Squish Candies

When I moved into residence in my first year of university, the floor’s theme was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. My mom turned to me and said, “I think you’ve moved into the right place.” And I had. It was the right place for a number of reasons (that are far more important and debatably life changing) but because, at the time, it captured my love of candy and that made me feel comfortable and like I was in the right place.

I absolutely love candy. Anyone who has met me for more than about 5 minutes knows how much I love candy. Here are just a few examples that illustrate my love of candy:

  1. I routinely walk down to Bulk Barn on my lunch to pick up a bag of mixed candies. This is a horrible habit, I fully acknowledge that.
  2. There is usually some sort of candy or sweet at my desk at work. Currently there is a small bag of Kraft Caramels, you know the kind that is typically given out at Halloween?
  3. Our wedding featured one of the best and most varied candy tables I have ever seen if I do say so myself. It had mini gummy cubs (which differ completely from gummy bears in texture and flavour and therefore are far superior), Whoppers, sour watermelon slices, Polish caramels, Rockets and sour gumballs. The candy table was in addition to our sweets tables, because *shockingly* I also love desserts.
  4. I group up in a town that randomly has two candy factories: Rockets and Mars Bars.
  5. I’m born in October, the month of Halloween – enough said.

So when I discovered that there was a new, high-end candy store open called Squish in the Hudson’s Bay at the Eaton’s Center, I obviously had to go and check it out.

IMG_4349 IMG_4350Squish is done by the same brilliant people behind David’s Tea. Everything is marketed and packaged in the most beautiful and simple way. They have an insane variety of candy, capturing every flavour and texture you could imagine. The flavours range from sweet to sour, to salty and they also have chocolate. They package their candy thematically and adorable containers, making it even more enticing to purchase.

This was one of the most difficult shopping decisions I have ever made. Yes, I am married and bought a wedding dress, but this shopping trip made me more anxious and was much more difficult to decide between all the options. I’m obviously exaggerating but it was a very overwhelming and daunting decision. On my first trip to Squish I bought 5 different types of candy.

  1. Cherry Watermelon Hearts1998-cherry_watermelon_heart_paint_can
  2. Strawberry Rhubarb Gummies1994-Staw_Rhu_paint_can
  3. Red Rose Gummies1995-red_roses_paint_can
  4. Pumpkin Pie Chocolates2161-Pumpkin_Pie_
  5. Tiramisu Chocolates2159-Tiramisu

These candies are what I imagine the candies and chocolates in Willy Wonka to taste like. They are the perfect balance of texture, colour and flavour. My favourite candy was the cherry watermelon gummies. They had such a fresh and summery flavour profile that I had never tasted before. The sugar coating added a bit more sweetness and a little grit to each bite. The red rose gummies had the best gummy texture I have ever eaten. They were chewy and moist, with a slight gush of juice at the center of each. They literally exploded with flavour. The strawberry rhubarb gummies are one of their most popular candies but you can skip them. There is no real rhubarb flavour or sourness and the candies taste completely like strawberries.

The chocolates are more like candy. They are silky and luscious and completely taste like the desserts they are emulating. Both were to die for but the pumpkin pie will be my go-to candy this fall. It tastes exactly like a little drop of pumpkin pie without the guilt of a slice a pie.

Now that I have discovered an amazing but expensive candy store, I need to change my approach to eating candy. No, I was not going to change my candy eating habits for health (yet) but I will for price. I have decided that from now on if I want candy, I will only buy it from Squish. The fact that it is at the Eaton’s Center will deter me from going too frequently as that mall is hell on earth. When I go, I will only buy one flavour at a time. This will restrict me from binging on this candy which will be both healthy and cost-efficient. Although they do have ordering online…

Happy munching!

Dutch Dream

It only seems fitting on a freezing cold day to talk about a hot summer day eating ice cream. Back in the summer GC and I FINALLY went to Dutch Dreams. The reason I say finally is Dutch Dreams is about two feet from my sisters’ apartments and has intrigued me for about 7 years.

Dutch Dreams is everything an ice cream parlour should be: its colouful with checkered floors, check neon-lit signs and an assortment of chotskies that add a sense of whimsy and playfulness to the parlour. There are an epic amount of ice cream flavours, toppings, waffle cones and other candies for purchase. The highlight for me was the variety of Oreos that were available. Obviously someone had been to America and raided a grocery store because there was Lemon, Birthday Cake, Berry and a multitude of other delightful flavours you cannot find in Canada.

As I was completely overwhelmed by all the choice, I stuck with your standard double-scoop cone.

IMG_1296Bottom Scoop: Cookie Dough
Top Scoop: Cherry Cheesecake

There is obviously nothing standard about this. If I had realized my ice cream would be decked out in such a manor, I would have gotten one scoop.

Now I’m not super into ice cream. Blasphemy I know, but I am much more into frozen yogurt because it doesn’t make me thirsty. You are probably at this point questioning why I went to an ice cream parlour. It was August. It was hot and ice cream is a logical choice.

This ice cream was good but I think the appeal is more the toppings and the theatrical ridiculousness of the ice cream. I preferred the cherry cheesecake to the cookie dough, as there was not enough chunks of cookie dough to justify categorizing this as cookie dough ice cream. The fruit on top of my cone was frozen which on a hot summer night is okay but makes it difficult to chew.

If you are into ice cream, Dutch Dreams is obviously delicious. For your basic ice cream, I prefer Greg’s in the Annex so I think next time I would partake in something a little more ridiculous like the Super Royal Dutch Baked Alaska.

Happy munching!

