Baconfest, Canada Day Eats, Street Fests, Summerlicious & More – The July Food Calendar!

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Happy Canada Day weekend!!  I am so happy the long weekend is here.  I have some really fun food plans (patio dining, possibly some cupcake munching, a special cafe tasting, and Mexican dinner with the fam!) and I’m looking forward to catching up on things around here, posting my photos and write-up on my Taste of PEI event, new vegetarian eats, some mac n’ cheese cheesy goodness, and getting my new Features page nice and plump!  I’m really sorry Ate by Ate has been so quiet for the past week.  I don’t know what in the world was going on but my internet was cutting in and out all week and it made it so difficult getting anything done (if I wasn’t refreshing, I was closing and reopening the browser or just waiting for the darn page to stop spinning!).  I managed to pump out a HUGE food calendar for the month of July though over the course of a few days though so I’m glad I accomplished something this week!  I hope everyone enjoys the time off, goodness knows we deserve it and need it!

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Food Festivals & Events

Toronto Ribfest – Food & Music Festival, June 28 – July 1.  11am-11pm.  Centennial Park at 256 Centennial Park Road (Eglinton West to the north, Renforth Drive to the east, Rathburn Road to the south and Centennial Park Blvd. to the west).  $2 admission.  School’s out and it’s Canada Day long weekend!  In association with Rotary International, Rotary Etobicoke and Rotary Food Initiative, the 14th annual ribfest returns with 16 rib succulent rib vendors, Caribbean and Indian cuisine, and even a summer farmers’ market!  Put on those stretchy pants and get ready to get your hands saucy!  http://www.torontoribfest.com/default.asp

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BACONATION with Barque Smokehouse at the Harbourfront Centre. July 1.  1pm-8pm.  Zone 5 at Harbourfront Centre at 235 Queens Quay West.  $7 for 6 samples.  It sounds cliché, but our nation is known for the mouthwatering bacon we love so much so to celebrate, Barque Smokehouse is smoking it up – bacon style!  They’ll be bringing some of their signature recipes to the Harbourfront for folks can try 6 samples for a $7 tasting plate.  Samples include: smoked pork belly with grilled pineapple and hoisin sauce, peameal bacon tacos with maple slaw and grainy mustard aioli, bacon chips (crispy corn tortillas with smoked bacon salt, charred corn and bacon salsa) and even “fake’n” bacon tofu among others!  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/food.cfm?id=4952

Brewers Backyard – Capital Mashup at Evergreen Brick Works, July 1.  12pm-4pm.  550 Bayview Ave. at Koerner Gardens and Holcim Gallery.  Cost of food: $5-7 for food, $6 for beer.  Event is open to all ages, but folks must be 19+ to purchase and drink beer.  Celebrate Canada’s birthday with a cold one and some great eats!  At this Brewer’s Backyard, beers and breweries from our nation and province’s capitals, Ottawa and Toronto, are in the limelight for a spectacular collaboration – Great Lakes + Cassel, Amsterdam + Broadhead, and Indie Alehouse + Beyond the Pale among others.  Eats include Meat Pie Mates and local food vendors.  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/cal/event/brewers-backyard-the-capital-mashup

Family Pizza Nights at Evergreen Brick Works, July 3.  5:30pm-8pm.  550 Bayview Ave. at EBW’s Chimney Court.  $3 for cost of pizza with salad.  Summer nights were made for eating and relaxing!  Come down with your family and friends every Wednesday until August 28 and enjoy some fresh and delicious homemade, wood-fired pizza, courtesy of Pizza Libretto!  Grab a slice with a side salad for only $3, with all proceeds going toward children’s food programs.  http://ebw.evergreen.ca/whats-on/family-pizza-nights

