Snowflakes, A Winter House, and Veggie Orange Chicken – Scrapbooking a Winter Menu at King’s Cafe

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It’s been one crazy, topsy-turvy winter this season, but one thing is for certain: we can’t resist that silent, magical feeling we feel when we watch snowflakes gently fall from the sky and the breathtaking, picturesque scenes of pure white snow on pine trees and rooftops.  We may not enjoy shovelling, and we may mumble and grumble about winter under our five layers of clothing, but we all know that feeling of serenity that comes along with the winter season.

This is why I’ve enjoyed scrapbooking winter and holiday layouts so much over the past few months.  I didn’t think I’d love it this much because in reality, I’m not much of a snow bunny, but when I put scissors to paper and stickers to cardstock, winter is one of the most beautiful and versatile themes to scrapbook.  I love using winter themed stickers and embellishments (snowflakes!  mittens!  snowmen!  hot chocolate!) and I love how I can simaltaneously play up the cool, icy colours of winter (whites, grays, and blues) and bright spring ones, such as greens and pinks, all at once.  And scrapbooking winter comfort food is so much fun because you get to focus on all the things that make you feel warm and cozy.  The hot chocolate one I made for The Hot Chocolate Series is one of my favourite layouts to date because I put so much creative energy into piecing together a colour scheme and building a winter story out of it.

You’re probably wondering why some of the photos on the scrapbook layout look so familiar, especially the one of me (hint: the photo is from a page on my main toolbar), and that’s because those photos were featured in December 2010 (yes, 2010!) during my first month of blogging in my first King’s Cafe post.  It’s taken a little over a year for me to get around to, but I finally made a scrapbook layout for it!  Let it be known that there is no rhyme or reason to the order and sequence of scrapbook layouts that I create and post here.  Sometimes I’ll create and post things a little more strategically, but really, it’s about the amount of time I have to devote to a particular layout, idea, or set of photos and this set has been waiting in the wings for months!

This layout was so much fun to make.  The layout was entirely devoted to and inspired by King’s Cafe’s seasonal winter menu.  King’s Cafe has a winter menu that they put out every year for the season and there are special menu items featured in it that are not available during the rest of the year.  For example, to my knowledge, the meal I had (the orange veggie chicken with asparagus, fruit, and green salad) is exclusive to the winter menu, along with the amazing lemongrass fried rice and many other dishes.  Scrapbooking these photos made me realize just how much more I wanted another meal at King’s Cafe – I’ve been craving their delicious food for months!

Look at the adorable winter house!

I wanted to use the bright colours from my meal and the colours I was wearing that day to guide the colour palette, and the adorable winter house pictured in the winter menu as a focal point.  I knew right off the bat that I wanted to use gray as a base and bright colours to complement the melancholy, wintry shade.  The main colour palette was a mix of gray, white, bubble gum pink, and bright sky blue with pops of green.  I used the orange from the food photos and a bit of brown to warm everything up.  I was so excited to make my own little King’s Cafe winter house out of paper and cardstock and I think it turned out pretty darn cute!  The most fun I had was actually making the windows.  The bright blue jumps off the page, I got to use my old-school brown metallic gel-pen, and windows are just fun.  They were always my favourite Lego pieces to play with!

You all know how much I adore seasonal menus (especially fall and winter ones), so we’ll see if I can around to scrapbooking more winter meals (and maybe a Hot Chocolate layout, Part II!) before the weather gets really balmy and spring is here!

*****

Scrapbooking materials used: gray, white, bubble gum pink, emerald green, powder blue, beige, chocolate brown, and cappuccino cardstock (Recollections); bright sky blue construction paper; Green Pinstripe patterned paper (Recollections Basics); holiday patterned paper (Me & My Big Ideas holiday paper mat pad); holiday striped cardstock (DCWV holiday cardstock mat pad); cream and gold foil “circus” alphabet stickers (Recollections); Christmas ornament adhesive embellishments (Recollections); “Winter” adhestive embellishment (K&Company); holographic snowflakes; scalloped edge decorative scissors (Provo Craft); deckle edge decorative scissors; circle paper punch (Marvy Uchida).

