Vegan Fall Harvest, Arepas, Raw Food, Kraut & Kimichi and More – October Classes, Supper Clubs at The Depanneur!

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I don’t think The Depanneur has ever been busier!  October is jam-packed with supper clubs and cooking workshops with everything from raw food classes to fermented soda pop workshops, Mediterranean vegan fall harvest supper clubs, Colombian arepas classes, and fun Halloween cookie decorating for the little ones!  Here’s the October line-up of events so far full of fall harvest warmth and comfort and seasonal food!

Intro to Raw Cuisine with Mary Hulbert at The Depanneur, October 3.  6:30pm-9pm.  $65 +HST/person.  Raw, vegan chef and culinary instructor, Mary Hulbert, hosts this interactive, demo class devoted to raw foods with a focus on how to incorporate more into your daily diet.  Learn about health benefits, the pantry staples and tools you’ll need if you’re thinking of starting a raw diet, recipes, and lots of advice and tips on meal planning!  Sample tasting menu includes fresh almond milk, sprouted hummus, zucchini pasta with basil hemp pesto, and more!  http://www.facebook.com/events/416773298371752/

Getting Pickled: Self-Preservation Classes with Christine Manning at The Depanneur, October 10.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40 +HST/person.  Learn the ins and outs of canning and preserving with ease with Christine Manning, avid canning and preservation specialist, and take home your creations at the end of the class!  At this workshop, learn how different combinations of vinegar and spices contribute to vastly different flavours in what you pickle.  Tasting menu and recipes will include pickled carrots and cauliflower.  http://www.facebook.com/events/485891541440611/

Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur: Mediterranean Vegan Deluxe with Emily Zimmerman, October 14.  7:30pm-10:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40 +HST for supper club membership for the night.  Culinary extraordinaire Emily Zimmerman is back with another amazing vegan supper club at The Depanneur!  Inspired by fall colours, warmth and comfort, Mediterranean flavours, and fresh, seasonal fall ingredients, Emily will be dishing out a menu of creamy roasted garlic and cauliflower soup, butternut squash gnocchi with coconut butter and rosemary, warm braised apple and fennel salad, and for dessert, homemade amaretti and café au lait panna cotta!  http://www.facebook.com/events/426949300703159/

Fizzie Bevvies: The Art of Home-Fermented Pop with Kate Leinweber at The Depanneur, October 15.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  $47 +HST/person.  Love the fizzy taste of soda pop but hate how unhealthy the carbonated beverage is?  Loathe no more because holistic nutritionist Kate Leinweber leads this special workshop on making your very own – healthy! – fermented pop using healthy ingredients and immune boosting probiotics in various delicious flavours.  http://www.facebook.com/events/384841214921030/

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From French Bistro to Molecular Cuisine – October Cooking Classes & Workshops at Nella Cucina!

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Learn the art of French pastry and more at Nella Cucina!

From French bistro fare to molecular cuisine and gastronomy, the cooking classes at Nella Cucina on Bathurst St. in the Annex is anything but boring!  I’m so excited to finally feature their cooking classes and workshops on the Food Calendar and I’m even more excited about the prospect of attending one of these classes!  I’ve never actually signed up for a real cooking class before and with so many options in the city, it really wouldn’t be difficult at all to find something that strikes my fancy.

I thank my walking feet for this particular foodie discovery!  I found out about Nella Cucina and their classes simply just by walking.  I had made plans to meet a friend for weekend brunch around Queen St. and Spadina and had made the trek to Wychwood Barns for the Saturday morning farmers’ market earlier on.  After my market fun, I walked back to St. Clair, looked down the road at Bathurst and thought, “ah, what the heck?  Let’s walk the whole way down!”  And you wouldn’t believe all the nifty food discoveries I made just by walking that stretch of city!  Nella Cucina was one of them and I’m so delighted because their classes sound really fun and engaging.  Aside from offering workshops and cooking classes, Nella Cucina is an actual culinary retail shop selling cookware and equipment for restaurants and food service establishments.  Here’s a sneak peek at part of the October Cooking Classes Calendar and the Nella’s October line-up of cooking classes!

