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Monthly Archives: March 2012

By Proxy I Ate Some Carrots

Yesterday was my sister’s birthday so to celebrate we were going to go to Carole’s Cafe in Yorkville for some cheescake, given both my sisters have had as of late cravings for cheesecake. I was going to meet Camilla beforehand so we could squeeze in a little shopping and we decided to do lunch as well… at the Gallery Grill at Hart House because it conveniently fit into the schedule. Lucy ended up joining us as well. It was nice because now I got to try three different dishes, oh and it was a nice sisterly outing too as well.

Needless to say we did not fit in there. It was all hoity-toity uppity people in blazers and ties and there were in jeans carrying backpacks. It filled me with a rebellious giddiness to be there like that. The menu took some decoding, I got most of them right save for the fried haloumi which I thought, because it said fried and was an odd name, was a type of fish. The waitress informed us that it was in fact cheese. My bad.

I went for the rabbit meatballs which, because they were meatballs, I automatically assumed came with noodle. They came in a tomato sauce with what looked like giant fat noodles and tasted like sweet potatoes. When the waiter placed my dish down he said something about a “wascawee wabbit” and it made me giggle. And now I found out that those in fact were parsnips. I was tricked into eating parsnips. Camilla had the calamari schnitzel which was really good. But the stand-out was Lucy’s order of roasted pickerel. It was amazing, the fish just fell apart and was so tasty.

For dessert the three of us split a Hart House Farm Maple Syrup Creme Brulee and what a mouthful it was both to say and eat. We ordered it because the previous year we had been to Hart House Farm to watch them draw the sap from the trees so it only seemed fitting to indulge. Despite the fact that in a few hours we would be stuffing our faces with rich cheesecake. It was well-worth the punch to my pancreas. So far, this is the winner for best creme brulee. And it’s not one of those “best so far… but” and I add on some negative comments. The maple syrup was not overdone, just a touch of it for flavouring. The top was nicely burnt, not too much and not the cheaters way of just placing a caramel disc on top (just give up and call yourself a failure in that case, ok?).

When she gave us the dessert menu I noticed that they had a tea with organic gunpowder in it. Either that is quite the typo, something weird is going on or there is a poorly named flower/fruit out there.

I had been telling my sisters of Carole’s Cheesecake for so long now, telling them how creamy and delicious and just out-of-this-world amazing it is. I told them they had to try it, especially after they raved about cheesecake from, of all places, The Pickle Barrel (gross). They saw how right I (and everyone else for that matter, it has been voted best cheesecake in Toronto by multiple sources) was. Towards the end however I was starting to really feel it, I had to muster through the last little piece. I had decide to go all out and get the rocky road cheesecake. At the time it seemed like a good idea, and don’t get me wrong, it was delicious. It was just a lot to take in all at once. Needless to say I was feeling a mighty strong sugar-high after that. I came crashing down right around the time that class started.

And I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

 

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Tortilla Crumbs in My Purse

I found them in my purse this morning. I could’ve sworn I had gotten them all out yesterday, as well as brushing off the pineapple bits and everything else that fell on my purse. So what was this messy feast? Ooh, I don’t know, maybe, just maybe I finally managed to get in to Grand Electric? Sorry, we, we managed to get in. It was mostly Brent’s doing. I was running late thanks to the wonders of transit and he got there before me and held our place in line. He got there half an hour before open and there was no need for lurking around until someone else started the line. Brent was 8th in line. Soon after more and more people started showing up. By the time we were seated the hostess was up to telling people they could get a table at 9pm, 3 hours later!

Chorus: How hipster was it?
Reply: Water was served in IKEA glasses!

Was it worth having to stand in line with the world’s most irritating people? Was it worth getting crumbs all over my purse? Hell yeah. The crumbs were because we were seated at the bar and I had to keep it on my lap, and tacos are messy creatures. To start we had pig-tail tacos, pork belly tacos and baja fish tacos because I had read that the pig-tail tacos were amazing, Brent read good things about the pork belly and Grand Electric just go voted best fish tacos. We also ordered the tuna ceviche. The pig-tail taco was amazing. The pork-belly taco was even better. Then thirdly we tried the baja fish taco… it was otherworldly. So much so that we ordered a second one. It was that good.First I bit into just the little fish bit that stuck out (it was bigger than the taco) and it was amazing, so soft and delicious and not heavy for something battered & fried. Then biting into the taco as a whole, amazing, the sauce the onion slices, the whole thing. In our second round of ordering we also went for the guacamole and chips for I had heard amazing things about it. I have never had guacamole or avocados for that matter. I just always assumed that they were both gross, I mean come on, it is green & lumpy, blech. It was not blech, it was delicious. And the chips that went with it were also good, I was kind of worried that they would just serve us Tostitos.

