Lazy Girl Raspberry Rosé Lemonade

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Earlier this month, I celebrated a bachelorette weekend for one of my closest girlfriends. This was super exciting for me, since she’s one of the first of my friends to be tying the knot! Besides killer décor and entertainment, one of the necessities for a successful bachelorette is of course beverages – and I quickly went on the hunt to find the perfect girly (and fruity!) drink to cheers to the occasion.

A sweet, easy-drinking rosé seemed like a no-brainer, but I wanted to step it up a notch and decided to create an easy rosé lemonade. For a weekend-long event like the one we had, sipping on something light during the day definitely helps to keep energy levels up (especially for shimmying the night away!). This drink is perfect for summer, not to mention it looks super pretty!

Ingredients:

  • One (750 mL) bottle of XOXO Rosé
  • 1 cup raspberry lemonade
  • 1 cup club soda
  • Fresh raspberries
  • Lemon slices to garnish

When I say this is a lazy girl’s recipe, I mean it – this is basically a “throw things in a pitcher and call it a day” kind of drink, and I’m all for it! To make the raspberry rosé lemonade, I simply combined a bottle of XOXO Rosé, a cup of raspberry lemonade I picked up from grocery store, and a cup of club soda to balance the sweetness and add some bubbles. To enhance the raspberry flavour, I topped it with fresh raspberries and then cut thin rounds of lemon for a cute garnish.

I chilled the wine, lemonade and soda beforehand, so I decided not to include ice, but you can easily include crushed ice if that’s what you prefer! If you want to avoid diluting the drink, you can use frozen raspberries as a way to add flavour while also keeping it cold. For extra fizz, you can also opt to top your lemonade with the soda instead of mixing it in.

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Raspberry Rose Lemonade

Here’s a little peek at the décor we had at the bachelorette!

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Thank you to XOXO Wines for providing all of the beverages for the weekend’s festivities! What’s your favourite drink for the summer? Share your favourite recipe with me in the comments below!

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Brunch at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen

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Anyone who lives in Toronto knows that brunch in this city is no joke. If you want to secure a seat at one of the coveted brunch destinations in town, you’ll likely have to add your name to a lengthy list, or visit first thing in the morning. These are generally the places that live up to their hype and serve crave-worthy dishes that will keep you coming back for more. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, located in the heart of Liberty Village, is definitely one of those spots!

I had heard of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen a few years ago as one of the places to go for brunch, particularly for their blueberry buttermilk pancakes. I finally had the chance to visit last year, and was thoroughly impressed with the food and atmosphere. Last week, I was excited to be invited to return to enjoy their brunch, along with their Walter Craft Caesar. I arrived early at 10:30 am on Sunday with my boyfriend and the place already had a line out the door. If that isn’t a sign of food that’s worth the wait, I don’t know what is!

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We started the meal with a round of the restaurant’s “Canadian Caesars” which feature Stoli, curly celery, horseradish, and the star of the show, Walter’s Caesar Mix – Canada’s first all-natural, premium Caesar mix. I’ve loved Caesars as long as I’ve been legal, especially as my beverage of choice to pair with a yummy brunch. There’s something about having that spicy, savoury, slightly sour drink with your meal that just makes it that much better, maybe because it almost seems like another dish in itself.

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When the drinks arrived I was pleasantly surprised by the unique presentation, with heaping mounds of curly celery serving as a garnish. The wooden chopsticks were a cute and useful touch to help you pick up the strands while drinking, and you could really taste the difference in the mix. The drink had a bold tomato flavour that I crave from a great Caesar, and didn’t taste diluted at all. The only thing I thought was missing was a strip of the restaurant’s delicious Rosemary Bacon!

As far as the food goes, here’s what we ordered:

  • Veda’s Choice – Mildred’s classic poached eggs on a flakey croissant with your choice of smoked salmon or bacon, topped with Béarnaise sauce & served with mixed greens
  • The Manhandler – sliced flat iron steak on toasted garlic sourdough with arugula, two eggs sunny & a side of MP sauce
  • Mrs. Biederhof’s Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes – served with a wild blueberry compote, Lanark County organic maple syrup & whipped cream.

