Feast in the Fields

Feast in the Field Header

When Robyn of Simply Fresh Dinners reached out to me a few months ago about joining the “Feast in the Fields” event she was hosting in collaboration with Barrie Hill Farms, I was so excited to hear from her! I may be a city girl at heart, but I do love a relaxing day at the farm. Some of my favourite memories are actually connected to the farm, spending time with family and loved ones picking fresh fruit, and just enjoying the quiet of the countryside.

This is the second year Robyn has hosted the feast, a series of events that celebrates the start of the harvest season for a variety of fresh and local Ontario produce. I attended the second event in this series, which was all about raspberries and blueberries! I brought my mom along (who’s always been passionate about gardening and the outdoors) and was joined by some fellow influencers who also made the trip out to Barrie from Toronto.

IMG_9211
IMG_9228
IMG_9245
IMG_9233
IMG_9259
IMG_9217

The day started with a tour of Barrie Hill Farms, led by owner Morris. You could see the passion behind his love for farm fresh produce, and all of the work that goes into growing his product. After taking a lovely wagon ride through the property, we were met in the blueberry fields with a yummy plate of appetizers: blueberry pizza with bacon and goat cheese, and some lovely little skewers of raspberries, bocconcini and mint.

IMG_9291
IMG_9289
IMG_9303
IMG_9307

After the tour, we headed to a beautiful table for our feast, set with the perfect country tableware and adorable pops of blue. The menu was simple and delicious, showcasing the beauty of the ingredients. We were served family style, which kept the occasion casual and made it the ideal setting for great conversation!

IMG_9313IMG_9316IMG_9319IMG_9321IMG_9332

IMG_9341

The food was beyond tasty – my favourite dish had to be the sugar snap peas, which were finished with a healthy dose of butter and olive oil! There’s something special about eating farm to table food; all of the flavours seem to be fresher, tastier and more pronounced. In fact, the carrots we had were so sweet, they were mistaken for sweet potatoes!

Barrie Hill Farms is such a beautiful destination, and perfect for a weekend getaway from the city. Whether you’re spending time with the family or just want to get your hands on some unique, local Ontario products, it’s truly worth the trip. I had an absolutely amazing time learning more about the farm and of course feasting on delicious food! A huge thanks to Barrie Hill Farms for hosting us and to Robyn for having me.

Advertisements

Souk Tabule

IMG_8584

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of brunching with a group of awesome Toronto bloggers at a popular spot in the Canary District, Souk Tabule. Souk Tabule is a fast casual location under the Tabule family of restaurants, serving up delicious Middle Eastern and Lebanese dishes. Of the huge selection of places to brunch in Toronto, this was a refreshingly unique option, and definitely worth the visit!

IMG_8539

IMG_8518

IMG_8526

IMG_8533

IMG_8532

IMG_8543

We arrived bright and early at 10:30 am to beat the crowd, and basically had the restaurant to ourselves, which was lovely. I loved the decor of the restaurant, which was a beautiful mix of modern design, blue and white accents, and the most gorgeous wall art!

IMG_8559

Guests order and pay for their food off the extensive menu at the front counter, and then have seat where the meal is served to them. Souk Tabule offers a regular menu along with all-day brunch. We ended up ordering a wide selection off the menu, including the Chef’s Sampler to share. This included a variety of vibrant and flavourful Middle Eastern dips and starters: babaganouj, labni, muhamara, beet mutable, quinoa tabule and arabic slaw. This was served with the restaurant’s house-made saj bread.

IMG_8560

IMG_8576

IMG_8571

Amongst our table we had a mouthwatering spread of the Shakshuka, Hallum on a Brioche, Canary Salad, Phoenician Fries and the Akkawi and Roasted Tomato Omelette. The restaurant also has a great drink menu, including the refreshing mint lemonade that I tried.

I had the Shakshuka, a dish of eggs baked with roasted tomato and red pepper sauce. This is one of my favourite things to eat at brunch, and Souk Tabule’s version did not disappoint. It was tangy, filling, and luscious from all the egg yolk and the dollop of labni (a creamy yogurt dip) it included.

I also have to mention this one of the first times I’ve gotten to hang out with other Toronto bloggers – and it was such a blast! There’s nothing like being with like-minded people (who are just as serious about taking pictures of their food as you are). It was an amazing feeling to take a million shots of my meal without being judged, lol!

