Blog Archives

Homecoming

I’m hoooooome!!

IMG_6422

Shot of the Northumberland Straight as we landed in Moncton this afternoon. Aahhh, love that Atlantic Maritime water :)

My scheduled move home couldn’t have come at a better time. We just had a death in the family and I am relieved to be near my mom and Nana right now. After a year with brain cancer, my beloved Uncle Robert passed away late Friday afternoon. It’s hard to watch my mom grieve the loss of her brother and my grandmother the loss of her son.

IMG_6424

That’s me (left) and my cousin Ellen on Robert’s lap. Ellen was my best friend growing up, and seeing her lose her dad is a heartache I can’t describe. Robert was a rock in my family and losing him is a great loss. 

I was with my sister Sara in Ottawa when we heard the news. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to have family around. We woke up on Saturday talking about what we could do to ease our spirits that day. Obviously, we both agreed on brunch.

IMG_6410

A place that specializes in scones? Yesplease.

IMG_6396

It was very small inside. Maybe seven or so tables. You order and pay first, then they bring it to you.

IMG_6393

The menu!

IMG_6389

IMG_6391

I was torn between getting a brunch dish or a “sconewitch.” In the end, breakfast food won over, it always does!

IMG_6392

Then there’s always the lifelong debate over sweet & savoury. I actually prefer my scones cheesy or spicy, so I went for cheddar.

IMG_6395

Got my “sweet” elsewhere instead ;)

IMG_6394

$1 brownies at the cash register. SO dangerous. Was a wonderful, fudgey appetizer while we waited for our orders.

IMG_6397

Plus my third coffee of the day. Don’t judge. I’ve been stress-drinking tea and coffee lately. And chocolate (as exhibited above).

IMG_6398 

T’was brewed pretty strong!

IMG_6404

Sister Sara went for a sweet scone – Vanilla Cream with Blueberry & Raspberry jam. I had a bite and it was diviiiiine.

IMG_6402

I on the other hand went the eggs & ham route, piled high on my cheddar scone.

IMG_6406

The scone, while giant by my usual standards, was flaky, buttery, dense and everything a good scone should be. The scrambled eggs were actually way better than I’ve ever made them at home, and the ham of good quality. They give pretty good fruit on the side too. My only complaint about the place is the tables are too small. Not comfortable to eat at!

IMG_6400

Me and my big sis! With a certain blonde missing… (middle sister Jane). I’ll be seeing her again soon though for the funeral. The one silver lining in death is that it brings family together in a way that rarely ever happens.

Even though I’ll be living with my dad here at home, I’m currently staying at my mom’s place. I may be going over to my Nana’s too. You know, just to “be around.” To be supportive during this initial period of grief and distract them by making messes with my one arm. Everyone wants to fret over my other injured arm.

Despite everything, it certainly feels good to be home.

Schooled

Remember when I proclaimed The Grilled Cheese the coolest restaurant idea in Toronto? I still maintain that proclamation, but that doesn’t mean School Bakery & Cafe doesn’t come pretty darn close.

School Bakery & Cafe

Located just on the outskirts of Liberty Village, School was a bit of an afterthought on my Toronto Bucket List. Reader Joanne suggested it in the comments and I was reminded of reading reviews on it a while back.

School Bakery & Cafe

Being on the other end of the city (it’s way out West, I come from the East), I wasn’t sure if I’d find the time to make it there. My friends and I already had Sunday brunch plans for this week. Which meant I’d have to be motivated enough to get there on my own for a solo weekday brunch.

School Bakery & Cafe

Until we realized that we could brunch on Saturday too. What a novel idea – both days of the weekend! I immediately suggested this place and my friends agreed upon seeing the spectacular menu.

School Bakery & Cafe

We arrived around 12:45pm to a line-up out the door. Waiting for brunch in this city is just the norm. That’s why it’s always best to go with a small group of friends. The smaller the party, the faster you’ll get seated!

School Bakery & Cafe

I loved this place the second we made it inside the door. Unlike other cramped brunch places in the city, School is made up of two large rooms. Including a garage-type door they open up for a patio in the summer. There’s also the open kitchen concept, which I lovelovelove.

IMG_6268

The decor of School is just that – reminiscent of being in a school down to the very last detail. Chalkboards and books line the walls. It’s even inside an institutional looking building that reminds me of an actual school.

IMG_6269

Let’s not forget the projectors playing silent Betty Boop cartoons…

IMG_6262

Or the apple centerpiece on every table…

IMG_6271

But the menu is where School really shines through, not just the loose-leaf it’s printed on.

IMG_6272

It’s divided into two sections. Sweet n’ Fruity:

image

Salt n’ Savoury:

image

My friends, this was a hard decision. I studied this menu like any good student would. I went back and forth between Super Cheesy French Toast, Smoked Salmon Endive Salad, or maybe the Upstream Benni?

Roommie Megan went for the first choice – Super Cheesy French Toast.

School Bakery & Cafe

With double smoked bacon, maple syrup and greens. This was probably the thickest sliced French toast I’ve ever seen. Still incredibly light and fluffy though. The gooey cheese was actually the perfect compliment to the eggy bread, and the maple syrup made it the perfect blend of sweet & savoury.

School Bakery & Cafe

The boys went for the Melted Gooey Four Cheese Omelet Soufflé. They said it was a lot like a fluffy egg pancake.

