Home Sweet “Cupcake” Home – Whoopie Pies & Chocolate Coconut Cupcakes at Sweet Bliss Baking Company, Part II

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Sweet Bliss Baking Company is one of the cutest, sweetest, most adorable country chic bake shops in the city.  Each time I visit a new cupcake bakery, I think I’ve seen it all.  But as soon as I skip on over to the next cupcake shop on the master cupcake list (or just whichever new bakery that just happens to be in the vicinity), I’m met with an entirely different atmosphere and feel.  Some cupcakeries go sweet and colourful, some go haute couture cupcake style, and others keep it low maintenance and simple. 

Sweet Bliss Baking Company?  As warm and fuzzy as it gets.  It feels just like a cottage country, hometown bakery with its numerous shelves of homemade jams and preserves, wooden crates and accents, decorative mason jars, sweet daisies, and homey country decor.  It fits so perfectly in the Leslieville neighbourhood and as one of many cupcake and bakeshops on the Queen Street East, it totally holds it own and sets itself apart.  As well, Sweet Bliss is a great little shop to pick up cute gifts such as vintage trinkets and cinnamon bun candles!  Come for a sweet treat and come for some gift shopping!  I love it.  I love the soft colour palette, I love the happy, sunshiney outlook the shop has, and of course, I love the mountains of delicious desserts!  Sweet Bliss caters to every sweet tooth with their assortment of cupcakes, tarts (butter and lwild blueberries from Nova Scotia), cake loaves and squares (got lemon?), brownies, cookies, pies, scones, cinnamon buns (tooted as the best in the city by some!), whoopie pies, and cheesecake bars, in addition to savoury tarts (spinach) and coffee and tea drinks. 

While they do sell much of their product in single servings, they sell many of their of their products in what I like to call, “sweet and hungry packs”.  They have baskets full of multi-cookie bags such as raspberry jam-filled cookies, brownie bliss cookies, and ginger cookies among others.  Their prices for baked dessert items range from $1.90 to $$6.95, with “sweet and hungry packs” coming in at the latter price.  Cupcakes, specifically, are priced at $2.50 each which is phenomenal because there are very few cupcakeries now that have stuck with the $2.50 price point.  Most have either bumped it up to $2.65 or $2.85 for the most part, so Sweet Bliss earns extra brownie points for keeping things affordable!  As much as I wanted to inhale a juicy tart lemon bar or blueberry cheesecake tart, I held off on getting one and opted to stick with what I came into the shop for: the reigning cupcake.

Sweet Bliss has a variety of flavours to choose from including a pretty pink frosted vanilla, a carrot cake, a red velvet, a double chocolate, two types of coconut, and several others, and they keep their cupcakes cool in their sliding fridge along with their monstrously huge chocolate whoopie pies which are priced at $3 each.  They’re actually one of the very few bakeries I know of that keep their cupcakes cool in a fridge.  Aside from Miss Cora’s Kitchen in Kensington Market, nobody else does that and I have to say, given how we’ve had some ridiculous heat in the city so far this summer, it’s something I really appreciate it.  I know some people think refrigerating cupcakes is a sin, but we’re not talking about putting them into the deep freeze, we’re just talking about keeping them cool and keeping them from melting right off the bat. 

Their chocolate coconut cupcake looked amazing so I snagged one of those as well as a giant chocolate whoopie pie with pale blue marshmallow cream filling.  They looked too delicious to pass up!  And I mean it when I say that their whoopie pies are huuuuge.  The whoopie pie was almost the size of my entire hand!  And I know I don’t have the biggest hands in the world, but still!  Not only was it big and fat and round, but it was also stuffed with the yummiest looking pale blue marshmallow cream frosting.  The chocolate whoopie pies are SO fudgy (seriously, you have chocolate fudginess stuck to your fingers while you’re eating) and the marshmallow cream is so smooth, light, and airy with the delicious taste of vanilla cream.  It was wonderful because the lightness and airiness didn’t translate into thinness; the marshmallow filling was creamy with just the right amount of thickness and density to keep it from being runny or mushy.  It was delightful and so worth it.   