Chorus: How hipster was it?
Reply: There were picnic benches indoors!

I could not go to the Best Mexican restaurant and not have a margarita, and I ‘spose it was good? I surprisingly liked the salt on the rim, not quite sure as to why. Grand Electric was also known for their extensive bourbon collection so of course we also indulged in it. I had a sip of Brent’s bourbon that he ordered neat (after looking up on his phone how to order bourbon, I might add), made an awful face and went back to my margarita. For my second round I had a Grand Electric Sour, whihc is made with vanilla bourbon… and egg whites… and is sprinkled with pepper on top. Somehow, it tasted really good. I don’t know by what magic (possibly helped along by the previous margarita, who can say really) it was delicious. Although I blame it for the stomachache I had later that night, either that or the overeating, who knows?

Chorus: How hipster was it?
Reply: It was full of hipsters!

I was adamant about having dessert. I didn’t care how much we had eaten, I wanted dessert. And we had eaten a lot. The tacos were small and the tuna ceviche was rather small, so of course we figured the guacamole & chips would be too. It was not. We ate so much.

Chorus: How hipster was it?
Reply: It is located in Parkdale!

Why the demand for dessert? Really, you must really ask that? Come, on, it is dessert for cripes sake! Nah, I had an ulterior motive. I had read a disparaging review claiming that it was awful that dessert was served in a mason jar. I had to have that. I had to eat dessert out of a mason jar. We had the chocolate & pecans, not really sure what that would entail exactly given that was the name of it. It was candied pecans atop chocolate mousse with a layer of cream cheese at the bottom. In a mason jar. Weird but good.

Chorus: HOW HIPSTER WAS THIS PLACE?!
Reply: DESSERT WAS SERVED IN A MASON JAR!!! A MASON JAR!!!

 

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Observations

It has recently come to my attention that something weird took place over the past few years. Back in the day, I used to blow most of my money on clothes (and to a lesser extent accessories). I recently also read Steven Pinker’s latest book The Better Angels of Our Nature, why do I mention this? Because it was full of graphs!

So, back in the day:

I spent most of my money as we can see here. Since then things have shifted greatly, and no, I have not made any payments on my loan. First off: transit became more expensive and frequent so the yellow slice grew. Secondly, I half gave up on purchasing clothes on account of having taken up a healthier lifestyle (yes, in tandem with fooding, it somehow works). For a bit my clothing purchases did go up, as seen here:

See that mild rise, but then a sharp fall? You would think “wow, she must be saving so much money!”…. nope, obviously that money got reallocated to…. TRAVEL! AND FOOD! That second one to a lesser extent, but still.

Look at that! Somewhere around 2008 my travel expenses shot up… and have been going up since! What gives you may ask? What gives is that me and fellow roommate Molly at the time had had enough of the stupid cold winter, jumped in her car… and drove down to North Carolina for some much needed warmth, sunshine and fresh air. The food did not go up as steeply at first because let’s just say, I lived on McDonald’s on the road and $5 pizzas at home (that’s like 2 days worth of food!). Only when last year did I really start into it with the food. But it went up earlier on account of road-trips and my near pathological need to acquire “American” candy & soda such as Cherry Coke Zero and Mallow Cups.

Predictions for the future: hitchhiking in out-of-fashion clothes 😉

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2012 in Adventures of Pinka!

 

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*Stomach Grumbles*

It might not be outwardly obvious, especially given that based on the archive the real start date is later, BUT it has almost been a year of fooding! It all started on beautiful Saturday afternoon, sometime in May or June. I was over at Brent’s house and we went out for lunch. He suggested an obscurely named place called Clafouti, but I was too hungry to argue. Why this random obscure place I had never heard of? Why, because I was told that they had the best croissant in the city. I am not going to lie to you, I am not a huge fan of croissants. half the time they are stale and the flakiness gets messy. As well, sometimes there is a funny aftertaste. Thankfully Clafouti also sold paninis, to be specific, a butter chicken panini. It was good that I actually let out a string of expletives while we walked back through Trinity Bellwoods park. To put that in perspective: almost a year has passed and I have only sworn (in a good way) about two others times. And the croissant? It was so soft and buttery and utterly delicious, almost makes me want to eat croissants all the time. Given that we did not go when they opened, we did not have a chance to try the chocolate croissant which apparently is to die for, so they say.

