Portuguese Custard Tart Diaries: Nova Era Bakery

Nova Era Bakery - Candy Coated Culinista

Nova Era Bakery – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 770 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M6G 3R1 – (416) 516-1622; Hours: Everyday – 6am – 11:00pm

Walking through Little Portugal & Little Italy of course I’m going to run into many bakeries serving Portuguese Custard Tarts. This however is the exact tart that introduced me and made me love this Portuguese treat. I had my first Portuguese Custard Tart back in 2005… how do I remember this you ask well it was the first year I started working for a new company and the bake sale had tarts from here. I remember the sweet, chewiness off the tart shell and the creaminess of the custard like it was yesterday. From the moment my mouth touched there tarts I was hooked. These Portuguese Custard Tarts taste exactly as they did back in 2005 and I enjoyed them so so much. I also enjoyed an orange tart which was a sweet citrusy treat with coarse sugar bruleed on top.

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Food Diaries: Jamie’s Italian

Jamie's Italian - Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie’s Italian – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 3401 Dufferin St.; Toronto, Ontario, M6A 2T9 (Yorkdale Mall)
Phone Number: 416-238-7450

Way back on October 19th 2012 I was sitting in Massey Hall listening to my first Cooking inspiration Jamie Oliver speak (see blog post). I left with very high hopes that one day a restaurant of his would make it to Canada; as he did say when asked by another fan that I’m paraphrasing of course “that if I could bring one of my restaurants to Canada it would be Jamie’s Italian as it would work best here; because of its regimented menu that could be moved to a Canadian market easily.” Well it’s been 3 years 1 month and 19 days and he stuck to his word. Jamie’s Italian is now open in Yorkdale Mall and the moment reservations were up I knew I was going to make this my birthday meal in January and I excitedly made reservations.

For my birthday dinner I had: Antipasti – Garlic Bread With oozy garlic & herb butter; Pasta – Pasta Vongole Tagliolini -Steamed sweet clams with garlic, chilli, white wine, capers, parsley & lemon; Main – Burger Italiano Chargrilled beef burger with melted fontina cheese, crispy schiacciata piccante, gherkins, chilli, crispy fried onions& salsa rosso crudo; Non-Alcoholic Cocktail – Refresher Fresh lemon juice, elderflower cordial & cranberry juice, topped with lemonade.

The food was great and if you love garlic and chillis; which is Jamie’s thing then this is your menu. I found the pasty spicy of course; but it was tasty and the garlic bread was butter goodness. The server quipped to be careful that those were pickles on the burger but chilli’s as another customer didn’t realize and mistook them for pickles. Yiikes. . This is one the few restaurants where I can say the staff from beginning to end were super friendly and knowledgeable. Also they were using a POS system that was on an electronic device much like an Ipad which made the whole experience sleek, cool and fast. Two can dine for about 60$ including dessert

The spirit of the menu is those things I attribute to Jamie and even Gennaro one of his mentors. His food has always been simple easy and uncomplicated; so if you’re expecting something out of this world then you should try another chef’s restaurants. However; if you want rustic, flavourful food that’s something mama would make for you then this is a must visit for you.

Overall the restaurant will fit in nicely with all the other casual dining franchises and restaurants across Toronto, and being located in Yorkdale mall makes it easily accessible throughout the G.T.A. Just make sure to make a reservation or be ready to wait upwards or 45 minutes for a table until the new shine of the first Jamie Oliver restaurant in Canada wears off. I already want to come back for the burger sans chilli’s of course and taste those fries and maybe a dessert next time around.

Jamie's Italian - Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie’s Italian – Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie's Italian - Candy Coated Culinista

Jamie’s Italian – Candy Coated Culinista

Candy Diaries: Papabubble Toronto

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 3360 Yonge Street. Toronto, Ontario M4N 2M7 Phone Number: 416-483-3360

Do you ever have a connection to a certain type of food that just drums up all these memories every time you see them? Well I do and Papabubble reminds me of the handmade rock candy I would get from my Gran & Auntie when they visited England. When I saw a few pictures of Papabubble’s candy I knew I’d have to visit this shop when I found myself Uptown. Papabubble was founded in Barcelona and strives to make authentic high quality handmade hard candy. The Toronto and only Canadian location opened in October and is the third North and for me it’s an avid candy lover’s place to visit.

