Girls on Food

Paula O'Farrell

Maple syrup...I put that sauce on everything. Just kidding, almost everything. As a small town Canadian girl living just outside of Toronto, I had the pleasure of eating good country meals and city fine dining all of my life. On top of that, I was also brought up in an Italian household full of vegetable farmers. So it only made sense that at the ripe old age of 10 I would march into the kitchen and shock my mom and Nona with my decision to become a vegetarian. Don't worry, I now eat seafood here and there because sushi is life. My Nona was a fantastic cook and my inspiration in the kitchen. She taught me everything there is to know about cooking which led me to try out for MasterChef Canada. Although I didn't make it all the way, I made it far enough in the competition to make my little heart happy with my accomplishment. Now, I love going on road trips to the city, or up north to find the best food trucks, dives or beautiful restaurants by the water. I still love to cook and not just vegetarian food. C'mon, I live in the land of Canadian bacon, how could I deprive my husband of such deliciousness? I'm so totally stoked to be on this food ride with you guys and can't wait to see what the future brings!

Montreal, Mon Amour!

As the middle of winter consumes us, dreaming of somewhere warm is the most typical thought that crosses our minds. Punta Cana, Brazil, Mexico…to name a few. For me, I am a proud, winter-loving Canadian… who has barely seen Canada. I’ve travelled to Central America, I’ve road tripped and flown throughout U.S.A. numerous times, yet I haven’t traveled my way through Canada. For Valentine’s Day, I decided to take my husband to somewhere he has never been before, the home of the poutine, Montreal, Quebec.

Now, I’ve been to Montreal before for a day trip but did not get to experience the culture nor the amazing cuisine. We packed our bags and set off for a 5 and a half road trip to Montreal. We had no plans, zero bookings and just wanted to roll with the punches.

After settling in, we decided to wonder around our little neighbourhood near the hotel. Since our French is “Je ne c’est quoi” (literally means I do not know what) we wanted to try something a little familiar to us.

Our first stop: Bier Markt Montréal
1221 Rene-Levesque Blvd W Montreal,QC

I absolutely love the Bier Markt. I’ve been many times before but never in Montreal. It is traditionally a place that sells a ginormous variety of beers. From pints, to bottles, sample trays, cocktails, champagne, wine, literally everything. The only thing I’ve ever consumed here is beer, because that is what they are known for. This particular trip, we decided to order some snacks to go along with our sampler tray of beer. I never even knew we could order food let alone have a great selection to choose from. We decided to go with a shareable board of seafood and cheese. Just typing this, I’m already missing that board. Our three choices were fresh mozzarella, tuna poke and grilled calamari. It was paired with fresh bread, pickles and a raspberry compote. Spectacular and overwhelming perfect is the only way for me to describe the food, the ambiance and the general vibe of this establishment. We loved it so much, we ended up going back the next night for a little night cap.

The next morning we decided to hunt down the perfect poutine. But since it was 10 am, we decided cheese curds and French fries were more of an afternoon treat.

As we were walking looking for a coffee shop, we found a little spot called: Paris Cafe
1333 Saint-Catherine St. W Montreal,QC

It turned out to be a quaint little restaurant serving crepes! The menu was in French but Nutella is a universal word in any language. I indulged in a London Fog latte and an incredible Nutella Banana Crepe that they prepare right on display as you enter the cafe. It was extremely decadent and the best latte I’ve ever had. This two story restaurant was packed but not busy as everything was made so quickly and devoured within minutes. It was a lovely spot to start our day off right.

Montreal is known for its beauty and art. On the side of buildings, you could see paintings of the late Leonard Cohen throughout the city. A beautiful tribute to a great Canadian artist in his home town. The architecture and museums were extraordinary. Some of the best I’ve ever seen. Everywhere you looked, there was beauty.

After touring the city, our quest for the perfect Poutine had peeked. As a vegetarian, I haven’t come across many poutines that I was able to enjoy. Most poutines I’ve come across had a beef base. I was concerned but determined I could find something just right.

That is when we stumbled upon: Ye Olde Orchard Pub
1189 Rue de la Montagne Montreal, QC

We were instantly greeted by a gentleman wearing a kilt. Typical old pub setting. What I thought would be a tiny pub was actually fairly large with dim lighting and stone walls. I eyeballed the menu and found the poutine section. There it was…my gateway poutine into the poutine world. Vegetarian Curry Poutine. It was a trifecta of my three favourite foods merging together in one dish. The curry actually just tasted like a spicy gravy. The cheese curds, although I hate the word curd, they were delicious. I had found euphoria in a pile of French fries. And I was in love.

This trip was filled with so much delicious food, we have barely eaten since we’ve returned home. Montreal really does feel like you’re in a different world. The cuisine, the culture, the people….its hard to describe but definitely somewhere everyone needs to go. Even in the winter, it was magical and felt like the perfect weekend getaway.

