Mother’s Day Events in Toronto – Afternoon Tea, Brunch, a Supper Club & More!

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Simple & Elegant for Mother’s Day at the LCBO Bayview Village, May 6.  6pm-8pm.  2901 Bayview Ave. at the LCBO Bayview Village.  $60 +HST/person; to register and book tickets, please visit the participating location.  Join Chef Harrison Hennick for this classy and elegant class with dishes that would be perfect for mom for a brunch, lunch, or tea!  Menu will feature homemade pretzel bites and mustard, heirloom tomato tart, and pan-roasted halibut.  http://www.lcbo.com/learn/cookingclasses_bayview.shtml

Colombian Bandeja Paisa for Mother’s Day by Cookie Martinez: A Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur, May 11.  7:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40+HST/person.  What better way to honour your mum than making one of her classic home-cooked dishes that recreates the history, memories, comfort, love and care that went into her cooking in the kitchen?  Cookie Martinez will be doing just that at her special Colombian supper club devoted to her mother’s bandeja paisa, a regional dish in northwest Colombia, with all the fixins!

Enjoy Cookie’s bandeja paisa which includes red beans cooked with pork, white rice, ground beef, chicharon (crispy pork belly), fried egg, plantain, chorizo, arepa, hogao sauce, avocado and lemon, with regional appetizers and desserts to complete the meal.  http://thedepanneur.ca/event/supper-club-colombian-bandeja-paisa-for-mothers-day-by-cookie-martinez/

Gibson House Mother’s Day Tea, May 11 & 12.  2pm-4pm.  5172 Yonge Street just north of North York Centre subway station.  $30 +HST/person (includes admission to historic house which guests can tour during the tea).  Pre-registration and pre-payment are required as seating is limited (please call 416-395-7432 to book).  Enjoy finger sandwiches, sweets and tea in Mrs. Gibson’s parlour at this special Mother’s Day afternoon tea.  http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/featured-events.htm#gibson

Mother’s Day Chocolate Tour by Tasty Tours, May 11.  3:30pm-6pm.  Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood and downtown Toronto with specific meeting place information provided upon registration and tour booking.  $35/person, $15 for children 7-12, and FREE for children 7 and under.  Tasty Tours is back with their Mother’s Day chocolate and sweets weekend!  Join others in a decadent tour of 4 different chocolatiers and locations around downtown Toronto, complete with shop discounts, samples, and plenty of chocolate goodness and information.  http://www.tastytourstoronto.com/chocolatetour.php

Mariposa’s Mother’s Day Brunch Cruise, May 12.  11:30am-2:30pm.  207 Queens Quay West at the Queens Quay Terminal.  $48.95 +fees and taxes/person ($24.95 +fees and taxes for children 4-12).  Celebrate Mother’s Day onboard a cruise ship around the Toronto harbour with a brunch with all the fixins!  The brunch is served buffet style with dishes such as wheat berry salad, carved roast beef, scrambled eggs and smoked sausage and bacon, pasta primavera, a bakery station, a waffle station and more!  http://www.mariposacruises.com/cruises-special-events.php

Mother’s Day Portuguese Brunch at Aphrodite Cooks, May 12.  11:30pm-2:30pm.  201 Weston Rd.  $75 +HST/pair.  Enjoy the flavours and dishes of Portugal with mum!  Chef Paula Costa will host this breezy Portuguese brunch class where you and mum will enjoy dishes such as eggs with peas and chourico (Portuguese sausage); Bacalhau con Natas (baked salt cod with onions and potatoes, topped with a Bechemel); salad greens with lemon olive oil dressing; and for dessert, Sonhos (Portuguese mini donuts) served with Port caramel sauce.  https://www.aphroditecooks.com/class.aspx?c_id=7e073bf0-f1b4-4782-9401-7ebfc4cf342e

Mother’s Day Cream Tea at Spadina Historic House & Museum, May 12.  Seatings at 12:30pm and 2:30pm.  285 Spadina Road across the street from Casa Loma.  $15 +HST/person (tickets must be purchased in advance; call 416-392-6910 Ext. 305 to book).  Bring mum to the beautiful and charming Spadina House for afternoon tea fit for a queen!  http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/featured-events.htm#spadina

Mother’s Day Tea and Tour at Montgomery’s Inn, May 12.  1pm-4pm.  4709 Dundas St. West, Etobicoke.  $10 +HST/person which also includes a tour of the historic inn (there is no registration for the tea; it is first come, first served).  Nosh on sweet cream scones with crème fraîche and gooseberry jam, lemon tarts and more with mum!    http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/featured-events.htm#montgomery

Mother’s Day Tea at Black Creek Pioneer Village, May 12.  Seatings at 12:30pm and 2:30pm.  1000 Murray Ross Pkwy., south of Steeles Ave. West and east of Jane Street within the York University campus area at Black Creek Historic Brewery Restaurant, located in the Half Way House & The Canada West Room in the Black Creek Visitor’s Centre.  $38.95 +HST/person for non-Black Creek members; $34.95 +HST/person for members (prices include admission to Black Creek and reservations required; please call 416-667-6295).