And the cupcake!  OH.MY.GOD.  You would also think that after all these cupcakes I’ve eaten, I’d feel nonchalant towards flavours that are relatively common.  Chocolate and coconut are flavours we see all the time on and in cupcakes but that certainly didn’t stop me from salivating it over the chocolate coconut cupcakes when I saw them through the glass door.  This chocolate coconut cupcake is NOT your average cupcake.  The chocolate cake was cocoa-y and fudgy, yes, but what makes this cupcake ridiculously amazing and delicious is the frosting and shredded coconut on top.  You’re used to having buttercream on a cupcake in either the soft, whippy state or in the thick, sweet, and creamy one.  Sometimes you even get some with the swiss meringue or ganache dip.  How many chocolate coconut cupcakes do you know of that have CREAM CHEESE FROSTING ON TOP?!  Holy mother of pearl!  This cupcake was like a fudgy chocolate creamy coconut cheesecake!  The cream cheese frosting on chocolate with shredded coconut was unbelievably delicious and every bite was like heaven.   

Two amazing sweets from one very fabulous bake shop and worth every penny for the wonderful quality, and not to mention, size!  Sweet Bliss has terrific product, a sweet shop with so much character, and incredibly nice people working in it.  It took me awhile to finally check it off my master cupcake shop list, and it lived up to all my sweet expectations, and then some.  I can’t wait for all the follow-up trips I plan on making in the future.

*****

Sweet Bliss Baking Company is located at 1304 Queen Street East in Leslieville, two blocks east of Leslie St.  Sweet Bliss Baking Company offers an assortment of sweet treats including cupcakes, tarts, cookies, and brownies, as well as coffee drinks, gifts, and more.  Hours and days of operation to be posted!

Country Sweet Chic – Jams, Cupcakes, Tarts, Whoopie Pies and More at Sweet Bliss Baking Company, Part I

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*****

Sweet Bliss Baking Company is located at 1304 Queen Street East in Leslieville, two blocks east of Leslie St.  Sweet Bliss Baking Company offers an assortment of sweet treats including cupcakes, tarts, cookies, and brownies, as well as coffee drinks, gifts, and more.  Hours and days of operation to be posted!

Sizzling Summer Markets – Summer Squash, Peas, Scallions, and More at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market

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Another summer weekend means another weekend market!  Between Evergreen Brick Works, The Stop at Wychwood Barns, the Junction market, and Liberty Village, there’s plenty of weekend market love to go around.  It’s been a little over a year since I started going to markets on a regular basis and it’s been amazing seeing how they transform between seasons and have they grow and evolve over time.  There are some markets I’ve only ever been to during the summer and some only during the winter so it’s a lot of fun seeing the differences and taking advantage of all the different food that comes along with these changes. 

In addition to visiting markets and seeing in seasonal lights, that are also a handful that I have yet to visit in general.  I have a list of Saturday and Sunday markets that I haven’t been to that I’m itching to scratch off including Withrow Park and most of the markets in Markham and York Region!  I know, I know – I live in Markham!  It was always easier for me to get around in Toronto though because of the day passes so that’s what I often opted for, but I have a strange way of getting around to things so I know I’ll get to them eventually.

For this particular market excursion, I made my way back to Leslieville!  I love the Riverside, Riverdale, Leslieville, and Beaches neighbourhoods along Queen East so planning  a trip to the Leslieville market is like planning an entire day trip because there’s so much to see and do!  It’s been months since my last visit – almost a year, actually, back in September when Jonathan Ashbridge Park was awash with fall colours and the air was chilly and crisp.  Not so much this time!  It was piping hot out, kiddies were running around screaming in the splash pool, and the market was busy and bustling with market goers and park enjoyers despite the sweltering heat.  It was so nice seeing the market so alive with activity.  Augie’s Gourmet Ice Pops had completely sold out (and for good reason!), Hooked Inc. was on site grilling up fish tacos in fresh corn tortillas, and people were snatching up summer vegetables like they were nuggets of gold.    

