Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews.

1. Know-How – Gluten Free Peeps

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2. Sweets – Lemon Mini Bunt Cake

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3. Little Bites – Mixed Antipesti

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4. Coffee – Cafe Integral

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5. Atmosphere – Newspaper Reader

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Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

1. Pretty Packaging – Bearded Brothers

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Gluten-free energy bars from Austin, Texas.

2. Coffee – Ceramic coffee set launched by Luca Nichetto and Mjölk

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Mjölk is probably my favourite place on the planet.

3. Food Art – Planters by Of a Kind + Chen Chen & Kai Williams

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Fruit-shaped cement planters!

4. Sweets – Cacti Cupcakes

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Perfection!

5. Little Bites – Lazer Cut Sushi

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Next level beauty.

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews.

Resident coffee guy (and token Y chromosome) Simon reppin’ the Friday Foodie Five. I’m throwin’ y’all some serious ‘spro stuff this week while Yuli is off in Detroit!

1. Dichotomy, Coffee and Spirits Bar in Texas

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Dichotomy (Texas) is an espresso/spirit bar with a beautifully simplistic layout. With the Mod Bar, a unique espresso machine with an under-the-counter boiler, they’re able to retain their open-concept space.

2. The Spirit espresso machine

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Former La Marzocco employee, Kees van der Westen, gives baristas something to drool over with the Spirit. Bonus points if you noticed the custom Mahlkonig K30 to the left.

3. The Balancing Siphon

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Similar to the siphon brewers that have been regaining popularity in recent years, the balancing siphon offers an automatic shut-off (at upwards of 10-20 times the cost).

4. Custom GS3 Espresso Machine

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Custom La Marzocco GS/3 with skateboard wheel legs, engraved portafilter handle, and the sexiest orange paneling of all time.

5. Naked Portafilter

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Useful as a learning/diagnostic tool, and wonderful to photograph, bottomless (naked) portafilters let you get a closer look at how espresso is being extracted.

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

1. Atmosphere – Gray Nook

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I’d recognize this breakfast nook of San Francisco photographer Cindy Loughridge any day of the week as it’s featured in a good many for her family’s Instagrams. Follow Cindy right now!

2. Coffee – Samuel James Coffee

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Beautiful light in the Harbord location of Samuel James by Toronto photographer Celine Kim.

3. Big Bites – Winter Abundance Bowl 

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Trying out this recipe from My New Roots pronto!

4. Little Bites – Lemon curd con miele e cardamomo

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Everyone knows I’m a sucker for lemon curd.

5. Big Bites – Stacked

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And the straight-up foodporn of the week goes to this smoked meat sammich.

Say No to Bad Food: Chef Edward Furlani’s Inspired Brunch Pop-Up

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Photos by Yuli Scheidt

For some time now, both Yuli and myself have been following the epic food ‘Grams of a chef who went by the name of @PrettyBoyLarge (real name Edward Furlani). He would throw down photos of incredible dishes following his Italian kitchen upbringing and nods to his Spanish roots (with family living in the Dominican Republic) and inspirational hash-tags/quotes (#SayNoToBadFood).

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After many comments and mutual admiration’s shared over Instagram, we decided it was time to sit down and finally have the in-person meeting over food that we had been longing to have. Thus, we were invited to Furlani’s newest kitchen venture: pop-up brunch at noted Argentina/Mexican cafe, El Almacen Yerba Mate Café (1078 Queen Street West).

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Walking into El Almacen that cold Saturday morning, we were greeted with PrettyBoy’s large smiling face inviting us into “mi casa”, as he called it. Hugs exchanged and deep chats regarding all things food and drink. Edward told us that he started the brunch at El Almacen as fun but also in memory of his father. “For my Dad, breakfast was something special. With my mom living back in the Dominican and my little brother in London, all I’ve got is feeding the masses!” With his inspiration leading the way, we were more excited now to try his brunch menu.

