Committed to Food, Committed to Friendship – A Scrapbook Snapsnot of the Breakfast Club Girls

Leave a comment

Eating breakfast classics, drinking cups upon cups of tea and coffee, and catching up with friends during a weekend or holiday brunch is one of the best feelings in the world and making this breakfast scrapbook layout made me so happy.  I’ve been down in the dumps lately and even though I know how much I love to write, scrapbook, and design, it still catches me by surprise when both of these loving pastimes calm me down and give me a little piece of mind.  Writing and scrapbooking function as both my creative outlets and my stress relievers and they have been so therapeutic for me. 

This scrapbook layout served as yet another reminder of all the reasons why I love food, story-telling, and the time spent with friends.  I feel so lucky to have a sweet boyfriend who humours me, supports me, and is up for anything when it comes to my blogging and photography escapades, and I love having different friends with whom I can enjoy different food activities.  I have friends who love to go on sushi lunch dates, friends who are just as obsessive about cupcakes as I am, and friends who are my vegetarian and vegan partners in crime.  Finally, I have my group of breakfast and brunch girl friends!

Friends since our first year of high school (and beyond for my other three girls who have known one another since sandbox and playground days), the four of us have formed a lifelong bond and tradition over breakfast get-togethers and have coined ourselves Team Commitment as an ode to our friendship and our commitment to delicious food.  This year we celebrated our 5th consecutive year as a group (our 3rd here at T&T Bakery & Cafe!) and each and every single our breakfast club gets together, there’s always fabulous food involved!  Not only have we noshed on waffles, poached eggs, bacon, sandwiches, bagels, and French toast, but we’ve also exchanged food gifts.  I baked cookies for my dear Lindsay over Christmas, Laura surprised us all with chocolatey Tim Tams and hot cocoa two years ago, and Lisa shared some of her fabulous homemade caramel, nut, and white chocolate bark and homemade cinnamon sticky buns!  Even some of our non-edible gifts have been food-related! 

Food has quietly (or maybe not so quietly) played a starring role in our get-togethers over the years.  It has anchored us, giving us a little stability and a lot of excitment and anticipation.  Over tea and coffee and plates of food, we have celebrated graduations, weddings, break-ups and heartbreaks, new loves, new jobs, new schools, and even a new country to temporarily call home.  Every breakfast get-together is, simaltanously, a sign of change and growth on the one hand and comfort and familiarity on the other.  The scrapbook layout is a snapshot of several moments frozen in time of four very different young women who, despite having their own aspirations, dreams, and goals in life, always make the time and effort to eat, laugh, and cry together.  We look forward to our breakfast meals as we reminisce and catch up on each other’s lives and this scrapbook layout is my way of capturing the story of four girls who come together to celebrate food and friendship.

*****

T&T Bakery and Café is located at 35 Main Street Markham at the intersection of Highway 7 and Markham Rd., just north of Highway.7 and on the east side of Markham Rd.

Scrapbook materials used: Cornflower blue, watermelon pink, pale lemon yellow, and textured beige cardstock (Recollections); breakfast waffle patterned paper (MMMMM Waffles – Mom’s Diner by Recollections); blue journalling tags (Darcy collection by Anna Griffin); glittery breakfast pancake and waffle adhesive embellishments (Waffle Baking stickers by Martha Stewart Crafts); floral and garden gold foil stickers (atd by Momenta); strawberry sticker (Sticko); sapphire alphabet stickers (Recollections); circle paper punch (ek success); deckle edged decorative scissors (Provo Craft).

Golden Brown and Fluffy – The Strawberries and Whipped Cream Waffles at T&T Bakery & Cafe!

2 Comments

It’s waffle time on the blog!  I raved about T&T Bakery & Cafe’s breakfasts and home fries yesterday so today, I’m shining a spotlight on their wonderful and delicious strawberries and whipped cream waffles!  This works out perfectly because I’ve wanted to feature more waffles on Ate by Ate for some time now, having only Cocoa Latte’s amazing giant banana and nutella waffle and Lady Marmalade’s savoury aged white cheddar and spinach waffles to represent the beloved breakfast and brunch staple. 