When I entered the minimalistic but attractive store there was an associate who welcomed me and two candy makers cutting the candy. They were cutting purple “X & O” candy which means they are prepping for Valentine’s Day as the Christmas season is now officially over. There was a lovely red, black and white mural on the wall and a very inviting winterscape made of pulled candy in the window.
As I walked around I saw a big candy hook – a hook used for pulling the candy many many times to aerate the batch (you read one confectioners book and you’d be surprised what you retain and like I said I love candy) Sadly I didn’t get to see it in use sadly or see them twisting and scraping and freshly made candy.

Then I looked at the two candy shelves where there is striped and solid candy with little design inside like a happy birthday, snowman, apple, banana; basically anything is possible. Prices range from a 60g bag for $6 to a 275g jar for $25 along with lollis and seasonal flavours. The price is a little steep but you are paying for the artisan handmade aspect of this process. If you can appreciate the process then you can understand the pricing. Custom candies can also be made in lolli and candy form. I was offered a taste of the traditional candy and they the sour mix, all of which was delicious; but then I’m partial to candy.

The candy itself wasn’t hard as I bit into it which I enjoyed and also made it easier to eat too much and the flavours were great. I bought the Happy Birthday Mix as my birthday is fast approaching and this will be my birthday candy for the day with flavours of melon, vanilla cream & strawberry cream and then the holiday mix or cream soda, blueberry and watermelon. (These cute candies said Happy Birthday in the centre, or Happy Holidays, a snow flake and a snowman.) and the packaging is darling and I now have a jar to use for something else.

I went back again this weekend and grabbed some Chinese New Year mix with flavours. Banana, lychee, pineapple, mango and guava, Valentine’s Day mini candy test tube and some egg nog candies. They all tasted amazing and I am wishing The Chinese Mix was a year round mix personally.

This particular art of candy making I find very interesting and would love to take a workshop if possible some day.
If you want that little bit of nostalgia from your childhood or you love beautifully crafted artisanal handmade products or you fall somewhere in the middle like me go visit Papabubble you won’t regret it.

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto - Candy Coated Culinista

Papabubble Toronto – Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Cafe

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 3 Gerrard Square Mall – Main Floor – 1000 Gerrard Street East, Toronto, Ontario M4M 3G6
Hours: Monday – Friday: 10am – 9pm; Saturday: 9:30am – 6pm; Sunday: 11am – 6pm;
Website: http://www.infusecafe.ca/

I was invited to my first instameet up and got introduced to Infuse Café’s at their second location in Gerrard Square. I had actually browsed the café for a quick moment on Boxing Day when shopping; but I didn’t have a moment to grab a tea; but a this launch party I got to learn all there is to the Infuse Café. Infuse Café combines organic and fair trade ingredients with industry leading technology; which results is a one of a kind tea experience. Rich, bold and robust flavours are layered using the RAIN technology. If you have ever had a tea that smells when you open up a container; but then the tea doesn’t really taste of that fruit anymore when you drink the actually tea – this is your new cafe. RAIN technology is the Reverse Atmospheric Infusion technology that uses vacuums to remove the air that is trapped in organic materials cellular structure; this result in a more flavourful tea profile. The Bkon Craft Brewer is a machine that uses the RAIN technology to give the purist cuppa. This machine costs $14,000 – $16,000 totalling $22,000 total including the technician flying in from San Francisco and installing the machine. Infuse Café has the only 4 Bkon Craft Brewers in the area and has exclusivity on the device for the next 4 years.

Tasting for the night included blueberry hibiscus ice tea and infuses signature coffee iced. Each tea takes about 120 seconds to make and a special algorithm is used to make each tea; which is steeped just under the boiling temperature to not scorch the teas leaving resulting in a harsh flavour. These machines can also create alcoholic drinks and it takes out the alcohol flavour and ups the value and taste; and if you are a coffee lover more caffeine is extracted than the normal brewing process.

A tea demo was provided by World Tea Podcaster TJ Williamson showing steeped and un-steeped processes. This gave us all some insight into the art of Japanese tea making and I will add this podcast to my feed.

At both locations Cecelia’s Cheesecakes are the perfect treat to accompany your tea. The cheesecakes are light and airy with a hint of cheese. Each is beautifully decorated and I think Japanese style cheesecake may be the way to go for me regarding cheesecakes.
I went back yesterday to try two more teas which were the customer favourite White Peach Blossom tea and the Tropical Crimson which reminds me of Caribbean sorrel with is vibrant deep red hue. I enjoyed my hot tea unsweetened and it tasted delicious. It was light and I could smell the peach. The iced tea had very little ice in it which was great as the tea wasn’t watered down.
Loose leaf tea and tea sets are also on sale and the barista’s couldn’t be any more friendly or helpful. I think I have found a new tea shop in my neighbourhood to frequent. The beverages whether tea or coffee hot or iced is rich, strong, robust, bold and flavourful but not overpowering; it just taste pure.

