Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Bagels & Bread, and Glorious Dips & Spreads at the Leslieville Cheese Market!

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I have a wee bit of an obsession problem at the moment.  Let it be known that I am all over dips and spreads like a bad rash and that because of 1) the scrumptious homemade beet hummus from Luscious Dips (which, to my heartbreak, has relocated to Niagara Falls) during my blogging run at the Toronto Lunchtime Office Markets, 2) the fabulous spinach basil pesto and sprouted chickpea hummuses I purchased from my girls at Earth & City, and 3) the black bean and roasted avocado with tomatillo dips I bought from Mad Mexican at Evergreen Brick Works, I am hunting dips and spreads down the same way I hunt for lip gloss.  Oh yes, it’s THAT bad.  Granted, I don’t have a deep sliding drawer full of the stuff like I do lip gloss, but let’s just say that if these condiments didn’t have a shelf life and if my fridge was bigger, I would have swept Leslieville Cheese Market clean!  And this, my dear friends, is the long-awaited introduction to the Leslieville Cheese Market! 

It’s about darn time.  Considering how much I love cheese it’s any wonder I haven’t been here every week since I found out about its existence last year.  I finally stepped inside this glorious little gourmet food shop and market for the first time this month though, after pining over their grilled cheese sandwiches for months.  And now I almost wish I hadn’t.  Gone to the shop I mean.  There is way too much food I love here!  Not only is the shop teeming with fresh cheese, it also carries Fred’s Bread, St. Urbain bagels, smoked fish and cured meats , jams and jellies, fruit and nut bread loaves, crostini and crackers, a whole menu of grilled cheese sandwiches and soups, and dips!  Loads and loads of fantastical dips!  I’m positive most people come here for the bread, cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  I will come back because I want several containers of dip and spreads.  And a grilled cheese and soup.  But not before I buy a dip.  I can’t help it.  The second I slathered on my beet hummus dip from Luscious Dips onto my veggie sandwich back in March, it was all downhill from there.  I had been bitten by the homemade dip and spread bug and as a result, I have had a bad case of, “I just dip and dunk and spread this stuff on everything!”        

  

Leslieville Cheese Market, located at 891 Queen Street East (with 2 other locations in Toronto and 1 outside of the GTA), has an entire refrigerated section dedicated to spreads brimming with savoury flavours such as smoked salmon, roasted red pepper and white bean, basil pesto, red lentil dahl, baba ganoush, sundried tomato and tapenade, and artichoke blue cheese and walnut among numerous others.  It’s a little pricier than what I normally pay for (most of my spreads and dips have come in at around $5 with a few for $6) with most of the ones at Leslieville Cheese Market priced at $6.75, but the containers are relatively big and many of flavours are really unique so they just might be worth the extra $1 or $2 to check out and try.  My absolute favourite thing to do with my dips and spreads is to spread them on a tortilla, fill it with spinach and other vegetables, shredded cheese, and maybe some smoked turkey or tofu, and fold it over in half to make a quesadilla on the grill.  So, so delicious.

Another highlight of the Leslieville Cheese Market is their fresh bread.  I’m not even that much of a bread head (that would be my mum), but I LOVE fruit and nut breads and I’m a sucker for anything with herbs, so I was super excited to see that they had breads like pecan and fruit, and rosemary and olive oil.  Loaves of bread are also priced around the $5 to $6 range depending on the loaf.      

 

And of course, no discussion of the shop would be complete without a thorough breakdown of their grilled cheese!  I wanted to feature them during the month of April (read: National Grilled Cheese Month) but just wasn’t able to get around to it.  Even though I don’t have any photos of grilled cheese for you all in this post, I promise I will and in the meantime I figure we can drool over their menu.  Their grilled cheese sandwiches ($7.91 including tax) are made on light rye bread with your choice of the following grilled cheese filling combinations: provolone and beef summer sausage, ham and gruyere, chipotle tuna swiss melt, sundried tomat, artichoke, and chevre (goat cheese), a combo of white cheddar and a cheese called muenster, and cheddar cheese and bacon. 

