Sweet Summer Indulgences – Lemon Meringue Ice Cream & Birthday Cookie Sandwiches at Bakerbots, Part II!

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Power on…initiating dessert assembly…all sweet systems go.  Brace yourself because Bakerbots is set to invade and take over your heart and sweet tooth!  Cakes, pies, tarts, macarons, cupcakes, biscotti, cookies, ice cream, ice cream cookie sandwiches; THIS is the place to eat your weight in sugar!  I have wanted to make a Bakerbots post for so long but I wanted to wait until I had something a little more substantial than a bowl of burnt marshmallow ice cream to show you all!  I honestly don’t even remember how I found out about Bakerbots.  All I remember is, I found about this glorious dessert haven soon after it opened a little more than a year ago at the beginning of last summer and was living vicariously through my friend Wini who had already been there several times before I had even made my first visit! 

When Bakerbots first opened its bakery doors last year in 2011 in Bloorcourt Village on Delaware Ave., their hours were strictly weekends only and evening hours during the latter part of the week.  And given how my schedule at the time still followed a very regimented daytime weekday routine, I never got around to trying any of their amazing desserts until many months later.  Now that my schedule has done a complete 180 (weekdays are pretty much a write-off now!), I can skip on over to Bakerbots whenever I want and it feels amazing! 

There is so much to love about Bakerbots Baking: their selection, their quality of desserts, their aesthetic, and their niche.  First off, I think Bakerbots fills a much-needed void in our city.  We have cupcakeries.  We have ice cream parlours.  Heck, we even have some teahouses and dessert sit-down spots.  But aside from Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and Sweet Bliss Baking Company, there aren’t very many spots that offer this type of homemade, from-scratch selection. 

Sometimes you just feel like a slice of pie.  Or a piece of cake with some ice cream.  Sometimes you just want to go to a place where you know there’s going to be something to suit your every mood, your every craving.  A place where you don’t have to dine-in and have a server wait on you.  A place that has a little picnic table out front and a little bench and a table inside in case you do want to stay and enjoy your treat.  A place that’s sunny and bright and fun and happy.  And while they don’t focus on things like donuts or truffles, they cover such a wide spectrum of dessert you don’t even have the heart to care, not when the sweets are as good as theirs and not when the menu and selection are constantly evolving, keeping things fresh and interesting all the time.  

Bakerbots is the place to be if you want to throw caution to the wind and have yourself a dessert meal.  Have you ever blown off the usual savoury lunch or dinner in favour of a dessert meal?  You know, instead of having soup and sandwiches or pasta and veggies or meat and potatoes, you go out and opt for a nice big ice cream sundae or a plate of dessert crepes and waffles or a slice of cake with ice cream and treat it as your meal.  I have and it is always SO MUCH FUN when I do.  As much as I love the idea of it though, I don’t do it often.  I want to, but I just don’t because it’s just not healthy on a regular basis!  But when I do go for it maybe once or twice a year?  Bakerbots is what I would want at my beck and call. 

Their prices are reasonable (very typical for both small and large desserts, coming at around $1.50-$3 for smaller items like single giant cookies and cupcakes, and $3-$5 for larger items like their giant ice cream cookie sandwiches, cake and pie slices, and more), their portions are big (monstrous is the only word that is adequate enough to describe their ice cream cookie sandwiches), and there are so many different flavours of everything!

Their ice cream is courtesy of Ed’s Real Scoop and they rotate what they have on hand on a regular basis, based on the types of desserts they bake every day, seasonal flavours, and the types of flavours that mesh really well together.  The big ticket at Bakerbots is the giant ice cream cookie sandwiches ($4-$6 based on whether you get a half or a whole) and on their big menu chalkboard, they always list the ice cream flavours that are available for the day (espresso,dark chocolate, French mint, cinnamon, burnt marshmallow, raspberry, sweet cream, burnt toffee, and lemon meringue just to rattle off a handful!), the types of cookies that are figuratively in the cookie jar (The Evertything Birthday, ginger molasses, peanut butter, fudgy cocoa), and the pairings that the staff thinks would kick butt. 