I know it seems like I enjoy pancakes more given how many Aunt Jemima pancake posts I made last year but in all honesty, between pancakes and waffles, I actually love waffles more and get more excited about them in all its forms!  I just discovered Christmas tree waffles this past Christmas thanks to my friend Amanda over at Fake Ginger and my Lady Marmalade brunch was the first savoury waffle meal to make it into my tummy!  Not to mention I just think it’s cute and fun when toppings get stuck in the little waffle squares.  I can’t wait for the day I buy and have my very own waffle iron in my own kitchen because there are so many flavour and topping combinations I want to play around with.  And I am very giddy about the possibility of introducing a Hello Kitty waffle iron to the kitchen crew of appliances and tools as well!

Now, I know I said I preferred savoury breakfast items over sweet ones (which is hard to believe since I have such sweet teeth), but after seeing my dear friend Lindsay order T&T’s strawberries and whipped cream waffle on more than one occasion, I knew it was her favourite and I knew I had to have it.  I loved waffles, I felt like a waffle, and I really wanted to a part of the deliciousness, so I caved and ordered myself one during a recent Sunday morning breakfast outing with a friend and was rewarded with one of the best waffles I have ever had in my life.

The waffle breakfast ($5.89) is comprised of one large fluffy and crispy waffle ladled with juicy and sweet strawberries in syrup, four mountains of fluffy whipped cream, and several thick slices of scrumptious extra crispy bacon.  I go through stages where I truly believe I’m a sausage type of girl (me and breakfast sausage are dear friends and you should see me go to town with Italian, Polish, and Oktoberfest sausages!), but when I get around to eating some great bacon every so often, I’m reminded of how much I enjoy that too and come to the conclusion that I’m just game for either, any time.  T&T’s bacon is fabulous because of the crispyness and thickness and I’d say the taste and texture rivals that of cooked pancetta.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it too.

And then there’s the star of the show, the waffle!  What I love most about the strawberries and whipped cream waffles is how light and fluffy the waffles are on the inside and how they retain their shape and golden crispness on the outside.  We all know it’ll end up a bit messy and soft once you really dig into it mid-meal, but what you don’t want is a waffle that’s too moist and soppy from the get-go.  You can practically taste the golden browness of the waffle and it is just a delight to eat.  There’s lots of fresh strawberry slices and strawberry syrup in the middle and what I appreciate is the actual presence of strawberries as opposed to jam or preserves, and the four big swirls of whipped cream on each waffle quadrant makes the meal more fun and fluffy!

I’m a big lover of breakfast and brunch (I look forward to breakfast and lunch more than I do dinner!) and I’m excited to see what other fabulous waffle breakfasts I find!  I know off the top of my head there are a few great Belgain waffle places in the city so we’ll see how this year pans out waffle and breakfast-wise.  If it’s anything like the three I’ve featured on the blog so far, it’s going to be fantastic.

*****

T&T Bakery and Café is located at 35 Main Street Markham at the intersection of Highway 7 and Markham Rd., just north of Highway.7 and on the east side of Markham Rd.

Friends & Great Breakfast Food – Salmon Sandwiches, Home Fries, & Vanilla Milkshakes at T&T Bakery & Cafe

Leave a comment

Going to T&T Bakery & Cafe for breakfast turned into a holiday and winter tradition for myself and my friends several years ago when we gathered together for a meal to catch up with each other’s lives.  Since then, we’ve done coffee shops here and there when an early morning T&T breakfast wasn’t an option, but in total, T&T has made its way into our holiday and winter memories for three years and I find myself looking forward to every breakfast meal here during the gray winter months.  Like Winterlicious, it’s a beacon of light. 

I can eat breakfast here at any time and at any point in the year, but I love coming here during the winter the most.  Located on Main Street Markham, coming here with a little bit of snow and chill in the air feels quaint, magical almost.  T&T may not have pages and pages of menu items, but it’s the wholesome goodness and simplicity (not to mention fabulous portions!) that keeps me coming back for more.