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The menu is changed from week to week, with the offerings scrawled out on a simple white piece of paper. Edward tells us they try to include both the Argentina and Spanish roots in all of the dishes, which was evident from the offerings. All of the brunch dishes fall into hugely affordable range ($7.75 – $13.75) for some inspired brunch. For my dish, I decided to take in the Huevos Coramajo ($8.75) which consisted of 2 baked eggs, home fries, onions, red peppers and ham. Yuli took in an order of Chorizo Benedicto ($13.75) which consisted of house-made chorizo, 2 poached eggs, hollandaise and home fries. To round out out brunch, Edward suggested we try out the Argentina tea ritual of sharing the Yerba Mate.

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As we sat around the table in the bright and open cafe, passing around the Yerba Mate in its traditional guard, our brunch dishes came out quickly after ordering. They were complex but simple. For my Huevos Coramajo, the plate looked like a piece of art being presented with finely chopped veg and perfectly cubed home fries sprinkled a top the plate. The eggs were perfect and inviting me to eat them as soon as the plate set itself down on the table. First bite: heaven. All I could think was, “this is so fresh and doesn’t feel heavy, yet there is so much food.” It seems like my sentiments were echoed across the table with Yuli and our beautiful brunch companion for the day, Kristina feeling similarly about their dishes.

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Edward has told us that what started out as a fun brunch pop-up has turned into something a bit more and they have extended the run into the New Year. So if you’re looking for new and exciting places to check out with a passionate chef in the kitchen, you should check out this brunch pop-up on Saturday and Sunday at El Almacen Yerba Mate Café from 10AM-2PM.

BIVY introduces their Parisian-style dinner menu

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Originally posted to Ama’s twice-weekly column on Toronto Is Awesome.

Dundas West is changing and owner Pascal Vernhes saw that when he opened up his casual dining restaurant and cafe, BIVY. As I chatted with him briefly one cold November evening, he told me that living in the area, he noticed the lack of serious eateries in the area and felt it was time to introduce something relaxed and comfortable while presenting them good tasting food.

The interior of the restaurant has a bit of a kitschy cottage touch mixed in with a bit of Canadiana. Adorned on the walls are maps and painted murals of mountains, alongside reclaimed wood shelving (housing different products they sell within the cafe). The restaurant itself feels rustic and small, almost as if you’ve been invited to your friends cottage kitchen. The kitchen is fairly open, so you are able to watch your food being prepared.

The dinner menu takes more of a Parisian style approach to food, with prices ranging between $4.50-$12.00, for appetizers and mains. Our server started us off with BIVY’s own take on a charcuterie boards loaded with cured meats and country paté. All of the meats are locally sourced (some suppliers even within the Dundas West area) and all the pickling is done in-house. The board comes in at the price point of $9.00 and adds an element of social eating over a glass of wine. We were treated to several different types of meats and cheeses and loved every moment of it.

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Next up, our server suggested one of BIVY’s top menu items: 2LB of P.E.I Mussels ($12), which come in several different flavours including Bombay (curry & cream), jerk (white wine, onion, tomato & jerk seasoning) among many others. Tonight, we decided to partake in the Catalane, which consisted of chorizo, paprika, cream and peppers. The perfect cook of the the mussels and the delicious sauce was magical. I was literally spooning up the sauce (with its rich, bold flavours) with the Mussels shells and we didn’t leave one single drop in the bowl.

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For our mains, we were treated to bistro standards such as duck confit ($12) and slow-roasted ribs ($9), each which you could pair with sides (extra $4) such as mixed greens, potato salad, fries or coleslaw. The duck confit was juicy and tender and served up directly on the bone, adding in additional flavouring. The slow-roasted ribs used, what looked to be a dry rub and had a small kick. It was not overcooked, just perfect.

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For those with a sweet tooth, BIVY has been known for their Crème Brûlée and the verdict: its great. They do have other offerings for dessert as well, which seem to be seasonal. But the Crème Brûlée is top-notch in our books.

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If you’re looking for a romantic evening out with fabulous well cooked food (I know I have been dreaming of those Mussels since we went), then make the trip to BIVY. You will not be disappointed.

