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But First Dessert- Maybe Not

But First Dessert- Maybe Not

I had seen images on Instagram of a new cafe in the Distillery District that served mini donuts with different toppings. This was in the summer, eventually we got to it on my list. We wandered up and down the lane-way, did we have the address wrong? We looked at the legend map. I looked at my phone. We were in the right place, had we just walked right by it? After some more searching, we found a post on their Instagram that they were closing up shop and would reopen in the west end in 2020. Could’ve put that on the website. I was browsing the menu, salivating over the idea of mini donuts with salted caramel and chocolate.

At least dinner was nearby. I had seen Sukhothai on a list of essential Toronto eateries and they were known for their padthai. I remember not being a fan of either thai food or padthai. It’s the coconut milk I don’t like. Or so I thought. We started with an order of the chicken satay skewers and wouldn’t you know it, they were delicious! They were coated in coconut milk and that made them so much better. I had the cashew shrimps and Brent had the padthai. He got his spicy I got mine regular. Even still it was kind of on the spicy side, but in a good way. We traded halfway and I quickly figured out that the padthai was better if you avoided the boiled beef.

It was amazing how many people came in to pick-up to-go orders during the course of our dinner. When we weren’t commenting on that, we eavesdropped on the second date two tables over. It was awkward and I disliked them both. It was also of note that last year around the same time we had eaten next door at Aviary brewpub BUT this year it was our second outing of the year. We should have planned better.

With that we had our new first place winner. (Last year we decided Actinolite was number one- no contest).

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

New Year, New Fooding

The new year of fooding started out with a debate about what exactly a panini is. I thought it had to be grilled/pressed. Turns out it just means sandwich. We had gotten one of each at Forno Cultura. What I thought was lotsa cheese turned out to be egg in my rosemary flatbread with meat. There was still cheese in there, but not nearly as much as I had been expecting. I only had a few bites of Brent’s sandwich and promptly handed it back to him. It was alright but I preferred the warm flat sandwich versus the sub.  It was nothing I would crave or go back for, especially given how hard it was to find in the underground PATH. At least our first stop had been to Dineen Coffee, voted best cafe. It was packed which makes sense given the accolades. We each had a latte, and easily it was the best vanilla latte I’ve ever had, so creamy and smooth and not overly sweet.

For dessert we went to Butter Bakers in search of the city’s best danish. Did they deliver? Yup. Bonus points for the small size, and mega-bonus points for the fresh fruit and custard combo (versus the usual fruits in sweet sticky jam that gets all over everything). The only let-down was the chocolate crinkle cookie that was just too dense and hard for my liking.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Leaving It Up To (20-Sided) Fate

Leaving It Up To (20-Sided) Fate

What better way to spend a Thursday night when it’s snowy and cold than eating warm, comforting ramen and then heading out to a nerd bar?

Kinton Ramen had been voted best ramen and I figured you can’t really go wrong with something so simple: broth, noodles, some other stuff. I was wrong. The chicken was rubbery and taht really detracted from an otherwise alright bowl. I did get kind of tired and frustrated towards the end, fishing around for noodles. The best part of the dish was by far the woodear mushrooms I had as an add-in, second place went to the broth itself. Except when it came time to sipping an awkward wooden-ladle-ful. On it’s own it was a touch too salty and really it worked better as an accompaniment to the rest.

Bellies only half full (but at least very warm) we set off for Storm Crow Manor. The place had been on my radar for a while. First, because it was supposed to be the new Bar Volo. Then when that didn’t happen, I was curious to see what was taking so long with all that construction. It was a geeky bar. That won’t last, we thought. Turns out we wrong, so wrong that we were now going there. And the place was packed, we got one of the last few tables left. Over the summer I had seen a BlogTO post that they had two options: 1) roll the dice to determine what shot you will drink and 2) build a burger based on dice rolls. Thankfully (?) it was a 20-sided dice.

As we were shown to our table, the lady told us feel free to walk around check out all the rooms. We were in the Mary Shelley room, aka not the Twin Peaks room aka one of the few things I was interested in. I rolled the dice and got a 16, our server knew what it was without reading the menu: Absolut mandarin and orange juice. Yes please! I was very happy I didn’t get something with Jagermeister or hot sauce. Up next Brent had a dungeon burger (I just got the name reference now as I was writing this, it’s a D&D dice!). His burger started out great with a potato bun. Except then it was a veggie patty. And vegan cheese. And mayo, BBQ sauce and aioli?! That’s double mayonnaise! His side turned out to be a Caesar salad. We joked about the kitchen staff being like does this guy know that salad isn’t vegan? The burger was surprisingly good, way better than expected. We also split what was supposed to be a mini order of nachos for one, except it wasn’t. It was enormous. They have a brilliant system though. You can opt for having some guacamole on the side! Topping-less chips saved! So worth the extra cost.