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My Vegetarian Oasis After a Long (and I Mean LONG!) Dundas West Trek – Lemongrass Fried Rice at King’s Café

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Although I love King’s Café very much, I did not actually intend to eat there this past week.  So there is a story here.  If you’ve been reading and following my blog, you know how deeply I love the city and the joy it brings me to explore and learn as much as I possibly can.  However, my exploration of the city and my love for all things food will sometimes get the best of me and I will do crazy things! 

This past Monday I went back to Bunner’s Bake Shop in the morning for a chocolate chip cookie creamie sandwich (because I can seriously eat these babies every day oh my god.  Creamie blog post coming soon!) and then proceeded to go on the longest trek of my life within a morning window.  And when I say long trek, I mean long!  I thought to myself, “I want to go back to Kensington Market but eh, I’d really rather not use another bus token to get there.  Let’s walk it and see how far I can get!  And I can explore Dundas West to my heart’s content!  I can take pictures!  Yeah, let’s do that!”  That was one heck of a motivational talk I had with myself.  So I put my mitts on, stuck my knitted hat on my head and went on my way and by the end of it, I walked from Keele St. alllll the way back east to Spadina!  In one morning.  On foot.  And it was chilly out.  To put this into perspective for those who don’t live in Toronto or who only have a vague sense of direction, I walked a total of 6.3 km!  I was, and still am, uber proud of myself 😀

Needless to say, I was one tired cookie by lunch time!  I was even shocked with how ambitious I was taking that long of a walk through the city, good lordy.  I made my way back to Kensington Market, walked into the vegetarian oasis that is my lovely King’s Café, and collapsed into a cushy chair.  It was time for some food and the belly eagerly wanted some lemongrass fried rice!  I’ve written about King’s twice on the blog since I started it, once back in December on Christmas eve and another time in January, not to mention I took my family there back in February for the first time.  For the past few months I’ve been craving the lemongrass fried rice from their special winter menu because my family and I loved it so much when we ordered it.  I quickly flipped through the menu and was ecstatic to find that their winter menu selections were still there.  So I happily ordered the lemongrass fried rice.  I’m no fool; I wasn’t about to pass  up something that 1) I was craving for months and 2) that was probably not going to be around for much longer!

This rice seriously kicks the ass of anything with meat in it.  Trust me when I say that any meat-eating person won’t miss the meat and any vegetarian and vegan will prance around the room with glee over it.  My dad and brother, who are “manly men” meat-eaters, loved this rice.  And this also isn’t your typical mixed veggies vegetable fried rice either.  The lemongrass fried rice has amazing ginger flavour to it and the edameme beans and strips and chunks of bean curd MAKE this rice. 

The dish has goji berries in it as well and although they give the dish another dimension of flavour with a bit of sweetness and a spicy, minty bite, I actually think the rice could do without them because the rest of the dish is so amazing on its own.  The bean curd in the rice just blows me away.  It’s crispy and it gives the rice its body and protein.  I love it because it’s different from any other fried rice I’ve had, it’s flavourful without being greasy, and it’s fresh quality.  You get a big plate of it (I think even 2 people could share this!) with some freshly steamed broccoli and it’s a meal that doesn’t make you feel like collapsing into hibernation afterward.

Another thing that I absolutely love about King’s Café is how they nail the ginger flavour.  Most times I find ginger to be too overwhelming and with too much of that spicy bite to it.  The way they use ginger here is fantastic though and it’s demonstrated in the fried rice as well as in their ginger “chicken” dish which I would recommend to anyone.  It was my mom and brother’s favourite when I ate here with my family, and it’s also one of my mine.  I guzzled down glasses of lime water and wolfed down half my plate of rice and took the rest back with in a doggy bag (which by the way is adorable, ha).  This was the perfect meal to refuel my tired (but happy!) body last Monday after that crazy long trek through Dundas West.  Look out for pictures from my walk, as well as my Bunner’s Bake Shop creamie post!  I hope everyone is having a great start to the long Easter weekend!

