookies n’ cream ice cream and chocolates, you need this macaron in your life.  I knew I did.  Which was why I succumbed to temptation, went back, and basked in the joy of my reunion with the delightful confection.  

Even though I didn’t specifically include the “Keys to my Heart” series in the post title, this post is going straight into the vault for being one of the most delicious macarons in the city.  There is so much to love about this macaron: the thickness, the sturdiness (the ability of a macaron to hold its shape when being handled and being eaten), the texture, and the flavour.  It had body and substance, it didn’t fall apart and disintegrate into my hands while I was eating it, the filling didn’t squish out and play a game of slip n’ slide on me, and it hit the nail on the head in its resemblance to an Oreo ice cream sandwich.

 This Cookies n’ Cream macaron from Petit Thuet ($2.20) is EXACTLY like an Oreo and/or cookies n’ cream ice cream sandwich!  It’s like an ice cream sandwich mini-me disguised in classy, delicate macaron attire.  I couldn’t believe how delicious it was and how the flavour and texture were both executed so well.  Case in point: you know how the ice cream filling in an ice cream sandwich has that amazing thick but creamy quality to it that makes every bite SO good?  That split second where your teeth bite into it and glide through the cold ice cream in one smooth motion?  This macaron has that quality and it actually makes you believe you’re sinking your teeth into a cold, creamy, cookie sandwich dessert because the filling is that incredible.  It’s crazy, but it’s true!  Not only is it delicious but apparently, it also has magical powers!  Furthermore, it stays true to its Cookies n’ Cream name while at the same time staying true to its macaron-ness.  You can taste the Oreo crumb and cookie crumbles studded in the creamy macaron filling and the sweet almond flavour in the shells as it melts in your mouth.

Can you imagine how incredible these macarons would be in a bowl of Oreo ice cream?  With crushed Oreo cookies?  Oh, oh, or on an ice cream cupcake?!  Or on an ice cream flavoured theme cake or cupcake?  The macaron is wonderful on its own but thinking of other dessert spin-offs is really fun!  I don’t know if any other patisserie has a Cookies n’ Cream macaron, but for the time being Petit Thuet is the place to get your sweet fix.       

*****

Petite Thuet serves 3 locations in downtown/midtown Toronto:

  1. 1162 Yonge St. (between Summerhill and Rosedale subway stations, on the west side of Yonge St.)
  2. 1 King St. West (at the corner of Yonge and King St.)
  3. 244 King St. East (between Sherbourne and Princess St.)

Cupcakes in Richmond Hill! Lemon Creme and Black Forest Cupcakes at the Sweet Pink-and-Brown Crumbs & Co.

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It feels so nice to be writing another bright and happy post on cupcakes right now.  After a topsy-turvy week last week where nothing seemed to be going right (I was sick with one of the most painful migraines of my life, which in turn threw me completely off schedule and left me playing catch-up on everything for most of the week), it feels really good to start the week off fresh.  There’s so much I’m working on right now (surprise, surprise, when am I not?!) including the May Food Calendar, several new scrapbook layouts, my new cookie and baking scrapbook project, gearing up for the upcoming spring and summer farmers’ market season, and of course, continuing the Cupcake Tour! 

You all knew this was coming: cupcakes in York Region!  I know I’ve written about Old Firehall Confectionery and their adorable square cupcakes, but don’t forget that Old Firehall is a shop with multiple sweet treats and goodies and not an exclusive cupcake bakery.  After doing 69 posts on cupcakes in Toronto, a cupcake bakery post situated in Markham, Richmond Hill, and all surrounding regions was a long time coming.  I live in Markham for goodness sake!  Why has it taken me so long to do one?  I honestly don’t know.  I have a huuuge hit list and bucket list that will probably never be completely checked off simply because I’m always adding to it, but I always get around to the things I want to do even if it takes some time.  So here we are, with the first cupcake bakery in York Region post, introducing Crumbs & Co.!

Crumbs & Co. is a sweet, adorable little cupcake shop bakery located in the Richmond Heights/Major Mackenzine Village neighbourhood north of Major Mackenzie Ave. West. with two other locations in York Region.  In addition to cupcakes, they sell cookies, macaron gift sets by the dozen, and themed cupcake sets.  As well, they host and cater party events, create custom cakes (branding, logos, weddings, and special events), and even have a Cupcake of the Month Club where members enjoy a special cupcake delivery every month in 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions! 

