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Category Archives: ~Food Reviews

New Year, New Best Of’s

A new year means new best of’s, replenshing our stock of closer-by places and saving us from trudging afar. Best new bakery of 2017 was Butter Baker, and oh how convenient, it was at Bay and Dundas. Did it live up to the crowning title? Yup. It was damn delicious. We covered the gamut and got a pork bun, lemon meringue croissant, a slice of smores cake and a matcha and strawberry danish. While they were known for their cake, I found it lackluster and a paltry last place. Nowhere near as good as the danish or the pork bun. The lemon meringue was delicious (it was marshmallowy!), but I’ve had better croissants.

We devoured the croissant and bun in the bakery, standing at a small table by the door, crumbs just flying everywhere as we people watched the street. I imagine people walking by saw us and were like damn that must be a good bakery.

Having refuelled, we continued on our way back to our old neighbourhood. Best new bar, Mahjong, was a stones throw from Trinity Bellwoods park. I was not quite sure how to feel about a “secret” bar given how awkward it was trying to find the one in Kensington market. Brent ended up walking right past the place. I seriously thought he was joking. Once inside we grabbed a table and settled in. The place was not that busy (yet- by the end of the night it was crammed). We ordered a drink each, deciding to wait until the next round, by which time hopefully our friend would have arrived, before ordering food.

The first drink I had consisted of salted watermelon and soju. Oddly it was too heavy on the watermelon flavour. Our friend still had not arrived so we put off ordering food, instead going for round two. This time I had a cocktail with mezcal, tequila and ginger. It was way better than the first one, by far. We took a break from drinking, we hadn’t really had a proper meal yet. The braised beef and noodles absolutely hit the spot, even if it was hard to eat with chopsticks, especially towards the end. Having eaten, we were safe to return to drinking. Cocktail #3 had sake, soju, rosemary, lime and peychaud. It was now in second place, losing only to the ginger cocktail. Our friend had arrived at some point during round #3 and it would have been round to only stay for one round and so round four commenced soon enough. Besides there was really only one other cocktail on the fine menu that had caught my eye, the salty bar. It was the third best, losing only to the terrible watermelon one. It was a nice bar, good cocktails, but it’s too far to be a regular haunt.

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You Again?!

 

I am not a fan of quiche. No human should consume that quantity of egg in one meal, it’s just too much. Regardless, I would still try a bite of quiche. A bite was all I needed really. Bonjour Brioche had been voted best quiche and I was not about to turn down a croissant for breakfast. I did not have high hopes of a chocolate croissant. It was my lucky day however as they were not all sold out, despite how late (almost 11am!) we got there. I also got a loaf of bread. The day before I had bought some nice deli meats and a Beau’s beer washed rind cheese- I had epic plans for an afternoon lunch.

The first bite of quiche was not that good. I tried a bite towards the end, when it got to the crispy flaky crust. Now that was a good bite! It had flaky crust, green onion and ham. Why did they not just make it a mini-quiche so you have more crispy to soft texture ratio?! And it would be easier to serve?!

Despite the fact that the Taste of Italy street festival was going on, we decided to risk and try going to Birreria Volo. Worst case we would have to stand and drink. We did not walk all that way for nothing. Except when we got there they were not open yet. They were opening an hour later than the website had said. Good thing we had set out late that morning. We went to the temporary Muskoka patio next door to hang out. Getting to sit down and drink ice cold water felt pretty darn good. In the end we wound staying there quite a while. I had 4 different beers because the selection was so new. We had not been since December and now it was a panic to try as much as we could. It was alright though because two of my drinks were 5-6oz pours.

 

Would You Like Some Insulin With That Lunch?

An old post from Jan. 22, 2012 that never got published:

 

Having had a rough couple of weeks, I insisted that this weeks fooding be comfort food as well as sweet & sugary. What a perfect solution: pancakes! Who doesn’t find comfort in a giant stack of warm fluffy pancakes (twice after morning plans did not pan out, Brent and I found ourselves in Ihop eating pancakes)? It seemed fitting to go out and eat the best pancakes in the city at Mitzi’s on College. Oatmeal pancakes at that.