Enjoy fresh local ingredient at this special tea featuring a vast array of finger sandwiches (including Ontario maple curried chicken salad), warm scones, delectable sweets and tea!  http://www.blackcreek.ca/dotAsset/156825.pdf

A Big Welcome Back Hug to the Spring & Summer Farmers’ Market Season – First Up, May 2013 Line-Up!

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asparagus at Trinity Bellwoods farmers market

Aside from December (hello Christmas cookies and baking and dinners!), May is my favourite food month of the entire year because for one, the patio perfect weather is luscious and balmy and for another, I get to give a big welcome back bear hug to so many of my beloved farmers’ markets!  While I won’t be able to visit as many as I used to (working Monday to Friday will do that!), I’m really looking forward to hitting up the markets I didn’t get to visit last year (if you can believe it, there are still a handful that I still haven’t been to!).  My heart is feeling so full and excited just from the anticipation of everything coming back within the next 3 months.  Farmers’ markets, market events, outdoor food stands – it’s going to be SO MUCH FUN.  Get those tote bags ready: here is the returning May market line-up in the order they’re coming back!  Don’t forget to visit the Farmer’s Market page for the entire market listing and Ate by Ate’s snazzy Facebook “Springtime Asparagus & Rhubarb” gallery!

rhubarb at East York farmers market

Farmers’ Markets and Market Events in Toronto – Returning in May 2013

Sherway Farmers’ Market, May 3 – October 25.  Fridays, 8am-2pm.  Sherway Gardens Shopping Centre, 25 The West Mall off Hwy 427 and the Queensway in Etobicoke.  The farmers’ market is located at the far northeast parking lot between the North Queen St. and Sherway Rd. entrances.  http://www.sherwaymarket.com/

Trinity Bellwoods Farmers’ Market, May 7 – October 29.  Tuesdays, 3pm-7pm.  Northwest corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park at Dundas Street West and Shaw Street.  http://www.tbfm.ca/

Trinity Bellwoods Park farmers market

Weston Farmers’ Market, May 11 – October 26.  Saturdays, 7am-2pm.  14 John Street at Weston Rd. and Lawrence Ave. West.  http://westonvillagebia.com

Appletree Market in the Village, May 14 – October 8.  Tuesdays, 3pm-7pm.  June Rowlands Park, corner of Mount Pleasant Rd. and Davisville Ave. in Mount Pleasant Village.  http://www.appletreemarkets.ca/

East York Farmers’ Market, May 14 – November 5.  Tuesdays, 8am-2pm.  East York Civic Centre, 850 Coxwell Avenue at the corner of Coxwell and Mortimer Avenue.

Toronto Botanical Gardens Organic Farmers’ Market, May 16 – October 10.  Thursdays, 3pm-7pm.  777 Lawrence Ave. East at Leslie Ave.  This brand new market for 2012 is taking place at Toronto’s famed Edwards Gardens!  http://torontobotanicalgarden.ca/enjoy/special-events/market/

Withrow Farmers’ Market, May 18 – October 26.  Saturdays, 9am-1pm.  725 Logan Ave. at the north end of Withrow Park, between Carlaw and Logan.  http://www.withrowpark.ca/wiki/wiki.php

Montgomery’s Inn Farmers’ Market, May 22 – December 24.  Wednesdays, 2pm-6pm.  4709 Dundas St. West, Etobicoke.  Enjoy fresh baked bread from the inn’s wood-fired oven, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, honey and more!  http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/featured-events.htm#montgomery

Junction Farmers’ Market, May 25 – November 9.  Saturdays, 8:30am-12:30pm.  Green P parking lot located at 385 Pacific Ave. by Dundas Street West.  This farmers’ market is The Junction neighbourhood’s first and they’re back for their sophomore year!  http://www.junctionmarket.ca/

