A Rainbow Sea of Fruit & Vegetables – Asparagus, Cherries, Berries & More at The Farmers’ Market on Main Street Markham!

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It’s finally here: a farmers’ market post from Markham!  It’s almost embarrassing how I’ve made nearly 15 posts on Wychwood Barns but never made a post on any of the markets in Markham or surrounding York Region area.  To quote Eddie from Family Matters after Myrtle Urkel told him he should have knocked before barging in on her primping session: I LIVE HERE!  I guess that’s the thing.  When you live close to something, you end up having the mentality that you can go to that something anytime you want so you focus more of your attention on things that feel further out of reach or beyond your immediate grasp.

I made a conscious decision this month though to really make a better effort at visiting those markets that I haven’t yet been to and this is my start.  The timing was perfect: the market on Main Street Markham at Robinson started bright and early in the morning at 8am, I was meeting up with my best friend in the area, and the weather, while a bit chilly, was beautiful and my camera was raring to go.

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I actually wasn’t anticipating the market to be as big as it is and was when I went.  I mean, I wasn’t expecting a dinky hut but I also wasn’t expecting it to be like Trinity Bellwoods or Liberty Village, but there was plenty of gorgeous fruit and vegetables to shop for on one side and prepared foods such as baked goods, meats and sausages, honey and savoury pastries on the other.  It was like browsing through a rainbow sea of juicy red strawberries, raspberries and cherries, cheery orange apricots, yellow and purple eggplant (yes, yellow!), lush green asparagus, celery, cucumbers and fiddleheads, and of course, blue blueberries.

Since this was my very first visit, I wasn’t sure what to expect so I went into it thinking I’d probably just get some nice shots and go on my merry way.  Um, not the case.  I didn’t buy out the market, but I did leave with a giant spinach phyllo pastry wheel ($4) and a whole freakin’ pint of baby cucumbers ($3.5o).  THEY WERE SO CUTE!  And I’ve never had baby cucumbers before.  Let me tell you, those baby cucumbers sliced like a dream and as a bonus, they were seedless and DELICIOUS!  My recommendation?  Ranch and dill cucumber salad!  Now THAT screams summer dining.

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Even though there’s a bit of construction going on in the neighbourhood, there’s plenty of foodie things I’d love to do here such as paying a visit to the Greek bakery, doing afternoon tea at the Old Curiosity Tea Shop, shop for cute home and kitchen decor at Cornercopia and Season to Taste Kitchenware, and enjoy some yummy dining at Lemon Bistro!  Now that I have the market Main Street Markham under my belt, let’s see if I can swing on over to Main Street Unionville one of these Sundays for theirs!

*****

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

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The Keys to My Heart: The Grilled Halibut Melt at Jakes Pub & Grille on Main Street Unionville!

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I knew it was too good to be true.  The weather, that is.  I was loving the chillier mornings and the moderately warm, sunny days last week.  Then the weather decided to pull a fast one on me and scorch my little tooshie again, all the while gloating as I cowered under the sun in my bucket hat, whimpered in the heat, and cursed the buses that didn’t have air conditioning.  So, I did what any disenchanted girl would do: in defiance of the nasty weather, I hightailed it over to my favourite local pub for a patio lunch, noshed on my favourite dish, sat under a nice, shaded wooden awning, watched people happily sling back a few beers at neighbouring tables, and walked away with a happy belly full of yummy food.  I had myself one of the best lunches this summer and kicked the sweaty, icky, yucky feeling to the curb.  Eating at one of my favourite spots in one of my fvaourite neighbourhoods in my neck of the woods always does the trick.  Welcome to Jakes on Main Street Unionville! 

Jakes is a very classic type of pub establishment with a casual and relaxed atmosphere that’s family-friendly and always hopping with regulars who come out for beers, families who come out with their kids for some good old fashioned kiddie food (you wouldn’t believe how many kids and baby strollers that were there during the hour I was there!), and groups of friends sharing giant plates of food and having a great time.  It’s such a popular, well-loved spot and the crowds show it.  The patio is constantly packed, there’s always a consistent stream of people filling up the tables when they’ve been vacated, and it doesn’t matter what part of the day it is; Jakes is definitely the place to be if you’re around Main Street Unionville.