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista


Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café - Candy Coated Culinista

Tea Diaries: Infuse Café – Candy Coated Culinista

Cecelia's Cheesecakes  - Candy Coated Culinista

Cecelia’s Cheesecakes – Candy Coated Culinista

World Tea Podcast  - Candy Coated Culinista

World Tea Podcast – Candy Coated Culinista

Dessert Diaries: Bake Shoppe| Wedding Cake Shoppe

Dessert Diaries: Bake Shoppe| Wedding Cake Shoppe

Dessert Diaries: Bake Shoppe| Wedding Cake Shoppe

Location: 859 College Street
Phone: 416-916-2253
Hours: Mon: Closed, Tues – Fri : 12-8, Sat: 11-8 Sun: 12-6
Website: www.bakeshoppeto.com
 

On my way out for a night on the town I found myself walking through a new neighbourhood of Toronto I haven’t found myself in before-Dufferin Grove. Now I have driven past here before; but walking around is a whole different story. Of course I managed to find a unique bakery and me being me I had to make a quick pit stop.

When I entered the Bake Shoppe it was quiet but beautiful and inviting. There was this amazing garden wedding cake wall of cakes that was beautiful and attention grabbing. I checked out the baked selections and asked associate what she would recommend. I already knew what caught my eye; but sometimes I just like to know what others like to enjoy. Tonight I chose the homemade pop tart – a buttery pastry filled with Kitten & Bear blackberry jam; that is also sold by the jar for around $12. I kept looking around and I saw Hip Hop Sugar Cookies – I saw Biggie, TuPac Snoop and then Drake. It was a hard choice; but I will always default to a fellow Canadian first so Drake it was. I couldn’t help but sing “Hotline Bling” while I selected by cookie and laugh to myself. Both items go for around $3.50 and were a packaged well; so I knew they would last the night and not get damaged. The homemade pop tart has been on my to make list for a while and this one tasted amazing; the sweet and seedy blackberry jam complimented the soft and flaky quality of the pop tart. The sugar cookie looked so coolI didn’t even want to eat; but it was perfect. Other items on hand were homemade passion flakies, pecan squares, bourbon smore squares – toasted to order, brownies, bars, cookies, marshmallows, cakes, cupcakes, milkshakes and other and other drinks. When I’m in the area again I will be back to try other menu items.

 

 

 

Doughnut Diaries: Jelly Modern Doughnuts

Doughnut Diaries: Jelly Modern Doughnuts - Candy Coated Culinista

Doughnut Diaries: Jelly Modern Doughnuts – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 376 College Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1S6, 416-962-2053
Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 7am-6pm; Friday: 7am-6pm; Saturday: 10am-6pm; Sunday: 11am-6pm

Gourmet doughnuts with sophisticated flavours, high quality ingredients that are preservative free and made using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. Jelly Modern also strives to be eco-friendly and their contemporary café’s use bamboo materials and recyclable packaging, eco-friendly cutlery trying to reduce their carbon footprint.

When I entered the store it was minimal, inviting and decorated in a monochromatic white. The doughnuts I purchased were: Cake: carrot cake, red velvet; Hand Dipped: Madagascar vanilla; Hand filled: lemon curd, s’mores and the Doughnut of the month: chocolate chocolate chocolate and more chocolate. 6 doughnuts went for $17.

I found the doughnuts to be just okay. They tasted good but nothing to write home about. I know lots of people love this store and if I had visited here before glory hole doughnuts they would have been number one on my list in the city; as they have great toppings and flavour selections etc. Quite frankly though I think I have been spoiled with glory hole and nothing I have found yet in the gourmet doughnut world will change that. The cake doughnuts I found the most peculiar as I love carrot cake I of course grabbed a carrot doughnut; but when I bit into it firstly the batter was still white but had all of those carrot cake spices in it along with some carrot pieces. This threw me off as I was expecting a dark batter like a real carrot cake and the cream cheese frosting had thinly sliced carrot strips. This added a great decoration but again I no real flavour. Mr. C. agreed the red velvet doughnut was off in same way also. I did enjoy the vanilla and lemon curd much more as well as Mr. C. enjoyed the s’mores and chocolate, but we just found ourselves comparing to glory hole which means they are still our fav’s.