The Junction, Toronto

summer strawberries at Junction farmers market

Leslieville Farmers’ Market, May 26 – October 27.  Sundays, 9am-2pm.  Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen Street East and Woodward Ave., between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave.  The market is back for their 3rd summer and fall season!  http://leslievillemarket.com/

Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington Market, May 26.  12pm-7pm.  Kensington Market (west of Spadina Ave., eats of Bellevue Ave., south of College Street, north of Dundas Street West).  Pedestrian Sundays are back for their 10th year!  Come out and enjoy the street festivals, market vendors, street food, and more on the last Sunday of the month – car and traffic free!  Streets are closed off to car traffic during Pedestrian Sunday hours.  http://www.pskensington.ca/

Metro Hall Farmers’ Market, May 27 – October 27.  Thursdays, 8am-2pm.  55 John Street at David Pecaut Square at King Street West.

Riverdale Farm Farmers’ Market, May 28 – October 15.  Tuesdays, 3pm-7pm.  Riverdale Farm located at Riverdale Park West at 201 Winchester Street by Sumach St.  http://www.riverdalefarm.ca/about-the-farm/farmers-market/

North York Civic Centre Farmers’ Market, May 30 – October 31.  Thursdays, 8am-2:30pm.  5100 Yonge Street, just north of Elmwood Avenue.  The farmers’ market, with its vast array of baked goods, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, and more, takes place outdoors at Mel Lastman Square.

heirloom tomatoes at North York and Mel Lastman Square farmers market

Farmers’ Markets and Market Events in Markham and Surrounding

Hillcrest Mall Farmers’ Market, May 2 – October 28.  Wednesdays, 10am-6pm and Sundays, 9am-5pm.  West parking lot outside of The Bay (facing Carrville Rd) at Hillcrest Mall, located at 9350 Yonge Street and 16th Ave/Carrville Rd (16th Ave. becomes Carrville west of Yonge Street).  http://onrichmondhill.com/events.php?id=13831

Aurora Farmers’ Market & Artisan Fair, May 4 – October 26.  Saturdays, 8am-1pm.  Town Park at Wells St. and Mosley St. southeast of Yonge Street and Wellington St. East.  Indoor markets during the winter move into the Aurora Cultural Centre.  http://www.town.aurora.on.ca/aurora/farmersmarket

Downtown Stouffville Farmers’ Market, May 9 – October 10.  Thursdays, 2pm-7pm.  Located at Park Drive and Main Street (for geographic reference, between Ninth Line and Tenth Line). http://www.townofws.com/farmersmarket.asp

Main Street Markham Farmers’ Market, May 11 – September 28.  Saturdays, 8am-1pm.  Located on the outdoor terrace at 132 Robinson Street and Markham Road (Main Street Markham North), just north of Highway 7 in Old Markham Village.  There are free parking lots in the area behind many of the retail storefronts, the closest being the parking lot behind Scotiabank.  http://www.mainstreetmarkham.com/page.asp?pageid=5

Go Banana! Warm Banana-Almond Muffins with Brown Sugar Topping & The Story of a Broken-Hearted Muffin Lady

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banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

Oh, muffin.  So many people adore you, my brother and father included.  They eat you for breakfast with their coffee.  They grab you on the go when they’re hungry or in a rush.  My dear coworker, Pat, treats everyone at work to a batch of you almost every Friday.  And let’s face it, you’re very versatile and easy to bake.  But I have to say it: I’m Deb and I have a love-hate relationship with you, THE MUFFIN.  *GASP*  Dun-dun-dun!

I know, you’d never know it from following Ate by Ate.  While I certainly don’t yak about muffins the way I do cupcakes or macarons, I do squeal over the cutie-patootieness of mini muffins (I even love saying mini muffin!) and I’ve posted a handful of tea muffin recipes over the years in a variety of flavours.  So what’s the deal?  I love homemade muffins but turn my nose up at store-bought ones.  There.  I said it.  I’m a muffin snob.

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

Which I know sounds confusing because every muffin was technically baked by somebody even if the batter was mixed by machinery.  But let’s be real.  I know we’ve all come across those horrendous muffins that look as though they’ve been pumped with steroids, that ooze grease when you give them a poke, that taste like cardboard (um, not that I know what cardboard really tastes like, but humour me and imagine it), and have no love, no character to them.  Those are the muffins that have turned me away all these years and to this day they still make me wary.

