A European Bakery, Deli, Cheese Shop, and Sweet Shop All in One – Solero Mediterranean Bakery in The Junction!

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The west end of the city just keeps bringing on the amazing bakeries!  After a brief glimpse into the foodie and bakery scene in Roncesvalles Village and Bloor West Village, I figured it was time to give The Junction some love!  I would give you all the link to the indepth Junction post I wrote in the spring, but the internet sometimes works in funny (read: aggravating) ways and my beloved Junction post magically disappeared one day, lost forever and never to be seen again.  Some of might even remember it because it focused on vegetarian, vegan, and organic food in the area in addition to the history of the community and its introduction to the blog. 

I can’t even tell you how exasperated I feel about this, especially considering the post was part of the official Junction community blog.  I still haven’t been able to muster the brain power and heart to write the post from scratch all over again (I don’t even know how to begin to reconstruct an entire blog post from 7 months ago from memory), but one day I will because the black hole does not sit well with me! 

In a nutshell, the Junction community name is quite literal: the crossing of railways, specifically of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National.  Its name pays homage to the area’s deep, historical manufacturing roots in Toronto and much of this history continues to define the identity of the neighbourhood, with train graffiti art and murals on the side of buildings and Junction banners attached to lamp posts, proudly displaying images of the iconic railway tracks.  There’s plenty of the food in the area, with everything from vegetarian and vegan restaurants and bakeries to coffee shops to diners and organic markets.  Solero Bakery, located on Dundas West in the hubbub of the The Junction community just west of Keele Street, is such a gem.

Solero is a delicatessen, bakery, and pantry grocery shop all in one.  The deli portion of the shop serves fresh cheeses and meats, the bakery boasts loaves and loaves of bread, pastries, cookies, cakes, and sweets, and the grocery section is well stocked with staples such as jarred jams, olives, antipasto, bags of coffee and tea, spices, mixes, and sweets such as candies, biscuits, wafers, chocolates, and more.  

Everything about Solero screams European, especially Eastern European.  It’s here that you’ll find sweets from Croatia and Serbia: KiKi toffees and fruit candies (with their signature bright coloured packaging and clown logos!), Jadro milk and cocoa wafers, Napolitanke hazelnut wafers (Croatian), and Serbiam Yo D’Oro wafers and Eurovafel wafers with hazelnut cream filling.  There’s horseradish relish from Slovenia and some Western European treats from the UK, such as Jaffa cakes!  I’m a huuuge fan of European cream wafers and if I had to choose between Chinese ones and European ones, the European ones would win hands down.  They’re just so much more creamy and you need that in a cream wafer because otherwise, the wafer part is too dry and unappetizing to eat. 

In the deli, you’ll find cold cuts (turkeys, hams, salamis, pastrami, corned beef, and roast beef among others), sausages, Polish kolbasa, and a large variety of European cheeses.  Aside from different types of havarti and cheddar and a selection of gouda, provolone, brie, mozzarella, and asiago, Solero carries Danish blue cheese Rosenborg, edam Dutch cheese, kefalograviera Greek cheese, and Jarlsberg Norweigan cheese.  

I’m a lover of cheese and just looking at the menu board makes me salivate.  All I can think of is, “I am going to grab some bread from the bakery, get some meat and cheese slices, and slap me a sandwich!”  There’s so much cheese here that I’ve never tried or even heard of and I can’t wait to get my hands and tastebuds on some fresh cheeses and deli items for sandwiches one day.  Everything is priced by weight (per 100g) and their selection varies depending on their supply.  If they don’t have it, they cover up the menu item listed on the menu board and leave the items they do have out in the open uncovered.

I mean it when I say I need to come back here to make me a fresh sandwich because their bakery is wonderful.  They had a wall of fresh baked bread, a glass case with cakes and mini desserts, and wooden trays of pastries and cookies that included muffins, poppy seed and walnut streusels, cherry, lemon, and apple danishes, apple turnovers, chocolate croissants, broccoli and spinach pies, gingerbread man cookies, and sugar cookies with sprinkles!  My favourites were the little pink sprinkled ducky and bunny cookies!

I was in awe of the prices.  I couldn’t believe that there were giant loaves of rye, caraway, calabrese, French, and Italian bread for $0.75, $1.75 and $2!  I know I’m not the only one who sadly sighs about rising food prices these days, so it made me so happy to see such reasonable prices for bread here and I’m so looking forward to taking my mum and my brother here someday.  They love bread so much and I usually stand back and let them have their fun picking out all the bread they want because I’m pretty indifferent about it.  I know they’re going to love Solero so much and as my brother said, “we’ll shop Supermarket Sweep style!”  I don’t doubt that.  While they’re picking out eleventy billion loaves of bread, I’ll be filling up a basket with cheese, chocolate, and wafers.  I cannot wait to go back.

 

*****

Solero Mediterranian Bakery is located at 3029 Dundas Street West in The Junction neighbourhood, west of Keele Street.