  The great thing about the ice cream cookie sandwiches at Bakerbots is that you can either have a whole one or a half and you can also choose a staff-pick combination or go all out and combine whatever ice cream you want with whatever cookie you want!  I opted for a half (and no, I wasn’t being a dessert wimp – I was here after weekend brunch!) using an Everything Birthday cookie (nothing wrong with continuing the birthday festivities in my book!) with lemon meringue-a-tang ice cream!              

Holy mother of pearl.  I now know why everyone goes bat apeing crazy over Bakerbots’ ice cream cookie sandwiches; they are beyond huge and they are fantastic!  My half sandwich was the size of a brick, it was so super thick, and it was so, so yummy.  The lemon meringue ice cream is so fruity and citrusy and creamy with a hint of vanilla with lots of punchy lemon flavour and the Evertything Birthday is such a fun cookie.  It’s sweet like warm vanilla and it’s exactly what you would expect of an aweome chewy sugar cookie with sprinkles!

And the other amazing thing about the ice cream cookie sandwich?  It doesn’t melt into a goopy mess!  I mean, yes, it’s ice cream and it does melt eventually, but it’s made in such a way that it stays frozen for a good portion of time so that you can actually enjoy the body of it and the taste of cookie with ice cream without having to rush through it for fear of it melting all over the place.  The cookies, while chewy, are so nice and sturdy so you don’t have to worry about it crumbling or getting soggy because of the ice cream.  It’s remarkable!  And this is only the beginning, everyone.  I have a scrapbook layout all planned out for Bakerbots, I’m already looking forward to my next visit, and we’ll see how many different types of dessert I’ll have posted from here by the end of the year! 

*****

Bakerbots is located at 205 Delaware Ave by Ossington subway station, nearest major intersection being Bloor Street West and Ossington Ave. in Bloorcourt Village.  Bakerbots specializes in all things sweet with desserts and baked goods being churned out by the truckload!  They are part bakery, part design studio, part ice cream parlour, and full on dessert emporium!  Their hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm (ice cream treats only); Friday, 4pm-11pm; Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-10pm.  You can visit their site HERE.

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The Cupcakes, Cookies, & Cakes in the Hat – A Photo Spotlight on Dessert Oasis, Bakerbots, in Bloorcourt Village, Part I!

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*****

Bakerbots is located at 205 Delaware Ave by Ossington subway station, nearest major intersection being Bloor Street West and Ossington Ave. in Bloorcourt Village.  Bakerbots specializes in all things sweet with desserts and baked goods being churned out by the truckload!  They are part bakery, part design studio, part ice cream parlour, and full on dessert emporium!  Their hours of operation: Tuesday-Thursday, 6pm-10pm (ice cream treats only); Friday, 4pm-11pm; Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 11am-10pm.  You can visit their site HERE.  Part II full write-up post coming tomorrow!

Relishing in ‘Delightful’ Blueberry Cheesecake and Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream at Delight Fair Trade Chocolate!

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It’s rich, it’s creamy, it’s made from coconut milk, and it’s dairy-free: it’s a vegan chocolate ice cream alert!  And it’s deliciously decadent.  I’m a little bummed that I’ll be seeing the Toronto Chocolate Festival this year come to a close without tucking a little sweet something-something under my belt to show you all, but I think the delicious vegan chocolate ice cream I have here more than makes up for that.  As I said to my friend Christina a few weeks ago, Toronto may not be the vegan capital of the world, but there sure are some darn amazing vegan establishments and good eats around the city, and Delight Fair Trade Chocolate in the Junction is one of them! 

I made my discovery of Delight Chocolate waaay back in April when I was visiting Bunners Bake Shop during Veggielicious and walking around the Junction neighbourhood for the very first time.  As I was walking to Bunners along Dundas West, I passed by Delight before it had opened its doors for business and stopped to stare.  The storefront was beautiful to look at with its cursive logo in black and white, its black and white striped curtains tied with bright red bows, and its tiny little wooden bench sitting outside.  I stuck my nose against the storefront window and peered inside at the wooden furniture and shelves of chocolate.  The shop looked so pretty and elegant, and I had no idea at the time that it held such yummy treasures inside.

