The Gratitude Tea Returns

In a few short weeks, The Gratitude Tea, an annual fundraising event I organize with my sister and close friends will be serving scones, sandwiches and all good things that a high tea requires. Come for the tea, stay for the kind words of gratitude shared by guests.

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Cupcake Camp Toronto 2010

Seriously, what makes you happier than a cupcake? Okay, a few things but the cupcake I’m sure ranks high on most people’s lists of stuff they like.

Enter Cupcake Camp. A meet-up for cupcake fanatics, makers and bakers and shakers in the cupcake-making industry. Based on the BarCamp/DemoCamp style of conference, Cupcake Camp allows cupcake entrepreneurs and hobbyists the chance to showcase their sweet creations to the eager samplers of Toronto.

Traditional cupcakes like the vanilla, chocolate, red velvet and mint chocolate variety were available for sampling but interestingly enough people went to the extreme with some flavours. Elvis cupcakes in particular were all the rage. There were at least three different cupcakes that featured the banana-peanut butter combo that the King made so famous and one even had bacon on it! Speaking of bacon, there were three kinds of cupcakes that included bacon. I can’t say that I’m a big fan of meat with my sweets but it was worth trying out.

There were edible gold cupcakes, pear and green tea, strawberry daiquiri, orange creamsicle, black forest flavoured ones among the 50 or more varieties they had to try.

The most creative had to be the cupcakes in the flower pots, with crumbs on top to look like dirt, a flower sticking out and gummy worms for added realism. My favourite of the day though, was the cheeseburger cupcake that looked so much like an actual hamburger you would think there was meat in it.

If you ever want to sample more cupcakes than you can imagine, then find a way to get yourself to Cupcake Camp Toronto 2011!

The Fast Food Connection to Music

I have no proof for my Whopper theory, but I have a sneaking suspicion “Carry Out”, the new collaboration from Timbaland and Justin Timberlake is sponsored by Burger King. If it isn’t then BK should be paying the two artists for inspiring people to run to their local fast food joint.

The song is in reference to fast food but if you listen to the lyrics there is one line that suggests maybe Burger King had a hand in the creation of this song. I could be completely wrong but the lyric “have it your way” is blatantly obvious that they are referencing Burger King’s slogan. However, the song is about fast food and they also mention IHOP which makes me wonder if they were incorporating BK’s slogan because it fits in nicely with the theme of servicing a girl they like.

This isn’t the first time Timberlake has had ties to fast food. The song “I’m Lovin’ It” was commissioned by McDonald’s to compliment their ad campaign also of the same name. Along with saying, ‘I’m lovin’ it’ several times in the chorus Timberlake sang the famous jingle ‘ba da ba ba ba…I’m lovin’ it”.

The video is not set in a McDonald’s, nor do you see signs of the restaurant but Timberlake sings about how “you deserve to get down, you’ve been working hard all week, just trying to make some money” which can be interpreted for you’ve been working hard you deserve a break you deserve to go to Mickey D’s?

Whether or not these videos/songs have any affect on if you go to their restaurants one thing is for certain and that is by the end of listening and/or watching you will probably feel a lot hungrier.

Cupcake Heaven In Paris

Checking out the selection of goodies!

Mmm delicious cupcakes. What comes to mind when you think of that creamy frosting, chewy goodness and sweet flavour? I think heaven and I think I found exactly that in Paris. Toronto has its fair share of cupcake shops but how does Berko of Paris compare to T.O.’s finest? They rank pretty high in my books. Thanks to a cream cheese-like frosting, the cupcakes at Berko were extra sweet and with flavours like Crème Brûlée, Mascarpone Tiramisu and Praliné Cœur de Nutella, how can you go wrong? Not only do these cupcakes have french flair, (Cœur de Lion cream cheese, Poire caramel chocolat noisette) they are also made with the finest local ingredients.

We went to the location at 23 rue Rambuteau. Actually we stumbled upon it quite accidentally. After taking in the modern art at The Pompidou we were walking down rue Rambuteau and saw an amazingly decorated cake in the window and a sign that read “cream cheese cupcakes.” Naturally, that got my attention and I decided to walk in. Upon entering I was stunned to see the 40 or more choices of cupcakes in the window.

Now how to decide? Chocolate isn’t just chocolate in this store. Do you want dark chocolate, white chocolate, Nutella, chocolate chip, chocolat noisette? I went with the old standard, OREO and white chocolate raspberry…yummm!

