October 11, 2014.

After 7 and a half years of dating, GC and I tied the knot on October 11th, 2014. The weather was gorgeous: it was sunny, clear and crisp. It was the perfect fall day. Our ceremony took place in the gardens at the Columbus Center, an Italian community center close to our house that GC took various lessons and classes at as a child.

audrey&giancarlo0217I walked down the aisle with both of my parents to “We’re Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes, a song that encapsulates our relationship as more than just boyfriend and girlfriend but as best friends and falling in love as kids in university.

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Mother’s Day 2015

What day is today? Today is Mother’s Day! For Mother’s Day this year I hosted GC’s parents and Ninni for an afternoon tea in the backyard.

IMG_3754 IMG_3758I made five different sandwiches and savoury scones:

1. Cucumber & Chive Butter
2. Goat Cheese, Prosciutto and Basil
3. Tomato Pesto Tea Sandwiches
4. Radish-Chive Tea Sandwiches
5. Nordic Open Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwiches
6. Cream Biscuits with Prosciutto and Parmesan Cheese

Dessert was leftover cake from Amelia’s birthday. To celebrate my amazing sister I had made a Chocolate Raspberry Cake.

IMG_3749Don’t worry – my Mama didn’t get left out. My mom, in all her typical intensity and amazingness, brought over a barbeque feast with all the fixings: steak, pasta salad, potato salad, greek salad and fruit salad. All I had to do in return was provide another cake, a Lemon Blueberry Layer Cake with a light cream cheese frosting.

IMG_3769I got it from my Mama – and by “it” I mean my baking and cooking skills. My mom has cooked and baked for our family for over 30 years and has always done it with grace, elegance and skill. It is never a big deal for my mom to host a family dinner or bring food to a potluck. She created the home that I hope to create for my family: I always want people to come over to our house and know that there will be food and drink, that it is not an imposition and that everything will be cooked with skill and love.

Happy munching!

Afternoon Tea – The Windsor Arms

My mom is one of my favourite people of all time. She is the most inspiring woman I know. She is smart, charming, witty, beautiful and just completely amazing. She is my real life Meryl Streep.

10332_674748901846_121506112_40082178_2410099_nMom & Girls OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot only do I gush about her, I eat with her. This year to celebrate her birthday and Mother’s Day, we went for afternoon tea at The Windsor Arms. The Windsor Arms is everything you want a hotel to be. It is sleek, polished and has a very posh London hotel atmosphere about it.

This posh atmosphere continues into the tea room. The table settings are white linens and all the china is matching. There is a hat stand with a variety of hats with ridiculous plumage fit for a royal wedding. There was a group of girlfriends in floral dresses and fascinator enjoying afternoon tea. It was all very dainty and proper.

The tea rooms are seated according to your reservation time and seatings are fully booked. I understand  the need to make money and run a successful business but it takes away from the ambiance when you are too closely seated to the next table and the low hum of other patrons turns into a loud drone.

We shared a pot of the Private Windsor Arms blend. This tea was a blend of Ceylon, Nilgiris and Assam teas. It was delicious. Our tower of deliciousness was presented to us and stacked in the traditional manner from the bottom up: scones, sandwiches and desserts.

IMG_0607The Goat cheese and caramelized shallot tart.

I promise you, this tart did not look so sad and lonely in person. The tart was served first as it was warm. It was delicate, soft and sweet. I wish it had been slightly bigger or maybe served as two. On it’s own, it was the perfect warm, little bite of rich, cheesy goodness.

IMG_0608Fresh scones with preserves and Devonshire cream.

The scone serving was very generous. We given two each and they were huge. They were impossible to grab using the tongs and this resulted in me dropping one of my scones. It was my classiest use of the “5 Second Rule” to date. There was two different flavours of scones: raisin and orange currant. These scones were firm on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. They were only made more perfect smothered with Devonshire cream and various jams. I could eat scones all day.

The fresh sandwiches consisted of: 1. Smoked Salmon and Wasabi Sour Cream with Salmon Caviar 2. Cucumber with Sundried Tomato Paste and Dill Cream Cheese and 3. Grilled Chicken, Granny Smith Apples Citrus Mayonnaise, Greek Yogurt and Chives.