Deep-Fried Fridays: Salsa & Chifles at the Harbourfront Centre.  July 5.  7pm.  Redpath Stage at the Harbourfront Centre at 235 Queens Quay West.  FREE; cost of food on-site.  Mix music and food at Harbourfront Centre’s NEW series this summer!  Every Friday, bust a move to live summer music and tunes and nosh on international food, deep-fried style, by the waterfront.  This week, dance to salsa and Latin pop for DJ Jimmy Suave and try deep-fried chifles (or “platano verde”), a popular South American/Ecuadorian snack made of plantain slices, lightly fried in olive oil, and sprinkled with salt for a delicious snack that’s perfect on its own or dipped in dips!  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/summer/festivals.cfm?id=4883&festival_id=134

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11th Annual Summerlicious, July 5 – 21.  Lunch and dinner hours, every day across the city at participating restaurants.  Summerlicious is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year and the annual summer food event has dished more price fixe menus than ever before with over 150 participating restaurants and eateries to choose from.  Dine al fresco, at the bar, and in the dining rooms of some of the finest establishments in the city with price fixe menus for both lunch ($15, $20, and $25) and dinner ($25, $35, and $45).  http://www.toronto.ca/special_events/summerlicious/2013/index.htm

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Corso Italia Annual Street Festival, July 5 – 7.  10am-11pm.  St. Clair Ave. West from Dufferin St. to Lansdowne Ave.  FREE; cost of food and drink from vendors at the festival.  One of the hottest summer street festivals in the city returns with shopping, music, and food galore!  The festival welcomes Steam Whistle Brewery and plenty of gelato, pastry, bistros, al fresco dining and street food!  http://corsoitaliafestivaltoronto.com/

Taste of Lawrence – International Food & Cultural Festival, July 5 – 7.  6pm-11pm on Friday, 11am-11pm on Saturday, 11am-6pm.  Lawrence Ave. East from Birchmount to Warden.  FREE; cost of food and drink on site.  Enjoy a street festival full of international cuisine and flair at this 3-day festival in Scarborough with live music and entertainment.  This year’s theme?  Disco Nation!  http://www.tasteoflawrence.com/

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World Café at the Harbourfront Centre, July 5 – 7.  6pm-12am on Friday, 12pm-12am on Saturday, 12pm-8pm on Sunday.  235 Queens Quay West at the Harbourfront Centre, Lakeside Terrace.  Cost of food & drink on-site.  Satisfy the tastebuds with Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, Indian, Chinese, vegetarian, or a mish-mash of everything.  This week, enjoy food from Gourmet on the Go, Mexican from Rebozos, Churros and more!  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/food.cfm?id=5000

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Corn Trail: Chef Gloria Carillo’s Patasca and Chicha at the Harbourfront Centre, July 6.  2pm – 2:45pm.  Zone 5 at Harbourfront, 235 Queens Quay West.  FREE.  As part of the Corn Trail series, Chef Gloria Carillo introduces us to patasca, a corn/maize based soup/stew paired with Chicha, a cool and refreshing drink in this Bolivian-centric demo where she brings her perspective on eco-organic and sustainable food processes and practices.  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/food.cfm?id=5013

Corn Trail: Chef Lirio Peck at the Harbourfront Centre, July 6.  3:30pm – 4:15pm.  Zone 5 at Harbourfront, 235 Queens Quay West.  FREE.  As part of the Corn Trail series, Chef Lirio Peck, owner and Peruvian culinary extraordinaire behind Harbord Street’s Boulevard Café, comes to the Harbourfront for a demo on summer fresh Peruvian food featuring corn!  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/food.cfm?id=5015

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Corn Trail: Chef Rossy Earle’s Panamanian Chicken Tamales at the Harbourfront Centre, July 6.  12:30pm – 1:15pm.  Zone 5 at Harbourfront, 235 Queens Quay West.  FREE.  As part of the Corn Trail series, Chef Rossy Earle brings her culinary savvy and cultural roots from Panama City to Harbourfront to showcase chicken tamales and Latin American influences!  Her food demo will feature corn (maize) dough filled with chicken, vegetables and steamed in banana leaves and discussion about how this traditional dish from the rural has made its way into urban spaces and kitchens to become a staple in South American cuisine and diet.  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/food.cfm?id=5012