And, there are dipping sauces!  There are 3 to choose from (balsamic ketchup, sweet thai chili, and piri piri which is a spicy blend) and if that’s not enough to get the motor running, there are also soups to accompany your grilled cheese such as corn chowder and potato leek.  Finally (I know, there’s more!), the cheese market also hosts cheese and wine night classes!  I may not drink, but learning about cheeses and pairings and nuances and regional differences and specifics sounds like a lot of fun and maybe in the future I’ll spring for something like it.  Right now though, I’m just feeling excited at the thought of sitting out on bench in the neighbourhood with a yummy grilled cheese and soup on a nice fall day and I can’t wait to do that sometime soon.

*****

Leslieville Cheese Market in Leslieville is located at 891 Queen Street East, east of Broadview Ave., with 3 other locations including a brand new one on Donlands Ave. just south of O’Connor Dr.

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Caution: Mouthwatering Grilled Cheese Ahead! The Blueprint of a Grilled Cheese Sandwich at The Construction Site

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A classic sandwich lunch: the grilled cheese!

Ever since I found about National Grilled Cheese month in March, I’ve been mulling over all the city’s grilled cheese offerings (at least the ones I know of!) and hemming and hawing over which one would be my first grilled cheese experience of this special month.  I’ve had a few yummylicious homemade grilled cheese sandwiches at home (I made a grilled cheese, dill, and tomato on a crusty baguette a few days ago and a tuna cheddar melt on French white for lunch today!), but we’re talking grilled cheese outside my kitchen in TO.  Introducing The Construction Site: Grilled Cheese at Work on Yonge & Eglinton! 

The Construction Site at Yonge & Eglinton opened up late last year in 2011 and it is so, so cute.  Not fa-la-la cotton candy cute, but clever and thematically cute!  You can tell a lot of thought went into the particular look the grilled cheese spot was going for, especially in the details.  First off, we have the decor and aesthetics.  You won’t find anyone drilling or hammering away inside (thank goodness, could you imagine?!), but you will find construction-esque things like smooth wood pillars (donning the freshly sanded and primed look!) with nuts and bolts screwed in, yellow construction signs, and wooden frames showcasing pretty posters of cheese hanging on the walls.  Oh, and the walls!  Think of construction drafts and blueprints, but instead of floorplans and architectural drawings, we have outline drawings of sliced bread, swiss cheese, wedges of cheese, cheese graters, and slotted sandwich flipping spatulas on a pretty shade of pale cornflower blue wallpaper.                        

Love the walls!

Ooo, someone's having a grilled cheese & tomato...

The scrapbooking, patterned paper lover in me hyperventilated.  Can you tell I’m smitten?!  I LOVED themed places!  I love it when places brand their image based on, and according to, a specific theme and then run with it.  It makes the atmosphere and overall look so much fun to work with and you get to be really creative when executing the details.  My absolute favourite aesthetic detail about The Construction Site aside from the wallpaper is the food boxes.  Forget the paper bag, styrofoam box and ho-hum take-out container – everyone gets their grilled cheese sandwich order in an adorable flat, square, cardboard flip-top box with a cute-as-a-button construction cheese sign sticker emblazoned in the corner!  I was in conniptions over this!

One of the cutest food boxes ever!

Funny enough, I actually wanted to grow up to be a construction worker when I was in the 3rd grade.  While many other friends wanted to be ballet dancers, models, makeup artists, and doctors, I wanted to build stuff, carry a toolbelt, and lay bricks.  You guys know I don’t lay bricks (not real ones anyway – I lay Lego bricks with my boyfriend!), but I do construct things out of paper and have a scrapbook “toolbelt” at my disposable.  That’s not too far off the mark then, right?  I felt like I was on a construction site (minus the long, deafening clanging noises and hard hats), sitting on a workbench (or a crane on a sunny day) with my cardboard box on lunch break.  Open up the box and there’s your lunch greeting you like an old, reliable friend.  What a wonderful feeling.

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