Check out some of the awesome ladies I brunched with and send them some love:

 

Review: MissFresh Food Subscription Box

2C8B7500-CCA2-4D07-AD65-6CD7B3594A9F

Working a full-time job, balancing a social life, and trying to eat healthy is no easy task – so when the concept of ready-to-cook food subscription boxes started popping up everywhere recently, it definitely peaked my interest! The idea behind a food subscription box is that you can choose a meal from a list of options, and you’ll be sent all the ingredients you need (in the precise proportions) to cook a quick, healthy meal at home.

Montreal based company MissFresh recently reached out to me, offering me the chance to test out their service and some of their recipes. The menu changes each week, and offers a range of different cuisines and dishes to suit your individual tastes. All of the ingredients come in an insulated box (so they don’t spoil while being shipped to you), and are accompanied by a recipe card with the instructions on how to cook each meal.

20C9CA03-1440-4F7F-A8BA-25F906250466

A funny (mostly sad) story about my experience – the fridge in my home broke the day after I received my shipment! I was able to cook the first meal without a problem, but unfortunately lost the meat and dairy components of the second and third dishes. I picked up what I could of what was missing from the grocery store, and I think the recipes still turned out quite well. Of course this detracted from the convenience of it all, but I still wanted to see the dishes through and to test the recipes out.

Read my review of each dish below, as well as the MissFresh service as a whole!

Recipe 1: Lemony Rapini and Sausages

E146E567-1A0A-4A61-8CE2-7FFD7429A6A0

This meal was tasty and easy to make, however I noticed immediately that the instruction cards that come with the ingredients aren’t as in depth as I’d like them to be. I found myself wondering what heat to have the pan at during some stages, and ended up Googling at times to compensate for the recipe. That being said, I’m definitely a novice chef, and I think more experienced cooks would have an easier time. I ended up overcooking the veggies a bit, sacrificing some of the texture of the meal. The dish had quite a tart finish (from the lemon juice), but the sausage meat added a flavourful punch against the slightly bitter rapini.

Recipe 2: Creamy Leek Polenta

43911013-CC81-43FE-9671-B0650CA74F01

This was the most difficult dish of the three to make. Again, I felt the instructions on the card could have been more clear (especially since I’ve never made polenta before!) and I ended up with a bit of a hard, lumpy mess instead of the creamy texture that it was supposed to be. Oh well, you live and you learn! The dish still had good flavour, and was definitely filling, but unfortunately I struggled on execution.

Recipe 3: Calamari Whole Wheat Pasta

0C2AABD7-3E5C-4017-A395-55768F713B74

My favourite of the three recipes, this surprisingly hearty dish hit the perfect balance with wine, garlic, and tender calamari. The instructions were easy to follow, and the portions were generous. The recipe called for raisins, but I ended up leaving them out as they’re not my favourite ingredient to use.

Overall I was pretty happy with my experience, although I did notice some of the ingredients that were sent weren’t the best quality. For example the rapini that arrived had already started to go bad in parts, and I ended up having to toss half. If I had paid full price for the service, I’m not sure it would have been worth it. However I do love the idea of being able to create healthy meals at home, under 30 minutes – especially with a busy schedule. Skipping the line at the grocery store is definitely super convenient!

There are a number of food box subscriptions on the market now that often offer a discount on the first order of the service. If you struggle with meal planning and have difficulty finding the time to cook for yourself, I definitely recommend you look into the different companies out there!

Do you have experience with food subscription boxes? Leave your recommendations in the comments below!

 

The Best Brunch Spots in Toronto

Best-Brunch-Toronto

If I had to choose my favourite meal, it would hands down be brunch. It’s the perfect time to indulge in something sweet, something savoury, or a little bit of both. It’s also socially acceptable to have an alcoholic beverage before 2pm, which is okay in my books!

There was a period of time where you would find me brunching every weekend – and I mean every weekend. I’ve since cut back, after realizing a weekly eggs benny isn’t the most practical for your wallet (or your waistline)! However I did determine a few of my favourite brunch spots in Toronto after trying many of the popular restaurants in the city.

Here are my favourite spots for brunch in Toronto:

Wish 3 Charles St E

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Wish wins the award for the most instagramable and aesthetically pleasing brunch spot in the city. Make sure to book a reservation (and cross your fingers that you’ll land a spot on the adorable patio), because this place gets slam packed on weekends. The service can be hit or miss, and the crowd can be snooty, but the food is definitely tasty. I recommend the classic eggs benny, angus burger, or avocado toast!

