California Dreamin’ – The California Classic Salad & A Day of All Things New at Fresh on Eglinton!

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DSCN0252It’s finally here: my post on veggie eats at Fresh on Eglinton!  Let it be known that when these photos were taken, there was still snow on the ground.  And ice.  And some slush.  In the dead of what became a ridiculously frightful winter.  But!  The yummies I have for you all today scream summer so at the very least it’s seasonally appropriate to be posting about this now (I think I ordered what I ordered at the time to make myself feel better about the wretched weather and to silently send winter “go away” vibes.  Because, you know, that totally helps.  NOT.) instead of say, a hot hearty stew that would probably make us break out into an uncomfortable sweat at this point.  So even though it’s been months since I made my first visit to their newest location and took these photos and even longer since this location officially opened, it’s now in the books for real!

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Fresh on Eglinton, located at 90 Eglinton Ave. East a few blocks east of Yonge Street at Dunfield Ave. is the latest addition to the Fresh empire and the foodie in me is so geeked that I have now eaten in all 4 of their locations: Queen & Spadina, Queen & Crawford, Spadina & Bloor, and now Yonge & Eglinton.  And while I LOVE Fresh and all their different locations in their own way, I have to say, the Eglinton one has captured my heart.  For starters, it’s in the Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood.  Hello, Deb’s wheelhouse of foodie fun!  David’s Tea, The Cupcake Shoppe, Kale Eatery, tons of cafes, Italian, and weekend brunch spots, walking distance to the Yonge & Lawrence, Yonge & Davisville, and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods and so much more.  There’s so much to love.

In addition, this one boasts the largest space of all Fresh locations.  It’s so pretty and spacious –  pops of pineapple yellow, lime and celery green and chargoal grey, wooden and mirror accents, plenty of spacious booths and suspended from the ceiling, Fresh’s signature sparkly chandeliers.  And did I mention the really nice, big patio?  Yeah, there’s a really nice, big summer-ready patio that’s just calling everyone to come over to eat till they’re silly.  Mark my words, I WILL have a patio meal there before the summer is over!

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To make this first visit to the new location feel even more ‘new’, I decided to try something, well, new!  To me anyway.  I went over in my head all the things I’ve eaten so far and realized that the only category I hadn’t yet eaten from was the salad one.  I’d had their rice and soba noodle bowls, a few of their appetizers, a few of their burgers and wraps on beds of salad greens, their weekend brunch, their juice, their soups, heck, I’ve even created my own custom brown rice and soba noodle bowls!  So I thought, “what better way to celebrate this lovely occasion than to knock out the last category in my ‘to-eat-at-Fresh’ list?”  Salad it was!

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Fresh’s salads are meal/entree size ranging from $10 to $13 with all sorts of delicious veggie combinations atop a big pillow of salad greens: marinated tofu cubes with grilled spinach and sunflower seeds; edamame with napa cabbage and sunflower sprouts; grilled tempeh bacon with jicama, avocado, tomatoes and kale; yellow beets with jicama, napa cabbage, peanuts and peanut lime dressing; quinoa, kale and goji berries; and a soup, salad and cornbread lunch combo.  I picked a salad that had Deb written all over it: the California Classic ($12), a giant salad comprised of pesto white beans, toasted pecans, avocado, grape tomatoes, and hearts of palm on spinach and mixed salad greens.  I ordered tahini dressing with it (a mouthwatering creamy dressing of sesame with garlic, lemon and parsley) along with a side of goat cheese because a cheese lover like myself would feel naked without it, and a side of their famous kale slaw.  And a fresh mango juice with coconut water to wash it all down.  YUM!

I could seriously just stuff my face with pesto white beans, pecans and avocado all the live long day.  The wonderful thing about salads is how full of flavour and texture they are when they are constructed well.  I mean, you can construct it based on the ‘kitchen sink’ philosophy where you kind of throw in some of this and some of that or some leftovers here and some things in the fridge you need to finish there, but it may or may not taste good depending on what you use.  But salads like these, bursting with colour and life, give you all sorts of different yummy sensations.  Crunchiness from the greens and pecans, creaminess from the avocado and dressing, juiciness from the tomatoes, starchy savouriness from the pesto white beans, and meatiness from the hearts of palm.

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And you know what?  Something else was new about this experience: my first time eating hearts of palm!  YES, I had never eaten hearts of palm before this meal and quite honestly, had no idea what to expect.  I didn’t know what they looked like, how they would taste.  For some odd reason, I went into it thinking hearts of palm were similar to endive!  Um, I was very wrong.  Hearts of palm are not green.  Or leafy.  If I had to describe the appearance, texture and taste, I’d have to say they’re like a cross between bamboo shoots in appearance, cooked mushrooms in texture and artichokes in taste.  They’re extremely mild but meaty and yet kind of cool and refreshing at the same time and its softness complimented the soft and creamy avocado.  They’re like blank canvases, able to absorb all sorts of different flavours that surround it so it was very cool tasting it for the first time.  How’s that for trying new things all in one day?!