Even though I’m a self-proclaimed summer wuss, I’m so happy I sucked it up and made the effort to go.  Every season has its own unique beauty and personality and both are evidently manifested and embodied at the market: in the environment, in the atmosphere, and of course, in the gorgeous fruits, vegetables, and bounty of food.  There were mountains of scallions in vibrant greens and purples, beets in shades of plum and bright pink, baskets of beautiful green beans, snow peas, cabbage, and baby Shanghai bok choy, adorable yellow patty pan squashes, crusty baguettes, summer sauces, spreads, and salsas, sweet potato donut holes from LPK Culinary Groove, vegetarian and vegan Indian food from Tiffinday, fresh farm cheese, and spring roll wraps, nut burgers, macaroons, and pesto spreads from my beloved market favourite, Earth & City

My brother and I love condiments, spreads, and sauces (we go through hummus, spicy mustard, and tzatziki like crazy) so I always pay attention to the jarred goodies at the market.  They’re great for sandwiches, vegetables, and things like chicken tenders, sausages, and samosas so we always have a few rotating in our fridge.  I snatched up a sundried tomato pesto spread from Earth & City ($5) this time around, but trust that I’ll give in and take home some chutneys, salsas, and other yummies the next time around! 

*****

Leslieville Farmers’ Market is located at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen Street East and Woodward Ave.  Jonathan Ashbridge Park is located in between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave., and can be accessed via public transit by way of the Queen Street 501 streetcar.  The market is new to the lineup of Toronto markets this year and is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm.  The last market of the year is on October 28, 2012.  Visit their website to sign up to their newsletter, to get involved, and to learn more.

Smoked Salmon & Wild Nova Scotia Tuna Sandwiches – Hooked Inc. at the Toronto Office Markets

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Local seafood lovers rejoice!  Hooked Inc. has won the hearts of Leslieville residents and farmers’ market goers alike since its storefront opening on Queen Street East in 2011.  Hooked Inc. is a fish store that attacks food and knowledge with a passion, providing Torontonians with fresh, sustainable, local fish, shellfish, and seafood products in addition to cooking classes, educational workshops, and farmers’ market vending around the city.  I’m beyond excited about their spring workshop schedule and their expanded farmers’ market schedule come spring and summer.  I was in conniptions when I browsed their website and realized that there would be a market at Edwards Garden later on this year for me to go to!  Farmers’ markets, flowers and gardens, and (sea)food – it’s a dream come true. 

Their enterprise really inspires me because even though I love seafood (much more than red meat and poultry, actually), it’s a food group that I know very little about in terms of location, regional specifics, and sustainability and Hooked makes this knowledge accessible.  Their classes and workshops incorporate hands-on cooking techniques (shucking oysters, and learning about poaching, braising, and stewing fish) as well as food knowledge such as teaching workshops on how to select fish, proper preparation methods and tools to use, and more. 

Kristin shucked 20 oysters for a couple last week!

There’s so much to learn and I want to learn all there is to know about different types of fish and the bodies of water and provinces they come from.  That’s the beauty of Hooked – they are so in tune and knowledgable about their products, the fishing industry, and what it takes to maintain a sustainable economy of food that you feel comfortable asking them anything and everything to do with fish.  As part of the Slow Food/Slow Fish movement, they’re committed to building awareness of local food options, maintaining close, transparent relationships with both producers and consumers, and making information as accessible as possible. 

Their weekly appearances at the Lunchtime Office Markets have taken me on a whirlwind seafood tour and it’s so exciting seeing what different foods Kristin and her crew bring to the table every week.  Their table always provides a mix of fresh fish and seafood lunches to enjoy right then and there as well as vacuum sealed fish, jars of soup, containers of seafood salad, and so much more.  Kristin and her team take the opportunity at the markets to show off the versatility of seafood by turning fish into fast and convenient $5 lunches on the go, often utilizing products from other farmers’ market vendors such as Earth & City and Monforte Dairy. 

They do buck-a-shuck oysters (you can learn to shuck at one of their classes!), fish samples, seafood salad bread bite samples, fish chowder (which I inhaled during this market visit), smoked salmon sandwiches with soft cheese on dark bread, and mouthwatering chunks of fresh Nova Scotia wild tuna salad sandwiches with greens on Earth & City’s flatbread.  So far I’ve only had their fish chowder but I’m telling you, it was SO HARD not having something of theirs at every single market I’ve been to. 