First the good. It was nice to have the best of both worlds, oatmeal and a pancake! The apple mush onto was also a nice touch. It tasted pretty good, no complaints there. Except some parts did have a mildy burnt taste. And I did not care for it being soaked in syrup, I would’ve rather done that myself (with much less of it). And more apple! It was so good! Thanks to the syrup soaked nature, the pancake was rather soggy and that ruined the light & fluffiness of it. I did not care for the potatoes on the side, gross. Who wants that with their pancake? The only time those two go together is in potato pancakes.

I had a bite of Brent’s french toast as well. Not good. The egg mixture did not soak into the bread and kind of sat on top. It was almost like eating a fried egg on a piece of bread. I have had better pancakes and I have had better french toast. Or maybe it is just me? Maybe I like my pancakes simple, with just some fruit (on top of or inside, either way)?

Afterwards we headed to Bakerbots for some dessert. As if we had not had enough sugar already. The line at Bakerbots was to the door and we had to stand outside because the jerk at the end of the line would not make room for us. I was tempted to hit him with the door. Bakerbots has amazing ice cream sandwiches. You get to choose the type of cookie (I think there were about 5) and the ice cream (maybe 10 different ones?) and you can have a whole or a half. Which means you can have 4 different cookies and 2 different ice creams in total! If your pancreas can take that. As if that was not enough sugar, we also got some macarons. Sadly we could not eat them right away, being too full of ice cream sandwiches.  When I finally did eat them, meh. The macaron part was nowhere near as light as the ones I had from Nadege and there was too much cream filling, making it heavy. That does not really matter much, because those ice cream sandwiches, man alive! THEY WERE AMAZING. I had the ginger molasses cookie with sweet cream icing, it was heavenly. And the serving size? More than generous. I think the price for the ice cream is cheaper than getting a scoop at Ed’s with the same/more ice cream.

 

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Healthy Eating 101

A new doughnut shop recently opened on my walking route to Brent’s house. The poorly named Glory Hole Donuts was also just recently voted best doughnut in the city.  I was walking to his house.And it was Kyle’s birthday, so we had an excuse for eating so many doughnuts. It was meant to be.  We settled on a half dozen. I ordered two of each, that way we could try all the good flavours on offer (no one wants cinnamon sugar, gross). Maple had just run out, and there was no sign of lemon meringue or Elvis (marshmallow, peanut butter and banana chips), instead we had: black forest cake, chocolate pretzel and chocoalte pistachio. We started with the chocolate pretzel: it was amazing! The doughnut was soft and fresh (but sort of chewy). The pretzel bits in the chocolate icing were the best part, a nice contrast of sweet and salty, chewy and crunchy. The chocolate pistachio lacked that crunch that made the pretzel so good. The black forest cake was nothing spectacular really. First of all: where is the chocolate?! There was a just a tiny drizzle of chocolate in the pink (but just sugar-flavoured) icing. There was the option for whipped cream and cherries, but that was not enough to save the doughnut or bring any semblance of black forest cake to it.

Not surprisingly, a few pieces of various doughnuts is hardly a lunch. I insisted on going to Little Dog for a steamie. I was not in the mood for anything fancy. I just wanted a quick filling bite (we had other matters to attend to, namely building a fort in Kyle’s room). I had the Chicago dog, despite Brent’s protestations that it was awful. It was not awful. It was delicious. Rare is it that a hotdog is gross. Unless you get sauerkraut on it, as Brent did.
P.S.: the city really needs some chardogs.

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2012 in Adventures of Pinka!, ~Food Reviews

 

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Om Nom Nom

This is a double-post.
Who would have known: kimchi on fries is delicious. We recently went to Banh Mi Boyssandwich shop for a quick lunch. And what a lunch it was! Nothing beats sandwiches and french fries. Even when you cannot identify all the components of your sandwich, such as the weird yellow thing. Which if I am reading the website menu correctly were cucumbers? That can’t be right. Regardless, it was a delicious and filling sandwich, yup, even the pickled carrots. You just can’t go wrong with grilled chicken. The sandwiches were also huge, I ended up only eating half. This is one of those places you have to go back to a few times to try all the different sandwiches on offer.

