Showing posts with label macarons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label macarons. Show all posts

TBuds (Toronto)

Head up the stairs off uptown Yonge Street and you’re transported into Tbuds. While their décor is dated and there’s an obtrusive cluttered tea shelf at the back that leaves me wanting to call The Home Edit, it’s still a calming environment with dimmed lighting and spa music playing throughout the dining room.

The classic afternoon tea menu ($38) begins with a hot pot of tea selected from an extensive two-page listing. I stick with a traditional black tea that allows me to include a splash of oat milk into it without drowning out the tea flavours. If you’re waiting on a guest, look through their tea descriptions. Someone poetic crafted them; such the description of how black Ceylon spring valley tea leaves are created through “warm sunshine following tropical monsoons with cold nights”.

As the tea tower is prepared, a two-bite leek quiche and simple caprese salad tie us over. If you’re the type of person who skips breakfast and lunch before heading to afternoon tea, you’ll appreciate these pre-tea light bites.

However, if you’re like me and never skip a meal, I’d forgo the microwave re-heated quiche to save room for Tbuds amazing scones. They have a lovely crispy crust that breaks easily to reveal a soft fluffy centre and aren’t overly sweet so you can slather it with mascarpone cream and jam. Too bad they are so stingy with the condiments, providing enough for two scones at most. In fact, if anything we need more of the mascarpone cream as it’s lighter and less buttery than traditional clotted cream.

Their sandwiches each incorporates an herb and a creamy element. We loved them all: the egg salad is enhanced with a bit of chives, the cucumber sandwich is sliced paper thin and uses an herbed cream cheese, the curried chicken includes a refreshing chutney, and even the sun-dried tomato and cheddar combination surprisingly works. With six sandwiches to a person, it makes for a filling meal.

The tower is capped off with fresh soft macarons that have a vibrant fruity flavour and luscious cream. The other petit fours – a fruit tart and ultra-decadent salted chocolate square – are less impressive but nonetheless decent.

While Tbuds lacks the elegant atmosphere of other tea establishments, their delicious food (lack of clotted cream aside) and impressive tea selection holds up to their competitors. As a bonus, since they specialize in tea service, it’s offered daily with reservations until 4:45pm. If you love having breakfast for dinner, imagine having afternoon tea for the evening meal.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3343 Yonge Street, 2nd floor

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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Just look at Chatime's new twilight teas & Baker Siu's macarons

When Chatime came onto the scene there was tons of hype, but I had doubts whether they could take on the bubble tea behemoths like Ten Ren who have dominated the Toronto drink scene for so long. After five years in Canada, it’s safe to say they can certainly dominate and don’t rest on their laurels -  Chatime regularly innovates their stores by incorporating them with Bake Code bakeries and most recently started partnering with Masterchef contestant Baker Chris Siu. Siu is known for his delicious desserts and soon participating establishments will carry macarons, including one incorporating Chatime’s famous roasted milk tea ($2.60).

For those who like something different, try the lap cheong maple macaron ($2.60). Made with the Chinese preserved sausage, which is already slightly sweet and savoury, candied lap cheong is mixed into a maple syrup buttercream so the pastry is still sweet but has a hint of saltiness.

Nonetheless, the chain doesn’t simply rely on adding food items to menus. Recently, they have launched a new line of drinks that aim to be colourful naturally. Butterfly pea tea is used in most of the drinks as the base – its flower long used in Southeastern Asian cooking as a natural food colouring, adding a royal blue hue that even Kate Middleton would love. When combined with something acidic (like lemon or lime), the tea transforms into lovely violet, with other hibiscus flowers the drink can turn red.

One uses hibiscus tea instead, which has a lovely fuchsia colour and tastes fruity and tart like cranberry.

Named the “Twilight” series each drink resembles a time of the day:

Grapefruit Blush: When the sun first rises and the sky transforms from red to blue. The drink is the prettiest in the line with three different jewel toned colours. It’s citrusy but still sweet, a nice “lighter” one if you’re not in the mood for strong flavours.

Coconut Daydream: As the day enters into afternoon the sky (assuming it’s a sunny day) is a vivid blue capped with puffy white clouds. Here the butterfly pea tea is void of acid so stays blue. Of all the drinks this is the richest (on account of the coconut syrup and fresh milk) and could even resemble a cold latte. Trust me; if you’re a milk tea fan, this is one to try.

Hibiscus Sunset: A gorgeous red and orange to replicate the sun setting. Although it doesn’t use any of the butterfly pea tea, it’s one of the fruitiest drinks with passion fruit and lychee flavours. For those who like fruity green teas (mango green is one of my favourites), this is an ideal substitute.

