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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Heavenly Distraction

What’s a fresh batch of apple butter without some equally (if not more) fresh bread to spread it on? Right??? That, and I had recently found a recipe for slow-cooker bread . Kismet, it was meant to be. And so I found myself one Saturday kneading bread dough, secretly hoping for a kitchen-success, rather than another flop. I was a bit worried, as bread is a finicky thing to bake. It likes to not turn out.

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As the bread baked I sat down to get some work done. Soon the smell overwhelmed me and I could not for the life of me focus. All I could think about was having a (still warm) fresh slice of bread with apple butter…. how can anyone get any work done?! Even once the first loaf was done baking I could not indulge, as it still had to cool down a bit.

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. No one likes burning their tongue.

 

The recipe was really easy to make. Because I wanted to eat my bread with apple butter, I omitted the rosemary.

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Jammin’

It’s that time of year again. No, I am not using this as an opportunity to complain about allergies. It’s the beginning of jamming season!!! I messed up last year and missed the window to gather supplies. Not so this time, I was on it. I had set my sights on a beauty of a canning stockpot at Canadian Tire. It actually turned out to be far too big for me and I had to get a smaller one.

That being said, my first preserves project of the year was done using the slow-cooker. Apple butter. Because, you know, apples, spring etc.. Right? I wanted to start the season off right with something easy. The slow-cooker did all the work, it had to go over night (the recipe calls for a 12hour cook-time). The recipe called for filling the slow-cooker with sliced apples, add some cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and top it all off with apple juice or apple cider. Or if you are me, apple cider.. vinegar. Thankfully I put only a little bit, as I found it an odd addition. Only later did I go back to the recipe once the house started smelling of vinegar and I realized my mistake. Oops. Thankfully I managed to rescue it. I added some brown sugar as a precaution.

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If I hadn’t told you, you would never have known. You cannot discern the taste. Now to make some fresh bread to go with my apple butter.

 
 

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So Weird

I’m not sure if it’s because it was later than usual or I was just really tired but our latest fooding outing was weird. It was an odd day.

We went to Lahore Tikka House for best Pakistani food. It felt like we had been walking not as far as last time when we went to Maha’s, even though this place was even further. The place was packed, for a second I really worried we would not get a table or be stuck having to share a table with strangers. Thankfully that was not the case. Once we were seated the server handed us a menu…. and a marker and white board. Apparently we were supposed to write down our order and hand it to him. As we waited for our food the server brought us a pitcher of water… and styrofoam cups.

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My dish arrived first, I had ordered the beef biryani. What I was served was more like 4 beef biryanis. I was faced with a mountain of rice with chunks of beef interspersed. Brent’s butter chicken was a reasonable size, one serving. No matter how much I piled on my plate it barely made a difference. I gave up after making a valiant effort. As we were eating Brent looked up and asked me if I was ready. I looked at him quizzically and then… *THWOMP* I nearly jumped out of my skin. At the table behind me they were celebrating a birthday, which is apparently a reason to start thumping a giant bass drum. Needless to say I had had the bejeesus scared out of me and Brent was thoroughly entertained at how well it had all played out.

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We took the really long way home, heading south to Queen St so we could stop in at the best late night cafe, Tango Palace. As we walked up I noticed a sign that said “maple lattes” and I was sold. When we walked in the place was packed, they were not kidding about this being the best late night cafe. For one thing it was open at 8pm (unlike every other cafe we passed that evening). You can’t have coffee, even decaf, without a cookie or two. The chocolate chip cookie was subpar, seriously, I have made way better ones. The everything cookie, delivered what it promised: everything. We had fun naming the various ingredients: coconut, chocolate chips, raisins, peanuts etc… I wish we had gotten two everything cookies.

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It was a weird day. Even weirder when we passed this tattoo supply store:

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Steak Frites

Somehow I had it in my head that steak frites was a steak cut into fry-shaped strips, even though we’ve ordered it plenty of times before. Le Select Bistro was voted as best steak frites and so we found ourselves walking along Wellington, in a section of Toronto we had never been to, even though it was one street south of Spadina and King. I was psyched about this dinner, even though I could barely read the menu online thanks to French and horrible cursive font.

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Voraciously hungry and tired from walking, we ended up ordering an appetizer to split. Usually this ends up spelling disaster as we wind up with too much food, poor dessert gets left behind. Not this time. I had seen on the menu that they have creme brulee (my all-time weakness, after cookie dough). The appetizer was a head-to-toe pig terrine. They were not lying. I am pretty sure there was a pigs blood sausage in the centre.