Empanada Throwdown at the Harbourfront Centre, July 6.  7pm – 9pm.  Zone 5 at Harbourfront, 235 Queens Quay West.  FREE; cost of sample tasting plate.  The competition gets heated at this summer empanada throwdown with top chefs in the city (including Arepa Café’s very own Luis Manuel Cordoba) facing off with their own signature recipes and Venezuelan, South American influences to win your vote for best empanada!  Purchase a sample tasting plate and judge away at this delicious event!  http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/whatson/food.cfm?id=4960

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South African-Inspired Dinner by Evis Chirowamhangu: A Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur, July 6.  7:30pm; 8pm dinner.  1033 College Street.  $40+HST/person.  This is a HUGE treat for us Torontonians: Zimbabwean chef Evis Chirowamhangu hosts this special supper club showcasing the rich diversity and personality of South African cuisine with a peek into the culture and traditions that have inspired these dishes.

As Len writes on the Depanneur site, this is something we don’t get to experience often and there is so much room to explore and learn.  Evis will be serving shaved biltong salad (South African cured beef), Grilled Boerowors with Sadza and Curry Vegetable Potjie (sausage, cornmeal and dishes cooked in cast-iron pots!), and Butternut Nhopi Tarts with Marshmallow, a twist on a traditional Zimbabwean dessert.  http://thedepanneur.ca/event/supper-club-south-african-inspired-dinner-by-evis-chirowamhangu/

TD Festival of South Asia, July 6 & 7.  12pm-11pm.  Gerrard Indian Bazaar between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave.  FREE; cost of food and drink on-site.  The culture and cuisine of South Asia come together for one amazing, fun, delicious summer street festival!  The festival will showcase foods from Indian, Afghani, Pakistani, Bengali and Sri Lankan cultures, 20 different restaurants in the neighbourhood will be offering all sorts of food for $1-$6, from barbecue to vegetarian to Indo-Chinese to street food and more!  http://www.festivalofsouthasia.com/index.html

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It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, It’s Beautiful Day for a Market – A Trip to Trinity Bellwoods!

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bellwoods collage2Last Tuesday was one of the most topsy-turvy days I’ve experienced all year.  I was taking a vacation day from work as a “me” day and I had my fun day all planned out: lots of yummy food, walking around town, a little bit of shopping, and oh, going to the amazing Taste of PEI and PEI Cooking Challenge event taking place at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village and MEETING MICHAEL SMITH!  Holy shit on a stick.  Rest assured, you will all see and hear about it once I get my wits together and bang out those posts in the new few days!

But was last Tuesday ever a rollercoaster.  One minute I was in such happy conniptions I was ready to jump out of my skin, the next I wanted to cry because my head was pounding so hard from an oncoming migraine that couldn’t decide if it wanted to just call it a day and leave me alone once and for all or, well, kill me.  I could not believe my rotten luck.  SERIOUSLY.  On the day I was set to immerse myself in PEI cuisine and Michael Smith’s presence.  The sheer coincidence was worthy of an eye-roll and a few choice curse words at the very least.  It really shouldn’t have come as any surprise though.  The weather had been shit: it was cool and overcast, then drizzly, then back to overcast, then sunny and warm, then uncomfortably warm and it’s any wonder I made it through the entire day in one piece.

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Then as soon as I thought the dull pain in my head had subsided, my feet decided to revolt against me.  I mean, I know I was walking around town in Mary Janes but in my defense, they had nice rubber soles and were quite comfortable aside from the fact that the strap on my right shoe was strangling my right foot because my right foot is lame and is slightly bigger than my left.

Even after that, I made it out at the end of the day happy and excited and so full of joy.  And a part of that joy came from making a return visit to the farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods!  It was Tuesday, the event didn’t start until 4pm, the market started at 3pm, and I was only a hop, skip, and step away from Ossington which would take me straight into Liberty Village on bus.