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Mildred’s Temple Kitchen specializes in refined comfort food with a focus on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Everything we had was absolutely delicious, and you could truly taste the quality in the food. Veda’s Choice (which we had with bacon) was luxuriously rich with the eggs cooked to runny perfection. The flat iron steak was tender, well-seasoned and a perfect medium rare. Our favourite however had to be the restaurant’s claim to fame blueberry buttermilk pancakes, which were on another level of fluffy.

The restaurant offers a weekend brunch menu on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, and a “B’Lunch” menu (which offers a mix of brunch and lunch items) Monday to Friday from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. All of the dishes we had are served on both menus, and I highly recommend them all. I’m also a big fan of the restaurant’s scones and biscuits, which are baked fresh every morning! If you’ve been wondering if the wait it worth it for brunch at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, I can personally vouch that it is. And if you’re planning a visit soon, make sure to wash it all down with a Canadian Caesar – I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Brunch at The Carbon Bar

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I was recently invited to try the brunch menu at The Carbon Bar, a hip spot located at 99 Queen Street West that serves up southern-style snacks, plates and platters. I had actually visited the restaurant before for dinner after a recommendation from a friend and was impressed by the food, so I was excited to return to try their brunch selection.

Carbon Bar offers a weekend brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:30 am – 2:30 pm that features a number of drool-worthy items including Chicken ‘N’ Waffles with citrus crema and Buttermilk Pancakes with wild blueberries and Ennis Farm maple syrup. They also have a beautiful, full-service bar whipping up refreshing mimosas, house Caesars (my personal fave), and other made-to-order cocktails.

My friend and I arrived at 11:30 am on a Sunday for our meal and were greeted by the restaurant’s super friendly staff, who escorted us to our table. I love the decor at Carbon Bar, which features funky red banquet seating, retro lighting fixtures and impressive high ceilings.

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The Carbon Bar Mimosa

We ordered a few different dishes to sample along with the prettiest grapefruit mimosas – the restaurant actually has an awesome promotion running currently, where they’ll give you a free mimosa with your meal if you share your brunch experience on social and tag them @TheCarbonBar.

Here’s what we feasted on:

  • Chicken ‘N’ Waffles – buttermilk fried chicken, citrus crema, chili + honey + garlic sauce
  • Buttermilk Pancakes – wild‎ blueberries, Ennis Farm maple syrup, lemon yogurt hangop + house smoked bacon
  • Smoked Brisket Benny – high rise biscuit, two poached eggs, red cabbage slaw, Anaheim chili, dill pickle, hollandaise
  • Smashed & Fried Potatoes – kimchi,‎ parmesan, green onions

The restaurant was also kind enough to serve us a few fresh baked pastries to start. When the food arrived (very promptly I might add), I was blown away by how delicious everything looked – you eat with your eyes first, after all. All of the dishes were also served piping hot, a factor greatly appreciated by someone who can’t consume her meal before documenting it excessively, lol!

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The Carbon Bar Buttermilk Pancakes

Once we were finally able to dig in, it’s safe to say we were both thoroughly impressed by the quality of the food. The pancakes were fluffy as clouds, the benny was bursting with flavour thanks to the chili and pickle, and the chicken was crunchy on the outside and succulent on the inside. I love that the menu puts a spin on the classics, infusing them with southern flair and unexpected asian influence (like the kimchi in the potatoes). And when I say we feasted – I mean we had a feast. The portions were more than generous and way more than the two of us could eat! We had the leftovers packed to-go, which were left at the hostess stand for us to collect on the way out – a nice touch on the restuarant’s part.

If you’re looking for a new go-to brunch spot with a delicious selection of savoury and sweet dishes in a cool, relaxed atmosphere – I highly recommend a visit to The Carbon Bar. It’s perfect for both groups (large or small) and couples, and is soon to be on the top of everyone’s radar, in my opinion. I’ll definitely be returning to try some of their Texas BBQ soon, and in the meantime will be dreaming of the mouthwatering brunch spread we had!

Feast in the Fields

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Souk Tabule

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!