Quite Possibly the Last Grad Lounge Feature – Saying Farewell With Spicy Tomato Dill Soup

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It’s true, this may very well be my last Weekly Grad Lounge post.  The Grad Lounge will be closing up shop for the summer after this Thursday (June 30th) and seeing that I’m no longer a grad student, the chances of me reporting back with more good eats from here come September are slim to none.  I’m sad that I won’t be able to make any more weekly posts because it’s been so much fun, but most of all, I’m sad that I won’t get to eat here and see the people who keep this place running like clockwork on a consistent basis anymore.  There’s no guarantee that I’ll have the job of my dreams (or any full-time job for that matter) by the time September rolls around, but even so, it’s looking like this meal may have been my last here. 

I’m saying farewell with a bowl of hot, spicy tomato dill soup with lots of yummy dill and chives and creamed tomato with a crunchy side of baguette bread.  I slurped this bowl of soup up real good.  I love dill, I love chives, and because I don’t shy away from tomatoes and enjoy a little bit of kick in my food (and evidently in my soup!), this was delicious.  Dunking my crunchy bread into the creamy soup and crushed tomatoes was delightful.  I’m going to really miss getting excited over new menu items, walking in to find out that there are daily special menu items written on the chalkboard I haven’t tried yet (and consequently, haven’t blogged about yet), and having a homey place on campus to have a wholesome, great meal.

Writing these weekly posts has been awesome; it’s given me focus, a way to get inspired, and a way to show everyone just how important The Grad Lounge has been to me during the course of my grad student career.  And to think that there are still menu items I haven’t blogged about yet!  I really hope someday I’ll be able to pick up where I left off and post more Grad Lounge meals here and there, but for now, it’s good-bye.  Thanks for the memories (and of course the delicious food!), it’s been amazing.

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  They will be closing for the summer THIS THURSDAY (June 30th) and will be open from 12pm-5pm for the next several days, so drop in to get your last fix of the summer and to give Mike and Paul a big thanks for all their hard work.

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Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup, Channa Wraps, and Memories of Wet Boots

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There isn’t a story behind the sweet potato and black bean soup (other than it tastes good!), but there’s certainly one behind the channa wrap.  The channa wrap and I were introduced and acquainted during the cold days of winter 2008.  I was a first year masters student out on the picket line during a strike at school and the channa wrap…well, the channa wrap was merely a warm tortilla with stuffing just waiting to be eaten.  It was a tumultuous relationship from the get-go.  

On those bitter cold, dreary days, the food truck that provided us with these warm morsels of chickpeas for lunch was like a heavenly godsend, a desert oasis if you will.  On other days when I was tired of staring at the same traffic light and trudging along in repititive circles, the channa wrap was a sad reminder of how much I wanted pizza.  That and a warm, dry pair of boots.  I would hold my channa wrap in my mittened hands, sneer at it and think, “I am not in the mood for you today, I have a pool party going on in my boots!”  But that was then and this is now and I am in a much better place.  For one thing, I haven’t crossed that old picket crosswalk in over two years.  And for another, I chucked those wet wafer boots out.

Given our turbulent relationship, the channa wrap and I haven’t been reunited till now.  And I gotta say, the channa wrap tastes much more heavenly when you’re sitting down, enjoying a nice relaxing lunch, and you’re not cold to the bone.  Along with the vegan chili and veggie burritos, the channa wrap is a great vegetarian and vegan permanent, everyday menu item.  One of the things I really like about The Grad Lounge is how they provide a number of healthy vegetarian and vegan meals.  Anyone can claim they’re vegetarian by eating nothing by bread, pasta, and starches, but it’s a much bigger task eating vegetarian in a healthy, nutrient-rich way.  To my vegetarian friends and readers, you know the situation.  You’re at a place and all you can find on the menu is a veggie burger and fries.  Not your idea of a healthy, fulfilling, or satisfying meal.  Vegetarians and vegans alike can eat here without having to make sacrifices on health or waistlines. 

The wrap is full to bursting with soft chickpeas, onions, herbs, and spices, bathed in curry sauce with coconut milk.  It’s soft, warm, hearty, and flavourful with that little bit of curry kick.  You don’t realize just how filling this is until you eat it but let me tell you, it packs a punch and for $4.95 each, that works for me.  I love my legumes, so I had me a bowl of sweet potato and black bean soup to go along with my channa wrap and that rounded out my vegetarian meal quite nicely.  The hungarian mushroom soup has to be my favourite soup at The Grad Lounge, but this sweet potato and black bean soup was really good too.  They have a rotating daily selection of soup and from what I’ve seen, a lot of the soups are stocked with veggies and protein-rich beans, lentils, and other legumes.