After doing a quick Google search, I found out that Delight Chocolate not only sold Fair Trade handmade chocolates, but that they also sold ice cream!  YES!  Another ice cream parlour, chocolatier, and cafe on the foodie hit list!  Along with the chocolate and ice cream are the juicy sorbets made from seasonal fruits, and cafe drinks.  At Delight, the emphasis is placed on using local, organic ingredients alongside Fair Trade chocolate. 

The term “Fair Trade” isn’t tossed around or used as a gimmick.  Delight truly believes in the importance of supporting equitable working conditions and the positive, ethical treatment of farmers and workers and the environment.  The business goes out of their way to source ingredients from Ontario and Canadian farmers and to form co-operative relationships through Camino/La Siembra.  Delight fully discloses all ingredient information used in their products right down to the farms the ingredients came from, such as Harmony Organic and Certified Local Food Plus.  In a nutshell, the chocolate and ice cream here are a representation of the belief in reciprocity via sustainability, growth in communities, and respect for everything and everyone involved in creating the food we eat.

Delight’s lineup of ice cream flavours is amazing because not only do they have some really unique and creative flavours, many of the flavours are truly local and Canadiana.  Aside from the mainstays like mint chocolate chip, vanilla, and chocolate peanut butter chip, the real standouts are the flavours such as spiced plum, honey lavender, peaches n’ cream, Niagara apricot, Quebec Blue Cheese, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Delight’s signature vegan chocolate ice cream!  Aside from organic and vegetarian/vegan grocery stores, there are a handful of places in the city that serve vegan ice cream and Delight’s specialty is the vegan chocolate.  I’m hoping to introduce many more options as time goes on, so you can consider this the first post in a tentative vegan ice cream series! 

Prices for ice cream differ based on whether you have it in a cup or in a handmade waffle cone, but a single scoop in a cup will run you $3.25, a single scoop in a waffle cone at $3.95, a double scoop serving in a cup at $5.50, and a double scoop on a waffle cone at $5.95.  Given how generous the scoop portions are and given how utterly mouthwateringly delicious the ice cream is, it is well worth it.

I knew I wanted the vegan chocolate from the get-go.  I was about to settle with just the one scoop until I saw all my other options.  I internally groaned.  The decision was going to be achingly difficult.  What flavour to choose for the 2nd scoop??  After hemming and hawing, I chose the blueberry cheesecake.  It sounded fab and the colour was beautiful.  The blueberry cheesecake is everything that you could ever want in a cheesecake flavour.  It’s thick, it’s tangy, and even though there’s no graham cracker crumb crust in the ice cream, you can literally TASTE it in every bite.  The blueberry and cheesecake flavour is a beautiful combination because the simaltaneous sour and juicy sweet flavour of the blueberry melds with the creamy tanginess which results in a wonderfully rich ice cream. 

And speaking of rich, the vegan chocolate was oh-my-god-out-of-this-world.  I don’t think you’ve truly eaten an amazing chocolate ice cream until you have eaten the vegan chocolate at Delight.  I loved the texture and consistency.  It’s not melty or runny and when you spoon it, it holds its shape so that when you put a nice, chocolately chunk of it in your mouth, you get all of the thick creamy goodness thanks to the coconut milk.  It’s thick and rich and the chocolate flavour just shines with that perfect punch of bitterness that tastes so amazing in dark chocolate.  You know the kind I’m referring to.  The type of dark chocolate that isn’t too strong or overwhelming, but still has a high enough percentage of cocoa solids to really let the natural cocoa shine through.  I loved that hint of bitter, natural cocoa flavour.

    

Now that it’s fall, Delight has a pumpkin pie ice cream that I’m dying to try!  It’s time for another visit because the Fall Harvest Series (and my tastebuds) are waiting for it.

*****

Delight has two locations in Toronto with one serving the Junction neighbourhood at 3040 Dundas Street West and the other located by Trinity Bellwoods Park in the West Queen West neighbourhood at 805 Queen Street West.  For more info, visit their website here.