Jakes and I go way back.  Probably not as far back as many of the locals here who’ve lived in Markham all their life, but far back enough; my first look was back in high school and my first visit was before I even started grad school!  It’s my favourite spot on Main Street and my favourite classic pub in Markham.  I know that aside from the beer, pubs aren’t necessarily known for their haute cuisine.  There are some pub spots in the city that I’ve been to that are totally top-notch with delicious food, but if we’re playing a game of word association here, we know that most people would associate pub fare and bar grub with things like wings, calamari, and nachos and unless they’re spectacular, they’re forgettable to most people. 

At Jakes?  Call it pub fare, call it bar grub, call it whatever you want because the food here is REALLY, REALLY good!  You must be thinking, “how good can it be?”.  Trust me, their menu selection and portions speak for themselves.  We’re talking 6 types of poutine (butter chicken, pulled pork, and steak and mushroom just to name a few!), 21 different sandwiches, burgers, and wraps (beef dip, smoked salmon club, California club with guac and mango salsa, fish tacos, and more!), pub appetizers (deep fried pickles, crab cakes, coconut shrimp, and bacon wrapped scallops among others), and plenty of mains and entrees including baked chicken, pub pie, goat cheese quesadilla, and spicy chicken and seafood.

Prices are typical of a sit-down pub ($7-$20) and their menu is the same for both lunch and dinner, so you enjoy the goodness during the day or well into the evening.  It’s been so long since I’ve been here and while I was sitting at my table waiting for my food to come, I saw countless dishes being brought out to other patrons and I was reminded of how great their food was and how much I dearly missed what I had ordered since it had been so long since my last visit.

My favourite thing to have at Jakes: the halibut melt!  One of my ultimate not-healthy, comfort food weaknesses is fish and chips and Jakes halibut melt ($11.99) is a delicious, crispy, melt-in-your-mouth battered halibut fish sandwiched between caramelized onions, melted mozzarella cheese, and grilled bread, served with tangy tarter sauce (I LOVE TARTAR SAUCE!) and either fries, caesar salad, or green salad with your choice of salad dressing.  I LOVE fish sandwiches, tacos, and burritos and given how I’ve blogged about the haddock fish burritos and shrimp burritos and quesadillas from Burrito Boyz and the fish tacos from Wish Cafe, I figured it was time to post another one on seafood sandwiches, pub style!     

The sandwich is so, so good because the grilled bread is able to hold up to the melted cheese and caramelized onions and give the crunchy halibut fish the support it needs to stay crispy with every bite – no one wants a limp and soggy sandwich!  The battered halibut on the inside is moist and flaky and perfectly golden on the outside with a scrumptious buttery warmth to it.  I think one of the things I love most about fish and chips is the difference in textures (moist on the inside, crunchy on the outside) and this sandwich is so full of crunch and flavour and the melted mozzarella just adds that extra butteriness to the whole sandwich. 

And the tartar sauce!  It is so much fun dipping this sandwich into the tartar sauce and having that creamy tangy just whack a few good ones out of the park in your mouth.  After awhile though, it gets a little hard trying to dip the sandwich in so I just dip my fork into the sauce and slather it on.  And while the salad is just a side to the star of the show, it’s worth noting that the green house salad is great with it baby greens, refreshing cucumber, shredded carrots, and sliced bell peppers.  There’s a ton of different dressing options and I chose a honey mustard to go with mine this time around.

Jakes has made changes and additions to their menu over the years and I’m looking forward to coming back more often for some casual pub fare and really good food in fab neighbourhood.  After living in Markham for 14 years now, it’s a neighbourhood pub that definitely feels like home.

*****

Jakes Pub & Grille is located at 202 Main Street Unionville in Markham just south of Carlton Rd. on the popular Main Street shopping and dining strip.  They’re open 7 days a week for both lunch and dinner with a big patio out front.

Mushroom & Cheese Stuffed Schnitzel and Apricot Jam Crepes – Austrian & German Cuisine at Old Country Inn

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It’s time to take a trip to Vienna, Austria – Main Street Unionville style!  I know nothing beats the real deal.  The sights, sounds, tastes, and aromas of another city, state, or country are like no other.  But when you can’t go on vacation, eating authentic, delicious food in a beautiful setting in your own city really isn’t too shabby, especially when the beautiful setting in question is the Old Country Inn on Main Street Unionville in Markham.  While Main Street Unionville has several casual, fun, low-key spots (Jake’s on Main Pub & Grille, Unionville Arms, Old Firehall Confectionery, ice cream booths and parlours, and coffee shops), I’d say that the quaint, picturesque, Victorian village that houses all of these eateries boasts more fine dining options than it does hole-in-the-wall or casual watering holes.  

