Photo Spotlight on Mushroom and Collard Green Mini Pies by Yorktown Pie Company

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It’s time for me to divulge yet another food confession: throughout my almost 27 years of life, I have never been a pie lover.  Ice cream, yes.  Cookies, yes.  Cupcakes, OH YES.  But never pie.  I know, it sounds absurd considering how much I adore Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and my dear Raymerville Bakery & Deli up in my neck of the woods; but it’s true.  I once read in one of my Martha Stewart Living magazines that Martha herself thought that the best dessert was a piece of pie.  And I rememeber reading that sentence and thinking, “really?!”  I just couldn’t wrap my head around that.  My mum and brother would share an entire 8-inch between the two of them and I’d stare at them quizzically and wonder what the heck was wrong with me – or maybe what the heck was wrong with them.  I’ve always thought pies were beautiful.  And at times I would even salivate over varieties such as lemon meringue and cherry and the occasional cream pie.  But, truth be told, if I saw an ice cream truck passing by, I’d leave the pies in the dust and chase the truck down the street. 

There’s always a place and time to for preferences and tastebuds to evolve though, and our beloved hometown Yorktown Pie Company has carved a little pastry wedge into my heart with their adorable sweet and savoury mini pies, tarts, and turnovers.  I always internally squeal over how cute they are and I marvel at how so much amazing food and flavour can be tucked away in such a little package.  The aesthetic makes my heart melt and all the different fillings and flavour combinations have me coming back for more.  Everything is baked and handmade with so much love and care, with family recipes spanning decades and generations coming to fruition at farmers’ markets across the city.  All of Yorktown Pie Company’s little pie gems are priced between $2-$6 and their savoury pies are great to have for lunch alongside a salad while their sweet ones are fantastic all on their own as a full-blown, foodgasmic dessert.  There’s a reason why their apple sour cream is nicknamed “apple crack”! 

I am all over their sweet pastries and pies (their butter tarts are delicious and anything apple of theirs needs to be inhaled) and their vegetarian offerings such as their spinach and goat cheese and this little guy over here: the mushroom and collard greens pie with soy egg base!  I love mushrooms like PB loves J and anything with collard greens piques my interest since it’s not something you see in baked goods very often.  And the soy egg base!  It’s like silky egg tofu and savoury custard all in one.  What makes the pie even more terrific is how great it tastes both warm and cold and how it’s literally studded from top to bottom with veggies and filling. 

It’s the kind of food that would be great as part of a brunch or light lunch and if you’re looking for something a little heartier, Yorktown has a number meat pies including a chicken pot and a stout steak mushroom!  I haven’t had anything of theirs in weeks (I know, what a lengthy period of time!) and I would love to get my hands on another one of their coconut butter tarts, their apple sour cream, their apple crumble, and anything with cheese in it.  It’s going to be one heck of a warm and sunny Canada Day long weekend this weekend, so head out to Wychwood tomorrow if you’re looking to enjoy some great eats and adorable pies at a great market.  Happy weekend, everyone!

*****

Yorktown Pie Company is a local food business here in Toronto specializing in everything pie!  From pot pies to tarts to turnovers, they churn out the sweet and savoury baked goods and pastries on a weekly basis at farmers’ markets across the city.  You can find their vast array of good eats at The Stop Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns on Saturdays and the Toronto Office Market at the Soft Choice courtyard on Wednesdays.

The Great Outdoors – Sweet Gardens, Green Space, and Food at the The Stop’s Outdoor Market, Wychwood Barns

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*****

The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  The market will be heading outdoors for the summer season starting next Saturday, May 26!  The park and historic community centre complex is located at 76 Wychwood Ave. just off of St. Clair Ave. West, east of Christie St. and west of Bathurst St.  http://www.thestop.org/green-barn-market

Introducing the Flavour Favourites Series! 5 Great Strawberry Cupcakes

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All good things come with a little time – I’m so excited to FINALLY start my new Flavour Favourites series!  Inspired by Christine’s, “5 Great…”  feature on her beauty blog empire, Temptalia, (and my favourite beauty blog in general!), this new series is completely devoted to sweets and eats grouped together by one common flavour or ingredient denominator: vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, lemon, blueberry, green tea, pesto, cheddar, asparagus, apple – the list is never-ending and I have so many ideas on how to make this series fun and creative!