Twas a warm, welcoming reunion between me and channa wrap.  Go chickpeas!

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  The Grad Lounge’s summer operating hours are from 11:30pm-6:30pm, Monday to Friday.  It is a graduate student space on campus, so please ensure that if you wish to come here that you are either a York grad student with ID on hand, or that you are accompanied by a grad student if you aren’t one.

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Stuffed Red Bell Peppers With Rice and Melted Cheddar Cheese

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Hurray for new menu items at The Grad Lounge!  Paul and Mike are churning out some new dishes over the course of the summer and I have to say, I’m happy to be their unofficial taste-tester!  I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I get when I go in and see something on their specials menu board that I’ve never seen before.  New food to try!  My eyes light up, my heart flutters, and I think, “YES!  A new item to add to The Grad Lounge archive!”  Don’t even get me started when I see more than ONE new item on the menu though.  I’m initially overcome with excitement but then I’m quickly wracked by indecision because choosing between food things frustrates me to no end and it’s happened before and I’m left pacing staring at the board not knowing which one to choose.  I’m know, I’m crazy.  I take my food very seriously.

Their stuffed peppers were introduced on their daily specials rotating menu just recently and they took them out for a test drive.  Lucky for me, I was on campus that day and went there to eat.  I love these meant to be moments 😀  I adore stuffed peppers not just because it’s a healthy meal that incorporates both vegteables and grains, but also because the stuffings and fillings are so versatile.  You can use rice, quinoa, couscous, roasted bread crumbs, and the fun part is topping it off with cheese!  My favourite things about these stuffed peppers were the grill marks (everything tastes awesome off the grill!), the extra softness of the rice from the tomato and pepper salsa sauce, and the ooey gooey melted cheddar cheese in the rice stuffing.    The incorporation of the cheese IN the rice stuffing totally made this dish.  With a generous sprinkling of black pepper, I was good to go.

What I also really loved about this dish was how it demonstrated the resourcefulness of The Grad Lounge and their rotation of ingredients and dishes.  They created a stuffed peppers dish out of many things they normally serve on a daily basis.  They almost always have rice in some way, shape, or form for chicken dishes, for example, and the tomato and pepper salsa has used be on a number of occasions on noodles, for tofu dishes, and other vegetarian mains.  It just shows that you don’t need to be fancy and outlandish to made great food.  Using a particular number of ingredients in different ways challenges you to think outside the box and that’s exactly what The Grad Lounge did with this new stuffed pepper dish.  It gets a big thumbs up from me.

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  The Grad Lounge’s summer operating hours are from 11:30pm-6:30pm, Monday to Friday.

  

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Chickpea, Quinoa, and Red Pepper Stew

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Yet another great healthy meal dished out by The Grad Lounge!  A warm vegetable stew of chickpeas, quinoa, and roasted red peppers served over rice with a side spring mix green salad.  It was the first time I had seen it on their daily specials menu and you know me and new things; I pounced on it!  Sometimes it really amazes me how many new things I’ve integrated into my diet over the past four years and how I can’t imagine my life without them now.  Lentils, falafel, avocado, okra, kale – I love them all, and I’m so glad that I’ve added quinoa to this list too! 

Pronounced “keen-wah”, it’s a great high protein, gluten-free alternative to wheat grains.  It’s a fantastic food for those who follow a plant-based diet and you eat it much the same way you would rice, corn, and cous cous.  When cooked, quinoa is fluffy in texture with a beady kind of bite to it.  It’s tiny-tiny like cous cous and is pale and a bit translucent.  The first time I ate quinoa was at Kale Eatery last September, with portobello mushrooms.  To me it tastes like cous cous, only a tiny bit chewier and fluffier 🙂  Although I enjoy rice, I really love eating other grains too and I’m excited to try other dishes with it and to use it in some breakfast yogurt!

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  Starting today (Monday, April 11th), The Grad Lounge will be changing their hours to summer hours until September.  Summer operating hours are from 12pm-6:30pm, Monday to Friday.

