The Christmas gift guide for Francophiles

Few days ago I went to the Distillery Christmas market and realized that Christmas will be upon us in 38 days… yes, they put a huge countdown at the entrance and you cannot miss it!!! As you read these words, you have even less time left so it’s time for you to think about gifts. If you have Francophiles around, this gift guide is going to help you.

Ma P’tite Culotte, women’s lingerie

Offering a new set of lingeries to a woman you love is always a good idea. Ma P’tite Culotte is a French brand that offers an optimistic and enthusiastic line of lingeries. For her last collection, Charline Goutal decided to create pieces that correspond to women’s moods.

Available on Ma Ptite Culotte website

Le Slip Français, French underpants

The founders of this underwear brand believe that companies can no longer just be economic forces with a narrow sense of purpose; they must, instead, define and pursue certain values. Their definition of success includes the well-being of those around them and the sustainability of their business: “You want to change the world? Start by changing your briefs.”

Available on Le Slip Français website

MAGNETHIK ethical handbags

MAGNETHIK is a brand founded by Fabienne Pomi, a French, vegan fashion lover who offers made in France and vegan handbags. All the pieces are made without any animal products and according to an ecological and ethical process. MAGNETHIK has been voted “Best Fashion Novelty” by the PETA association in 2016.

Available at Importation Lou

Chapon chocolates

Patrice Chapon is one of seven French bean-to-bar chocolate makers. His know-how is internationally recognized — he just got two awards from Salon du Chocolat in Paris.

Available on Chapon website and in Toronto at McEwan Don Mills and TD Centre Location.

Red wine

A Francophile will always appreciate a glass of good red wine. This gift is probably the safest — you cannot go wrong with it. If you feel like offering a bottle of red wine to one of your relatives, I recommend this bottle of Château Vignot Saint Emilion, 2009. It goes perfectly with cheese.

Available at LCBO

Review: Brothers at Bay Station

Brothers, located at 1240 Bay Street (right beside the entrance to Bay Station), has only been open for three weeks. Their website is not yet fully functional, and reviews have not been posted on any other trusted foodie websites. Despite this however, business seems to be picking up quite rapidly, which should come as no surprise when you enter. The space only seats approximately thirty people, but combined with a soft colour scheme and slight décor touches that feel reminiscent of a café in the French countryside, the result is a rather intimate environment, for people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Toronto life.  It will likely become a hot spot for those who either want to grab a glass of wine after work, or are looking for a quiet setting with their special someone. Not to mention that the menu, which is comprised of artfully crafted dishes made from Canadian products but served with a slight Mediterranean-inspired twist, offers tastes that are quite adventurous and memorable. The menu changes on a regular basis, so there is no doubt many people will feel enticed to return.

ktf_5263
Image Credit: Kris Finnigan

Our visit to Brothers started off with a pretty amazing bang, the lasting affect of which my friend and I did not fully recover from for the remainder of our stay. Our first dish was the Charred Mackerel, with pickled baby eggplant and mint sauce. Lets not bury the lead here: this dish is a very enjoyable assault on the taste buds. It may be small in portion size, but with its many textures and balanced layers, it is just begging to be savoured. The first thing you will notice is the strong vinegary taste of the eggplant. But don’t mistake “strong” for “overpowering,” because it is then quickly followed by the sensation of the meaty mackerel coating the back of your tongue, offsetting any pickled aftertaste that may seem undesirable. These two tastes go together rather nicely. When you order it (not “if,” “when”!), consider pairing this dish with the Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Brut, an Italian sparkling white wine, and a citrusy-but-light palette cleanser. This was a great example of different recognizable tastes working together to create something feeling wholly new.

ktf_5242
Image Credit: Kris Finnigan

Next was the Steelhead trout, which is placed on a bed of chicory barese, along with a good helping of egg and lemon cream. Where the mackerel dish was different tastes working in unison with one another, the trout is an example of fainter tastes supporting the primary crowd-pleaser. The chicory barese offers a bitter aftertaste and the cream is quite thin. But when coupled with the trout, with it’s top layer being delightfully crispy and underneath staying soft and tender, there is enough variation with every bite that certainly makes it worth giving it a try.