And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way!  At the last market I attended, a couple was so distraught over all the amazing lunch options that they agreed to share one of eveything so that they could try everything they wanted!  They tore a page straight out of my book because I’m often faced with the same dilemma every time I come to these markets.  I wouldn’t want it any other way though; this is what makes food exploration so much fun.  I’m so looking forward to making my first Hooked shop visit in the near future and learning more about their business and about the seafood they so lovingly provide to the markets and our city.

*****

Hooked Inc. is located at 888 Queen Street East at the corner of Booth Ave., east of Logan in the Leslieville neighbourhood.  They are currently vending at the Toronto Office Markets on Wednesdays at CSI Spadina and Thursdays at the ING Direct Cafe.  Keep up to date with news, new markets, workshops and more by visiting their website here and following them on Twitter @hookedinc

It’s Tea Time! Colourful Accessories, Holiday Brightness, and Coconut Almond Rooibos at Steeped & Infused

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I’ve been excited about the upcoming holiday season for awhile now, but something has really ignited my creative fire over the last few days and now I can’t get the Christmas season out of my head!  I’m thinking about all the cookies I want to bake, all the cupcakes I want to decorate, the craft projects I want to do (and speaking of which, I am so horribly behind on my scrapbooking for the blog it’s pathetic), and all the places in the city I want to visit, food-related and otherwise.  I love Christmas so much and there’s nothing like walking past city streets decorated to the nines with Christmas lights, wreaths, and beautiful, intricate storefronts that might as well be featured on a holiday themed runway.  I think about ice skating and I think about cupping my mittened hands around warm drinks, especially tea! 

Tea is my comfort drink and over the past three years, I’ve been overjoyed with all the different flavours and types that I’ve been able to try at different tea places around the city.  An old friend of mine got me hooked on David’s Tea a few years ago, I attended my very first afternoon tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel last year, and I finally introduced my tastebuds to Tealish over the summer.  I’m constantly finding out about sweet little tea shops for loose-leaf teas and the one tea discovery that has stuck with me for months now has been Steeped & Infused.

The very first time I drank tea from Steeped & Infused was actually almost a year ago in The Distillery District!  For those of you who have followed me on the blog since the very beginning, do you remember my Christmas in the Distillery District posts from last December?  Remember the gorgeous, gigantic Christmas tree, wreaths, and jaw-droppingly adorable life-size gingerbread house from Sweet Escape Patisserie?  It was all part of the beautiful Toronto Christmas Market at the Distillery District last year, and Steeped & Infused was there with some much needed hot tea and warmth during those cold winter days!  During my visit to the market, I bought a little 10g packet of loose-leaf coconut almond rooibos from their  amazing collection and selection and it quickly became one of my favourite teas ever.  Fast forward to last week.  I had the most monstrous craving for the coconut almond rooibos tea that I absolutely could not shake off and that’s when I knew I needed to visit the shop and get my Steeped & Infused fix. 

Located on Queen Street East in Leslieville, Steeped & Infused is a beautiful, cheerful loose-leaf tea shop dressed in a bright outfit of forest green, white, and bright purple.  The shop is a tea lover’s emporium with tea accessories, gift sets, and kitchen and dining decor, and in the store you’ll find two giant walls of loose-leaf teas in packages and canisters with everything from white tea to green, black, rooibos, herbal, pu-reh, oolong, yerba mate, and fruit tisanes.  There are descriptions of all the teas that correspond to the little canisters on the shelves which you can open and take a heavenly sniff from.  Their loose leaf teas are available for purchase in either prepackaged bags or in measured increments of 50, 100, and 250 grams, along with a vast selection of 10 gram samples on spinning carousel racks by the cash counter.

Not only can you spin the tea wheel and take you pick from their many loose leaf varieties for a hot tea to go, but you can also fancy things up by having your tea in the form of iced teas, hot tea lattes, iced tea lattes, matcha tea lattes, matcha iced tea lattes, and matcha tea smoothies.  Their drink menu is huge and the flavour selection is fantastic.  Their menu of hot tea lattes include masala chai, chocolate supreme, chocolate cappuccino, caramel oolong, vanilla bourbon, and black currant berry among others. 

