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Category Archives: ~Food Reviews

Double Dose!

I recently landed an internship as a TV producer’s assistant. My first task on my first day was to research the restaurant scene in Toronto, needless to say that was a fun day. One of the first things I found out, which led to panicked texts and quick planning.. La Carnita finally had a bricks-n-mortar location!! We no longer had to be ready on the fly to go to a last-minute event to buy some art in order to receive “the best tacos” on the side as a free gift! I was thrilled. And paranoid. New place + having been said to at some point be the best tacos = paranoid. We walked by an hour before opening (which is 5pm-ish) and thankfully there was no line-up. Still I insisted we show up 10 minutes before open lest we have another Grand Electric situation on our hands (half hour before open, line-up around the block). We get there right at 5, no line-up so I saunter up to the door, Brent hesitates saying the place does not look open, I say there are people inside, he says they are staff. I try the door, it is unlocked so I walk in. Only to be told they are not open yet. This would be what they mean by 5ish on their website. So we sit outside on the patio, in the awful face-melting heat and wait. Thankfully the wait is no more than 5 minutes.

We sat in the middle of the restaurant with a good view of the bar and the kitchen, well Brent did anyways. He had a staring showdown with one of the chefs. By accident he claims, he thought he was looking at a mirror? For starters Brent ordered a beer, the server came back and said that it had just arrived and was not cold yet. Brent looks at me like :O and I shrug, he scans the beer list quickly, deciding on another beer. As soon as the server leaves Brent goes “OMG!” I shrug again. He says that the beer he had tried to order was one they talked about on a baseball podcast that because it is so thick it never gets cold. I ‘spose that worked out nicely for him. I on the other hand would be irate that I could not have my drink of choice. We decided to split an appetizer first, the guacamole and chips. The chips were better than Grand Electrics, the guacamole was almost as good, it is hard to say, it had a tad more lime flavour to it? What I can say is, it was a much more reasonable size because we managed to finish it.

Then it came to taco time. We were finally going to have La Carnita tacos. After a year of unsuccessful hunting… it all came down to this. We were going to split a chorizo taco and a fish taco. Fish taco first: it was better than Buster’s Sea Cove, but dwarfed by Grand Electric. Chorizo taco was better, alas not as good as El Trompo’s taco. It was still worth it to satiate my curiosity though. Being a sucker for dessert, I convinced Brent to split a churro with me. Not so much a churro, as three small ones. Served in a tiny bowl of the most delicious creamiest, milkiest, sweetest caramel sauce ever! I temporarily contemplated drinking the rest. What made La Carnita stand out (aside from the churros) was the service. That was one of  the best dining experiences I have had in the city. We were in and out in 30 minutes! That is 30 minutes for what amounted to a three course meal!

The next day’s dinner plans were rather last minute, so we decided to opt for something quick. We had been recently talking about my dislike of California Sandwiches. About a month ago my sisters and I went there for we had all heard from others that it was amazing. We split a less-than-stellar meat ball sub and dubbed it overrated. When Brent told his coworker about it he guffawed that we had ordered the worst sandwich on the menu. He said the sweet veal (their signature) or the steak were where it’s at. And so we had our dinner plans. The steak sandwich was nothing spectacular, it was better than Subway’s steak sandwich, which is not saying much really. The sweet veal was better, but still not outstanding for all the hype surrounding it. I don’t understand the appeal. The meat and sauce combo make the bun completely disintegrate and because it is the same sauce on all three sandwiches I have had, they all taste rather similar. California Sandwiches is overrated and overhyped. I much prefer higher quality sandwiches, such as Porchetta & Co.

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Real Hungry

I am not a big sports fan, that is why it has taken us this long to go to Toronto’s best sports bar. And also we had to actually make a reservation it is so popular there. But with EuroCup on I could not resist the idea of getting to watch Poland play. I gathered some people, got some yeses and we made a reservation for 8. In the end there were 4 of us. But it worked out really well because we got a booth with the perfect view of the movie-screen sized TV, and we got double lucky because they were showing the Poland vs. Czech match! This also happened to the be the final match determining who was going through to the next round, so it was a nail-biter.

The only true real screaming that happened was when Greece scored against Russia (it was playing on smaller screens). The bar erupted in screams of joy and some said whimpering yelps from the Russians in the corner. The bar itself however was packed with Poles. Everywhere you looked you saw bottles of Zywiec. So much so that when my sister tried to order one the waitress wasn’t even sure if there was any left. At one point a waitress walked by with a pot of tea and a cup with a lemon wedge, we giggled because that was clearly for some Polish patrons.

In the end Poland lost. But I won in my showdown with a foot long hot dog. In addition to which there was also some pulled pork on top of it. I couldn’t settle for just a regular old run-of-the-mill foot long when Real Sports bar is known for their fancy hot dogs. The game was distracting enough that I just kept eating and before I knew it, the whole thing had vanished. This was all well and good until later in the day. Meat hangover. But well worth it, it was delicious.

