Spring is upon us (I begrudgingly set my clock forward by an hour last night and lost an oh-so-precious hour of sleep, grrr) and that means garden fresh ingredients and light and savoury food! It’s understandable to eat warm and hearty in the winter, especially if you live in snowland like me. The heartier meals give you that “cozy” feeling and during the warmer, summer months, we shred the clothes as well as our heavier appetites (well, at least some of us do, ha!). Our eating habits reflect this kind of cyclical nature throughout the year because a lot of us also eat based on what’s available seasonally. It’s exciting thinking ahead to all the amazing outdoor farmer’s markets that will be setting up in the city, and when I think of all things fresh and light, I think of Mela Café. The first time I set foot in Mela Café was last September and my very first entry on Mela Café was written back in January. And what strikes me about this amazing vegetarian eatery after having eaten here a few times now, is how the food reflects both warm and hearty dishes, and yet maintains a level of lightness and freshness in its taste and ingredients. Case in point: Robert’s homemade ravioli swimming in delicious tomato sauce.
The homemade ravioli dish is the epitome of lightness. Words that describe it: airy, delicate, bright, flavourful. You ask, “but how can that be?? It’s pasta!” True. Pasta dishes traditionally have a reputation for being heavier food fare. It’s a starch after all, and functions much the same way rice and bread do in terms of filling up an appetite. But let me tell you, the ravioli, with its homemade ricotta cheese, is so soft and the pasta just melts in your mouth. The ricotta cheese is smooth, light, and creamy and doesn’t overwhelm the ravioli, but rather complements it. Along with the tomato sauce, (which is truly one of Mela Café’s most special and defining touches) it goes down the hatch like you wouldn’t believe. When you’re eating this, it doesn’t make you feel like you’re about to collapse into a food coma. It makes you feel satisfied and healthy and GOOD. Even though I ate this back in January in the dead of winter, it had the effect of making me feel like I was eating inside a spring garden with the sprinkling of herbs and bright green snow peas. And the wedge of breaded eggplant on top was the perfect touch of crispiness and savouriness to round out the whole dish.
So many of their dishes have this dual nature to them where you can eat them during the winter and still feel as though they were plucked straight out of a garden. Sweet potatoes and rapini. Black rice and vegetables. Stuffed bell peppers. Fresh vegetable lasagna. Banana muffins. Beet risotta pie. Red lentil and split pea vegan soup. Mushroom and potato pie with broccoli and asparagus. And the menu just continues on and on from there. Even eating here makes you feel revitalized. Bright light streams in through the large window, bright green, blue, and orange are splashed on the walls, and you sit back and feel like you’re in a bustling Italian kitchen with wonderful people around you to talk to and eat with. Genuine Italian homemade at its freshest and finest 😀
Mela Café is located at 7 Yorkville Ave., north of Cumberland St. and just west of Yonge St.
Scrapbooking materials used: buttercup yellow, emerald green, tangerine orange cardstock (Recollections); medium scallop circle paper punch (ek success); cardboard and cardboard frame embellishments; aluminum foil; corner paper rounder.