The Fall Harvest Series – Thanksgiving in the City! Turkey Sandwiches, Crêpes, Buffets, Harvest Fests, Veg & More!

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I can count the number of times I’ve had traditional Thanksgiving food and dinner on less than one hand.  My family was never really into it growing up and even till this day, they can kind of take it or leave.  But I have to tell you, I LOVE the idea of the whole nine yards: roast turkey and gravy, roasted and steamed vegetables, potatoes, cranberry something or other, and plenty of pumpkin pie and other fall-inspired desserts!  My ideal traditional Thanksgiving dinner spread would consist of turkey and gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes (or any type of potato for that matter!), some squash, and some sweet and decadent apple caramel dessert with a little special pumpkin something on the side.

Whether you’re spending Thanksgiving at home with your family, going out of town, or scoping out delicious Thanksgiving yummies around the city, I hope everyone takes the time to slow things down and really enjoy the time off – providing you have it!  Things have been an absolute whirlwind for me, especially this past week, and I am so relieved to have this long weekend to myself.  Here at Kraft Kitchens, we’re in the middle of working on our summer 2013 magazine, we’re busting out new recipes and content to the web for holiday and festive 2012, we just pulled off a fantastic and crazy Kraft Kitchens Open House yesterday, and in several months we’ll be putting the spring 2013 magazine to bed.  I love my job and I love what I do, but truth be told, I am exhausted and was ready for this weekend weeks ago!

If you’re looking for some Thanksgiving feasts around town, here are some options you can check out as well as some Thanksgiving-inspired dishes that will totally hit the spot if you’re looking for something a little more casual but with the same holiday flair and flavour. Some of these events were pulled straight from the October Food Calendar while others are completely new to the blog, so enjoy and jot these down!

First off, turkey!  I love a good turkey sandwich and 1) Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches in the Annex (605 Bloor Street West just west of Bathurst St.) has the perfect Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich for that hungry tummy!  Their “One Wing” sandwich ($4.99) is stuffed with sliced oven roasted turkey, cream cheese, cranberry sauce, and stuffing on their signature cranberry and cream cheese bread.  Talk about Thanksgiving rolled into one!  And hopefully if you’re lucky, Sky Blue Sky sandwiches will have their sweet glazed pumpkin cookies on hand to go with it as well as some fall soups.

In addition, 2) Spin Cafe (2177 Yonge Street by Yonge & Eglinton, as well as several other locations around the GTA.  Click the link above for more info) is dishing out the fall and Thanksgiving seasonal goods with an ENTIRE menu of delicious food!  Drinks, desserts, entrees, you name it, they have it.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, Spin is featuing their Thankful Savoury Crepe ($14.25), a crepe filled with carved turkey breast, potatoes, and stuffing with a side of cranberries and savoury gravy!

Source: Mary Macleods Shortbread e-newsletter

Mary Macleods Shortbread on Queen Street East in Riverside is also celebrating the Thanksgiving Harvest with some ridiculously adorable shaped shortbread cookies!  Turkey birds, fall leaves, and cute-as-a-button smiling pumpkins are all here for the weekend, so visit the shop if you want in on the goods.  And if you’re in the neighourhood for yummy shortbread, swing by the Leslieville Farmers’ Market on Sunday from 9am-2pm for their Harvest Celebration!  Pick up some amazing food at the market to outfit your dinner table and feast your eyes and tummy on an assortment of pumpkin pies, pumpkins and apples, pumpkin and apple desserts (Augie’s is selling pumpkin popsicles!), sweet potato curry, meat pies, cranberry and lingonberry compotes, fresh fall vegetables and more!

As well, don’t forget to check out THIS POST from Blog TO where they list 6 spots in the city serving special turkey dinner and Toronto’s Vegetarian Association (veg.ca) for some fabulous tips and recipes for non-turkey, vegetarian and vegan Thanksgiving meals!

And if you’re in the mood for something extravagent and lavish or just plain festive, here are some feasts and fests that are right up your alley:

  • At Home for Harvest at The Gibson House, October 6-8. 12pm-5pm.  5172 Yonge Street just north of the North York Centre subway station.  $5.48 admission for adults, $3.10 for seniors 65+ and youth ages 13-18, $2.62 for children ages 2-12.  Enjoy a celebration of the harvest over Thanksgiving weekend at one of Toronto’s historic houses!  Spend time in a busy, bustling historic farm kitchen and watch as harvest foods are prepared for tasting!  http://www.toronto.ca/culture/museums/featured-events.htm

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  • Thanksgiving Day Brunch at Casa Loma, October 7.  Seatings at 10:30am, 11am, 12:30pm, 1pm. 1 Austin Terrace (near Spadina Ave. and Davenport Rd.).  $51.45 +HST/adult, $26.45 +HST/child 4-12, $13.45 +HST/child 1-3 (prices include brunch and admission to the castle).  Feast on a Thanksgiving meal like no other in the majestic setting in the stately library in Casa Loma!  http://www.casaloma.org/events.index.gk