It was over the course of this second dinner that we conceived of our most brilliant idea: a pop-up restaurant themed around the sketch show I Think You Should Leave.
After dinner we walked through the house and looked at all the rooms. Unfortunately the Twin Peaks room was closed for a private event, all I saw were the red velvet ropes and the tiled floor.

I could see us going back there again for drinks.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Well That Was Fun!

Well That Was Fun!

At this point in the year I really cannot remember why Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto was on the list. I can’t even tell if it was my list or Brent’s. Brent decided on this place for his birthday lunch. It was a few weeks before we got confirmation of a reserved table- of which they only had 3. I had no clue what we were in for, so few tables?! Would we be forced to interact with people? Would we hear everything??

The restaurant was located in the Japanese cultural centre: that should have been a clue. We were led through a beautiful archway complete with a small waterfall and garden-like area and down a hallway… to our own private dining room! At first I was worried it would be awkward, just us and the server? He was more of a server actually, he taught us a little bit about Japanese culture as well.

All told we had a blast. It was a memorable dining experience. It never seemed to drag on as some tasting menus can seem to at times. We got to try a lot of new foods that we may not have otherwise tried if we had seen them on the menu. When I think of lotus I picture it borderline setting off my fear of holes (I can never remember what it is called and I sometimes Google it EXCEPT the first results are images, as if to confirm if you  have it- WHO DOES THAT?!). Meaning odds are, I would probably never order it. Having tried it now, meh I don’t think I really missed out on much. Overall the dishes were well-made and we got to try a wide variety but nothing was blow-away. The miso soup was borderline as was the first course.

It was a really fun experience and it’s a hidden gem in Toronto.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Fooding

 

Aloette is French for Disappointing*

Aloette is French for Disappointing*

*I am well aware I gave away the ending.

I went into our odd-hour lunch (3pm is neither lunch nor dinner) at Aloette with medium-low expectations based on our experience at Alobar. If only I knew how wrong I was. I am actually a little bit impressed with just how below-expectation Aloette was! Seriously! Across the board everything was subpar. The cocktails barely saved it. The bread was alright.

To start we had the hamachi sashimi. We were presented with a bowl and a spoon. Just one, so we could serve ourselves. It was a confused dish. The fish, the avocado and what was supposed to be salsa verde (but was really just flavourless green goop) did not go together at all. The fish was underneath it all but had taken in none of the flavour. The avocado, though warm and salted, seemed like it was tossed in just because, more of an after-thought.

The potato gnocchi looked good but all I could taste was Parmesan cheese. With a cheese that expensive and that rich in flavour, a little goes a long way. Even the pieces with little cheese had soaked it up from their mates. Brent said the bacon, which I avoided as if I needed any more umami flavour, was chewy. The fried chicken looked and sounded promising. Yuzu and honey! Except the lettuce was served on the side: were we supposed to make a salad of it? Wrap the chicken in it? I ate just the chicken. Which was not that good. I doused it in hot sauce and that helped a little. The best (though so few) bites were the ones with the yuzu-honey combination! Why was it just a little tiny sprinkling?! Why didn’t it get the Parmesan treatment?! Pile it on!

Brent ordered the octopus, maybe that would save our lunch. The octopus at Alobar had been good. Nope. It was bland and tasteless. It was on a par with the romanesco in the dish (read: broccoli!). At least I can cross that one off the 1000 foods list?

The award for most lackluster, most disappointing meal goes to…. Aloette! I don’t even feel the need to wait until the end of the year.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2019 in 1001 Foods, Fooding

 

I Guess I’ll Just Title This BURGERS

I Guess I’ll Just Title This BURGERS

Early on I was not good about making notes. I would just message Brent with my “I want to eat here” demands. Sometimes I may say why. Sometimes I would just send a drool emoticon. And so we found ourselves one Wednesday evening, puzzling over why I had said we should go to Ozzy’s Burgers in Kensington. My guess was either it was on a burger list or I had seen it on Instagram. Maybe known for their chicken sandwich?

We ordered one burger (that inexplicably had a fried egg on top) and one chicken burger. Brent had tried to order cajun fries but when the lady asked if he wanted to make a combo, she inadvertently turned our cajun fries into regular. The chicken burger won hands down. The regular burger was good in some bites, bad in others. It tasted like real good, high-qualty meat, but was not seasoned that well. I absolutely hated that there was egg yolk running out of it and onto the fries. The fries, while not cajun spiced, where still pretty damn good fries.