So much so that I even unintentionally declared it in public.  Oh yes.  I will never forget the day I broke a woman’s heart over a pack of muffins.  Long story short, I was grocery shopping with mumsie.  As we were browsing the bakery and baked goods, mumsie asked, “do you want some muffins?” to which I replied very forcefully and loudly, “EW, NO!  MUFFINS ARE FATTENING!”  Mumsie’s eyes and mouth widened in mortification as she smacked my arm and cried, “DEBRA!”  I scoffed, “what?”  “That woman was so happy looking at those muffins and you ruined it for her!”

Apparently I had destroyed a nearby shopper’s outlook on muffins with my unintentional outburst as said shopper immediately dropped the pack of muffins she was holding like a hot potato and scadaddled out of there.

Oops.

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

To that nice, innocent woman who was looking at muffins that day: I am sorry.  To make it up to you, here is a fab recipe I adapted from allrecipes.com.  They are banana-almond muffins with brown sugar-cinnamon-almond topping and they are moist and delicious and I hope they make you happy.  With homemade muffin love, Deb.

Recipe for Banana-Almond Muffins with Brown Sugar-Cinnamon-Almond Topping (adapted from the Banana Crumb Muffins recipe from allrecipes.com)

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients: Muffins

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (*Deb’s Note: this was my special addition!  The original recipe does not call for ground almonds)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 4 bananas, mashed (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for 3 bananas; I had 4 in my kitchen so I just used up all 4)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for butter but I didn’t feel it was necessary to use butter so I substituted vegetable oil and it worked out perfectly)

Ingredients: Topping

  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

banana almond muffins with brown sugar topping

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.  Lightly grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, mix together flour, ground almonds, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and vegetable oil.  Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  • In a small bowl, mix together sliced almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon for the topping.  Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  • Bake for 18 to 20 min. (*Deb’s Note: the original recipe called for 18 to 20 min.; I baked mine for 17 min. and they turned out fine), or until toothpick inserted into centre of muffin comes out clean.

*****

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com.  The original recipe, Banana Crumb Muffins, can be accessed HERE.

From Foodies to Food Trucks – 5 Upcoming Food Events in the City!

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worldwide vegan bake sale

Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – Toronto (TVA), April 27.  1pm-4pm.  17 Baldwin Street (2nd floor) at the Toronto Vegetarian Association, Vegetarian Resource Centre.  FREE; cost of food for donation on-site.  Participants of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale promote delicious, cruelty-free food while raising money for the community cause.  Come by for vegan baked goods (we hear there will be marble cupcakes, macaroons, donuts and much more!) and for the collection of vegetarian cookbooks for sale and on loan from the resource library!

*PLUS!*  Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale – Toronto (The CookBook Store), April 27, 2pm-4pm.  850 Yonge Street.

tva web

gluten free garage

Gluten Free Garage: The Sequel, April 28.  10am-4pm.  Artscape Wychwood Barns at 601 Christie Street (covered street barn).  $10 for adults, children 12 and under FREE (proceeds go to the Canadian Celiac Association); cost of food and merchandise on-site.  The Gluten Free Garage is back for its sophomore year!  With food and vendors galore in support of celiac disease research and initiatives, the Gluten Free Garage is a market event featuring bakeries, food services, and restaurants; samples from merchants and vendors; health and lifestyle information, resources, and support about gluten-intolerance and gluten-free living; guest speakers and health experts; coupons and more!

depanneur supper club

Craft Beer Tasting Menu with Kendra Simmonds: A Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur, April 28.  7:30pm; 8pm dinner.  1033 College Street.  $40+HST/person.  Calling all beer lovers!  This fantastic tasting menu incorporates both locally brewed craft beers and savoury eats for a mouthwatering experience, fusing different flavours and ingredients to create new and interesting tastes and dishes.

Menu includes beer bread crostini with beer-infused cheddar sauce; a deconstructed beer salad incorporating malt, barley, wheat grass and more; pork and beer two ways!  Beer-brined pork loin in a beer reduction, and beer-glazed pork belly, both served with fresh spring market vegetables; and to end the meal, a sweet taste of beer-battered crepes!

food truck festival

Better Living Food Truck Festival, May 3.  3pm-7pm.  1 Overland Drive by Shops at Don Mills just off of Don Mills and Lawrence.  FREE; cost of food and drink on-site.  Presented by Better Living Health & Community Services, come on out and take part in the food truck craze that has taken the city, province and nation by storm!  Enjoy some of the city’s most popular and beloved food trucks at this event including Smoke’s Poutinerie, Stuft Gourmet Sausages, The Feisty Jack, and drinks at the Bier Markt!

