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Warm Up With Comfort Food

This morning as I walked to the cornerstore to buy some cream, the sweet smell of freshly baked croissants wafted through the air.  This is the double edged sword that is living in close proximity to decadent french patisseries and gourmet shops.  On one hand, there is never a shortage of sweets or flaky breads in an emergency.  On the other, I have to constantly resist temptation.  Confession:  I have consumed an exorbant amount of Brie and those ten-million dollar too delicious for their own good, Raincoast Crisps. (You need to try the Hazelnut ones, but be forewarned, it is addiction forming.) Ooh la la!

With the fresh snowfall, I am constantly layering with a cozy sweater or craving comfort foods.  Here are some of my suggestions to warm up on a cold Winter (almost-Spring) late afternoon:

Mmm, apple crumble with vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel.

  • Apple Crumble – In an effort to become a domestic goddess, I have been trying to make everything from scratch.  My latest attempt in the kitchen involved an apple crumble with Hagen-Daz Dulce de Leche ice cream.  Such an easy recipe with apples, flour, brown sugar, oats, butter and a dash of cinnamon, the smell alone reminds of my childhood.  Don’t forget to add the lemon juice to help the apples soften while baking.  Please, learn from my mistakes.

Eco-friendly poutine served in a recyclable bowl @ Poutini's

  • Poutine – It must be a Canadian thing because I don’t know anyone that doesn’t LOVE poutine.  A relatively new place just opened up in Queen West West called Poutini’s, House of Poutine (1112 Queen St. West) and they obviously specialize in poutine.  They hand cut their fries, use real gravy and their cheese curds are extra cheesy.  They also serve specialty varieties of poutine for brunch.  Poutini Florentini, anyone?

Potatoe, Potato: Bailey's latte or Tea with Bailey's. Choose your poison.

  • Bailey’s with Tea – I was once at a dinner party and during dessert, they served Bailey’s with Tea.  In lieu of adding cream, just add a shot (or two if you’re a party trooper) to any variety of black tea such as English Breakfast or Orange Pekoe.  A nice after dinner drink following a hearty comfort meal.

February 23, 2010   No Comments

Muy Caliente: Mexican Brunch Mang

To inaugurate the New Year, I often come up with a reason to hostess an intimate get together with my fashionistah girlfriends.  The most inventive of which was a few years back, a Japanese themed soiree where girls arrived in kimonos, red lipstick, chopsticks in hair, some in wigs and we feasted on a meal of miso and sushi.  You know it’s a good party when there’s fake hair involved. 

Too lazy to make your own huevos, check out Easy Cafe at Queen West & Roncey.

Not content enough to be stylishly dressed and coiffed at all times, my university friends also have Martha Stewart tendencies preparing lavish gourmet meals, perfectly presented with a sweet parting gift of a bonbonierre to take home. Last year, we were all about mini everything – mini quiche, mini sliders, mini crudite, mini cupcakes, mini, mini, mini…etc.  Inspired by the rock n’ roll, motorcycle, spanish leaning breakfast menu at Easy Cafe (1645 Queen Street West), I proposed a Mexican brunch theme.  We had a hearty feast of guacamole with nachos, spinache and red leaf salad with feta, refried beans, spicy roasted potatoes, breakfast burritos garnished with salsa, cheddar, sour cream and chives.  We finished with a bold Mexican coffee topped with a dollop of whip cream and a platter of desserts from La Casa Dolce (732 Browns Line).

Fancy breakfast burrito. Ay! ay! ay!

Here is a quick and simple recipe for a breakfast burrito (serves 6):

  1. Dice 1 red onion, 1 red pepper, 1 tomatoe, 1 cup mushrooms, grate 1 cup cheddar
  2. Saute vegetables on medium heat.
  3. Add 6 eggs and cheddar.  Season with greek seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add in a side of sausage for you carnivores.
  5. Serve on a warm soft tortilla and let friends dress their own with salsa, sour cream, chives and more grated cheddar.

Los huevos están muy ricos!  (Translation:  The eggs are very delicious!)  Then we all took a siesta.


January 4, 2010   No Comments

I've Been Dreaming of A Parkdale Christmas

Good Old Days: Remember when Summer saved Chrismukkah? Teardrop.

I see the Seth Cohen clones on Queen West West streets shivering in their size zero skinny red jeans, walking their girlfriend’s mini French bulldogs enrobed in knit sweaters.  Sweeties, eat a cookie and that leather jacket is appropriate for Fall Trans (Aug-October)!  Get your tooshie indoors and have a mug of apple cider!!  Stat! 

During the holidays we all succumb to being a cozy homebody.  Around my neck of the woods, there is a new marshall law regarding dress code, “Boho chic: Leggings or Leisure Wear ONLY” My friends are digging my wavelength.  Around the house, I have been preparing decadent brunches of crepes with nutella, unseasonal ten-million dollar berries such as strawberries and blackberries with a side of French brie to much fanfare.  The home decor has also been re-vamped with some faux poinsettia and some strategically placed mistletoe. haha.

While shimmying around my lovely Carrie Bradshaw-esque kitchen, I like to crank the holiday tunes.  Not just any old Christmas songs, but the emo(tional) indie rock ones you might find on an O.C. compilation.  It just makes sense given the artsy neighbourhood.