Here’s to another handful of delicious, mouthwatering vegetarian meals at Fresh for the remainder of 2014!

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Fresh currently serves 4 locations in Toronto:

  1. 326 Bloor St. West (right off the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Bloor St. West, just east of Spadina)
  2. 894 Queen St. West (at the intersection of Crawford St. and Queen St. West, near Trinity Bellwoods Park)
  3. 147 Spadina Ave. (near the intersection of Spadina Ave. and Queen St. West, a block south of Queen)
  4. 90 Eglinton Ave. East (at Dunfield Ave. on Eglinton east of Yonge St.)
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Strawberry Season is Under Way! A Photo Spotlight on the Strawberries n’ Cream from The Cupcake Shoppe

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It’s the first week of June and I think I have full-blown red fever: strawberry season is here!  Call me crazy but for the past few months I’ve been daydreaming about strawberry desserts, strawberry socials, strawberry picking and strawberry themed everything.  Much like apples, lemons, and blueberries, you just can’t go wrong with planning a menu around them.  Strawberry shortcake, strawberry trifle, strawberry mousse, chocolate dipped strawberries – is there anything the awesome strawberry can’t do?!  Generally speaking, our local strawberry season lasts for two months from June through July so I’m excited to see what kinds of strawberry-related goodies I can post about over the next little while.  To kick things off, I’m featuring a photo spotlight on – what else – a strawberry cupcake!  I’m actually surprised that I’ve done 5 posts on strawberry cupcakes from different shops around the city already.  It’s hard to capture the full breadth of what the city has to offer when it comes to a single flavour because some of them are seasonal and/or limited time offerings and some of them exist on rotating menus so it can take a long time to photograph and eat them all!

The Strawberries n’ Cream cupcake ($2.85) from The Cupcake Shoppe is a vanilla cupcake filled with strawberry jam in the centre, topped with vanilla and strawberry swirled buttercream and a dainty and adorable strawberry candy.  It seriously looks like it was plucked straight out of the Strawberry Shortcake cartoon – it’s cute and pink and fluffy!  And the jam-filled centre is a sweet and fruity bonus.

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The Cupcake Shoppe is located in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood at 2417 Yonge St., north of Eglinton on the east side of Yonge St.  Their second location in Vaughan is located by Bathurst St. and Rutherford Road at 9340 Bathurst.  Hurray for more cupcake options in York Region!

They have a rotating menu of cupcake flavours each day and each cupcake is priced at $2.85.  For more Cupcake Shoppe goodness on Ate by Ate, check out The Cupcake Chronicles feature page HERE!  There are write-ups, scrapbook layouts, and tons of photos on The Cupcake Shoppe’s following flavours: Cookie Dough, Eh? (maple), Lemon Drop & Lov’n Lemon (the first one is one of the most amazing lemon cupcakes you will ever eat), Red Velvet, Naughty n’ Spice (fall seasonal), After Ate (mint chocolate), Pretty in Pink (raspberry cupcake with raspberry buttercream), Triple Chocolate Fudge (chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and chocolate chips), Sleepless in Toronto (coffee), Confetti (vanilla cake studded with confetti with gorgeous blue-purple (or in my words, periwinkle) frosting and sprinkles, the holiday seasonal Candy Cane Lane (chocolate cake with candy cane buttercream and candy cane topping), and the delicious summer seasonal Lime n’ Licious.

The Cupcake Shoppe

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cupcake shoppe collage 3The Cupcake Shoppe

Address & Hours of Operation: 2417 Yonge Street (north of Eglinton Ave.) in Toronto; open Monday to Sunday from 10am-7pm Monday to Friday, 10am-6pm Saturday, 11am-6pm Sunday || 9340 Bathurst Street (at Rutherford Ave.) in Vaughan; open Monday to Sunday from 11am to 7pm Monday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm Sunday

Prices: $2.85 per cupcake

Ate by Ate’s Top 5: Lemon Drop, Cookie Dough, Lime n’ Licious, Confetti, Eh? (maple)

