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Monthly Archives: August 2011

TACOOS!

I have never actually been a fan of the idea of a taco. I do not like beans, not even jelly beans. I sort of came around on the idea after watching Invader Zim and witnessing Gir’s love affair with tacos (as seen below on the tshirt at Hot Topic).  My first taco was had at Beer Bistro. It was a hard taco with kobe beef, and a sprinkling of lettuce and little else. It was amazing. But surely I thought, nothing can top that?

(OK, so I did forgot, I did not like the taco shirt and was jealous of the men’s shirts that featured waffles and cupcakes, two things I hold in much higher regard than tacos)

When I heard that best taco in the city was at Tacos El Asador I was skeptical. But I was game to try it, to at least prove my theory. I was worried about there being any combination of: cheese, sour cream, beans and who knows what else. All I really had to go by were numerous Taco Bell commercials. I ordered a soft shell taco with chicken. And that is what I got. Chicken, some lettuce all wrapped in a plain soft taco. The soft taco itself was not very tasty. It was like eating flour. The chicken was OK, but not much to crow about. Along with our order they put down two bowls. One had jalapenos in it, the other had what I thought was like a plum/soy sauce. I ripped off a piece of soft taco and dipped it… into the spicy and piquant sauce. I was not expecting that. And it did little to help the bland flavour. So I migrated to stealing bites of Brent’s hard shell pork taco instead. He made the better choice. But I might just go back after 2nd best karaoke in the city tonight.

To finish our day off, we stopped by a Mexican grocery store for Mexican Coca Cola. The (real!) sugar got to us really quick, we were giddy and jumpy and just plain silly. Real sugar versus corn syrup and artificial sweeteners really does make the difference taste wise. It was more flavourful and palatable.

 

I have found heaven… stop looking

Heaven of course if you love food. And I do. I do I do I do. I say this because my first verbal reaction to this place was succinctly that I want to marry it. First though I made a face of sheer and utter joy somewhat akin to 😀 but even happier. What is this heavenly place I am raving about? A frozen yogurt shop on Yonge St. And while that may not sound like much, believe me, this place is amazing.I love Yogurt Spoon.

First of all this place is self-serve. You grab a (rather large I must say) cup and get to it. Fill it with whatever you want. They have 8-10 flavours (I can only name 8 off the top of my head). There are two flavours per machine, so you can dispense only one, or you have the option of “mix”, namely the two flavours swirled together. While I was there alas, raspberry was out of order. I had my heart set on raspberry and chocolate (albeit not swirled, two different machines). The cups are large enough that you can feasibly get a dollop of each flavour and TRY THEM ALL!

Hold on, it gets better. You thought 8-10 flavours that you can mix however you like (there is nothing wrong with a little swamp-water froyo). Turn around 180 degrees and there is a topping bar! There are fruits available but a lot more candy, and oddly something called “popping pomegranate” and two other “popping” flavours. I am not that adventurous, maybe next time. Topping-wise there is just as much choice. There is the usual sprinkles, chocolate chips and M&Ms, but they also have peanut butter chips and Reeses Pieces. Aside from peanut butter, there are also Oreo bits, Skor bits, waffle cone bits and rainbow marshmallows. Along with coconut, gummy bears AND CEREAL. They have Reese Puffs and (apparently, I only found out after the fact) Cap’n Crunch cereal! You could, in theory, created a monstrous aberration of a froyo dessert, something of a Frankenstein’s monster of frozen dessert.

Of course you will pay for the monstrosity dearly, not just at the waistline. You see, this place operates like a bulk food store. You pay by the ounce. The more gluttonous you are, the more broke you will be. Well, “broke”. This place is reasonably priced. Slightly cheaper than Cold Stone & Marble Slab (or Yogen Fruz? I don’t know, I’ve never been). Bonus points for having a loyalty card (although they didn’t need it, they have won my heart ten billion times over) that gives you 50% off at the 6th one you buy and $5 off at the 11th, as it would not make that much sense for them to give you one for free. I can just see myself now, leaving with a giant tower of frozen yogurt, teetering precariously, slowly melting while I yell at it to stop dripping on me, a delirious smile spreading across my face. Even without, I still had that smile as I dug into my dessert.

