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June Eatin’

June Eatin’

Rasa Bar: Toronto Life top 100 of 2019; the online reviews said that the beef cheek burger and the quinoa salad were really good. I’m always hesitant about delivery burgers and fries. But oh man was I wrong. This was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. It was so meaty and juicy and it had the perfect soft bun. The fries were seasoned like curly fries. It is rare to encounter a fry that needs no dipping. The salad was surprisingly good for a salad. The grapes, while odd looking and threatening me with being a tomato, were a good addition (despite the risk). We also split a garlic shrimp app, it was good but this has been a great year for shrimp dishes and the competition was stiff.

Maker Pizza: I had seen a photo of an amazing-looking sandwich on Instagram, turns out it was from Maker Pizza and wouldn’t you know it, I was craving pizza (I blame it on Animal Crossing and all the anchovies). We ordered a small pepperoni pizza and a sandwich. Oh sweetmotherofgod, that sandwich. Sesame sub bread. Tons of meat. Good cheese. An easy-to-remove tomato. And some peppers and lettuce compactly smooshed underneath. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. And it left me thinking about it. I could see myself almost regularly ordering it. I do have to get it at least one more time, and warm it up in my panini press to melt the cheese.

Mid-way check-in: So far June was looking good food-wise, ordering anyways. I gave up on my sourdough starter when the light bulb in the oven died (it is impossible to replace). I finally cracked open the giant bag of flour to make some less-than-great peanut butter brownies (they were truly awful and I am surprised that ATK misled me so badly). I guess I was still riding the joyous high off of successfully making danishes from scratch (thanks NY Times!). How could ATK be so wrong about peanut butter brownies when they were so right about oatmeal muffins (the best ever, it has changed my opinion of home-baked muffins). I ordered 5lbs of rhubarb and now I found a farm that delivers to Toronto for free, hello giant flat-pack of strawberries. Hello jam.

La Palma: blogTO voted best lasagna; This was a difficult meal to rank. The lasagna was in fact, some of the best I have ever had, yay for that. But the chicken liver mousse was awful. It was sweet. Even after I sprinkled some salt on top it was still not saved. The piri piri chicken was similarly awful. There was just something so off about the flavour profile, like it had a giant hole in it and something was missing, and there were other flavours there that just did not belong. Some bites, the skin was charred and tasted burnt. They should stick to making lasagna and not futz about with other dishes. Even the bread that came with the chicken liver mousse was meh.

Banjara: 1001 Foods book, biryani; we’d been to Banjara in the past, and we debated including it in our yearly restaurant rankings (which we’d only started doing last year) and in the end decided to include it, we were trying new foods. We got a half order of tandoori chicken and an order of chicken biryani. Oh man was it a lot of food, it was enough for two dinners and we had half leftover. The tandoori chicken was really good as was the biryani. The naan, on it’s own was kind of sad. It desperately called out for sauce to be dipped in but there was none in sight. I used it instead to scoop up the (very) generous portion of rice that came with the tandoori chicken.

June ended with me going back to work >.>

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2020 in 1001 Foods, Fooding From Home

 

May(be) This Will End Soon?

May(be) This Will End Soon?

Il Covo: from Toronto Life’s top 100 restaurants of 2019 list. I initially planned on ordering teh shrimp sandwich but on the grand day of, it was sold out. So I had the shrimp dish with garlic bread instead, close enough. Oh man was this a good dinner. And the perfect amount of food. The tiramisu was the best I have ever had and I really wish we had ordered a party platter of it. The bone broth with ricotta was good at first but it quickly got to be too much cheese for me and I opted for just eating the broth. While the pasta dish promised pork, I found there was very little of it. What bites I did get were really very good and it’s a shame there weren’t more.

Pai: voted best pad thai on BlogTO. I am not usually a fan of food with coconut milk in it nor am I really a fan of pad thai. Or so I thought. Pai has changed my opinion of it. Oh man the pad thai was the best I have ever had. The shrimp dish with curry and coconut milk was some of the best I have ever had. The breaded and fried tiger shrimp were up there as one of the best shrimp dishes of all time and it’s what breaded & fried shrimp should aspire to.

Dipped Donuts: we finally got to try Dipped Donuts without having to struggle to find a time that works to go to Kensington. And what a way to start a Saturday. We got three donuts, a half dozen minis and one mini Boston cream. I was not a fan of the custard in it, it was lumpy and sparse. The three donuts were: two chocolate ones (one had hazelnut and was also filled, despite the misleading hole in the middle) and one maple with oat crumble. The maple was my favourite. The chocolate was good and of high qualiuty but oh man was it rich. Tops were the mini donut holes, I liked both the chai sugar and the cinnamon sugar. It’s too bad there weren’t more bases to choose from (throw in some cake, some cruller, some chocolate!). It didn’t even come close to Von Doughnuts- my current number one.

