The Summer Patio Dining Series – Fluffy Rice, Grilled Vegetables & Ground Lamb & Beef Kefta at Tabule!

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Ate by Ate is back!  The lazy days of summer are upon us and we all know what that means: we’re either coming or going with exciting stories and plans of summer vacation, big and small, basking in those gorgeous summer vacation moments when the days seem endless and fleeting all at the same time.  I didn’t jet away to an exotic destination or drive off to a lakeside cottage though.  Nope, my glorious week away took place right here in the city where I patio dined, felt the warm sun on my face, shopped till I dropped, ate yummy things, and spent time with my favourite people in the world!

With the exception of checking e-mail every once in awhile, I completely unplugged myself over the last week and a half during my summer “stay-cation” and made the most out of the time I took off from work.  Even though I feel like I could’ve squeezed out so much more out of my time off, I loved what I DID do and the time away just makes all those little moments that much happier.  Sleeping in an extra hour (or two!), staying up late knowing you don’t have to get up at 5:30 the next morning, reading and completely losing yourself in a mountain of books, eating soft serve, walking around the city till your feet hurt and having some of the most delicious meals your heart could ever desire.  I’ve missed being out during the week so much and I’m so grateful for the time off.

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I know I’m a little behind on things (I don’t even have my August Food Calendar for you guys – sorry!), but I think we should be able to pick up where we left off and talk food pretty easily!  This post marks the return of The Summer Patio Dining Series with a mouthwatering look at Middle Eastern food at Tabule!  I almost can’t even find the right words to express how much I freakin’ love Tabule.  A space washed in olive green and metallics, colourful lantern light fixtures and a menu chock full of Middle Eastern grain, vegetable and meat dishes that will have you coming back again and again.  And to think it took me YEARS to finally park my hiney in their beautiful, delicious space!  A friend from grad school told me I HAD to come here and it took my mum’s birthday and a light bulb moment on my part to finally give me the shove I needed to go.

My mum desperately wanted to go to either a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern spot for dinner for her birthday so I happily offered to take care of dinner plans.  Choosing the dining destination for the whole fam and having the reins in my hands?  Totally up my alley!  I hemmed and hawwed over a few options when suddenly, as I was typing away on my laptop on the couch one afternoon I exclaimed, “OH, DUH!” and rolled my eyes at myself.  Which drew a few weird stares from the fam, but I didn’t care.  I was excited!  Like a bolt of lightning, genius struck and instantly knew Tabule was the perfect place to go.  The meal was SO wonderful and I loved it SO much I went back a second time and ordered the same thing!

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Tabule, located at 2009 Yonge Street between Davisville and Eglinton (with a new second location on Queen East in Riverside), serves up dishes such as falafel and fattoush/fattüsh salad, halloumi/hallüm cheese and arugula, hummus and baba ganoush/babaganüj platters, tabbouleh (of course!), fried eggplant and cauliflower, vegetarian grape leaves (warak enab), TONS of pita sandwiches, Lebanese spicy sausage, skewers of grilled ground lamb and beef, chicken breast, lamb chops, and a number of fresh fish dishes, all served with grilled vegetables and rice and onions.  While prices differ slightly for lunch and dinner, prices range from $14 to $19 for main entrees and $5 to $10 for most appetizers, salads, sandwiches and sharing plates.

Now, I didn’t get to stick around long enough to watch the belly dancers at dinner (belly dancing on Saturdays at 7:30 and 9:30!) but both my meals both times were fantastically awesome.  The photos here are only of my lunch though.  I wasn’t able to get any of the tabbouleh salad I ordered for my fam and I to share during that first dinner but in 5 words: refreshing!  Minty!  Leafy!  Crunchy!  Juicy!  What we have here is Tabule’s Kefta dish ($14.95), balls of grilled ground lamb and ground beef mixed with garlic, onions, tomatoes, parsley and spices (cooked on the skewer but taken off for plating), on a bed of rice with grilled vegetables and onions.  OH.MY.GOD.  I could eat this meal every single time I come here.  I could eat this every single month.  Hell, maybe even every single week.  It is SO freakin’ delicious.  I have honestly never eaten lamb before so this was all brand new to me and I LOVED it.  So many things on the menu sounded scrumptious but I wanted to try something different and I’m so happy I did.