Doughnut Diaries: Jelly Modern Doughnuts - Candy Coated Culinista

Doughnut Diaries: Jelly Modern Doughnuts – Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: Nadege Patisserie

Macaron Diaries: Nadege Patisserie - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: Nadege Patisserie – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 120 Adelaide Street West (The PATH) – Richmond & Adelaide Centre
Hours: Monday – Friday 7:30 am – 6:30 pm

While walking in the PATH back in 2014 on a lunch break exploring I saw a sign that Nadege Patisserie would be opening a location soon. I said finally as I still hadn’t managed to make it out to their Trinity Bellwoods location in over 3 years. Friday being Macaron Day I decided to celebrate by visiting here. Of all the patisseries giving back a portion of their sales Nadege topped them all by giving 50% of all their macaron sales to the Sick Kids Hospital for Macaron Day.

Today I purchased 12 macarons and also a box of their marshmallows. The flavours I got were: passion fruit milk chocolate, olive oil, Guinness (the last day to catch these from St. Patty’s Day), coconut lime, grapefruit cayenne, banana chocolate, orange zest, bacon maple, camembert, mojito, cotton candy, cappuccino and gin & tonic flavoured marshmallows. Twelve macarons cost $27.50 and the marshmallows were $6.

I found a lot of the fillings tasted the same to me even though the flavours were different. I think the flavours could be bumped up a touch so they could shine more. The grapefruit cayenne was my favourite of them all and I could taste both flavours and there was a slow after kick of the cayenne. The savoury flavours tasted like any other macs and I was expecting a distinct taste of cheese or olive oil which didn’t happen. As for the macarons themselves they had spaces in the shells so they crumbled on the first bite and didn’t retain their structure.

These aren’t in my top three for macarons in the city I think, but I will visit when I am in the area and they have the most selection of macarons on a given day. I am happy to finally have tasted from this patisserie after all this time.

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 709 The Queensway, Etobicoke , Ontario, 647-977-3030
Hours: Mon: Closed, Tues & Wed: 12 – 7pm, Thurs & Fri: 12-8pm Sat: 11-6pm, Sub: 11-4pm

I have seen and tried AG Macarons at the Delicious Food Show and the Christmas Pop up Shop near Yonge Dundas Square. I have enjoyed there macs oh let’s face it I wouldn’t be on my third testing if I didn’t right. When I was walking on the Queensway I saw a French Macaron Tower in the window and realized I had found the bricks & mortar storefront and I made a quick detour.

I went in and looked at some of their other offerings before I went in today for the main show. Meringues, Belgian and dark chocolate fused chocolate candy, Aprons, boxed gourmet teas and cards were also for sale here. If I needed a quick last minute hostess gift or an impromptu present this would be the perfect spot. Everything you need is right there. After a quick look around I went to the macs and the flavours we tested were Salted Caramel, Blackberry Cassis, Chocolate Peanut butter, Mint Chocolate, Birthday Cake, Red Velvet and Cinnamon Heart as the Flavour of the Month. A box of 6 will cost $13 and the only downside is that only types tender they take are cash or credit is. Thank goodness I had a twenty on me or I would have had to change my order as I’m not one to use a credit card for things so tiny like this, especially when it’s a treat. That aside the macs tasted the same as every time I have encountered them, which shows some consistency which I like to see.
I tasted the Mint chocolate – I wasn’t a fan of the chocolate inside as it was a bit too hard for my liking, but the birthday cake, salted caramel and the February Valentines Themed Cinnamon heart tasted as it should. The shell was hard when I tapped it but once I bit into it, it crumbled and the feet on the macs were perfect. Mr. C. of course enjoyed his three; but these aren’t in my top three I would say in Toronto – my top 4 for sure. French Macaron classes are also offered and if my next attempt turns out poorly I may just consider enrolling in the class.

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons - Candy Coated Culinista

Macaron Diaries: AG Macarons – Candy Coated Culinista

Doughnut Diaries: Glory Hole Doughnuts

Doughnuts Diaries: Glory Hole Doughnuts - Candy Coated Culinista

Doughnuts Diaries: Glory Hole Doughnuts – Candy Coated Culinista

Location: 1596 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario, 647-352-4848

I finally found myself in Parkdale and of course when I’m in a new part of the city I check to see what on my Quest list is in a 5 km radius and there it was Glory Hole Doughnuts. Glory Hole Doughnuts are made with natural ingredients, by hand every day. Most of the doughnuts here are yeast doughnuts which go through a time-consuming process of mixing, first proof, rolling, cutting, second proof, and finally garnishing. They also have cake doughnuts and the doughnut holes. The basic menu consists of S’mores, Chai Brulee, Lemon Cheesecake, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Almond Cream, Dark & Stormy, Toast & Butter, PB & J, Buche De Noel, London Fog and a type of Buttermilk doughnut. There was also a gingerbread seasonal doughnut on hand when I visited.