Happy September! Starting the Month Off on a Sweet Note: Old Firehall Confectionery in Unionville, Part I

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Happy first day of September everyone!  I know summer is far from over, but I have to say, I am SO excited for the upcoming fall and harvest season!  I am in conniptions at the thought of fall tea and drinks, baking apple desserts (because of my allergies, I can’t eat apples raw anyway so it’s win-win here), scoping out the best places to buy canned pumpkin, and indulging in those awesome traditional foods and dishes I love so much for Thanksgiving.  You know, the turkey, the gravy, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, the whole North American bit.  I’m a total sucker for all of it, but I also know it’s not exactly the easiest foodie occasion for vegetarians and vegans to get around so I’m determined to find some delicious veggie Thanksgiving stuff for myself and my friends to enjoy in and around the city.  I actually started a bit of research on that last fall and I’m excited to see what options there are this time around. 

Oh!  And the farmers’ markets.  My camera is raring to go and I am so looking forward to snapping photos of squash and pumpkins and apples (thankfully it’s not lethal to touch or look!) and maybe if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to visit an apple orchard, just for fun.  September also marks a month filled with foodie events and festivals around the city and you can bet the whole city will be out for the Vegetarian Food Festival and Canada’s Baking and Sweets Show, among many others, later on this month.  I have so much planned for the blog for the upcoming fall season and I hope you all like what I have in store.

I want to start the month off on a sweet note, so let me ask you a question: if you could create your very own sweet tooth world, what would your ideal dessert haven consist of?  Would you have candies and chocolates?  Enough fudge to put you in a blissful sugar coma?  How about ice cream with a gazillion different types of cones and flavours and styles of regular ice cream and soft serve?  Or maybe your dessert universe would be filled with frosted cupcakes?  Oh, and of course we can’t forget the luxurious sweet nibbles such as macarons and truffles. 

Now that I have you daydreaming and drooling (and possibly wanting to run out the door to the nearest dessert-whatever), you can stop.  Because your dreams have come true.  What if I told you that this sugary utopia existed right under your nose (or at the very least in the GTA) and that EVERYTHING I just dangled in front of you exists under one roof?  Oh yes.  It’s a candy store, chocolatier, ice cream parlour, and cupcakery, and patisserie all in one amazing world of happiness.  Located in one of my favourite neighbourhoods and especially a favourite for me during the fall, I paid my first visit this summer and if I could, I would live here.  Assume your mouth in the position of jaw-dropping awe.  I present to you, Old Firehall Confectionery on Main Street Unionville in Markham:

Where are the macarons and cupcakes, you ask?  Oh, they’re there.  That’s what Part II and Part III are for 😉  Enjoy!

*****

Old Firehall Confectionery is located at 170 Main Street in the historic Main Street Unionville neighbourhood between Carlton Rd. and Hwy 7.  The dessert haven is located between Carlton Rd. and Fred Varley Drive.  Main Street is located just east of Kennedy Rd.

All You Can Eat Sushi in Markham – Introducing Yellowtail and Its Amazing Dragon Rolls!

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For all the sushi I love and eat in the city, it’ll probably come as a surprise to most that I’ve actually never done an all you can eat dinner in Toronto!  I did an all you can eat sushi lunch once with an old friend, at Echo Sushi on Yonge St. south of Eglinton, over a year and a half ago, but no dinner with family or friends.  Nope, my track record shows that I’ve saved my all you can eat sushi fests for places a little closer to home. 

One of my favourite foodie things about Markham is the selection of all you can eat sushi places!  Over the years, my family and I have tried a number of different places all over Markham, some which have been top-of-the-line stellar and others that have just been mediocre.  Throughout this sushi feasting process, we’ve lost a favourite (Sushi Tomato at Metro Square by Warden and Steeles) and gained a new one (Asia Feast off Hwy. 7 and Langstaff), all the way scoping out new and unchartered sushi territories.

