Breakfast at Café Chartreuse in Collingwood

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Having spent the night at a music festival in Collingwood, my friend and I were seriously famished. We found Café Chartreuse while aimlessly wandering down the street – and what a wonderful discovery we had made! I cannot even begin to emphasize how amazing this restaurant is. I trudged in with a ravenous stomach and left feeling like I was walking on a cloud.

The menu is written on a chalkboard at the back of the restaurant and is subject to change daily depending on what they have in stock, but I am sure that most of the items stay quite similar day to day. Café Chartreuse offers omelettes, pancakes, French-toast, and a selection of pastries for breakfast, and at lunch the menu consists of soup, omelettes, quiche, a variety of sandwiches, as well as a daily special. You order at one end of the counter, move down the line to pay, then choose your seat and eagerly await the arrival of your meal.

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I am not a very big fan of breakfast, but this little café seriously impressed me. I ordered pancakes with home-fries on the side – these pancakes are made with homemade yeast and are served with cherries on top and maple butter on the side. My taste buds were overwhelmed at the amazing flavour and quality of these pancakes, and never having tasted maple butter before I became an instant fan. I do not think I will ever taste better pancakes than these – Café Chartreuse definitely stole my heart. My friend ordered an omelet with home-fries and she was just as pleased with her meal as was I.

Café Chartreuse sells a variety of pastries – be it scones, croissants, cookies (there were oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip when I went), cakes, or muffins. I ordered a chocolate chip cookie while I waited for my food to be prepared – it was full of nuts, oats, and little pieces of chocolate. The food takes a little while to be served, but it is well worth the wait as it is cooked fresh to order. The portions sizes are large and the prices are fair; I dined for under $15.

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There is a dining patio out front of the restaurant, but do take caution as there was a minor irritation of bees attempting to taste our breakfast. Dining inside was a better choice because we had more room on the table for our plates and beverages, and the atmosphere is so homely and comfortable. It feels like you are in someone’s little country house enjoying the comforts of good food and good company.

Café Chartreuse is an absolutely amazing little restaurant that is sure to impress you in every way. Located in the heart of Collingwood at 70 Hurontario Street, Café Chartreuse is the perfect restaurant to relax and indulge in quiet comfort.

[Editor’s note: If you can’t make it to Collingwood, Café Chartreuse’s food is available as fresh frozen prepared meals at Barrie’s Local Foods Mart]

Valerie Colangelo is a writer from Barrie. Read her blog at: www.accordingtovalerie.com and follow her on Twitter at @vcolang

Sixteen Front Casual Fine Dining and Lounge in Orillia

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There is always a place for what I define as “traditional done well” in a restaurant. A dining establishment with impeccable service and a dependable kitchen, a restaurant that warmly welcomes guests of all ages, a restaurant where you can rely on being served a good meal, and Sixteen Front in Orillia fits the bill. This restaurant consistently serves, on average, seven hundred people a week!Chef Marcel Taillefer has been active for many years on the Orillia restaurant scene and he is now firmly ensconced in the Sixteen Front kitchen. He shared with me that he has some interesting plans for the menu in the months to come, including Himalayan Salt Slab cooking. This method of cooking is very fast, provides an aesthetically pleasing presentation while adding a unique depth of flavour to the dishes. While he is enthusiastic about introducing new culinary creations to the menu, longtime customers can be reassured that Chef Marcel remains faithful to them, and will continue to provide his signature dishes including; frogs legs, veal sweetbreads and foie gras.

Darling daughter accompanied me to dinner at Sixteen Front and we were both duly impressed with our server, Adam Hamilton, who stepped in to assist from his usual bar tending duties on this busy night. We ordered from the Barrielicious menu and were pleased with our choices.

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My carpaccio was tasty, the avocado and shrimp tour salad artfully presented, and darling daughter said her steak was perfectly cooked. Those that know me or dine with me will understand when I share with you, that I stepped outside my usual tastes. I was interested to see if white linen service could elevate the lobster poutine to new heights. Yes I ate poutine, and yes it did! Chocolate brownie pizza with fresh fruit and maple cream provided a sweet ending to our meal.

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Eating by candlelight, with the long table cloth draped gently aside my knees is guaranteed to create ambience, and ambience and good service are directly reflected in how I view a meal. Good food is a huge part of the dining experience but these charming additions exude comfort and isn’t comfort one of the reasons we choose a restaurant?

Gracious service and amenities are always welcomed and often forgotten. Artfully placed ambient lighting, fresh flowers, well-spaced tables and well weighted cutlery, these small touches at the table extended to the ladies room too, where I was pleased to find individual cloth hand towels, nice touch, pun intended! Live music is offered Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 7 to 9.

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In conversation Chef Marcel shared that his father built restaurants and his own introduction to the culinary field came as a young lad of eleven, washing dishes.

He spent a number of years working in a family run Greek Restaurant learning hands on techniques, then studied formally at George Brown College in Toronto.