 
Dinner at a wine bar sounds nice and fancy doesn’t it? Midfield was not fancy. It was charmingly low-key, in a nice unassuming way. When I hear wine bar, I think “Oh God, they are going to laugh at me as I incorrectly pronounce the name of the wrong wine pairing for my food”, but Midfield is the opposite. The wine menu is printed on line paper and given to you on a clipboard, you can also read it off the chalkboard. The food menu is limited (still, despite rumours of expansion back in March) to charcuterie (cheeses and meats), oysters and a feature item. We shared the venison terrine and a 3 item plate of charcuterie (chorizo, some other kind of meat, and a cheese I cannot find the name of anywhere). The terrine came with an apple chutney, that on the terrine, on a piece of bread was amazing. So delicious! The charcuterie plate came with hot mustard, pickles, almonds, apricots and what I can only assume were pickled peppers? The meats were delicious both on their own and with toppings. The cheese, oh my the cheese. I got a whiff of it and nearly lost my appetite: it smelled like stinky feet. And Googling that got me the name of the cheese. It was munster cheese. It smelled so bad, but I was set on trying it, then I could really claim to not like it- only, it tasted really good! It was a bit confusing, as I brought it to my mouth it stunk, but then it tasted so good, not at all how it smelled. This was also the first time I ate cheese in its unmelted form and enjoyed it. The problem with a charcuterie plate is that it is difficult to get the right amount of bread. Halfway through we ran out of bread, so we asked for more. We were expecting a few slices, instead we got another entire bowlful. Which actually worked out perfectly in the end. The only gripe I have is that the wine list was surprisingly small, and it featured only one sparkling wine and no rose wines. In total, I don’t think they had more than 15 wines on offer, which is pretty bad for a place claiming to be a wine bar.
 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in ~Food Reviews

 

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I Am Going to EXplode

[I have a deep-fried hangover]

This is the first year ever when I am actually going to be away for the airshow, I have had to put up with it for 25 miserable years (I mean, 20, 20 miserable years) and finally I am getting a break. The only downside to being away during it is that I will also be away for a week of the CNE. I had to condense my multiple visits into a rather small time frame. Actually going within days of each other. I pretty much had enough time to digest and go to the bank. The first time we went for the whole day and saw mostly everything. The little bits I had missed I made up on round 2.

Every year the ice show gets better, they always add on new things. This year they added in a whole bunch of new things: breakdancers, jugglers, and trampoliners. It made me feel old, watching these young kids bouncing on a trampoline and kicking off a wall into a backflip back onto the trampoline and on and on. All I could thing was how bad my knees would hurt. And how scared of injury I would be. I spent most of the show unable to blink. The breakdancers got extra spin whilst on their backs thanks to the ice. The jugglers somehow managed not to fall flat on their faces while walking around in running shoes ON ICE AND JUGGLING AT THE SAME TIME. I could barely look away, let alone blink as one guy suspended himself from the ceiling by just holding ropes… with nothing but cold hard ice below were he to fall. To say that it was insane, would be an understatement. While this was all happening there were ice dancers all over, spinning, twirling and balancing. It was a circus without the animals and no tent. There were times when I literally did not know where to look, there was so much happening all at once. All precariously scary things that I would never dream of doing.

The dog show did not disappoint, how could it, they are Super Dogs! What can I say? We watched dogs run obstacle courses and catch frisbees for a good 40 minutes to a blaring hip hop and top 40 soundtrack. One dog was not having the run-around-barrels part of the obstacle course so he ran into it and knocked it down with his front paws. It was adorable. New this year they had people, by which I mean kids, race the dogs. Nothing is funnier than watching a child race a Chihuahua puppy that is so small at some times you lose sight of it on the course, I swear it was the size of a rabbit. Speaking of rabbits, at the petting zoo this year they had tiny little bunnies, no more than a few weeks old! Probably trying to hit on us, one of the workers, a young guy, came over and took one of the bunnies out to show us. They were sequestered behind a fence, in a pet carrier. It was tiny, it fit in the palm of his hand and the ears were still tiny. There were other baby animals in the petting zoo: horse, donkey, llama.

