Library Bar - Fairmont Royal York on Urbanspoon
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My pics turned out dark; all photos posted from Google Images
Oh my, such frivolous luxury...Where to start?  It was just such a nice experience!  Amid the hustle and bustle of everyday city life; tucking oneself into a cozy recess of old fashioned charm and soaking up elegant ambivalence makes for such a delightful treat. 

According to their website, Fairmount Royal York has been serving Afternoon Tea since 1929!  One is truly indulging in history here!
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The experience starts with individual choice of fine teas served in dainty floral teapots.  I chose the Kyoto Cherry Jasmine which was light and refreshing on its own.  Not much of a cream and sugar tea person unless it's HK-styled milk-tea.
 

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I was pleasantly surprised that other than the finger-food and pastries served on the 3-tier dishes; here, two other dishes were served first.  First, there was Crumpets with Berries; the warm buttery crumpets matched and the sweet tartness of fruit complemented each other nicely.


This was followed with delicate finger sandwiches; lobster and mango salad, smoked salmon, smoked turkey with cheese and lastly, goat cheese with strawberry.  As sandwiches go, they were alright.  I enjoyed the lobster and mango one best.  One felt a bit too dry and the goat cheese didn't stand out as much as I had anticipated.  

Finally, the long awaited lovely 3-tiered dishes came; warm scones on the bottom and these were good.  Madeleines and Financiers on the middle tray and delicate pastries on the top.  The strawberry tart at the top was delicious but neither my friend or I cared for the swan pastry.  It was pretty to look at and while the Chantilly cream in the swan was nice; the swam itself was dry. 

Throughout the seating, our host came around to add hot water to our teapots and inquire how we were getting along.  Each time she brought a new dish, she'd take a minute to explain what it was.  Indeed, she was attentive and we felt well-looked after. 

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For a complete menu, please click on the attached file. 
ryh_library-bar-tea-menu-07-12.pdf
File Size: 99 kb
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Nino D'Aversa Bakery on Urbanspoon
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This will be my first not-so-postive review :(

After such a postive experience at the  Francesca Italian bakery last week; I was interested to try Nino D'Adversa Bakery which I happened by.

I'm not sure where to start but everything was a just a bit off that just made the overall experience a bit of a sour one.  The actual cafe/bakery is spacious with clusters of tables in the general middle area.  There are small displays/shelves of dried goods such as pasta, olive oil etc. for sale.  There are a number of enticing food counters; one each for pastries, cakes, deli, gelato, coffee counter, sweets and cookies and a hot table with reasonable prices i.e. veal sandwich at around $7.00.  This was probably where the problems started.

The hot table was the only place were visible prices were posted.   The rice balls looked yummy but having tried it at Francesca, decided to go for something different. I sampled the small gnocchi in tomato sauce for $5.50.  Not a particularly good price for a small dish on its own but I was willing to give it go even if it was dished up by a rather sullen looking server.  It was warmed up slightly in the microwave but by the time I've finished ordering pastries and coffee and paid for everything, it was just lukewarm.  I also started snapping some photos but one of the employees there called out saying no photos were allowed.  Thinking that she's thinking I'm a competitor or something, I explained that I'm a social blogger and that the cafe was very lovely and I wanted to blog about it.  She waved or hands and rudely said to go speak to the  manager though she didn't indicate who the manager was and/or the manager was in the cafe at the time.   

While coffee was being ordered, it only seemed right to order a pastry or two.  No visible prices could be seen  anywhere and the no one looked particularly friendly or interested in answering queries about the pastries.  In the end, two Portuguese tarts where quickly ordered to get away from another less than cheerful person.

The total bill came up close to $17.00 which just seemed a bit much considering that for a couple dollars more, you could probably have had a nice dinner.  Turns out the large coffee was $2.50 and the tarts were $3.50 each; much more than expected.  They were kept in the same display case as some of the cakes so there were cold and the shell hardly flaky.  (Visited a supermarket recently and saw a box of 6 for $4.99 and at various other bakeries, one can get them for less than $2.00 each).

