THE CAKE OPERA

I Know it’s not cheese but…..

I wanted to let you all know about a fantastic Cake Design shoppe that has emerged on a relatively low-key (occasionally desolate) block of Eglinton Ave W in Toronto. Not long ago, after a quick visit to the dentist, I walked past a small storefront and did a double take. The store was called Cake Opera and I had often walked past it while it was closed, but this time it was open. I took the opportunity and walked in. I was immediately taken aback by the amazing (and delicious) edible design I was met by. Cakes that can only be described as works of art lined shelves and tables and the open kitchen in the back was shielded by a display case full of cupcakes, cookies, and macarons.

I was greeted by a smiling woman who I started to hound for some information on the store. I turned out to be speaking to one of the owners of the business, Jessica Smith, who is the pastry chef. Jessica graciously took a moment to tell me that she runs the business with Alexandria Pellegrino (Artist and Pastry Chef, respectively). They started out as a custom cake design operation, running out of basements and houses before moving to their current spot on Eglinton W. Since its creation in 2007, Cake Opera has gained notoriety as a boutique cake design studio, equipped to meet every fanciful whim in wedding cake form. Cake Opera now specializes in cakes, confections and most uniquely, Operettas, which are carefully customized sweet tables that look too amazing to eat!

After speaking with Jessica, I wandered around the store, letting the amazing creations wash over me. I may be trained as a designer but making cakes like the ones in Cake Opera seem far beyond my creative capabilities! I snapped some photos and then headed to the counter to decide what to bring home. I chose to try the cupcakes in 2 flavours (which Jessica then doubled, so I could try 4 flavours), a macaron, and a piece of the delicate-looking nougat. I chose to try a Salted Milk Chocolate Caramel Macaron and I couldn’t even make it the 5 minutes to my house to break it out of the little plastic bag it was wrapped in. Without a doubt, it was the BEST macaron I have EVER had!! It was the perfect mix of sweet, salty, crunchy and chewy – delicious!!

Thankfully, I ate dinner that night with about 6 other people so I had help in eating my 4 cupcakes.

Delicious Macarons!

Delicious Macarons!

We cut each into 4 and took little pieces. We tried: The Lady Pompadour (vanilla cake, vanilla icing); The Queen of the Night (choco cake, chocoicing); The Madame Butterfly (coconut cake, coconut icing) and my favourite, a Red Velvet with rich red cake and cream cheese icing. They were the most creative cupcakes I’ve seen in, maybe ever, and they were delicious! The cake was fresh and light, but not so light that they fell apart. The icing was sweet buttercream that wasn’t too heavy. The garnishes were perfectly created and placed. Later that night I also took a bite of the traditional nougat, with honey, vanilla, almonds, and apricot.

I truly don’t think that you could go wrong with anything that comes from Cake Opera, and I can’t wait to walk back in and try everything else! I also wish the duo the best of luck and hope that they stick around in their secretive little space – at least until I need my own wedding cake!!

CHECK OUT THEIR LOVELY WEBSITE

www.cakeoperaco.com

Beautiful Cupcakes!

Return to Blog Posts Listing

Cows are good for more than just cheese – I Heart Cheese & Beef!

PEI Grass-Fed Beef

Measuring out PEI Grass-Fed Beef for steaks. BF's hand!

Canadian Beef has partnered up with the amazing Eat, Write, Retreat (which I’m dying to go to!) and are offering a scholarship to 5 Canadians to attend the conference. Their blog-post contest was the kick-in-the-butt I needed to open up about my food transformation!

You know I love cheese but I thought it was time you knew a bit more about me! I was a very picky eater as a child – ok, I was really a picky eater until 2 years ago! I always liked cheese (of the Mac’n’Cheese variety) and I liked generic hamburgers (the little ones from Harveys!) but I was certainly not an adventurous eater. Over the past 2 years I have been exposed to more kinds of cheese than you could ever imagine and I’m proud to say I like almost all of them! This blog will hopefully continue to develop into a testament to my expanding tastes, so today I’m writing about a different food that I used to turn my nose up at: BEEF.