T&T’s turkey pot pie, Christmas shortbread cookies, and crunchy, ooey gooey grilled cheese with veggies were both introduced on the blog last year and today, I’m finally read to post and write about some of their famous breakfast dishes!  Breakfast was actually what drew me in and what made me fall in love with the cozy smalltown cafe and bakery and judging by the crowds, I’m not the only one who adores their breakfasts and baked goods.  There are seven permanent, everyday breakfast dishes on their menu ($5.09-$6.87): 1) 2 poached eggs, bacon, home fries, toast, and beans; 2) 2 fried eggs, bacon, homenfries, and toast; 3) Peameal bacon on a bun; 4) French toast with bacon; 5) Pancakes with bacon; 6) Blueberry pancakes with bacon; 7) Waffle with strawberries, whipped cream, and bacon.  As you can tell, bacon is the name of the game at T&T and this is perfect for the MANY bacon lovers and fanatics out there and you know who you are!

I'm having a blast with my food up top!

Even though I haven’t blogged about their breakfast until now, trust me when I say that I’ve had their breakfast four times on four different occasions.  Where are all the photos?!  Well, I have two sets for you all today and tomorrow and the other two sets won’t be making it to the blog because 1) I didn’t take photos of one of them (shocking, I know!  It was years ago, before I started doing food photography full-time, and 2) the other meal was taken with my camera flash on and although the photo was okay a number of years ago for a photo album on my bookshelf, it’s not something I’d use as the main attraction.  Not to worry though, I see myself cycling through the breakfast menu eventually so the two meals I had from before will be eaten again in due time!

First up: home fries and a salmon salad sandwich!  Okay, so the salmon salad sandwich is actually part of the sandwich menu and not the breakfast menu, but what’s great about T&T is that you can order a sandwich any time you want!  The best thing about T&T sandwiches is the crispness and freshness of ingredients and the generous portions and fillings.  Sandwiches are super thick, simple, and delicious and prices range from $3.55-$5.19.  Their sandwiches aren’t exclusive to lunch and/or dinner hours and since I’ll eat a sandwich at any old hour, I had myself a salmon salad one.

It reminded me of my university days during the 2nd year of my undergrad when I used to order a salmon salad bagel sandwich with pickles for my early morning Children’s Literature class at the nearby coffee shop.  One of my friends used to roll his eyes and snicker at me whenever I brought my “weekly” sandwich into class; I swear it’s not as disgusting as it sounds!  This one was sans the pickles though.  Mine was a thick sandwich stuffed to the nines with salmon salad with some lettuce and tomato with a generous side of my favourite home fries!

Their home fries are what I look forward to the most when I’m here and I love that I can order a side of them for $2-$3 and get a plate of delicious crispy-on-the-outside, moist-and-tender-on-the-inside potato coins that are exactly like scalloped potatoes.  It’s great for sharing among friends and they are just the best because they’re not overcooked, overseasoned, or dry.  Some home fries, although great, need a little sauce or a little something to go with them.  Not these.  These are perfect the way they are because they maintain their starchy meatiness while at the same time tasting tender and soft.  They are so delicious and between friends, incredibly easy to scarf down!

And finally, no meal is complete with something to wash it all down so in addition to my favourite homefries, I ordered another one of my favourites: a milkshake!  Aside from King’s Cafe, T&T makes my favourite milkshakes because they’re so creamy and sweet with just the right amount of thickness to it.  A runny, diluted milkshake is gross while a milkshake that is too thick ends up being goopy and undrinkable (you might as well just give me a spoon for it because it ain’t going anywhere in a straw!), and I’m delighted to say that T&T’s milkshakes are neither. 

They come in the neapolitan flavours of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate ($2.38) and so far I’ve had their chocolate and vanilla and I love them both.  Although some may not care for the styrofoam cup, I know many will appreciate the tallness of it.  They serve giant milkshakes that are deliciously sweet and they give the cafe that hometown diner feel that everyone feels so comfortable in.