Not too long ago, we received a flyer in our mail with a menu advertising a brand spankin’ new AYCE place called Yellowtail within the plaza at the corner of 16th and Woodbine Ave.  Remember my post on the delicious Greek food at Loui’s Kouzina?  Same plaza!  This plaza and I go waaaaay back.  When I moved to Markham from Scarborough about 13 years ago, I attended Buttonville Public School for my 8th grade year and this plaza was just one major street away and gosh have things ever changed in this plaza over the years.  Gone is the Loeb and No Frills supermarket, and in comes stores like One’s Better Living, the soon-to-be T&T supermarket, and of course AYCE Yellowtail.  One thing has remained constant though: the food scene here is pretty darn good!  Loui’s Kouzina, All Star Wings & Ribs, a Chinese and HK restaurant I actually tried out last week (the name escapes me right now, sorry, I suck), and the awesome Yellowtail.

Asia Feast still holds #1 spot in my heart for AYCE sushi in Markham, but Yellowtail is REALLY amazing and I would recommend it to anyone who loves to AYCE.  I don’t know how everyone feels about restaurant seating, but I’m a fan of booths and Yellowtail has a LOT of them, which makes for nice roomy seating.  The prices are very standard and average for AYCE ($21.99 for weekend dinner and $19.99 for weekday dinner) and the service is excellent here.  The girls who were taking down our orders and delivering our food to our table were super sweet and really nice.  And now, for the food.  Wow.  Really, WOW.  We ordered a bunch of different things including salmon sashimi, white butter fish, red snapper, chicken teriyaki and squid skewers, scallops, tofu, and white tuna sushi pizza.

Everything was incredibly fresh, of great quality, and I enjoyed all of it.  If I had to pick out the standouts though, they were the roll sets and the selection of ice cream for dessert.  The rolls are fan-freakin’-tastic, OHMYGOD.  I’m biased towards anything with cream cheese and spicy sauce, so of course I loved the Philadelphia rolls (salmon with cream cheese) and the spicy crunch rolls (tempura crunchies with dollops of spicy sauce), but the honest-to-god knockouts?  The 8-roll sets and the dragons.  I swear, if you all take my recommendation and go to Yellowtail, ORDER THE DRAGONS!  I have NEVER in all my years of eating sushi seen dragon roll sets as big as these.  They are amazing, delicious, beautiful, and they will render you speechless. 

We ordered the mango 8-roll set (which was served in the dragon style, rolls upright) and the rolls were draped in avocado slices, sprinkled with orange masago, and dripping with mango puree sauce with more chunks of avocado and mango inside the rolls.  If you want a tropical party in your mouth, do yourself a favour and eat this.  It will make you so happy.  In addition to the mango roll set, we had the green dragon roll and THIS made all of our mouths gap open when our waitress brought it to our table.  Giant rolls covered in thick avocado slices with tempura shrimp, shredded cucumber, tempura crunchies, and sushi mayo, with plenty of shredded cucumber garnish on the side.  Yellowtail, hands down, does the best sushi dragons imaginable and they blow the sushi places in the city out of the water.

Oh, and the ice cream selection for dessert!  6 choices!  Sure, they have the usual vanilla, green tea, and mango, but do you know what else they have that nobody else has?  Cookies n’ cream and cappuccino!  And they do have red bean ice cream as well.  We ordered bowls and bowls of the stuff and had ourselves a jolly good time 😀  I am so happy that Yellowtail worked out for us and now that I know that their sushi dragons are the best ever, I’ll slowly eat my way through them.  Close to home, close to the tummy!

*****

Yellowtail is located at 9255 Woodbine Ave. Unit #B14.  It is located beside One’s Better Living within the plaza at the intersection of Woodbine and 16th Ave. in Markham.

