Guest Blogger

Hey everyone!

Just wanted to announce that I will have a guest blogger doing a series on places to eat in Markham, ON!!!!!

Stay tuned!


The Last Meal

While enjoying a fabulous meal in France and feeling high off of our first course of fresh salad and pâté au porc with delicious french bread, I posed the question to Conan:

“What would you have served to you for your last meal EVER?!”

We cheated a bit and instead of incorporating the restraints placed on some US last meals, we had only a 3 course restriction. Let’s be honest, if there wasn’t, the night would never end. So here goes:

Conan

Entrée
Thai hot and sour soup

Plat Principal
Steak frites with ketchup and vinegar

Dessert
75% cocoa with blueberry chocolate bunny that is wafer thin

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Me

Entrée
Pork, chive and shrimp dumplings – a mix of pan fried and steamed with red vinegar (not the nasty kind)

Plat Principal
Creamy pasta from Piola (like carbonara)
Portion of steamed fish with soy sauce, green onion, ginger and sesame oil
Baked brie and roasted garlic

Dessert
Ras Malai

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If you could have a last meal of sorts – what would it be?


Vive le France!

Bonjour!!!! I’m in France – south of to be exact. Chillin in Montpellier at the moment. Haven’t had a chance to write much in the past week because of vacation, but the food has been…well very rich and French! More on that later if Conan let’s me use the Internet!!!


Mother’s Day Idea #2 – Blooming Tea’s!

So earlier in the week I suggested getting mom those delicious Baker Street Mother’s Day cupcakes, but I know not all moms have a sweet tooth. I personally think this is a beautiful gift that can be enjoyed on a special occasion, or whenever one feels like they want to watch something incredible unfold before their eyes – DavidsTea blooming teas!

One of my all-time favourite teas is jasmine and they have jasmine in all the fruit blooming teas, well the flowers at least!

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Fruit Blooming Teas – 6 pack, $14.50 per box

These hand-crafted blooms taste just as lovely as they look. Each little wonder contains a beautiful blossom of lily and jasmine flowers. Just drop a ball into your glass teapot, watch it unfold, and meditate over the fresh aroma of juicy peach, ripe strawberry or sophisticated lychee. But the real surprise comes in your cup, as these particular blooms come loaded with a big fruity burst of flavour. Could life be more zen? Each box contains two of each flavour.

  1. Strawberry Bloom
  2. Peach Bloom
  3. Lychee Bloom

Blooming Teas – 3 pack, $6.50 per box

This pretty teal gift box contains three different varieties of blooming tea. Fountain of Youth bursts with marigold and amaranth petals. Jasmine Garland contains seven jasmine flowers and a perfect pink amaranth. And Double Zen slowly reveals two ethereal flowers made of jasmine, marigold and amaranth. Just watching them is a soothing, zen experience – brew them in a glass teapot or cup to enjoy the full spectacle.

  1. Jasmine Garland
  2. Double Zen
  3. Fountain of Youth

Oh and FYI for anyone who wants to purchase the glass teapot as well – they’re $29.50 each.

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Let me know what you end up doing on Mother’s Day!!!!


Get your mom something tasty for Mother’s Day this year!

Just a reminder – Mother’s Day is May 13 this year.

Every year I feel completely overwhelmed by the plethora of gifts one could buy for mom, but then every year my mom will receive flowers, chocolates and a homemade card (if she’s lucky). I did become creative once and bought her some perfume and I don’t think she liked it.

Anyway, this year I have a couple of new ideas for all of you who don’t know what to do! First one being these delicious cupcakes from Baker Street! Just FYI, they have Mother’s Day themed cupcakes and cake!

Definitely great for those who can’t bake very well or have time to bake and still want mom to have a delicious day!

I tried Baker Street’s Rosé cupcake the other day and I have to say, they were really good! They had a great spongy cake, full of vanilla flavor and icing that was light and creamy! Another great thing is they won’t break your bank and your mom won’t feel like she ate 3lbs of icing *coughprairiegirlcough*

Aside from satisfying my sweet tooth, I also had the pleasure of talking to Baker Street’s marketing manager about their cupcakes (some tidbits to impress your mom with)!

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Baker Street started in 1978 by what it seems to be 2 women – who are they and motivated them to start up Baker Street?

Baker Street was opened 34 years ago this summer, by two sisters, Marie and Esther. Being of European background and privy to great baked goods, Marie and Esther noticed that Toronto didn’t have much delicious handcrafted desserts, so they decided to do something about it. They started making cakes and pies in one of their kitchens and soon moved to another house. The demand was so strong they started baking at a bakery and soon rented out the ovens from there in the evenings. They essentially worked 24 hours, delivered the goods themselves while with kids. They soon bought a place on Dupont and then from there moved their current Hopewell Avenue location. Here they now have  2 buildings to make all their products that are shipped across North America.

Both Marie and Esther are extremely dedicated and can be found there 6 to 7 days a week and work 12 hours a day. Marie is very involved in research and development of new products, while Esther is mainly responsible for the financial aspect of the company.

 

What was the first item sold at Baker Street?

First hand crafted products were, well there were 3: a New York style baked cheese cake, a carrot cake that has won several awards, and a chocolate cake.

 

Since then, what other baked goods and items does Baker Street offer?

Baker Street now offers an entire line of cakes, torts, pies and cheesecake.

We have a natural line that we sell at Loblaw’s. For that line we’ve taken the gelatin out, it has a cleaner label and it doesn’t have overly processed ingredients. We did it because people started to learn, discover and move toward this natural trend, so we wanted to make sure we were serving products that our customers and the public would want to serve to their families.

 

Speaking of food trends, we all know there is this movement toward using fresh, clean (no GMO, antibiotic, humane), local, organic ingredients, what is Baker Street’s stance on this?