 

*****

T&T Bakery and Café is located at 35 Main Street Markham at the intersection of Highway 7 and Markham Rd., just north of Highway.7 and on the east side of Markham Rd.

Breakfast & Lunch Cafe By Day, Supper Club By Night – The Concept Space and Food Experience at The Depanneur, Part I

7 Comments

"Where interesting food things happen"

Have you ever been to a place that makes you feel so inspired, so excited, and so at home that you can’t believe it hasn’t always been a part of your life?  A place that makes you feel so full of life that all you want to do is soak in everything that goes on around you when you’re in this space?  If you have, you know the amazing sense of warmth and comfort I’m talking about.  If you haven’t, I’m about to tell you about the best foodie discovery I have made since I started Ate by Ate.  No wait, scratch that, the best foodie discovery I have EVER made.  I KNOW, this is a big deal!  You all know how I feel about finding gems around the city so when I say I’ve found a holy grail, you know it’s a monumental phenomenon.  Not only have I found a wonderful, exciting food spot in the city that serves healthy, delicious eats, but encompasses everything I love about food.

The Depanneur, located on College Street between Dufferin and Dovercourt, isn’t just an eatery that serves weekend brunch, organic food, and daily breakfasts and lunches.  It’s a concept space.  A breakfast and lunch cafe by day; a supper club by night.  The Depanneur holds workshops, cooking classes, serves breakfast and lunch, hosts themed dinner parties, provides an open kitchen space for passionate lovers of cooking and food, and functions as a launching pad for food entrepreneurs and independent food businesses.  I am so happy I got the chance to sit down with Len, owner and brains behind The Depanneur, to talk about the space and its contextual situation within the greater food community.

At the very heart of The Depanneur is community and accessibility: building relationships between neighbours, passerby, supper club members, chefs, and foodies; creating and maintaining an open, accessible space for budding bakers, chefs, and food entrepreneurs; introducing independent businesses and their products to the greater community; providing the community with healthy, organic food choices; and utilizing the cafe and kitchen space as a catalyst for change.  Change in the way we think about food experiences, and change in how we see our relationship to cooking and eating.

Known as the Rusholme Park Supper Club (named after the road the space is situated by), The Depanneur’s supper club is a huge part of Len’s enterprise.  On average, Depanneur hosts 6-8 supper clubs a month with different themes (Japanese home cooking!  Vegan TV dinner!  Mexican Mole!) and the idea behind these dinner events is to make cooking and eating more personal, more intimate, and more transparent.  Each supper club has 20 spots available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Those who are interested in upcoming supper clubs can sign up for Depanneur’s newsletter and mailing list or keep up-to-date with events through their Facebook page.  The dinner is an intimate, family, communal-style affair where everyone sits together around a large wooden table and watches as the chef prepares a meal right in front of all supper club attendees.  The chef then sits down and enjoys the meal with everyone there.

It’s a beautiful concept because it involves the idea of reciprocity in SO many ways.  The Depanneur basically hosts community dinner parties that offer an eating space and kitchen to budding chefs, and to anyone who just loves to cook and share their passion for food.  Chefs are reimbursed $20 per guest (therefore up to $400 if all 20 spots fill up) and it is entirely up to the chef how they wish to use the money.  They have complete creative freedom and control over the menu, ingredients, and how they wish to allocate their funds.  In a sense, the supper club is a stage in which chefs who aren’t necessarily professionals can shine and share their work and creativity in a positive, open environment. 

In addition, aside from the kitchen counter work space, there is no separation between the cafe space and kitchen.  Everything is completely accessible and transparent.  No frosted glass, no barriers, no hidden cooking.  The chef(s) can see you and you can see the them hard at work.  This type of space thus fosters a rich learning environment where supper clubbers can ask questions, learn about the ingredients and dishes, and so on.  It encourages discussion and it allows the relationship between guests, and between chef and guest, to blossom.