What makes the drink menu even more fabulous?  The lattes can be made vegan because you can have your lattes and matcha lattes with soy, rice, or almond milk!  I am so giddy about this!  I am in love with almond milk and I’ve had friends ask me about coffee and tea shops that specifically offer rice milk and I’m ecstatic that Steeped & Infused offers these options!  I know a number of places that offer soy milk and/or almond milk, but all three of these?  Fabulousity!  The presence of these options means that vegans and those with lactose intolerance and nut and/or soy allergies have choices and that’s always a great thing.

I’m excited to try their other tea drinks, especially some of the hot tea lattes and matcha tea lattes.  If they’re anything like my beloved coconut almond rooibos, they will be delicious.  What has disappointed me about a few of the teas I’ve had in the past at other places was the lack of flavour strength.  Coffee and tea drinkers alike will agree that one of the most common ways of ruining a coffee or tea beverage is to dilute and water down.  The whole point is to smell those aromas and have them translate into tasty, strong flavours, not to taste something that tastes like plain hot water or watered down flavoured water.  If the flavour itself ends up not being your cup of tea (pun totally intended), that’s okay, so long as the flavour is actually there. 

The coconut almond is just all sorts of yummy.  The tea itself has such a wonderful, rich and creamy taste to it which is pretty remarkable considering there isn’t a hint of cream in sight!  The creaminess of the coconut comes out full strength when you first drink it and the almond taste comes after, just as you’re about to swallow and the creamy coconut and almond flavour lingers as an aftertaste.  I have friends who worry about bitter tea aftertastes, but you won’t find that with this one.

My favourite things about Steeped & Infused have to be the accessories (the teapots and dish and tea towels are adorable!), their gift sets (hello, holidays!), and their 10 gram samples.  For those who enjoy having a variety of teas to drink through as opposed to being committed to just one, the 10 grams samples are wonderful and I love them.  They’re $1.75 and each 10 gram sample is good for about 3-4 cups of tea!  My sample from the Distillery District market gave me 4 cups and you can bet I’ll be getting more this holiday season!  I’m super happy because the Christmas Market at the Distillery will be back again this year from December 2nd-18th and Steeped & Infused has already secured their spot.  The shop is so pretty, the ladies who work here are really nice and helpful, and there’s plenty to browse and shop through when you’re here.  I’m already looking forward to my next visit.

*****

Steeped & Infused is located at 1258 Queen Street East in Leslieville, at the corner of Queen Street East and Hastings Ave.  They also have a mini location inside a store called Adornments on Queen at 338 Queen Street East.  They are open 6 days a week from 11am-7pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 11am-6pm on Fridays, 10:30am-6pm on Saturdays, and 11:30am-5pm on Sundays.  The shop is closed on Mondays.  You can visit their website here and follow them on Twitter @steepedinfused.  

Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi? Nah, Let’s Stick to All-Day Brunch at Lady Marmalade in Leslieville

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Leslieville has made it onto the blog and with it, Lady Marmalade!  I promise to do a Foodie District round-up post for Leslieville the same way I did for Kensington Market and no, I haven’t forgotten about our beloved Roncesvalles Village either!  I’m so excited to be posting about all these different neighbourhoods in the city and showcasing the yummiest of the yummiest, at least to me!  I pass by and even frequent certain areas of town on the streetcar fairly often but it’s a totally different story when you hop off and walk east and west, north and south, up and down and all around. 

Queen Street is probably the road I’ve travelled most frequently on via streetcar (almost from one end to the other and back on a number of occasions!) and I’ve passed by breakfast, brunch, and lunch diner Lady Marmalade in Leslieville more times than I can remember.  I had heard fabulous things about Lady Marmalade and I had seen the fabulousity taking place out on the curb.  People weren’t lying when they said the diner faced lineups out the door during weekend brunch!  For the record, I ate here during a weekday morning and I thankfully secured a spot before the real crowds started coming in, which they did at 10:30am no less!

The decor at Lady Marmalade almost makes me giggle because there are aspects of it that are so 70s it hurts!  Think 70s mismatched upholstery, moss green and burnt orange, and salt and pepper shakers.  It’s all in good cuteness and I find it endearing!  I think it’s what makes Lady Marmalade the brunch powerhouse and character that it is.  Aside from the punchy decor, the menu packs a punch like you wouldn’t believe.  They serve all-day breakfast and all-day lunch, and classic breakfast dishes such as eggs benny, crepes, and huevos rancherous are given special touches that make them uniquely Lady Marmalade.  Think miso-scallion cream with crepes, huevos rancheros with basmati brown rice, pesto bennies, tofu scrambles with bok choy, a good morning poutine, and a menu boasting lots of scrumptious avocado!  