The peach was delicious, not too sweet, slightly tangy. The chocolate was also really good, just the right amount of rich. Alas, the green apple flavour was a little week and lacking that zing you expect with green apple. All in all though, this place is amazing and I wish I could live there. I would eat this stuff morning, noon and night. I do have to go back, I have to try raspberry and of course original flavours.

And as per those of you concerned about the wasitline. All the flavours, except for chocolate and cheesecake (which was also surprisingly delicious, but did not taste like cheesecake) are fat-free. There are two flavours that are also dairy-free. There are plenty of fruit toppings on offer as well, ranging from bananas to peaches to strawberries to… kiwis! Delicious.

It is no wonder that this place was voted best frozen yogurt in the city. Hell, it should be voted BEST THING IN THE CITY, PERIOD.

 

Deep Fried Goodnes

The CNE has rolled into town yet again. Last year’s smash hit, food-wise of course, was deep fried butter balls. Naturally, this year they have brought on a whole slew of deep-fried goodies for the gastronomically inclined. In total I am going to make three trips. Which of course means I will try (at least) 3 different deep-fried treats. Having already been once, I enjoyed some deep-fried Oreos.

Really, I split 3 with my sisters, so I ate one. But it was amazing. The cookie managed to stay structurally intact, and unlike the Twinkie (in Cleveland) the icing did not melt and sink into the surrounding (in this case) cookie. It was really hot at first and tempting so I did manage a few minor burns. But in the time it took to document it, they cooled down nicely. I would highly recommend eating one. Any more and that would be too much.

Up next will be: deep-fried nanaimo bar (if we can find it) and maybe deep-fried brownie either in place of (unfound) nanaimo or as supplementary (if they are small) and then on the final trip it is a toss-up for deep-fried cola or deep-fried PopTarts (or both!) and maybe just maaaybe, deep-fried butter. If I can ever get around the gross factor on eating battered butter.

Unrelated but also up next: Best taco in the city and best frozen yogurt. And a new camera! Better pictures!

NOTE: This year they also feature the (stomach-churning) KrispyKreme burger. I will only eat it, if I can get about 3-4 other people to share it with. There is no way I would be able to keep that bad boy down.

 

Delicious Delicia

Browsing through the categories in the Best Of on BlogTO, I cannot help but notice a few vacancies. There is no best: brownie, tiramisiu OR cake. So therefore I have taken it upon myself to strap on the feedbag and find the best. Or bests. Sometimes it is a tie, as it is for best sweet potato fries (Fresh, according to BlogTO, but I found Fran’s to be just as good, sadly too much time in between to really say for sure).

Contenders thus far:

Best cake: Dimplflmeir Bakery. I have been eating their cake since I started eating solid food. Why is this so? Because the cake is that good. For over 10 years the recipe has remained the same. They also tout using natural spring water in the recipes. And the bread there is also amazing. Alas, I cannot say for certain that it is the best cake because the only other Toronto cake I have eaten is from LaRocca (their cakes are way too sweet for my tastes). This is a category that still remains wide open.

Best tiramisiu: This category also remains open. I have had a few tiramisius so far. What I have found is that I prefer it as a parfait, with a lot of coffee liquer rather than in the layer cake format (which can sometimes be rather dry). Pizzeria Libretto and a fancy italian restaurant somewhere downtown are tied for first right now.

Best brownie: my favourite category. Sadly the Amish brownie I ate in Shipshewana, Indiana does nto count in this case because it was not in Toronto. When I worked at Second Cup I regularly gorged myself on Amore brownies which were pretty good, but slightly dense and had to be eaten in small amounts. But I don’t think it should count as a contender because it was from a giant company, not a little shop. Right now Delicia, a portugeuse bakery on Lakeshore Blvd. is in the lead for best brownie. As well as for best cannoli (I have not had BlogTO’s pick yet, even though it is a stones-throw from my house) which had chocolate cream in it and just the slightest hint of a citrusy zing. The brownie was moist and rich and the icing on top was as thick as my thumb. They also get bonus points for having walnuts on top. Would’ve been nice if there were some inside as well. Who knows, maybe the next place I go to will have walnuts.

NOTE: Delicia’s tiramisiu also pictured here, not so good. Really rather dry and lacking in the coffee flavour.