Campechano: another from the top 100 list. We ordered two taco dishes, the carnitas and the fish. In the description it said they would arrive with 12 tortillas and 6 tortillas. Somehow that did not clue me into the DIY aspect of our dinner. Well, more like assemble-it-yourself, but still. What I did not expect was a massive stack of tortillas (close to 50), so much for making sourdough discard tortillas later in the week. The fish taco was the better of the two. The tres leches cake was ok, but it was just soaked in sweet milk (?). And now we’re going to be eating homemade tacos until the end of time. No complaints here, it’s fun.

[NOTE: it was during this week, second week of May that the only flour I could get was a 20kg bag and yeast is scarce, how long will the bag last?!] 

Pig Out BBQ: our usual selection criteria was on pause, Brent changed it up** and just searched for the highest rated cornbread and hence we got dinner on the long weekend from Pig Out BBQ, the BBQ place on Spadina that made me ask: what BBQ place on Spadina? Where is there a BBQ place on Spadina? Only to later realize we had walked by it like a million times on Harbord St. Oops. Either I am coming around on brisket or this place has a really good brisket (third best I’ve ever had, they can’t touch Franklin’s or Adamson). The smoked chicken wings were subpar, when I ate some later cold they were actually kind of dry. The ribs, while nice & meaty, were kind of meh, they needed some seasoning or something to make them stand out. The fries were good, they actually came in second place? I still dislike cornbread so I was not a good judge of it. And the mac & cheese that I needed as an offset? It did the job, but somehow it was oddly flavourless? Like the cheese, while I could see it, I could barely taste it if that makes any sense? It was still a nice reprieve from super-meat.

Almond Butterfly: voted best gluten-free restaurant on BlogTO; I was thoroughly impressed with the bagel sandwiches we ordered for Saturday brunch. I was a little sketpical at first, a ham & cheese gluten-free bagel sandwich? The bagel would be too big, the gluten-free part would be noticeable. I was wrong. It was a flat bagel (like half a bagel) and actually really good, if you hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t have figured out that it was gluten-free. I stole a bite of Brent’s pizza bagel but we immediately swapped back, deeming our own sandwich to be superior. Too much marinara sauce. The oat berry crumble bar kind of crumbled under pressure. It was not good. The texture was dry and mealie and it was like there was way too much flour (which I assume was on account of the gluten-free flour?).

Maison Selby: (top 15 restaurants of 2020 according to Toronto Life) I know, I know, how lazy are we to be ordering from a place down the street? The delivery guy walked it over to our house. In our defense, our first place had fallen through (a ramen place that is sold out of ramen?! come on!). I had been wanting to go there, its a really nice looking restaurant in an old house. Plus I heard they had good french onion soup. Alas, the soup was only available in a kit for delivery. Instead we split a ratatouille appetizer and had the coq au vin and boeuf bourginon. Where to begin? The beef was awful, just tasteless and bland. The coq au vin was ok in small quantities but later on it was just unappetizing. The mashed potatoes and veggie sides for both were so much better, far and away the second best. First place was the ratatouille which was amazing. It was so incongruous how bad the meat was compared to the sides and veggies. I still demand we go back for drinks and soup.

**he didn’t actually change it up that much, as it turns out he searched for cornbread because it was the random-number selected item from the 1001 foods book, I just missed the memo

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2020 in Fooding From Home

 

A Whole Month Has Passed?!

A Whole Month Has Passed?!

Somsun Superstar: voted best new cheap eats 2019. Bosnian sandwiches. I had no idea this was a thing. Now I know. The bread was delicious, but that’s about all I can say. I was decidedly not a fan of the meat. In both the classic which had very little toppings, and Brent’s sandwich- it was a tiny bit better but still not enough.

Labora: Toronto Life Top 100 restaurants. So much food! So much more than we had expected! The paella was great and we only ate half. Can’t go wrong with shishito peppers but I still maintain that my sesame-soy ones are better. Steak sandwich was the clear winner though. The sweet potato bites were awful and pushed to the side. Too crispy and kind of tasteless?

