I really have to hand it to my boyfriend for humouring me while I noshed on my warm, saucy, eggy, tomatoey Shakshouka power breakfast at Aroma Espresso Bar. He didn’t make faces, he didn’t make gagging noises and he also didn’t make any sarcastic “I’m-so-disgusted” comments at me while I was enjoying my meal. I know what you’re thinking. “Look how pretty this dish is, why on earth would anyone make comments about it not tasting good?! And why would it come from your significant other?!” Because my boyfriend hates tomatoes. HATES tomatoes. With a fiery passion. I have never met anyone who despises them as much as he does. Sauce on pizza….hmm, okay. Anything else he vehemently declines.
And he’s really on the fence about eggs. Loves them boiled, hates them runny. Doesn’t prefer them scrambled, would never order them poached, and is really only into the egg whites. Sigh. Sometimes it’s remarkable how our palates are polar opposites in some ways. But we love each other, we’ve grown so much together and it’s our quirks and eccentricities that make us who we are as individuals and as a couple. So I really appreciated how he didn’t ask me how I could eat THAT and concentrated on his own sandwich instead. He’s my honey after all and he just shakes his head amusingly as I eat.
This Tunisian and Israeli style breakfast is truly a breakfast of champions! It really packs a protein punch with a ton of contrasting flavours and it’s quite a fun dish to eat. Aroma’s Shakshouka, a dish of warm tomatoes and tomato sauce with 2 eggs, tahini sauce and a basket of baked-in-house bread, is part of their every day breakfast menu and it’s one of those dishes that warms you up from the inside out. I know it seems a little odd to be talking about warm dishes in the summer, but there are those days when it’s real chilly in the morning and you just want something a little on the heartier side for breakfast to get rid of those goosebumps. Either that or you’re just freezing from the blasting air conditioning. Either way, it’s a dish that fills you and it’s fun dunking the bread in the tomato sauce, poking the eggs so the yolks run, dipping the bread in the yolks (can you tell I love dipping my bread in egg yolks?), treating the tomato sauce as both a food and somewhat of a soup, and dabbing tahini sauce on everything as you eat.
I have to say, the tahini sauce REALLY made the dish for me. Sure, I love my eggs and the bread-dunking is fun, but there is just something so delicious about the creamy nuttiness of their tahini that is unlike any sauce I have ever had and it’s wonderful because it breaks up that acidicity from the tomatoes. It completely changes the dish and grounds it, keeping it from being too savoury and too tomato heavy. I mean, I know the dish is meant to be about the eggs and tomatoes, but I think it was a smart move to include the tahini because it prevents the tomatoes from being too overpowering.
And the bread! So soft and yummy. I chose their multigrain to accompany my breakfast (it comes with the dish but you get to choose what kind of bread you want when you order) and I was actually taken aback but how much of it there was. I know it was technically 2 big slices cut in half to make 4, but goodness did it ever look like a mountain in my little basket!
Over the last year I’ve become such a huge fan of Aroma Espresso Bar. Several years ago I felt ambivalent about them and it was only because I always feel that way about chains. Are you really in love with their food or are you only buying into the popularity, the hype? Do they really deliver on quality and truthfully, is the food good? And with chains it’s especially touch and go because we all know some locations just do a better job than others. My mum feels that way about her coffee. If she dislikes the cup she got, it’s not necessarily a reflection on the company but possibly on the person who made it (sorry!).
I love Aroma’s food and drinks more and more though and I’m finding it so much fun learning about different foods and different cuisines done Aroma style (a Bulgarian Bureka sandwich! Spanish and Latin American alfajores cookies! Turkish coffee!) and trying their salads and sandwiches. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the smoked salmon sandwich (I just had a half sandwich of this yesterday for my afternoon snack. Yes, that’s right, I have sandwiches for snacks when I’m super hungry!) and quinoa salad (there’s grilled eggplant in it, YUM!) and we already know I’m a fan of their hot chocolate.
New locations are popping up all over the place so I’m hoping to add lots of new posts for sandwiches and breakfast and drinks!
Aroma Espresso Bar is an Israeli espresso and coffee chain with over 100 locations worldwide. There are 8 branches in and around Toronto, with shops in Thornhill and Vaughan. Click here to view the list of Toronto and GTA locations.