With Love, Lemon and Jam – Italian Bocconotti Pastry Cookies at Si Espresso Bar!

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Going through these photos right now makes me want to curl up on the couch with a giant mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows and whipped cream!  I am curled up on the couch as I write this with the tv turned to the Food Network (holiday edition of Iron Chef America!), but without the hot chocolate.  Sigh.  It’s been so chilly lately and all I can think about is having some much needed downtime in a warm cafe with a warm drink, a book, a squishy couch and being alone with my thoughts as the sights and sounds of the holiday season whip by me in a blur.  No trip to a cafe is complete without something yummy to eat though and I love finding different cafes that serve different types of treats that you just can’t get anywhere else.  And if you can, it better be just as good if not better.  That’s where one of my latest food discoveries comes in – Si Espresso Bar at Broadview and Danforth!

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Now, calling this one of my latest food discoveries is a tiny bit of a white lie.  I didn’t discover it recently.  I discovered it over a year ago, possibly even longer.  I just didn’t make my first visit until a few weeks ago!  This is what happens when you pass by a spot over and over again on the streetcar and you never buckle down and just GO.  I pass by it on the streetcar every single time I head down to Leslieville or King East and it’s just steps away from me when I exit the station to catch the shuttle bus to Evergreen Brick Works.  It’s actually kind of shameful I haven’t been here sooner and more often!  But now that I’ve made my first visit, there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be on the agenda during every Evergreen Brick Works excursion.

And funny enough, it’s because of my latest trip to Evergreen Brick Works that I decided to finally step inside this cute and hip cafe.  I was waiting for the shuttle and didn’t really feel like waiting in the cold (can you blame me?!), so I walked across the street to Si to see (ha, that sounds funny) what type of goodies they had.  Located right across the street from Broadview subway station on Broadview Ave., Si Espresso Bar is a cozy little Italian cafe serving up lattes, chai lattes, cappuccinos, espressos and double espressos, Americanos, London Fogs, steamers, hot chocolate, and more!

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It’s a well-known fact that I don’t drink coffee.  I have lattes every once in a while (why, hello there matcha green tea lattes!), but coffee drinks and I don’t mingle, period.  So what in the world would make me adore Si Espresso Bar aside from maybe the hot chocolate and chai lattes?  Need you ask?  Food!  Introducing the delicious and adorable Italian bocconotti pastry cookies!

Taking into account my eating habits and what I love, sometimes I truly think I should have been born Italian instead of Chinese!  I am fascinated with the complexity of Italian cuisine and I find myself constantly learning about new foods I’ve never tried or even known of before.  Italian bocconotti is one of them.  I saw them in a giant clear glass cookie jar, asked what they were and thought, “well, I’d be a fool not to try these out, they sound delicious!”  Bocconotti are Italian pastries (or cookies as they are sometimes referred to) with different sweet fillings – jam, chocolate, custard, curd, you name it.  They’re beautiful, delicate little morsels (they fit right into the palm of your hand!) with cute crimped edges and puffy centres.  They’re golden in colour and sprinkled with sugar on the outside and the nice thing about them is that they aren’t too sweet!  Everyone knows what a sweet tooth I have but even I can appreciate the desserts that are toned down in sugar.  Not everything has to be cavity-inducing!

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I grabbed myself two bocconotti pastry cookies and I only wish I had taken a photo of the one with the jam filling because it would have been pretty for all of you to see but I wanted to eat one and save the other so I randomly chose one out of the two and got the lemon one first!  I love lemon desserts so much.  This bocconotti was filled with a tangy, creamy lemon curd and the second one I bought was filled with a sweet and fruity berry jam.  What I loved about them was how they weren’t too sweet and dry, how the filling stood on its own two feet (clearly the star of the show!), and how the sprinkled sugar on top truly took these bocconotti to another level.  I loved them and I can’t wait to go back and get more.

I hope everyone is keeping warm the best they can; if you’re in the area, definitely give Si Espresso Bar a look-see and grab a treat and drink while you’re at it!

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Si Espresso Bar is located at 748 Broadview Ave. right across the street from Broadview subway station.

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A Marshmallow Cream Dream – The Marshmallow-Caramel Coppetta Dessert in a Jar at Trattoria Mercatto, Part III!

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I’m totally, completely obsessed with restaurant dessert menus.  Everywhere I go now, I ask for one, even if I’m not entirely sure I want a dessert (I need to carefully consider my options; a dessert means no cupcake later on in the day!).  Let it be known though that I never used to be.  I mean, I’ve always loved the idea and existence of dessert menus (goodness knows how many I’ve drooled over throughout the years), I’ve just never enjoyed the treasures from them.  But now, I have a growing collection of fabulous desserts I’ve photographed and written about and it’s become one of the funnest things to do on the blog! 

