Foodie Discoveries on Dundas West!

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Two weeks ago I told you all about my crazy long Dundas West trek from Bunner’s Bake Shop just west of Keele St. all the way back east to Spadina and Kensington Market!  I’m one ambitious little lady!  Along the way I made some fabulous foodie discoveries and with my trusty camera by my side, I captured several places of interest to show you all!  I’m really looking forward to exploring each little neighbourhood along Dundas West and coming back to these places to try out some of the food.  With vegan cupcakeries (OMG Baked Goodness), brunch restaurants (Lula), bakeries (Brazil Bakery & Pastries and She Takes the Cake), vegetarian eats (Cafe 668 and Greens Vegetarian), and everything in between,  I don’t think there’s ever going to be a moment where I think, “there’s nothing to do and there’s nothing to see”.  I am inspired every day and even though this trek tired out my little legs, it was mega fun and I’m SO glad I did it.  If any of you get to any one of these places before I do, let me know how you like them!  In the meantime, enjoy the photos.  It’s Friday tomorrow and the beginning of another whirlwind weekend of scrapbooking and of course, mum’s day!  See y’all tomorrow 😀

 

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.         

The First Veggielicious Pitstop! Sweet Vegan & Gluten-Free Treats at Bunner’s Bake Shop, Part II

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Oh yes, this picture of mouthwatering chocolate cookie and cream sandwiches is real and no, you are not dreaming.  And if you’re wondering, oh yes, they taste as heavenly as they look.  I hope you all enjoyed the pictures and teaser post from yesterday!  There was no way I could fit all my photos in one post so I split it up into two…it’s not like you all mind though.  Two guaranteed days of sweet treats?  Sold 😀  Bunner’s Bake Shop on Dundas St. West in the Junction neighbourhood was my first Veggielicious pitstop and I am SO happy that I went.  I’m really happy that they’re participating in the food fest and getting more business and exposure because of it because they really deserve it.  Had it not been for this fest, I never would have known about it.  I know I explore the city a lot, but Toronto is BIG and I suppose I would have stumbled upon it at a later time, but sooner is always better than later 😉

What I love about Bunner’s is their commitment to quality and the execution of their craft.  Bunner’s is a bakery that is committed to creating and serving desserts that are fair trade, vegan and cruelty-free, and dairy-free and gluten-free with an emphasis on also catering to those who also have soy allergies.  I really appreciate this, not because I’m allergic to soy per se (I’m allergic to soy milk but no other soy products, go figure), but because I have friends who are allergic to soy and nuts and this allergy makes it very difficult for them to enjoy a lot of vegetarian and vegan food that is made with soy or nuts.  It’s a bake shop with a conscious. 

They have a clear vision of what their craft means to them and what they want to achieve through their offering of delicious desserts, namely, accessibility.  It’s not easy catering to different diets, intolerances, beliefs, and lifestyles without alienating your clientele or ending up with subpar product.  But they do this beautifully and you can tell when you look at their treats and when you eat them.  You can taste the quality, the passion, and the innovativeness through their baked goods.

The Veggielicious deal, as a mentioned yesterday, is comprised of one cupcake of your choice, a creamie (the cookie sandwich), and a supersonic gypsy cookie for $7.50.  Well worth it in my opinion because holy mother of pearl these babies are big!  The creamie is so thick and mondo huge, the cookie is like a rocky mountain, and the cupcakes are the perfect size (not small but not steroid-like) with a delightful heaping of frosting on top. 

Now, when I talk about their commitment quality, there’s a reason why.  Take the gypsy cookie, for example.  This is what they refer to as a “power” cookie, the kind of cookie that is healthy and good for you, and will get you up and raring to go in the morning or give you that kick in the ass you need to get through the middle of the day.  I think they have several different kinds with oats and dried fruits and chocolate.  Mine was generously stuffed with chocolate chips (the good cocoa chocolate, not the sickly sweet milk chocolate), raisins (Correction: I have been informed that they were in fact not raisins but apple-sweetened dried cranberries, d’oh!  My bad!), oats, and pumpkin seeds. 

Now, as I was discussing with my friend Sally yesterday, this might not be everyone’s cup of tea based on what’s in it.  Her vegetarian friend loved it, but she wasn’t too fussy about it.  My verdict?  I actually really enjoyed it.  I like raisins in my cookies (think oatmeal raisin), (Correction: I love dried cranberries!), so it works for me, and I loooove the crunch the pumpkin seeds gave to this cookie and the chocolate sweetened the whole cookie up so that it balanced out the nutty flavour of the oats and seeds and the tartness of the raisins.  For those who enjoy texture and a mixture of savoury and sweet, this is for you and it’s one of Bunner’s best sellers.

