Category Bakery

Star Struck: Pane Fresco

Pane Fresco is an Italian bakery and café in downtown Burlington, owned and operated by artisanal baker Marc Albanese and his wife, Felicia. It’s my sister’s favourite local spot for breakfast or lunch. She took my dad to Pane Fresco recently. After he told me that the Slow Braised Beef Brisket Panini was the best sandwich he has ever had, I knew I had to check it out.

So, I treated my sister to a birthday lunch at Pane Fresco. It was a little early for her birthday but because the Toronto International Film Festival was in full swing, I thought perhaps we might spot George Clooney amongst the baguettes. A girl can dream! During the 2009 TIFF, Pane Fresco was asked to prepare lunch for George Clooney to eat on his jet trip back to Los Angeles.

Pane Fresco

Pane Fresco’s spacious outdoor patio offers a pretty view of Lake Ontario at the end of Locust Street. The interior of Pane Fresco is tiny but charming. Its black and white tiled floor and dark wood paneling reminds my sister and me of the little French bistros or breakfast cafés we love to frequent when we’re in Montreal. There is additional seating in the lobby of the adjoining office tower (though not quite as charming).

And here is my lovely and charming sister.

Pane Fesco Lunch

While ordering at the cash, you will be enticed by the myriad of pleasures that Pane Fresco has to offer: the aroma of fresh bread baking in the oven or the daily special (such as weekday Daily Quiche, Slow Roasted Prime Rib on Saturdays, or Chicken Parmigiana on Wednesdays). Freshly baked pizza in a variety of irresistible flavours is carried out of the oven on wood paddles and laid out beside you. Biscotti and baked treats line the counter. The chalkboard menu is full of temptations.

Pane Fresco offers traditional favourites, as well as a variety of interesting artisanal breads, such as 9-Grain Loaf, Guinness Beer Sour Dough Rye and Fig, Raisin & Walnut Filone. Dough is made from preservative-free, natural ingredients, shaped and molded by hand using old world techniques, and then baked in a European oven, right in front of you.

My sister’s favourite sandwich is the Francese: a generous sandwich of shaved Virginia ham piled high on rustic baguette, spread with Dijon mustard and mayonnaise, and topped with brie cheese and baby greens.

Pane Fresco Francese

I ordered the Slow Braised Beef Brisket Panini that my father raved about. The chef’s focus on flavour and quality ingredients makes the Slow Braised Beef Brisket a showstopper. Chewy, rustic baguette with a pleasing mouth-feel is loaded with thinly shaved, tender beef moistened with a flavourful jus and then topped with crispy onions, brie cheese, horseradish aioli, and baby greens.  It’s definitely the most delectable shaved beef sandwich I have ever had!

It looked so good when it was delivered to my table that I rushed to take the photos, anxious to take the first bite – and I blew the photos. So here is a cell-phone photo I took of a second Slow Braised Beef Brisket Panini that, on another day, I ordered to-go for my son and his monster-sized after-school appetite. What I may be lacking in photography skills, I make up for in the mom department. Ah, but think of the hungry boys we left drooling in our dust at the kiss’n’ride. Sorry guys!

Pane Fresco Slow Braised Beef

But I digress, back to the birthday lunch. My sister and I also shared the seasonally available Panzanella Salad. Beautiful heirloom tomatoes (red, yellow, and green) were perfectly ripe, sweet, and juicy. Light and crunchy garlic parmesan croutons, crisp cucumbers, red onion, and baby arugula were dressed in a well-balanced vinaigrette. It is a sparkling salad.

Pane Fresco Panzanella

Mr. Albanese’s artisanal-bread-making talent shines through again in his pizzas. Varieties range from traditional to innovative. In the Brie and Prosciutto pizza, the salty prosciutto plays against the sweetness of the fig jam, caramelized onions, and light balsamic glaze. Baby arugula adds a punch of pepper. Just a touch of mozzarella and brie cheese keeps things light so that the crust can play the lead role: a crunchy outer layer, sprinkled lightly with a touch of sea salt, sets the stage for the chewy, flavourful interior.

Breakfast is served seven days a week. Oh, wouldn’t I love to spread out a newspaper, sip an Italian coffee, and enjoy a leisurely breakfast of two fresh eggs, extra-thick maple bacon, roasted asparagus, chef’s home fries, toasted baguette, and a fresh fruit garnish that is plated up when you order The Classic. Pain Perdu is the breakfast special on Saturdays. Belgian Waffles with mixed berries, real whipped cream and maple syrup are served on Sundays.