The Drake Cafe

When do I visit uber hipster spots? Early on Sunday morning when they are still tucked up in bed. A few months ago we checked out The Drake Cafe on an early Sunday morning.

IMG_2320The Drake serves breakfast until 9 am and brunch after that. We arrived just slightly before 9 so we waited with coffees so we could order brunch ridiculousness.

We were seated by an older couple who were reading newspapers and sipping coffee. They were then joined by their granddaughter and her roommate. This couple personified the vibe of The Drake: cool, hip and eclectic. They are also the perfect example of what I want my life to eventually be: living in Toronto my whole life, keeping current with trends and new restaurants and aging absolutely wonderfully.

The couple on our other side was absolutely everything I don’t want to be, ever: arriving to brunch in sweatpants, and when there is a ridiculous bounty of delicious food you order a bagel. AND NOT EVEN WITH CREAM CHEESE. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU??

We ignored other people’s poor choices by making our own great ones. GC ordered the Drake Breakfast.

IMG_2319The Drake Breakfast with 2 eggs, Perth bacon, sage sausage, baked beans, tomato jam, root vegetable hash and rye toast.

GC was disappointed by the toast being slightly burnt. He also wasn’t crazy about the root vegetable hash. It is my firm belief that there is no room for vegetables at brunch especially as a side. Minus these two minor complaints this breakfast was hearty, slightly different and filling.

I ordered the Chicken and Waffles.IMG_2321 IMG_2323The Chicken and Waffles with fried chicken thighs, savoury waffle, Niagara cherry jam, triple thick crème fraîche and maple syrup.

Omigosh. This is everything I love about food. The chicken was crispy, salty and juicy. Thigh meat is rich and juicy and is a great choice for chicken and waffles. The meat was not boneless which does make it slightly difficult to cut into with the waffles. The waffles were savoury, fluffy and light. They were moist and didn’t need to be drenched in syrup but very obviously should always be.

The best part was the cherry jam and the triple thick crème fraîche. The crème fraîche was thick and rich and decadent and ridiculously amazing. I want to eat this all of the time. And the cherries. They were so great. They were sweet and slightly tart. It was such a treat to be able to eat cherries in November. The cherries are reason enough to order this dish.

I really enjoyed our brunch at The Drake. It was different, well-executed and absolutely delicious. I would definitely recommend this restaurant. Happy munching!

Bonjour Brioche

Last week two of my favourite people returned from vacation so obviously brunch had to be eaten. Al returned from Mexico and Cynthia returned from Italy so we ventured out to the east end to enjoy a brunch at Bonjour Brioche and catch up on each others adventures.

Bonjour Brioche is sunny and fresh, for sale featuring delicious breads and pastries. The inside of the restaurant feels like a Parisian café, medicine with sunny walls and the smells of baguettes and other breads. We were seated on the patio, which is partially covered by an awning. The only downside of the patio: it is beside a GO train track that runs a frequent train. If you can get over some light transit noise, which you should be able to if you live in the city, the patio is sunny and delightful.

The girls both ordered the Poached Eggs on a croissant.

IMG_0558 IMG_0559Two poached eggs on a croissant with Hollandaise and the choice of peameal, tomato and avocado or smoked salmon. Al chose peameal on one side and tomato and avocado on the other. Cynthia opted for tomato and avocado and smoked salmon.

You were able to customize your order and choose different toppings for each side of your croissant which I think is brillant. There is two sides to every croissant so why not have two different toppings? The croissants were buttery and airy but still hearty enough to hold up to all the delicious toppings towering on top.

I ordered the daily tart special.

IMG_0560The Daily Tart with figs, caramelized onions and blue cheese.

This tart was sweet and tangy. I love the combination of figs and blue cheese. The sweetness of the figs plays with the rich, pungent, salty taste of the blue cheese. The caramelized onions add another level of sweetness that completes the tart. The crust is flaky, buttery and crunchy. Yums. I love that regardless of what is ordered, it is accompanied by slices of baguette and of course, butter. Could breakfast get much better than that?

And of course, all meals should end in dessert, even brunch. We split the Sour Cherry Custard Tart.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThis tart was simple, fresh, tangy, and sweet. It was delicious. It was my first taste of summer and I look forward to more.

A great brunch with great friends – what more can a girl ask for? Happy munching!

 

 

Cranberry Cherry Pie

IMG_4844I am addicted to making pies. I don’t bake anything else. And I think I am getting better. It has become a standing thing that whenever we get together with our friends Al and Jamie, I bake a pie. They never ask, and I never actually tell them, I just show up with a new flavour pie in my hands. Please, if you secretly hate it, I will stop.

Last time we got together with them I made a Cranberry Cherry pie (from Better Homes and Gardens). This was a new recipe that I was trying out and it came with its own pitfalls and challenges. I did my first lattice top which I think turned out pretty nicely and it was my first time using frozen fruit for a pie. When using frozen fruits for a pie I would suggest letting the fruit completely thaw and drain, to help limit the amount of liquid in your pie. Besides the excessive amount of liquid in the pie, the flavour of the filling was sweet with a slight tartness from both the cranberries and the cherries. There was a bit of citrus from the orange zest which complimented the zing of the ginger; but since I don’t love ginger, I would not use this next time. If you do want to use ginger, I would suggest not using candied ginger because it doesn’t melt or become part of the flavour. It stays whole and very distinct.

I liked the combination of cranberries and cherries but because the filling was so liquid I don’t know if I would attempt this again or just fault the recipe. Also, there are too many types of pie in the world to make the same recipes twice!

Recipe below the cut and happy munching!

Continue reading