Finally, the act of joining the guests for dinner means that everyone involved has the opportunity to soak up the supper club experience.  It removes the sense of alientation that seeps in when one doesn’t get to enjoy the fruits of their labour so to speak.  The Depanneur gives those who wish to cook for an audience the opportunity to put on a delicious show, the chef in turn shares their passion and food with supper club guests, guests are able to provide feedback, and everyone is given an unforgettable eating experience.

There is so much more to The Depanneur and this is just the beginning!  I haven’t even begun to scrape the surface on all the wonderful things this space provides, but writing about the supper clubs is a start!  I’ll have part II for you all tomorrow where I’ll be talking about some of their workshops and classes, the rental kitchen, and yes, the delicious food!  I love this space and I am so happy I stumbled upon it several weeks ago.  I might just take the plunge, jump in with both feet, and use The Depanneur as my own cooking and baking launching pad.

*****

The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street.  You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.

The Hot Chocolate Series – Sipping a Silky Smooth Nutella Hot Chocolate on a Chilly Day at Le Gourmand Cafe

13 Comments

Our annual Santa Claus Parade graced us with cute and colourful floats this weekend, Christmas music is playing on the radio stations, and my mum has already harassed asked my brother and I for a list of things we’d like this Christmas (does two things really constitute a list?).  Christmas is just a little over a month away and each passing day feels more and more like a winter wonderland, sans the snow – for now.  There’s a cold nip in the air, I’m decked out in my oh-so-fashionable scarf and mitten ensemble, and instead of visions sugar plums dancing in my head, I have soup and hot chocolate partying in my tummy. 

The hot chocolate series is here!  Like I mentioned on my first Bits & Bites post, the hot chocolate series is one of two holiday and winter series I’m starting on the blog and after talking to my fellow Le Dolci icing sugar queen, Miya, today, I might squeeze in some peppermint posts in between too since I know some of you are huge fans!  I’m so excited to share this post with you all today because it involves NUTELLA!  Yes, nutella!  In hot chocolate form!  The chillier weather sounds a little more appealing now, doesn’t it?  Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but at least us throngs of nutella fans have another nutella yummy to enjoy in the city!  I’ve made it my mission to track down the best nutella food and drink items in and around the city and I’m very pleased that this does double duty for both the hot chocolate series and the future “5 Best” nutella post I’m working on. 

Hot chocolate has really taken on life of its own, going in a gourmet drink direction with all the different culinary interpretations: white chocolate hot chocolate, Mexican hot chocolate, chili hot chocolate, the list goes on!  And let’s not forget the childhood favourite, hot chocolate with marshmallows.  All it took was a chalkboard sign sitting on the sidewalk outside a cafe to entice me get the hot chocolate series in motion, a sign that I saw while riding the streetcar no less!  I saw the words “hot chocolate” as I passed by on the streetcar, along with a list underneath.  More than one kind?!  SOLD.  This visit to Le Gourmand, located by Spadina and Richmond, has been a long time coming.  Much like Fusaro’s Kitchen, I’ve passed by Le Gourmand countless times and just never went in.  Seeing that chalkboard sign was definitely the sign that I needed to finally see what yummy surprises this cafe had inside, and c’mon, the name of the cafe is me in a nutshell!  No, not glutton!  Gourmand as in a person who takes great pleasure in food and eating.  And that would be me!

Le Gourmand is a grocery cafe (similar to Fusaro’s in cafe layout and concept) that sells packaged truffles, cookies, chocolates, pastas, canned beans and tomatoes, jams and preserves, olives, olive oils, and balsamics among other pantry staples and sweets.  They serve a full breakfast, weekend brunch, and lunch menu chock full of sandwiches, salads, egg breakfasts, breakfast burritos, and more.  I came here for the first time for the hot chocolate, but I’m telling you, I’m coming back for breakfast and lunch one of these days because their menu of sandwiches and salads made my mouth water and I’m a sucker for breakfast/brunch food.

