While going on and on about my love of good food the other day, I mentioned eating a 900 calorie sandwich. Or, thereabouts anyways ;)
It then occurred to me that the photographic evidence of this sandwich was still hiding on my camera’s memory card. It appears I am consuming fantastic food so quickly in Toronto, I can’t even keep up with it.
As I’ve mentioned several times, my Toronto neighbourhood is what I deem “Land of the Brunch.” Leslieville is chock full of 30-something 9-to-5ers with money to spare on a late Sunday morning. I’ve been slowly whittling down my list of brunch places to try. With three places left, my friends and I decided we’d finally give Toast Restaurant a try.
I’ve passed this place at least twice a day since moving to Toronto. From the outside, it looks like a super small place with nothing but this quaint toast and wine glass sign overhead. I’ll admit, I ignored it. And I’ll tell you right now, wrongfully so.
Like most brunch spots, Toast is indeed super small inside. I’m starting to believe this is just so they can boast of line-ups out the front door. The decor inside was eclectic and cozy. The perfect atmosphere to chat with my hungover friends and sip on the holy juice.
Sweet, sweet coffee. Breakfast/brunch is the only time I’ll ever order a beverage with a meal. One needs caffeine to stomach the first meal of the day. Especially when your meal is a 900 calorie sandwich.
Yes my friends. That would be a Monte Cristo: Shaved black forest ham and Swiss cheese on challah dipped in egg batter and lightly fried Served with potato hash and house salad.
I have never had a Monte Cristo before and knew it had to happen as soon as I looked at the menu. Calories be damned. French-toasting a sandwich is just too awesome ignore. Yes, awe inspiring. Fluffy egg bread, heaps of melty cheese and layer after layer of fine quality ham. I loved every bite. Especially the bites that I loaded with greasy shaved hashbrowns on the fork too.
Not to be outdone, my roommie Megan ordered the Cranberry Cream Cheese French Toast.
Slices of challah stuffed with cranberry and cream cheese with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup with a choice of bacon, farmer’s sausage, peameal bacon or potato hash. I had a bite and it was dreamy. Challah bread is made for french toast. And there was a lot of it on this plate!
While the two girls at the table polished off their monster-sized brunches, we realized the boy at the table probably ordered the healthiest dish of us three.
Scrambled eggs with a choice of smoked bacon, farmer’s sausage or peameal bacon served with a side house salad, potato hash and toast. From the looks of it, Toast even gets this simple dish right.
I can’t believe it took me so long to try this cute little restaurant out. Just another example of why you should never judge a restaurant from its exterior! Only two more brunch places left in Leslieville. Although, I think I’ll leave the 900 calorie sandwiches to Toast ;)
I know. Cheesy title for a post about my birthday. But this Beatles fan just can’t help it.
The great thing about having a Sunday birthday this year is that I was able to turn it into a weekend affair. I’ll admit, I was a little worried about how the celebrations would go. I usually like to go home and spend the day with my mom. I mean, she’s the one who did all the work 25 years ago. I just showed up and ate a lot. But these past two days have turned out to be the next best thing.
Another great thing about the timing of this year’s birthday is that I still have a ton of gift certificates leftover from Christmas. So while I got some cash for my actual birthday, I was able to redeem those gift certificates for something a little more tangible.
I also redeemed a gift certificate at my running store. Thanks to some stellar sales and my sweet staff discount, I was able to buy two long-sleeve technical shirts, a pair of Nike capris, a running bra and running socks for only 80 bucks. That’s ridiculous. I scored one of the shirts and capris for six dollars each.
Finally, a gorillapod!
My mom actually bought me one for Christmas to go with my new 50mm lens, but we ended up returning it. She gave me the money to buy another one here in Toronto and I’m so excited to play around with it! It’s only about a foot tall with bendable legs. So I can put it on the table or wrap it around things to capture a clear shot.
Such as a picture of this week’s Simply Switch. That would be switching out my usual cheap, processed, store-bought bread with homemade Irish brown soda bread. I polished off a whole loaf in less than a week! SO good with a little PB&J. No yeast required. If I can do it, trust me, you can too.
I decided there was no better day than my birthday to try out this nifty contraption me and 99 other people won from Janetha’s blog.
It’s a box of XPress Smart Cups. For people (like me!) who need to French press on the go. I’ve got an hour-long commute to work, so I often end up drinking my coffee on the subway. Or today, to keep me warm while walking in –28 C (-18 F) weather.
All you do is mix your near-boiling water with coarse coffee grinds (I use 3-4 tablespoons as I like it strong).
The lid has a disposable filter built in. Put it on and let the coffee set for four minutes, then take the small plunger and push the filter down.
Voila! As a person who is chronically late, this saves me from being an extra 5 minutes late while I wait for my coffee to brew. Such a cute idea!
However, today was a much more relaxed affair. I booked the day off both jobs. Birthdays are an automatic “personal day” ;) I sipped my coffee on the way to a birthday brunch!
Continuing with the Leslieville Brunch Tour, my friends and I decided Edward Levesque’s Kitchen should be next on the list. I don’t know why we didn’t come here sooner. Their brunch menu is one of the most unique I’ve seen so far!
Crazy, right? In any other circumstances, I probably would have gone for the challah french toast. But my hangover was starting to set in and it was asking for a greasy savoury meal.