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

1. Elsewhere – the Fish & Chip Shop Islington, London

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2. Food Art – Liu Bolin, Hiding in New York No. 8 – Cereal 2013, Photograph

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3. Coffee – Early Bird Espresso & Brew, Toronto

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4. Atmosphere – On The Table

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5. Yuletide – Winter Cookies by Babes in Boyland

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The Canadian Artisan Tasting Fair wakes restful foodies from slumber

Written by Leigh Van Maaren
Photos by Mike Sirois

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Sunday mornings are not my forte. As somebody who regularly finds themselves unable to get out of bed until 3pm on Sunday afternoons, I’ve long been relegated to all-day brunch places as my only option. When we heard about the Artisan Food Fair at Wychwood Barns on December 1st, however, the promise of a load of delicious cheese a mere 10 minute walk from my front door would get me out of bed on a Sunday morning.

They were already off to a good start – Artscape Wychwood Barns is a real gem of a venue – it opened in 2008, and is a bit under the radar still – but they’re artist-friendly and very food-friendly, along with just being a beautiful heritage space for an event. My only qualm with the space is that it can be a bit tight – when we arrived around 1:30pm, the space was very full. It was difficult to move through the crowd and even more difficult to find a place to put our bites down to eat, but as time went on the crowd thinned a bit and we were able to move around and sample without issue.

First and foremost, we needed coffee – and Pig Iron was there to provide us with our caffeine fix. I know the glory of the beans from Pig Iron after being treated to it a couple of weeks ago at Yuli’s place, so I’m excited. I went for the cappuccino because I can’t live my life without dairy, and Mike, my partner/photographer, opts for the Americano. Both are exceptional, and with coffee in tow we’re ready to pick up some doughnuts from the vivacious ladies manning the Glory Hole doughnuts booth. There was also a wide selection of beer available, but I’m still feeling the effects of Saturday night far too much to enjoy a beer at this hour, so we skip this part of the fair.

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Glory Hole came prepared with huge stacks of yeast-risen doughnuts; cinnamon-sugar, glazed, and chocolate dipped – probably because they know that once you try one of their doughnuts, you’re hooked. Even better, they’re armed with toppings. I got my glazed doughnut with whipped cream and raspberry sauce, and Mike opts for his cinnamon sugar donut unadulterated. I enjoy my glazed doughnut so much, I strongly consider just camping down in front of the booth for the rest of the afternoon.

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When we get to the table shared by Sanagan’s Meatlocker and Blackbird Baking Co. I’m glad that I decided to move on. I thought that having a shared table to showcase both products was one of the best ideas at the fair – Sanagan’s pork cretons and chicken liver mousse are prepared in to fantastic bites on Blackbird’s bread. I am always a huge fan of both cured and spreadable meats, and the varied and expertly prepared selection at the fair will have me in to Sanagan’s in the future.

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While many of the booths at the fair fell were Artisans in the downtown, hipster sense of the word – my favourite booth at the fair was definitely not. Crossroad Farm, based on Oxford County, which offered up two varieties of Sheep’s Gouda. We chatted with farmer, cheese maker, brand ambassador and social media manager, Dan McMillen, who told us that he started making the cheese as a use for the excess sheep’s milk that the farm couldn’t sell in 2012. Both varieties of Gouda wow me – and as a Dutch girl, Gouda flows through my veins. I prefer the exceptionally nutty old variety, although the tangier, more floral mild was extremely tantalizing as well. Since Crossroad Farms isn’t based in the city, you can find their cheese at the Leslieville Cheese Market, where we finish up our trip by trying way too many amazing blue cheeses.

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Overall, the Canadian Artisan Tasting fair was a success – we left with our bellies full of delicious samples of breads, meats, cheeses, and treats from around Ontario. I would have felt inclined to enjoy some of the delicious beer offered by a myriad of local breweries as well, had the event taken place a little bit later in the day. Ultimately, however, we left very satisfied and with a roster of new artisans to seek out in the city; which I imagine is what the tasting fair hoped to achieve. I’m looking forward to the next installment of the fair, and you should be too.