The Old Country Inn is a spot I have wanted to visit for years and years.  It is so beautiful and full of character and given how the house has been around for over 100 years since the beginnings of Unionville settlement, it has cemented its reputation within the community and beyond as a restaurant with delicious, authentic Austrian and German food.  I know I explore the city a lot, but I can’t think of one place with the exception of  Wvrst on King Street West that does German and authentic central European food.  Yes, Roncesvalles is known for its Polish eateries and bakeries and Bloor West Village hosts the annual Ukrainian festival, but we’re talking Austrian food and I don’t know of any other spot aside from Old Country Inn that serves Viennese cuisine and this makes them extra special in my book.

    

Old Country Inn is known for their authentic Austrian and German food and drink – with a beautiful vintage outdoor wine cellar to boot!  Their menu is chock full of classics and dishes known to Viennese and German cuisine: herring in rahm (a special type of cream sauce), schinkenrolle (ham wrapped around asparagus), kartoffelsuppe (potato soup), goulash, liver dumpling soup, six different types of schnitzel (breaded cutlet), bratwurst and sausages, pork dishes including schweinsbrten (roast pork with sauerkraut and dumplings), a host of beef dishes including sauerbraten (German pot roast/roast beef with sweet and sour sauce with red cabbage and dumplings), rump roast, and plenty of fish and seafood options.  Even their dessert menu gives you a sweet, healthy dose of Austrian and German flavour with sweet  endings such as eiskafee (a German coffee drink with ice cream), sacher torte (Austrian chocolate cake), palatschinen (Austrian dessert crepes filled with fruit jam), and of course, the ever popular strudel!

Phew, that is a LOT of food!  But I guarantee you that even if you don’t live around Markham, it is worth the trip to Main Street Unionville just for this.  Even before my first visit, I heard rave reviews from one of my best friends (whose standards are high!) who said Old Country Inn was one of his favourite spots in general, and from one of my best friend’s coworkers who said it was her favourite place on Main Street Unionville.  And after my gut-busting meal, I completely understood why. 

It’s definitely more of a special occasion type of place in terms of price ($15-$25 for most mains),but the food is great and the inn and outdoor patio and terrace is lovely.  Since I enjoyed my meal out on the patio, I don’t have photos of the house’s inside but I promise to snap some for the next time.  I figured since it was summer I’d dine al fresco.  That and because the sun was setting so I knew I wouldn’t have enough decent lighting streaming in through the windows to take good photos.  I plan these things!

First things first: bread and butter basket.  Based on the texture, taste, and appearance, I’m almost positive the sliced bread was a sourdough medium rye.  What intrigued me the most though were the crispy crackers!  There were these beautiful, long and thin, jagged-edge crispy crackers covered in light and black sesame seeds and they tasted toasty and all sorts of lovely.  Even though I like baguette and butter, having these crackers in addition to the bread was such a nice change from the regular baguette slices.  

Then, onto the main attraction.  There were so many things I wanted to try, but I decided to go totally classic for this first go-around: schnitzel!  You all know about my foodie love affair with mushrooms and cheese so I was delighted to see a mushroom and chesse stuffed schnitzel meal (Tiroler Schnitzel, $19.95) on their menu!  All of their meat mains are served with sides, and schnitzels are served with potato home fries and vegetables with creamy cheese sauce; in my case, broccoli.  Traditionally, schnitzel is served with a garnish of lemon and potato salad so this meal was bang on. 

Oh my goodness was this schnitzel ever humongous!  It covered about two-thirds of the plate.  It was beautifully breaded with a smooth and crispy layer of fine bread crumbs with the juiciest, most moist meat on the inside and creamy melted cheese and sauteed mushrooms.  I could not get over how moist the meat was and I was over the moon at how ungreasy it was as well.  It was amazing how they kept the meat so soft and juicy while there wasn’t an ounce of fatty grossness hanging off of it and I loved it.  The thin crispiness of the breading combined with the moist was delicious and I thought to myself, “this is what it feels like to have real schnitzel!”  The potatoes were much like what you would expect during breakfast and brunch and they were super soft and flavourful and not overly salted or mushy, and the creamy sauce over top my broccoli afforded me with a little fun dipping action for my potatoes and schnitzel.       