And while I'm unhappily eating away my now barely warm microwaved gnoochi and my cold Portuguese tarts; a lady behind me asked to have her coffee changed to tea...Perhaps she found it too strong or something.  One of the employess called out, "That's how our coffee is!," and "People like our coffee!".  

Overall, this really wasn't a good experience :( 

 
 
Francesca Italian Bakery & Delicatessen on Urbanspoon
I do enjoy the big-name eateries but every now and then, I like to venture into the smaller establishments and I rarely regret my choices.

Francesca Bakery at McCowan and Sheppard seems to have always been there (I measure this against my pre-and post-disappearance to HK for 10+years) but I've never paid it a visit before.   It's unassuming and you can't see much for the outside.  But feeling the need for a baked treat and possibly a coffee, I popped in one day.  Had the most delicious custard-filled croissant that I went back the very next day to sample more.  That croissant was sooo good that I didn't even get a chance to snap a quick picture.  Unfortunately, on my second visit, it was already sold out.  Probably a good thing too, so I could sample some of the other lovely baked treats they had.

Francesca is an Italian bakery cafe.  Now, as much as I love my Asian food, when it comes to bakery...I generally prefer western ones (unless I'm in a serious mood for eggtarts).  Francesca's food is roughly divided into four sections; cookies, cupcakes, cakes and pies; deli; hot food (pasta, pizza bread etc.) and pastries.  They also have a selection of fresh bread, olive oils and other similar items for sale. 
On this second visit, I had a regular croissant...Oh so flaky and buttery! A small rice ball from the hot table...Delightfully crunchy and savoury with a mix of rice, meats, peas and carrots and I just couldn't pass up trying the Italian canneloni...A crisp pastry wrapper filled with a ricotta cheese filling and topped with chopped pistachio.  This was all washed down with a lovely cup of latte.  This is a terrific bakery cafe and perfect with afternoon tea or if you just want to treat yourself to some exquistely baked treats. 
 
 
I have a sweet tooth.  A terribly big sweet tooth.  Fortunately, I am also reasonbly disciplined with this tooth of mine.  But after a week of this low-carb diet and avoiding wheat, starch and carb, this girl needed cake.  And cake that she can have seconds without guilt or regret. 

A quick search of on the Internet produced two good news.  1.  Flourless Chocolate Cake and 2. Clementine Gluten-Free Cake. 

Munching thoughtfully on some Godiva dark chocolate, I decided to try the Clementine Cake first.  Apparently you need to boil 4-5 clementines for at least 2 hours.  We normally have some poor forgotten clementines at the bottom of our fruit basket.  But as Murphy's Law would have it; the one time you truly need some bruised and battered clementines, it is the one time you don't have any.  So what is a cake-starved girl to do?  Buy fresh ones and kill them in the pot.  I did feel a little bad for the clementines.

This following recipe is taken from 'A Dash of Sass' who modified the cake recipe from one of Nigella's.  I sort of combined the two recipe and ended up with that lovely cake in the photo above.

The cake turned out delicious despite it being made with just a few ingredients.  It was moist, flavourful and had such a vibrant colour.  The nuts added a lovely overall crunch.  Very delish!

INGREDIENTS:
-4-5 clementines
-1/2C honey
-1 1/3 C almond malt (finely ground almond which I bought from Bulk Barns)
-3 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 tsp baking soda

Chocolate Glaze (optional)
-3oz dark chocolate -chopped or grated (I bought the darkest there was at Bulk Barns and it too bitter!  Had to sweeten with 1 1/2tbsp of honey/sugar. Better to mix with some semi-sweet chocolate)
-1 1/2 tbsp butter (this makes it creamier but can be omitted depending how gluten-free you need to be)
-1/2 tsp vanilla
-1 tbsp table cream/milk
-chopped nuts
- icing sugar

DIRECTIONS:
1. Rinse/scrub the clementines.  Place in small pot and cover with water.  Bring to boil and then reduce to medium heat and gently boil for minium 2 hours.  This is to take the bitterness out of the rind.