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For the Sweet Princess in All of Us – Fudgy, Chocolate Frosted “Fairy Flower” Cupcakes from All The Best

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This post is for all of us girls who used to put on glittery fairy wings and dreamed we could fly.  For all of us who love sparkly things.  For all of us who know how to enjoy the sweet things in life.  For those of us who used to skip along, picking flowers up along the way.  For those of us who are sugar and spice and all things nice, but who can still kick major ass when the situations calls for it.  This post is for every cupcake lover out there who loves all things pretty and all things chocolatey, fudgy, and deliciously frosty.  I present to you, chocolate fudge frosted cupcakes from gourmet market All the Best!

Like many of my foodie discoveries, All the Best was unexpected and accidental.  Over a year ago, I had never explored the Summerhill and Rosedale area (so basically the stretch of Yonge St. north of Bloor but south of St. Clair) so one day I thought, “I wonder what’s there, let’s give it a whirl” and did that day ever turn out to be a fun one!  Even though it wasn’t a part of town I initially thought of as foodie, I was excited to see what was around and there were some real nice finds, things like tea shops, gourmet pastries shops, and individual stores for cheeses, meat, and fish. 

All the Best, located on Yonge St. just steps away from Summerhill subway station, is a catering and gourmet food business and a meca of foodie goodness.  Like Daniel & Daniel in Cabbagetown, it’s a great place to pick up salads and food for picnics and lunches to go.  Up in the front, there are loaves of fresh bread and baguettes, and shelves upon shelves of jams, jellies, preserves, honey, tomato sauce, pesto, spreads, coffee beans, candies, chocolates, and packages of sugar cookies and sweets.  Further in the back, you’ll find the gourmet cheeses, and deli sandwiches and salads.  They also offer a selection of seasonal kitchenwares and accessories, as well as cookbooks.  Right behind the deli sits the bakery full of tarts, meringue shells, cakes, and rows and rows of sugar cookies.  Oh, and cupcakes of course 😉 

On any given day, All the Best offers four flavours of cupcakes for $2.75 a pop: red velvet, carrot cake, vanilla, and chocolate.  Think fun cupcakes with lots of coloured sprinkles, sprinkled sugar, and thick frosting.  I’ll definitely report back when I see other flavours, but for the time being, All the Best focuses on several simple flavours of cake and frosting with dainty, pretty toppers and decorations.

I call these my “fairy flower” chocolate cupcakes!  So pretty and so cute, they make me want to prance around sprinkling fairy dust on everything.  These are chocolate cake cupcakes with rich, thick chocolate frosting and adorable edible, sugary candy flowers dotted with a tiny edible pearl.  While the cake is good, it’s the frosting that wins me over.  It’s SO DAMN GOOD.  It’s sweet without being cavity-inducing sweet and the thickness of the frosting is perfect.  It’s not a thin buttercream, yet it’s not a super thick frosting that will stick to the roof of your mouth.  It’s the kind of chocolatey, rich frosting that you imagine yourself secretly dipping your finger into on a cake.  And the pretty edible flower was melt-in-your-mouth sweet.  It was such a nice touch. 

On this particular morning they had so many pretty colours of candy fairy flowers on their chocolate cupcakes: red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and purple.  How does an indecisive girl like me choose which cupcake she wants?  Take a wild stab and guess how I chose the colour I wanted.  Answer: I chose the pretty lilac purple one because it matched my outfit 😀  In a world where cupcake flavours know no boundaries, sometimes it’s really nice to have a good old fashioned fudgy chocolate cupcake with amazing frosting that makes you want to eat it by the spoonful.

*****

All the Best Fine Foods is locted at 1101 Yonge St. just south of Summerhill subway station on the east side of Yonge St.  It is next to Harvest Wagon and across the street from The Rosedale Diner.  For more info, check out their website here.

Desserts & Sweet Treats – The Brazil Bakery & Pastry Ltd. Discovery on My Dundas West Trek

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It’s for this reason that I have my camera with me every day 😀  I never know what I’m going to come across on when I explore neighbourhoods I’ve never been to, so having my camera on me allows me to capture photos of delicious treats and to remind myself of places I absolutely have to revisit.  Three weeks ago I told you all about my insanely long Dundas West trek and this was just one of my foodie discoveries along the way: Brazil Bakery & Pastry Ltd. located at 1566 Dundas Street West at Sheridan Ave., just east of Dufferin St.  Considering that it boasts many European-style desserts, the name of the bakery and deli is a bit of a misnomer but still a delight and feast for the eyes and tummy!  I’m looking forward to going back sometime (and bringing my mum and brother with me, they’ll go nuts over the bread and pastries!) and when I do I’ll be sure to share more photos.  I have lots to do for the blog over the weekend including some new scrapbook pages as well as a new “Calendar of Events” feature that I’ll be introducing soon, so I hope you’ll enjoy these dessert photos in the meantime!

*****

Brazil Bakery & Pastry Ltd. is located at 1566 Dundas Street West, east of Dufferin St. on the south side of Dundas.  The bakery makes wedding cakes, desserts, pastries, and bread, and also boasts a café and deli.