And then came the sweet finale: palastchinken!  Palastchinken are soft, warm dessert or breakfast crepes filled with fruit jam such as strawberry or apricot and at Old Country Inn they filled theirs with warm, sweet and fruit apricot jam inside.  The two rolled crepes ($5.25) are dusted with icing sugar and served with warm and oh my lord are they ever amazing.  I was too full to finish both so I brought the second one home which my mum took a go at and she was absolutely in love with it.  The crepes are so soft with the most delicate, crisped edges and the apricot jam is so fruity and sweet and delicious and everything just melts in your mouth.

Old Country Inn is such a gem and I feel really lucky to have it up in my neck of the woods.  I’m so looking forward to planning another visit (and another one after that) so that I can snap photos of the restaurant from the inside and to try some of their sauerkraut, dumplings, pork loin, and a whole host of other delicious dishes!

*****

The Old Country Inn is located at 198 Main Street Unionville in Markham.  They serve lunch and dinner 7 days a week and are open from 12pm-9pm Sunday-Thursday and from 12pm-10pm Fridays and Saturdays.  You can visit their site HERE for more info and to view their menus.

Cupcakes in Richmond Hill! Lemon Creme and Black Forest Cupcakes at the Sweet Pink-and-Brown Crumbs & Co.

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It feels so nice to be writing another bright and happy post on cupcakes right now.  After a topsy-turvy week last week where nothing seemed to be going right (I was sick with one of the most painful migraines of my life, which in turn threw me completely off schedule and left me playing catch-up on everything for most of the week), it feels really good to start the week off fresh.  There’s so much I’m working on right now (surprise, surprise, when am I not?!) including the May Food Calendar, several new scrapbook layouts, my new cookie and baking scrapbook project, gearing up for the upcoming spring and summer farmers’ market season, and of course, continuing the Cupcake Tour! 

You all knew this was coming: cupcakes in York Region!  I know I’ve written about Old Firehall Confectionery and their adorable square cupcakes, but don’t forget that Old Firehall is a shop with multiple sweet treats and goodies and not an exclusive cupcake bakery.  After doing 69 posts on cupcakes in Toronto, a cupcake bakery post situated in Markham, Richmond Hill, and all surrounding regions was a long time coming.  I live in Markham for goodness sake!  Why has it taken me so long to do one?  I honestly don’t know.  I have a huuuge hit list and bucket list that will probably never be completely checked off simply because I’m always adding to it, but I always get around to the things I want to do even if it takes some time.  So here we are, with the first cupcake bakery in York Region post, introducing Crumbs & Co.!

Crumbs & Co. is a sweet, adorable little cupcake shop bakery located in the Richmond Heights/Major Mackenzine Village neighbourhood north of Major Mackenzie Ave. West. with two other locations in York Region.  In addition to cupcakes, they sell cookies, macaron gift sets by the dozen, and themed cupcake sets.  As well, they host and cater party events, create custom cakes (branding, logos, weddings, and special events), and even have a Cupcake of the Month Club where members enjoy a special cupcake delivery every month in 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions! 

There is no shortage of flavours at the shop: 18 flavours of macarons including apricot fig, black currant, mocha, and caramel, and over 25 cupcake flavours including Black Forest, Lemon Creme, cappuccino, chocolate coconut, strawberry shortcake, and so much more.  It’ll take me forever and a half to get through all the flavours I want to try, but I cannot wait for the day I get my sweet teeth into their white chocolate lemon (OH.MY.GOD), lemon lime, apple pie, cookie dough, and Boston Cream.

Even though I’m a little more unfamiliar with this area of Richmond Hill compared to other neighbourhoods (I’m much more familiar with the neighbourhood just south of Major Mackenzie on Yonge), I will say that if you continue walking/driving/bussing further up north, there’s a lovely little village similar to that of Main Street Unionville and Main Street Markham with cute shops and cafes and it’s definitely worth a nice spring or summer day out to explore.  This begs the question then, “how in the world did you find Crumbs & Co.?!”  In short, when I was practising my driving a few years ago, my parents and I would drive up to Aurora via Yonge Street and during one of these trips, I noticed the Crumbs & Co. pink and brown storefront from the car window and did a double take (mind you, not with me behind the wheel!) when I realized there was a cupcakery in York Region!  That was a very happy day.