They have a full-length display of flaky croissants, pastries, and breakfast croissant sandwiches (including bacon, egg, and cheddar) that you can order by the cash while everything else is made to order.  Their coffee menu includes espressos, macchiatos, americanos, cafe lattes, cappuccinos, cafe mochas, chai lattes, and regular roast coffee.  I’m not a coffee drinker, so aside from the occasional latte, I always go for the teas instead and Le Gourmand has these yummy sounding iced drinks that I can’t wait to try!  I saw a raspberry-lemongrass ice tea and a mojito peppermint ice tea, both of which are on my mental “to-try” list.

As much as I would loooove to get into the breakfast and lunch menu, I’m going to save the food talk for next time and just entice you all with the drinks and nutella hot chocolate.  The cafe serves 5, count ’em, FIVE different types of hot chocolate!  They have a Belgian white hot chocolate, a French 32% caramel chocolate, a Dominican 64% bittersweet chocolate, an African 85% Grand  Cru, and finally, the Italian nutella hot chocolate.  I didn’t get the prices for a large, but small hot chocolates (which are really more like mediums, in my opinions) are $2.99, tax inclusive.

The photos honestly don’t do the hot chocolate justice.  The nutella hot chocolate is DELICIOUS.  Now I know what some of you must be thinking.  You’re thinking, “if you enjoy nutella, then it’s a no-brainer that you would enjoy this hot chocolate!”  Not necessarily.  Let it be known that some places use the name and branding of nutella to sell particular products that are not actually made with nutella.  I’m not kidding.  Some will use it as a guise to make you think you’re eating nutella when in reality it’s just chocolate.  Us foodies are not dumb and it’s insulting and disheartening that some would even think to do such a thing.  Those of us who love nutella know nutella when we taste and smell it.  And this hot chocolate is nutella through and through.  

It’s silky smooth, light and airy, and just slightly frothy on top.  It’s not a heavy hot chocolate in the sense that it’ll make you feel gross afterward, but when you drink it, it feels like you’re drinking something so decadent.  The rich cocoa flavour is what hits you first when you drink it and the very distinctive aroma and taste of the hazelnut that makes nutella what it is sits on your tastebuds after and the hot chocolate is so good it makes you want to go back for more.  Which is fine because we have the whole winter ahead of us to enjoy it. 

*****

Le Gourmand is located at 438 Richmond Street West at Spadina Ave.

Deb’s New Morning Haunt – Coffee, Tea, and Beautiful Country Kitchen Gifts and Goodies at La Merceria

6 Comments

Thanks to Lisa from Le Dolci, I am now aware of this beautiful gem of a coffee, tea, and giftwares shop!  I felt so silly the first time Lisa took me here because it’s located on a street I’ve been on a number of times and in a downtown neighbourhood I’m not entirely unfamiliar with.  Located near the intersection of Adelaide Street West and Portland Street (just east of Bathurst), La Merceria sits snuggly beside Sadie’s Diner and is wedged neatly between the Fashion Districts of King and Queen.  With a few mannequins standing in the storefront window draped with pretty scarves, I completely mistook the shop for being a hip clothing boutique and always strolled past, conveniently averting my eyes so as to not tempt myself with more pretty things.  I love accessories and clothes, yes, but we’re in the downtown core here; I want to come home with something in my wallet.  I often avoid independent boutiques like the plague not because I don’t want to own all the gorgeous garments they have to offer, but because window shopping in such shops just makes me heart whimper a little.

So when Lisa took me here, I was shocked out of my pants to find out that La Merceria was in fact not a clothing boutique but was instead a fusion of 1) a gift shop, 2) a kitchen housewares store, and 3) a coffee and tea cafe with drinks and food.  I could have died right there on the spot.  It walked in and it was like a halo of light floated around me.  This cafe and shop is beautiful.  So country chic, so bright and clean, and so wonderfully cozy.  Think wood floors, wood chairs, wood tea tables, cushiony seats and pillows, brilliant sunlight streaming through the front windows and door, and shelves and tables lined and stocked with some of the most adorable kitchen housewares, accesssories, stationery, and gifts imaginable. 