The sandwiches were tiny. The bread had been flatten out and rolled into pinwheels rather than being served as quarters or miniature sandwiches. Due to the form the sandwiches take, the sandwiches are not packed with filling. The flavours were not bold and intense. The flavour that stood out the most was the salmon. It was smooth, creamy and salty. The cucumer was delicate and light, tasting faintly of a fresh garden. The chicken sandwich was filled with chicken but the other flavours did not stand out.

And last but not least, the dessert level.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset The Petits Fours: Chocolate Mousse Truffle, a Coconut Marshmallow, a Mango and Passionfruit cake and a Lemon Custard Tart topped with Raspberries.

Please explain to me why for two people we are given four different desserts? And desserts that cannot easily be shared? This was my major complaint with the tea service. The final touch of the tea service is dessert and to be underwhelmed is disappointing.

That being said, we shared our desserts and by the end were full. My favourite was the lemon tart. Lemon and raspberry is my favourite combination of flavours in desserts. The zesty, tartness of the lemon combined with the subtle tart but still sweet flavour of the raspberry is pure perfection. This tart had a crumbly shell filled with velvety smooth lemon filling and topped with three, perfectly formed raspberries. Yums. The low point: the coconut marshmallow. It was underwhelming. Marshmallows should be in hot chocolate, not on a dessert tower at afternoon tea.

Overall the tea experience was lovely but the company was even better. This was the perfect afternoon to celebrate the awesomeness that is my Mom. I love you, Mom!

Happy munching!

The Ace

Last weekend found us wandering Roncesvalles on Saturday and Sunday. It was a beautiful – sunny and warm, no winter jacket required and tons of cute boutiques and shops to pop in and out of. Saturday we enjoyed empanadas curbside from Mabel’s and Sunday afternoon we enjoyed brunch at The Ace.

The Ace is literally a hole in the wall in every sense of the phrase – it is easily missed from the street, is small and sunken in away from sidewalk. The inside has a retro vibe to it with its bar stools, milkshake machines, floral wallpaper and 1970s tunes.  Literally every song played while we were in the restaurant was great – they played the Stones, CCR and Motown. It felt like you were enjoying a meal out of The Big Chill. The restaurant has a capacity of 39 people so seating is at a premium, especially for brunch. We arrived around 1 o’clock and were seated within 10 minutes. Since the restaurant is so tiny it is better to go with a small group (no more than 4) or as a pair to make sure you are seated quickly.

I ordered the Ace Benedict. IMG_5503Yes, that is my side of sausage creepying into view… I can’t resist ordering sausages at every brunch I have.

Ace Benedict – two farm-fresh poached eggs with parmesan leek fondue and peameal bacon, served on English muffins with crispy home fries.

Yes! This is what an egg’s benedict should look like! I should not see the English muffin, my peameal bacon should be draping off the muffin and there should be a huge cloud of egg whites! I loved that this was not your traditional benedict. The fondue sauce was unreal – nutty and salty from the parmesan with the soft, subtle onion flavour from the leek. I would love to dip everything in this and pour it over everything. The peameal bacon was the best peameal I have ever had. It was thick cut, fatty, salty and rich. The whole benedict was perfectly formed and was easy to cut and capture every layer of the sandwich. Yum.

GC ordered The Ace Breakfast. IMG_5500The Ace Breakfast: two farm-fresh eggs any style served with sausage, bacon, peameal bacon, crispy home fries, brown toast, grilled tomato, and black beans.

For dessert we shared the Zucchini cake served with a scoop of housemade oatmeal ice cream.

IMG_5505The zucchini cake was moist, dense and chewy. But the highlight is really the ice cream. It had the texture of oatmeal and tasted like brown sugar and cinnamon. In theory, I could make this (no, I have not used my ice cream maker yet!) but it is easier to have someone else make it for me.

The Ace is so cozy and perfect, I want to go back. We will be going back for dinner and probably for brunch, and might as well go for lunch too! If you haven’t check out Roncesvalles, you should and if you haven’t been to The Ace, you should do that too.

Happy munching!

Cupcake Cake Balls

Sometimes you need to celebrate birthdays on a smaller scale, a much smaller scale.

Cake Ball - CupcakeFor my friend Al’s 24th birthday I made cupcake shaped cake balls. Tiny bite-sized yums that are funny and whimsical. I forgot how much of a pain cake balls can be to make but for a good friend, you put in the effort. There are currently about 10 more cake balls sitting in my freezer waiting to be decorated – feel free to ask!