We have the Austrian apricot jam crepes from Old Country Inn, the spicy Mexican chocolate mousse from Milagro, the sweet and adorable strawberry custard trifle at Simple Bistro, the bright and juicy citrus tart with candied orange and cream from Sen5es, and the green tea cheesecake from Sushi Time.  I loved them all and it’s a head scratcher, even for me, as to why I haven’t taken advantage of more dessert menu items.  You all know how deeply I adore dessert.  In my world, dessert is a meal in and of itself!

So, why the sudden change of heart and course of action in relation to restaurant desserts?  Before, I never used to order dessert because 1) I was always too full after dinner to eat another bite, no matter how sweet, delicious and decadent, 2) some places just didn’t have dessert menus and 3) admittedy, I didn’t feel like spending extra money.  It’s not like I’m suddenly rolling in dough now (I wish!) but because of the blog, I’m much more selective and strategic about where I go, what things I want to blog about, and the yummies I think will resonate with everyone.  And dessert just happens to be one such yummy!  Fruit desserts, chocolate desserts, cakes, pastries, ice creams, mousses, you name it, I’ll find it. 

This Part III wrap-up post on Trattoria Mercatto features their decadent dessert menu in all its glory with a spotlight on their amazing, fantastical, magical marshmallow and caramel dessert!  Mercatto’s dessert (dolci) menu is all about the sweet and creamy in all different types of desserts in all different forms.  We have the 3-scoop Mad Italian gelato bowl, tiramisu with mascarpone crema, the torta di formaggio ricotta cheesecake with dulce de leche and caramelized bananas, the budino vanilla pudding with biscotti and amarena cherries, and my pick, the coppetta ($6.95) with caramel gelato from Mad Italian, salted peanuts, and marshmallow!  I really wasn’t feeling the peanuts that day so I opted for a nut-free dessert with just the caramel and marshmallow and good lord was this dessert ever DELICIOUS!  Hands down, the most delightful marshmallow dessert I have ever had.  The most delightful caramel dessert I have ever had!

My sweet and creamy dessert came in a jar (lovin’ the jars, guys!) with layers of marshmallow cream, caramel gelato, and sweet caramel sauce.  The top portion was like a heavenly, fluffy marshmallow, whipped cream cloud with ooey, gooey marshmallow cream directly underneath.  Digging a little further down unearthed the rich, creamy caramel gelato and down at the bottom was the sweet sauce.  And this jar wasn’t small!  This was a fabulous size, comparable to the circumference of a decent-sized mug.  And I loved how the textures complemented and played off one another.  The creaminess was woven in with the fun gooeyness of the marshmallows so that you had bites of airiness from the marshmallow portion and bites of cold gelato and warm sauce melting in your mouth.  So decadent, SO GOOD!   Just as a side note though, dig deeper and haul the caramel sauce from the bottom to the top.  You don’t want to do what I did and eat the layers in order.  I loved the caramel sauce but I was left with too much of it at the bottom on and no more marshmallow cream to go with it!  Silly me.  So learn from my snafu and fold the layers in.

I honestly couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed eating at Trattoria Mercatto.  I had a feeling I would like it, but I never anticipated loving it as much as I do now.  The food, the sweets, the atmosphere, the nice people – it’s all there and I can’t wait to go back again and again.

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Trattoria Mercatto is located at 220 Yonge Street inside The Eaton Centre on the 3rd floor on the northern, Dundas Street end of the shopping centre.  They serve 3 other locations in Toronto under the Mercatto name (Bay & Adelaide, Toronto Street, and the Mars Discovery District on College Street).  They are open for both lunch and dinner 7 days a week (Monday-Saturday 11:30am-11pm, Sunday 12pm-9pm at the Eaton Centre location).  Click HERE to view their website with menus, upcoming events, catering, news, and more!

Wine Barrels, Pizza, & Marshmallow-Caramel Desserts – A Photo Spotlight on Eaton Centre’s Trattoria Mercatto, Part I!

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Trattoria Mercatto is located at 220 Yonge Street inside The Eaton Centre on the 3rd floor on the northern, Dundas Street end of the shopping centre.  Specializing in Italian fare and seasonal ingredients, their menu features pasta, antipasti, panini, pizza, Italian desserts, and special weekly menus that shine a spotlight on seasonal, local ingredients.  They serve 3 other locations in Toronto under the Mercatto name (Bay & Adelaide, Toronto Street, and the Mars Discovery District on College Street).  They are open for both lunch and dinner 7 days a week (Monday-Saturday 11:30am-11pm, Sunday 12pm-9pm at the Eaton Centre location).  Click HERE to view their website with menus, upcoming events, catering, news, and more!