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The kefta was by far some of the moistest, juiciest, most flavourful meat I have EVER had in my life!  There were 6 bundles on my dish and each forkful was as tender as the last and the amount of spices and garlic were perfect.  The meat was incredibly easy to cut and bite into and the meat never dried out.  I love dunking things into sauce but in all honesty, you don’t actually NEED any for this meat, it’s perfect on its own.  And the rice!  Many times we associate carbs with heaviness but their rice, which had this wonderful, fresh lemony flavour to it, was light as light could be.  The rice was so fluffy and airy and it even had some yummy texture as there were onions strewn throughout the rice.  It paired with the meat wonderfully and the vegetables rounded out the meal with a bit of that smoky char, brightness and juiciness.  And to wash it all down?  A beautiful pot of Moroccan mint tea!

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Tabule has become one of my favourite spots in the city and I just love that I can do take-out and dine-in in both their dining room and patio!  My family was all over their chicken breast meal like mud on a pig and the next time I go I am totally going berserk over an appetizer or two and definitely dessert!  It’s a beautiful place to have a glorious and delicious summer meal.

*****

Tabule serves 2 locations in Toronto: 2009 Yonge Street (between Eglinton and Davisville subway stations, just north of Millwood) and 810 Queen Street East by Jimmy Simpson Park and Degrassi Street.  They serve both lunch and dinner with belly dancing on Saturday nights!

A Beachy, Spring Day – Yummy Soba Noodles, Grilled Veggies, and Sunflower Sprouts in Fresh’s Beach Bowl

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Here’s some bright cheery colour to brighten up our otherwise drab rainy day!  It’s been a total washout here in Toronto today so for those of you who ventured out, props to you because good god, I would have been wrestling with my umbrella all day had I gone out.  It was freakin’ windy out!  I spent my day at home scrapbooking and organizing photos in photo albums.  I live dangerously, I know, ha!  I hope you guys like the scrap layout up top because I had a ton of fun making it 😀  Pink, green, and pastels.  Ahhh, the way to my heart.  So, for your drooling pleasure today: Fresh’s soba noodle beach bowl!  Even though this particular dish isn’t the one currently being featured in Fresh’s Veggielicious special (the one featured is actually the Ninja bowl), I figured it was appropriate anyway given how Fresh is participating in Veggielicious and all. 

I know I raved on and on about how much I adored my spicy black bean burrito dish on my bed of greens here the first time I ate at Fresh, but I have to say, the beach bowl just might be tied for possibly my favourite dish so far!  I looove soba noodles.  Also referred to as buckwheat noodles, they are Japanese noodles that are served both warm and cold.  The first time I had soba noodles was a number of years ago.  I found these great noodles at T&T supermarket and they were packaged and served cold with big leaves of green leaf lettuce, cold shrimp, wedges of tamago (Japanese egg), and peanut sauce.  Oh god, I loved it so much and devoured it every time I ate it.  I was so sad though when I found out they no longer made them, so Fresh’s soba noodle bowls totally fill that void in my heart whenever I’m out to eat and in the mood for them.

This meal was really special.  My boyfriend and I were celebrating our 2-year anniversary and were out during that Sunday to see the Raptors play that afternoon.  It was a nice, peaceful Sunday morning brunch and even though I probably could have ordered off of Fresh’s popular weekend brunch menu, I reeeally wanted noodles and veggies and cheese and all that good stuff, so that’s what I had.  It was a day to celebrate and besides, I’m a girly little piggy ^_^  I went out all out and even ordered myself a fresh glass of mixed fruit juice: mango and strawberry, super bright and refreshing!  It’s fun to mix and match fruits and other drinks to create my own special concoction and I especially love choosing things like mango, grapefruit, coconut milk, things like that.

Fresh has a number of bowls on their menu and you can either have them with brown rice or soba noodles, which cost an extra dollar.  The bowls have amazing combinations of vegetarian and vegan protein and vegetables.  Think tempeh, tofu steaks, sprouts, grilled vegetables, raw vegetables, and curry stews and sauces.  Depending on whether you choose to have brown rice or noodles, and whether you add cheese to your meal, bowls range in price from $8-$15, and some bowls offer a “baby” size (a half portion) at a discounted price.  It was my first time trying a Fresh bowl (remember what I said about eating my way through the menu?  Ha!) and I chose the beach bowl with soba noodles.