IT WAS MEANT TO BE.

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I miss going to weekday markets SO MUCH.  Coming back to this one felt like home.  I snapped photos of beautiful asparagus, granola cookies, the pretty rainbow of colours in Evelyn’s Crackers’ packaging (my boyfriend is quite the fan of their stuff and I’d recommend their lavender shortbread!), the cutest of mushrooms and baked goods among other yummies.  Highlights?  Seeing Apple Mint being sold by Wooler Dale Farm (I didn’t know such a thing existed!), drooling over lemon ricotta croissants and apple, coconut, almond granola from Breadsong, snapping shots of the gorgeous yellow oyster mushrooms from The Mushroom Man from Waymac Farms (can you imagine how awesome these would look on a mixed mushroom pizza or flatbread?!  It’d be gorgeous and most likely delicious), and seeing the giant Trinity Bellwoods market banner strung over the fence by the kids playground in the park.

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Markets are so integral to our communities and woven so tightly into our communal fabric.  It’s a beautiful thing to see and an even more beautiful thing to be a part of regardless of what part of town the market is in or the size of it.  No matter how many times you go to the same market, there will always be something a little different to see, to try, and to explore.  Looking back at my Trinity Bellwoods market posts, with the exception of nice asparagus in the spring posts, nothing is exactly the same and that’s a good thing because while consistency is nice, it’s the new and the different that will keep things fresh and keep everyone engaged.  I’m happy I braved my head pain to make this visit and while I didn’t pick anything up to bring home this time around, I can’t wait to come back later on in the summer during my time off and really take advantage of the market groceries!

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The farmers’ market at Trinity Bellwoods Park is located at Dundas St. West and Shaw St. every Tuesday from 3pm-7pm.

No Need to Chase Down the Truck – The Summer Mint Chocolate Chip “Ice Cream” Cupcake from Yummy Stuff!

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“Ice cream man, ice cream man!” *cracks front door open*  “Wait for me, I got money!” *pitter patter, pitter patter; picks up piggy bank and shakes vigorously* “Gimme back my money you PIG!”  Ah, little Michelle Tanner in the episode of Full House where she gets her very first piggy bank and then wrestles with it to get her monies out when the quintessential symbol of summer makes it trip down the street, singing its melodic, happy tune, offering the sweetest, tastiest and frosty, lickably yummy treats.

It’s summer and few things bring a smile to the masses like an ice cream truck!  Popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, sundaes, and mouthwatering soft-serve ice cream cones tantalize the tastebuds during these hot summer months.  I looove ice cream and it’s arguably one of my weaknesses.  Vanilla and chocolate swirl soft serve?  LOVE!  But when you combine ice cream inspiration with CUPCAKES?!  I am nine ways to Sunday ecstatic!  Yummy Stuff, located on Queen Street West in Parkdale just east of Roncesvalles, has done it again this summer with another knockout cupcake for the month of June.

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Last June we were treated to an ice cream inspired Neapolitan cupcake: a strawberry filled cupcake frosted with thick, creamy vanilla and chocolate frosting.  It was fun, it was pretty, and it was delicious.  I love Neapolitan ice cream and Neapolitan inspired things.  The colour combination just makes me happy.  This June?  MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP!  And not just ANY mint chocolate chip.  A chocolate fudge cupcake with a nice big “scoop” of mint chocolate chip frosting with actual chocolate chips in it, topped with an adorable, cute-as-a-button mini ice cream cone!  It literally looks like an upside-down ice cream cone on a chocolate cupcake!

The cupcake ($2.75) is one of the best things I’ve ever tasted and it is hands down, one of the cutest and most creative.  I adore Yummy Stuff’s cupcakes and sweets and I only wish their monthly flavours were available all year-round!  It’s so much fun anticipating what flavours Morag and her team will come up with but gosh is it ever a bummer when there’s only a month-long window of time to enjoy it.

