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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Ten Courses and a Martini

Best tasting menu was voted as Shoto at Momofuku. I had been wanting to go to Momofuku ever since I got wind of it, before it even opened. One hitch: the price is exorbitant to say the least. I was ready to settle for the first floor noodle bar (in total Momofuku is three floors, three restaurants). I filed Momofuku away under “places I will eventually eat at” (Charlie Trotter’s being recently removed from that list, as he recently died; Chez Panisse still being on that list given they had a kitchen fire a few days before we were to eat there) along with Noma, and Moto (which is closest of them all, in Chicago AND now has a Michelin star*).

My jaw dropped when Brent said the reservations had been made for us at Shoto. What?! I thought for his birthday dinner we’d maybe go out somewhere for a nice steak. I was not expecting a $150 ten-course chef’s tasting menu at a swank restaurant.

The set-up at Momofuku is well done: the patrons sit at a bar around the kitchen. If you are not eating, you are watching the chef’s in a choreographed dance of prepping dishes. There were 5-6 chefs, in a rather small space and somehow no one ran into anyone and it all (at least appeared) to go off without a hitch. Every dish was presented to each party individually, the chef would explain what was in it. Thankfully we were given a menu at the end so we could double-check if what we heard was in fact what it was.

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The meal started off with a few small amuse bouches, they were good and fun to eat. One was so basic and simple and yet it was our first (and not last) “oh wow” moment of the night. What was this fabulous dish we could not contain our enjoyment of? A square of rice held together with and fried in pork fat. The end. So simple, yet so delicious.There were a few other dishes that made us exclaim in foodie-joy. The pork fat rice was the only one where we simultaneously turned to each other and made faces. It is hard to say what the bset dish of the night was.

Was it the octopus, feta, black olives and broccoli dish? It made three things I hate: feta, olives and broccoli all delicious! For the first time in my life I actually (and happily) ate my veggies. But right after that we had a bite of the scallop dish and we were in heaven. I also hate scallops. But these were prepared in such a way that they tasted delicious, salty and saucy. As it turns out is also possible to make turnips taste good. I really thought they were food-world goners. Honest.

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One of the best dishes was a raw oyster with a dash of green chile on top. But I admit, I am biased, I love green chiles and have been in withdrawl the past month. Around the 7th course, which is the largest the staff check up on people to see if any white flags are being waved yet.Apparently a lot of people get beat by the ten courses, we were shocked. How can you pay so much, for amazing food, and not eat it all?

We decided against the option of pairings because we had plans to go for best martinis after dinner. The woman beside me however did order the pairings. We did not miss much, a lot of white wine. The only that caught my eye was the late harvest wine from the Niagara region. But it is all listed on the menu we were given afterwards. The woman beside me should not have had the pairings, she could not hold her liquor and it was bad. She invited a chef back to her hotel room to party. He declined saying he had a girlfriend. The woman later told him that she will break them up and get him. At some point he asked her how the courses so far had been, she said, and I quote, “I feel like a baby, trying food for the first time. You changed my world.” Did I mention that she said this really loudly, borderline screaming? He gave an awkward smile and walked away.

The people beside Brent did not know that it was a set menu, the woman was anxious about getting to order off of a menu. She was also full about halfway through the menu. Looking around we appeared to be the only normal people there. We saw an middle-aged business man with a rather old blonde, who started taking pictures together, even getting the chefs to take their photo. Then he would (loudly) explain business stuff to her. I should not have been able to hear him. Across the kitchen from us was a spray-tanned yellow-blonde middle aged man who I swear in his facial expressions looked like the dorky guy from Brooklyn 99, I half expected him to drop his muffin and instead exclaim in a Guy Fieri voice (he had the hair of Fieri) “I dropped my muffin.” Somehow Brent did not see the resemblance. There was also a mother there with her 14 year old son. It is not good when I am the standard for normal.

All in all Momofuku was fun. The food was amazing (easily one of my top meals of all time). The staff were awesome. Brent asked one chef how to make burnt mustard and he happily explained it to us. A great place to go for a splurge dinner. Unless you have a weirdo aversion or are super picky about your food and you simply refuse to eat celeriac ice cream. Yup, ice cream made from celery root. They can’t all be hits.

