Summer Food Throwdown – Southern BBQ, Colombian Dinner & *NEW* Tasting Plates at The Depanneur!

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More food, more yumminess at The Depanneur!

Upcoming Food Events & News at The Depanneur

In addition to The Dep’s fab drop-in dinners, supper clubs, workshops, and classes, the cafe menu has expanded!  Not only can you stop in for their famous frittata breakfast sandwiches and grilled cheese, but now you can also feast on tasting plates full of seasonal, local food!  Each week The Dep will be offering up a handful of dishes that you can pick and choose from for $3 each.  Have one, have two, or have all 5 and create your very own tasting plate masterpiece!  There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options to go around, and just think, you can combine any one of these tasting dishes with one of their soups and sandwiches to make your meal extra special!  This week: roasted potato salad with a creamy lemon herb dressing; spicy carrot salad with feta; grilled plums with honeyed ricotta; organic mixed greens with apple cider vinaigrette; and homemade oatcakes, grilled sourdough or walnut-raisin toast.

*Upcoming Drop-In Dinners and Supper Clubs*

Friday Night Drop-In Dinner: Colombian Ajiaco with Cookie Martinez, July 27.  6pm-8pm.  1033 College Street.  $12 including tax.  Join South American cuisine and cookie baking guru, Cookie Martinez (you may have tasted her wares at the Liberty Village Soft Choice office markets!), for a summer feast of chicken stew straight from her home of Colombia.  Known as ajicaco, this is a hearty bowl of chicken, corn, capers, creme fraiche, cilantro and creamy yellow potato (papa criolla) distinctive to Colombia’s capitol of Bogota.  This meal becomes even more amazing with a side of rice, avocado, and crispy, melt-in-your-mouth fresh corn arepa.  Grab a seat and enjoy a summer evening at The Dep!

Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur: Texas vs. Tennessee BBQ Throwdown, August 11.    7:30pm-10:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40 supper club membership for the night.  Get down and dirty with southern fare as Texas squares off with Tennessee in a BBQ battle like no other at this southern tour supper club!  Savour food the Texan way with slow-cooked, dry rubbed beef brisket and succotash while sinking your teeth in Tennessee style ribs dripping in a smoky, sticky whiskey sauce and sweet molasses baked beans.  End the night on a sweet note with southern pecan pie!  http://www.facebook.com/events/467269889959034/

Rusholme Park Supper Club at The Depanneur: Summer Lovin’ with Emily Zimmerman, August 12.  7:30pm-10:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $4o supper club membership for the night.  Bask in the lazy days of summer with seasonal, local, vegan feast by Chef Emily Zimmerman!  Emily has been cooking up and hosting supper clubs at The Dep for months now and she’s back again for an August evening dinner bash showcasing the beauty of Ontario food.  Enjoy stuffed summer vegetables with arugula pesto, buckwheat crepes with homemade fruit chutney, tomato, and spiced chickpeas bitter greens with strawberry balsamic, and a fabulous cherry-berry cupcake trifle with lemon coconut cream!  http://www.facebook.com/events/439514426070944/  

AND, be sure to check out the mini farmer’s market on Tuesdays from 4:30pm-7:30pm out on the side patio, the truckload of frozen summer treats on hand (Augie’s Ice Pops and Organic Meadow ice cream!), and Pork Ninja drop-in dinners EVERY THURSDAY for the summer!

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The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) with a number of cooking classes, food workshops, drop-in dinners, and supper clubs throughout the month, which you can keep up with on the Food Calendar or on their Twitter @TheDepanneur.  Their cafe operating hours are as follows: Tuesday-Friday 8am-6pm (6pm onward for Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday drop-in dinners), and Saturday-Sunday 9am-6pm for weekend brunch and lunch (6pm onward for supper clubs).  You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.