Le Petit Dejeuner: voted best waffles. I was skeptical for many reasons. Waffles from a non-waffle-specialty place? No crazy options to pick from? Combined with it being delivery, I had my sights set on the challah toast croque monsieur and the waffles were just an afterthought. I was wrong to doubt. The waffles were perfect, so buttermilk-y and they didn’t even need anything more than maple syrup. But that croque monsieur, *drools*, it stole the show. It also set the day up weird because we ate so early.

Union: Toronto Life Top 100 restaurants. The polenta was not what I expected. Not even close. I was expecting something with the consistency of mashed potatoes, with tomatoes on the side. This was a spongey brick. And with so much food, it got pushed to the side. Duck fat toast was amazing. The ribs were sticky and delicious and just fell off the bone. Brent preferred the burger, I preferred the ribs so it was an easy swap after we each stole bites. The mashed potatoes (that we didn’t order?) were not good, too lumpy. And besides, we had a giant pile of fries to tackle. Fries do not hold up well cold. That had become our new criteria when we got too much food: triage it by preference and how well it holds up cold.

Friday Roots: I must have seen this one on Instagram or a Toronto Life article or who knows. My notes only say: fried chicken. I was intrigued by the sweet potatoes with marshmallows. I was picturing whipped potatoes with a sweet marshmallow crust. Not potatoes soaked in molasses with overcooked marshmallows sprinkled over sweet potato chunks. Pass. As usual, I was not a fan of the  burger. Burgers are a hard thing to pull off. The fried chicken was good, nice and meaty. But some bites were so, so, SO greasy. The biscuit was a bit soft and doughy for my non-biscuit-liking (I’m just not a fan in general).

Sushi Masaki Saito: this one had been on my list for a long time, Michelin-starred chef known for aged sushi. Yes please! Except, it was $500/plate. Maybe no. That is until I saw an Instagram post that due to the pandemic they were switching to delivery. They had a chef’s special, a selection of 8-10 mini-dishes for a measly $200. Yes please! Day saved! It took me over 10 minutes just to get through. Then the earliest I could order for was the following week. That is ok, at least I was in. Our dinner arrived in a cute little bamboo box lined with banana leaves. One look inside and I knew we were in for a treat. The mackerel was actually good!! Who knew that was possible?! The octopus was amazing. I liked chomping on the ginger. Everything was really good….but still not as good as some of the other places we’ve been to, even this year alone.

Rol San: voted best late-night Chinese food. Turns out my memory is terrible. We had eaten here before and we were not impressed. Nothing, not even when I bit into the fried octopus, no trigger due to my again not being impressed. It was chewy. I did like the nutty flavour. But fried food shouldn’t be so chewy. The congee was just awful. I mean we had to try it, it was from the 1001 Foods book. But now that I know, I am ok forever. Shellfish (in this case it was oysters) in black bean sauce were delicious. I particularly liked ripping them out of their shells. It was oddly satisfying. The hot & sour soup (also from the book)- not good. It was weirdly sweet, but like sweet-sweet not the kind of sweet that goes with savoury. The Singapore noodles were good. I really just kept going back for those and alternating the oysters and the orange chicken (that was actually more of a ginger chicken really).

Finishing off April: sourdough discard pizza from scratch?

 

March Digest: More Pizza?

March Digest: More Pizza?

Day 12 (Mar 25): Our first choice for fooding-from-home fell through. Choice #2 was too far to deliver… and on we went down the list, too far, doesn’t deliver etc. Until we got to ramen. Pass, just had ramen plus how would it hold up for delivery? Up next was Fourth Man in the Fire, the new(ish) pizza place from the folks behind Burgers Priest. I could eat pizza. Even though we had it a few days ago. Pizza is always good.

I had high hopes for this pizza. The pizza itself was pretty good… until you got to the crust. The crust was bland and heavily dependent on the (really good!) garlic dipping sauce. The garlic sticks, oh deargod, what a travesty. They should just be called boring-breadsticks. There wasn’t a trace of garlic on them. Vampire sticks morelike. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough garlic dipping sauce, we needed it all for the crust.

The pizza was alright but with a bad crust and atrocious breadsticks, not great.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2020 in Fooding, Fooding From Home, Uncategorized

 

That Time

We were both really excited for dinner at La Banane. It was #7 on Toronto Life’s Top 100 and it was also on Canada’s Best 100 at #16. Dinner was off to a great start. Duck fat pretzels with mustard? Yes please! (I am so looking for a recipe now so I can eat these all day every day). I was all ready to get the pate as my appetizer but when I heard that the special of the day came with a rhubarb compote (my current obsession, I had $10 worth of rhubarb in my purse) I was all for it. Who could resist that with slice of brioche and foie gras?! The slices were very thick but very light. The foie gras was good. But the real standout was the compote. It paired so unbelievably well, it brought the dish up a notch. Which it kind of needed? It was a tad underwhelming. Brent had gotten a salt fish cake with celeriac and something else because it was in the 1001 foods book. It all paired really well, like a fish cake with coleslaw and tartar all in one bite. But it was not outstanding. We had come here looking for wow. So far only the rhubarb compote, pretzels and cocktails were at that level.

