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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Autumn 2015

Autumn is my favourite season. There is so much to love about this season. The changing colour of the leaves and how the trees look when it rains and the bark turns a deep brown against the fiery leaves. The damp, thumb fresh and cold smell that comes with leaves. The soft, pills crunch with each step while walking through a park littered with fallen leaves. Taking hikes in cool weather with knitted scarves and toques. Walking through orchards, medicine wandering through rows and rows of trees, picking apples and other fresh fruits. Long crispy days spent outside followed by long evenings warming up by crackling fires.

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With cooler weather comes hearty meals indoors. Meals indoors around harvest tables and surrounded by friends. Meals that start with beautiful charcuterie boards laden with cheese, olives and figs. Your belly warms up with fall soups full of roasted vegetables and then puréed into silky goodness. The prominent flavours of the season are pumpkin, roasted vegetables, flaky pie crusts, and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise. Heavy, rich meals that are followed by hot drinks and cocktails. It is the perfect season to enjoy the outdoors and to enjoy all the bounty of the harvest.

fall-dinner-partyPhoto Credit: Camille Styles140829_Halloween_Lars_845Photo Credit: The House That Lars Built

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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!

Me & Mine

In the early days of Fall 2014, we visited Me & Mine for brunch. Me & Mine is a cute, small restaurant on College Street West. The interior is very simple and modern, with touches of mid-century modern art. There is plenty of natural light and the light wood of the tables and floors creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. We were seated at a small table at the back of the restaurant near the bar. Coffees and food were served on vintage camping dishes – another rustic, comfortable touch.

I ordered the Brussels Sprouts & Vintage Cheddar Pie.

IMG_1586The Brussels Sprouts & Vintage Cheddar Pie with pickled beet and sage salad.

The pie was fantastic. I love when brunch is actually a combination of breakfast and lunch foods. The crust was flaky, buttery and light. The filling was creamy and cheesy. The Brussels sprouts were roasted nicely – caramelized and slightly crispy on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside. This pie tasted like a Thanksgiving side dish at breakfast time.

As it was brunch it was necessary to order a poached egg on the side. Although the egg was poached nicely it was an awkward side to have ordered – I regretted this decision even though it only cost $2. The whole purpose of eating a poached egg is to have it explode over toast or eggs Benedict and sop up all the delicious lusciousness into your mouth. Not to have your yolk spill into your salad.

I have said it before and I will say it again: salad is not a side for brunch. This time it at least was a logical side, as having home fries accompany a pie would be a ridiculous carb-indulgence.

GC ordered The Breakfast.The Breakfast with house cured pork belly, pork sausage link two poached eggs, toast and compound butter, roasted potatoes and salad.

This is your standard big-breakfast on another level. All bacon should be house cured pork belly and all breakfast sausages should be this thick, meaty and juicy. If you are looking for something a little different in your brunch, but not too different or unconventional, check out Me & Mine.

My only criticism: while we were settling up our bill they asked if we wanted to take dessert to go. Of course we were tempted. The desserts available were peanut butter cookies (obviously not) and butter tarts. I asked if the butter tarts had nuts and I was told no so we ordered 2 to go. We get home and GC goes for the first bite and of course, there was walnuts in my butter tarts. This is incredibly irresponsible. Obviously, if you have a severe allergy, you should never take any chances and probably never even risk eating out but I also operate under the impression that restaurants are responsible and employee somewhat competent employees. WRONG. That’s ok. I’ll stick with the pies and breakfasts, GC said they were better anyway.

Happy munching!

Cauliflower Soup with Cheddar & Blue Cheese

IMG_4850It’s cold – why eat anything other than soup? October 12th soup was Cauliflower Soup with Cheddar and Blue Cheese. I really don’t think I need to tell you anything else to convince you to make this soup. There’s cheese which masks the fact that there is a vegetable in this soup. It’s basically like eating fondue.

But seriously. There is a delicious earthy flavour from the cauliflower and a hint of nutiness from the caraway seeds that beautifully freckle the soup. The cheddar cheese makes the soup creamy and thick and the blue cheese adds that hearty kick that instantly warms you up on a cold day.

Recipe is below the cut – you need to check it out! Happy munching!

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November – 30 Days Left of Fall

November is an awkward month:  there is no snow on the ground but no fall colours on the trees. It is cold, wet and miserable.  It is still technically fall but you are already planning for Christmas. In Canada there is no holiday (that you can celebrate with cheer and bright decorations) that falls between Halloween and Christmas making it hard to not cut fall short and start with winter cheer. America at least has Thanksgiving at the end of November to remind you that it is still fall in November. But come on, Thanksgiving should be celebrated during the harvest season and when the fall colours and abundant and gorgeous.

With just a month left in fall and trying to not let Christmas overshadow the last days of my favourite season, here is how the Fall 2013 is coming along:

1. Visit an apple orchard
2. Bake fall pies; apple and pumpkin specifically
3. Make apple cider
4. Try a new fall-inspired sangria
5. Make soups (especially lots of butternut squash!)
6. Visit a pumpkin patch
7. Make a Thanksgiving feast, even on a small scale
8. Try a new chili recipe
9. Make a spooky treat for Halloween
10. Go for a fall hike
11. Make homemade trail mix and granola
12. Finally (actually!) use my ice cream maker
13. Cozy up with a good book and a cup of tea
14. Sip on homemade hot chocolate
15. Use pumpkin in an unconventional way
16. Hop on the donut bandwagon and make homemade donuts with fall flavours
17. Snack on apples with homemade caramel dip
18. Celebrate Ocktoberfest with fall brews
19. And homemade pretzels and specialty mustards
20. Make caramel apples – sticks and all!
21. Visit a fall fair
22. Create a fall centerpiece – possibly as a test for the wedding!
23. Decorate or carve a pumpkin
24. Get lost in a corn maze
25. Toast pumpkin seeds

I’m not doing great with the list (and some I won’t be able to do anymore) but let’s see how far I can get in 30 days!

Happy Birthday to Me!

For my birthday we decided to go hiking in Ball’s Falls. If you get a chance to check out this park,you really should. It’s one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and looks absolutely gorgeous in the fall. IMG_4690 IMG_4700 IMG_4714 IMG_4716IMG_4725After a day of muddy and sweaty hiking, we cleaned up and went for dinner at Union. Union has a great ambiance to it. It is what I imagine cute little restaurants in New York City to be: long and narrow, with exposed brick walls, vintage prints and warmth from the conversations and kitchen. There was music lightly playing in the background, but not too loud as to overpower the conversations. The crowd was a mix of old and young, families and couples and even Patrick J. Adams.

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The Markham Fair

The Markham Fair has become an annual event that I attend with my parents. It’s your typical fall fair – there’s livestock, prostate crafting, here baking, a midway, everything deep fried and of course, insanely large pumpkins.

IMG_4593 IMG_4594 IMG_4595I love the Markham Fair and going this year meant crossing #21 – Visit a fall fair off my Fall To-Do List!

Happy munching!