Here some jingles to make you jingle-jangle your can around the house: 

  • Last Christmas – Jimmy Eat World
  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Coldplay
  • A Great Big Sled – The Killers
  • Christmas at the Zoo – Flaming Lips
  • Holiday Road – Matt Pond PA
  • O Holy Night – My Morning Jacket
  • The Christmas Song – The Raveonettes
  • Are You Coming Over for Christmas? – Belle and Sebastian

December 21, 2009   No Comments

Mitzi's Cafe: Leopardx2. Yumx3.

We are enjoying a mild late Fall in Toronto.  I love the crackle of fallen leaves under my slouchy boots, the cozy smell of logs burning in fireplaces and closing my eyes while taking in the afternoon sunshine.  I resist the urge to dramatically throw my hat into the blue sky like Mary Tyler Moore and bursting into Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”

On lovely days such as these, we must brunch with our closest friends.  The universe is giving us such great energy, we must reciprocate.  As a brunch conoisseur, I introduced my WBFF (work-best-friend-forever) J to Mitzi’s Cafe (100 Sorauren Ave & Pearson), another diamond hidden among the Roncey residential side streets.  With their specialty for BRUNCH Only, you are sure to find a uniquely gourmand weekly special of pancakes, french toast, omelettes and poached eggs as well as the traditional breakfast.

J was wearing a Boyfriend Blazer with a grey chiffon leopard tank and skinny jeans while noshing on pancakes with berry compote and fresh cream.  I worked a cream leopard cardigan cinched with a camel vintage belt and high-waisted floods enjoying my Spinache and Feta Omelette with multigrain toast and roasted potatoes.  Leopard Print x2.  Yumx3. 

Besides filling your belly with delicious food, you can also scope out the scene of local artisan work on the walls, Parkdale fashionistahs ready for their closeup, hipster parents with adorably precocious toddlers in home-knit sweaters and artsy artist-types just being cool.

Mitzi's Cafe

Wake up before 4pm: Mitzi's Cafe is serving hipsters omelettes, lattes and pancakes.


November 7, 2009   No Comments

Shanghai Cowgirl, Rock, Rock, Rock n' Roll Diner

Sweet potatoe poutine by candlelight.

Shanghai Cowgirl does a Sweet potatoe poutine.

Ever wonder where the hipsters go past their curfew?  After they are done crowd surfing, finishing off their brews and seeing a live band, then what? They don’t go to bed silly.  Actually, they take their high-top Converse and skinny grey jeans to Shanghai Cowgirl (538 Queen St. West).  What brings them to this rock n’ roll diner?  It’s the Ramones in the background, the no nonsense attitude, the tattooed Betty Boop waitresses and the down-home cheap and cheerful comfort food. 

On Fridays and Saturdays this place stays up until 4am, where you can eat your feelings by tealight flickers.  The crowd is a strange melange of wannabe vampires from Velvet Underground, late night party girls and indie boys from The Horseshoe.  Anything goes.  To kill the hunger pangs, try the Triple Decker Grill Cheese with the best skinny, salty fries.  If I wasn’t a vegetarian, I would order a round of chili fries covered in shredded cheddar.  For Asian fare (Shanghai, get it?), there are noodles.  And if you are craving something sweet, I recommend the apple crumble with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This place is also packed for brunch since they do the typical diner all-day breakfast.  One word of advice:  Beware former crushes, if you tend to date Queen West hipsters.  


October 26, 2009   No Comments

Psst…Tequila Bookworm

Tequila Bookworm?  Is it a new South American liquor?  Perhaps a clue to unlocking the DaVinci Code?  It’s actually a beloved coffeehouse discreetly tucked between the trendy boutiques of Queen West and punk rock The Velvet Underground.  Tequila Bookworm (512 Queen St. West West) is the kind of place, where time ceases to exist and the tatooed hipster clones of Joey and Chandler debate ‘pancake or waffle?’ while nursing their hangover with a beer or an espresso.  I once took a hipster first date there and he was very impressed with my venue selection. With an old world charm, the cafe is decorated with painted tin ceilings, antique bookshelves, a library of well loved books, cozy benches and overstuffed sofa chairs.  Inhale deeply the aroma of coffee beans mixed with baked goods and aged book pages.  Mmmm…delicious for the mind and body!  There is even a second floor patio which is lovely in the summer months.  Ah, cafe al fresco under the treetops. 

Better than a real library because you can eat biscotti while you're reading.  Plus, they play good indie rock.

Better than a real library because you can eat biscotti while you're reading. Plus, they play good indie rock.

Chilled out and friendly staff offer soup of the day or a latte while you work on your laptop or catch up with good friends.  An eclectic playlist from Junior Boys and The Strokes to Madonna blares loudly as the soundtrack to your afternoon.  The original Tequila Bookworm which was situated 10 doors east, was even more warm and inviting – it had a feeling akin to coming in from a winter blizzard and nestling beside a warm fireplace.  I swear.  In old school desk tables were drawers filled with tiny messages from from passerby’s – love notes, poems, funny jokes and caricatures.  It is such an interesting place.

If you are looking for a place to zen out, eat a light brunch with friends, read a book by yourself, write a book, study for a test, catch up on your knitting or have a chai latte while you collage, then this is definitely the place to be.


October 11, 2009   1 Comment