Summer Ice Cream by the Waterfront – Toasted Coconut Island Ice Cream at Chocolates & Creams

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I was a very naughty girl the other day.  I ate a cupcake AND I had ice cream.  I mean, really, a chocolate dipped waffle cone and toasted coconut ice cream?  For a coconut fanatic like me??  I might as well have been a bunny with a carrot in my face.  Or a squirrel with nuts or fruit or something.  I’d like to think that I sweated out all my gluttony in my dad’s boiling, non-air conditioned car yesterday (a slightly opened window on a day with blazing sun and a paltry amount of breeze does not help an inferno of a car that has been in a parking lot for 5 hours, dad!) and I’d like to think that I have no qualms about going back for more.  Maybe in another few weeks.  For the time being, I’m going to ogle the extensive list of ice cream flavours on Chocolates & Creams menu board and decide what flavour I want for my next visit.  And for the one after that *whistles*. 

Chocolates & Creams is a fantastic chocolatier, ice cream shop, and gelato bar located inside Queens Quay Terminal by the waterfront.  I’m can’t say with conviction that they’re the best in Toronto (because Greg’s Ice Cream on Spadina and Bloor is reeeeally awesome too and everyone raves about Dutch Dreams on St. Clair W. as well), but their ice cream is VERY yummy.  I tried their ice cream here for the first time last summer and looooved their birthday cake ice cream so much and to my knowledge, the only other place I’ve seen this particular version of birthday cake ice cream is at the little ice cream shop in Bridlewood Mall in Scarborough! 

I’ve been meaning to come back for so long, but just didn’t get around to it because 1) even though I eat ice cream during the winter, the thought of heading down to the waterfront in windchill temperatures and mounds of snow and slush made me cringe, 2) I got caught up trying out a few other places like Greg’s Ice Cream (blog post forthcoming), Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Cold Stone Creamery, and gelato at Pacific Mall, and 3) sometimes it just takes me forever to do follow-up visits.  

They have a bunch of different cone options (regular, sugar, waffle, chocolate dipped waffle, chocolate dipped waffle with nuts) and they have LOTS of different flavours!  The most notable flavours for me: banana, birthday cake, black raspberry cheesecake (this will be mine one day), burgundy cherry, coconut island (a lot of places serve coconut sorbet or sherbet, not ice cream), and watermelon sherbet among others.  Not all their flavours are listed on their menu board though (such as their birthday cake flavour), so definitely take a thorough look through all the flavours at the counter before deciding.

I am not one to pass up anything coconut, so I opted for a single serving of coconut island ice cream in a chocolate dipped waffle cone.  Toasty coconut crunchy bits in super creamy coconut ice cream that didn’t melt at the drop of a hat equals pure fabulosity.  Even though I know Greg’s Ice Cream gives the most bang for your buck, Chocolates & Creams offers some really good, different flavours that are worth it.  Their prices are on par with other ice cream parlour franchies such as Laura Secord and Baskin Robbins, so they’re not cheap nor are they more expensive than the average.  You absolutely must try the birthday cake one and if you love coconut like me, the coconut island is delicious.  Aside from those two flavours, I really want to try the black raspberry cheesecake and watermelon sherbet the most.  Ooo and maybe banana and strawberries and cream together.  Eeeee.  

And one of the highlights of my day: staying still in my seat long enough to get a photo of myself with my ice cream.  I spent half the time whimpering at the pigeons fluttering and pecking nearby (I am petrified of birds…except Tweety) and my boyfriend, being the chivalrous man that he is, snapped my photo for me and shooed the pigeons away ❤  No matter, it was very good ice cream.  Mmmm.

*****

Chocolates & Creams is located at 207 Queens Quay West by the waterfront inside Queens Quay Terminal.  

Ice Cream Bonanza and Rainbow-nanza at Marble Slab Creamery – Scrapbook Style, Part II

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The rainbow-esque scrapbook layout of the Marble Slab Creamery photos I just shared with you all!  Punching out circles of paper in a rainbow of colours and slapping down ice cream stickers on the page has never been more fun.  Any excuse to make a scrapbook layout extra colourful, bright, and punchy is fine by me!

*****

Scrapbooking materials used: goldenrod, sky blue, violet, emerald green, buttercup yellow, bubble gum pink, and beige textured cardstock (Recollections); light blue, white, and brown polka dotted patterned paper (DCVW); ice cream stickers (Sticko); sapphire alphabet stickers (Recollections); pink adhesive gems; circle paper punch (ek success).