It’s perfect for the cafe lover, droolworthy for those in love with interior decorating, and just dangerous for the kitchen accessory fanatic.  Oh, this was bad.  This might have been even worse than a clothing boutique.  And all because I couldn’t stop ogling the lavender and powder blue tea cups, dishes, and tea towels.  Oh, and the tote bags in the back of the shop.  And the cute stationery.  And the rest of the shop.

As Lisa informed me, the owners of La Merceria hail from Argentina and many of the drinks, artwork, and interior design and decorating in the shop show off this cultural heritage.  I can’t wait to show you guys more of the food and coffee drinks they have here in future posts; I may not be a coffee drinker but I’m sure I can make an exception every once in awhile 😉  They have both hot and chilled coffee drinks (lattes, americanos, espressos, mochas, and more) and they also have lemonades and In terms of food, think more along the lines of light breakfast and lunch, snacks, and tea time with crunchy cream cheese toasted bagels, quiche pies, salads, sandwiches, small baguettes and biscuits, cookies and sweets, and vegan, dairy and nut-free desserts from Sweets From the Earth.  I am so excited to actually have some food here.  The quiches, biscuit cookies, and cute biscuit sandwiches were calling my name!

For the time being though, my favourite thing to do here (aside from staring at all the pretty things I want to buy) is to sit down at one of the lovely wooden tables by the front with the squishy cushions behind me with a hot cup of tea.  They serve a selection of yummy Tealish teas and thus far I’ve had their Sweetie Pie Rooibos and Tahitian Moon Vanilla Rooibos and between the two I’m definitely in love with the Sweetie Pie!  What I absolutely adore about La Merceria and their “tea”ness is how they serve it!  The tea is served in giant glass or ceramic mugs on a dish with a little spoon (to stir with or to add honey or sugar) and the cutest little shortbread cookie biscuit!  This biscuit with my tea just makes my morning.  I may not have been to every cafe in town, but I can assure you that no other place I’ve been to serves their tea like this.  It makes me so giddy and I love starting my morning this way.  It’s the kind of place you envision yourself having a sunny bite in or a great coffee or tea date.  It’s so peaceful, relaxing, and beautiful being here and I love it.  This, my lovelies, is my new morning haunt.

 

*****

La Merceria is located at 506 Adelaide Street West by the northwest corner of Adelaide and Portland Street, east of Bathurst.  La Merceria is located beside Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar.  Visit their website and blog here for updates, info, promos, events, pictures, and contact information and visit their Facebook page here.   

Vegetarian Sandwich Series: Grilled Mushroom Goat Cheese Wrap & Curry Egg Salad at Hank’s

Leave a comment

Here’s a secret, and maybe even a tip for those who want some inspiration: even though I make a lot of my foodie discoveries all on my own just by walking around, I have a little help finding out about a lot of others.  When I feel like roaming around the interwebs for yummylicious places that might be up my alley, I actually look up Winterlicious and Summerlicious listings and menus and jot down notes! 

And I mean actual notes, as hastily scrawled as they are.  I have a page in my Muffymade notebook with scribbles of places I want to revisit, a page dedicated to places I want to nosh at in the near future, random photos of places to keep in mind when I’m in a hurry and can’t whip my notebook and pen out, and a word document saved on my computer specifically devoted to “places of interest” taken from past Winterlicious and Summerlicious listings.  I think to myself, if the menus during the price fixe events intrigued me so much that I was compelled to take notes, there has to be something of substance on the regular menu and these places are probably something pretty special.  And that’s how I felt about Hank’s.

Hank’s is a fresh and lovely breakfast and lunch diner, located on Church St. just south of Front St. East and sandwiched between Wine Bar and Great Burger Kitchen.  The restaurant is used to hold private functions and parties in the evenings, but it’s best to call them in advance to see what their hours are as I noticed a note on their chalkboard when I went about a change in evening dining hours.  Hank’s is crisp, clean, and kind of like a breath of fresh air with their open French doors, and white and gray decor with pops of red and shimmering chandeliers and lights.  The diner is spacious and roomy with more intimate booths and table further into the diner for intimate social gatherings, a few bar tables and stools for those having a drink, and two tables beside the open French doors with cushy seats and round tables for that perfect breezy lunch.  It’s exactly like being out on a nice patio with the fresh air without actually being outside.