Enjoy the bounty of the fall harvest and seasonal ingredients

Molecular Cuisine Workshop #1: The Professional Series at Nella Cucina, October 1.  10am-1pm.  $150/person (receive a $100 Nella Cucina gift card when you sign up for all 4 workshops!).  Love science?  Fascinated by molecular gastronomy?  Simply want to learn about awe-inspiring professional techniques used by Iron Chefs?  The Molecular Cuisine Workshop series is perfect for you!  In collaboration with John Placko, culinary director of the Modern Culinary Academy, this workshop is designed to introduce participants to the scientific processes behind many professional culinary techniques.  At this workshop, learn and practice spherification, reverse spherification, rapid freezing, and carbonation.  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/09/27/242/-/-.html

Classic French Fare at Nella Cucina, October 4.  6:30pm-9:30pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $95/person.  The kitchen transforms into a French bistro at this three and a half hour cooking class devoted to French classics and Parisian fare.  Create a 5-course feast as you travel through France via food!  Menu includes pan-seared chicken breast with tarragon and dijon cream sauce, gougère (classic French choux pastry with cheese), an apricot and almond tart with whipped cream, and more!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/09/27/225/-/-.html

The Making of a Chef Series: The Making of a Pastry Chef at Nella Cucina, October 6.  12pm-3:30pm.  876 Bathurst St.  $125/person.  At this intensive three and a half hour hands-on class and workshop, learn the foundations and skills necessary for pastry culinary art from industry professionals using the basic ingredients in French desserts (sugar, eggs, butter, and flour), and create lovely desserts that are as beautiful as they are delicious!  Menu includes chocolate soufflé, mille- feuille (napoleon), crème brûlée, and more!  http://www.nellacucina.ca/component/jevents/icalrepeat.detail/2012/09/27/232/-/-.html

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Adorable Tea Cups, Dishes, & Saucers and Enough Tea Sandwiches & Sweets to Last a Week! Afternoon Tea at Le Dolci!

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I always knew I enjoyed tea (I thank all those weekend dim sum brunch meals growing up for that!), but I never thought I’d love it and engage with it as much as I do now.  I drink tea every morning when I come into work (it’s such a delight rotating between my current 5 loose leaf packets from Steeped & Infused), I keep up with seasonal flavours, I read tea books, I love marrying cupcakes with a cup of hot tea, and I am absolutely amoured by tea time and afternoon teas!  The atmosphere, the food, the beautiful accessories, porcelain and china; the dining experience it affords is in a league of it own.  My dream would be to attend every imaginable afternoon tea in the land – I would be so happy!  I think my obsession with tea is definitely nearing its peak and I really don’t see it waning any time soon.

So I indulged my warm and fuzzy feelings for afternoon tea with a special Sunday afternoon tea at Le Dolci’s sweet studio!  Soft music floating in the background, adorable tea cups, saucers, and dishes, and over 5 different types of decadent desserts among other delectable eats – afternoon tea at Le Dolci is as sweet as it gets!  I was so, so excited when I found out Lisa and the team would be doing afternoon tea sessions at their new studio on Dundas West back in August.  I knew the experience would be really fun, different, and yummy, but I also knew that this was something really personal and special to Lisa.  After living and working in the UK for a decade, the tea bug is bound to bite you one way or another if you haven’t been bitten already!  Lisa, Miya, and I used to drink tea together all the time when I was interning at the studio and we’d always Ooo and ahh over sweet accessories we would find.  Aside from cupcakes and sweets, tea was a common love and it just made everything that much more mellow and relaxed when we took that time to savour it and enjoy it.

I was so excited to see what Lisa would have in store for this tea session.  Afternoon teas, held on Sundays (keep in mind that afternoon teas aren’t held every Sunday at this point though, they just happen to fall on Sundays when they are made available on the class schedule as opposed to Fridays or Saturdays for instance) from 12pm – 2pm, are non-instructional sessions that are open to anyone and everyone with a love for sweets and tea!  Non-instructional simply means that the afternoon tea is purely a “come in and stuff your face while having a lot of fun!” type of session.  There’s no workshop or seminar, no demo or crafting of anything ; it’s just pure enjoyment of food and drink.

Teas are priced at $35/person and spaces must be booked in advance, either by phone or through their website via the class schedule.  Now, I had a brain fart when I first booked my spot because I mixed myself up and thought the entire tea took 2 hours, but the 12pm-2pm tea time is completely flexible!  So long as you’ve booked your spot you’re welcome to start your tea at 12:30pm, 1pm, whatever floats your boat (within reason – obviously if you show up at a quarter to two, that’s not going to fly!) and subsequently, you can finish up any time within those 2 hours.  You simply need to book your spot in advance so Lisa and her team can plan out their tea menu and know exactly how much food to make so nothing goes to waste and so they can make sure everything is ready to go the morning of for the freshest baked goods and eats.