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Brent’s steak frites dinner looked hilarious, the pile of fries dwarfed his steak. I giggled, but it may have been the wine. I won by a mile with the venison on top of pureed sweet potatoes. One bite of the puree and I thought to myself: why doesn’t sweet potato every taste this good when I make it?! Brent had the exact same thought. You could say we had a psychic moment. Or we are both bad at cooking sweet potatoes.

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The creme brulee was no ordinary creme brulee. It was a B-52 creme brulee, which I managed to remember from my bar tender training* days as Kahlua, Baileys, Grand Marnier. I was secretly impressed with myself for remembering. The creme brulee was amazing, but it did not have a very distinct taste of B-52. If I had not noticed that I would have thought it was just regular creme brulee, i.e.: amazing.

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* there, now you know another little thing about me: I have my bar tender certification 😉

 

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What A Day!

The plan was to go out to the best new brunch place of 2014, Maha’s Restaurant on a Saturday morning, without setting an alarm clock. It was out in the east end, we figured it would be fine.

Brent told me it was just off of Danforth and not too far. Turns out it was all the way over at Greenwood! He had assumed that Greenwood was close (think Pape) because of Greenwood Smokehouse. I was still recovering from a nasty cold and this was the first time I had walked further than to and from the subway. Not great.

We got to Maha’s just past noon… and the place was packed. There was no room to even enter. We decided to reverse our plans and go to Pilot Coffee Roasters, best new cafe 2014 first. After struggling to find it (it was down an alleyway/street) we found it was closed. They are not open weekends, and only open until 3pm on weekdays. Peeking in through the window, it looked like an amazing place. It had a bar you could sit at and sip different coffees. It looked like my idea of heaven.

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Two doors down we found Brent’s idea of heaven: a pop-up shop of Left Field Brewery. We sat around for a bit on muskoka chairs while Brent sipped his beers.

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Back at Maha’s we were able to get in through the door this time. We decided we might as well wait it out, the food around us looked delicious and tempting. After about 30 minutes of being in the way we were seated. The honey cardamom latte was worth the wait alone. It was amazing! Not too sweet and just a little bit spicy. It was the perfect pick-me-up, which I was in need of. I ordered the chicken sandwich, not exactly brunch-y but the menu said it was amazing, so I put my trust in them. The menu did not lie. The sandwich was outstanding!!! I devoured it, save for a few last bites. Brent had ordered a more traditional Egyptian dish, eggs and chickpeas on flatbread. It too was an amazing dish, although I had to eat carefully to avoid the egg yolk.

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On our way home we stopped in at Von Doughnuts   , because it is nearly impossible to walk by there and not stop. In honour of the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day we had the Innis & Gunn glazed donut. It was the best donut I have had in the city. Not overly sweet, the whisky glaze complemented the yeast donut. Von Doughnuts just keeps getting better and better.

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Dim Sum Take Two

BlogTO recently released a second list of best dim sum… in downtown Toronto, as opposed to all of Toronto (even though the number one in all of Toronto is downtown). The best dim sum in downtown Toronto was voted as Rosewood. The great thing about it was that it was all day. Oh, and it was all you can eat. Win win!

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Good thing we had made a reservation in advance, when we showed up there was only one other group- but within 20 minutes the place started filling up. For the most part we knew in advance what we wanted to order, and we added on a couple more things. What a feast we were going to have! Crab rolled in seaweed, battered in tempura and fried! Shrimp rolls! Cuttlefish in curry sauce! Shrimp dumplings! Beef short ribs! Sweet potato dumplings!

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The food was delicious. It arrived in waves, but even still we could not keep up and soon our table was full of plates. The standout was the shrimp dumplings, so simple yet so good.

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Unfortunately they were out of egg tarts, so we had to go sans-dessert.

 

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Mean Bao

I was never a fan of pork buns. Every time I have had them it was the same complaint: too much plain boring bun and too little meat. Turns out I was just ordering them from all the wrong places. Mean Bao was amazing! It is a good thing they were not open while I was at OCAD (they are located across the street) for I would be a tubster right now. For just under $15 we had a wonderful dinner for two. We ordered four buns (trying one of each, ignoring the vegetarian options) and a side of pork dumplings. The first bun I bit into was the brisket. I looked up at Brent as he bit into the pork  belly bun. We both exclaimed: it was amazing! We swapped halfway, and again: it’s amazing! Ditto for the chicken and the pulled pork. We were stuck, it was nearly impossible to rank them. They were all delicious. This has quickly become one of my new favourites in the city.

Mean Bao- pork buns

 

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