My Last Time in Downtown Toronto | Delicious Desserts and More!

Happy Monday!

Most people who know me know that I adore Mondays. I think they are an excellent time to reset, bounce back from the weekend, and set new goals and new plans to achieve them. I started my Monday with a great mug of tea and a wonderful bowl of creamy peanut butter oatmeal with banana slices and the richest yogurt. 🙂

Saturday was a bit of a dark and dreary day, so I had plenty of time to type up my work term report. The co-op program at the University of Waterloo requires co-op students to write a 6-8 page reflection every semester. This time, I discussed how my current job (tutoring at Centennial College) differs from my previous job (clinical assistant at the Toronto Health Centre).

I also designed this Studying 101 booklet cover page, which was inspired by blog layouts.

Yesterday, I did a major scraping of the dryer’s lint filter. Holy cow. 🐮 I’m surprised that there were no fires due to this big mountain of lint. Crazy!

  • On the left: my backyard, which, for some unknowing reason, has a picnic bench
  • On the left: the beautiful Trinity-Bellwoods park, which is such an active and fun place (I’d love to live near this neighbourhood in the future)

I’d love to live near Trinity-Bellwoods park because Nadège is nearby. I love this bakery wholeheartedly, and have been here several times. In fact, it was my first destination on my first visit to Toronto. Everything is a winner here.

My next stop was Delysèes, home to some of the most beautiful cakes and pastries I’ve ever seen. Their pistachio croissant is one of my favourite sweet, nutty breakfast baked goods, and their macarons and individual cakes are equally stunning and delicious. The rose one is beautiful, as is the blue gemstone!

And yes, I always spend a little too much money here, thanks to my indecisiveness. Should I get the vanilla-hazelnut or the pistachio? I love hazelnut cream, but pistachio is so good. What should I do… why not just try them both?

Lunch involved some great flatbread from Forno Cultura. This one was called the Rapini, and was topped with charred, smoky rapini, garlic chips, plenty of sauteed onions, and slightly acidic tomato sauce that paired nicely with creamy, rich parmesan. The star of the show, however, was the crispy spiced crust.

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I headed to Butter Avenue for dessert, where I ordered this adorable ube chestnut choux. I’ve seen pictures of this pastry on Butter Avenue’s Twitter and Instagram, and knew I had to try it.

  • the choux pastry was like a crispy cream puff crossed with a Chinese pineapple (bolo) bun, crackly on the outside but fresh, rich, and buttery inside
  • the mashed and sweetened ube (purple sweet potato) enveloped a mountain of delicate chestnut cream, which tasted amazing with the choux
  • deep inside, there was a hazelnut sable, which was hands-down one of the best nut-based cookies I have ever eaten – now, I really want to try baking hazelnut sable
  • the snowman was made of white chocolate, and completely edible

Goodnight, Toronto.

Then I was underground again, being whisked off to Scarborough. 😥 I was exhausted by the time I returned home…

… but not too exhausted to take photos of the goodies I’d purchased! Hazelnut-chocolate sandwich cookies and hot chocolate mix from SOMA Chocolatemaker.

Hazelnut hot chocolate and malted milk hot chocolate that I absolutely cannot wait to dive into. I’ve tried them both before, and they are absolutely scrumptious. Expensive, but it’s chocolate. Justified.

The cakes that I mentioned? The ones I bought from Delysèes? This is what they looked like after a day of prancing around Toronto. Completely deconstructed, but completely edible. I can’t wait to have this Russian chocolate mousse bomb and the salted caramel and Nutella pillow. I also have a tasty, unpictured pistachio éclair hiding in that white box.

That’s pretty much it for today, except one thing – I went to the library yesterday and now have a mini-list of books to check out.

New-to-me books that I want to read:

Have a beautiful week, everyone! I am going to enjoy mine more than usual, since it’s my last week in Scarborough (and Ontario) for a whole year. ❤

The Vancouver Pastry Taste-off

Ultimate 5-Sentence Backstory: I love almond croissants. I really, really, really love almond croissants. I left my home in BC to come back to Ontario for work. Dad offered to take me on a Vancouver almond croissant tour. I was told to not be too greedy…

#1

Yes, I know it’s not a croissant… but why don’t we talk about it anyways?

Sour cherry buckwheat scone from Purebread Bakery ($4.50): crispy exterior, very tender inside, excellent flavour with a strong, toasty, grainy (but not excessive) buckwheat taste. I really enjoyed it. The texture is crumbly, which I really like and look for in a good scone, and it is studded with fairly large, juicy dried cherries. This is one of my favourite scones of all time, and in fact, I chose to come to Purebread for this scone, which I’ve had before (and have been thinking about, ever since). I vaguely remember there being white chocolate chunks in this scone previously, but I did not find any chunks of white chocolate this time.