Beautiful sunlight streamed through the studio’s front display window and the big, long, stainless steel worktable was decked out in a white tablecloth with tea cups and saucers, milk and sugar, and small dishes to enjoy our nibbles!  The dishes and accessories were so darn gorgeous.  Enjoying the food on such pretty tableware was half the fun!  Some of these dishes were special antiques and works of art from the UK (that dish featured in the first photo?  Hand-painted!), while others were just nifty pick-ups around town.  The crazy tea accessory lover in me was lapping all this up like an eager puppy!

Okay, so what does afternoon tea at Le Dolci entail?  Hot loose leaf tea from Tealish (4 flavours on hand including Sweetie Pie, Earl Grey Classic, Sencha Organic green tea, and Peppermint!), 4 different kinds of tea sandwiches on multi-grain bread with the crusts cut off (but of course!), and literally enough sweets and baked goods to last you an entire week – no joke!  The awesome thing about the tea specifically is that you can try different kinds!  Lisa will brew a pot of whatever flavour you want at first, but if you decide that you want to try a different one middway through, she can brew another one.  Granted, I wouldn’t start asking for all 4 flavours, but it’s fine if you want to sip on another one later on in the tea.

Another thing I really loved was the sheer volume of food!  All afternoon teas are based on a per person count, but holy bejeebus, after my boyfriend and I polished off our sandwich plate with 8 portions, Lisa came by and plopped another plate of 4 in front of us!  That’s 6 sandwiches in total, 3 per person (each portion is half a sandwich).  I don’t know about you, but I have never eaten 3 sandwiches plus sweets plus a bajillion cups of tea.  I knew there would be leftovers (gut intuition) so I came prepared and brought tupperware.  It came in handy!  That day, we were given an assortment of roast beef with mustard, smoked salmon, ham, and a fantastic egg salad with crunchy green onions!  You all know I love smoked salmon to pieces, but I have to say, I loved the ham and egg salad ones a lot too!  So simple yet so good.

And the sweets.  Oh, the sweets.  Full-size frosted cupcakes (vanilla with coffee frosting and chocolate with vanilla frosting), mini cupcakes (vanilla and coffee), biscotti, little scones (cheddar and dried fruit ones), brownie squares, lemon coconut squares, macarons (coconut and strawberry), and lamingtons, an Australian and New Zealand dessert made of sponge cake and coated in chocolate and rolled in shredded coconut!  Did you get all that?!  It was such a great varied assortment and there were so many different things to try!  I loved the variety and if I had to choose, my favourites would have to be the lemon coconut squares, the cupcakes with coffee frosting, and the macarons!

It was a really fun, sweet afternoon tea and I’m so happy Lisa decided to have it as part of her fun foodie line-up.  I genuinely enjoyed all the food we were given and it’s just nice being in the studio surrounded by yummy smells and great people.  I am no doubt coming back for more – the leftovers are just the icing on the cake!

******

Le Dolci brand new studio is located at 1006 Dundas Street West, right at the corner of Dundas West and Montrose Ave. The studio is across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park and are open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

A Year in Review – New Classes & Studio, New Sweets, & Memories of Being an Icing Sugar Queen at Le Dolci!

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I don’t think any of us ever need a reason or a celebration to have cupcakes or cake; they are morsels of happiness in and of themselves!  But there is a special sort of anniversary I’m commemorating with these two sweet and decadent posts!  It all began with a cupcake studio, baking pans upon pans of vanilla and chocolate cupcakes, tinting mounds of yummy vanilla frosting in sweet pastels, and working with fondant for the very first time.  The trek to the old studio on King West and Portland, the smell of warm sugar, and the sounds of the oven timer chiming and the Kitchenaid mixer whirring at full speed.  I remember it like it was yesterday: my very first day as an icing sugar queen at Le Dolci! 