So I went for the latkes, smoked salmon, sour cream, chives, green salad.
Loved. I mean, it’s hard to screw up fried potato pancakes. But the smoked salmon and sour cream on top made them a million times better. I also appreciated the mass of greens on the side that for once were lightly dressed and not sopping in oil.
Roommie Megan went for the cumbrae grilled jerk skirt steak, grilled pita, avocado, two over easy, roasted tomato, chives, olive oil.
This looked SO good. Love the idea of meat and eggs piled on top of a pita. How can you go wrong with that?
Colin, the pancake connoisseur, got the banana pancakes.
But thankfully, did not sing Jack Johnson while eating them. Excuse the blurry photos. Apparently the hangover shakes were also setting in. Totally acceptable thing to happen on your birthday ;)
Also acceptable, a self-induced sugar coma on your birthday.
Thank you Callie for the chocolate cupcakes with bacon and a maple buttercream frosting! These were my second cupcakes by Callie (first being these green tea cupcakes with a sweet red bean paste). I’ve decided that she is the cupcake queen. Uh-mazing. Not too fluffy, not too sweet, a subtle maple flavour and just the right amount of frosting. And of course, bacon makes everything better.
There may have also been mass quantities of Fluffernutter Birthday Pie.
Who needs cake? The best part about a weekend birthday is eating peanut butter marshmallow pie on Saturday and Sunday. Including as a post-bar snack at 3am.
I had high hopes of going to yoga today, but after brunch I collapsed and watched Breaking Bad all day. Relaxed and low-key, just the way I like it. Well, you know, apart from the huge blogger meet-up on Saturday followed by a bottle of whiskey with my Maritime friends. Right. I’ll get to some of that later. For now, I’ve got to soak up the last few hours of my special day and look into investing in some wrinkle cream. Gah! I’m a quarter century!
Question of the Day: What’s your favourite way to celebrate your birthday? And more importantly – what do you like to eat!?
Hello and hope everyone had happy weekends! I’m still on the mend from the flu, but I did manage to get some delicious food down this weekend ;)
Seeing as we’re on the other side of winter now – the new year side – I’m realizing my time in Toronto is only getting smaller and smaller. So many places to see and experience in such a short period of time! Suddenly, the need to visit certain restaurants has reached an emergency status.
Sunday morning started like any other – in my favourite way with free yoga. At Lululemon. A relaxing and stretchy Hatha class with my big sis who is visiting from Ottawa this week.
The only thing better than free yoga on a Sunday is brunch on a Sunday. Sister Sara, Roommie Megan and I decided on a place that’s been on our radar for quite a while – Bonjour Brioche.
Because who doesn’t love crusty white bread?
Like any brunch place in the Riverside/Leslieville area, it’s tiny and bustling with people on the weekends.
They also sell loaves of bread and pastries at the counter. It almost reminded me of my beloved Tartine in San Francisco. Almost.
And Bill Cosby was here! (I know, what?)
I skipped coffee before yoga (learned that one the hard way) which meant I had to go until noon without coffee. By that point I was looking for an IV hook-up.
But three cups of coffee in an IKEA mug worked just fine.
The menu looked spectacular and they had some great specials on. I knew I wanted to get something with brioche because it’s the restaurant’s namesake. Thankfully, Sister Sara was up for splitting two dishes with me.
First up, we ordered the Croque Madam: toasted brioche layered with ham & gruyere and topped with a fried egg.
With the Baked French Toast.
Roommie Megan ordered the Smoked Salmon Scrambled Eggs: with chives, rosti potato, creamed horseradish and caviar. This dish definitely won for best presentation and apparently did not skimp out on the salmon.
The croque madam was indeed very good. I’m not a huge fan of sunny side up eggs because slimy egg whites creep me out. But the bread was great and there was lots of ham.
Really though, we need to talk about the french toast.
Because it was the best I ever had. Damn! The waitress said they use day-old pastries to make the French toast. Our plate was made with some kind of flaky chocolate swirl bread. But we saw a few different varieties floating around the restaurant. It was more like bread pudding. I would have never guessed a flaky bread would take on an egg soak so well. Every now and then I’d get a bite of creamy chocolate filling. Topped with maple syrup, the whole thing was perfection.
Another Leslieville brunch success! Megan and I have a checklist going to visit every spot in the ‘hood before we move away.
It doesn’t end there though. Ohno. For we spotted this place just down the street…
If I had to choose between cake or pie, I’d choose pie.
Even better, they had savoury pie. The Scotsman in me likes that.
We were lured in by the promise of a free custard tart with the purchase of coffee.
I skipped the deal, seeing as I had dessert for brunch.
But that didn’t stop me from taking a bite.
A buttery, flakey…
…bite of heaven.
Sister Sara said that if the tart was that good, imagine how good the pies are. I think I know where I’ll be getting my
birthday cake birthday pie this year ;)
Two more places to check off the list, and both get very big enthusiastic checks! I’ve got more restaurants to talk about. I have a feeling it may turn into restaurant week here on the blog. Hell, it may turn into restaurant month ;) It’s all for the greater good of culinary adventure, I swear.
Question of the Day: What is your favourite kind of pie? Sweet or savoury! I lovelovelove chocolate pie and leftover apple pie with cheddar for breakfast. For savoury I love mom’s meat pie and a traditional chicken pot pie.