Brunch: My Top 10 Picks for Toronto

Brunch is my favourite meal to eat out. I like arriving before the crowds and enjoying a nice, leisurely meal and good conversation. I like ordering something ridiculous and massive off the menu and feeling satisfied until dinner. I like getting my caffeine fix for the week in the matter of an hour or two as I down four or five cups of coffee. I like restaurants that have a comfortable and homey décor and feel to them but with an interesting menu. I don’t want to eat a “big breakfast” with eggs, toast and three types of breakfast meat. I want something I can’t make at home or something that I can’t be bothered to make at home because it will dirty about 27 different dishes. I want a restaurant that is in an interesting neighbourhood, somewhere I want to wander in and out of shops for the rest of the afternoon looking at furniture, records and prints.

On this list you won’t find anything east of Yonge Street. The west is my Toronto. I know that is terrible and very limiting but its brunch. I don’t want to waste an hour or more of my time trying to get to the East End to have brunch at Lady Marmalade only to wait another hour or more in line. I will acknowledge that Lady Marmalade is delicious, unique and cozy. But it’s not my favourite. If I ever move east of Yonge Street this list will dramatically change but for now, west is best.

10. Smith

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Ok, I lied. Smith is east of Yonge. I have only been to Smith once for brunch but I was completely enamoured by it when we visited. It was a quiet fall afternoon, just a few weeks before our wedding and we were seated on one of the most romantic and cozy patios in the city. The patio has taken over a back alley and looks out onto a side street just off Church Street. We were alone on the patio which allowed us to take in everything: the exposed brick walls, the various textures and patterns on the cushions, the lights strung up in a zigzag pattern over head, the single piece of lavender in a antique porcelain cabinet knob turned vase on the rustic wooden table. The whole atmosphere was so simple but so well thought out and put together. This attention to detail and capturing of comfort in décor would translate into the capturing of comfort and warmth into the food.

The Eggs Benedict manages to turn an already adult breakfast item into an even more sophisticated and decadent meal. Instead of traditional hollandaise sauce, the Benedict is drenched in a parmesan leek fondue. Any restaurant that is going to allow me to justify eating fondue at 10 am on a weekend morning is a place that warrants another visit.
I also consider this restaurant worthy of a top-ten spot because Smith is one of the preferred brunch spots of Al and I trust her opinion on most everything.

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Brunch at Fabbrica

It’s official: the Italians need to come up with a word for brunch. Some might say that Italians don’t actually eat breakfast, they just have an espresso and a cigarette. And this is definitely the impression that my Italian relatives who visited for our wedding gave me. But Italian restaurants in Toronto are changing this idea of what Italian breakfast can and should mean. A few weeks ago, we enjoyed brunch at Fabbrica.FullSizeRender

This is my third visit to Fabbrica and it has always consistently delivered. The interior is modern and simple with classic Italian touches like marble tabletops and a cantina with large windows so guests can view the hanging salamis and prosciuttos. When the beautiful latte pictured above arrived I know that my brunch would deliver.

I ordered the Fabbrica Benny.

IMG_3591The Fabbrica Benny with poached eggs, guanciale and fontina crumpet, prosciutto and hollandaise.

Yum, yum, yum. The hollandaise is incredibly thick. The eggs are runny and gooey. The prosciutto is tender, fatty and the right amount of salt. The crumpet is a nice touch – it is a heftier alternative to your typical light and airy English muffin. It is salty and adds a sharp, nutty undertone throughout the crumpet with the fontina. I would have liked if the portion was slightly bigger but to be fair, I will always want more Benny.

The side of tomatoes is a light and slightly citrus way to clean your palate when you are finished with the richness of the Benny. The balsamic vinegar is sweet and thick and a natural compliment to the tomatoes. This is the Italian spin on the traditional British grilled tomatoes.

GC ordered the Shortrib hash.IMG_3594The short rib hash with poached egg, caramelized onion, braised short rib and potato served with toasted ciabatta.

Oh.mi.gawd. It is an inevitability that when two people dine together, one meal is going to be better than the other. But lucky for GC, that did not happen at our Fabbrica brunch. This is the best hash I have ever eaten. The short rib is incredibly tender, the meat just delicately flakes with every slight pierce of the fork. The veg is tender but retains it’s crunchiness. The onion adds a subtle sweetness and helps cut the richness of the short rib. The egg justifies this dish as a breakfast item and acts like a glue, cementing all the aspects of the hash in each bite.