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  • Thanksgiving Dinners at Black Creek Pioneer Village, October 7 & 8. Seatings at 12pm, 2:30pm, and 5pm.  1000 Murray Ross Parkway near York University at Black Creek’s Half Way House Restaurant.  $53.99 +HST/adult, $27 +HST/child (prices include meal, gratuity, and admission to the grounds).  Enjoy the bounty of local Ontario produce and meat in a historical pioneer setting with a horse-drawn wagon ride to boot!  The elaborate Thanksgiving dinner menus will include dishes and options such as butternut squash soup with maple crème fraiche, rustic maple root vegetable risotto with sage and brown butter, local Ontario turkey with walnut sage stuffing, cinnamon orange cranberry sauce, green beans and bacon and mashed potatoes, and much more! http://www.blackcreek.ca/events/event.dot?id=144010

Foodie Districts: Mirvish Village!

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After sharing the goodness of portobellos, avocado, and honey-nut bread from Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches this past week, I thought it would be a great time to do a Foodie Districts post on the quaint, yet flashy, Mirvish Village!  Named after the late business tycoon, theatre connoissuer, and philanthropist, Ed Mirvish, the little district that could is sandwiched between The Annex and Koreatown near Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street.  Mirvish Village is a tiny neighbourhood with a loud voice, a little bit of cheese, and a whole lot of retro, vintage, and character. 

Flashing lights from Toronto’s historic flagship discount store, Honest’s Ed, flicker like bedazzled jewels at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst, vibrant, colourful murals and graffiti paintings adorn the brick walls of the shops and Victorian house storefronts, and the wining and dining is one big pub and carnival affair.  While the bulk of Mirvish Village is concentrated within one or two blocks on and around Markham Street, its character and quaintness more than make up for its tininess, and the food in the area is fabulous.  You have a terrific pub, a southern cajun and creole powerhouse, vegetarian delights, and a board game cafe to boot!  Here’s a food snapshot of Mirvish Village in all its glory:

Southern Accent, Toronto headquarters for all things cajun, creole, and carnival!  Southern Accent has become one of my absolute favourite places to eat not only because of the food but because of the flamboyant decor and big and brash, party atmosphere.  With its colourful lanterns, psychic readings, boozy purple lighting, and southern fare, every day is Mardi Gras and it is just so much fun having a meal here.  My boyfriend took me here for our very first Valentine’s together because he knew I would go crazy-happy with the atmosphere and decor and because I have a real soft spot for cajun cuisine.  I love learning about the food culture (especially in New Orleans) and because there aren’t too many places in the city that serve this style of food, coming here is always a huge treat.  Hush puppies, collard greens, gumbo, okra, oysters, southern corn bread, jambalaya, catfish – it’s all here.  I am crazy about their creme brulee and my favourite foods thus far have to be the grilled corn on the cob with paprika along with my pork tenderloin and grilled mango skewers and my cod fish dinner. 

I’ve enjoyed a number of delicious dishes over the years and what I love about the menu is that there are always new selections every so often depending on the season.  Aside from their permanent, every day menu, Southern Accent has a running price fixe that changes throughout the year, huge annual Mardi bashes, and consistent appearances at both Winterlicious and Summerlicious.  Located at 595 Markham Street, open at 5pm Tuesday-Sunday.

Thanks to my grad school friends and grad school activities, I became very acquainted with the Victory Cafe!  I held conference committee meetings over juice and snacks here during the summer, attended an end-of-the-year sociology bash where I stuffed my face with a chicken club and a rich, decadent, delicious slice of chocolate milk and cookies cake (pictured up top), and an evening or two here and there for some drinks and classic pub food with classmates and professors.  Their menu is a classic pub menu with fabulous variety and portions.  There are curry and rice meals, plenty of vegetarian yummies (chili, spinach and cheese quesadillas, lentil and veggie curry, and veggie chili poutine among others), in addition to pub classics such as fish n’ chips, club sandwiches, calamari, wings, and nachos. 

The Victory Cafe houses some great memories for me because it was one of the first pubs I ever frequented as a grad student and because it gave me one of the best mac n’ cheese meals ever!  One of my fondest memories is my first visit to the Victory.  While walking in the direction of the pub spot, I stopped to ask someone if the Victory was around the corner to make sure I was heading the right way (this was before I knew my neighbourhoods inside out and backwards).  The nice young man told me it was just down the road and then went on to say, “you have to try the mac n’ cheese, it’s the best!”  I took the advice (I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth!), ordered the mac n’ cheese and from that moment on, I was forever grateful to that young lad.  I absolutely cannot wait to go back during the summer so I can eat it out on the patio and get a fab photo.  Located at 581 Markham Street.