Fast forward to the happy day in which I made my first visit!  Crumbs & Co. had 13 cupcake flavours on hand that day: apple pie, Oreo, raspberry chocolate, Black Forest, strawberry shortcake, coconut creme, double chocolate, mocha espresso, lemon creme, After 8 mint chocolate, vanilla, caramel, and one that looked like a chocolate coffee cupcake.  Part of me really, really wanted to go for the apple pie, the coconut, and the strawberry shortcake, but I snatched up a lemon creme one instead along with a Black Forest.  Two great things about the cupcakes at Crumbs & Co. are the tax inclusive prices ($3, flat) and the fillings!  Most of their cupcakes actually have fillings in them (much like For the Love of Cake in Liberty Village) and they always specific what the fillings are on the little cupcake signs in the display cases.

If you enjoy your cupcakes sweet, Crumbs & Co. is definitely for you.  Everyone has a different take on cupcakes and everyone has a different preference for sweetness and frosting texture, but if you enjoy the sweetness, you will LOVE their cupcakes.  Their frosting is definitely more of a thick sweet frosting as opposed to a mousse or a whippy buttercream or meringue and between the two, I enjoyed my lemon one more.  While the Black Forest was great because of the rich cocoa flavour (more cocoa flavour as opposed to fudgy) and the cherry filling, it was a little on the sweeter side for me and I wanted more of a whippy, mousse-like buttercream, but that’s totally my preference for a Black Forest cupcake.

The lemon one was much more my speed with a sweet and citrusy lemon sugar frosting, sprinkles, and a dense and thick vanilla cake bottom.  It wasn’t until I actually started eating my lemon cake that I realized just how nice and big the cupcake was.  There was a good two and a half to two and three-quarter inches of cake alone, without the frosting, and the vanilla cake had a great pound cake-like taste and texture.  It never ceases to amaze me just how different cupcakes can be from bakery to bakery.  I’ve had vanilla cake bottoms that have been super fluffy, pound cake-like, sponge cake-like, with vanilla bean dots strewn throughout, vanilla buttermilk, the list goes on.  The texture and more mild vanilla flavour was a really good pairing to the stronger lemon flavour in the frosting and the filling, and unlike the Black Forest, I didn’t feel that this one was overly sweet. 

The ratio of cake to frosting was PERFECT (I wasn’t left with too much frosting or cake in the last few bites) and it was just an all-around delicious cupcake, especially with the special lemon curd filling that tasted just like the lemon filling you find in lemon jelly doughnuts!  Their boxes are pretty (pink and with a cellophane window like Prairie Girl Bakery), their cupcake shop is sweet and cute, and it’s in my neck of the woods.  I’m so happy I finally got around to coming to their shop and I’ll be looking forward to my next visit and future cupcake visits in my area!

*****

Crumbs & Co. is located in Markham at 10220 Yonge Street, about three blocks north of Major Mackenzie Drive West.  Other locations will be added to the post shortly!

Happiness & Warmth in a Bowl – Matcha Lattes & Pork Gyoza Dumplings with Ramen at Destiny Cafe, Part II

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Now that you have all read about my tale of birthday ice cream cake embarrassment, it’s time to get down to food business with photos and food stories of noodles and tea drinks!  Destiny Cafe is situated in what I call the “restaurant congregeation” of Richmond Hill, right by East Beaver Creek Drive and Highway 404.  I’m not joking when I refer to this area as restaurant central – there are more than 10 restaurants on this one plot of land and they’re all within hopping and skipping distance from one another!  If you’re in the mood for fruity drinks and tea, snacks, and lots of Chinese food, and if you happen to be in the area, Destiny Cafe is your destination.  In my opinion though, Destiny is worth going to even if you’re aren’t in the vicinity because I think their menu caters to many tastes and appetites. 

Destiny Cafe has two locations, one in Scarborough and one in Richmond Hill, and while I’ve been to the Scarborough location several times in the past, this was my first time eating at the Richmond Hill one and I was beyond shocked when I stepped inside the large and majestic cafe.  I knew it looked huge from the outside, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw on the inside.  This wasn’t a cafe, this was the size of a banquet hall!  The entire space was bathed in ivory, cream, and chocolate brown with splashes of soft green.  Beautiful light fixtures hung from the ceiling and gorgeous floral arrangement planters filled with calla lilies, siberia lilies, and other flowers dotted the dining areas throughout the cafe, bursting with red, oranges, and yellows.  Big windows allowed plenty of natural light to filter through and seating was ample and spacious.  The atmosphere felt fresh, peaceful.