Starry Lemon: The darkest of the drinks resembles looking into the evening sky … dark but with some blue and clouds shining through.  As indicated in its name, this drink is tarter due to the lemon and one of the most interesting because how it looks has no resemblance to its taste. Woah… mind games!

Sure, the teas look gorgeous, but the best part is that they can look tropical without relying on dyes. Chatime wants customers to be able to order something that looks cool but is natural and benefit from the antioxidants found in colourful teas. Don’t worry about the drinks getting jostled: it will combine into one colour when stirred, but then separates into distinct layers after the liquid settles – just imagine the fun children will have with these!  

They do have some suggestions to tea fans that tend to customize their drinks:
  • There’s already limited syrup used in the drinks, so you don’t need to go half sweet. Anything less and you’ll likely not get much sweetness at all.
  • You’ll want to ensure there’s ice in the drink (this is to the “no ice” fans). You need some of the coldness and they expect some dilution. Otherwise, it may alter the taste of the tea.
  • Lastly, they suggest not adding anything into the drinks (i.e. tapioca, QQ jelly, etc.) The ingredients have added sugar and syrup, which may not taste the best with the Twilight series.
I applaud the inventive step and am glad to see Chatime’s a company that continues to innovate to stay relevant. However, I personally think the Hibiscus Sunset would pair so nicely with tapioca – I ALWAYS get tapioca in my bubble teas. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ll have to go back and do some experimenting … all in the name of food science, right? 

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 169 Enterprise Boulevard

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CLOSED: Delysees (Toronto)

It's easy to see why mini desserts are gaining popularity - éclairs, once the size of a shoe, have shrunken into a petite pastry easily contained within a palm. Things become cuter and you don’t feel bad having one … two… okay maybe three.

Recently, I’ve had one of those nights. Delysées threw a summer rendezvous event showcasing their line of miniaturized desserts. Bringing along a sweet loving friend, I had intentions of only trying five things and relying on the expert’s opinion instead. Yet, when I caught sight of the intricate pastries encased in beautiful hues, I started reaching for more.

Chocolate lovers should adore their mousse cake and dark chocolate truffle “Rocher”. The cake was fluffy as air incorporating a slight peanut butter finish to the sweet - quite nice. Chocolate and I have our moments: in general I don’t love the ingredient, but when the dessert’s right it can be delicious. I had my doubts about the oversized Rocher, but it turned out to be astonishingly light in the centre while still feeling indulgent.

I may not be a wedding planner, but Delysées’ collection of Grange of Prince Edward desserts (a limited edition menu of items infused with their wines) would be perfect for the occasion. Although it’s difficult to decipher in the picture, their champagne macaron is dusted with edible sparkles! Brides, please try to contain your excitement.

Then there’s éclairs in every hue and texture: a vibrant red one filled with Sloane raspberry cream, a “soft” cloudy looking coconut, and a whimsical meringue filled with a lovely lemon cream.

Yet the most jaw dropping has to be blinging éclair fully encased in gold (inside is a hazelnut chocolate mousse).

For me, the tastiest is the plain white one – so clean and unassuming looking. The jasmine yuzu cream piped inside is utterly refreshing and perfect after a heavy meal. Although the tea and citrus both aren’t strong flavours, their tastes were still rather pronounced and delicious.

Delysées’ cakes are quite the sight, especially the flourless dark chocolate dome drizzled in blue and pink stripes.

The cheesecakes were not overly heavy: the inside incorporating a fluffy almond tofu texture. I only wish the graham cracker crust on the bottom was thinner given the dessert is so delicate and the thick base finishes it like a granola bar.

For those who want a shot of booze with their dessert, they even have a line of parfaits crowned with a squeeze of liqueur. An earthy pistachio paired with a whiskey or a crunchy almond cream with Grand Marnier?

Their mini choux or cream puffs were also tasty. Instead of the typical sweet whipped cream, this was filled with real Madagascar vanilla bean cream.

Although more understated than the other offerings, Delysées’ tarts are worth a try: the crust is crunchy yet flaky and the fillings the most flavourful of all the desserts. Pictured below is the dark chocolate & salted caramel and the roasted pistachio. I also tried the fresh lemon tart, which was refreshing and balanced.

Overall, the majority of Delysées’ pastries aren’t overly sweet and appear to be flavoured naturally (rather than tasting very strong from the use of artificial extracts). It’s a matter of preference: as a person who doesn’t like overly decadent desserts, it’s perfect. However, if you yearn for the sugary flavourful explosion that can only be subdued with milk, you may be disappointed.

Regardless, Delysées’ new mini collection includes TONS of choice – the above is only a fraction of their overall menu. So, you’ll have to sample and judge for yourself. The fact that they’re the size of a silver dollar? Well, you can just have a few more.    

Disclaimer: The above tasting was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 780 King Street West

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