Experiential learning seems to be Chef Marcel’s style; he moved to Bermuda where he successfully owned and operated his own restaurant for five years. There he served the freshest of seafood and developed his interest in crafting meals with combined Asian and French fusion of flavours. In 1997 he was featured in Bon Appetite magazines BBQ issue, recently he was voted Orillia’s Best Chef and he also won the Chopped competition hosted by Casino Rama.

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I was impressed with Chef Marcel Taillefer’s commitment to his guests; repeat customers seemed sincerely appreciative of his work and ask to speak with him table side.

There is integrity to this, with heartfelt handshakes and conversation about the meals before them, customers are content with their time spent at Sixteen Front.

Sixteen Front
16 Front Street North
Orillia ON
L3V 4R5
705-326-3135
www.sixteenfront.com

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets @penelopejmorrow

A Trip to Chelsea Chocolates in Oro-Medonte

Today my inspiration is found in a box of chocolates. The chocolates in question are nestled in a lovely gold box, they were hand formed from the finest Belgian chocolate, and they are locally produced, not 20 minutes from my home. How tasty is that?

When my Editor suggested I check out Chelsea Chocolates for an interview and review, I was quite frankly, thrilled. Chocolate and I are very good friends.

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My taste in chocolates is discriminating. It has to be dark chocolate and it has to be good chocolate. Chelsea Chocolates surpasses my criteria.

I had the opportunity to meet with owner Laurie Thompson for a delightful interview and tour of her factory recently. The rich scent of chocolate met me at the door, and upon entrance, I was thrilled to be surrounded by chocolaty goodness; shelves and showcases of homemade, handmade, designer chocolates and truffles. I started to salivate.

Chelsea Chocolate began locally 18 years ago, when the original owners were looking to retire, the timing proved ideal, as Laurie and her husband were also ready for a change. As she describes it, they jumped off the biggest mountain possible and bought the business. That was three years ago, and while the learning curve was steep, they have expanded their market and are deliciously pleased.

Laurie previously worked in the wine business, so it was a logical transition to introduce ice-wine, spirits and liquors into their family of chocolates. Chelsea Chocolates produces ice wine chocolates for the major Ontario Wineries including; Colio, Hillebrand, Harvest, Hernder, Josephs, Konzelmann Estates, Kittling Ridge, Lailey, Legends, Peller, Peninsula Ridge, Peter Mielzyns, and Rosewood Estates. The Granite Club in Toronto is another large purchaser of Chelsea Chocolates. It is rather exciting that Simcoe’s own Chelsea Chocolates travel widely around our province. Laurie explained the chocolate making process to me; I watched various steps in production, and I was thrilled to nibble samples.

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All chocolate is grown along the equator, then the beans are shipped to Canada, Switzerland and Belgium. Each country has a slightly different method of manufacturing chocolate and this gives it a subtle difference, which impacts on final product. Belgian and Swiss chocolate is known worldwide to be the best quality and Chelsea Chocolate has chosen Belgian chocolate as their variety to work with. Quality is the key word here, as Chelsea Chocolates continues to work in small batch production, rolling their truffles by hand. Molds are a vital component to creating fine chocolates too, as the quality of the mold has a direct impact on the quality of the chocolate. The best molds are made in Montreal and the UK and can vary in price from $5 to $150 for a single mold. The better the mold, the better the shine on the chocolate and that shine is another indicator of quality. Butter, cream, fresh berries and fruits boiled to a paste make the delectable cream fillings, and real mint, orange and lemon oils may also be used. Temperature is a vital component to creating good chocolate. The ideal temperature creates a “bite and snap” reaction when one bites into a good chocolate.

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I am addicted to Chelsea Chocolate; one of my personal favourites is the sweet and salty mix of a salted caramel. Numerous styles and flavours are available in milk, dark and white chocolates; truffles, butter creams, and sugar free chocolates are all offered.

A very unique item Chelsea Chocolates produces is called a “smash cake”. This is a chocolate formed cake shaped shell, with a chocolate hammer alongside, that is to be used to “smash” through said chocolate shell, giving access to a delectable selection of truffles housed inside. Laurie shared how thrilled she was that Mike Holmes, he of “Holmes on Homes” fame, was presented with a smash cake on his final day of filming a local renovation this spring. Another smash cake fan was a local bride, whose wedding was showcased on “Four Weddings Canada”. While flipping TV channels just last night, I serendipitously found that very show and was able to see the wedding guests delight in discovering the goodness inside. How smashing!

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Chelsea Chocolates can be purchased directly from the factory and may also be found locally at: the Royal Victoria Hospital gift shop, Café Fromagerie, Simply Tea and Chocolate and Apple Annie’s in Orillia.

Chelsea Chocolates
3471 Penetanguishene Rd. Oro-Medonte, Ontario, Canada L4M 4Y8
705-725-9210 | phone
705-725-1829 | fax
www.chelseachocolates.com

The factory retail store is open Monday through Friday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Weekends & Holidays 9:00am – 4:00pm.

Written by: Penelope Morrow

Penelope Morrow is a writer, editor and food aficionado from Barrie, follow her tweets
@penelopejmorrow