So what has come of this past year of fooding? I can safely say I have eaten my way through quite a fair share of the animal kingdom, from the semi-normal (elk, buffalo) to the just-plain-weird (kangaroo, jellyfish) as well as eating parts of animals I would have never dreamed of such as gonads (sea urchin) and tongues (beef). I have also (and if you know me, you will know who unthinkable and out of character this is) eaten my fair share of…. VEGGIES! I am nowhere near being someone who claims to like veggies however. Sometimes I ingested them simply because the sandwich/burger was so damn good I could not waste any time picking out the tomatoes (Burger Priest, The Fish Store). Other times it was a surprise that I, on several occasions, enjoyed ingesting them. I say them, I really just mean baby spinach. So far only in soup form (beef miso soup from Ravi Soups) and grilled into a steak & cheese panini (Panera Bread).

It was not all fun & games, there was some learning as well. Such as finding out at Black Hoof that brioche is not in fact a type of cheese, it is a bread. And sweet breads, are not bread at all. Why the confusing names?! I also learned that my pancreas can take quite the beating, especially in autumn when I took it upon myself (with the excuse of it being for a book project) to try and eat as many of the cupcakes on offer in the city as possible. I stopped at around 12 because it is a pain in the wallet.

Over the summer I also went deep-fried crazy. And not just because the CNE had so many (seemingly) great things on offer (NOTE: I am still mad as hell about the nanaimo bars debacle). I taste-tested deep-fried: Oreos, Pop-Tarts, and brownie batter. As if that were not enough, I also went on a deep-fried food spree in Cleveland, OH (as if there is anything else to do in that ghost-town) and indulged in deep-fried funnel fries, a Twinkie and cookie dough. The clear winners are the Oreos and the cookie dough. Is it something about cookies and there components that makes them so successful in the deep-frier? I really don’t know. I have been trying to hunt down Thunderin’ Thelma (Caplansky’s awesome food truck) because I heard rumour that they have… *drum roll*… a deep-fried Cadbury Creme Egg!! I thought those were good in McFlurries (until they took them away a few years ago, except now I heard that they are back again)… but deep-fried?! As a back-up, lest my heart be broken again, I have managed to find a bar on College St. that serves deep-fried Mars bars.

All this fooding also came in handy at the buffets while I was in Las Vegas, which brought me to my greatest realization (or one of I spose) from fooding: buffets are awesome. Where else can you try lots of different foods without going broke and being taken out of the restaurant on a stretcher whilst in a food coma? Tapas restaurants. Those two ideas are the best thing anyone has ever come up with.

In closing, I will get you Grand Electric. You have evaded me for long enough. Wednesday will be my third (!!!) attempt to stuff my face full of your delicious tacos. I had been wanting to go there ever since it was voted Best Restaurant of 2011 and then had a glowing review in The Toronto Star. But top it off with the recently added Best Fish Tacos and Best Mexican Restaurant?! Not having been able to go there yet, just makes me want to go all the more. I will be writing about piles of tacos, margaritas and a dessert served in a mason jar come Thursday… Goddammit, I mean Friday. Thursday I have actually managed to wrangle some people to go with me to eat at The Gallery Grill in Hart House. Why has it been so hard to go eat there? Because their hours are from 11:30-1:30… that is why.

I am so hungry now…

 

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Greasiest Ever…

This all started, hmm.. actually this started a while ago. I usually take the Queen streetcar home from school and one day, a few months ago, I noticed a restaurant that had a rooster painted in it’s window as part of the logo and I made a mental note and wanting to one day go eat there. A few months later BlogTO released their best new brunch of 2011 which just happened to feature The County General, that restaurant with the rooster! The other day I picked up a copy of Toronto Life from the library and wouldn’t you know it, it was the restaurant guides issue. And who happened to be voted one of the best new restaurants?  You guessed! It was settled, we were going for brunch to the County General… on a Saturday morning. Soon after all these rave reviews.

Needless to say, we arrived early. We were the first ones there, so we hid in a bus shelter pretending to wait and sneakily scoping out the place to see if anyone else would show up. Soon after two people arrived and tried the door. They looked like fools trying to open it! We laughed, and watched as they read the opening hours… and then just stood there facing the door. It was unclear if they were lining up but when we saw another guy come stand behind them we made a beeline for it, and he walked away, making us look like fools now. Good thing we did that though, soon after the people started showing up. The line was getting long and we were getting antsy, constantly checking the time. When 11am finally rolled around… nothing. We started wondering how long we would wait before giving up (we decided half an hour) and no sooner had we said that they opened up and let us in.