Lunch items include sandwiches, rice bowls, and meal size salads, and the large drink menu offers fruit smoothies, loose leaf teas, coffee, juices, and different types of soda drinks.  Brunch prices come in at around $7.50-$12.50 with most dishes at $11.50.  The only down side?  Lady Marmalade only accepts cash.  No credit cards or debit cards, much to the chagrin of many hungry brunch goers.  You know everyone brushes off that little bit of nose wrinkling though because no matter what,  this place is popular and packed.

One of the best things about their menu?  You can easily make many of the breakfast dishes vegetarian and vegan which makes Lady Marmalade the perfect brunch spot for meat-lovers, vegetarians, and vegans alike.  A number of their dishes are already vegetarian to begin with, but we all know breakfast options can be laden with eggs and butter and cream, so Lady Marmalade’s menu offers plenty of opportunities to turn meat or vegetarian meals into vegan ones with little lists of “a, b, or c” choices that accompany said menu items.  Even though some meals offer bacon, sausage, and ham, as meat choices, I find Lady Marmalade’s menu to be pretty darn healthy in general!  I mean, breakfast diners are breakfast diners; you’re going to have some level of indulgence and decadence no matter what.  You can tell though that Lady Marmalade’s menu was, and is, well-thought out for the healthy and hearty in mind because there are lots of vegetables in all different forms all over the menu in the breakfast portion and in the lunch portion. 

Everything on the menu sounded delicious, but I wanted to go for something a little different.  There were many options I would have normally pounced on (tofu scramble and huevos rancherous, I’m looking at both of you!), but I wanted to show you all a dish unlike anything else I had previously blogged about so I chose the mouthwatering aged white cheddar and spinach savoury waffles!  The waffles, which come Belgian style and sliced in half diagonally into perfect triangles, are served with melted aged white cheddar cheese and creamy orange sauce on the tops, spinach cooked right into the waffles, and roasted tomatoes, salad, and a choice of bacon or avocado.  I could live off of avocado, so that choice was a no brainer for me!

There were so many amazing dimensions to this meal and they were all delicious for completely different reasons.  I loved each and every part of the dish, but what I loved and appreciated the most was the complexity of flavours and the cohesiveness of the dish in its entirety.  Every single thing had a flavour role to play and they played off each other so well.  Before I get into the deliciousness, I want to explain what I mean by cohesiveness.  We’re talking about savoury waffles with cheese on them, a rather strong cheese that’s been melted on spinach waffles.  When we think waffles, more often than not, we associate them with sweet flavours.  Thus, if the waffles had been served on their own, they would have been too rich and too savoury because dishes like these need other textures and flavours to break up the richness. 

Alongside the roasted tomatoes, salad, and avocado, everything worked because all of these functioned as palate cleansers.  The tomatoes were warm, juicy, and slightly acidic, the giant avocado (they gave me half an avocado, oh my goodness!) was cool, thick, and creamy with no distinctive sweet or salty taste, the orange cream added a zing of fruitiness, and the green salad was crunchy (which contrasted with the chewier texture of the cheese waffles) and extremely refreshing with an amazing sesame dressing with white and black sesame seeds to boot!

Here’s another very important thing to point out: the waffles taste 100x more fabulous when they’re cold!  I don’t mean refrigerator cold, but just no longer warm.  I KNOW.  No, I am not nuts.  I don’t know what it is about certain foods tasting a thousand times more foodgasmic when they’re cold, but I’m dead serious about this.  It could be that the flavours have time to settle in and intensify over time, or maybe heat just alters the way certain things taste.  We all know how disgusting French fries taste when they get cold, but we also know how some people are gaga over cold pizza.  This is one of those delicious cold pizza or spaghetti examples.  I know, when you eat out you’re most likely ravenous, but trust me on this one.  If you have the willpower, take a bite when it’s hot, chat with a friend for about 10-15 minutes before digging in again, and you’ll notice the difference and thank me for it.        