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Tea & Cupcakes for One – Fruity Peach Green Tea, Mango Cupcakes, & Pink Tea Pots at The Wedding Cake Shoppe

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My love of tea has finally reached its peak – and I think it’s going to enjoy its reign up at the top of my “Things I Love Dearly” list for a long time!  I am happy to report that I am now drinking tea 5 days a week (sometimes 6; it varies) and that I’ve developed a nice little routine for myself the same way java fanatics gulp down their coffee in the morning.  I’ve been alternating between coconut green tea, sticky toffee pudding, and my cute little box of Celestial Seasoning fruit flavours in blueberry, raspberry, black cherry, and country peach. 

Never did I think I would love tea this much though.  Growing up, my only brush with tea was at dim sum restaurants.  Then bubble tea and loose leaf tea entered my world and everything changed.  I daydream about the type of tea I’m going to get during my next tea run.  I keep up with all the new seasonal flavours that come out, ready to be sniffed from their canisters and sipped from mugs and tea cups.  And like clothes and accessories, I coordinate and match my tea to my cupcakes.  It’s not an obsession, it’s enthusiasm!

So, for the first time ever, I am posting about cupcakes without actually talking about cupcakes.  All I will say is that Wedding Cake Shoppe’s fruity mango cream cupcake on vanilla is delightful and like mango mousse on vanilla clouds.  My dear sweet cupcakes will just have to share the spotlight on this one because the tea is clearly the star of the show!  Make way for the sweet and lovely peach green tea and mango cupcake from The Wedding Cake Shoppe!

My previous Wedding Cake Shoppe posts solely focused on cupcakes, scrapbooking, and beautiful decor and while all of those things still play a huge part in my personal Wedding Cake Shoppe experience, I am absolutely smitten with their loose leaf tea.  I KNOW.  Tea.  And cupcakes.  With cupcakes.  At a wedding cake shop.  I love Toronto.  Given how the shop has ample space and seating, it’s totally feasible to sit down with a cuppa and cupcake (or macaron!  Or all three if you’re feeling adventurous) for a quiet, peaceful afternoon.  Their drink menu is actually pretty awesome as it consists of coffee drinks (americanos for $2, lattes and cappuccinos for $3.25), homemade hot chocolate ($3.50), cold glasses of milk at $2.50 (perfect for the milk and chocolate enthusiasts at heart!), and LOTS of loose leaf tea!  Priced at $2.25, flavours include earl grey, chamomile, green sencha, English breakfast, chai raspberry, fruit explosion, peppermint, jasmine, vanilla rooibos, and my beloved pick, peach green tea.

I love the fact that Cindy and Sarah serve tea and drinks at their shop to go along with their cupcakes and macarons, yes, BUT, what I love even more?  THE TEA PRESENTATION AND ACCESSORIES!  The shop is all colour, freshness, sweetness, and beauty so I shouldn’t have expected any less when it came to their tea and drinks (just look at the gorgeous, dainty pink plate that accompanied my chocolate banana cream pie cupcake the last time!), but I was still taken aback by how fabulous their tea “service” was!  I didn’t get my tea in a paper cup.  I didn’t even get my tea in a mug.  I got my piping hot peach green tea in a freakin’ adorable pink and gold tea pot/teacup set!  You know, the type of tea pot that looks like a whole teapot but is really the kind that has a tea cup for a bottom?  Yes, one of those.  And when I gushed to Sarah about how cute the tea pot was, she told me her and Cindy find great accessories along Queen West so there you go!

It was like getting the 5-star treatment.  And for $2.25?!  Jackpot!  Peach green tea is my favourite cold bubble tea to get when I’m out and this hot loose-leaf version didn’t disappoint.  It was an amazing fruity tea that tasted just like bubble tea but hot.  It didn’t have a gritty aftertaste, it certainly didn’t taste like diluted flavoured hot water, and it was bright, crisp, and delicious with my sweet and creamy mango cupcake.  Even though Cindy and Sarah are up to their eyeballs in wedding orders and cake decorating, they really do a fantastic job with making every visit to their shop a memorable, happy experience and that is what’s so special to me.  I mean, seriously, every single time I’m there new fresh flowers in vases are sitting on every table, the shop is immaculate, and every visit feels like a fresh start.  Cupcakes and tea aren’t just food and drink to me; they mean so much more when you enjoy them in a welcoming atmoshphere that is beautiful on the inside and out.      