#2

Almond croissant from Sweet Victory Bakery ($9.50 for the croissant and a London Fog tea latte): firm, loose/separated layers, chewy, hard, scantily-filled. This was my least favourite croissant because it was more hard than crispy, causing me to suspect that it had been baked a day or two ago. I picked up a London Fog tea latte from Sweet Victory, and enjoyed it greatly, despite it being a little cooler than I would’ve liked – they nailed the flavour and I liked the touch of latte art, which I rarely see on tea lattes. Completely unrelated: the bakery itself was quite nice, and I loved the modern décor (marble, geometric gold, wood finishings).

#3

Double-baked almond croissant from Thomas Haas: heartily-filled, and the almond filling was reminiscent of blanched almond flour. It was not very gooey, and held its shape nicely. The layers were buttery, and the exterior crisp (not hard). There was much more filling than the almond croissant from Sweet Victory, and the texture was better as well. In fact, Thomas Haas’s almond croissant beat the almond croissant from Sweet Victory in every sense: taste, texture, and in my opinion, presentation. This croissant was my dad’s second favourite, and my mom and I ranked it third place.

#4

Lavender Earl Grey scone from Purebread Bakery ($4.50): lavender haters beware – this scone was extremely strong in lavender flavour. I could barely detect the Earl Grey, and had I not known it was a lavender Earl Grey scone, I would’ve assumed it was purely lavender. My dad disliked this scone greatly, as he hates lavender. You can smell the lavender from quite a distance away. My favourite thing about this scone was the dense, buttery texture. I don’t want to say that it was fudge-like, but it was truly a dense, thick scone with immense buttery flavour.

#5

Almond pistachio croissant from Thomas Haas: this croissant had a large “puff”, in that there was a lot of air space between the base, where the filling ended, and the peak of the croissant. The filling was minimal. Unlike Delysees (Toronto), where the pistachio croissant is filled to the brim with gooey pistachio paste, this croissant had a mere smudge of pistachio-almond paste, which was disappointing. The texture of the pistachio was similar to chestnut, noted my mom. My dad pointed out that the filling could be saltier. This croissant was truly a disappointment; I would’ve liked to see at least six times as much filling and a crispier exterior, as if it’d been double-baked like the almond croissant from Thomas Haas. Both Thomas Haas croissants came in cute paper bags (unlike the paper bags from other places), and I was offered a nice plastic bag to hold the two.

#6

Double baked rhubarb cheesecake croissant from Beaucoup Bakery ($4.60): fantastic topping. The topping of this double baked rhubarb cheesecake croissant was the best of the batch. I loved the crispiness of the top, as well as the caramelized sugar on the base. As for the filling, the rhubarb was cooked until very tender, though not mushy, and carried its signature sour flavour. The sweet, crusty exterior provided excellent contrast to the sour-tender filling of the rhubarb and cheesecake. My mom noted that the cheesecake filling tasted like sour cream, so it would’ve been nice to detect some citrus or vanilla notes in the cheesecake batter filling. On a different note, we felt that the chunks of rhubarb inside were too big and would’ve been more enjoyable if they were cut smaller.

#7

Chocolate almond croissant from Beaucoup Bakery ($4.60): incredible croissant. My dad ranked this one in second place, while my mom and I felt like it should come in third. It was filled generously, and the chocolate was rich and satisfying. Almonds covered the top generously, but I wish the chocolate had been more evenly spread. We cut the croissant in fourths, and my quarter was almost entirely filled with chocolate while my parents’s pieces lacked chocolate completely. Regardless, this croissant was tender inside and had rich, buttery layers that I would not hesitate to order again and again.

#8

Almond croissant from Timbertrain Coffee Roastery ($4.90): good thing we tried this one last, because all three of us agreed that this croissant was the number-one croissant of the batch. First of all, the filling was more “liquid-y” than the filling from Thomas Haas’s croissant, and all three of us enjoyed the gooeyness. The layers tasted like perfectly-toasted bread, though one end of the croissant was slightly burned. Despite being crisp, the croissant was anything but hard. The filling was sweet, but not too sweet, and the exterior provided great contrast. We also enjoyed the base of the croissant, which carried the taste and texture of caramelized sugar. There was no doubt that this almond croissant came in first place, and I would easily go back to Vancouver for more of these. My only complaint? Timbertrain Coffee Roastery doesn’t make tea lattes – I wanted a London Fog tea latte, but they could only make mistos (steamed milk + tea base), as they don’t have syrups in their cafe.