Well Marie and Esther grew up near Kensington market and as kids they would just get ingredients from there locally and they knew where it’s coming from and they would be supporting local farmers. They have always stayed true to that, what they learned from their parents and implement that in their baking. The majority of every Baker Street product contains local Canadian ingredients.

For the Natural line, the strawberry, peach and apple pies all smell like grandma’s kitchen. They are made from about 5 ingredients. For example, the apple pie has apples, brown sugar, flour, and butter. We use real butter, no margarine allowed!

 

As you know Mother’s Day is coming up within the next couple of weeks, is Baker Street offering any Mother’s Day specialty items?

Well we just recently started making cupcakes and we have 2 of our cupcakes in the Loblaw’s Superstore right now – the Rosé and Sensationally Strawberry cupcake.

The Rosé cupcake is a vanilla cake with vanilla bean frosting and pink sprinkles.

The Sensationally Strawberry cupcake is a vanilla cake with strawberry butter cream icing!

 

Mmmmmmm – sounds delicious! Anything else?

At Ontario Metro stores we have a 6 inch Double Chocolate Heart cake made from milk chocolate, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache.

Where can one get these tasty treats?

Our cupcakes are only at the Loblaw’s Superstore. But we have our other baked goods at Metro in Ontario, Sobey’s and other Loblaws stores.

 

Rapid fire

Cupcake or cakepop? Cupcake

What makes a good cupcake? The icing. Only because I love cream cheese icing!

What’s your favourite item from Baker Street? Carrot cake

What are you going to get for your mom for Mother’s Day? Probably in NYC that week…oh boy, I’d probably get her one of those hearts, she’s a big chocolate fan.

(This interview has been condensed and edited)


Another Reason to Shop @ Loblaws

Makes walking that extra kilometre to Loblaws totally worth it!

A great example of recognizing a consumer trend and not only thinking about it, but doing something about it. It also makes sense why Loblaw SuperStores carry the Baker Street’s natural baked goods line – more on that and my interview with Baker Street! Stay Tuned!

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Loblaws to remove artificial colours and flavours

CARLY WEEKS

Globe and Mail Update
Published Thursday, May. 03, 2012 12:01AM EDT

Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocer, is banishing artificial colours and flavours from its signature President’s Choice line of products, The Globe and Mail has learned.

Galen G. Weston, executive chairman of Loblaw Cos. Ltd., will make the announcement at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

Although it’s a challenging task, particularly when it comes to candy and other vibrantly-coloured confectionery items, the decision was sparked in response to growing demand for natural products, according to Ian Gordon, senior vice-president of Loblaw Brands.

“We hear more and more concern from consumers about artificial flavours and colours and we just think it’s the right thing to do,” he said in an interview.

Artificial flavours and colours have emerged as one of the biggest nutritional bogeymen in the eyes of many Canadian consumers in recent years after some studies have linked their consumption to everything from allergies to potential behaviour problems or hyperactivity in children, and possibly even some types of cancer.

Advocacy groups such as the Ottawa-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest have called for better controls on the use of artificial dyes and flavours and improved labelling laws. In Canada, food companies aren’t required to spell out which artificial colours they use on product labels. Health Canada has floated the idea of changing that.

Members of the medical and scientific communities remain divided about the true risks of artificial flavours and colours. For instance, some studies that found links between hyperactivity and synthetic food dyes have been criticized for using shoddy methodology. But in an era when many equate natural ingredients with better health, some consumers don’t want to wait and are demanding a shift in the food industry.

And the industry has begun responding. For instance, Nestlé has removed artificial colours from Smarties in Canada, while the company announced in March all of its confection items sold in Britain will contain only natural flavours and dyes and no artificial preservatives.

Now, Loblaws is becoming the first major Canadian chain to position itself as a leader in the movement away from artificial flavours and colours.

By the end of this year, all artificial colours in the PC line (which includes Blue Menu, Organics and Green branded products) will be removed; by the end of 2013, all artificial flavours will be removed.

It’s a large undertaking and the company has been faced with the challenge of finding alternate ingredients that don’t sacrifice shelf life, taste or overall appearance, Mr. Gordon said. Confectionery items, such as candy and ice cream, are particularly difficult because consumers have been conditioned to expect the bright, vibrant colours of artificial dyes, he added.

“It is not an easy task,” Mr. Gordon said. “If it was an easy task everybody would be doing it.”

But consumers should take note that products are not necessarily healthier simply because they may contain some natural ingredients. Rena Mendelson, professor of nutrition at Ryerson University in Toronto, said that products containing natural flavours and dyes may still contain unwanted preservatives, additives or stabilizers.

Even natural ingredients can be harmful to health, such as excessive amounts of sugar and sodium.

Yet, by marketing their products as free of artificial dyes and colours, companies such as Loblaws are appealing to a broad segment of health conscious consumers, Prof. Mendelson said.

“I think the real trend here is to say…we’re really concerned about your health and therefore we’re doing everything we possibly can to assure you our products are taking [that] into account.”

Even though the evidence linking artificial dyes and flavours to health problems isn’t conclusive, Prof. Mendelson said switching to more natural ingredients may be a sure-fire way to increase profits.

“[It’s] an opportunity to position yourself as being highly interested in health and health sells,” she said. “It’s a way to differentiate in a very crowded marketplace.”

(Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health/new-health/health-news/loblaws-to-remove-artificial-colours-and-flavours/article2420578/)

 


Pop-up Lunch – The Grid TO

Definitely something to check out during your lunch hour if you’re close by! I’m eyeing the Taiwanese steamed pork, fish and veggie buns….and pulled pork sandwich..makes me wish they served up some fwhat fwhat pork buns at Don Don Izakaya.