Winter Menu Tasting at Fuel+

Review by Megan Stulberg & photos by Aine Davis.

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Last week I attended a winter menu tasting at Fuel+, a nutrition-focused café and boutique grocery store located in Toronto at Church and Wellesley. Fuel+ offers a plant-based menu that caters to a variety of vegan, gluten-free and food-loving customers, who enjoy specialty coffees, protein shakes and healthy foods.

The friendly (and adorable) staff at Fuel+ laid out a variety of gluten-free plant-based sweets for us to try. The sample platter included one Fuel+ exclusive product and two products brought in from Shockingly Healthy.

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Fuel balls act as healthy alternatives to Timbits: approximately 100 calories each, made from 80% organic ingredients are loaded with protein. These delicious morsels are made in-store and come in unique flavours such as peanut butter chocolate chip and cranberry honey. Personal recommendation? The cinnamon one. $1 each or 3 for $2.50.

Fuel+ offers two products from Shockingly Healthy: double chocolate brownies and coconut chocolate chip blondies. The brownies are made from whole foods like chickpeas, flax and dates. Biting into one, you’ll have to remind yourself that it’s actually good for you. $2.99 each.

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As it was extremely cold outside we decided to take advantage of the ‘hot foods’ section of the menu. Aine ordered a plant-based cranberry raisin bagel with peanut butter and jam. I ordered a hearty and delicious bowl of organic vegan chilli. If you’re feeling gutsy, I’d recommend opting for the ‘really spicy’ option. $4.99 a bowl.

Fuel+ offers organic fair-trade coffee that is roasted locally at 23 Degrees. We sampled a variety of hot drinks including an Amsterdam Blonde (Amsterdam Black with organic soy milk) and a Maca infused hot chocolate.

Located dangerously close to my school’s campus, I’ve already popped in twice since attending the menu tasting for a quick Spicy Ginger Chai pick-me-up. Get ready Fuel+, I’m becoming a regular.

www.fuelplus.ca

Fuel + on Facebook

Fuel + on Twitter

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Hey, Little Sister: Talking Shop with Vanessa Stachiw of Winnipeg’s Little Sister Coffee Maker

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By Jodie Lanye, photos by Cindy Titus.

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When I set foot in Little Sister Coffee Maker on that first Wednesday they were open, I could feel my eyes widening. I’d known what to expect, to an extent, from their Instagram account – but the reality was so much better. It was official – I was in love with a coffee shop. I declared right out loud that first day, “I wanna move in here!”

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Housed in a tucked-away little spot below ground at 470 River Avenue, is the place that charmed me so. The LSCM team renovated the space nearly entirely themselves, transforming it in an impressive two months.

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While its previous incantation as a wine bar left memories of a half-assed opium den, Little Sister is blanketed with a surprising amount of light from its floor-to-ceiling windows making up the front wall. A beautiful blonde wood bar faces outwards at the perfect height to lean and sip espresso, flanked by a Marimekko tapestry. Glossy white subway tiles cover the counter and tiny hexagonal tiles lie underfoot as you move through the cozy, but lively shop. Herman Miller tables and chairs line the textured rock wall and, partnered with a bench, make up the seating area.

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It’s modern and minimal, but decidedly femme with its sweet details and playfully sophisticated splashes of pastel mint.  And, of course, they have the best hand-crafted beverages in Osborne Village – if not the city –  to back it all up.

Photographer and dream babe, Cindy Titus, and I made our way down to LSCM one night to chat and giggle with co-owner Vanessa Stachiw over prossecco and scotch.

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FGFS: So I just love this place the most ever. Seriously. Okay, now that I got that out of the way can you tell me a bit about how you came to love coffee so much and what your experience as a barista is?

VS: Well, I worked at the café next to my house in high school and I guess I just liked it! I thought coffee shop lifestyle was nice. Then I worked at Espresso Junction at The Forks for four years, which was not the nicest coffee shop, but lots of fun girls worked there and it was like a party all the time.