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You guys have to make your way to the shop, it is an awesome cupcake and it is bang on in presentation and execution.  Their chocolate cupcakes are fabulous and this frosting is to die for.  The chocolate chips make it so fun and yummy and they totally give it some good texture and crunch.  And ME, the girl who used to hate mint chocolate and mint chocolate chip anything and everything devouring a mint chocolate chip cupcake.  It’s crazy!  I love it to pieces and I can honestly say it’s one of the best in the city.  I was “dipping” my mini ice cream cone into the frosting and inhaling the chocolate cake and it was so much fun to eat.

And speaking of making your way to the shop, folks in the east end are now lucky enough to have one in their neighbourhood!  YES, Yummy Stuff has JUST opened their 2nd location in the city and they opened their doors for business on the Danforth for the first time this past weekend!  Even though I made my visit to their Queen West location for this cupcake, I am most certainly planning a trip to the east end location some time this summer!  The 2nd location is smack dab on the Danforth at 1938 Danforth Ave., across the street from East Lynn Park and just a few blocks west of Woodbine Ave., so it’s totally walkable from the subway.  And if you want to make a fun foodie outing, head out to their new location on a Thursday when East Lynn has their farmers’ market from 3pm-7pm.

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Congratulations Yummy Stuff!  All the best at the new location and keep making delicious sweets because we love them!  And if I can, I am coming back for another mint chocolate chip cupcake!

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Yummy Stuff is located at 1660 Queen Street West in the west end Parkdale neighbourhood, east of Roncesvalles Ave.  They are open Tuesday-Sunday, from 10am-7pm from Tuesday-Friday, 9am-6pm on Saturdays, and 12pm noon-5pm on Sundays.  They are closed on Mondays.

Their *NEW!* 2nd location just opened up at 1938 Danforth Ave., across the street from East Lynn Park, just a few blocks west of Woodbine Ave.  Their hours at the Danforth location are 11am-7pm Tuesday-Friday, 9am-6pm Saturday and 12pm-5pm Sunday.  This location is also closed on Mondays.  Visit their official website here.

The Brightest, Happiest of Decorated Sugar Cookies & Sweets – A Photo Spotlight of Summertime at Le Dolci!

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I have never seen Le Dolci’s studio look this bright and vibrant and happy!  Tropical colours and hanging paper flowers, adorable pink-and-white gingham, new pink-and-white dessert themed window decals, and LOTS of new sweets waiting to be devoured in their retail section!  I got the chance to make a return visit to Icing Sugar Towers (well, since Le Dolci is no longer at their old Portland St. condo, maybe we’ll just call it Icing Sugar Headquarters instead) on Tuesday and I had myself a field day getting new photos of the studio and catching up with Lisa and the gang.

They have a lot going on right now:

  • a gorgeous array of decorated sugar cookies for all sorts of occasions and themes including birthdays, Father’s Day, end-of-the-school-year-teacher thank yous, Pride Toronto, summer fun and fashionista couture
  • new sweets gracing their dessert counter such as tropical macaron flavours for their summer menu, gluten-free muffins and cookies, salted caramel chocolate tarts, brownies, and melty butter tarts
  • a culinary summer camp for kids that runs from July 15 to July 26!  Kids will have the chance to try their hands at cookie baking, styrofoam cake decorating, cake, cupcake and pie baking and decorating, and pizza-making and T-shirt decorating.  Click HERE for more information on class descriptions and pricing.
  • TWO amazing foodie trips in 2013 to San Francisco and Napa Valley, California and Paris, France!
  • having their desserts and sweets showcased at other venues.  Le Dolci has created adorable princess and knight-in-shining armour decorated sugar cookies for Casa Loma and pie-in-a-jar desserts for The Happy Hooker down the street!
  • and last, but certainly not least, a special Canaday Day cupcake decorating class on Saturday, June 29 from 10am-12pm and a Royal Baby cupcake decorating class on Saturday, July 13 from 10am-12pm to honour the lovely Kate Middleton and Prince William and their first born!