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – An Irish Inspired Menu and A Bowl of Potato & Cabbage Soup

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I was so crushed that I didn’t get to do the fun St. Patty’s day things I wanted to do, but as luck would have it, The Grad Lounge totally came through for me on Thursday with an Irish-inspired menu!!  Oh gosh, I was so ecstatic!  Think lamb stew, corn beef, and what I ordered: potato and cabbage soup!  So I did end up having something Irish that day it made me real happy.  I’m a big fan of The Grad Lounge’s soup (and the corn muffins!) and the selection changes on a daily basis.  Thus far, I’ve had the hungarian mushroom, spring vegetable, butternut squash, and the lentil, and although I love them all, the hungarian mushroom is definitely my most favourite, with the lentil one coming in at 2nd place. 

A regular bowl of soup is $3.50 and is served with your choice of white or whole wheat bread roll, or corn muffin, and a large soup is available to-go for $4.25.  This one had soft chunks of potato and crunchy shredded cabbage, and those black flecks you see are just some black pepper I sprinkled on because I love black pepper on everything, ha.  So this is me really happy that I got the chance to eat something Irish on St. Patty’s, yay! 😀

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  They offer a number of daily specials in addition to their permanent menu, and provide numerous vegetarian and vegan options.

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Make Way For Bruschetta!

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You know the bruschetta is delicious when even my picky eater of a sweetie who hates tomatoes likes it!  I love bruschetta because of its versatility.  I have a weakness for things like prosciutto  with olive oil and capers, or smoked salmon, or mussels and oysters, and I’ve tried bruschetta made in different ways from different places like the avocado bruschetta from Southern Accent which is yummy as hell!  Crunchy grilled bread rubbed with garlic and olive oil would make anybody drool just by thinking about it and The Grad Lounge’s dish of bruschetta is a vegetarian version, juicy and fresh with lots of diced veggies and a reeeeally nice helping of melted cheese! 

The appetizer dish (3 for $3.95)  comes with 3 wedges of crispy bread topped with diced green bell pepper, juicy tomatoes, red onion and lots of melted marble cheese!  The bruschetta is available on The Grad Lounge’s daily permanent menu and comes in 2 sizes, one with 3 wedges and the other with, I believe, 5 or 6.  This is SO good.  There’s so much yummy stuff on it that you can’t even see the bread underneath.  The cheese is ooey and gooey and the combination of juicy and melty is perfect because the veggies and cheese balance one another well, and the veggies don’t make the bread soggy.  Good for sharing, or good for stuffing your own face.

*****

The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus.  They offer a number of daily specials in addition to their permanent menu, and provide numerous vegetarian and vegan options.

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Sweet Potato and Mushroom Pie

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It’s a snoooow daaaayyy!  If you live in the mid-to-East coast, you are probably snowed in like me.  Schools are closed and if you live in Markham like I do, you have most likely noticed the snow has only taken a breather for several minutes at a time since the middle of the night.  Although the hyped up snowstorm didn’t deliver quite the punch everyone was expecting, I had a neighbour this morning who tried to start his snow blower almost 30 times with no luck – I seriously would have given up after 5 and just shovelled the damn driveway myself; either that or collapse on the ground and make snow angels to soothe my frustration.  And hello, it’s never a good thing when the snow is blowing horizontally!  So for those who are snowed in, I hope you’re enjoying the day off and for those who had to trudge off to work at an ungodly hour, I hope you’re at least staying warm!

Alright, so in lieu of snow day, let’s churn out some comfort food for this week’s Grad Lounge feature!  I have never met a potato I didn’t like, and like many foods that have grown on me over the past 5 years, sweet potatoes (or yams) is one of them.  My mum and brother loooove sweet potato anything (sweet potato fries, mashed and roasted sweet potatoes, the list goes on) and when I first tried them, they were just okay to me.  But I’ve definitely learned to appreciate their versatility, especially in dishes like this one! 

A quiche-like pie made with sweet potato mash and savoury portobello mushrooms and a spring mix green salad on the side with sun-dried tomato dressing.  The pie crust is nice and thin, and the filling is deliciously moist and whipped airy soft.  The bold flavour from the mushrooms complements the sweetness from the yams, and it’s the kind of bakery dish that screams warmth and comfort.  Mmmm.  Take note though that this dish is part of the rotating daily specials and not a part of the permanent, everyday menu.  So hopefully if love sweet potatoes, you’ll be able to catch it sometime! 

Stay safe and warm everyone!  Annnd Happy Chinese (Lunar) New Year Eve to everyone who celebrates!  I’ll have a special Chinese New Year post for tomorrow, so I’ll see you all again then! 

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The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus and have extended their hours to 9pm in the evening from Monday to Friday.