Happy birthday Al! I love you!


A few nights ago, GC and I had a “Treat Yo’ Self” (inspired by Parks and Recreation) night where we went for pedicures and then out for dinner.

We go to Pedimani Nail Spa on Yonge St (if you care, which I doubt you do), just north of Lawrence. Close to home but more importantly and, why I mentioned what neighbourhood we were in, close to tons of great food options. The options are seemingly endless: burgers, BBQ, sushi, Mexican, Italian and frozen yogurt. We are slowly going to munch ourselves up this stretch of Yonge on our “Treat Yo’ Self” nights and we started with Milagro.

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Cake Inspired by Art

I love when the world around us inspires us to create food in its likeness. I came across these photos months ago when I was looking for cake ideas. This is a series of cake creations that are made to look like the art of modern artists.

I have had these pictures on my computer for months so I don’t know where I got them – sorry! If, for whatever, reason you come across the sources for these images, please let me know. It would be great to give credit where credit is due.

Inspired by “The Kiss“by Gustav Klimpt.

Inspired by the backgrounds featured in Klimpt’s paintings.

Inspired by the still-life paintings of Cezanne.

Inspired by the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock.

Inspired by “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh.

Inspired by “Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh.

What I want to see is an “Oath of the Horatii” cake. Hope this inspires you to bake a cake or go to an art gallery.


Harry’s Social Kitchen

Harry’s Social Kitchen is a restaurant at Yonge & St. Clair that is in the former location of Fionn McCool’s. I was walking in this area a couple of weeks ago to meet a friend for dinner and I noticed that Fionn McCool’s was no longer there. I was severly disappointed as Fionn McCool’s was my location of choice (if I had to make that choice) for St. Patrick’s Day – Happy St. Patrick’s Day by the way! Last weekend, my parents came down to take me, GC and two of my three sisters (they love us equally, only three of us live in Toronto) for lunch and my mom choose Harry’s Social Kitchen.

From the outside, this place looks like nothing special. It has garage-door style patio window frontage and the exterior is painted a muted charcoal grey. Don’t let this exterior fool you – rather, see it as sleek, modern and hip which the restaurant is. I wasn’t prepared for how fancy this place was. GC and I showed up late (this seems to be a trend when we go places together but not when we go separately) and I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt which I would have rather not. This is the type of place where they take your coat and hang it up elsewhere before you sit down so needless to say I felt under dressed. The fanciest part about me was the fact that I had make up on. If this place had been busy, and full of it’s typical crowd, I would have felt out of place. But Saturday at 12:30, it was oddly empty.

Now this is a bit of a special post because it will feature the meals of 6 people, which I have never done. My entire family freely and willingly participated and took pictures of their meals. If when they read this, they would like to comment with descriptions and thoughts of their meals, that would be appreciated but I won’t force anyone to do so. I have briefly summarized the comments that occured around the lunch table.

My sister Theresa and my Dad both had appetizers, which I failed to take pictures of. Theresa had the Caesar salad with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. She gave me a flake and it was authentic Parmesan cheese. It was salty, with a little nutty flavour from being perfectly aged. The downside to the salad – it was overdressed. And unfortunately, you can’t really order your dressing on the side with a Caesar salad. Dad ordered the Soup of the Day which was roasted red pepper. The soup was this beautiful burnt orange colour and was speckled with a blend of different spices and seasonings. It was the right consistency – thick and almost smooth, leaving you with a texture so you know it has been freshly puréed.

1. For my lunch I had the Grilled Apple Brie Quesadilla.

Charred green apple, triple cream brie, willow grove hill bacon, maple mustard drizzle, and bourbon tomato chipotle jam.

This was amazing. The apple had been cooked long enough that it was soft but not the consistency of baby food. The brie had melted so it was stringy but not scalding your mouth. The bacon was crispy without being burnt. The maple mustard drizzle – let’s talk about this. I haven’t seen anything like this and after eating this dish I want to go the St. Lawrence market and go to the mustard store. I typically do not like mustard. I only like it on hot dogs and in my Mom’s macaroni and cheese (as an ingredient not some sort of bastardizing topping like ketchup). But this drizzle. The sweetness of the maple syrup was cut by the tangy, zing of the mustard and just created this unique flavour the complimented the sweetness of the apple and even the undertones of the cheese. And the burbon tomato chipotle jam. I like this trend that is emerging of jams in place of salsas and chutneys – they are overdone, often watery and from a jar. If you have a jam instead you know it is fresh, custom and is going to be something you can’t get off the shelf at a store. I want to make my own version of this jam and eat it with tortilla chips.