What to have for brunch, well the croque madame of course. It had gotten rave reviews in various places and I could not resist the idea of melted cheese and ham smooshed between two pieces of bread. The fried egg on top however, I was wary of how that would go down. We got the best seats in the house, near the edge so we were far away from enough people as well as close enough to the bar to get fast service, and it was indeed fast. Our meals arrived no more than 10 minutes after we ordered we got our food. People were still filing in from inside while we were digging into our sandwiches. Brent had ordered the fried chicken thigh. Both sandwiches came with a side of fries and I swear, there was honey in the ketchup. It was unexpected but really good.

I got around having to eat the yolk by handing the sandwich to Brent so he could eat it instead. In my defense, as I leaned in for that first bite, I caught a whiff of the egg yolk and it was not appealing, in fact it made me think the sandwich was going to be awful. It was awful greasy however. That has to have been the greasiest thing I have ever eaten. My hands were so slick afterwards. The guy from the couple next to us leaned over and asked if I had ordered the croque monsieur and I replied that yes,  had ordered the croque madame. When their order came they ate their sandwiches… with a knife and fork. Come on people, it’s a sandwich for crying out loud!

For dessert we headed to Lit Espresso Bar which was voted best new cafe 2008. The coffee was amazing. I know this because Brent had a sip and even HE enjoyed it! That is how you know it is good, because he hates coffee. It was a nice mild blend which I was happy to find out is bought from Intelligentsia in Chicago (one of my favourite coffee places there). Coffee in the best cafe of 2008 cannot be had alone so we indulged in cookies. We split the Canadian Rockies cookie (not quite sure why it is called that) and the Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt cookie. The second one was better. The Canadian Rockies cookie had oats in it, but also some weird little seeds (or seed-like things).

 

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Anniversary Dinner

Monday was our 5 year anniversary (I feel old just typing that) so we decided to go out for dinner. We were going to meet outside of Grand Electric about 25 minutes before open to ensure that we would get in. I got there at about 5:30 and noticed that there was no line. I was mildly suspicious, for in my mind I was convinced (even though the internet apparently said otherwise) that it was closed on Mondays and it was one of those things were they don’t say that they are, it is just assumed. I have encountered that too many times. So I walked by to see what was up. My suspicions were semi-correct. They were indeed closed, but not because it was Monday, they were on vacation until Friday. I called Brent to tell him to not bother leaving the house.

Having failed to go to Grand Electric yet again, I sadly made my way to his house. Hungry and out of luck. Brent suggested going to Guu Izakaya for a Japanese twist on tapas, also voted best Japanese food in the city. We went with the hope that the after-work crowd would not have filled the place. We got lucky, soon after we were promptly seated, the place filled up real quick. We were  seated at the bar, only behind the bar it was actually the kitchen not a bar. Every time someone entered or left or placed an order all the people working there would yell. At first it was a little bit jarring but you get used to it real fast. Also fast is the service. We placed our order so that we covered the spread. We had what was recommended: the salmon tataki, gyu tongue, and yakiudon. On my insistence we also had the marinated jellyfish. So we had cold and warm dishes, fish and meat, and noodles. Some were pan-fried, some grilled and some just marinated. Like I said, we covered the spread.

(marinated jellyfish)

So how did the tapas stack up? First off, it was enough food for a nice dinner. The smaller portions (owing to it being tapas of course) was nice because then you got to try more dishes. The hands-down winner was the salmon tataki, any dish that makes me swear after I have a bite (the good kind of swear) is fine by me. Second place goes to the jellyfish. Somehow there is enough edible parts to a jellyfish, it wouldn’t seem so looking at them just floating and bobbing about like that. Third place was a tie between the gyu tongue and the yakiudon (beef and noodles). Also eating beef tongue again, proves that it was not just Black Hoof’s artful mastery of rendering it palatable. Beef tongue actually tastes good. I have had it twice, two different ways and both delicious.

(salmon tataki)

 

 

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Oh Dear…

What is better than pulled pork? Oh, I don’t know, how about wrapping it in prosciutto? Think that’s awesome? How about then stuffing that inside of a pork belly and marinating it for 24 hours and slow cooked. Why, I believe you would be eating one of the city’s best sandwiches, and I am not just saying that because it was a heavenly delight. BlogTO and Toronto Life (and probably copious others) back me up on this. The sandwich is found at Porchetta & Co. on Dundas West and it is simply divine. All there is to is piles of meat stacked high between two buns, no veggie fillers or anything. So unbelievably mouth-wateringly satisfying, it seems like more than just a sandwich.

 

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