This first Flavour Favourites post is dedicated to “5 Great Strawberry Cupcakes” but I’d love to do a spin-off of this in the future and feature a “5 Great Strawberry Breakfasts” post, a “5 Great Strawberry Desserts”, or a “5 Great Savoury Dishes with Strawberries” mash-up.  There are so many reasons why I’m so in love with this idea.  For one thing, after 500+ posts, there’s just no way everyone is going to remember when I wrote certain posts or even know these posts exist if I’ve written about them in the past.  Some of you have just started following Ate by Ate within the last few months and some of you have been by my side since the beginning.  Either way, it’ll do one of two things: refresh your memory or introduce you to something brand new!  And posts like these are much more bookmark friendly – I know, I know, I need to get on the Pinterest wagon.  It’ll happen eventually!

Another reason why I’m in love with doing this series?  It’ll be a great way to see, at a glance, what the city has to offer if you love a specific flavour or ingredient to itty bitty pieces and want to know where you can get the goods.  The series will either encapsulate previously written posts into one “bigger picture” post (like today’s), or feature items and dishes not yet published but will be at a later date.  I especially want to focus on these Flavour Favourites to highlight seasonal foods so we can all take advantage of some great dishes and food at their peak of loveliness.  I am going to be one very happy girl when I have enough to create an asparagus one for spring! 

I’ve wanted to do this for over a year but as you can imagine, this series is fantastic in theory, a ton of fun to prepare, but waaaay more difficult to execute in actuality.  First off, there’s the menu ogling.  Then there’s the actual eating and photographing.  And from there we painstakingly rack up the posts.  And this can only happen if I end up loving the items and dishes!  I know it seems like I love everything I eat and think everything is awesome, but there are a number of spots and food things (for lack of a better word) that I haven’t necessarily enjoyed and thus, haven’t written about on the blog.  Regardless, I am beyond ecstatic to start this and can’t wait to really rev it up.

  1. Strawberry “Pinkalicous” – $2.75 at Bakes & Goods, 2523 Yonge Street (Yonge & Eglinton)
  2. Strawberry Vanilla – $3 at Flour Studio, 883 Eglinton Ave. West (Eglinton & Bathurst)
  3. Lady in Red – $2.95 at Short & Sweet Cupcakes (February Flavour of the Month), 1945 Avenue Rd. (Avenue & Wilson)
  4. Strawberry on Grandma’s Dark Cocoa – $2.95 at Prairie Girl Bakery, 18 King Street East (King & Victoria) and First Canadian Place Marketplace (Concourse level)
  5. Summer Strawberry – $2.65 at The Wedding Cake Shoppe, 859 College Street (College & Ossington)     

The 10th Anniversary of Summer Wining & Dining in the City – My Preliminary Picks for Summerlicious 2012!

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Brace yourself for an onslaught of summer patio dining, hungry crowds, and some of the best price fixe menus the city has been blessed with: Summerlicious is celebrating its 10th anniversary this July!  Given what a special milestone this is, I intend to make a big splash, and that means dishing out a handful of posts chock full of tasty appetizers, succulent mains, and sweet sweets!  Over 100 participating restaurants started accepting reservations last week on the 21st and being the eager beaver that I am, I already started hammering out my very rough, preliminary list of dining spots to visit during this crazy 2-week period from July 6th to the 22nd. 

I’m extra excited for this go-around because I feel like I’ll be able to extract so much more out of these experiences to showcase facets I didn’t focus on last year such as summer patio dining, more seasonal fare, and parts of town I haven’t featured yet on the blog.  I am loving the patio dining exploration and I have Eat In, Eat Out magazine to thank for this giant truckload of inspiration.  And as far as seasonal faregoes, I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to devote entire series and posts to highlight specific seasonal delights all-year round as they come.  I know I have the Fall Harvest series and the Winter Wonderland and such, but I’m talking series solely focused on ONE seasonal ingredient such as strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, and so on.