And the creamie and the cupcake?  Oh heaven.  Pure heaven.  As my friend Sally said, “I could eat a whole tub of the lemon frosting”.  I agree, so could I.  The cupcake I chose was a vanilla cake with lemon frosting.  I can honestly say that this is a cupcake unlike anything I have ever tasted.  And in a good way!  To put things in perspective, let me just remind everyone what makes a bad cupcake: too dry, too sweet, too crumbly.  As well, cupcakes that don’t support the weight of the frosting and fall apart half way through eating, and those are saturated with extract (vanilla, almond, you get the picture). 

Now, the most common complaints I hear about cupcake frosting, specifically, are that some frostings are too greasy and “butter” like in consistency to the point where they leave a film on your mouth, ones that are too sweet and grainy (the kind of sugary that makes you grimace), and ones that are artificial in taste (think mint frosting that ends up tasting like Listerine). 

Bunner’s cupcakes are NONE of these things.  Their cake, although not the moistest I’ve ever had (that award goes to the Black Velvet at Sweet Escape), was soft and subtle in flavour.  The lemony frosting?  Oh man.  So different from anything I’ve tasted.  It was thick and full-bodied in its volume, texture, and flavour.  It’s the kind of frosting that doesn’t dissipate as soon as it hits your tongue.  It envelopes your taste buds and does a little waltz around your mouth.  It has the volume of marshmallow fluff and the thickness of reeeeally good frosting.  The cupcake is so satisfying.

But you wanna know what’s even MORE satisfying?  The creamie cookie sandwich.  No, scratch that.  Satisfying is not the right word.  Gratifying is the right word.  Although I chose the double chocolate chip creamie for my boyfriend because he’s a chocolate fanatic (and because I love him, aww), I demanded a bite when he was eating it.  The phrase “oh my god” doesn’t even cut it.  Hands down, pure awesomeness.  Anyone who goes to Bunner’s (and you know you will) MUST get a creamie.  If I’m going to recommend anything to you, it’s that.  And trust that when I eat a whole one myself, I will give you the lowdown in all its glory.  But I’ll let you salivate and let your imagination run wild in the meantime.

An amazing fun Veggielicious and hopefully, more wonderful experiences and good eats to come in the next little while!  I’m going to work on getting more detailed descriptions of vegan ingredients used in the desserts as time goes on when I profile items on their own, so I’ll make sure to make those available to you all.  Veggielicious runs until April 24th, so enjoy!

*****

Bunner’s is located in The Junction at 3054 Dundas Street West, 3 blocks from the intersection of Keele and Dundas West.  Bunner’s is just west of High Park Ave.  They are open from Monday to Saturday from 10am-7pm, and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.

Sinking Your Teeth Into Luscious Vegan and Gluten-Free Desserts! Veggielicious at Bunner’s Bake Shop – Part I

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I am SO giddy and excited to share these photos with you guys!  It was such a beautiful day today.  A bit chilly in the morning, but sunkissed and glorious by the afternoon.  Veggielicious is up and running in and around the city and today I ate through the first one on my list: Bunner’s Bake Shop on Dundas St. West!  When I went over my foodie options for Veggielicious, I knew I wanted to balance out my savoury with some sweet, and sweet I got!  Bunner’s Bake Shop, located in the heart of The Junction neighbourhood in Toronto, is a vegan and gluten-free bakery that churns out delicious desserts and pastries that are egg-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, and cruelty-free.  Their Veggielicious special for the 2 weeks is comprised of a gypsy cookie, a creamie cookie sandwich, and a cupcake for $7.50.  This is my teaser picture post for you all today, so enjoy and drool while I work on my thorough Bunner’s Bake Shop post tomorrow! 😀  A BIG thank you to Ashley and Kevin who run Bunner’s for allowing me to go snap happy with my camera so I could share this experience with you guys, I really appreciate it.

*****

Bunner’s is located in The Junction at 3054 Dundas Street West, 3 blocks from the intersection of Keele and Dundas West.  Bunner’s is just west of High Park Ave.  They are open from Monday to Saturday from 10am-7pm, and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.