What I love about Destiny, aside from the gorgeous decor, is the variety of food and drink and how organized the menu is.  The menu is divided into two sections (drink and food), where the first portion of the menu is devoted to bubble tea, herbal tea, and coffee drinks.  A rainbow of bubble tea, slushes, soy drinks, milk teas, milkshakes, coffee drinks, lattes, and tea drinks with ice cream greet you within the first five pages or so, followed by a page of herbal and flowering teas.  If that’s not enough to make your head spin, the menu continues on with a healthy dose of dim sum appetizers, snacks, diner style sandwiches, toasts, fried rice, fried noodles, steamed rice meals with meats and vegetables, and soup noodles. 

In addition to their regular menu, they also offer a set lunch menu from 11am-2:30pm which includes a salad, spring roll, your choice of entree, a small coffee, iced/hot green tea or milk tea, and a dessert for $7.99.  On top of that, there’s an afternoon tea time menu offered from 2:30pm onward, with dim sum dishes, small plates, and snack items.  In yesterday’s post, I posted a photo of some crispy shrimp and mango rolls.  Those were ordered from the afternoon tea time menu at the Scarborough location and they were absolutely divine.

If I had to compare Destiny Cafe to another place, I’d say that the menu is somewhat similar to that of Ten Ren’s Tea Time.  Both Destiny and Ten Ren’s have an abundance of bubble tea and tea drink menu items, as well as a menu centered around Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese dishes among other Asian foods.  While both menus offer the same scope of bubble tea and tea selections, Destiny’s food is definitely more diner style whereas Ten Ren’s leans more toward traditional dishes found in Cantonese and Taiwanese cuisine.  For example, while you wouldn’t find diner style sandwiches, toasts, and fried rice at Ten Ren’s, you would find plenty of soup noodle meals, steamed rice with meat and vegetables, and appetizers and snacks.  

If you’re really looking for a tea and dessert type of meal though, I’d go for Ten Ren’s as their selection is greater and more unique.  Destiny’s desserts are more run-of-the-mill as many of them come from La Rocca.  The food and drink though?  Fabulous. 

Given how I’m on a bit of green tea latte and dessert kick, I had a delicious, warm matcha latte ($4.49) to go along with my ramen noodles in soup with gyoza pork dumplings ($7.99).  The latte was nice and strong in matcha flavour and not “milked down “or diluted in the least.  It was a great accompaniment to my noodles which I enjoyed so much.  I love noodles and I especially love ramen noodles in soup.  It’s one of my favourite comfort foods and meals.  The warmth of the soup broth, the savouriness of the noodles – it’s happiness in a bowl!  I was debating between the pork cutlet with ramen noodles and the ramen noodles with the gyoza dumplings and ultimately, the dumplings won me over because I adore dumplings with noodles. 

The ramen noodle bowl contained a tea egg (cha-yeep-daan), some crabstick meat, bean sprouts (I’m not the biggest fan of bean sprouts and telling the nice waitress completely slipped my mind, so I’ll admit that many of them were still floating around in the leftover broth when I was finished.  My bad.), some vegetables, three pork gyoza dumplings, and lots of scrumptious ramen noodles.  The noodles were absolutely delicious.  They were cooked perfectly al dente and they were savoury and thick and just divine.  And the dumplings!  They were golden brown, crispy around the edges, and juicy and soft on the inside where the pockets of pork were.  It was a wonderful meal, one that I would most definitely have again. 

Coming here has made me realize just how much I’ve missed it and how crazy I’ve been for not coming back for good eats sooner!  Even though the humourous catasphrophe that was my birthday is an event I can look back on and laugh, I’m happy to have these new food memories.  Especially ones that tasted as delicious as these.

 

*****

Destiny Cafe is located at 165 York Blvd. in Richmond Hill, Markham.  The large space is housed within a complex of restaurants and eateries and can be accessed via East Beaver Creek Drive and Highway 7, just off the 404.  Destiny Cafe has two locations in the GTA.  The other location is located in Scarborough off Silver Star Blvd. and Steeles Ave. East.  The markham location is open for business at 11am.

Bubble Tea, Chinese Food, and Memories of a Melting Ice Cream Birthday Cake – Destiny Cafe, Part I

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You know a cafe holds a special place in your heart when you’re happy to go back for eats even after a mortifying experience.  On your birthday.  In front of other people.  And by mortifying, I mean having your special circus-themed ice cream birthday cake completely defrost, deflate, collapse, and flood the dinner table with your dinner guests watching, laughing hysterically, and then helping you mop up the goopy mess afterward.  And that, my dear friends, is the fondest memory I have of eating at Destiny Cafe until now.  Which is somewhat unfortunate considering I’m in love with their menu, their decor, and their drinks and food!  Let me start from the beginning though and turn the clocks back to the summer of 2008.  