Ah, memories – my first Summerlicious at Southern Accent

There are SO many fantastic menus available this summer thatit’s going to be painful narrowing the list down, as usual!  My first go-around yielded 15 results.  I knocked out 2 so far.  Sigh.  No one ever said this was going to be easy.  Here are my current 13 picks to choose from:

  1. 5th Element – Indian cuisine, downtown on Queen Street West
  2. Café La Gaffe – French cuisine, downtown in the Grange/Baldwin St. neighbourhood
  3. Earth Bloor West – local, farm-to-table fare, in Bloor West Village
  4. Hot House Cafe – Italian cuisine, downtown on Church St. around the St. Lawrence neighbourhood
  5. La Bruschetta – Italian cuisine, midtown west on St. Clair West
  6. Ocho Hotel – local, farm-to-table fare, downtown Spadina
  7. Peter Pan Bistro – all-rounder bistro, downtown on Queen St. West
  8. Quince – Mediterranean, uptown Yonge & Eglinton
  9. Sambucas on Church – Italian cuisine, downtown Church St. in the gay village
  10. Sarah’s Café and Bar – all-rounder bistro, east end on the Danforth
  11. The Blake House – all-rounder bistro, downtown Jarvis St. near Cabbagetown
  12. The Chefs’ House – all-rounder contemporary, downtown at George Brown College
  13. The Wine Bar – all-rounder bistro, downtown on Church St. around the St. Lawrence neighbourhood

Remember, this is only a preliminary list – I am not planning on eating at all these places!  I’m going to try my hardest to narrow this list of 13 down to 5 and then I’ll be on my way. Visit the links up top to get a taste of what I have in mind, and visit the official Summerlicious site with the whole kit and caboodle HERE!

Chinese Bakery Swiss Roll Cakes & Blackberries – The Summer Berry “Bread Pudding” Yogurt Parfait

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Inspired by trifles and bread puddings: sponge cake cubes as the backdrop of my latest summer yogurt parfait!  Every time I think of trifles, I laugh and snort because I’m reminded of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. episode in Season 6 where Rachel is in charge of making Thanksgiving dessert at Monica’s.  She decides to make a pretty, fancy trifle, only to get the recipe mixed up (magazine pages stuck together – whoops!), thus ending up with half a trifle and half of what appears to be shepherd’s pie: “We have a layer of lady fingers, and then a layer of peas and onions…”; and don’t even get me started on Ross’s, “it tastes like feet!” comment!  Ha!

Lucky for me, no shepherd’s pie and trifle mix-up on my end, just good old fashioned sponge cake with yogurt – a little like a trifle because of all the layering, fruits, and cake, and a little like a bread pudding with the bread “soaked” fruit and yogurt mixture!  In my breakfast bowl we have vanilla and mango sponge cake cubes, dried cranberries, plump blackberries, strawberry yogurt, honey nut flake cereal (I know it’s hard to see since the poor things are buried, but I promise they’re there!) and shredded coconut.

I don’t eat sponge cake very often, but there’s this one Chinese bakery in Scarborough called Kin-Kin Bakery (specifically the one in Agincourt Mall) that makes the BEST Chinese sponge-cake swiss rolls!  These swiss roll cakes, in general, can either be absolutely fabulous or absolutely horrid (think dry, crumbly, and tough to eat) and after many years of trying out different bakeries, my family has finally found our holy grail Chinese bakery for these lovely swiss roll sponge cake logs at Kin-Kin and every single one of their cake flavours are delicious.  My favourite flavour, hands down, is their mango one and I decided to use a slice to pretty up my morning breakfast.  For a really decadent parfait in the future, I’m thinking chocolate sponge cake swiss roll, strawberries, chocolate chips, and vanilla yogurt – yet another opportunity to make breakfast sweet and fun.

The Cupcake Connection, Vol. 002 – Wedding Cupcake Decorating Classes, Summer Flavours, & Ice Cream Cupcakes!

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Ice cream flavours and cupcakes – how sweet it is

Welcome to the second installment of The Cupcake Connection, your humble resource to some of the sweet and tasty frosted happenings in Toronto’s cupcake world!  First up, new bake shop alert!  Some of you may already know this if you’re very tuned in to social media and its cupcake whispers, but for those of you who don’t and aren’t, I have some fantastic news for all vegans with a sweet tooth: Tori’s Bakeshop on Queen Street East! 