It has already been a year since that fateful first day of cupcake baking and frosting making with Lisa and Miya and so much has changed within that time including the introduction of new classes to the lineup and a brand spankin’ new studio across the street from Trinity Bellwoods Park!  I have so many fond memories and I took away so much from my time at the studio with Lisa and the other girls.  I learned how to make cake pops, I learned how to work with fondant, I watched Lisa grow her business from the ground up, and I celebrated Le Dolci’s first Christmas and Valentine’s Day among many other special milestones.  Can you believe that it’s already been a year?  It’s crazy!  Even though it’s been months since my days as Le Dolci icing sugar queen, it holds a special part of my sweet tooth and heart and I love being in the loop and staying up-to-date on all the yummy news.

Along with the retail cupcake space selling accessories and freshly baked cupcakes with a selection of new flavours (lemon, salted caramel, and coffee in addition to the classic Sicilian vanilla and chocoalte cocoa), Lisa and the Le Dolci team have launched a whole rotating menu of sweets available every day including Augie’s gourmet ice pops, and in-house crafted butter tarts, biscotti, eclairs, macarons, cannoli, and more!  And if that’s not enough squee, Lisa has also added a slew of new foodie classes and events to Le Dolci’s offerings!   

Le Dolci has joined forces with Rosewood Estates for wine and cupcakes, and wine, honey, and cheese tastingsLisa Kates (aka. A Food Gypsy) for drop-in soup evenings for soup, fresh bread, and sweets; traditional afternoon tea with sweets, savoury nibbles, and plenty of tea and adorable accessories; Chef Ramza for Lebanese cooking (tabbouleh, fattoush, makloubit chicken and rice and more!); Heather from Knead Bakery for bread and croissant making classes; and pie-making with the Parkdale Pie Princess!  Oh, and did I mention that Le Dolci is hosting their 2nd foodie trip in 2013, this time in San Francisco and Napa Valley, California?!  Sigh.  If only I could attend everything.

Here is Le Dolci’s October line-up of classes and yummies to look forward to!

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Pop-Up Farmers’ Markets, Organic Veggies, & Lots of Kale! Samsara Fields at Crème Fraîche Market Cafe

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Sometimes things are just meant to be.  Like when you stop by your favourite shop on a whim and everything is on sale.  Or when you pay a visit to your favourite bakery and oh, what do you know, a fresh batch of goodies have just come out of the oven!  Many wonderful, serendipitous things have happened in my food world (like when I unknowingly went to Hammersmith’s on the day of their 1st birthday and was consequently treated to a yummy cupcake on the house!) and yesterday’s farmers’ market trek to Crème Fraîche Market Cafe on Annette Street was just that, serendipitous. 

I wanted to see what baked goods they had on hand, I wanted to take new photos, and I really just wanted to go for fun.  So I went online bright and early in the morning to double check my bus schedule and thought it would be a good idea to double check Crème Fraîche’s website to map out my route for the afternoon.  And there it was.  Crème Fraîche’s twitter box with the words “pop-up heirloom farmers’ market” embedded in their latest tweet!  I couldn’t believe my good fortune!  I was so excited I literally skipped out of my house!

Even though pop-up markets are out of my grasp most of the time since the concept is rooted in spontaneity and to a large extent, up-to-the-minute social media (hi there, I don’t text or have internet on my phone!  Yes, yes, I might as well be carring a phone with an antenna, blah blah blah), there’s a lot of value to be found in them for both the farmers/producers and those in the community. 

First off, it’s a surprise and anybody making a trip to Crème Fraîche would be treated to an added bonus of food to choose from that they never expected!  Second, it affords all those who come to the shop the opportunity to get to know a farmer or a producer they hadn’t known of before.  You learn so much about where the food comes from, different varieities of produce, and the about the producers themselves.  More options for fresh and healthy food is never a bad thing!  And finally, it allows the farmers and producers to engage in a different neighbourhood, a different part of the city, and even a different part of the province.  Many growers may only have the time and resources to sell their wares in one or two parts of town, if they’re lucky.  Farmers’ markets are highly competitive, with guidelines, fees, and red tape every which way.  Pop-up markets don’t require long-term commitment (one day only!) and they foster relationships between people as they get to know the farms, the growers, and even the shop that’s hosting the pop-up.  It keeps everyone engaged and interested, not to mention well-fed!