I know no one wants to go to North York – I get it. I live in North York and don’t even want to travel to Fabbrica, but you should. Everything about Fabbrica is spot on – the service, the decor, the coffee and the food. It is a meal you will not regret traveling for. I will be fantasizing about this brunch until I can it again.

Happy munching!

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!

Ital Board

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe above is a snack I mae for a date-night with GC. It is an antipasto snack platter inspired by the Ital board at 416 Snack Bar: arancini, recipe antipasto skewers, prosciutto, two types of Italian cheese, olives, crostini and Italian greyhounds with rosemary sugar.

The recipe for the Italian greyhound is below the cut. Happy munching!

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Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto

For Valentine’s Day I had the ambitious plan to make GC bacon roses. I couldn’t find the right stems for my roses and the whole idea fell apart. Instead, I bought him an array of deli meats and specialty cheeses. This is how I say “I love you”: with deli meats. With a fridge full of prosciutto I decided to make a soup topped with this deliciousness: creamy cauliflower soup with crispy prosciutto.

IMG_5483This soup is creamy and has a rich, earthy cauliflower taste which is accented by the more subtle flavours of the celery and onion. The dash of nutmeg gives this soup a nutty, earthy flavour. This soup is seasoned with salt and ground white pepper.. Ground white pepper is something that I had never bothered to buy before but decided to as a lot of the recipes I make call for this spice. And I’m glad I did! The white ground pepper has a more subtle flavour than black ground pepper and has an almost smoky flavour. I would suggest not putting a lot of salt in as there will be plenty of salt from the crispy, almost bacon like prosciutto.

Recipe is below the cut and happy munching!

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Mini Quiches in Prosciutto Cups

We all have those calendars in our houses that we get for free at fairs, medical grocery stores or with flyers in the newspapers that are filled with pictures of delicious recipes and produce. We look at them in our kitchens every day and think, help “Hmm. That looks good. I should make that.” But then January turns to February and the calendar pages gets flipped and the recipes get forgotten.

I am guilty of this. I have a Foodland Ontario calendar in my kitchen that each month I drool over the recipes but never make them. However, when November changed to December, I knew I had to make the recipe: mini quiches in prosciutto cups.

I made these a few weeks ago when our friends Al and Jamie came over for a couple of Christmas cocktails (that was the same night I made the “Evening in Kingston” cocktail) and they were a hit. These are the perfect bites of salty, creamy goodness.

They are extremely easy to make, the most difficult part being wrapping the prosciutto into tiny cups. I made the error of using regular sized muffin tins instead of mini, which required a last minute run to the store for more prosciutto (I feel like this is the definition of a #firstworldproblem). All other ingredients are simply mixed and then poured into the cups and baked for a few minutes.

This would be a great appetizer on Christmas Eve or a great way to ring in the new year next week!

Recipe from Foodland Ontario is below the cut! Happy munching!

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Farmhouse Tavern

Another Sunday, another brunch. We are now doing brunch in a very efficient, almost OCD way: I have created a list on my phone of all the BlogTO brunch spots, added addresses and hours and we are slowly working our way down the list. We are going to each of these spots right as they open. Using this method, a few weeks ago GC and I went for a brunch date to Farmhouse Tavern.

Farmhouse Tavern is a very unique, homey and comforting vibe with it’s authentic and rustic farming decorations: The smoker on the patio is built into a tractor, our seats were tractor seats, there are farming pamphlets on the wall and everything has a cute, country flair to it.

The menu is anything but traditional which is refreshing and fun. My only complaint with the menu is that it was written on a blackboard without descriptions, making it awkward to see and forcing you to ask your server for explanations of everything. But as we were there first thing, our server was accessible and in good spirits.

GC ordered Mother ‘n Child Reunion.

IMG_4878Mother ‘n Child with duck eggs, soft boiled and deep fried, with streaks of duck prosciutto, hunk of tasted bread and a salad.

The name of this dish is awesome – it is witty, yet vulgar and still to the point. If you add foie gras to this dish, it is called the “Threesome .” This dish was presented beautifully: simple, but elegant and modern. Everything was delicious and decadent. I would definitely recommend this dish.

I ordered the Hangover Poutine.

IMG_4881 IMG_4882The Hangover Poutine with fresh cut cubed fries, coated with Thunder Oak Gouda, rabbit rillete and braised leeks.

Although I was not hungover, this dish was to die for. It was comforting but indulgent as the fois gras gently melted over the poutine and  in your mouth. The cheesy added a nutty, saltiness to the dish. It was a perfectly seasoned, flavored and paired.

You definitely need to check out Farmhouse Tavern for brunch – and even better, they take reservations! By text no less! I am patiently awaiting my next visit.

Happy munching!