 

Fran’s Restaurant

Fran’s is listed as third best 24-hr restaurant in Toronto. But that is not why we went. Camilla was craving a good milkshake and Fran’s happened to be the first that popped up in a Google search for best milkshake in Toronto. It was decided, we would go on a (massive) shopping spree and treat ourselves to milkshakes.

What we did not anticipate however was just how hungry five hours of shopping can make a person. We arrived at Fran’s famished and tired. The service was fast and friendly. The atmosphere was fun and not at all cheesey, how I had originally pictured it. The music could have been better, it was mildly irritating to listen to easy rock from the 90s but everything else more than made up for it. We ordered sirloin beef sliders and sweet potato fries. The sliders were OK, just sirloin beef between two buns with onions. The sweet potato fries were amazing however. I really think we have a contender for best sweet potato fries in the city. They were not too crispy or oily, they had not been overly fried. The sauce that went with them was also very delicious, it was like garlic-y mayonnaise.  After we paid the bill we sat around while they finished their milkshakes. I did not order one because I have a sordid history with milkshakes (one made me sick a long time ago).  I did have a sip and it was pretty good, but it did not hold a candle to Ed’s Real Scoop.

It was nice that it was not insanely busy given it was 10pm and also that no one came by to stare us down while we lounged around for a while after. No one walked by and cleared their throat, or cleaned tables nearby. It would be interesting to go back again at 2 or 3am.

 

Food Baby

There seems to be a backlog of places I have been to. So here they all are:

Pizzeria Libretto:
The pizza was delicious. We happened to go there during Summerlicious so we split a prix fixe dinner. For $25 we got an appetizer, a salad (which I did not care for, it was gross), a pizza and dessert! The pizza we ordered had hot peppers on it, which I was wary of eating given I only recently came around on eating spicy food. But it was not an overkill. There were only a few and it was delicious and just the right amount of spicy. The appetizer, we had no idea what it was and the name did not indicate anything as to what it consisted of. Dessert was a delicious tiramisiu presented moreso as a parfait, which left us scraping every last bit from the bottom of the glass. My favourite part has got to be the fact that with the bill came a postcard featuring a European street. It was so cute and it made me smile.
NOTE: They are so popular they are opening a second location on the Danforth.

And if the tiramisiu was not enough, we still went to the Best Portugeuse Custard Tarts on the way home:

Nova Era Bakery:
It was the perfect finish to a nice day of fooding. The tarts were reasonably priced, so much so that it was my treat! I had a strawberry tart and Brent had the custard tart. They were both delicious and it was nice that they were small. Alas, mine proved much harder to eat given it had two giants strawberries in it. The custard tart did lend itself to easier eating, a definite plus. The tart itself does not look too appetizing, it looks like the baker got lazy or ran out of ideas and decided to just make a plain tart, but when you bite into it, mmm… custard. The other good point is that they are not overly sweet like other tarts (butter, chocolate etc…).

Dolce Gelato:
A small dessert shop located on College in the heart of Little Italy with great service. And even better gelato!! It was creamy and very flavourful and did not give me a stomachache from being too sweet or heavy. It did melt a little faster than regular ice cream. I went back again to their second location on the Danforth and tried the lemon one this time. It was perfect, not too sour but not loaded with sugar, like lemonade… but with a spoon.

Allen’s:
This quaint bar on the Danforth was voted best wings in the city, so on our way to Taste of the Danforth (we were early, setup was still happening) we stopped in for a bite and a pint. The wings were the best I have had thus far, except for the originals in Buffalo. They were really saucy and just the right amount of spicy. But I cannot say that I care for the blue cheese sauce. I have tried it multiple times and I still do not like it. It makes the wings taste funny.

Now that I am caught up, here are a few more. These were all covered yesterday in a 4hour walk there and back. My legs hurt today. A lot.

Dark Horse Espresso:
Voted best coffee in the city/best coffee house (due to the great wireless). While we did not actually test out the wireless, the cafe itself had an OK atmosphere, a few too many hipsters though. But they had chairs outside, which if we were not on our way to a much-anticipated lunch, I would’ve gladly partaken in some sitting and people watching. The iced latte was made with really high-quality espresso. I say so because it needed very little sugar. Some coffees are not good unless you add a lot of sugar, other espressos taste burnt (I am not going to name names, Second Cup). This espresso had a strong flavour with just the slighest undercurrent of nuttiness. OK, no more coffee snobbery from me. It was yummy.