Walking along through the Arts & Crafts building, past the wonderful dip place (where we spent a good 15 minutes snacking, which only made us hungrier) there is a meat stall. They sell summer sausages, but there is something amiss, something a bit odd. Some of these sausages are made of the very delicious and new thus year: llama and alpaca, in addition to the already-weird kangaroo (which I tried in previous years). You know what else is delicious at the CNE? Deep-fried stuff! So here is a run-down of the two days worth of CNE-specialties:

Pulled pork from Pull’d: Camilla ordered this and I just stole bites when she was not looking. The bun was made of pretzel. which was better than I had expected. The sandwich came with two pan-fried perogies inside of it, good as far as non-home made perogies go, did add to the sandwich. The pulled pork itself was a bit dry, not enough sauce on it and skimpily served, a small amount of meat in the sandwich. Were it not for the perogies or the bun this would have truly been a shabby awful sandwich. It is not a good sign if the pulled pork, the main part of the sandwich. the main thing the vendor is based on, is subpar and dry. It came with a side of beans, beans that no one wanted to eat.

Pizza cone from Just Cone It!: I was set on trying something new, which after last years poor-showing I was afraid I would not find. Fear not! Just Cone It! appeared newly this year to the rescue! Do you ever have the problem of having to eat with two hands, having to sit down to eat? Problem solved: pack the food into a cone. Not an ice cream cone, a bread cone. A bread cone filled with cheese, tomato sauce and pepperonis (albeit there were very few, next time they need more pepperonis) sounds amazing. It is, until you get to the very bottom, after eating mouthful after mouthful of melted cheese with a tiny piece of bread. You start feeling awful, you realize you have eaten about half a brick of cheese. You feel you have just made yourself lactose-intolerant… and yet you keep eating, it is so good, so melty, so cheesy, how could you stop? One of my new favourites at the CNE this year, I really do hope they are back next year.
Deep-fried cheesecake from deep-fried place in Food Building: Keep in mind, I ordered this literally right after wolfing down that pizza cone. I did not know what to expect when I ordered it, would it hold up or disintegrate? Would it sop the oil up like a sponge? Apparently it is a rather difficult one to fry because the guy making mine had to redo it a few times as it kept breaking once he put it in the oil, resulting in a slightly longer wait than usual. While I waited I took to talking to the people around me. In line for deep-fried goodies is the best place to meet people and talk deep-fried. Compare notes, discuss what is good, what is not. It becomes a competition of who ate what. Or dousing peoples dreams and hopes as I did when I told the guy that I had deep-fried Twinkie before and it was disappointing because the creamy-filling had completely melted into the cake, but I saved myself by reminding him that this was in the States, I had not (and still have not) had the one from the CNE. Now down to brass-tax, the deep-fried cheesecake was, wait for it… AMAZING. Of all the deep-fried goodies I have had, it is easily one of my top three. It held up surprisingly well, tructurally, texturally and taste-wise. The cheesecake did not disintegrate. It still looked and felt and tasted like cheesecake. It did not sop up all the oil, it did not even have the flavour of the oil or the batter. The cheesecake was warm and soft and just perfect. Also: it was plain cheesecake without the graham cracker crumb base.
Deep-fried rice krispie square from Sweet Treats: I chanced upon this one by accident, did not even know this was on offer. I found it at the midway stall outside of the Direct Energy Centre, where they have deep-fried butter. I had high hopes for this one, expected to bite into a crunchy and marshmallowy gooey mess. I instead bit into batter and emptiness. The rice krispie square had disintegrated INTO the batter. You would get a bite of batter coating and there would be a tiny crunch of one lone rice krispy. The marshmallow aspect was nowhere to be found. Don’t get me wrong, it was still delicious, as most everything deep-fried is, but it fell short of my expectations. I am surprised about how badly it fell apart though.
Bacon-wrapped beer-battered deep-fried hotdog from Bacon Nation: Bacon is even bigger this year than last at the CNE, thanks in part to one of the Food Building’s new vendors, Bacon Nation. I could not pass up having something with bacon on it at the CNE, I felt like I would be missing out. On my second visit to the CNE, I sucked it up and went to Bacon Nation. What I had really wanted was bacon popcorn. I was so intrigued by it, did it have bacon bits on top? The grease from cooking the bacon? Fake bacon flavour? I had to know! Alas, on my first trip I decided to scope it out and I did not see any bacon popcorn on the menu. When I got home I checked the CNE app and saw that they indeed were slated to serve bacon popcorn, I assumed it must come as a side instead of fries. It was settled, I was going to eat the disgusting-sounding bacon-wrapped hotdog. It was colossal, I thought for sure they would serve me a small dinky hotdog, but nope, this was giant. There was so much meat. The beer-batter was a lot thinner (think fish and chips instead of corn dog) so each bite was a lot meatier. It came with barbeque sauce on the side, but it was better on its own. It was unbelievably satiating, and so greasy, it just dripped with grease. Delicious bacon-y meaty grease. I would not however make it one of my mainstays as I have corn dogs. It is really more of a once-in-a-lifetime thing, just to try it, just for kicks. As for the popcorn, I asked about it and she just abruptly said “no” without an explanation or anything. Just no. This is not over, I am going to look into the matter further.
Deep-fried Jos Louis: This is the only item on the list that was not new. I had tried to eat this last year, but it was sold out. Again, I was not sure what to expect. Would the icing in the middle uphold? What of the chocolate coating? The chocolate coating just disappeared into the mess. The icing, I was shocked to find little remnants of it here and there, I guess the chocolate and cake somehow insulated it? The cake, it was soaked up ALL the oil. It was a greasy soggy mess of delicoiusness. Not outstanding though, the deep-frying did not transform it into a heavenly treat.