Check out their class schedule HERE for all the goods on their macaron, cupcake decorating, cake pop, croissant, pastry, cake, and pie-making classes and their Foodie Trips page HERE for the scoop on culinary jet-setting!

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Le Dolci’s studio and retail shop 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 is open for business 6 days a week.  Operating hours are from 10am-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

Mini Croissants, Crostini, Crème Brûlée & More – Afternoon Tea at Dessert Trends & Bistro, Part II

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“…bringing many different generations of women together in one room to share stories and memories, reminisce over old photographs, and enjoy the bonding ritual of afternoon tea.” – Melissa Placzek, Teatime magazine (March/April 2013: 55)

And bond we did as my best friend and I enjoyed a girls day out sipping mimosas and cups of tea, enjoying scones, biscuits, cookies, petit fours and savoury pastries and finger sandwiches at Desserts Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) on Harbord Street one sunny, beautiful Saturday afternoon.  Surrounded by flowers, vibrant paintings and cushy seats bathed in creams and cappuccino browns, we laughed, took too many photos (scratch that, that’s not possible in my world), talked about our friends, our family, and memories.

We argued over who would get the last finger sandwich and the last petit four (“no, YOU take it…no, you take it!”), we ordered mimosas on a whim, we drank so much tea we rolled out the patisserie like watermelons, we rummaged through our wallets and coin purses for those darn extra loonies and quarters to split the bill as evenly as humanly possible (the last time I stole the bill I chased down our server when she wasn’t looking and when she found out she tried to shove monies at me as we were leaving – it was about as aggressive as I’d ever seen her in our 13 going on 14 years of friendship) and we gushed about how much fun it was.

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For 3 hours.

Yes, you read right.  THREE HOURS.  I’m not kidding.  By the time we had paid our monies and were grabbing our bags, my best friend checked the time and gasped, “oh my gosh it’s 5!”.  “IT’S FIVE?!”  She looked at me.  I looked back at her.  We both wore the same incredulous yet amused expression.  We sputtered giggles.  “We stayed for the entire duration of afternoon tea!”

And it had truly felt like nothing.

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I know a food blog isn’t a food blog without, well, food on it.  And stories about food.  And photos of food.  But every so often, it’s worth it to step away from that – even for just half a post – to reflect.  To reflect on why we food bloggers do what we do.  I know we all have our own motivations, reasons and intentions, all of which make us who we are.  But I can truly say, from the happiest corners of my heart, that blogging has transformed so many of my relationships for the better and created lasting new ones.  And I continue to blog because it strengthens them.

It brings joy to my life when someone’s face lights up after I mention a great place I’ve been to that they love too and we then proceed to yap our mouths off about it.  My heart swells with happiness and pride when a person comes back to me and thanks me for recommending a place.  And it makes me so happy knowing I have made memory after memory after memory doing food-related things.  And now, afternoon tea has proved no different: a tradition with the bestie has been born.

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And really, Dessert Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) is one of the most beautiful places to create those memories and make those lasting traditions and relationships.  Their dining area is just all sorts of gorgeous and while I haven’t explored the 2nd floor, their website has indicated that a beautiful rooftop patio and garden exist, ripe for the lounging, eating, and relaxing.  Known for their weekend brunch and of course, they’re desserts and catering, DT Bistro also offers afternoon tea service on the weekends from 2pm-5pm for $28 per person.  Along with bubbly like wines and cocktails (bestie ordered a regular mimosa while I took the plunge and went after the lavender passionfruit variety), their afternoon tea offers 9 loose leaf tea options including such flavours as Blood Orange rooibos, Egyptian chamomile, Jasmine green tea, Royal Earl Grey, Genmai Cha (a Japanese fusion nutty puffed rice and green tea), and my pick, the Marrakech Mint, a blend of green tea, Moroccan mint, and bergamot.