2. GC ordered the Hemingway Chicken.

Natural chicken breast, agave lime marinade, roasted tomato chipotle jam, romaine leaf & buffalo mozzarella.

I think he was sold at the buffalo mozzarella. And that bun looked unreal – like it just came out of the oven.

3. Theresa and Dad ordered the Woodland Mushroom Tortellini.

Tri-coloured cheese tortellini, basil pesto cream sauce, fresh mushrooms, roasted red peppers & parmesan regianno.

Creamy, woody, salty and cheesy. And a huge portion which Theresa was able to take about half home for dinner. When they wrapped it up for her the included a fork and a napkin in the bag. A nice, logical touch.

4. Mom had Harry’s Soft Tacos.

Two soft corn tacos with southwest spiced angus ground sirloin, shredded nappa cabbage, chipotle aioli, cilantro salsa fresco & manchego cheese.

The cheese was creamy and salty. The beef was perfectly seasoned and had the right amount of heat. We all thought fries were a bit of a weird side with tacos but my mom is never going to turn down fries. I think instead maybe you should get three tacos without fries but obviously the fries are a more inexpensive way for the restaurant to give you a complete meal.

5. Liz had the Parsnip Soup.

Roasted parsnip, organic chicken broth, spring leeks, willow grove hill bacon, roasted garlic cream & gruyère garnish.

Root vegetables are truly underutilized in most people’s cooking and this soup illustrates how delicious they are. It was creamy, but thick with the right amount of salt from the cheese and bacon. The bacon bits were soft and flowed with the texture of the soup. The garlic flavour but was subtle enough to ward off vampires. Delicious. Another dish I would like to recreate at home.

Dessert. Typically as a family, when we go out for lunch and/or dinner we do not order dessert for a number of reasons: allergies, we are too full or the quality is not up to the standards that we could make at home. But anytime a restaurant has crème brûlée you know it is going to be quality desserts.

1. Theresa and I both ordered the Crème Brûlée.

A satisfying crack led you to the silky, custard center. The drizzle on the side was a strawberry, vanilla cream which was sweet and was clearly made from real strawberries. I had two complaints and I don’t know if these were shared by Theresa: 1. All my vanilla beans fell to the bottom (can’t really be helped) so I didn’t get that real, rich vanilla flavour until the bottom of my pot and 2. My custard wasn’t the same consistency all the way down. I think it could have stayed in the oven for a minute longer.

2. Mom and GC had the Apple Crumble with Old Cheddar Cheese.

GC’s only complaint was the cheese – he didn’t want it to be melted.

3. Dad had the Chocolate Lava Cake.

Chocolate. That’s all you need to know.

Overall, we were all very happy with this place. An upscale, adult atmosphere paired with an eclectic mixture of food that is all custom made, on-site. The menu features unique offerings that are not too unique to the point that you will not want to try them or that there isn’t something for everyone on the menu. I would recommend this place for a date night, a girls night, or really, any kind of night. I want to go back.

crème brûlée

Cake for my cousins

Two weeks ago there was a get together with my sisters and a few of my cousins. It was a pot luck with everyone bringing something (of course, that is the basic definition of a pot luck).  The dinner tasted better than it looked so I’m not going to include pictures. It would make it look like we have no skills across my entire family. The pork was cooked in a honey and butter glaze that was thickened after the pork was cooked. The vegetables were oven roasted with cayenne pepper. The salad had beets, goat cheese and arugula. And the mashed potatoes had about a cup of butter in them because I didn’t know what I was doing. I made the mashed potatoes and the pork tenderloin with one of my sisters. My cooking abilities are expanding!

For dessert I made a Double Chocolate Treasure Cake.

Decadent deliciousness. This cake is baked in a spring form pan so it is a dense, brownie-like consistency. Before you ice the cake, you carve concentric circles into the cake and pour melted chocolate into the rings until they are overflowing onto the top of the cake. Pretty much the most brilliant idea in the history of cake. This decadence is offset by the light fluffiness of the whipped cream that is used as opposed to icing. Topped with some fresh raspberries and drizzled with chocolate.

This is a make immediately type of cake.