Tori’s Bakeshop, located at 2188 Queen Street East, is a vegan, organic, all-natural bakery that just recently opened and boy does it ever boast a boatload of treats!  Cinnamon buns, pies, tarts, scones, muffins, cookies, biscotti, and of course, cupcakes!  Much like Bunner’s Bake Shop, Tori’s Bakeshop offers a huuuuge selection of egg-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and gluten-free products.  Since I’m still planning my first visit to this great new shop in the east end, I decided to give them a call to ask them about their cupcakes and while it completely slipped mind to ask about prices (whoops!), I did get all the informatin on their flavours and selection.  On any given day (they’re open from Wednesday to Sunday during the week), they have 6 cupcake flavours to choose from: cherry, coconut, lemon, strawbery, peanut butter, cookes and cream, mint, and the classic chocolate and vanilla.  I absolutely can’t wait to come here and try their lemon, coconut, and cherry cupcakes especially.

Lime – perfect for summer!

Now, onto summer flavours!  We know how much fun it is using seasonal fruits and treats as inspiraton for our cooking, baking, and artistic endeavours and cupcakes are right in the thick of it all!  There are so many juicy, delicious summery flavours on hand right now at many of the city’s cupcake bakeries.  Short & Sweet Cupcakes is currently busting out their June flavour of the month, Tropic Thunder, a fruity mix of pineapple, banana, and coconut frosting and cake, The Cupcake Shoppe goes citrus this season with their summer seasonal Lime n’ licious cupcake, and Liberty Village’s For the Love of Cake has JUST doled out their special summer cupcake flavour, key lime pie!  I’ve been meaning to go back to For the Love the Cake for ages and this just gives me an even more delicious incentive – I see both the key lime pie cupcake and my beloved lemon meringue cupcake in my future this season! 

And of course, what’s a summer without ice cream?  Yummy Stuff is enticing our summer cravings with their June flavour of the month: the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry Neapolitan cupcake!   This was exactly what I was referring to in Friday’s Yummy Stuff post when I was gushing about art imitating food imitating more food.  Not only did I take advantage of their Neapolitan decorated sugar cookie, I also snatched up their ice cream flavour inspired cupcake. 

With moist, fluffy, soft-as-a-pillow strawberry cake and thick creamy vanila and chocolate swirled frosting, the cupcake tasted EXACTLY like Neapolitan ice cream – without the freezer burn!  The cupcake was literally oozing with baked strawberries (no joke, I had to catch some of the strawberries as I bit into it to keep them from falling on my pants!) and their vanilla and chocolate frosting were bang on.  Yummy Stuff seriously makes some of the best chocolate frosting in the city and it was such a fun, summery cupcake to have for the month of June.

Since we’re on the topic of ice cream and cupcakes, why not have real ice cream together with cupcakes?  That’s right, folks, Cold Stone Creamery isn’t the only spot in town that makes these decadent treats!  The Cupcakery on St. Clair West has 6 different ice cream cupcake flavours to choose from including, each for $2.50 for 6 for $13:

  1. Ice Queen – vanilla cake topped with vanilla ice cream and pink vanilla buttercream
  2. Chocolate Sundae – chocolate cake layered with caramel sauce and Skor toffee bits, topped with chocolate ice cream and chocolate buttercream
  3. Cookies and Cream – vanilla cake layered with crushed Oreo cookies topped with vanilla ice cream and vanilla buttercream
  4. Chocolate Mint – chocolate cake topped with chocolate ice cream and mint buttercream
  5. Creamsicle – vanilla cake topped with vanilla ice cream and orange buttercream
  6. Banana Rama – chocolate cake topped with chocolate ice cream and banana buttercream

Learn how to make your cupcakes look as beautiful as this wedding cake at one of Le Dolci’s decorating classes!

Okay, so we’ve covered the new bake shop alert, slammin’ summer cupcake flavours, and ice cream cupcakes that are perfect for summer.  What’s that I hear?  Dum-da-dum-dum-dum-dum.  Ooo, wedding bells!  We can’t talk about summer without mentioning the bustling, topsy-turvy wedding season and Le Dolci has every sweet tooth covered with two very special Introduction to Wedding Cupcakes decorating classes this summer!  The first one will be held on Friday, July 6th from 2pm-4pm and the second one will be held in August on Sunday, August 5th from 2pm-4pm.  Each class is priced at $80 +HST/person and at the end of the class you get to take home a dozen awesomely yummy vanilla cupcakes beautifully decorated by you!  The wedding cupcakes decorating classes will focus on intricate fondant design – think bridal magazine! 

Aside from being creative and getting to indulge in sweet cupcake fun, I think these classes are perfect if you have a friend who’s getting married and you want to give them something truly personal and unique to congratulate them.  And you’ll get to enjoy the class at their brand new studio on Dundas Street West just across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park – win-win.  That’s all for now, so grab a ice cold drink and enjoy the fruity, summery treats and cupcakes while you can!