It’s the perfect spot for a quiet breakfast on your own or a nice lunch with someone you care about. I think I may need to celebrate my sister’s birthday more often, say once a month? George, olive ya’ but it’s Pane Fresco’s star-quality Italian home cooking that will keep me coming back for more.

Pane Fresco
414 Locust Street
Burlington, Ontario
L7S 2J1
Telephone:  (905) 333-3388

Monday to Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

View Larger Map

Read More

Paramount Fine Foods Restaurant

Hot off the Olive Press! Paramount Fine Foods restaurant is opening up a second Mississauga location at Erin Mills Town Centre (Erin Mills Parkway and Eglinton Avenue), hopefully sometime in the fall of 2013. Paramount Fine Foods serves Middle Eastern cuisine.

Our first experience with Paramount Fine Foods was at their 1290 Crestlawn Drive, Mississauga location. My husband had just returned from a family visit to Montreal, which always includes fabulous Middle Eastern food. He wanted to find out if Paramount’s food could compete with Montreal standards. We weren’t disappointed.

Compared to the surrounding industrial neighborhood, the elegant interior decor of the Paramount Crestlawn Drive location is a pleasant surprise. The parameter of the room boasts a charcoal grill and bakery counters. Warm woodwork and beautiful chandeliers create an inviting ambiance in the seating area.

Even more pleasant than the decor is the service. Though you order at the cash, the food is delivered to the table quickly and our waitress was friendly and knowledgeable about the restaurant.

The first thing that strutted to our table, warm and puffed up like proud roosters, was a basket of freshly baked pita bread straight from the wood burning oven. Promise me that at least once in your life you will treat yourself to freshly baked Middle Eastern pita, which is thinner and tastier than other pitas.


I had to treat myself to a fresh mango juice because olive mangoes! The fattoush salad is fresh and crisp with romaine lettuce, parsley, red and yellow pepper, tomato slices, and deep fried pita bits in an authentically acidic dressing. We also ordered a bowl of tahina sauce to drizzle on our rice and meat. Olive tahina sauce (try my Grilled Trout with Tahina Sauce and Grilled Lemons).


I ordered the BBQ Beef: two skewers of charcoal grilled striploin beef. My husband ordered the Mixed Grill: skewers of shish taouk (marinated chicken breast), kofta (spiced ground beef), and bbq beef. All of the meat is so tender and flavourful that it is mouthwatering just to recollect. Paramount serves charcoal barbequed, sodium-nitrate-free, grass-fed, Ontario Halal meats prepared in the Paramount Butcher Shop.

Our plates included a small container of hummus or garlic mayonnaise, picked turnip, and picked celery. The fries are good but the rice is even better – nicely seasoned and fluffy.


The Arabic pastries are handmade and baked fresh daily in Paramount’s full bakery. They display them on huge, impressive trays behind the counter.  You can enjoy them in the restaurant or take them home.


My husband was in heaven. He selected a sampling of a few different kinds to share. Delicate layers of crisp pastry, sticky sweet with crunchy nuts.


These little babies, filled with beautiful pistachios nuts, have always been my favourite and they are exquisite.  Don’t they look like hungry baby birds?


The menu is extensive: appetizers, salads, sandwiches, grilled meats and chicken, shawarmas, falafels, Arabic style pizzas made to order and baked in a wood burning oven, fresh fruit juices, and fine pastries. We both agreed that Paramount Fine Foods restaurant is among the best Middle Eastern food we have tasted outside of Montreal. Reasonable prices, pleasant atmosphere, friendly efficient service, and good food. Olive Paramount Fine Foods!

Paramount Fine Foods plans to open in the fall of 2013 at Eglinton Avenue West and Erin Mills Parkway, in Mississauga.

View Larger Map

Check out their website for photos, videos, and other Paramount locations and hours in Mississauga, Hamilton, Toronto, Thornhill, and London:

Read More

The Danish Pastry House: Delightful!

A tip from a reader has helped me unearth a real gem in Port Credit – The Danish Pastry House, home of a wide variety of beautifully handcrafted, authentic Danish pastries and desserts.