Any thoughts? Are you a croissant or scone person? What do you look for in a good pastry?

So. Many. Baked. Goods.

Good morning!

I organized an Open House at the Toronto Health Centre, where we received tons of food donations, including:

  • 12 cupcakes and 12 cookies from Almond Butterfly
  • 6 loaf cakes from Harbord Bakery
  • 36 cookies from Phipps Bakery
  • 30 scones from St. John’s Bakery
  • 36 cookies from St. John’s Bakery
  • 200 cheese tarts from Fugo Desserts
  • 3 hours of tea samples from David’s Tea
  • 100 cups of coffee from Druxy’s Deli

The turnout was fantastic, and we now have many new patients and 42 new contacts.

These oat pancakes turned out beautifully. These were made in-the-moment, where I added a pinch of this and a little of that. I don’t exactly have a recipe, but I will share one soon. Looking forward to trying this recipe with chocolate chips and frozen raspberries.

Spinach scrambled eggs with cheese eventually became scrambled tofu! Recipe was shared in my last post.

A couple of lovely places in the downtown Toronto area.

These enchiladas were made and devoured. Black beans, corn, sweet peppers and cheese with creamy corn tortillas and a green chili verde sauce tasted awesome with mild tomato salsa and some salt-and-peppered avocado.

Simple toast with nut butter and banana, and the much-needed morning yogurt!

I watched CIRKOPOLIS on Saturday! 😀

Cirkopolis was unbelievable. I had very high expectations since I’ve seen Cirque du Soleil a couple of times, but Cirkopolis was FUNNY, “intimate” (only 12 performers in the troupe!), inspiring, beautifully-designed with a great use of colour, and thoroughly entertaining. The show got better and better, and the pole act was favourite. It’s 85 minutes with no intermission: 7:30 to 8:55. I had expected it to be dance-y and theatrical, but it was very circus-like. There was even a pretty unique aerial apparatus that I can only describe as an “aerial drying rack”. I loved the show 100% and I wish you could all see it.

That’s it for this morning – heading to work soon. Have the best rest of the week!

Foodie February

Let’s get started!

Spinach, banana, peanut butter smoothie topped with homemade cashew granola.

Another smoothie made with the same ingredients and topped with the same yummy granola. This turned out a little too green for me.

Frozen banana with cocoa powder and a splash of milk to make a creamy chocolate banana pudding. Topped with more granola (I’m addicted) and a drizzle of hazelnut-almond butter.

A tasty apple-caramel danish from Gloria Cafe, along with an unpictured tomato and cheese sandwich that I adored.

Coconut bo lo bro from Lucullus Bakery with Thai green curried eggplant, mushrooms, cauliflower, and tofu

Baked vegetable eggs topped with four Italian cheeses, with roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. The thyme added excellent flavour!

Winterlicious/Summerlicious retweeted by Canoe post on Twitter! This made my day.

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Chocolate beet brownies (recipe coming soon) with yogurt, granola, and almond butter for a quick and delicious dessert.

Mashed banana and cocoa powder made this oatmeal bowl extra-yummy. Crumbled sweet potato spice muffin on top, with a big ‘ol scoop of almond butter.

Sweet potato oatmeal topped with peanut butter, and a side of yogurt with granola. YUM!

I’m such a granola and yogurt addict. I want this with every meal!

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Roasted sweet potatoes with salt and pepper, maple-soy salmon with garlic, and the tastiest sautéed broccoli with lemon.

Baked broccoli eggs topped with a mix of pecorino romano and grana padano, on top of toasted multigrain buns for a yummy, nutritious dinner.

Cartwheel! It was my first time learning to cartwheel. Even as I child, I NEVER cartwheeled. Fun!

That’s it for today, y’all. I can’t wait for the weekend – it’s about time to add to my Toronto Eats page!

Dad Days: Perogies and a Parking Fine

If you guys didn’t know (which I wouldn’t expect you to, because I haven’t posted about it yet) – my dad was here to visit! We flew from Vancouver, BC to Toronto, Ontario on September 7th. School started on the 8th. Dad was here for ten days, and left on Sunday the 17th. Do you remember when he came to visit last time – and we visited a super cool aquarium after having the prettiest croissants ever? Here are some of the things that happened and meals we enjoyed during those nice ten days!

I started one morning with two slices of delicious seedy avocado bread and a cheesy Oka omelet with zucchini and yellow squash.