Satiated and not overstuffed, having eaten the perfect amount of food (I have no idea what those “can’t finish the whole menu” people were thinking). We stopped at the Consort Bar at the King Edward Hotel for best martinis on our way home. I joked about having two martinis- only I wasn’t joking, I really thought I could do it: drink two martinis. Hah! Brent had the original, I changed my mind from the pomegranate one (which had gold flakes) to the King George V, because it was actually a martini (except sweet vermouth instead of dry) but with a dash of orange juice. I can see why they are voted best and why the $20 price tag. The martinis were rather large, but also made with alcohol brands I had never even heard of. I had a sip of Brent’s and immediately regretted it. Really martinis are gross, olives are gross, gin is gross. I was not having it. Nor was I having a second martini. Turns out martinis, real ones, are strong as heck. Needless to say I nursed my martini. It hit in me slow intervals but the worst was the morning after. No matter how much Gatorade I drink, my mouth still feels dry.

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* I could go on and on about why I want to eat at Moto rather than anywhere else. I have wanted to go there before they got their Michelin star. Ever since I caught sight of the Modernist Cuisine cookbooks (which I also want to buy). Then I found out about their dessert nachos and I was even more in love. Add in their recent smores dessert dish?! HEAVEN.  

 

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Hungry Insomniac: Shawarma

We had learned from our previous foray into best late night food not to get snacks beforehand. I had been hoping that Ali Baba’s Middle Eastern would deliver to us, so we wouldn’t even have to leave the house (it is November- the weather sucks) to eat best late night shawarma and falafel. Alas, we were out of the delivery range and thus out of luck. We would have to walk the 20 minutes to get our late-night dinner.  Brent was set on ordering two, I got only one, and even that proved to be a bit much towards the end.

Shawarmas are a very messy food, all neatly wrapped up in a pita. As soon as you take one bite you unleash a pandora’s box of tomatoes, lettuce, meat (in my case chicken), red cabbage and everything else. There was hummus all down the side of mine. It did not help that we were watching Roman Holiday, thus I would only periodically look down and see a piece of chicken with some lettuce affixed to it via hummus on the floor. Messy but tasty. You get an entire meal conveniently wrapped up in a pita. Furthermore, everything in there is so mixed up it is impossible to pick anything out: they got me to eat tomatoes. My only question about why it was voted best: is it because there is one on every corner downtown?

 

Hungry Insomniac: Enough Food for an Army

Another in our series of best late night eats was best late night, and best delivery, Chinese food from New Ho King. I am not a big fan of these best “late night” foods, as it tastes the same if I were to eat it at 5 in the afternoon. I hate having to wait around (even though most of these places are open earlier in the day too) before getting to eat. I start snacking on stuff, which is exactly what happened: we ended up going to Shoppers and getting some chips, soda and candy to hold us over until the evening. We had also run out of TV to watch and so a Simpsons marathon ensued, watching Season 3 only reminded me how bad The Simpsons has gotten. The episodes we were watching were from 1991-1992.

New Ho King- best late night and delivery chinese (1)

We ordered 3 dishes and 1 appetizer, a stuffed crab claw that I insisted on having: it was delicious and so much fun to eat. Turns out 3 dishes was way too much food. We had before us a feast of spicy chicken, calamari and chicken-fried rice. Two platefuls later I was moaning, I had eaten way too much. Even still, with multiple platefuls each and some occasional snacking after we barely made a dent in it all. We had an entire meal in leftovers alone. The spicy calamari was even tastier cold. It was all delicious but it was too much.

 

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A Stud & A Dud

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I finally had almost all the ingredients for yogurt chili rub chicken, all I needed were some jalapenos. I was a bit worried, as I had heard (and seen) horror stories of people handling them and then rubbing their eyes. Thankfully nothing so disastrous happened. The only real disaster with this recipe was the pan afterwards. I have learned for next time to wrap the chicken in tinfoil before placing it in the pan because scraping off baked on yogurt sauce is no picnic. I soaked it overnight and still no-go, I had to scratch it off with a knife.

Project 50- yogurt chili rub chicken

I hadn’t cooked off Pinterest in a while and felt I was on a roll so I decided to keep things going by baking a strawberry-lemon bundt cake. I still had the Greek yogurt out from the previous recipe, so I just used that in place of butter- that way I could have my cake and eat it too (hah). Turns out an uber-healthy cake with no butter/oil/margarine is a disaster in the making. I turned it out of the tiny bundt pan (I finally got around to using it) and it looked like an oversized donut, that was OK. The trouble started when I tried to cut a slice. It was gelatinous. Remember jello-yogurt, that horrible snack from the 90s? It was like that crossed with about 10% close resemblance to cake. It was gnarly and so I tossed it along with the rest of the batter (my bundt pan was so small I had to split the batter in two).

No more baking with Greek yogurt, butter and margarine for the win!