  • The James Brown Cupcake & Red Velvet Cupcake || “Everyone, Meet James Brown & Little Miss Red Velvet From The Cupcake Shoppe!” posted December 2, 2010 || Features the James Brown cupcake, a chocolate cupcake with chocolate buttercream and the Red Velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting.
  • The After Ate Cupcake || “After Ate on Ate by Ate – The Cupcake Shoppe’s Minty Chocolate Cupcake” posted December 16, 2010 || Features a 2-page scrapbook layout and the After Ate cupcake, a chocolate cupcake with mint buttercream and chocolate sprinkles.  Also features David’s Tea Creme Caramel rooibos tea.
  • The Naughty n’ Spice Cupcake || “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice…Or Naughty!  Spice Cupcakes and Baked Apple Tea from David’s Tea” posted January 30, 2011 || Features a 2-page scrapbook layout and the Naughty n’ Spice cupcake, a spice cake with cinnamon vanilla buttercream.  Also features David’s Tea Baked Apple tea from the winter 2010/11 collection.
  • Valentine’s Day Cupcakes || “Valentine’s Day Sweetness – A Rendition of “All I Want Are Cupcakes & Sugar Cookies!” posted February 15, 2011 || Features the vanilla on vanilla Yonge n’ Eligible cupcake and James Brown cupcake decked out in Valentine’s decorations.
  • The Cookie Dough Cupcake || “My Version of Milk and Cookies: Cookie Dough Cupcake and Warm Spicy Chocolate Rooibos with Milk” posted March 9, 2011 || Features a 4-page scrapbook layout and the Cookie Dough cupcake, a chocolate chip vanilla cupcake with cookie dough buttercream and chocolate chips.  Also features David’s Tea Spicy Chocolate rooibos tea.

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  • The Lemon Drop Cupcake & Lov’n Lemon Cupcake || “A Tale of Two Lemon Cupcakes From The Cupcake Shoppe: Lov’n Lemon and Lemon Drop” posted June 3, 2011 || Features a 2-page scrapbook layout and The Cupcake Shoppe’s two lemon cupcakes: the Lemon Drop, a vanilla cake with lemon frosting (FAVOURITE!) and the Lov’n Lemon, a vanilla or chocolate cupcake with lemon buttercream (not so great, hence the title A Tale of  Two Lemon Cupcakes).
  • A Colourful “Gnomey” Summer Cupcake Window Display || “Who’s Your Gnomey?  Frost Me Cupcakes and Garden Gnomes on Display at The Cupcake Shoppe” posted July 7, 2011 || Features a photo spotlight on a summer window display at The Cupcake Shoppe with summer garden gnomes and their Frost Me cupcake, a vanilla or chocolate cupcake with bright coloured frosting and gumball on top, changed regularly.
  • The Eh? Cupcake || “The Fall Harvest Series – Like a Stack of Fluffy, Golden Pancakes & Syrup!  The Eh? Cupcake from The Cupcake Shoppe” posted October 21, 2011 || Features a 2-page scrapbook layout and the Eh? cupcake, a vanilla cupcake with maple frosting and little sprinkles and red coloured sugar sprinkles.
  • The Pretty in Pink Cupcake || “For All the Pink Monsters Out There – The “Pretty in Pink” Raspberry Cupcake from The Cupcake Shoppe” posted June 13, 2012 || Features a photo spotlight on the Pretty in Pink cupcake, a raspberry cupcake (beautiful pink-red!) with raspberry buttercream and Nerd candy sprinkles.
  • The Lime n’ Licious Cupcake & Summer Picnic Window Display || “Summer of Cupcakes – A Photo Spotlight on Cupcake Picnic Displays & the Lime n’ Licious from The Cupcake Shoppe” posted July 17, 2012 || Features a photo spotlight on the summer seasonal cupcake, Lime n’ Licious, a vanilla cupcake with lime and lemon swirled frosting and a summer picnic cupcake window display.

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  • The Sleepless in Toronto Cupcake || “Sweet Dreams & Cupcake Slumbers – The Cupcake Shoppe’s Coffee Buttercream Frosted “Sleepless in Toronto” Cupcake!” posted October 12, 2012 || Features the Sleepless in Toronto cupcake, a vanilla or chocolate cupcake with coffee buttercream.
  • The Triple Chocolate Fudge Cupcake || “Blowing Kisses to my Fudgy Sweet Tooth – Toasted Walnut David’s Tea & the Triple Chocolate Fudge from The Cupcake Shoppe!” posted March 3, 2013 || Features the Triple Chocolate Fudge cupcake, a chocolate cupcake with chocolate fudge frosting and chocolate chips.  Also features David’s Tea Toasted Walnut green tea.
  • The Candy Lane Cupcake & Confetti Cupcake || “The Holiday Cupcake Blitz Begins!  Fudgy Candy Cane Lane & Sweet Vanilla Confetti from The Cupcake Shoppe!” posted December 7, 2013 || Features the holiday seasonal Candy Cane Lane cupcake, a chocolate cupcake with candy cane peppermint buttercream and candy cane piece, and the Confetti cupcake, a vanilla cupcake with sweet vanilla frosting in bright periwinkle and rainbow confetti sprinkles.