Brent had ordered the fish which was baked in a super salty bread. They presented it to him, a whole fish braided in bread. Then promptly took it away to carve it up and make it easy to eat. Twice they warned not to eat the bread. Of course he had a bite. It was indeed salty, I took his word for it. Meanwhile I devoured crab with cheese and crumbs, conveniently crammed back into the crab shell. The main course was definitely very pretty looking. The crab was so good, but in between I needed bites of something less heavy. The potatoes aligot were as amazing as expected, the cheese was so thoroughly blended into the mashed potatoes that it just stretched. I never imagined getting to twirl my fork through mashed potatoes a-la spaghetti noodles but there you go. It is possible. I actually resorted to eating the salad on the side. The fish dish was also heavy thanks to a white sauce with butter and yuzu. The yuzu really made the sauce outstanding. Both dishes were great. But we were way too stuffed for a gimmicky $50 dessert (a chocolate egg full of truffles) and nothing else really stood out.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Fooding From Home!- Amuse Bouche Edition: March Digest

Fooding From Home!- Amuse Bouche Edition: March Digest

March is more a mini-digest (haha!) as this all set off on *spooky!* Friday the 13th

Day 4 (Mar. 17): I refused to wear green. The 1000 Foods Book is playing a bigger role in our fooding now, as I am in need of some kitchen-time (I actually love baking and cooking and without work I have less excuses for whipping something up). Random number led us to Italian sandwiches with sauerkraut and crumbly pork sausages. And then we ate those for dinner for like the next three days. Not a good start to a prolonged period of social-isolation, I had to stop eating sauerkraut.

Day 8 (Mar. 21): Descendants Detroit Style Pizza. Goddamn they make a good pizza pie! This is what pizza should be, this is what I had been wanting out of a deep-dish pizza (sorry Chicago, YOU SUCK!). I have never had a more harmonious slice of pizza, everything on it paired so well. Who knew a dollop of basil (and other herb?) butter could work so well! *applause* I am tempted to say this is the best pizza in the city, it definitely beat out Maker Pizza my previous #1. But then again that’s not a bad thing, to have a rotation of really good pizzas available to me based on what I am in the mood for. I love this.

 

Ramen-Related Post of Sorts?

Ramen-Related Post of Sorts?

Things have gone off the rails. I barely remember enough about our last fooding outing (March 5) when we went to Konjiki Ramen. We had to make up for our last ramen dinner, which proved that in fact there is ~such~ a thing as bad ramen (who knew!). And I thought I was having a bad day then, a subway closure due to an injury, with my phone dying I had to hope I could add debit to my Lyft account as my credit card had been compromised. I was grumpy, an understatement. All that dissolved as soon as I had my first warm spoonful of ramen. Flavourful and with good noodles, it soothed my soul. One dish had a quail (?) egg in it, the very same one we had tried at Auberge du Pommier. Chopsticks are not the best tool for eating a soft boiled egg, even if it is breaded. We ate some really good fried chicken as well and chatted about soon(ish) being able to start the house-looking-at-process. Little did we know. It seems like a million years ago.

Writing a full post just isn’t the same, part of the fooding experience is the outing itself, the people around us, the drinks, the service, the restaurant itself. (Like the lady complaining about having to crouch down while on safari because giraffes were passing by- WHO COMPLAINS ABOUT THAT?! – or the many awkward dates we’ve been privvy to.

Instead, I present to you sole reader, Fooding From Home!- Amuse Bouche Edition. The first thing I am doing once this is over is getting a haircut. Second thing is having a drink on a patio.

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Just Gonna Wipe The Dust Off This One

Just Gonna Wipe The Dust Off This One

I was super excited about our dinner plans at Auberge du Pommier- I love French food and I’ve been reading a lot of Peter Mayle books recently. We had gone down the list of Top 10 restaurants on the Toronto Life list, having to jump down to the next one after a series of been-there/it’s-closed-now. We passed over at least five entries on the list before we got to Auberge du Pommier.

They had me at the wine list. One look and I was smitten. The only trouble was: I can only drink so much wine! Brent’s first choice, the only beer on the list from France, was all sold out. Thankfully I had a shortlist of wines to try. To start, I had a glass of Syrrah and Brent had a Bordeaux. Both were lovely wines.