The Good Fork2432 Bloor St W

14709544_343374122680727_5623305564307062784_n

This is my pick for the most delicious, all-around menu. While I’m more of a savoury than sweet girl myself, there’s a great selection here and something for everybody. I can personally vouch for the ‘Daisy’ Benny and their take on Huevos Rancheros, but have also heard amazing things about their Red Velvet Pancakes. This is another spot that gets super packed on weekends, but unfortunately they don’t take reservations. I recommend visiting during off-peak hours so you’re not waiting around forever – however they do text you when your table is ready, which is a nice touch. It’s a bit out of the way in the West end, but definitely worth the journey!

The Starving Artist multiple locations

13696980_608776409282208_480824690_n

If eggs benny is your brunch go-to, you’ll love this hip spot with three locations in the city. The ‘B. Benny’ is my spirit animal in benny form – poached eggs and caramalized bacon served on potato waffles. Yes, savoury waffles made from potatoes – my dream vehicle for receiving egg-y, bacon-y, deliciousness. I’ve visited their St Clair location which is a big, bright space with artwork from local artists hung on the walls. The music was a bit too intense the day I visited, but it was still an enjoyable experience. The Starving Artist is cash only, so come prepared!

Smith553 Church St

12558811_924734924279398_123008102_n

Smith is a super cool spot in the Village with upper and lower dining rooms, as well as a patio space. The brunch rush is always hopping, which is a great sign when it comes to food. They serve up generous portions of delicious dishes (the brisket hash is my pick!), and the atmosphere is trendy and inviting. I have yet to be seated on their cute little patio, but will definitely be making it a priority this summer once the weather warms up!

Cafe Neon1024 Queen St W

IMG_4150

The Queen West outfit of this hip eatery (its other location in the Junction) is somewhat unassuming – the first time I walked by, it blended in with the local coffee shops. However upon closer inspection, I realized that the cafe actually had a larger dining room towards the back and I stopped in for brunch. Though the menu is quite small, it definitely hits all the brunch classics – pancakes, omelettes, and the usual fare. I was pleasantly surprised by their version of eggs benny, which included succulent pulled pork. The portions were large and everything was super yummy!

Barque Smokehouse299 Roncesvalles Ave

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Smoked. Duck. Pancakes. This is what first drew me to Barque – and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. If you’re into barbeque, you’ll love this restaurant. They offer a unique take on traditional brunch staples, all featuring their delicious barbeque – pulled pork, ribs, brisket and more. Their smoked duck panacakes come in a heaping portion smothered with a sweet blueberry compote and rich whipped goat cheese. I’m still dreaming about this meal. Barque is another place that gets super busy, but they do take reservations. Book ahead to avoid the wait!

I know what you’re thinking – where’s Mildred’s Temple Kitchen? Where’s Portland Variety? Sadly I haven’t yet made it out to some of the city’s most talked about brunch spots – simply because of the lines! It’s definitely on my bucket list for the next year to try out more places so I can fully assess and nail down my list of top spots. For now, these are my tried and true recommendations for some tasty brunch eats.

Let me know where your favourite place to brunch is in the comments below!

Baddies Toronto

baddies-toronto

Baddies is a hip little eatery located at 679 Lansdowne Ave in Toronto, serving up breakfast, brunch and lunch items Monday through Sunday. After seeing swoon-worthy snaps of this cafe on Instagram, I had to go check it out for myself!

When I first arrived at Baddies, I was surprised by how small the space actually was. The cafe runs on a “seat yourself” concept, with tables for around eight parties set up. If the restaurant is full when you arrive, you can choose to sit on the “bleachers” located at the back of the cafe until a table frees up, or you can even order your food to eat there. Food is ordered at the main counter where you pay ahead, and a server will bring it out to you when it’s ready.

baddies-decor

baddies-decor-2

The atmosphere is quite casual and noisy (since the space is so small), but beautifully decorated with exposed white brick, marble accents, surf-themed wallpaper, and hints of greenery. I also loved how much natural light came into the cafe!

baddies-smashed-avocado

I had the smashed avocado (with heirloom beet labneh, seasonal greens, sunflower seed, pickled beet, roasted persimmons on Prairie Boy sourdough) and added a fried egg as well as a side of bacon. For avotoast to really be a “wow” dish, it has to be executed well – and this version was delicious. The meal was filling and full of bold flavours and interesting textures.

baddies-matcha-latte

I paired my smashed avo with a matcha latte, which was equally tasty!

baddies-brekky-roll

My friend got the brekky roll (with cumbraes dbl smoked bacon, sunny egg, chimmichurri, tomato relish, and blood brothers IPA BBQ sauce), which she also enjoyed!