When I arrived at Crème Fraîche, I was treated to a fabulous, beautiful spread of vegetables from Samsara Fields, a local organic Ontario farm owned by organic growers JP Gural and So Young Lee.  Samsara Fields, located in Waterford, Ontario, aims to provide local food security in the form of organic heirloom vegetables – beans, corn, garlic, potatoes, peppers, peas, squash, the list goes on.  After making my rounds inside the Crème Fraîche cafe (sadly, no cheddar black pepper scones yesterday but plenty of fall squash, herb plants, cheese, oats, beans, and lentils!) and having a great talk with Constance, I came back outside to take a look at what I wanted to bring home.  

I was so happy when I found out So Young Lee had oodles of kale for sale!  Crème Fraîche had a big basket of Scottish/curly kale outside and So Young Lee offered me a huuuge assortment of freshly picked kale (picked the day before!) straight from Samsara Fields.  I was in awe at all the different types!  I knew there was black kale and to a lesser extent, red kale, but I had never tried things like lacinato/dinosaur kale, premier kale, or Siberian kale before and I was delighted that I’d get the chance to take some home, especially since my mum had said she really wanted some.  Fresh kale was priced at $5 a bag and I thought, “why not?” so So Young Lee fished a mountain of beautiful kale leaves out from the water where they were peacefully floating, in all different varieties, and stuffed a bag full for me.  The leaves were s0, so beautiful and quite frankly, I was happy to spend the $5 and not have to chuck out a third of the bunch. 

They were delicious with the spaghettini I had for dinner earlier today and it made me so happy knowing I was eating such yummy vegetables and also supporting a dedicated, loving couple who are passionate about food producing and organic farming and growing.  I can’t wait to experience more pop-up markets at Crème Fraîche  and to get more involved in everything else they have to offer including classes and cafe breakfast and brunch! 

*****

Crème Fraîche Market Cafe is a cafe and local food shop located in the west end of Toronto in Annette Village/The Junction neighbourhod at 639 Annette Street.  The shop is just several blocks west of Runnymede Road and south of Dundas Street West.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays), from 8am-8pm.  Visit their official website HERE.

Happy First Day of Fall! Whipping Up a Batch of Butterscotch Pecan Cookie Bars

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Happy first day of fall, everyone!  Well, for those of you who enjoy four seasons that is.  The tree leaves have been changing to reds and oranges, it’s chillier, I’ve started shopping for new sweaters (my selection of cardigans is rather sad), and my craving for fall comfort food is just getting started.  So, how did I celebrate the first day of fall, my favourite season?  By sleeping in (I can’t even remember the last time I slept in until 10:45) and then hauling out my baking bags of goodies and electric mixer for some good old fashioned fall baking!  I’m already thinking well ahead into the holiday season but before I got too ahead of myself, I thought it would be nice to bake another batch of cookie bars and what better way to ring in the new season with a batch of yummy butterscotch pecan cookie bars? 

I’ve been so inspired by fall food that I’ve been doing a ton of research on restaurant items around the city including searches for apple menu items (both sweet and savoury), pumpkin, butternut squash, and pecan.  I think I’m covered on the pumpkin and butternut squash for the time being, but I’m still searching high and low for some standout pecan dishes.  Pecan pie is wonderful and I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some, but aside from that, all I’m really finding is salads with candied pecans and while that’s nice, it’s hardly what I’d consider out of the ordinary, you know?  I’m going to keep digging around, but in the meantime, here’s some fab butterscotch pecan cookie bars to celebrate our first taste of fall!

Recipe for Butterscotch Pecan Cookie Bars (adapted from Chocolate-Chip-Pecan Cookie Bars recipe from March 2011 issue of Food & Wine magazine).  

Makes 12 big squares or 24 smaller rectangular bars.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (1/2 a stick)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil 
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for whole wheat pastry flour but I didn’t have any and also didn’t feel like buying any so I just used regular all-purpose flour!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for semisweet chocolate chips)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F and line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  Spread the pecans in a pie plate and toast for about 8 minutes until golden.  Chop the pecans and let cool.  (*Deb’s Note: I didn’t toast my pecans and went straight to coarsely chopping them as they were.  It’s entirely up to you if you want them toasty or not!)
  • In the bowl of a standing electric mixer (*Deb’s Note: I used a hand-held electric mixer and a plain old mixing bowl), beat the butter and oil with the granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy.  Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth.  In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt; beat the dry ingredients into the wet mixture at low speed.  Add the butterscotch chips (or chocolate chips if you’re following the original recipe) and pecans; beat just until incorporated (*Deb Note: I didn’t use my mixer for this step, I just mixed it all with my hands).
  • Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press into an even layer.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and nearly set in the center (*Deb’s Note: I baked mine for 18 minutes).  Let cool completely.  Using parchment paper “handles”, lift out and cut into squares or bars.