Dad and I visited Timeless Cafe and Bakery, where I opted for a tasty tempeh plate. There were five slices of tempeh, green beans, and mashed squash with almonds and grapefruit puree. Definitely one of the most interesting restaurant entrees I’ve ever ordered! Dad had chicken and potatoes. For dessert, we split a strawberry shortbread creme brûlée and a chocolate plum tart with vanilla whipped cream and pistachios. The creme brûlée was the highlight of this meal for me!

I baked banana muffins using my all-time favourite recipe, and being the scatterbrained person I am, forgot to take photos of the finished product. So please feast your eyes on these satisfying photos of unbaked banana batter.

Another day I devoured a salmon filet baked with cayenne, paprika, garlic, butter, and lemon. The flavours work so well together, and I have

This was pasta with zucchini and mushrooms. I used rigatoni, and Dad liked this as well!

His version was topped with breaded chicken from Costco, which we heated up in the toaster oven.

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Chocolate-banana oatmeal with a lovely strawberry topping and sunflower butter!

Dad REALLY enjoyed these doughnuts from Costco. There’s Boston Cream, Chocolate, and Creamy Caramel. All of them are stuffed and came in a box of 24 doughnuts! One day, he ate three for breakfast and six for lunch while I was at school. Classic.

Red House, in my opinion, is still one of the best restaurants in Waterloo. I love this place so much! Dad and I enjoyed goat cheese + pancetta perogies, summer squash and sausage pasta with chicken and caramelized onions, butternut squash and cilantro fritters, hummus and pita bread, and a heavenly dessert…

Creamy caramel ice cream with dark chocolate brownie cake. It was amazing!

We also received a parking violation one day! Fortunately, we didn’t get fined because it is our first offence. For some reason, I found this parking ticket absolutely hilarious because we always joke about how we’re never going to get ticketed.

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The new Applied Health Sciences building at my school is a beauty! So glad that Kinesiology students get to use the new building for our exercise labs. The new anatomy (*cough* cadaver) lab is in here, too, which I haven’t seen yet – but I’m sure it’s a big upgrade from being in the basement of the Optometry building last year!

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Having fun isn’t hard when you have 20 amino acid structures/properties to memorize…

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Mom meals! I always find that she makes better food when I’m gone. Hmmm…

C’est ça for today! If you haven’t yet checked out my last post about a super cool event – you should 😉

Healthified PureBread Chocolate Banana Bottom Recipe

This recipe was from a loooooonnnng time ago. Like, a year ago. And by that, I don’t mean December 2015… I’m talking February 2015.

But it’s better late than never, right?

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Especially if it involves bananas and chocolate.

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This recipe was inspired by a dessert that I enjoyed from PureBread Bakery in downtown Vancouver. After my first bite, I knew the dessert was delicious but could be made 10x better at home with more bananas, less sugar, and some sour cream for moistness. This is what I came up with, and I found it even better than their famous chocolate banana bottom!

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Healthified PureBread Chocolate Banana Bottom

INGREDIENTS
  • 160g coconut sugar, light brown sugar, or sweetened coconut chips
  • 115g melted coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g sour cream
  • 2 medium overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 170g spelt flour, divided into 95g and 75g
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 35g semisweet chocolate chips for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 square baking pan.
  2. If you are using coconut chips, place them into the blender to grind into sugar. Add melted coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Blend until thick and creamy.
  3. Mash bananas until slightly chunky (mostly smooth!) and stir into wet mixture.
  4. Add baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt into wet ingredients.
  5. Pour half of the wet ingredients into a separate bowl. Now you have two bowls with equal amounts of the banana-sour cream mixture.
  6. Add 95g spelt flour into one bowl. Stir to just combine. Do not overmix.
  7. Add 75g spelt flour and 20g cocoa powder into the other bowl. Stir to just combine. Do not overmix.
  8. Pour chocolate batter into the bottom of the square pan. Spread, shake, and tap on the counter to allow the batter to cover the bottom. Pour the plain banana batter on top. Spread carefully. Do not mix the two layers!
  9. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the chocolate-banana bottom for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 16 squares and serve!

9 servings (106 g each) = 332 calories, 18g fat, 23g sugar, 5g protein
16 servings (60 g each) = 187 calories, 10g fat, 13g sugar, 3g protein
20g serving = 62 calories, 3g fat, 4g sugar, 1g protein
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These babies are rich, moist, and fluffy all at the same time. I enjoyed slices with peanut butter, and others au naturel.
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Definitely on the fussier side for a recipe, but so worth it. 🙂 This is my mom’s favourite banana bread recipe!
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Let me know if you give this a try!