The beach bowl, to me, is perfection in a bowl.  SO many of my favourite things all in one!  The beach bowl is served with warm delicious grilled red bell peppers, sweet potato, and zucchini, thick slices of avocado, thinly sliced sun-dried tomato, a huge helping of sunflower sprouts, and olive oil, tamari (a variation of soy sauce that is slightly thicker and wheat-free), and lemon juice.  I added goat cheese to my bowl and oh my god, YUM, they gave me a nice generous scoop of cheese.  As you already know, I love cheese dearly and because the grilled vegetables were nice and warm, the goat cheese was easy to spread around and made everything so deliciously creamy.  The mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs just made the soba noodles so amazingly good. 

And this was actually my first time eating sunflower sprouts and I loved them.  Which is awesome because I am so not a fan of regular sprouts, so along with alfalfa, I can enjoy sunflower ones!  For me, it was a fusion of new things (sunflower sprouts) and old favourites (um, hello avocado and noodles), and I couldn’t have been more satisfied.  It was delicious and I was full.  So full I needed to doggy bag the rest!  Time and again, Fresh delivers and lives up to its name and their menu just inspires me every time I look at it…which is a lot, ha.  So in conclusion: I LOVE YOU BEACH BOWL! 😀

*****

Fresh currently serves 3 locations in downtown Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)

They are currently serving a Veggielicious special until April 24th for a price fixe of $15: 16oz Chi-Spa Juice (ginger, dates, apple, soymilk, banana, cinnamon, chia seeds), Ninja Bowl (salad greens, tofu cubes, sundried tomatoes, sunflower sprouts, spicy ginger tamari sauce, and your choice of dressing on brown rice or soba noodles (add $1 for soba), and a Ginger Molasses Cupcake with Lemon Frosting.

Scrapbooking materials used: emerald green cardstock (paper printing shop); baby pink and beige cardstock (Recollections); green and blue patterned cardstock paper (Green Tea stack by DVWV); patterned journalling tags (Darcy Collection by Anna Griffin); pink floral chipboard alphabets (K & Company); spring pastel flower embellishments (Paper Bliss); glitter blue, green, and brown chipboard button embellishments (WT, Westrim Crafts); scalloped edge decorative scissors (Provo Craft); circle paper punch (marvy uchida); paper corner rounder.

A Beautiful Day to Kick Off Veggielicious!

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The weather is so amazingly gorgeous today!  I went out this morning for a grocery and bakery run with my mum and I was so ecstatic to soak up that little bit of sunshine and warmth.  I even hugged my window (or rather, smushed my cheek against it) when I came home because the warmth felt so nice.  It’s days like today that make it much easier for the stress to seep out and after several days of absolute physical, mental, and emotional tiredness and exhaustion, I finally feel like I’m human again as opposed to a mish mash of mush.  It’s so beautiful outside I could honestly just roll around in the grass and be content for the rest of the day.  And to top it off, Veggielicious starts today! 😀  Click here to visit the Veggielicious website where you’ll find a list of participating restaurants and eateries in and outside of Toronto complete with Veggielicious specials and important notes and dates.  Oh!  And print out a poster too while you’re at it.  It’s adorable, hee!

I’m really looking forward to trying out a few places over the next two weeks and at the top of my list are Bunner’s Bake Shop, Live Organic Food Bar, and of course, my beloved Mela Café!  If you’re interested in drooling over Mela’s vegan eggplant panini, click here for my bootiful post of yummies!  I wish I could try so much more, but I have a really limited budget to work with right now and I needed to narrow my choices down.  I was contemplating Sadie’s Diner too but I’m still hemming and hawing on that one. 

To celebrate the beautiful weather and the kick off of Veggielicious, I’m sharing a bunch of photos of some delicious grilled veggies my family and I threw on the bah-bie last summer!  Plenty of mushrooms, bell peppers, corn, and eggplant!  Yup, it’s that time again!  Everything tastes better off the grill 😉  I’m super excited to get some Easter baking done, to eat some awesome vegetarian, vegan, and raw meals, and to park myself at as many farmer’s markets imaginable.  Life may not be perfect, but there’s so much to look forward to and it’s pretty sweet for the time being ❤