Throw out your disappointing grocery store danish. It isn’t worth the calories. Head on over to The Danish Pastry House and experience quality that is far superior.

I am so hungry right now that I can smell the cinnamon wafting up from this photo of a Snegl (Danish for “snail” but what we think of as “danish”).


The Danish Pastry House honours traditional recipes and uses fresh, pure ingredients like imported Danish marzipan and almond paste. Preservative and additive free, pastries are baked fresh daily and never sold as day-olds.

Though I visited The Danish Pastry House a few weeks ago, I am still pining over the pastry I ate. The Chocolate Snegl is my absolute favourite. The chocolate, cinnamon, and remonce (butter and sugar mixture) caramelizes in spots at the edges into chewy decadence. The pastry is flaky and flavoursome and the centre is a soft and luxurious pool of chocolate glaze – waiting for you to dive right in. Olive it!


Just look at the light and flaky layers of pastry, baked from fresh Danish dough with no less than 27 layers. Behold the Apricot Spandauer, filled with almond paste and apricot spread. I love the combination of almonds and apricots.


Unfortunately, one or two of the pastries I bought didn’t make it home for the photo shoot – blame me and my son. Ohhh, they were so good! My photos just don’t do them justice and the pastries got hungry-boy-handled a bit on the way home. Please visit their comprehensive website for great photos of an extensive product line at  (not to be confused with the Danish Pastry House in Medford, Massachusetts on the .com site).

I had the pleasure of meeting the sunny-souled and highly accomplished 2013 Head Pastry Chef, Thea Reinholdt Hansen, who trained in Denmark and graduated with a distinguished Pastry Chef certification. Ms. Reinholdt Hansen has joined The Danish Pastry House for one year, while Owner/President Anita Lauritsen prepares to open their first retail bakery in 2013. What great news for Mississauga!

If I can have only one decadent treat a week, let an exquisite artisanal pastry from The Danish Pastry House be it. Well worth a week of hard training, I’d drive from anywhere in our region to get one. Opening hours are limited so check first before you go.

Update: The Danish Pastry House has moved to Oakville. Check my Grocery/Gourmet Store/Bakeries Directory for location details.

Read More

Adonis Mississauga Opened Today!

Adonis Mississauga opened today and it is every bit as fabulous as the Adonis grocery stores in Montreal. My heart is just a flutterin’! Adonis has pulled out all of the stops for their first Ontario store.  I can’t possibly fit all that olive about Adonis in one post.  And the store was jam packed today so it was difficult to take good photos. Tonight, I will leave you with this.

On your first visit to Adonis, make sure that you buy some Adonis Pita Bread. Adonis Mississauga has an in-store bakery where they bake their own pita bread. Look at it, all puffed up and freshly baked, in the photo below. It is the softest, freshest store-bought pita bread that I have ever tasted. And it’s thin too, so you don’t end up with too much bread in your sandwich. Make sure you look for the Adonis brand because there are several other brands available also.


Next treat yourself to the BBQ Beef Plate. You quite possibly have never tasted Beef Shish Kebab this good. Adonis marinades beef tenderloin and grills it in the store. It is incredibly tender and flavourful. Adonis sells raw, marinated, cubed beef tenderloin (the same beef they use for their BBQ Beef Plate) that you can take home and grill yourself. They also sell raw, wine marinated beef tenderloin. Ooh la la. We will have to try that one.


Sit down in the little bistro seating area and enjoy your dinner. Succulent beef drizzled with tahina sauce, sitting on a bed of rice with vermicelli (Roz bil Shaghria). It comes with delicious sautéed potatoes, which are flecked with fresh coriander, and a choice of salad. I chose a crunchy salad of romaine, fresh peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and fried pita that was dressed with oil, lemon, garlic, parsley, mint, and ground sumac (Fattoush). The plate includes a side of hummus and garlic mayonnaise.

While the focus is on Mediterranean cuisine, Adonis Mississauga also carries products from other cultures. Stay tuned to my blog as I unearth treasure after treasure at Adonis. Mississauga, we are very lucky to have Adonis in our midst.

Adonis Market – Mississauga
1240 Eglinton Avenue West,
Mississauga, Ontario L5V 1N3
Telephone: 905 363 0707
Read More

The Hot Oven’s Orange Chiffon Cake

Look at what the Easter Bunny brought me! A heavenly Orange Chiffon Cake from the Hot Oven Bakery at Cloverdale Mall (for the very reasonable price of $10).