*****

King’s Café is located at 192 Augusta Ave (accessible from both Dundas and College St, just west of Spadina) and is open at 11:30am seven days a week until 9:30pm from Monday-Saturday, and until 9pm on Sundays.         

A Vegetarian Par-tay! Coming Together With Friends at King’s Café

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“Food is our common ground, a universal experience” – James Beard

King’s Café in Kensington holds some really wonderful memories for me.  I first wrote about this fantabulous Chinese vegetarian restaurant on Christmas eve after spending some quality stuffing-our-face-and-bellies time with my bestie, Melissa.  And I am so happy that I have another amazing memory from here to tuck away in my mental time capsule (and my scrapbook!).  Over a month before the holidays even started, I got the opportunity to meet some of my beloved online friends who were coming in from out of town for a weekend in Toronto, friends that I had known and conversed with for years through my computer screen but had never actually seen or met in person.  So on the first weekend of November, I got together with a great group of friends for some awesome veggie eats and a day out on the town!

This get-together was so, SO much fun!  We ate.  We gabbed.  We laughed.  We snapped a gazillion pictures.  And most importantly, we sat and relaxed and enjoyed a fantastic meal among friends.  I don’t know about you, but as I’ve gotten older, it has become increasingly difficult to hang out with friends in a group, with friends being out of town, in school, working, and just  plain busy with the day-to-day.  People can’t make it, people bail, whatever the reason, it takes a lot of effort to co-ordinate a meet-up.  I mean, sure, times with friends one-on-one and with your significant other mean a lot.  At times it’s even hair-pulling trying to co-ordinate time for that!  But there’s something to be said about getting a group of friends together and enjoying each’s other company; it’s a heart-warming feeling and you realize how much you miss it and cherish it when you’re in it.

And I loved my food SO MUCH!  I drank the most amazingly delicious vanilla milkshake ($4.25)  in my entire life at King’s Café oh my lordy!  It was sweet, creamy, and smooth and quite possibly heaven in liquid form *wiggles with glee*. 

As for solid food, we all ordered lots of different things: Richard had the veggie ginger chicken, Wini had some hot n’ sour soup with her meal, a few friends ordered bento meal sets, my friend Maree ordered the spicy eggplant dish, and I ordered the sweet n’ sour bites ($9.99), yuuuummmm.  The sweet n’ sour bites were made from TVP (textured vegetable protein, made from soy) and were mixed with tons of deliciousness: green and red bell peppers, mushrooms, snow peas, and pineapple chunks in a sweet n’ sour sauce.  To go along with it, a warm bowl of purple rice!  In terms of texture, the bites reminded me of those soft tofu poofs that my mum buys sometimes at the Chinese supermarkets.  The portions are hearty and very satisfying.  And because I eat slow (and talk a lot, haha), I was the last person hacking away at her meal when everyone else was already finished, whoops! 😀

Believe it or not, this was only the 2nd time I had ever been to King’s Café!  Surprising considering how much I love it here, right?  I don’t know why I never got around to coming back more, but I’m happy that the times I have come have all been sweet and memorable.  The very first time I came here was back in the 2007, right around the end of August.  My beloved friend Jen and I were exploring Kensington and stumbled on this eatery and loved it from the get-go.  And you can bet that I’ll be back many times to come 😀 

*****

King’s Café is located at 192 Augusta Ave. in Kensington Market (accessible from both Dundas and College St, just west of Spadina) and is open at 11:30am seven days a week until 9:30pm from Monday-Saturday, and until 9pm on Sundays.         

Scrapbooking materials used: moss green, golden rod, and white cardstock (Recollections); patterned paper (DCVW); black and white polka dotted epoxy alphabet stickers (atd); coloured alphabet stickers (K&Company); Asian food stickers (Decole Style, Kamio Japan Inc.; Jolee’s).

