French Fabulousness: Brunch with Maman

Photo Credit: Marlee Maclean

A taste of Provence in Toronto’s financial district.

You may not expect to find a cozy corner of southern France in the heart of Toronto’s busy financial district, but the newly opened Maman Toronto is just that. The bakery café features the family-inspired classic cuisine of Michelin star chef Armand Arnal, of La Chassagnette in southern France and the original Maman in New York.

We asked Armand Arnal about life as a Michelin chef, his best brunch tips when you’re entertaining at home … and what he likes for breakfast in bed.

 

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Located in the upper food court of First Canadian Place, Maman has the rustic charm of a bakery café in the Provencal countryside, with artful floral bouquets, mismatched blue and white dishes, chalkboard menu boards and those lovely, long harvest communal tables.

 

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The evolving, locally sourced menu includes a large assortment of artisanal breads, beautiful farm-fresh salads, soups, quiches and sandwiches. Try the deliciously decadent croque ‘maman’ with Parisian ham, cheese & béchamel sauce ($7.50), the egg salad sandwich with dill & avocado on brioche ($6) or the super savoury red peppers & goat cheese quiche ($6.50). And for what just might be the perfect light summer fare, load up on the crunchy arugula and zucchini salad. (Click here to find out how to make it at home.)

 

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When it comes to dessert, now may be the time to say yes to your sweet tooth. Maman’s famous chocolate chunk cookie ($3.50) is simply not to be missed. Perfectly crispy on the outside with a soft melting interior, the top-secret family recipe combines French chocolate, macadamias, almonds and walnuts. Magnifique.

 

cookies-Photo & video credit: Michael Bates

 Click through for the recipe for Maman’s Crunchy Arugula & Zucchini Salad

1_MG_5431Maman’s Crunchy Arugula & Zucchini Salad

Makes 4 servings

6 cups of arugula, washed & dried
4 medium green zucchini
1/4 cup fresh oregano, julienned
1/2 cup olive oil
12 ounces feta cheese 1/2 inch, diced in cubes
3/4 cup toasted corn nuts (unsalted)
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of dried oregano

Dressing

1 tsp of honey
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic – crushed

Wash and dry the zucchini, leaving the skin on and slice in 3/4 inch cubes. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper & dried oregano together in a bowl.

On a cookie sheet, place in the oven and roast at 360 degrees for 6 to 8 min until zucchini is slightly soft to the touch – not all the way through. Allow to cool.

In a large salad bowl, combine the arugula, feta cheese & zucchini and fresh oregano.

In a blender on low speed (or by hand) crush the corn nuts into small pieces. Do not over crush – you still want texture and now a powder consistency.  Sprinkle over the salad.

In a small bowl, mix together honey, vinegar, dijon & olive oil until the honey & salt has dissolved. Stir in the garlic.

Drizzle enough vinaigrette to coat the greens lightly and toss well. Serve immediately.