Leslieville Cheese Market:
After 2 hours of walking, including walking past their second location (we were not hungry enough and I had my coffee keeping me occupied) we got there. After two mild heart breaks (they were out of cheddar |& bacon sandwiches and also gruyere & ham) I finally decided on provolone & summer beef sausage, while Brent had the white mozzarella with mustard and something else, I forget. His was better. No wonder it was called The Classic. Can’t win them all. Overall, still a very good grilled cheese and they got bonus points for making their own (also delicious) bread. At first I was worried I might get served Dempster’s square bread. It does not make for good grilled cheese, at all.

Bobbette & Belle:
They came in 7th in the best cupcake category. Now I have eaten a lot of cupcakes in the city and quite frankly, there are a few other bakeries that should be higher than this one on the list. Dessert Lady (which, unjustly, is not even on the list) should be above it, as should Swirls and Prairie Girl. Regardless, pros: the cupcake itself was made with real vanilla as opposed to artificial flavouring, the service was good, the bakery itself is a nice place to sit down and cons: the buttercream icing was too much. Too heavy and not enough caramel flavour. I had wanted the lemon cupcake with lemon icing but they were sold out 😦

Ed’s Real Scoop:
Voted best ice cream in the city (recently in Toronto Life, and in previous years in various publications) and best milkshake! Two in one! How could we resist?! Brent opted for the milkshake, going with the burnt marshmallow flavour (recommended as best ice cream) and it was pretty good, it was thick and tasty. But it was small sized and kind of expensive. I went with the mercury espresso ice cream after reading on their website that they buy espresso from Mercury Espresso Bar just down the street and use it to make the ice cream. You can taste the difference when it is made with real and very good coffee. Even Brent pointed out that he liked it more than he would’ve expected to (not being a coffee fan, he made a face when he sipped my iced latte from Dark Horse).

       

Brick Street Bakery:
Best bread in Toronto, we went with the recommendation: sun dried tomato bread. It was a good choice. I was eating it on it’s own with nothing on it. Save for spitting out large tomato bits, they could’ve been a bit smaller so I would not have to taste them. But that’s just my dislike of tomatos.

UP NEXT: yet another attempt at Zoot’s (one of best cafes), backup would be the newly voted best pizza slice (no longer Bitondo’s, now it’s King Pizza on Bloor near Dufferin).

 

Yummy Stuff

Finally stopped in at Yummy Stuff on Queen near Ronces for a delicious cupcake. I had been meaning to go there since at the very least, early spring. I always had some excuse. Not this time. I caved and went in. And man-alive am I glad I did. This may very well be my favourite cupcake shop in the city. I can see why it was voted as one of the best in the city. What caught my eye initially was the Ferrero Rocher cupcake (with a hazelnut ganache… I wish I knew what ganache was) but then my heart skipped a beat when I laid eyes on the wonder that was/is… the Smores Cupcake. The topping (marshmallow whip) was as big as the cupcake itself! My eyes nearly bugged out of my head. Thankfully they also sell mini cupcakes, so I bought one just to avoid the disaster of showing up at Brent’s house with an empty box and crumbs on my face. When I (finally) got to his house we tore into it. As I peeled back the paper, I saw that there was graham cracker at the base of the chocolate cupcake! It made me smile. As we got towards the middle we found another fun little surprise, there was a piece of milk chocolate atop the graham cracker! It was the most fun cupcake to eat because I had to almost bite it sideways and we both ended up with marshmallow on our noses and chocolate crumbs on our chins. It was hilarious. The cupcake was good on many accounts. The marshmallow topping was a nice change from the usual icing (that is sometimes too sweet) and the cake was very light. The graham cracker and chocolate in the middle were also nice touches. And of course, it was delicious and did not give me a stomachache. Two thumbs up.

The mini cupcake was also delicious. It was vanilla cake with raspberries in it and raspberry icing on top. And fun to eat in two bites while walking down Queen St. 😉
Not to mention reasonably priced. Delicious cupcakes + low prices= my idea of heaven.

I have to go back to try the Ferrero Rocher one. It has been days and I cannot stop thinking about it.

Graham cracker base

Up next: best grilled cheese, best ice cream/milkshake (Ed’s Real Scoop) and one more cupcake shop, all in Leslieville.

 
 
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