Each person receives their own pot of tea with constant hot water refills throughout the meal with a set of savoury tea sandwiches, scones and biscuit cookies with cream, jam, and lemon curd, and sweet desserts a la petit fours.  Now, a full afternoon tea follows somewhat of a consistent format that you would likely expect at any establishment, but it’s the execution and style that sets these tea services apart.  It’s absolutely fascinating to see how the different presentations and interpretations play out on the tiered tray of yummies.

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Windsor Arms makes their finger sandwiches in spiral, pinwheel style.  Le Dolci does the triangles with the crusts cut off.  Dessert Trends?  A mish-mash of everything in the best way possible!  You have the mushroom strudel wrapped in pastry, the sundried tomato and roasted goat cheese crostini, the seafood spring roll with crab and shrimp with mango and lime vinaigrette salsa dipping sauce, and the most adorable crispy, airy mini croissant filled with pickled fennel, sour cream and smoked salmon.  What’s an afternoon tea without smoked salmon, yes?  It was so very cool seeing such a wide assortment of savoury bites and was it ever delicious eating them!

Scones were accompanied by cream, raspberry jam and lemon curd and my word was the raspberry jam ever amazing!  The lemon curd is a giveaway to me; I love everything lemon so it was a love no-brainer.  But that jam.  We were both taken aback at how yummy it was!  Along with those scones sat shortbread cookies, pound cake, chocolate covered seed cookies and thumbprints.

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And no afternoon tea is complete without dessert and lots of it!  We were given an assortment of petit fours: a raspberry chocolate fudge tart, a creme brulee mini cheesecake, a rhubarb and tropical fruit cream custard, and a green tea eclair.  It was all so beautiful, different, vibrant and colourful and aside from the delicious food, what really meant a lot was not feeling uncomfortable or rushed during our tea.  Our teapots were refilled with smiles and not once did we feel like we were being shooed out.  We left with happy hearts and full tummies, knowing this would be filed away as one of the most special, fun, and delicious afternoons ever.

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Dessert Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) is located at 154 Harbord Street by the corner of Brunswick Ave., between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst Street.

Mimosas, Mini Morsels, Moroccan Mint & More – Afternoon Tea at Dessert Trends & Bistro, Part I!

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A Part I photo spotlight on one of the best ways to spend an afternoon, with food and friends.

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It’s Taco Time! Pulled Smoked Chicken Tacos in Root Beer BBQ Sauce at Peter Pan Bistro

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It’s June, it’s warm out (well, actually, it was a bit nippy today, but it sure was humid and gross over the weekend!) and that means it’s time for some tacos on Ate by Ate!   With so many weekend brunch posts making their way into the Weekend Brunch Series, I thought, “hmm, I should really do some more lunch posts”.  After all, on an every day basis lunch is the highlight of my day!  I cherish my lunch hour downtime at work.  And lunch is what got me by throughout all my years in university, keeping me sane, fueled and content.

Doing weekend brunch has been so much fun though and it’s so easy to get caught up in the allure of having different menu items that are only available to me when I’m available during the week and I know many people who work the grind during the week feel the same.  But I mean, it’s not I calculate these things!  I eat what I eat based on cravings and where I feel like going, and sometimes I truly do feel like going for weekend brunch 5 times or weeks in a row!  But a little planning and strategic munching go a long way, especially when you just need to give yourself a kick in the butt to go to a place you’ve meaning to go to for ages but just haven’t.

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And that is how this post was born.  I felt like going to Peter Pan Bistro on Queen West, I felt like having lunch as opposed to brunch and by golly I felt like tacos!  Summer just screams tacos to me and it’s anybody’s guess as to why I haven’t posted more yummy taco photos and posts on here.  Because I do love them, especially fish ones (like the fish tacos from Wish Cafe!).  But for whatever reason, I haven’t showed them off here as often as I have other things, so I think it’s high time we plump up the taco lovin’ on here!  Introducing the Southern Californian Pulled Smoked Chicken Tacos with Root Beer Sauce from Peter Pan Bistro on Queen Street West!