ktf_5251
Image Credit: Kris Finnigan

 Our final dish was the Heritage pork sausage, which is infused with Hungarian hot peppers and served with cream and frisée. This dish is a great example of creatively heightening certain tastes, while simultaneously diminishing potentially overpowering spices, as a way to make it more accessible.  The sausages are made in-house and are gluten free, making them quite rich in flavour.   Also, those with a lower tolerance to spicy food should not be alarmed. The taste of the hot peppers is quite strong but when combined with the cream, the spicy aftertaste is largely diminished.   If you’re a fan of a fatty English brunch, you can’t really go wrong with this one.

ktf_5254
Image Credit: Kris Finnigan

If you’re ever around Bay and Bloor, be sure to stop in at Brothers. The offerings will put no doubt in your mind that the chefs are not only passionate, but are also willing to experiment and have fun, when creating consistently delicious meals.

ktf_5270
Image Credit: Kris Finnigan

Phone

(416) 804-6066

Website

www.brotherstoronto.com

Email

info@brotherstoronto.com

Hot List: Nügateau Review

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Nügateau, tasting their new spring/summer menu. Nügateau is Toronto’s first éclair-only bakery and café located on 717 Queen Street West, and their recently opened second location at Holt Renfrew Yorkdale. The spring/summer menu includes 12 all-new luxurious flavours. The new menu features innovative flavour combinations and art décor with local touches bringing Canadians to a new scale.

The new flavours on the menu include: Annabelle, Apricot Saffron, Banana Caramel, Lemon Kalamansi Meringue, Mango Violet, Mont Tremblant, Raspberry Rose, Red Rocket, St. Domingue, Summer Berry, Vanilla Jasmine, Pîna Colada

For those who have never heard of éclairs before, they originated during the 19th century in France. The traditional way of making these unique pastries would be with choux dough filled with cream and topped with icing. The dough is typically piped into an oblong shape, baked until crisp with a hollow inside. The inside is then filled with vanilla, coffee, or chocolate flavoured custard, or with whipped cream, finally topped with fondant icing.

I was able to try out four of their new flavours: Mont Tremblant, Raspberry Rose, Mango Violet, and Annabelle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Mont Tremblant (70% single origin dark chocolate mousse, whipped praline ganache, hazelnut praline grains), Mango Violet (tropical mango cremeux with violet petals)

When I think of éclair, I often think of the pastries that contain overly sweet custard fillings. So when Butter PR manager, Zoe ordered four for me, I was a little hesitant of the amount because I was worried how each one would have an overwhelming custard taste, filling me up instantly. Once I tried them, I was completely wrong! Instead of the traditional custard filling, Nügateau’s fillings were all made from natural ingredients creating natural sweetness and finely whipped custard resulting in a mousse texture. When tasted, it felt light in my mouth rather than the regular heavy custard feeling. I could taste the ingredients they used in each of the pastries, with no artificial flavour included. The secret to keeping a well-balanced palette with Nügateau’s savoury flavours was by adding white chocolate into the filling, making it just right.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Annabelle (whipped zéphyr pistachio ganache, strawberry mint compote, fresh strawberries), Raspberry Rose (whipped raspberry rose ganache and vanilla mascarpone, raspberry rose and lychee compote)

My experience overall at Nügateau was unforgettable. Their pastries were one of best I’ve ever had. Each of them was beautifully decorated; I didn’t even want to eat them because there were so nicely made. The ones I’ve tried were simply delicious and did not feel stuffed at all afterwards. There’s no doubt that I would go back and try all the other flavours.

If you’re not much of a sweet tooth person like me but at the same time enjoys desserts and pastries, you won’t regret your decision by heading over and trying one yourself!

Visit them on either locations: 717 Queen Street W or Holt Renfrew Yorkdale

For more information, visit http://nugateau.com/ and make sure to connect with them on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @nugateau for updated new flavours.