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The Wedding Cake Shoppe is located at 859 College Street, just west of Ossington Ave.  They are open 6 days a week (closed on Tuesdays) and their weekday hours are from 11am-7pm, weekend hours from 11am-5pm.  You can check out their official website here, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Amazing Feta & Ontario Asparagus Egg Frittata Sandwich, and Upcoming Food Events at The Depanneur!

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In less than a week, we’ll be kicking off the official first day of summer (although if you ask me, summer came knocking on our door two months ago and I’ve been sweating it out and being wimpy about it ever since) and things are certainly heating up at The Depanneur!  With new supper clubs, workshops, and more drop-in dinners than ever before, the dogs days of summer are looking mighty tasty and promising!  Not only has The Depanneur upped the ante on their weekly drop-in dinners from once a week to 3 times a week, but they’ve also opened up a sweet little terrace out front on the side for more good food action.  Kawartha farms and ecological growers have teamed up with The Depanneur to host a market on the terrace every Tuesday from 4pm-7pm.  It’s the perfect combo: a farmers’ market straight from the source AND a drop-in dinner (6pm) to enjoy at the same time!  Here’s what we have to look forward to in the next little while:

  • Paleo Dinner with Summer Innanen of Haute Life – Rusholme Park Supper Club, June 24.  7:30pm-10:30pm.  1033 College Street.  $40 supper club membership for the night.  Sit back and relax with fellow supper club members at this easy, breezy Paleo-inspired meal prepared by holistic nutritionist and owner of Haute Life, Summer Innanen.  The Paleo diet is comprised of meat, fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, and fats such as coconut and avocado, while at the same time excluding processed and refined sugars, grains, dairy, and legumes.  Summer’s menu will include dishes such as 100% grass-fed braised blade roast with roasted seasonal vegetables and a seasonal berry tart with whipped cream among great food spreads.  It’s a great chance to explore a different diet and that could very well impact your habits and lifestyle, so c0me on out for a fab ‘Summer’ meal!  http://www.facebook.com/events/481088045249968/

  • Make Your Own Condiments with Kate Leinweber – Workshop, July 11.  6pm-9pm.  1033 College Street.  $67 +HST/person.  Let’s face it – some of our favourite store-bought sauces and condiments are, unfortunately, loaded with excess sodium, sugars, and preservatives.  We love them, but wouldn’t it be fabulous to learn and explore the art of making your own spreads and dips?  Join holistic nutritionist and microbiologist, Kate Leinweber, at this do-it-yourself workshop solely devoted to fermenting and whipping up delicious condiments such as mustards, mayos, ketchups, and more.  This workshop is comprised of an educational and learning component and sit-down dinner and social hour where everyone will have the opportunity to try their homemade creations alongside a delicious slow-cooked tagine.  http://www.facebook.com/events/378207642216568/ 

In addition to the drop-in dinners, supper clubs, workshops, and Kawartha partneship,the frittata breakfast sandwiches just keep getting better and better!  I’ve had their breakfast sandwiches 3 times now ($4 for half, $7 for a whole) and the latest was their best EVER: feta and Ontario asparagus egg frittata with greens, smothered in a thyme and paprika flavoured mayo, sandwiched between two slice of grilled sourdough bread.  The bread was so toasty and crunchy and it tasted just like crostini with olive oil, and the egg frittata was AMAZING.  It was so super thick and the asparagus and feta made it crunchy and creamy all at the same time and the mayo, with its slight kick from the paprika, was just foodgasmic.  I would have eaten this sauce by the spoonful, slathered it on everything, and dipped everything in it.  Just thinking about the sandwich now makes me hungry for more.  This was my favourite egg frittata sandwich so far and I’m mighty curious to see if any future sandwiches can top this one!  Hands down, the best $4 I ever spent on breakfast.

Upcoming drop-in dinners for this week, and supper clubs and workshops happening later on in the month and early July will be posted soon!  I’ll be updating this post and The Depanneur’s Food Calendar page as soon as I get the weekly news.  And if you happen to stop by, pick up the latest issue of City Bites magazine while you’re at it too!  I hope everyone’s enjoying their weekend!