Hot Oven p6

The soft-as-a-cloud cake is drenched in a delicious sugar glaze that is punctuated with bits of chewy orange zest.  The orange flavour is bright and real and balanced nicely by the sugar.

The cake stands pretty on its own but can be dressed up in a couple of ways. It would look lovely with edible flowers or candied violets.  Longo’s carries edible flowers (in the herb section) but were all out of them the day I went.  I picked some pansies from my pot to give you an idea of how pretty the cake would look. The pot however is looking a little bleak.

Hot Oven p1

Imagine it wrapped up in cellophane, tied with colourful ribbon and given as a hostess gift! I think I will bring one, decorated with candied violets (if I can find them), to my church ladies’ spring potluck. Wouldn’t I just be the cat’s meow? A tip of the old Easter bonnet to me for sure.

The cake is so flavourful that it can go easily from plate to mouth without anything accompanying it. My guests served it with orange sherbert which was yummy, especially for kids.  They say that Orange Creamsicle ice cream is good too .

It is oh so delightful served with a dollop of whipped cream and segmented orange chunks that have been dusted with cinnamon. Cara Cara oranges are really sweet and juicy right now and are on sale at Longo’s for 99¢/lb or $2.18/kg.


I have to thank my friend for introducing me to this cake. She has been buying it now for at least 10 years. She is wonderful at putting in the effort to make homemade desserts. But when she doesn’t have time, the Hot Oven’s Orange Chiffon Cake is her go-to-cake because it tastes homemade and yummy. It’s gotten her through many a pinch on her way home from work. There’s nothing else like it that brings her back time and time again.

I am sure that the ladies in the know in south Mississauga have been relying on the Hot Oven Bakery at Cloverdale Mall for years for bridge group, ladies’ luncheons, showers and potlucks. But no matter where you live, it’s worth the drive. The Hot Oven offers a wide range of quality baked goods, including delicious Sunflower Seed Bread ($3.85),


quiches both large ($13.25) and small ($3.25) such as this one, chocked full of broccoli and cheddar in a flaky, buttery crust,

Hot Oven Broc Ched

and fudgy brownies with intense chocolate flavour and real butter icing. It’s calling you.


Tempting, isn’t it? It was so hard to wrap up the rest of the brownies from the Family Brownie Tray ($5.50) and store them in the freezer.

The mac & cheese, lasagna and perogies all looked delicious but I had to stop somewhere!

Hot Oven

The Hot Oven Bakery, located right beside Winners at the south end of Cloverdale Mall, has been in its original location since 1957.  My friend and I have been BFFs for almost as long (not quite). On the morning I went, the bakery was almost empty when I walked in but a line started to form quickly. My friend went on the Thursday before Easter weekend and there was a huge line. You see that sign in the photo to take a number as soon as you arrive? Good advice that you must heed.  But whatever the length of the line, it is definitely worth the wait. The ladies that I spoke to, who have been loyal customers for decades, told me that everything was good.

There are three other Toronto locations that have opened up which are all owned by the same owner. These locations appear on the company website but even though the Cloverdale location has the same owner, it isn’t listed on the website. But don’t worry about that. Just go, take a number and line up the old fashioned way and go home with an armful of delicious home-baked goods made from high quality ingredients and sold at reasonable prices.

Hot Oven Bakery
Cloverdale Mall
250 The East Mall
Etobicoke ON  M9B 3Y8
Regular Hours
Monday – Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:45 p.m.
Saturday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.
Sunday: 12:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Other locations:
177 Roncesvalles Avenue,
Toronto, ON, M6R 2L5
(416) 588-8222
Regular Hours
Monday – Friday: 7am to 7pm
Saturday: 7am to 6pm
Sunday: 9am to 5pm
2974 Bloor Street West,
Etobicoke, ON, M8X 1B9
(416) 236-3629
Regular Hours
Monday – Friday: 7am to 7pm
Saturday: 7am to 6pm
Sunday: 9am to 5pm
Bloor West Village
2226 Bloor Street West,
Toronto, ON, M6S 1N6
(416) 762-3036
Regular Hours
Monday – Friday: 7am to 7pm
Saturday: 7am to 6pm
Sunday: 8am to 5pm
Read More