The Sweet Taste of Strawberries & Lemonade – Summer Sipping at Butler’s Pantry in Roncesvalles

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Cheers to summer!

With the temperatures as high as they are during these hot summer days, everyone is guzzling down bucketfuls of their favourite drinks: iced coffee, ice cold beer, fruity bubble tea, and plenty of water.  One of my preferred summer beverages?  Lemonade!  Aside from yummy iced loose leaf tea in a plethora of flavours, lemonade is my go-to summer drink treat and a number of spots in the city are serving up flavoured lemonades to slurp and cool down with: a brand spankin’ new frozen lemonade slushie from our beloved Tim Hortons, a lemonade and an iced lemon mint from Aroma Espresso Bar, a raspberry lemongrass iced tea from Le Gourmand Cafe,  and a maple lemonade soda seltzer from The Depanneur!

Much like my Winter Wonderland – Hot Chocolate series, this spotlight on lemonade will serve as one of the summer drink counterparts on the blog and I am so excited about finally starting it!  I’ve been looking forward to this for months and trust that one way or another, I am going to get to every single last one of these drinks and report back to you all!  I’ll be waddling around with a water balloon for a tummy because of it, but everything sounds too refreshing and tasty to pass up so water balloon I will be.  Lucky for me, I found myself another fantastic lemonade option to enjoy in the city and to add to that list: the strawberry lemonade from Butler’s Pantry!

I have wanted to visit Butler’s Pantry for ages.  With 2 locations in Toronto (one in Mirvish Village and the other on Roncesvalles in the west end), it is a great cafe for both carnivores and vegetarians alike.  Their menu, especially their main entree portion ($10-$14), is to die-for.  Butler’s Pantry takes its cue from a variety of different countries and cuisines to recreate those authentic cultural flavours and meals in dishes such as their Korean bulgogi, Indian biryani, Southern jambalaya, Greek moussaka, Moroccan vegetable tagine, and SO much more.  Even though this post is devoted to their strawberry lemonade, you can definitely expect many future food posts from Butler’s Pantry!  In addition to their main course items, Butler’s Pantry also has a selection of sandwiches and appetizers (say hello to crab cakes!) as well as a brunch menu with French toast, omelettes, and eggs benny among other favourites.

Their strawberry lemonade ($3.50) comes in a nice tall glass (around 16 oz., I believe) with a wedge of lemon slice and is one of the most refreshing fruit drinks ever.  First off, it’s gorgeous.  It’s a beautiful ruby red grapefruit shade and when you look at it from top to bottom, you’ll notice a lovely eye-catching colour gradient which just makes it all the more fun to drink and look it.  And of course, it tastes cold, refreshing, and delicious.  I love lemonade, but even I can acknowledge the fact that when it isn’t made well, it can either taste too mouth-pucker sour, too cavity-inducing sweet, or just plain artificial, powdery, or rubbery.

A fruity kind of day! Strawberries and cantaloupe with yogurt, along with a strawberry lemonade.

Not this one.  The strawberry lemonade actually tastes like fresh, juicy, sweet strawberries with the citrus tang of lemons and the flavours are so bright, crisp, and clean.  It is a beautiful marriage of the two flavours and fruits and it isn’t too sweet or sour at all.  Unless I’m actually out at a coffee shop or teahouse, I don’t normally get special drinks when I’m out for a meal, just because I’m of the mindset that I would rather spend the money on the food.  However, there are always exceptions and if there are drinks on the menu that catch my eye and that are unique enough to warrant the extra few bucks, I go for it.  This strawberry lemonade is truly a great drink for spring and summer, so if you happen to nosh at Butler’s Pantry sometime in the near future (or anytime for that matter), give it a whirl!

*****

Butler’s Pantry serves 2 locations in Toronto: 1) 591 Markham St. in Mirvish Village, just off of Bloor Street West and Bathurst St. and 2) 371 Roncesvalles Ave. in Roncesvalles Village, south of Dundas Street West in the west end.  They are open for brunch, lunch, and dinner 7 days a week from 11am-10pm Monday-Thursday, 10am-11:30pm Friday-Saturday, and 10am-10pm on Sundays.  Visit their official website for more info and menus HERE.