Beef and I have had a temperamental relationship over the past 24 years and I am only now learning to appreciate its greatness! Since my family got into the game meat distribution business I have been blessed by having access to amazing food, and one of those foods is Great Canadian Beef! Here is the story of my journey from beef-avoider to Beef Lover!

Years 1 – 21: I have a love-hate relationship with beef. One day I like it the next day I don’t! The only way I will consistently eat beef is in Mom’s meat sauce!

Year 22: I become a beef handler, but not a beef eater. On a cottage trip over New Years 2010 I supply my friends with a 3kg PEI Grass-fed Ribeye. I was definitely not interested in this slab of beef, hence the hands in the picture that are not mine!! **DID YOU KNOW: Research is beginning to show us that grass fed has elevated levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)? Yay for healthier beef! (Fact from Canadian Beef @ www.beefinfo.org!) Each week I pack meat, including heavy pieces of this PEI beef, into boxes to go to restaurants/stores. But would I eat it? Nope!

Year 23: I have an epiphany. I go to Europe and decide it would be a waste of a great experience not to be adventurous. So I eat Liver, Pork Ears, and my favourite discovery: Beef (in the form of braised Beef Cheeks in San Sebastian). I come home and am a changed girl. I order Canadian Beef Cheeks in restaurants. I try my first Filet Mignon. I am awed and amazed.

Year 24 (Now): Today I love beef. I eat hamburgers in the Pub in Pefferlaw. I eat braised beef in fancy restos. I still Love my mom’s meat sauce. I am waiting to eat something like this: LINK TO MOST AMAZING LOOKING POUTINE I HAVE EVER SEEN! (Poutine with beer braised beef and Ile aux Grues Cheddar? mmm)

What the future holds: I can’t wait to write about my Beef, Cheese and all other head-to-tail, local, fresh and fantastic food adventures! I have discovered the joy of eating these great foods and I’ll try just about anything you put in front of me. My next mountain to climb is cooking. I currently have the ability to be confused and terrified by the prospect of making anything more complicated than toast, a salad, Kraft Dinner and cheese plates. I would like to change that, and at least add properly cooking a piece of steak to my resume. Keep your eyes peeled for my small cooking triumphs and more-likely humongous disasters which I promise to post about! Major accomplishment will be to recreate that poutine… to be posted in 2013!

Thank you to Canadian Beef (www.beefinfo.org) and Eat, Write, Retreat (www.eatwriteretreat.com) for inspiring me to write about my journey from No-Beef to Pro-Beef!

 

 

 

 

Return to Blog Posts Listing

To Twirl or Not to Twirl…

Photo Credit: www.superstock.com

To twirl or not to twirl, that is the question! While browsing through the Food&Wine    archives of the Globe & Mail this morning, I came across a little blip of an article on the purpose of being provided a spoon with a plate of spaghetti.. or any other long, stringy noodle! Since pasta is my absolute favourite food, and cheese accompaniment, I feel it is important to express that I have absolutely no clue what to do with that spoon!! When a spoon is provided to me at a restaurant, when I inevitably order the pasta, I usually pick it up once, give it a shot and then give it up. According to the columnist, the consulted expert, and those who commented, the spoon may have been advised by Italian etiquette books at one point, however, the spoon is now considered to be unnecessary. Whew! For whatever it is worth, I can see how maybe the spoon would keep droplets of bright red sauce from flinging off of wildly swinging spaghetti strands. However, this shouldn’t pose much of a problem for me, as I tend to drown my noodles in so much Parmigiano Reggiano that each slippery noodle is provided with a flaky-white coat of cheesy armor that keeps the sauce in check!

Whew! I’m glad to know that I am not being incredibly rude, or uncultured by simply twirlin’ my strands around my fork upon the side of my dinner plate!

Check out the short article from the Globe here: “Can you explain the purpose of the spoon for pasta eating?

Do you ever use the spoon?

Return to Blog Posts Listing