I was so curious about Hanks’s from the Winterlicious and Summerliciuous appearances that I looked them up and browsed their regular menu online.  To my delight, there was a ton of food totally worth going for on a regular non-Winter/Summerlicious day including their weekday breakfast menu and large weekend brunch menu, as well as a host of lunchtime sandwiches and other diner eats.  Prices for lunch will probably run you an average of $6-$10 (before taxes), and brunch floats around the $7-$11 mark.  I can’t blog about this just yet, but for non-vegetarians and vegans (basically carnis) you absolutely MUST order the smoked chicken poutine.  It will change your life.  But, more about that another time!   I know, I’m a tease. 

I noticed several vegetarian sandwich items on the menu and thought, “sweet, an even better reason to give this place a go!  I’ll get to add to my blog series!”  Aside from their daily specials which could include vegetarian items (a daily soup, maybe an omelette or frittata, and a lunch main), Hank’s has three vegetarian sandwich lunch options on their day-to-day, regular menu:

  1. Mushroom and goat cheese wrap with roasted garlic and white bean, spinach, sweet red peppers, and pickled onions
  2. Sweet chili tofu pita with avocado, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, and sun dried tomatoes
  3. Deviled egg salad sandwich with green onions, curried mayo, paprika and lettuce

What’s really nice is that a number of their sandwich lunch items come in half portions at, obviously, a lesser price.  Granted, even though getting a whole portion would be more worth your money, it’s great for people like me and others who want to try more than one item but can’t eat two full portions or can’t afford paying for two at full price!  I was lucky because the two menu items I was contemplating on having had that option, so I chose the mushroom and goat cheese wrap and the deviled egg salad sandwich.  Win-win!  The tortilla wrap was awesomely grilled and it was stuffed with tons of juicy, fresh vegetables.  It was so full of crunchy spinach leaves (there was probably a very generous fistful in it), sweet red onions (not raw but pickled, so they were soft red onions that had less of that spicy bite), and soft juicy red peppers and plump mushrooms with creamy goat cheese.  I loved both of my lunch items but if I had to choose a favourite, the deviled egg salad sandwich knocked it out of the park.

This is not your ho-hum egg salad sandwich in your old kiddie lunch box.  This egg salad was SO flavourful and so delicious.  When I read the description, it sounded great but I had my reservations.  Not because I thought it wouldn’t taste good, but because I was unsure how the curry and paprika flavours would play out.  I was afraid that the flavours would be too subtle and that it would end up getting lost, thus reducing my egg salad sandwich to ho-hum status.  When something says curry, you expect that great punch of flavour.  This sandwich was so not ho-hum.  I could eat an entire mixing bowl of this egg salad because it’s that good.  The mix of spices is so perfect and when I bit into it each time, the flavours were reminiscent of the savoury curry sauces I loved so much from Indian and Chinese places.  The lettuce added a great dimension of crunch and the bread…oh the bread.  Delicious stuff.  Hank uses Fred’s Bread and for the egg salad sandwich, they used Fred’s whole grain variety.

The neighbourhood Hank’s is located in is super convenient because it’s just steps away from the St. Lawrence Market and the “greater” downtown core, and walking distance from Union Station making it easily accessible by public transit.  The atmosphere is great and I’m so glad my ridiculous note-taking paid off because I have found myself (and others, if you’re interested in trying them out!) yet another wonderful breakfast and lunch spot that I can’t wait to go back to.

 

*****

Hank’s is located at 9 1/2 Church St. (no, that’s not a typo, 9 1/2!), just south of Front St. East.  They are open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week and offer a weekend brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays.  They are open from 7am-5pm on weekdays, and from 8am-4pm on weekends.  Call them if you’re interested in dining there for dinner as they have changed their hours for the evenings.  The diner is also available for private parties and corporate events.  Click here to view their website and menus.