Peter Pan Bistro, located at 373 Queen Street West at the corner of Queen and Peter St., is lunch and dinner bistro cafe that has quite the history here in the city (you can read more about it HERE on their site).  It’s a peaceful, pretty space with a lot of history and character to it: pale yellow paint on the walls, stained glass in the windows, high ceilings, flowers in vases on the tables, a super long bar and seating booths that look like church pews to boot!  It has this charming, old-school (their daily menus are hand-written and photocopied) meets culinary luxe vibe to it (if you ever order or get a glimpse of their salmon lunch you’ll know what I mean!) and it just shows their culinary philosophy: be modern and grow with the times and trends, but don’t sacrifice heart or ingenuity to do it.  They serve pulled smoked meat and po’ boys but they sure haven’t transformed into a hipster dive to do so, that’s for sure.

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Their menu is chock full of daily specials (daily soup, omelette, pasta, pizza and quesadilla) and they have a scrumptious regular menu that reads like a sweet and simple storybook: salads and appetizers (PEI fresh water mussels with chipotle cream sauce and calamari with dill-caper aioli and Mediterranean salad?!  Sign me up!), sandwiches (panko crusted chicken, smoked white cheddar and brie grilled cheese, and their newest addition, a fish po’ boy, among others), pasta dishes (penne mac n’ cheese, basil pesto linguine and seafood fettuccine just to name a few) and mains and entrees which incorporates the daily omelette, pizza, and quesadilla within it.

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Before I stuffed my face with tacos, I enjoyed their potato and leek soup of the day ($5) with their special complimentary bread that was so nice and warm and herby and yummy!  I know there are two camps when it comes to bread served before the meal: those who love it to pieces and would probably eat a whole basket of it and those who couldn’t care less and stare off into space as they wait for their food to come.

Let’s just say Peter Pan’s bread will put you in the first camp.  You’ve been warned.

Then came my beloved tacos.  I was all over their pulled smoked chicken in root beer BBQ sauce tacos ($14) like mud on a pig!  The pulled meat was such a treat for me (I don’t eat pulled meat much and not because I don’t enjoy it, but because I simply don’t have it very often) and the pulled smoked chicken taco filling was smothered in guacamole and cheddar!  With a mountain of mixed green salad on the side!  In olive oil!  Did I mention the guacamole and cheddar?!  OH MY MOTHER OF PEARL.  I am not kidding when I say that I felt like a roly poly ball afterward when I left!  I was full and happy and full.  I know I said that twice but it was so good it deserved a second mention.

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Their pulled smoked chicken tacos were served in 2 big grilled flour tortillas with guac and shredded cheddar cheese melted inside and just dripping in savoury sauce.  Even their salad was fantastic and boy was there ever a lot of it!  It wonderful having half the plate in tacos and the other half in veg.  THAT’s the kind of meal that makes me wiggle.

Let me say though that I am not about to specifically write about the root beer BBQ sauce that smothered my chicken.  I don’t drink beer.  I don’t even drink root beer.  EVER.  So for me to yap about the complexity of root beer flavour or to discuss the flavour profile of BBQ sauce would be very silly, so I will just say that my tacos felt like heaven in my mouth because they were so soft, seasoned perfectly (it’s always a good thing when you don’t feel as though someone dumped a whole salt shaker into your food), didn’t fall apart or get mushy, were so far from skimpy (did I ever feel like I got my money’s worth!) and were perfectly melty and ooey and gooey on the inside.

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And let me say that after this great lunch and meal, that I will be back for those po’ boys and salmon dishes.  And calamari.  And penne mac n’ cheese.  Oh!  And their patio.  This ain’t Neverland; it’s honest-to-goodness delicious food land.

*****

Peter Pan Bistro is located at 373 Queen Street West at the corner of Peter Street and Queen.  They serve lunch and dinner daily from 12 noon to 10:3opm from Sunday to Wednesday and 12pm to 11:30pm from Thursday to Sunday.  They’re also a main fixture in both Winterlicious and Summerlicious!