A thank you to Wini for allowing me to use her cute photo as the focal point on the first page 😀

Dreaming of a White Christmas – The Quiet Serenity of King’s Café

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Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! ❤  I am sitting here at my laptop in a blanket burrito at 9pm on the eve of Christmas, technically 3 hours away from Christmas Day, watching my brother play hockey on his PS3, reliving glorious sports moments of the year being shown on tv, and relishing in the wonderful day I spent with my bestie, Melissa, just 2 days ago.  Whatever stresses we may be feeling, whatever bad feelings we may be harbouring, this is the time to put them aside, even if just temporarily.  It’s a time to reminisce and a time to savour.

Aside from The Distillery District, Kensington Market is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Toronto and King’s Café is a wonderful Chinese vegetarian restaurant in the middle of the all the Kensington action on Augusta Ave.  Accessible from both Dundas and College St., it’s a beautiful restaurant with heart-healthy foods and drinks and a delicious bounty of vegetarian options.  It’s open, it’s spacious, and it has this wonderful fresh, quiet, serene quality to it that makes eating a meal here so relaxing and enjoyable.

There is SO much to choose from in the menu: dim sum, rice and noodles dishes, curry, tofu, veggie chicken steak, sushi, the list goes on for miles.  While perusing the menu, I was SUPER ecstatic to find out that they had a special “winter menu” for the season!  And was the little paper insert in the middle ever adorable with the cute picture of a little King’s Café winter house down by the bottom! *cue excited squeals of “it’s so cuuuuuute!” from me*.  I am easy to amuse and easy to please.  Just give me paper.  You know me, I can’t resist seasonal things so with an excited squeal, I happily began scoping out my options.

With giddy anticipation, I chose the veggie chicken steak with orange sauce while my bestie, Melissa, went the dim sum route with the green leaf sticky rice and pan-fried radish pastry squares (law back go in Chinese).  The food was beautiful, fresh, and so yummy-yum-yummy!  My dish came with 4 veggie chicken steak rounds bathed in tangy orange sauce with spears of fresh asparagus and a colourful, fresh green salad with spring mix greens, cucumber, carrots, orange wedges, apple slices (which I actually gave to Melissa because I’m allergic to the fresh flesh of apples), and red grapes. 

The veggie chicken steak rounds were moist and so flavouful and about the size of your palm.  The orange sauce had just the right amount of tang to it and wasn’t overly citrusy and the salad made me smile; how Chinese of them 🙂  My mom and dad tell me all the time how much they love the Chinese style salads with chunks of fruits and vegetables in it like potato, pear, and apple and it’s the little details like those that really scream out to you.  I say this all the time, but you eat with your eyes and when you see something so colourful and pretty on your plate, with the freshness of it just wafting from it, it makes you happy.

One of the sweet waitresses gave us these fried vegetable fritters to try and OH.MY.GOD.  They were crunchy, crispy, and seasoned to the most amazing salty perfection you could ever imagine.  And to end off the meal?  A sweet and rich square of cranberry cheesecake with crumbles on top, sitting prettily on an adorable seashell shaped dish.  This meal was amazing and King’s Café continues to score major brownie points on quality and freshness and judging by how much several of my friends love it too, I know I’m the only one who sings its praises!

I love that it has such Chinese flair to it and I also love that its in Kensington, a neighbourhood with so much character and a passion for market freshness.  King’s Café also has a fantastic selection of teas, not just on the menu, but in the actual restaurant where you can quietly browse and shop.  The restaurant is located at 192 Augusta Ave (accessible from both Dundas and College St, just west of Spadina) and is open at 11:30am seven days a week until 9:30pm from Monday-Saturday, and until 9pm on Sundays.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and best wishes to everyone for a happy, memorable holiday!

*****

King’s Café is located at 192 Augusta Ave (accessible from both Dundas and College St, just west of Spadina) and is open at 11:30am seven days a week until 9:30pm from Monday-Saturday, and until 9pm on Sundays.