Enter the reunion of yours truly with a childhood friend through the magic of social media.  Said friend suggests grabbing a bite at Destiny Cafe in Scarborough.  Yours truly, not yet the savvy food adventurer she is now (humour me with that one), has no prior knowledge of what Destiny Cafe is or what food and drink they serve.  However, she is highly intrigued and jumps on the chance to try a new place and to catch up with an old friend.  Yours truly is happy to find out that Destiny Cafe is a lovely place with traditional Chinese rice and noodle meals and snacks, and vows to come back in the future.  

    

When she does so in 2009, she is shocked to see the cafe has undergone a complete makeover in both appearance and in menu, making it one heck of a gorgeous and delicious space to eat in!  Goodbye wooden and bamboo accents and furniture; hello sleek and shiny gunmetal and olive green!  The scrapping of the traditional Chinese food menu made way for the more modern and hip bubble tea and tea drink cafe with fried rice and noodles dishes, dim sum appetizers, and Hong Kong diner style fare.  Yours truly is hooked and vows to eat and drink her way through this luscious Chinese cafe.

And eat and drink she did as she enjoyed afternoon tea time food with her family (scrumptious crispy shrimp and mango dim sum rolls!  Mango peach bubble tea!) and a birthday get-together with friends and boyfriend.  She decided Destiny Cafe would be a lovely place to hold a birthday dinner – large space, large menu.  With circus themed goodie bags and special ice cream cake in hand (or rather, hands), the birthday girl made her way Destiny Cafe for what hoped to be a memorable birthday celebration with great food, drinks, and friends.

Oh, it was memorable alright, as unforseen circumstances took hold.  The food gods must have chosen her as the next target to poke fun at because before anyone could say, “melting cake!!!”, disaster struck as the birthday girl’s entire cake caved in, melted, and spread like evil molten lava.  Mortified and nearly choking on her Portuguese chicken and rice, she lunges for the stack of napkins and tries to salvage what is now a circus freak show mess.  The birthday girl’s friends and boyfriend help to clean up by eating any and all unmelted remnants, shoving the leftover goopy mess into the cake box, and using ice cube water and leftover guava juice to mop up the evidence.  All the while giggling uncontrollably and soothing the birthday girl’s wounded spirit. 

And that, folks, is the last memory I had of Destiny Cafe until now.  Under the circumstances, I actually took the incident fairly well and snorted about it on the way home.  That incident occurred two and a half years ago and I look back it ruefully and fondly.  My last trip to Destiny may have ended on a mortifying note, but I look back and only remember the good because all my food experiences here in the past have given great food and memories.

If not for my old friend, I never would have known about this Chinese cafe and I never would have had the pleasure of tucking away another delicious Chinese food spot into my list of Chinese cafe mainstays.  Destiny played a part in my family’s afternoon tea time meal phase during a difficult time in my life, and it gave my friends and I one of the most ridiculous, hilarious memories ever.  No matter what, food brings us together and it’s what anchors many of fondest memories. 

Aside from the crispy dim sum rolls, what you see up top are photos taken from the Markham location as opposed to the Scarborough one.  I’ve barely made even a tiny dent in the food and drink department since, but I have a yummy post to share with you all tomorrow that’s sure to get you eating and drinking here.  Minus the melting lava cake. 

*****

Destiny Cafe is located at 165 York Blvd. in Richmond Hill, Markham.  The large space is housed within a complex of restaurants and eateries and can be accessed via East Beaver Creek Drive and Highway 7, just off the 404.  Destiny Cafe has two locations in the GTA.  The other location is located in Scarborough off Silver Star Blvd. and Steeles Ave. East.  The markham location is open for business at 11am.

Breezing into Markham in True Fuschia, Bright Pink, and Lime Green Fashion – Menchie’s is Now in Markham!

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Aside from some great books, beautiful lip glosses, sweet cards, and fun times with friends and family, I received one other fabulous Christmas gift this past December: the gift of yummy frozen yogurt!  In true bright pink, fuschia, and lime green fashion, Menchie’s breezed into my neck of the woods in Markham just in time for the holidays.  I know, I couldn’t believe it either when I found out!  To my fellow Markhamettes (I just made that up, so humour me): we have a Menchie’s now!  I’m so used to making trips downtown or into the 416 to visit most of my favourite shops, restaurants, and bits and bobs that having one of them open up another location so much closer to me feels so surreal! 