I sprinkled mine with cinnamon just before I popped the baking pan into the oven because I felt like it, but you could also drizzle some melted white chocolate over top after they’ve finished baking and cooled to jazz things up.  These would so good with some vanilla ice cream too!  For next time though, I would adjust the bake time.  I know the original recipe called for a 20 minute bake time, but I never follow it to a tee because my oven runs hot so I normally knock 2 minutes off.  I would even do for around 16 minutes the next time, just so they can be a little gooeier on the insides and a little more chewy.  I loved using the butterscotch chips though because the squares tasted like a cross between rich caramel and butterscotch brittle.

*****

Recipe adpated from Food & Wine magazine.  “Dessert Redux: Chef Recipes Made Easy”.  Food & Wine March 2011: 86.

Friends With Salad – The Fresh Bocconcini & Tomato Caprese Salad with Pesto & Basil at The Commissary

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Every time I think of salad, I laugh to myself as I think of the episode of the Simpsons when Lisa becomes a vegetarian and the scene with Bart, Homer, and Marge dancing in a little conga line chanting, “you don’t win friends with sa-lad!  You don’t win friends with sa-lad!”  with Lisa scowling on the couch.  Oh, Simpsons, how you fit into every aspect of my life.  We know the truth though: salads kick butt and some are so much more worthy than their appetizer and side status at the meal table.  One of my all-time favourite salads is a tomato salad with fresh bufala mozzarella or bocconcini cheese with basil or a caprese salad.  Slices of tomato and cheese, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, it doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that there is basil, the tomatoes are juicy and sweet, and the cheese is soft and melt-in-your-mouth delightful.  I love it with a really great olive oil but a sweet and tangy balsamic works just fine too.

Source: the-rivalry.com

I’ll never forget the day I found out about bocconcini cheese.  I was still in university doing my undergrad and I was with a coworker at the flower shop I used to work at and it was dinnertime.  She had brought a whole container of bocconcini to nosh on and I looked over, was curious, and asked her what she was eating.  She told me bocconcini cheese and gushed about how great it was with tomato salad.  And from that day on, I was in love with bocconcini cheese, buying it from the supermarket to have on hand for snacks and salads at home, and looking out for any bocconcini or bufala mozzarella cheese menu items at restaurants.  All that time this wonderful cheese was absent from my life and now I can’t imagine my life without it!  I am such a cheese fanatic and this is definitely one of my favourite varieties.  And here to deliver a fantastic caprese salad bursting with tomatoes and soft fresh cheese is The Commissary!

Their caprese salad is part of all 3 menus (brunch, lunch, and dinner) and comes in both main ($8) and side ($6) portions.  Oh my gosh, trust me when I say that you need to disregard this salad as merely a side and always, ALWAYS order it as a main.  I mean, if you can.  And want to.  You should!  I had mine as a separate side and thought, “holy bejesus I could eat this endlessly!” and vowed that the next time I was there, I would have their caprese salad as a main with a side of The Commissary’s breakfast potatoes to go with it! 

This caprese screams fresh and juicy.  The multicoloured grape tomatoes and bocconcini are covered in delicious pesto, sweet and tangy balsamic, and a fresh as air chiffonade of basil.  What makes this salad is the fresh cheese and, combined with the balsamic and basil, it is over the moon delicious!  I felt like I was having bocconcini for the first time all over again, only 10 times more amazing!  I could not believe how soft and melt-in-your-mouth it was.  I barely even had to chew because it was that soft.  And I loved how they weren’t skimpy on the cheese either!  This is the real deal and while the cheese I’ve had at the supermarket was good, this blows everything out of the water. 

It’s a great variation of the traditional sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzarella salad and if my love for this salad and their baby arugula and mango salad with goat cheese salad is any indication, I’m not just friends with salad, I’m kind of bffs with it.

*****

The Commissary is located at 889 Queen Street East at the southeast corner of Queen and Logan Ave. in Leslieville.  They serve weekend brunch, and lunch and dinner during the week.  Weekend brunch is served from 9am-3pm on Saturdays and Sundays and from Monday to Friday, they are open from 11am-10pm.