There is no shortage of flavours at the shop: 18 flavours of macarons including apricot fig, black currant, mocha, and caramel, and over 25 cupcake flavours including Black Forest, Lemon Creme, cappuccino, chocolate coconut, strawberry shortcake, and so much more.  It’ll take me forever and a half to get through all the flavours I want to try, but I cannot wait for the day I get my sweet teeth into their white chocolate lemon (OH.MY.GOD), lemon lime, apple pie, cookie dough, and Boston Cream.

Even though I’m a little more unfamiliar with this area of Richmond Hill compared to other neighbourhoods (I’m much more familiar with the neighbourhood just south of Major Mackenzie on Yonge), I will say that if you continue walking/driving/bussing further up north, there’s a lovely little village similar to that of Main Street Unionville and Main Street Markham with cute shops and cafes and it’s definitely worth a nice spring or summer day out to explore.  This begs the question then, “how in the world did you find Crumbs & Co.?!”  In short, when I was practising my driving a few years ago, my parents and I would drive up to Aurora via Yonge Street and during one of these trips, I noticed the Crumbs & Co. pink and brown storefront from the car window and did a double take (mind you, not with me behind the wheel!) when I realized there was a cupcakery in York Region!  That was a very happy day.

Fast forward to the happy day in which I made my first visit!  Crumbs & Co. had 13 cupcake flavours on hand that day: apple pie, Oreo, raspberry chocolate, Black Forest, strawberry shortcake, coconut creme, double chocolate, mocha espresso, lemon creme, After 8 mint chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and one that looked like a chocolate coffee cupcake.  Part of me really, really wanted to go for the apple pie, the coconut, and the strawberry shortcake, but I snatched up a lemon creme one instead along with a Black Forest.  Two great things about the cupcakes at Crumbs & Co. are the tax inclusive prices ($3, flat) and the fillings!  Most of their cupcakes actually have fillings in them (much like For the Love of Cake in Liberty Village) and they always specific what the fillings are on the little cupcake signs in the display cases.

If you enjoy your cupcakes sweet, Crumbs & Co. is definitely for you.  Everyone has a different take on cupcakes and everyone has a different preference for sweetness and frosting texture, but if you enjoy the sweetness, you will LOVE their cupcakes.  Their frosting is definitely more of a thick sweet frosting as opposed to a mousse or a whippy buttercream or meringue and between the two, I enjoyed my lemon one more.  While the Black Forest was great because of the rich cocoa flavour (more cocoa flavour as opposed to fudgy) and the cherry filling, it was a little on the sweeter side for me and I wanted more of a whippy, mousse-like buttercream, but that’s totally my preference for a Black Forest cupcake.

The lemon one was much more my speed with a sweet and citrusy lemon sugar frosting, sprinkles, and a dense and thick vanilla cake bottom.  It wasn’t until I actually started eating my lemon cake that I realized just how nice and big the cupcake was.  There was a good two and a half to two and three-quarter inches of cake alone, without the frosting, and the vanilla cake had a great pound cake-like taste and texture.  It never ceases to amaze me just how different cupcakes can be from bakery to bakery.  I’ve had vanilla cake bottoms that have been super fluffy, pound cake-like, sponge cake-like, with vanilla bean dots strewn throughout, vanilla buttermilk, the list goes on.  The texture and more mild vanilla flavour was a really good pairing to the stronger lemon flavour in the frosting and the filling, and unlike the Black Forest, I didn’t feel that this one was overly sweet. 

The ratio of cake to frosting was PERFECT (I wasn’t left with too much frosting or cake in the last few bites) and it was just an all-around delicious cupcake, especially with the special lemon curd filling that tasted just like the lemon filling you find in lemon jelly doughnuts!  Their boxes are pretty (pink and with a cellophane window like Prairie Girl Bakery), their cupcake shop is sweet and cute, and it’s in my neck of the woods.  I’m so happy I finally got around to coming to their shop and I’ll be looking forward to my next visit and future cupcake visits in my area!

*****

Crumbs & Co. is located in Markham at 10220 Yonge Street, about three blocks north of Major Mackenzie Drive West.  Other locations will be added to the post shortly!