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The Depannuer is located at 1033 College Street between Dovercourt Rd. and Dufferin Street.  They are open from Tuesday to Sunday (closed on Mondays) with a number of cooking classes, food workshops, drop-in dinners, and supper clubs throughout the month, which you can keep up with on the Food Calendar or on their Twitter @TheDepanneur.  You can view The Depannuer’s Facebook page here.

The Little Black Dress of Italian – Meats, Cheeses, Antipasti, and Learning Italian Food at Black Skirt, Part I

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Even though I love Italian food, I’ll be the first to admit that I know very little about the cultural nuances and regional differences in Italian cuisine.  I can rave on and on about how much I love mozzarella di bufala and pappardelle but I can’t tell you what specific region they originated from or where these delights are most commonly produced – and no, Googling doesn’t solve everything!  Yes, much of this information can be looked up with a few keyboard taps, but that’s not the same as really knowing your craft because you’ve genuinely examined those nuances. 

This lack of regional knowledge is something that I want to change very much, not only because learning about food is good in general but also because I’m genuinely fascinated by differences in cuisine within the same country.  I would quiz my dad for hours about the regional cuisines of China and I would dig into my childhood memories, recalling everything I could about the different types of Chinese food I would eat with my grandparents and my aunt and uncle.

        

It’s so easy to lump food under one monolithic, ethnic umbrella to “simplify” things.  I know Italian cuisine can be one of those misnomers in the restaurant industry where any place that serves spaghetti is considered Italian and I’m sure this drives many Italians and foodies absolutely crazy.  I know it drives me up the wall when people associate fried rice and chop suey with Chinese food and nothing but.  Thus, we end up rendering the most interesting, fascinating aspects of a regional cuisine invisible and inaccesible when this happens.  Just think, we have the regional cuisines of Tuscany, Sicily, Bologna, Naples, and so many others to explore and I really hope I’ll be able to flush some of this knowledge out within the city and learn as I go along.  This is learning experience and curve for me so if you know it all, humour me, and if you don’t, join me!  We can learn on this food journey together and it’ll be jolly good and delicious fun!

Black Skirt, located on College Street in the west end, is a lovely Sicilian restaurant that is part rustic, part shabby chic, and part bistro and wine bar all rolled into one.  While the back end is much more conducive to intimate dining, the front half of Black Skirt exudes that warm, comforting, homey glow that makes you feel so happy and relaxed when you eat.  You can see yourself sitting by the front table bar by the sunny window with the newspaper, sipping a coffee drink and enjoying a crunchy, grilled panini or crostini; you envision yourself having a lunch date with a friend, admiring the exposed brick wall and the mouthwatering salads and sandwiches; and you imagine sharing forkfuls of antipasto and steaming plates of fresh pasta with your loving significant other on a wonderful night out.  This is what I think of when I think about going back to Black Skirt.

I loved my first time here – so much so that I wanted to come back the next day so I could down a delicious plate of pasta!  That, or a panini.  Or another antipasto plate.  There’s a lot of wonderful food here.  And there are daily specials every day for both lunch and dinner to switch things up, including special Italian meat and cheese paninis and pasta dishes that aren’t offered on their permanent menu.  In hindsight, I should have taken advantage of one of the daily special pastas (pistachios!) because it sounded amazing, but there will always be future meals here (you can count on it) and I’ll just have to cross my fingers that I’ll come across it again.

Continue reading about my Black Skirt experience in my Part II post here where I discuss their all-over-the-Italy map menu, and their wild mushroom crostini and Sicilian muffaleta sandwich among Italian eats!

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Black Skirt is located at 974 College Street in the west end of Toronto, in between Dufferin Street and Ossington Ave.  The Italian eatery is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 10am-10pm.  Along with their permanent menu, Black Skirt offers a dinner menu for 5pm onward and daily specials every day including a daily soup, daily special Italian meat and cheese panini sandwiches, and pasta.