When I did the explore program in university, I went to Montreal and visited all the great coffee shops and was like, “I can do this. I’m gonna do this. It’s gonna be so great.” I remember emailing Nils (Vik, owner of Parlour Coffee) and Melissa (Nils’ wife/Vanessa’s sister) and said “I’m opening up a coffee shop when I’m done university, it’s happening.” And Nils emailed me back and said, “Actually I’m opening up a coffee shop now.” So, I worked there for two years and it was great and I was so happy. Then I graduated from university and me and Nils started talking.

FGFS: What did you take in university? 

VS: Oh, just a B.A. in French Studies. Pretty basic.

FGFS: Wait, you don’t sign B.A. in your email signature do you?

VS: Oh yeah, of course I do. (Laughing) No, no of COURSE I don’t.

 FGFS: Okay, good or I was going to have to make fun of you.

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 VS: So, I started thinking about doing my Master’s because that’s just what you do next. I started taking honors courses and was like, “Nope. No.” So I dropped out and called Nils and we started looking. We knew we wanted to be in Osborne Village and kind of cold called this place. We saw the ‘For Lease’ sign knowing that it wasn’t for this space. But they asked what we had in mind and we got the space!

 FGFS: Obviously! I’m so glad you did! So, it was strategic for you in be in Osborne Village?

VS: Nils and I have both lived in Osborne Village for several years and even though we recently both moved out of the neighbourhood, we just love it. It’s such a great neighbourhood! It’s nice to be part of something here, where everyone likes to support local everything. It’s so weird that there hasn’t been an independent coffee shop around here.

FGFS: Are there special things that you did differently with LSCM because you were in Osborne Village, or were those just things that came about organically?

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VS: We wanted to do everything different from Parlour. We wanted to establish ourselves as a different place than Parlour and not to make it like Nils is opening up a chain or anything. We’re using different equipment, brewing different coffee, our hours are different – the major things are the coffee and the equipment. 

FGFS: Is it purposeful that it’s a lot more feminine in here and that it’s called Little Sister?

VS: Yeah, well, Little Sister is actually a double entendre because we’re Parlour’s little sister, but I’m also a little sister. Nils and I designed this space with our friend Tom. Nils has a background in design, so he really brought it together. And yeah, there is a gal involved and –

NV: And I mean, look at this guy (references self)!

VS: Yeah, there’s a very feminine man involved(laughs)! But, yes, it’s on purpose.

FGFS: What has it been like so far, being open?

VS: It’s been funny – it’s been so great! Our opening day was so busy, we were really overwhelmed and so grateful. It’s mellowed out a bit since[that first weekend], but it’s been so fun and really great. Everything has gone way more smoothly than we imagined. I think people like it and they think it’s nice: we’re happy-go-lucky people and when happy people serve you, you’re happy too.

FGFS: So, tell me about all of these new coffees and – if I spy correctly, you’re doing drip coffee now too?

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VS: Our main roaster is George Howell and he is kind of the granddaddy of coffee roasting in the states. He’s a real guy and his coffee is so delightful. They roast just outside of Boston. He’s done so many things for the coffee industry, so we’re lucky and proud to have him and it’s new to Winnipeg. We’re also carrying Bows and Arrows from Victoria. They are getting to be the best roasters in Canada – they’re definitely in the running.

We are doing regular coffee. We have a batch brewer and it produces great coffee. The response from people has really been across the board. People’s reactions to having good drip coffee is funny.  Some people are just not interested because the last drip coffee they had was bad and gross from – wherever. Pick a chain. But here, it’s delicious and the machine actually mimics a pour-over situation.

FGFS: So, is running a coffee shop everything you hoped it would be?

VS: It is and it isn’t. It’s really fun and I’m really happy. It’s also a lot of work – I don’t know why I didn’t expect it to be this much work. The last two months have been renovations, but now that it’s open it’s a lot better. We have some super allstar staff that know how to do everything better than us, so that’s made things really good. Yesterday, in my first week, I was able to take the morning off! I definitely feel different, but I couldn’t have expected how this would feel. I feel really nice about what we made.