To those cupcake diehards who think they’ve tried it all, I dare you to try one from Berko. Next time you are in the Paris area, visit one of their locations, 23 rue Rambuteau or 31 rue Lepic. They are open Tuesday to Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

My choice: raspberry and white chocolate.

I'm happy as a clam with my purchases!

Expressing Gratitude for a Good Cause

 

In the spirit of Christmas, giving thanks and getting together on a Sunday afternoon for a high tea, The Gratitude Tea is a charity fundraiser that promises to warm your heart, satisfy your taste buds and inspire the most empowered of women. A cause that is very close to me, the Gratitude Tea was started in 2006 by my classmates at the time who organized the event as part of the school curriculum. My mom was my guest in 2006 and liked it so much that she considered organizing a Gratitude Tea again the following year. Nothing was ever planned, so after her passing in August I decided to bring back the Gratitude Tea with the help of my friends.

Introducing the Gratitude Tea 2.0 featuring food catered by George, in an exlusive setting, the private women’s club Verity with more auction items but with just as many Oprah-like inspirational moments. I’m so excited to be planning an event with close friends that is centred around such a positive message. The idea of a Gratitude Tea is to bring someone you are thankful for having in your life and to share, if you so desire something about them with everyone else in the room.

If you have ever wanted to tell someone how thankful you are for having them in your life, then this is the perfect outlet for you. At the 2006 event I spoke to everyone about how my mom played such a major role in my life and how truly grateful I was for everything she did for my sister and I. I have to say, that was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had and am glad I got to share that with her before she passed.

Also on board is Dress for Success, the Toronto chapter. We chose this charity because of what great things they are doing to help women get back on their feet, land a job and be self-sufficient so they can support themseleves and their families. Dress for Success offers employment assistance as well as professional attire, including: shoes, bags and jewellery so women can look their best for job interviews and the work place. We are also asking guests of The Gratitude Tea to bring in any gently used dress clothing to donate to the cause.

Because the event is so close to Christmas, the theme is a sugarplum affair, so there will plenty of holiday cheer and auction items that will be good for any present or stocking stuffer. Thanks to Blowdry Lounge, Gee Beauty, Flip Video Canada, RIM, the Raptors, Ed’s Real Scoop, the Nail Studio, the Rebel House and others for helping us out.

For info about the event visit www.gratitudetea.com 

Kensington Alive With Culture

People talk about how diverse Toronto is, after all it does have the world’s largest multi-cultural population. I have been to Little Italy, Greek Town and China Town, but rarely do I experience these cultures mixed together at the same time. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Kensington Market, I experienced something I do not see very often…a perfect cross section of Toronto. The streets of the Market were closed off to traffic for Pedestrian Sundays, a street festival in Kensington Market on every last sunday of the month in the summer. How great is this idea?! Kensington is already alive with culture, so why not shut down the streets, throw in some live drumming, accoustic guitar performances, a giant scrabble game, culinary treats from local vendors and a fashion show.

Every ethnic culture was represented. Babies in strollers mixed with belly dancers, while young girls danced to calypso music and a three-year old boy enjoyed a live band performance. 

I always thought that even though we are a diverse city that different cultures only celebrated their own heritage in their part of the city, like Corso Italia or Taste of the Danforth. This however was truly a tossed salad of many different cultures coming together to enjoy a beautiful day in downtown Toronto. That’s what I think makes Toronto so great, is that everyone can get along peacefully, when we are celebrating different cultures at one time.

I may have found the best value meal in the city

Last night at my monthy “Thirsty Thursday” young PR professionals meetup, I ordered what may be the best bang for your buck meal in all of Toronto. Not only was my meal very inexpensive, but everything on the menu was reasonably priced. Not since my days in Waterloo at Mel’s Diner have I found dirt cheap food options with actually good tasting food.

I was so impressed with my stuffed french toast, which included ham and melted cheese between two thick slices of french toast along with a side of home fries and a side salad with balsamic vinegar, all for the very affordable price of $4.50! Red Room was the name of the restaurant/bar that we met at last night, a place frequented by many students. If you are ever looking for some late night eats, with many options like pad thai, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, vegetarian options and more, this place is worth checking out because the kitchen is open till 2:00 a.m. on the weekends.