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2013 in I Will One Day Attempt To Make This

 

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Seven Lives, Seven Tacos

Our original plan for the evening was to get best ramen, alas the line was out the door and people were literally waiting around outside- in the rain! It was so cold outside! We went to Kensington instead.

Of all the things we had learned in our previous fooding adventures, I am not sure why this one regret stuck out for us: we had gone to Hot Doug’s in Chicago, waited in a line-up around the corner for over an hour.. and in the end each ordered only 1 weird hotdog, and no regular plain old hotdog to compare. Regret. Now when it came time to eat the best tacos in the city, newly voted Seven Lives we each planned on getting two. Until we got in there and started debating over which tacos to get. That is how Brent ended up ordering “one of each, except the daily special” which was sold out anyways. That was 7 tacos between the two of us. And these were no small tacos: they were behemoths. Giant messy behemoths. I ended up with so much onion bits and sauce down my sleeves, it was getting annoying. There was no clean way to eat the tacos, just a giant mess, bits falling out the side, sauce all over.

Seven Lives- best taco (1)(that is just two tacos)

The majority of the tacos were seafood based (which explains the name and the reason why their logo is a cat). Seafood is all well and good- in small amounts. Too much makes me feel ill, and we did not have enough non-seafood tacos to balance it out. The pork taco was amazing, but it did not hold a candle to the spicy shrimp. The octopus taco was good, but it was piping hot compared to the rest and thus I did not get to eat much of it. On the side I had sangria soda, it was good but a little too sweet.

We walked back in the cold horrible rain, plastic bags of a takeout containers in tow. We had ordered too much food and would continue eating once we got home. We ended up stopping at 7-Eleven as well to top off the night with some Phish Food Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (it’s finally here in Canada!!!!!!!!).

As it turns out, tacos are not a good leftover food. They don’t survive so well once they have cooled down. Were they the best tacos in the city? They were pretty good, but better than Grand Electric? Yes. Better than Tacos El Asador? No, I liked Tacos El Asador for their size and simplicity, there was nothing out of the ordinary about them (compared to Seven Lives’ one really odd taco we had with cactus): just meat, tomatoes, onions etc…

 

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BLT? Blech-LT!

There are moments during our journey eating through the best of Toronto when I reach an impasse. I find myself staring down something I don’t want to, nay, I refuse to eat. Majority of the time it is something I have had before, multiple times in multiple ways, and still do not like. For those dishes (most notably best salad), Brent will order it and I will have one tiny bite, so I can at least say I tried it.

The best of list really hit the trifecta with the best BLT from Brick Street Bakery: I hate tomatoes, can barely stand lettuce and I don’t exactly love bacon (unless I haven’t had it in forever). Instead I opted for the cutely (and aptly) named Boxing Day which consisted of freshly baked bread, turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce. It was more than just a tasty sandwich. It was giant and basically a full meal. I only ended up eating one half, the other ended up in the fridge…. leftover leftovers-sandwich. Hah.

BLTs are just not my cup of tea.

 

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George St. Diner

If there is one food item that benefits from simplicity it is grilled cheese. All you need is good bread and good cheese, heat it up (even, dare I say it, when desperate microwave it) and voila: the perfect food item. It is no surprise that it has become a mid-fall tradition, last year we went to The Grilled Cheese, this year we went to the city’s best diner: George St. Diner. It just so happened to be a place I was quite familiar with: years ago when I was a student at George Brown College I had always wanted to go there for lunch and somehow I just never got around to it- until a Wednesday night years (I felt really old when I realized how many years) later.

I was a little apprehensive about the grilled cheese, the internet abounded with rumours of a tomato in the middle of it, but the menu said nothing about it so I kept my mouth shut and hoped for the best. I got lucky: there was no tomato, just glorious cheese and amazingly good bread. As if grilled cheese was not good enough on its own: THE BREAD WAS LIGHTLY BUTTERED. Each bite was like a piece of heaven. The portions were of a good size, there were just enough fries on the side. I did not care for the salad on the side, but that is just my hatred of salads. I had just enough room to steal a few bites of Brent’s Irish breakfast plate.

George St. Diner- best diner (2)

It was a bit odd to be sipping a glass of red wine in a dimly lit, empty diner in a not-so-great part of Toronto. We topped off our dinner with dessert: a marshmallow chocolate square and a  chocolate chip cookie. Very simple yet exquisitely delicious. It was worth the rather sketch walk and having to go around the weird drunk and detouring around Moss Park (which Google Maps suggested we walk right through).

 

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