TUM

*TICKETS NOW ON SALE!*

Toronto Underground Market at Evergreen Brick Works, May 4.  5pm-10pm.  550 Bayview Ave.  $22.60 + $2.50 service charge for general admission + cost of food and drink on-site at the event.  19+ only.  The Toronto Underground Market is special, monthly event that aims to bring our community together via food pathways by uncovering and illuminating hidden culinary talent within our city.  TUM offers food entrepreneurs and budding chefs a platform to share their food and stories, as well as an avenue to promote local food and businesses.  The market is social in nature, where food is eaten and consumed in a communal setting and where guests are encouraged to eat, talk, and mingle with chefs and other dinner guests.

It’s Good to Be Back at the Market – Fresh Cheese, Vegan Eats, Pies, Sprouts & More at Wychwood Barns!

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The Stop Community Food Centre booklets at Wychwood Barns farmers' market.

My left arm hurts from carrying my heavy load of market groceries.  My shoulder blades and neck are a wee bit sore from being wrapped in a heavy-duty scarf for most of the day.  And I’m just a little sleepy; leave it to me to wake up at 6am in the morning on a Saturday to go to the farmers’ market in the cold blowing snow/sleet/wet crap!  Who needs to walk when you can let the gusty wind push you along?  All I needed was a long coat and hat and I could have passed for the city gal version of Mary Poppins with a pink umbrella!

Despite the less-than-stellar weather, my trip to The Stop Farmers’ Market at Wychwood Barns yesterday morning was SO WORTH IT.  Even though I came home cold with rosy cheeks and just a tad on the wind-whipped side, I came home happy and so full of joy with some of the best food from the market in my grocery bag.

Root vegetables at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Carrots, potatoes and onions at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

The Stop farmers' market at Wychwood Barns

It’s been months since my last farmers’ market trek.  Not just months since my last post, but literally months since the last time I went to a market at all.  The last time I went to one was back in December and that was to Evergreen Brick Works where I lugged home bags of kale, salad greens, and butternut squash.  I know taking a break from blogging after that was something I had to do but since that last market visit, it’s almost as if a part of me was missing.  A part of me that so desperately wanted to go to the market and do blog-related things but couldn’t because I was tired and because I knew I had to sacrifice some of that precious blog time to take care of other aspects of my life that need my attention.

Going to the market yesterday for first time in nearly 4 months was like a breath of fresh of air.  It felt SO GOOD.  Like that something missing had been fully stored.  I had missed it so much and as sappy as it sounds, it’s stuff like this that makes you appreciate all the good things in your life.  The stuff that puts you in your happy place and makes your life so content, rewarding and satisfying.  I saw market vendors and friends, I took a ridiculous amount of photos (93!), I stuffed my hungry face with samples, learned about food, picked up a bunch of new food literature, and filled my grocery bag with some delicious eats!

vegan desserts by Earth & City at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

chocolate and vanilla macaroons by Earth & City at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

lentil-walnut vegan burgers by Earth & City at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Yorktown Pie Company at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

butter tarts by Yorktown Pie Company at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

A trip to The Stop Market at Wychwood Barns is never complete without fresh vegan eats from my beloved Earth & City and Yorktown Pie Company!  Cassandra from Earth & City was on hand with spring roll wraps, lentil-walnut burgers with sundried tomato puree, red onion, and collard green leaf “bun”, kale and arugula pesto, and a mountain of mouthwatering vegan sweets including their famous vegan brownies, chocolate and vanilla macaroons and cowgirl cookies, cookies with oats, almonds, banana, honey, dates, cinnamon and sea salt.  And Yorktown?  They had their famous mini butter tarts, chocolate chip cookies, and plenty of meat and vegetarian pies and pastries including spinach and ricotta, spinach and feta, chicken, steak and Guinness, mushroom and leek, and good old fashioned sausage rolls!

I happily picked up a container of a lentil-walnut burger, vegan brownie, and a container of kale and arugula pesto from Earth & City, and a sweet butter tart from Yorktown to bring home.  I cannot wait to come back to see if I can snatch up my favourite apple crumble and apple sour cream pies (what some have referred to as “apple crack”) the next time!

Chocosol coffee and chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Chocosol fair trade chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Chocosol coffee and chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Chocosol fair trade chocolate at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Between snapping photos and picking up food literature, I also added some walnut-raisin buns to my grocery bag from St. John’s Bakery, some AMAZING fresh-as-a-daisy Black Peppercorn goat cheese from Crosswind Farm who makes, by far, the best goat cheese EVER in the most delicious flavours (feta, maple cream, herb, green and red peppercorn, garlic Italian blend and a brand new creamy brie-style goat cheese), and a GIANT bar of Luscious Coconut chocolate from Chocosol.

