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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European Doughnuts and Pastry Pretzels at Raymerville’s Bakery – Bomboloni and Bavarian Schwabisch Pretzels!

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Even though living in the suburbs means longer commutes into the city and less frequent bus service than I’d like, I feel really lucky to have such an amazing bakery that I can go to for fresh bread, deli meats, and pastries.  Visiting fantastic bakeries around the city has made me so grateful for everything they have to offer and has made me feel so appreciative of the hard work that goes into running a bakery like clockwork.  So many of these businesses are family owned and run and after visiting these bakeries once, all you want to do is visit them every day so you can see what new things they have and to strike up some good ol’ fashioned conversation.  It’s rewarding getting to know the people who work behind the counter and you build such great relationships because of it.

What I love the most about Raymerville Deli & Bakery is how they keep things new and exciting.  I’ve been going to this bakery for YEARS (just think, since I was in high school!) and there have been things I’ve discovered over the past several months that I didn’t even know existed!  Not only do they have delightfully ginourous chocolate chip cookies and sweet fruity apple and cherry turnovers, but they stay true to their Italian and European heritage by having sweet European pastries!  Now, I had to do some research to figure out exactly we these yummy treats were, and I’m so glad I did!  It’s fascinating learning about the breadth of food culture and I tucked away some delicious info on Italian doughnuts and German pretzels! 

Raymerville’s bakery has these awesome cream and custard filled doughnuts sprinkled with powdered sugar called bomboloni (because they look like little “bombs”, hee) and they have two varieties: vanilla custard, which I love, and chocolate cream which my brother is very fond of 😀  And as for the pretzels?  Bavarian schwabisch pretzels!  Pastry pretzels that are crispy and “crackly” on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside.  The ones at Raymerville are cherry ones with dusted powdered sugar and sliced almonds. 

I wasn’t sure if I’d like the pretzels since I’m actually not a pretzel fan (gasp, I know!  Bread-like pretzels taste too…bread-like and starchy?  And hard pretzels are too salty for my liking!).  But these ones were good!  They had such good texture and they had both nutty and fruity sweetness to it.  The pretzels I’ve seen on a number of occasions, but the Italian dougnuts completely blew me away!  They’re so cute and of course, sweet and delicious.  I’m a sucker for custard and cream-filled doughnuts so really, the discovery was meant to be.

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Raymerville Deli & Bakery is located within the strip plaza right at the intersection of McCowan Rd. and Ramerville Drive south, on the east side of McCowan (Carlton Rd. is on the west side of McCowan).  It’s about a 10 minute walk (or a 2 or 3 minute drive) from Markville Mall.  They are closed on Mondays but are open from Tuesday-Sunday at 8:30am.