Until next time, Au Revoir, Montreal!

Baked Pumpkin Spice Pudding: A Warm Treat From Our Friend Up North

Sure, pumpkin pie may seem like a strictly Thanksgiving-time treat but then poof…its gone. What happens for the rest of the year? Especially during late-winter when we’re craving that delicious, warm, treat? I think I found something to tie us over in these frigid months, especially in this Canadian -10 weather.

Now, I’m not a total “pumpkinhead.” Pumpkin is a hit or miss ingredient for me as well. Pumpkin pie= hit. Pumpkin latte= miss. I also don’t like raisins on their own (that’s a hard no from me) but I love them when they’re baked, cooked or thrown into a dish with any other ingredients. Combining pumpkin and raisins together is a combination I’m so glad I found. That’s when I fell in love with Baked Pumpkin Spice Pudding.

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Our Spot: The Kit Kat Italian Bar and Grill in Toronto


There are not many things in my life that would label me as a creature of habit. But every year for our wedding anniversary, we make the trek to Toronto and hit up our favourite restaurant.

The Kit Kat is in the heart of Toronto, in walking distance to theatres and concert venues, sports stadiums and all the major hotels. It’s been a busy restaurant for almost 30 years. I remember being a little kid, walking downtown and seeing the Kit Kat sign lit brightly above this tiny venue and of course, I made sure as an adult, that this would become my regular spot.

The Kit Kat Italian Bar and Grill
297 King St. W., Toronto, ON, M5V 1J5
http://www.kitkattoronto.com/

As one would expect from a classic Italian eatery, you’re greeted with traditional red and white checkered linens, energetic pictures of everyone and anyone along the walls, and there is a tree that grows through it in the kitchen. It is a hustle and bustle kind of spot, with athletes, actors, theatre goers and locals indulging in their Italian feasts. It goes from quiet and romantic to a full packed place in 2.5 seconds.

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Paula’s Cheesecake Baked Apples

As we are coming upon the end of apple season here in Canada, other parts of the world are right in the middle of enjoying this beautiful harvest. Nothing screams FALL to me more than delicious apple desserts. Apple pie, apple crisp, candy apples. But have you ever tried Cheesecake Baked Apples?

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The Badali Bar and Cucina in Toronto

In Toronto, its not hard to find an Italian restaurant. It seems like everywhere you look, there’s something Italian for everyone. It’s a not exactly a tough problem to have but the biggest problem for me has turned into finding an Italian restaurant I really enjoy. Growing up in an Italian household has set my tastebuds to a different level when it comes to this cuisine. I like my cheese cut from a wheel, I like my bread crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and there’s always room for antipasto. The Badali Bar and Cucina, hit my expectations on every level. From the first sip of my cocktail to the crunch of my cannoli.

Badali Bar and Cucina
156 Front Street West Toronto, Ontario
http://www.joebadalis.com/

My initial impression was that this is a beautiful establishment. The sign entering is painted brick, there’s tons of wines and alcohol displayed through the restaurant and a lovely brunch area was set up as we arrived. The one thing I noticed as we entered, it looks quite small on the outside, but is actually huge on the inside. In the heart of the entertainment district, close to sport stadiums and the CN Tower, the location couldn’t be better.

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The Bar Café in Uxbridge, Ontario

One of my favourite things about living just outside of the city limits is all of the wonderful little restaurants and cafés I get to indulge in every so often. One of the most important things I think we all try to achieve is eating healthy and reducing our ecological footprint. Not easy to do in today’s busy world with fast food so readily available at our little finger tips. It’s refreshing to find a spot that is organic, fresh and locally sourced. And did I mention food that is ridiculously full of delicious flavour? 

The Bar Café
2 Brock Street West, Uxbridge, ON Canada
https://www.facebook.com/thebarcafeuxbridge/


When I walked into The Bar Café, the owner and foodie extraordinaire, Trisha Bush, was helping and greeting her customers with a warm smile. Trish and I go way back as I am her hair stylist and she is my vegetarian food guru. She told me she would be right with me and to go have a seat in the back by the Mandala. Nothing gets you more visually into the zone of peace and tranquility like a beautiful Mandala.

The Bar Café serves all types of foods and the Mediterranean influence is strong. Not only are there plenty of protein options, they can accommodate various types of diets including gluten free, vegetarian, vegan and raw.

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Love and Food Trucks at Pride Toronto

When I think of Pride Toronto, I think of love, acceptance, and freedom. There is so much love and unity in the air that it is mesmerizing and intoxicating. One little-known gem about Pride is the abundance of gourmet food trucks and stations dishing out mouth watering meals. They are serving up everything from baked goods to fish tacos to every kind of poutine you can imagine! I obviously had to grab my friends, make my way down the line and try a little bit of everything!

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