School Bakery & Cafe 

And what did I finally decide on?

School Bakery & Cafe

That would be the Spiced Benni on Cheddar Chive Biscuit served with back bacon, chipotle hollandaise and home fries.

School Bakery & Cafe

I asked for the hollandaise on the side as I don’t actually like it. But I spread a little on top just to get the spiciness of it. The eggs came out perfectly poached and runny. The bacon in thick slices. Then there was the biscuit.

School Bakery & Cafe

Hands down, the best part of the meal was the biscuit. It was even a little spicy. The perfect size and shape for the benni, and didn’t turn to mush under the bacon and runny eggs.

School Bakery & Cafe

The home fries were spectacular to boot. Crisp and slightly black on the outside, soft on the inside. Not too greasy and the perfect two-bite size.

Apart from their brunch, I’d also heard good things about School’s bakery. Something I was easily convinced of as soon as I tried their biscuit. So just as we were about to get the bill, I asked for an extra treat to-go. Something I drooled over as we stood waiting to get in earlier.

IMG_6290

That my friends, is a Nutella scone (also pictured earlier in the post). I spent all afternoon walking down Yonge St. with it in my purse. Like, from Lawrence to Bloor stations. Just over four miles. I thought for sure I’d destroyed this thing of beauty during my wanderings, ripping into it immediately when I got home.

IMG_6293

The scones had been just pulled out of the oven when the waitress gave this to me. I popped it in the microwave for a few seconds. Long enough to make the chocolate flavour stand out and the nutella on top to melt. It was very soft for a scone without the sweetness of a cake. A little spice in there too. This, and a side of celery may have been my dinner on Saturday…

IMG_6285

Overall, School gets a passing grade. I will say the wait to get our food was longer than acceptable, and they did mess up one of our orders. The price is also a little high for brunch. I don’t normally spend 20 bucks on breakfast (or err, “second breakfast” in this case). Still though, totally worth the trip and price for the one-time experience.

I have one more Toronto brunch review to do, then I plan on doing a post featuring my top brunch spots and dishes. You’ll just have to wait to see how School shaped up compared to the rest of the class ;)

Pumpkin Scones in A Winter Wonderland

I finally got that snow I’ve been wishing for!!

IMG_4885

It seems everywhere in Canada has had a major snowfall except for Toronto. The surrounding areas look like a Winter Wonderland, and yet the city is still bare.

I always used to complain about snow. Mostly about how much I hate shovelling it. For the record, shovelling is still at the bottom of my list of activities. But it now officially feels like winter to me. Even if I do have to ditch the snow crystals for pavement if five short days.

The snow is also making me want to do winter activities. Like tobogganing and ice skating. And of course… baking.

IMG_4873

Let me tell you, a 28 oz can of pumpkin can go far. So far I’ve gotten a cake, a big batch of pancakes, two bowls of oatmeal and now a batch of scones out of it.

IMG_4875

I feel like me and the mushy stuff have turned a corner this holiday season. I still like my oats better without it, but I no longer fear adding pumpkin to baked goods.

IMG_4877

I asked my family if they wanted pumpkin chip bread or scones, and the scones won out. Most of the pumpkin scone recipes out there are meant to mimic the Starbucks version. You know, the one that’s 480 calories.

No thanks. I believe I ate enough of those triangle cakes when I was a barista and at my heaviest weight.

IMG_4879 

Instead, I opted for this Joy of Baking recipe with a few changes, of course.

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoon cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/2 cup fresh or canned pure pumpkin (if using canned pumpkin make sure there are no spices or sugar added)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 tablespoon eggnog

IMG_4890

Mix together the flours, sugar, spices, salt, baking soda and powder. Add your cold butter pieces and mix until crumbly. Some people do this with a fork, I find my hands to be a lot more effective.

Stir in yogurt and pumpkin, kneading a few times to get all the dry mix in. Shape into a circle around 7 inches by 1 1/2 inches. Cut into 8 triangles and transfer to a greased baking sheet. I stack two baking sheets to prevent burning on the bottom. Then mix up the egg wash and brush on the tops. Bake for 20 minutes at 400F.

IMG_4892

They rose up big in the oven! I probably could have cut them smaller, but it also meant more scone for me.

IMG_4897

I was barely done taking photos before my family started attacking these.

IMG_4899

Scones fresh from the oven on a winter day, aahhh. These were a brimming success. Slightly spicy, a little hearty, with that soda-scone taste I love. My 12-year-old step-bro had two. And he’s never even had scones before.

IMG_4883

Another day, another mess in my mother’s kitchen. Muhaha ;)

The scones acted as a great snack to hold us over until supper. We ended up going to the Old Triangle, an Irish pub here in Moncton.

IMG_4902

From left to right: Me, my step-dad Mark, oldest sister Sara, Mom, middle sister Jane, and her partner Renaud. Behind the camera is Heather, who had quite the time trying to capture everyone in my zoomed 50mm lens.

I remember when I posted this picture in this post, Callie called me out for having a drink in each hand.

Well, like mother like daughter. One of each colour!

IMG_4904 
I stuck to Diet Coke as I was the DD. I had to take this motley crue home in the minivan.

IMG_4905

Can’t we all just stay here together forever? I promise to bake scones!

IMG_4913

But I can’t promise I won’t make a mess ;)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 487 other followers