*****

Lady Marmalade is located at 898 Queen Street East in the Leslieville neighbourhood just west of Logan Ave.  They are open 7 days a week for all-day breakfast and all-day lunch.  From Monday-Friday, the diner is open from 8am-4pm, and from 8am-3pm on the weekends.

The Fall Harvest Series – Waffles, Beignets, and a Garlic Closet at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market!

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In another few weeks, the summer and fall farmers’ markets will be packing up and making way for the indoor markets that will roll out just in time for the winter season and holidays, so I want to post as many fall markets as I can before bidding goodbye.  The past summer was so memorable and amazing because of all the farmers’ market visits I made.  Before this past spring and summer, I had never been to a farmers’ market before.  Bake sales, yes.  Street markets and food fests, yes.  But weekly outdoor markets in eleventy billion different neighbourhoods around the city?  Never. 

I learned so much, met so many sweet people, and even got my mum hooked!  I bought vegetables, bread, and baked goods and made many fresh meals from scratch using all the delicious goodies I brought home from the markets.  Even though summer is over, fall is alive and kicking and there’s plenty of life left in these farmers’ markets!  Many of them are dishing out the apples, plums, apricots, crabapples, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, potatoes, beets, pumpkins, and squash while they still can and some of them are even planning Hallowe’en activities!

I made my first visit to Leslieville market at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen East last Sunday, and after subscribing to their newsletter since the summer, the trek out was a long time coming.  The Leslieville Farmers’ Market is new to the Toronto market circuit this year and I think they’ve done such a great job  of getting the community involved and making sure there are inclusive activities for everyone. 

The market is full of volunteers, live music is provided and performed by local artists and bands, there are kiddie corner activities every Sunday for the wee ones (think reading and books and food crafts!), and there’s always a group event that brings everyone together.  Whether it’s a book sale or free yoga sessions in the park, the market organizers make an effort to encourage everyone in and outside of the neighbourhood to enjoy everything it has to offer.  Just recently, Leslieville market even hosted a jar swap where everyone brought their homemade sauces, pickled vegetables, jams, jellies, compotes, and preserves and swapped with fellow market-goers!

Highlights of the market: 1) the waffle and beignet table!!  I’m not talking about the frozen Eggo-type kind.  Imagine thick cut, fresh waffles that are like Belgian waffles married with funnel cakes alongside hot, deep-fried beignets tossed in powdered sugar.  Can you say breakfast at the market?!  I love it!  I had already eaten brunch by the time I made my way over, but I’m telling you, those waffles looked to die for.  Highlight two: the baked goods table!  You know I can’t go to a market without ogling this section.  There was a basket of long, crunchy baguettes, carrot cake squares with vanilla icing, chocolate cake muffins with powdered sugar, and the moistest looking chocolate brownies I have ever since.  I didn’t even have to taste one to know it would melt in my mouth.  All I had to do was look at it.  Pillow soft and fudgy.

Highlight numero three: the vegan hot food table!  Not only can you enjoy breakfast at Leslieville, but you can also sit down to a picnic of warm, vegan food provided by Tiffinday Inc., a vegan catering company in Toronto dedicated to delivering fresh and healthy vegan lunches to the city crowd in reuseable, stainless steel containers.  I picked up some delicious lentil samosas to bring back home for my brother, the samosa king and lover of the house, and we shared them and adored them.  Highlight number four: the garlic bulb closet!  No, I’m serious, there was this table that sold mouthwatering homemade hummus dips along with garlic, and the bulbs were categorized and organized by country of origin and type in what looked like a wooden closet, cubbyhole thing on an easel.  It was adorable!

It was a great market to go to and I’m glad I finally did after all these months.  Their last market of the year is on October 30th (the day before Hallowe’en!) so everyone, you have two weeks left to enjoy it!  Take in as much of the fall harvest as you can because winter is nipping at our heels.

 

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Leslieville Farmers’ Market is located at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen Street East and Woodward Ave.  Jonathan Ashbridge Park is located in between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave., and can be accessed via public transit by way of the Queen Street 501 streetcar.  The market is new to the lineup of Toronto markets this year and is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm.  The last market of the year is on October 30, 2011.  Visit their website to sign up to their newsletter, to get involved, and to learn more.