It was so awesome seeing Chocosol’s fantastic selection of fresh cacao bars and beans and thanks to Chocosol’s Yanni (I hope I’ve spelled your name right!), my boyfriend and I learned the process behind Chocosol’s fair trade chocolate: cacao beans are roasted; shells from the roasted beans are then removed via fans which blow the shells off; the fresh cacao is then stone-ground into a paste, which is then tempered a number of times before flavourings and seasonings are added to create their famous flavours such as their hemp, spicy chili, dark and more.  Taking it all in was like cacao 101 which was awesome!

Crosswind Farm goat cheese at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Crosswind Farm goat cheese at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Crosswind Farm goat cheese at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

During this visit I also discovered some fantastic new vendors!  Now, these vendors aren’t exactly brand new to the market but they’re new to me.  First up, Essa Sprouts!  I love pea sprouts and shoots and sunflower sprouts like nobody’s business and Essa Sprouts grows everything from sunflower sprouts to sprouted chickpea, daikon radish, pea shoots, buckwheat, alfalfa, crunchy bean and more.  They have so many different types of sprouts and microgreens that are perfect for any type of palate (spicy, mild, you name it) and the baggies come in a number of sizes so you can choose what best suits your diet and sprouting eating frequency.  I picked up a small baggie of sunflower sprouts and have already inhaled the whole bag with help from my mum and dad!  You can find them here at The Stop at Wychwood and also at the Richmond Hill market (which I will add to the market list) and Barrie which is interestingly one of the oldest markets in the province!

sunflower greens and sprouts by Essa Sprouts at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

Finally, I saw Delish Kitch at the market for the first time yesterday!  In a nutshell, Delish Kitch specializes in gluten-free, low-starch food with the absence of refined sugars.  They offer vegetarian, vegan and dairy-free options on their impressive menu: veggie pizzas, cookies, muffins, savoury tarts and pies, bread, tons of granola, soups, and their speciality, Bisckers, which are a cross between crackers and biscuits with a hint of scone without the gluten!

Delish Kitch at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

gluten-free baked goods by Delish Kitch at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

mushroom gluten-free pizzas by Delish Kitch at Wychwood Barns farmers' market

This visit was just what I needed to kick start some extra inspiration and I happily got everything I wanted out of it.  It’s almost May and we all know what that means: spring and summer season at the markets!  I just found out all the 2013 dates so in another week I’ll be updating the market list with a rundown of all the ones returning in May and June and all the great market events we can expect this year!  I am so pumped and excited!

*****

The Stop Community Food Centre Farmers’ Market at Artscape Wychwood Barns is held year-round on Saturdays from 8am-12pm.  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

The Cupcake Connection, Vol.009 – New Places, Spaces & Faces Featuring Prairie Girl Bakery, Cupcakes Leaside & Le Dolci!

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Prairie Girl Bakery in Toronto on King Street East.

Welcome to Part II of this spring’s first Cupcake Connection where we’re talking new places, spaces, and faces!  *NEWS FLASH*: Prairie Girl Bakery is expanding – again!  That’s right folks, the cupcake queen of Toronto’s downtown core with its two existing locations, is opening its 3rd location further up north in YORKVILLE!  Set to open at the end of the month, Prairie Girl will be opening its doors and wafting out the sweet scents of golden buttermilk and dark cocoa cupcakes while rubbing elbows with Louis Vuitton, COACH, Burberry,  and others at BLOOR STREET WEST & AVENUE ROAD!  Can you tell I’m ecstatic?!  Prairie Girl Bakery.  With a 3rd location.  In Yorkville.  You guys know what this means.

I can stuff my face with cupcakes while shopping my heart out at MAC and Sephora and Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods and…and…*catches breath*

BREATHE, DEB.

Prairie Girl Bakery cupcakes, Black Forest and Cherry Cheesecake cupcakes and Treats of the Week

Black Forest on Dark Cocoa and Cherry Cheesecake on Golden Buttermilk. Both on Prairie Girl Bakery’s Treats of the Week menu!

Prairie Girl Bakery mini cupcakes in Chocolate Peppermint and Cookies and Cream

Prairie Girl Bakery mini cupcake heaven – Chocolate Peppermint and Cookies and Cream.