2. When cool to touch, cut in half and remove seeds.  Place in food processor/blender and puree. 

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

4. In bowl, beat eggs until frothy.  Add almond malt, honey, vanilla and baking soda.  Stir until well mixed.  Mix in the clemetine puree.

5. Grease cake pan or muffin tins depending on how you want your cakes.  For cake, you will need to bake for about 1 hour.  Cover the top of the cake with tin foil after about 20 mins to prevent top from burning.  This is what I made.  In 'A Dash of Sass', mini-cakes or muffins were made and apparently it takes only 30mins.  Will try it this way next time. 

I suggest testing the done-ness of the cake every now and then by sticking a bamboo skewer into the middle of the cake.  If it comes out clean, your cake is done!

6. Glaze: While cake is cooling (we stuck it out in the porch...Toronto in March is still very cold!) Melt chocolate with the butter in a double-boiler.  Remove from heat.  Add vanilla and cream. If your chocolate is too bitter, add some honey/sugar.  Stir until well combined.  Spread of cake.  Finish of with chopped nuts and powdered sugar. 

This was a delicious cake; made with just a few ingredients.  The cake was moist,  flavourful and had such a vibrant colour.  The nuts added a lovely overall crunch.  Very delish!
 
 
Patisserie la Cigogne on Urbanspoon
One recent Saturday, we decided to try one of the brunch places we had looked up on blogTO.  Cora's and Wimpy's may be good but we were on an adventure to try smaller establishments and/or indpendent ones.

We were in the Danforth Ave. when our hunger got the better us and so we stopped at a cute cafe we spotted while driving down the road.  Patisserie La Cigogne is THE cake and pastry place.  Beautifully crafted tiered cakes, pies, macaroons, eclairs...Just heavenly.  The only reason we didn't order any of these delectable offerings was that it just seemed wrong to have cake as our first meal fo the day.

Aside from the bakery section, they do have an all day breakfast and brunch menu but it doesn't seem that extensive, a few crepe, quiche and breakfast options.  This is not your egg/sausage type of brunch and I suppose it's the breads and cakes which are the feature products.  We decided go for their weekend brunch special, Tart Flambee but was informed that it is only available at their Bayview sister branch.  In  the end we chose Croque Madame and a ham/swiss chess crepe as well as their $2.00 coffee with free refill.  Specialty coffees are also available. 
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Toasted brioche, ham, swiss cheese and topped with a sunng-side-up egg. Warm and savory but the egg was a bit on the too-raw side.
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This turned out to be quite delicious! A much healthier option that the egg, sausage and hash I was initially looking for.
 
 
Madeleines Cherry Pie and Ice Cream Parlour on Urbanspoon
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1087 Bathurst, Toronto (Bathurst/Dupont) (416) 537-9596
Looking for a cup of coffee and a savoury bite led us to this quaint little shop in the Bathurst/Dupont area on Sunday.  There weren't many patrons, just one other lady enjoying her spot by the window.  During the time we were enjoying our food, a few more came, some just for a coffee and one to purchase a pie.  A tempting sweet table kept me busily eyeing that particular corner of the cafe.
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A tempting sweet table kept me busily eyeing this particular corner of the cafe.
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Boxed pies ready to go. We didn't buy any this time but they sure did look good!
The cafe features pies and quiches.  The nice man who seated and served us apologize that the naan selections were unavailable as the delivery guy was  unable to make it last Friday due to the snowstorm.  But he recomended the two  specials of the day, meat tortiere and the sweet potatoe pie.  We choose the  meat tortiere and selected one of the quiches.  This is part of their brunch selection which does not include drinks. 
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Tasty, savoury bites packed in a buttery tart. It was a bit too crusty for me though.