I was so excited when I found out Menchie’s was going to have a location in Markham not only because I adore indulging in frozen yogurt and toppings bar heaven when I’m there (pulling down those frozen yogurt levers makes me feel all sorts of happy), but also because both my mum and dad have taken quite a liking to the self-serve frozen yogurt fun!

I introduced my brother and my mum to Menchie’s on Bloor St. this past fall and at the beginning of December, I took my dad there and had the funnest time showing him the ropes, pointing out the different stations, flavours, and sweet toppings.  My dad has always had a soft spot for soft-serve ice cream, so naturally, frozen yogurt fit the bill.  What’s not to love?  Over 12 flavours every day, the ability to create your own flavour combinations, and the fun in choosing sauces, fruits, boba, cookies, sprinkles, chips, chocolates, candies, and every other sweet confection under the sun to outfit your cool treat.

The new Menchie’s frozen yogurt shop is located by Warden Ave. and Hwy. 7 right beside the Future Shop and I have to say, this location is fabulous.  I don’t know how long this is going to be around for, but I can’t get over how insanely adorable the giant inflatable Menchie’s frozen yogurt dessert cup is on top of the shop!  It sits there, beckoning and flagging everyone in town and it’s cuteness makes me giggle.

It doesn’t look very big from the outside, but geez louise is it ever large and spacious on the inside, even more so than the one on Bloor St.!  There’s an ample amount of seating with large windows (hurray for natural light streaming in!) and plenty of space around the self-serve station areas.  This is especially important for when it gets busy!  The last thing you want is to end up with the toppings on you as opposed to in your belly when you start elbowing others just to get to the chocolate fudge sauce. 

I love the location of the shop.  For starters, it’s accessible by public transit.  I know, I know, YRT/Viva are both on strike right now, but we know they’ll come back eventually (I’ve certainly done my sharing of grumbling over the holidays about this predicament!)  and there’s fortunately the option of getting here via Warden Ave.  As well, the outdoor ice rink unveiled its shiny surface in December, across the street at the Markham Civic Centre.  Finally, from Menchie’s perspective, the presence of a high school down the road and across the street equals big business.

My family and I went all out, each one of us grabbing a bottomless pit frozen yogurt cup (really, these cups are huge!) to fill with whatever our heart desired.  Before I get to the actual frozen yogurt flavours and toppings, I have to gush about the spoon.  I was absolutely smitten with the lime green spoon with the Menchie’s smiley face and logo on the handle!  I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this on the blog, but I love collecting colourful utensils and kitchen accessories.  I have a small collection in our utensil drawer at home of bright coloured spoons from different ice cream and frozen yogurt places and I happily added Miss Menchie to the mix.

Now, onto the froyo.  I swirled myself some cake batter, frozen hot chocolate, and green frozen yogurt and topped it all off with chocolate sprinkles, mini marshmallows, graham cracker crumbs, and crushed Oreo cookies.  Can you tell I was going for a hot chocolate and cookies type of combination?! 

In hindsight, I shouldn’t have added the green tea flavour because it didn’t exactly mesh with the theme I was aiming for and although it taste bad, the green tea one wasn’t my favourite.  The cake batter I love to death and the frozen hot chocolate frozen yogurt was absolutely delicious, but the green tea one didn’t do it for me.  For whatever reason, I tasted a little too much citrus in it and it didn’t have that punchy matcha taste that I enjoyed.  The nuances were just a little off for this one.

The frozen hot chocolate one on the other hand, nailed it.  It wasn’t fudgy in a chocolatey, brownie kind of way (which wouldn’t have been true to frozen hot chocolate), but instead, it was like a rich, chocolate slushie in flavour.  It was great and it went really well with the cake batter frozen yogurt.  I much prefer the green tea frozen yogurt from Ninka in the underground PATH downtown, but I enjoyed my holiday froyo dessert very much nevertheless!

 

Menchie’s in Markham is special to me because it’s hard finding something that everyone can enjoy and take part in.  I’ve mentioned my family’s different palates and tastes for food on more than one occasion on the blog and it makes me happy knowing that this is something all four of us can agree on!  My mum and dad adore it so much they suggested going once a week!  Can’t say I blame them.  And I certainly don’t plan on arguing with them on this point 😀

*****

Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in Markham is located at 3828 Highway 7 East, at the northeast corner of Hwy. 7 and Warden Ave. beside Future Shop.  Check out my Menchie’s on Bloor St. blog post here and take a peek at the Markham location’s Facebook page here!