Today I choose the dark & stormy as it was supposed to taste like the drink, PB & J and Chai Brulee. These gourmet doughnuts rival any doughnuts I have had before. They are soft, flavourful and decorated with so much love, it looks like you are eating art. Mr. C. was a huge fan as was I and we both wished I had brought home more. They all tasted exactly as they should and were generously sized. At $3.00 roughly for each doughnut they are well worth visiting time and time again. The lady at the counter was so helpful and willing to explain all the doughnuts to me that I would recommend here to anyone as a must visit. If I lived in Parkdale this would be a daily stop for me personally.

Food Diaries: The Pie Commission

Food Diaries: The Pie Commission - Candy Coated Culinista

Food Diaries: The Pie Commission – Candy Coated Culinista

“Gourmet-style handheld savoury pies born and baked in Toronto.”

Place: The Pie Commission
Location: 935 The Queensway (Entrance at rear – located off Queen Elizabeth Blvd), Toronto, Ontario, M8Z 1P3
Phone: 416-848-7427
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11am – 7pm, Friday 11am – 8pm, Saturday: 11am – 6pm

5” individual round pies are made from scratch in-house, using natural ingredients – premium cuts of Canadian meat, the freshest produce and homemade beef, chicken and vegetable stock all placed in an all butter crust. Pies can also be purchased hot (to eat now) or frozen (to eat later) at a later time.

When I drove up to the Pie Commission, I was expecting a smaller store footprint as the directions were at the rear, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was also very bust and the 7 or so parking spaces were full and customers were parking across the street in a factory’s side lot. (This is a good sign to me)

Before entering I read the menus outside. The standard menu includes: Braised Beef Rib Pie, Beef ‘n Beer Pie, Butter Chicken Pie, Chicken Cheddar Bacon Mash Pie and Veg-ilicious Pie (Vegetarian). Also visited there was a seasonal menu that consisted of: Hog Squash, Lobster + Shrimp, Caplansky “Reuben” Pie and Marky + Sparky’s Pulled Pork and Jerk Chicken. I believe the Caplansky’s is named after Caplansky’s Delicatessen & Marky + Sparky’s Smokehouse. I’m not sure if they use their meat or the pies are just inspired by them, but I loved the Toronto reference and keeping it local. It gives me the feeling there is a sense of community within the food industry.

I selected the Chicken Cheddar Bacon Mash Pie – Chicken along with cheesy bacon mashed potato in the pie and for Mr. C. I got him the Pulled Pork BBQ from their seasonal menu. We split everything so we could get a good sampling of their offerings. I also served the pies with a side of organic baby romaine, grape tomatoes and green onion with lemon poppy-seed dressing to give us a balanced meal.

The crust for these pies were to die for, they were buttery and so flaky. I found that I couldn’t taste the bacon in the Chicken Cheddar Bacon Mash, but that didn’t make me dislike the pie in any way. It was so so good and the cheese added creaminess to the mashed potatoes. The Marky + Sparky’s Pulled Pork was saucier that I expected and I welcomed that, as I love anything with a sauce. I found this pie was much denser as it was packed with a lot of pulled pork.

For dessert we split a Lemon, Lime Orange Chess Pie. It tasted like pie I have made before, but it was still delicious. A chess pie is a simple pie with a crust and filling made from, eggs, butter, sugar and vanilla and was originally an English pie said the cashier.

Sides on the menu included fresh hand cut fries, gravy, chipotle lime mayo, mixed green salad, coleslaw along with the soup of the day, and desserts like pies, fresh fruit crumbles and cookies and a selection of canned or bottle drinks.

The 3 items came to $25.36 – not the cheapest considering the size of the pie, but quality ingredients go into the pies and it was so filling I couldn’t eat my slice of pie and had to wait until the next day. I would definitely visit them again.

Food Diaries: The Pie Commission - Candy Coated Culinista

Food Diaries: The Pie Commission – Candy Coated Culinista

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