This is so exciting!!  I got the news from Amy at Prairie Girl (thank you, Amy!) and almost started doing the Elaine dance from Seinfeld.  It’s just so perfect.  It’s within the heart of Yorkville, one of the best places to window shop and stroll in the summer, it’s walking distance from Queen’s Park (hello, perfect cupcake picnic area!), and close to so many of my favourite shopping, strolling, and eating destinations (I’m looking at you Annex, Kensington Market, Fresh, and Mela!).  I can’t wait to visit their new location and of course, I’ll report back with photos of the shop and of whichever delightful frosted confection I decide to sink my sweet teeth into on that particular day.  Keep your eyes on the cupcake for more details to come!

While Prairie Girl is set to open their new, 3rd location in the city, one cupcake shop has set up shop for the very first time in Toronto, this time on the east end in Leaside at 85 Laird Drive.  If you haven’t already, give a warm welcome to Cupcakes by Heather & Lori!  Known as The Cupcake Girls on their W network television show, Heather and Lori hail from Vancouver with 6 cupcake shops under their belt in BC alone!  I haven’t paid a visit to the shop yet but I’ve definitely given their site (www.cupcakesonline.com) more than one look-see and there are so many flavours I want to try: Lava Flow (raspberry chocolate with cream cheese frosting and raspberry dollop); Blue Hawaii (blue vanilla frosting and coconut); Raspberry Beret (raspberry filled lemon cake with lemon frosting and raspberry dollop); and Pecan Brownie (pecan brownie cake with caramel and chocolate chips inside and dolloped with cream cheese frosting).

Cupcakes Online. Leaside. website

Cupcakes Leaside and their adorable website!

I’m really looking forward to paying them my first visit not just because it’s a cupcake shop that looks adorable and makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside but because Leaside is an area that I haven’t really explored yet.  With the exception of going to Rahier and Patisserie La Cigogne on Macaron Day, the area is practically unchartered territory for me so there will be so much to see and do when I do end up going.

And since we’re on the topic of brand spankin’ new, our dear Le Dolci has introduced a slew of new classes to their already fab selection!  New to their cupcake class line-up: Cupcake Bouquets!  This class is meant to unleash every ounce of creativity in you as you create edible works of art.  Completely floral-themed, the cupcake bouquet class with have you creating cupcake bouquets for centrepieces, sweet tables, gifts and more as you learn how to pipe floral patterns with buttercream.  If you were to take this class and Le Dolci’s Advanced Piping Techniques class where you practice piping roses, pansies, and daffodils, you’d be a whiz at piping flowers and basically creating cupcake floral arrangements!  The first Cupcake Bouquet Making and Arrangement class is set for May 12 from 12pm-2pm and is priced at $80 +HST/person. 

Flowers and cupcakes at Le Dolci on Dundas Street West in Toronto.

:Le Dolci cupcake studio storefront on Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto.

And so concludes the first Cupcake Connection of the spring and summer seasons.  I can’t wait to see what the next several months bring!

The Cupcake Connection, Vol. 008 – Scrumptious New Flavours, Giving Back to the Community & More! Part I

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spring cupcakes at Short & Sweet Cupcakes in Toronto

After a good month of macaron munching in March, we’re diving straight back into cupcake mode!  It’s been months since my last Cupcake Connection post and while I’ve continued eating cupcakes (c’mon, it’s ME we’re talking about here), I couldn’t take photos of a few of them (I know, foreshame.  It was late and dark when I was eating them and one of them even got squished!  Very delicious, but so not sexy) and I have a bit of backlog going on with the ones I did take photos of so bear with me while I sort everything out over the next month.

There’s a LOT to catch up on, so much so that it feels overwhelming at times.  So many cupcakes, so little time!  Luckily for me, I have the support of many of my favourite cupcake shops giving me the goods to pass along to all of you so we’ll never be at a loss for great cupcake news.  We have quite a bit to cover (this is Part I of II!) so let’s jump right in and get started!

You’ll Need a Wheelbarrow to Carry All of These – New Flavours and Flavours of the Month

mini cupcake box from Prairie Girl Bakery in Toronto

Just when I think I’ve made a little bit of headway in trying the many cupcakes and flavours in Toronto, I get whip-lashed with a whole truckload of new and exciting flavours!  Seriously, it’s 1 step forward, 5 steps back!  But tis the spice of life and I wouldn’t want it any other way because without new fun and creative flavour combinations, the cupcake scene would get boring real fast and that’s the last thing any of us want.  Let’s start with Prairie Girl Bakery.  Talk about busting out the sweet treats!  Prairie Girl has unleashed 7, count ’em, SEVEN new Treats of the Week flavours ($2.95 for regular size, $1.75 for minis) to their rotating menu!  HOLY MOTHER OF PEARL.  These 7 flavours include:

  • Blueberries & Cream (Golden Buttermilk Cupcake with a swirl of Real Blueberry Icing and a swirl of Classic Cream Cheese Icing, topped with a Chocolate Blueberry)
  • Chocolate Coconut (Dark Cocoa Cupcake with Vanilla Bean Icing topped with Toasted Coconut)
  • Chocolate Flake (Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Bean Icing topped with Chocolate Flakes)
  • Grasshopper Pie (Dark Cocoa Cupcake with Green Mint Icing topped with Cookie Crumble)
  • Malted Milk (Dark Cocoa Cupcake with Malted Milk Icing topped with a Maltesar)
  • Neapolitan (Dark Cocoa Cupcake with a swirl of Real Strawberry Icing and a swirl of Vanilla Bean Icing)
  • Tiramisu (Golden Buttermilk Cupcake with Tiramisu Icing, Marsala Wine Syrup topped with Chocolate Flakes)

Treats of the Week web page at Prairie Girl Bakery in Toronto

I would inhale all of these, but the ones I am most excited about are the Blueberries & Cream, Grasshopper Pie, and Malted Milk.  Prairie Girl has rolled a few of these out already this month so if you’ve missed them, don’t fret – their Treats of the Week operate on a rotating menu so they’ll always come back and you can know in advance now on their website where they list their upcoming Treats of the Week 4 weeks in advance which I ABSOLUTELY LOVE!

Next on the list?  Yummy Stuff on Queen Street West.  Their April Flavour of the Month ($2.75) is an ultra cool, psychedelic Cherry Almond Cake!  And I do mean psychedelic.  We’re talking bright turquoise vanilla frosting topped with juicy red maraschino cherries on cherry-studded almond cake.  I could float up to cupcake heaven right now.  I LOVE almond baked goods and this sounds and looks amazing (you can check out the photo Yummy Stuff posted on their blog HERE).

For the Love of Cake cupcakes in Toronto in Liberty Village

Lemon Meringue cupcakes from For the Love of Cake cupcake bakery in Liberty Village in Toronto

Taken in 2009, well before the birth of Ate by Ate! For the Love of Cake’s amazing Lemon Meringue cupcakes.

A little further south you’ll find For the Love of Cake, where they’ve brought back their classic S’mores and my beloved Lemon Meringue cupcakes ($2.65) for the month of April (and if demand is high, possibly for even longer!).  The Lemon Meringue was the very first flavour I tried at For the Love Cake back in 2009 (can you believe it’s been that long?!) and it remains, to this day, one of my favourite cupcakes.  Annnnd speaking of S’mores, my dear  Short & Sweet Cupcakes has added two mouthwatering flavours ($2.90) to their permanent menu on Fridays (Boston Cream!) and Sundays (S’mores!).  It pains me that I haven’t tried either of them yet so let’s hope that I can sink my sweet teeth into at least one of them in the coming months!

And then there’s Dessert Lady in the heart of Yorkville.  They’ve expanded their selection to include 3 NEW flavours ($3):

  • Double Chocolate Cupcake with Hazelnut Crunch Buttercream
  • Passionfruit Cupcake with Caramelized White Chocolate Buttercream
  • Sweet Corn Bacon Cupcake with Salted Caramel Popcorn Buttercream (SAY WHAT?!)

And here I am thinking maple bacon cupcakes were way out there – this 3rd flavour knocks it out of the park!  If you love wild and wacky flavours, especially sweet and savoury combinations, I think you’ve met your match and I dare you to try it and report back!

Community and Cupcake Shops – Giving Back

Second Harvest Logo

Cupcake shops are more than just lace and frills.  Many establishments are partnering with different organizations in and around the city to make a difference in their communities.  Prairie Girl Bakery and So Into Cupcakes in Scarborough have both formed relationships with charitable organizations and programs in an effort to help others and to further deepen their growing engagement within the food community.  Prairie Girl Bakery and Second Harvest are joined at the hip via ongoing donations, and are also affiliated with the following causes:

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And more recently, So Into Cupcakes has partnered with Toronto’s Fresh City Farms!  I found out about this through their Facebook page and it’s wonderful as more and more people are signing up to have fresh, local, organic produce delivered to their homes.  These memberships not only support our farmers, they provide ongoing support to local food co-ops and local food organizations.

Phew!  That was a lot to get through and we’re not even close to being finished.  Thankfully, there’s always room for Part II so stay tuned for more delicious cupcake news!