If you’re in the market for a spot that is both vegetarian-friendly and meaty, Butler’s Pantry is at your service!  Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, Butler’s Pantry is perfect for those who want to dine among vegetarians and carnivores alike.  Their menu is chock full of mains that showcase the diversity of different regional and ethnic cuisines and comfort foods while at the same time showing the versatility of vegetarian cuisine as starring mains.  They serve a selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches for lunch, egg breakfasts and French toasts for brunch, and a host of pasta, rice, meat, and veggie dishes for lunch mains and dinner.  They have two locations in the city (one in Mirvish Village and the other in Roncesvalles) and I’ve been itching to go for the longest time because their menu is just spectacular in terms of variety and very reasonable when it comes to pricing.  Located at 591 Markham Street.  Open Monday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 10am-11:30pm, and Sunday 10am-10pm.

 

I’ve been meaning to do a big post on Snakes and Lattes for ages now, but I need more food photos!  Snakes and Lattes is Toronto’s super popular board game cafe.  With a selection of over 200 board games, comfortable couches, and food and drinks, it’s the perfect place to go to when the weather isn’t cooperating and to spend time with a group of friends.  It’s such a fun place to go to and given how crowded and busy it can get during the afternoons and evenings, I’m not the only who who feels this way! 

How the cafe works: $5/person for all day play.  You can stay for as long as you want, order whatever drinks and food you want, and have a blast with your friends.  If you know you’re going to be coming with a group of friends, they also take reservations, just give them a call and they will save or section of the cafe for you.  They have a fabulous menu of drinks (cold and hot) and quite a bit of lunch and snack food including freshly made sandwiches, quiches (meat and vegetarian), mini donuts, and vegan cupcakes!  Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches and Snakes and Lattes sit on the border of Koreatown and Mirvish Village, but I like to include them in the mix.  Located at 600 Bloor Street West just west of Markham Street.  Open at 11am into the wee hours of the morning!

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Mirvish Village is located near the intersection of Bloor and Bathurst, between The Annex and Koreatown

Vegetarian Sandwich Series – Wishful Thinking of Portobellos and Honey-Nut Bread at Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!

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It’s about time I made it to Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches!  I’ve been meaning to do a post on them for the Vegetarian Sandwich Series for months now (months is actually an understatement – I’d say it’s been a good year!) and I’m thrilled that I got the chance to sink my teeth into one of their delicious veggie sandwiches.  The Vegetarian Sandwich Series was the very first special series I thought of and started on Ate by Ate back in June of 2011 and it was entirely inspired by my vegetarian friend, Wini, who wanted to know where the best vegetarian sandwiches in the city were hiding.  Since I started the series, I’ve been on the hunt for the yummiest sandwiches, the joints with the best selection, and the hidden gems and surprises and I’ve found some amazing eats! 

Even though I’ve barely knicked the surface (if I posted everything on my “behind the scenes” ongoing list all at once, there wouldn’t be anything to post 3 years from now!), I’m glad that Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches has finally made its way to the blog because it’s been on my hit list for so long.  A vegetarian sandwich series just without be complete without the sandwich cafe in town with half a menu of veggie sandwiches!

       

Located on Bloor Street West bordering the Annex, Mirvish Village, and Koreatown, Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches is the all mighty soup and sandwich cafe with over 20 sandwich choices on their sandwich menu!  With picnic, diner friendly red and white checkered tablecloths and cute sandwich names to boot, this is the perfect place for sandwich fanatics (think Joey from FRIENDS), deli lovers, casual diners, diners on a budget ($4-$5 sandwiches!), carnivores, and herbivores alike.  Their menu has so much variety and selection that when you read through it, you’ll be thinking, “oh my goodness, which sandwich do I love and want more?” as opposed to, “hmm, so, what are my choices?”  Knowing I wanted a veggie sandwich clearly wasn’t good enough when I had 10 choices to mull over! 

In terms of meat sandwiches, choices include oven roasted turkey (the One Wing sandwich sounds like a Thanksgiving sandwich constructed from heaven), slow roasted pulled pork, roast beef, smoked chicken, black forest ham, bacon, capicola (an Italian cold cut), and tuna.

Vegetarians can rejoice because their vegetarian choices are even more varied than their meat ones!  Chad of Sky Blue Sky Sandwiches tells me that the ho-hum lettuce, tomato, and sprout combination just doesn’t cut it when it comes to providing a menu that captures the essence of how creative vegetarian sandwich creation and eating can be.  Part of the fun of vegetarian sandwich creation is mixing and matching vegetables, fruits, and non-meat proteins with delicious breads.  Sky Blue Sky definitely has one of the larger vegetarian sandwich menu selections in town and choices include portobello mushrooms, avocado, almond butter and banana, mozzarella, tomato, and basil, cashew butter, roasted chick peas with curry and mango chutney, pear and Gouda grilled cheese, basil pesto, roasted red peppers, and SO MUCH MORE.

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