The amuse bouche really helped set the scene: we were in for a great dinner (as if that wasn’t already evinced by the great wines). We split the boar pastrami appetizer. I did not know that eggs could possibly taste so good, but the onsen egg under all the pastrami and mushrooms was otherworldly. It melted in your mouth and paired perfectly with everything.

When the artfully plated mains arrived I was a bit skeptical: it looked like stereotypical French fancy cuisine: sparse. It must have just been giant plates because I was pretty full after. Brent had the coq au vin which was incredible (even if the accouterments were less than, who wants to eat chicken fat??). The sturgeon was so delicious and amazingly meaty. I especially liked the bites with roe. The accouterments were better, a Hollandaise croquette? Yes please!

Brent had scoped out the cheese selection beforehand and noticed that some of the cheeses on offer were from the 1001 Foods book. I was all for it so long as it was cows milk. In order of best to worst we had: laguiole, brie de meaux and fourme d’ambert. By worst I mean: the best blue cheese I’ve ever had, I’m just not really a fan. It was much improved with a dollop of honey or yuzu marmalade.

As if that wasn’t enough food, we also split a peach souffle with Earl Grey creme anglais. It was fine, again, I am just not a fan of souffle. I did like the subtle peach flavour. And you know ti was made right because of the long wait.

 

*an old post I forgot in my Drafts folder, incredibly this is from the end of February 2020, a month ago and before everything went off the rails

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

At Least The View Was Nice?

Broadview Hotel was voted best rooftop patio. I didn’t doubt that, I just doubted going there at the end of February. Winter and patios do not equate in my mind. And is it a patio if it’s an enclosed space?

I’ll give them this much: the patio had a great view of the city to the west, the sun was just finishing setting, it all looked very picturesque. The bar itself also had a nice cozy ambiance like a ski cabin. All well and good- but I was here for food.

We split an order of the fondue, which came with two glasses of Jacob’s Creek double barrel, the barrel part giving the distinct impression of whisky moreso than wine. It worked out for me that I prefer wine to whisky. It did kind of overlap with my second drink, the mulled wine but that’s ok. Overall, the drinks were great. The food not so much. The cheese part of the fondue was great, I liked that. BUT you need something good to dip in it, and quite frankly a giant pile of ever-so-slightly stale baguette just doesn’t cut it. On the menu it warned that the fondue takes 20 minutes. Perfect we thought, we can eat the potato rosti while we wait. Except the fondue came out before the rosti. I would rather have waited while they cut the baguette freshly (instead of, as I suspect, they had a giant pile of precut chunks). Soon the rosti came out and I switched to that for a change of pace. One bite and I was right back to the bread. Rosti is apparently just another word for hash browns. No thank you and no amount of smoked salmon will make me like it. I was disappointed. Maybe dessert would save the day? There was no question between “smores” and maple creme brulee. Why were smores in quotations? I kind of wish I had found out. Instead we had a not-so-great “maple” creme brulee. I say “maple” because it barely tasted of maple. They did a rush job torching the top. Parts were burnt and other parts were not fully crystallized.

Not great. But I will be stealing their mulled wine recipe. What a genius idea to add apple cider!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

New Number One!

New Number One!

Up next in our fooding rotation was the top 100 list, which we’d made quite a dent in. We were in the double digits, Kiin was #25 or so? After our dinner, I think that list needs to be redone. Kiin should be above Momofuku, hands down.

I love a restaurant that by default has a sharing menu. It makes life so much more fun. We started with the dumplings. The menu said there would be 4 in total, I was picturing big pillowy steaming, well, dumplings. Man was I wrong. And happily so! The flavours and textures all blended together so perfectly and harmoniously, it reminded me of Grey Gardens (although that was a whole ‘nother level). Plus they were tiny little bite-sized pieces. Up next we had the dish with the crunchy noodles and it was the perfect amount of crunchy and some citrusy zest. Our final dish was the chicken and sugar snap peas. It was settled, this was the best meal of the year! Yay! A new contender that actually earned the top spot rather than just getting it by default!

It’s a good thing we don’t take the neighbouring tables into account. Otherwise, these were some of the weirdest and at times most annoying people we’ve eaten around in a while. To one side we had an awkward second or third date? And to the other side we had drunk 40 something year-olds enjoying a night out, at some point one was complaining about being down in the grass among animal shit while giraffes (which she claimed are not nearly as cool as everyone thinks?!) walked by.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 
 
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