The menu offered some yummy sounding sweet options as well, but my friend and I both lean towards more savoury dishes. We laughed about how we wished one of us liked sweets so we could get a better picture! Overall I enjoyed my experience at Baddies and would return – just be prepared to wait for a table if you’re visiting on a busy Saturday like I did.

Winterlicious 2017 at Pukka

pukka

I have mixed feelings about Toronto’s annual winter culinary event, Winterlicious. Each year I find myself debating whether or not the three-course prix fixe menus are worth it, or if I’d be better off just ordering off the restaurant’s regular menu. However I always do end up making it out to try a few restaurants. I wouldn’t normally order three different dishes for myself, and Winterlicious is a good way to sample more of the menu than I typically would.

This year’s event took place from January 27th – February 9th, and I did have time to visit a couple of places for their Winterlicious menus. The standout for me was Pukka, a modern Indian gem tucked away on St. Clair West. At $28, their dinner menu fell within the lowest of three price tiers offered through Winterlicious. I had previously visited Pukka with a friend and enjoyed my experience, but had not had a chance to sample any of their entrees.

pukka-chaat

To start, I had the Pukka Chaat, a vegetarian dish I would say is similar to a salad, comprised of vegetable strings, rice crisps, pomegranate, green apples, mango, chutneys and yogurt. This was such a bright, fresh and delicious dish – the perfect start to a meal. According to Google, “Chaat” is a term used to describe savoury snacks served at food carts in India, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

lamb-shank

For my main, I had the Lamb Shank Xacuti, with coconut, red chili and fennel seeds. The dish came with basmati rice, but I also ordered some naan on the side. The lamb itself was extremely tender and fell off the bone, and the sauce that accompanied provided wonderful flavour with just the right amount of heat and a hint of ginger. This was an extremely large portion for the price point.

mango-mousse

I chose the Mango Mousse to end the meal, which was velvety, rich and full of sweet mango flavour. By this time I was absolutely stuffed, but could not stop spooning up mouthfuls of this dessert!

The atmosphere at Pukka is intimate, with candles and dim lighting throughout. Our server was super friendly, knowledgeable and attentive. If you’re thinking of trying it out, I’d recommend the restaurant for date night or visiting with a group of friends, as many of the dishes are great for sharing. What I loved most about the food at this place were the bold flavours – every bite was interesting and had me going back for more. I had an awesome Winterlicious experience at Pukka and will definitely return!

 

3 Easy & Healthy Breakfast Ideas

img_5785

One of my favourite things to do on the weekend is to spend some time in the morning trying out healthy breakfast recipes. It’s easy to gravitate towards unhealthy choices for breakfast, but there are so many easy, healthier options out there that are as delicious as they are good for you.

Here are three easy ideas I love that are easy to make and will give you energy to take on your day:

Smoothie Bowl

img_5763

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  • Toppings of choice

Smoothie bowls are great if you’re someone who craves something sweet in the morning. You can often make them by throwing together whatever you have on hand!

To make the version above, simply blend the mixed berries, banana, almond milk, strawberries, and chia seeds together until smooth. You can top your smoothie bowl with whatever you like – I added chopped pistachios, whole chia seeds, strawberry slices, sunflower seeds and oats to mine. Fresh fruit is also an amazing addition!

Banana Oat Pancakes

img_5792

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Maple syrup & powdered sugar to serve (optional)

These banana oat pancakes are seriously yummy and a healthier take on the classic pancake. I halved this recipe by Simply Delicious, which made enough for a filling breakfast for one.

To make the pancakes, blend the banana, eggs, oats, baking powder and salt until smooth. Let the batter stand for 10-20 mins to thicken, and then fry in a non-stick pan over medium heat until golden brown. I used a 1/4 cup measure to spoon out the perfect amount of batter for each pancake.

Serve your pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup, powdered sugar or fresh fruit!

(Not so Boring) Toast

img_5905

Toast is a breakfast staple, and there are so many more ways to have it than just the classic butter or jam. My favourite variations are avocado toast (recipe below) for a savoury option, and almond butter (or peanut butter) and banana slices for something more sweet. Whole wheat and whole grain bread are a healthy choice and also provide great texture.

Ingredients for avocado spread:

  • 1 small avocado
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of garlic powder
  • Splash of hot sauce
  • Chili flakes to serve (optional)

Remove the skin and pit from the avocado and mash with a fork until smooth. Add lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and hot sauce and combine. Serve over toast and sprinkle with chili flakes!

What are some of your favourite healthy breakfast options? Leave a comment below!