On the way home we stopped in at Eataly. I had gone earlier in the day and now we went back. I wanted to get cannoli for dessert and Brent wanted to see the birroteca. The upstairs was crammed. While Brent waited for his slices of pizza, I wandered over to see about getting an aperol spritz from the bar. Everyone around me in the marketplace had one and it made me want one. Alas, I found out that the line parallel to the pizza one was the bar line. And it was moving even more slowly. This would have to wait, as would all of the restaurants. The lines to get in were huge. The birroteca also stocked regular Indie Ale House brews, not just the four made specially for Eataly. We could have had a table at the birroteca but I wanted to go home to my ciders and eat my cannoli. The cannolis were ok, a little over-baked. The pistachio one was meh. The sweet goat cream one was good but what made it stand out was the sour cherries we had it dipped in. It’s too bad a jar of those costs $40 at Eataly. On my first trip I had seen mini pannetone cakes, and now I could not find them for the life of me. I’m not sure if they all sold out (mini=cute) or if because they had been at eye-level they were now being blocked from my view by the busy crowds?

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2019 in Fooding

 

Canadian Bookender: Day 4

Canadian Bookender: Day 4

Sun. Nov. 24, 2019:
Port Hawksbury, Nova Scotia to Toronto:

I woke up feeling groggy and sad. The bed was a small comfort, making it harder to get up. I had a few sips of iced coffee left but I would still need coffee. We stopped at a gas station so I too could refuel. We drove to Blue Mountains, NS to see the farm owned by Brent’s great aunt and to see the Presbyterian church. We were also on the lookout for a swimming hole, Brent’s grandpa’s favourite one. It was fun trying to guess which spot it was. We walked into the church but the service was about to begin so it was really awkward, we had walked in looked around and left. We double-backed to where the swimming hole may have been to get a better look. On one side was a pool turning into a river and on the other side of the road it had become a full-on waterfall. It was all very pretty and I was happy to have my camera out. We drove to New Glasgow to visit Brent’s great aunt who couldn’t make it to our wedding. It was so nice to meet her and hear stories about the family and growing up in Nova Scotia.

We still had one more stop before the airport: The Bay of Fundy. I was getting hungry in the car, we hadn’t eaten since lunch the previous day, subsisting solely on cowboy cookies. But we had places to be and things to see. We were scheduled to get to Bay of Fundy at peak low tide. I was worrying because it was already starting to get dark. New Brunswick! We had to drive through Moncton to get around the bay and the river and there weren’t many bridges across. We could see that the tide was low, the muddy banks of the river were exposed.

The visitors centre was closed for the season but there were other cars in the parking lot. We walked over to the lookout points and stared at the ocean floor down below. There was a sign by the Flowerpots lookout that said using the stairs was at your own risk. But the stairs were blocked. How could I use them? I commented on this and the other group there laughed and said: same. One of the guys hopped over the barrier and started down the stairs. We were all ready to follow suit when he shouted that the rest of the stairs had been folded back and you couldn’t make it all the way down. Except there was a lady down there! I wish I had shouted: how did you get down there?! Even still, if we had gone down there, we wouldn’t have had much time. We left 10 minutes before the max cut-off. Plus, I’d been spared a stair climb. And we had to come back again to see it at high tide to get a real sense of it.

We filled up the car and dropped it off. We were returning it after-hours so Brent had to put the keys in a slot on the garage door. It was funny to hear the thunk as they fell to the garage floor, there wasn’t even a box for them to fall into. We tried to order a Lyft or an Uber, the thinking being that it would be faster than a cab. Except both of those are unavailable in Moncton. The cab arrived soon after. The drive was short but so awkward. The cabbie kept saying inappropriate things about people in his town mooching off of welfare and we were both just like uuhhhh. The airport was tiny but at least the Tim Horton’s was full-service and it was in an area with a small bar. I devoured the turkey grilled cheese, leaving barely any crumbs. Brent ordered two beers and pretended one was for me. Little did he realize I might like the one that was made with juice and I ended up having some. But what I really wanted was tea: my beloved apple cinnamon tea. Brent went back for another Pumphouse Brewery beer and this time it came in a bottle. When he asked for the cap the lady gave him two. Just in case I had two fridges. The blueberry beer wasn’t as good as the one that was half juice. It was making me kind of regret having chosen Tide & Boar over Pumphouse on our first night. On the flight I finished Trick Mirror. I made it maybe 10 pages, maybe not even, into Heartburn and I had to quit. It was so dated. So instead I listened to podcasts the whole way home. The guy in the row in front of me had tried to order two beers but his card didn’t go through. The flight attendant offered him the whole can of soda. I sat there eagerly awaiting a whole can of Sprite, no such luck.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

 
 
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