There is also a new Lebanese bakery vendor in the Food Building, I had a bite of Camilla’s sesame pita wrap. It was ok, not exactly fair food. But it is one of those foods I can see myself eating outside in the real world, it was not messy, greasy or weird. Just tasty.

If you enjoy shopping at the CNE, be forewarned: this year it is just plain awful. Stitches used to be 50% off the sale price, now the deal is that nothing is over $10, which is to say that most everything is $10. There are maybe two racks with stuff under $5. What happened to the Stitches where you could buy a skirt for $2 or a bikini top for $1?! It is not even worth going. Save your time. Unless you want an awesome shirt that says “Stay Calm and Kill Some Zombies” then maybe you should go. Or the cupcake version.

 

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Anatolia

Between roadtrips and trips to the cottage, not a whole lot of fooding has been done this summer. Over the weekend however we had a car, which of course meant… we could go fooding anywhere. Alas, it was a Saturday afternoon and the places we had in mind, en route to Kitchener for Josh’s birthday, were all supposedly packed on weekends. We went with the safe bet, that was first along the way, and if that failed we would subsequently try the other two.

First we tried Anatolia, voted best hummus. We were the only people in the restaurant, so that worked out nicely. We ordered a mixed plate that had chicken shish-kebobs, ground beef patties and meat inside of a pita all on top of a bed of rice. You cannot just go in and order hummus, it would be too weird. The hummus was amazing, it came with a basket of bread to scoop it up with. The mixed plate was also really delicious and the meat well seasoned. I did not care for the mint yogurt sauce on the side however. The rice soaked up the flavours of the meat as well. I enjoyed a Turkish coffee between the hummus and the mixed plate, it was delicious, until I got a bit of coffee grounds in my mouth at the end.

Making good use of the weekend, I spent Sunday afternoon on the boardwalk patio at Sunnyside Cafe, looking out over the boardwalk at the lake while munching on some delicious coconut shrimp.

 

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