Oh and a Greek player got really mad. I am talking 10 minutes of dramatic arm flailing and yelling and nearly crying. It was amazing. And they kept replaying the initial moment of anger. And then they would show him in real time, off to the sidelines… still angry.

Life’s Goal 73.) eat a foot long hotdog is now done. It nearly killed me. If the soccer game was not on to distract me it would have been an epic fail, instead I overate and almost got sick.

 

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Unexpected To Say The Least

I decided to splurge on lunch yesterday, which is to say, I actually bought lunch. Well, that depends on what counts as lunch. On my way to the interview I spotted one of the semi-new food trucks on the Toronto scene, Gourmet B*tches and that immediately caught my attention. It was all I could think about. Lunch from a mini-food truck event in a parking lot!

Alas when I got there I was more than slightly disappointed. There were only four food trucks. Gourmet B*tches didn’t have a menu out, I had already eaten from Buster’s Sea Cove and did not feel like Greek food from Blue Donkey Streatery… so of course I walked over to Sweetness, to their pastel pink truck and pa-roused the menu board. A girl’s gotta eat! It was not a difficult decision as to which cupcake to have. There was only one that stood out, one that I (as far as I know) I could not get anywhere else. Cotton candy. I know, I know. It sounds utterly disgusting (not so much if you have previously eaten the maple bacon cupcake from For The Love of Cake). She asked me if I wanted it to go or if I was just going to eat the whole thing right there. I actually had to stop and think about it and thought it best to have it to go. It was either going to be really good or really bad, no way would it fall in the middle. I had to make Brent eat some.

I tried to bite into it (the icing was as big as the cupcake itself) as I was walking down Queen Street, I imagine I looked quite ridiculous. It was unbelievably amazing. I had to use all my willpower to not just devour the entire thing. So I settled for eating half. And then scooping some of the more than generous helping of icing off the top. You know, just to make sure it really was good. It tasted like ice cream. The cupcake part itself also tasted like cotton candy. Bottom to top, this was an amazing cupcake. And if the food truck didn’t say it was from Burlington on the side, I would happily say that this was the best cupcake in the city. It is the best cupcake in Burlington instead.

And having been alone for lunch, there was no one to tell me I had a tiny icing mustache atop my lip. I didn’t know until I was in the change room at Victoria’s Secret.

For dinner I opted for healthier fare and not eating alone. Brent and I went to One Love for some vegan food (totally makes up for eating a cupcake for lunch). I had the corn soup which for some reason they served to me in two coffee cups to go? Not sure why. At first I was not looking forward to eating that much soup. Thankfully half of it was veggies! So really, I ended up throwing away a cup of soggy soup-soaked vegetables. Brent had the roti, and of all the rotis I have nibbled on so far, this one by far had the best bread part to it. Combine it with the curry stuffing from Gandhi roti and that would be an amazing roti. We also had the mango juice smoothie on the side. It was good, nice and sweet, alas it had to contend with the lemonade flavoured with maple syrup I had at Sadie’s. Nothing will ever be as good.

Sad cup of sad soggy veggies. The soup was good, but I still refuse to eat the veggies in a soup.

 

 

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My Dogs Are Barking

I should not have listened to the weather report. It said rain. It said thunder. So I wore no sunscreen and my crappy sandals (lest I ruin my leather ones). I am now sunburnt and my feet hurt.

I should not have said anything. I called Brent from Queen St. and told him to meet me so we could continue along to St. Lawrence Market to have the best peameal bacon sandwich for lunch. I had my motives for this, which became clear as we got closer. I had wanted to pass by LuminatTO and see what was going on. But that was not all. At St. Lawrence there just happened to be a dog festival going. And I just so happen to have known about it. I should not have told him, it would have been hilarious to watch how long it took him to figure it out, for as we got closer there were more and more dogs.

The sandwich was just what I needed, for at that point I had been walking for about 2 and a half hours or so? Straight from my house to St. Lawrence, no pit stops. Along the way at Sunnyside I passed by a canoe & kayak festival, Paddlefest and got some free granola bar samples. But that is nowhere near enough food, even when lacking an appetite. The sandwich was enormous, a giant kaiser generously filled with salty peameal bacon, just meat, nothing else. That is how a sandwich ought to be.

As we walked along King Street I mentioned how I had looked online and that the cookie thing that Brent had intended to order at La Merceria was in fact what was in that jar, that I had initially thought was it. So we popped in there along the way for a little dessert snack to tide us over. (At this point I had been walking for close to 4 hours).

If you are keeping count, that is three festivals so far (Paddlefest, LuminaTO, and Woofstock). On our way back, cutting through Trinity Bellwoods I saw some inflatable bouncy castles off in the distance and demanded we head that way. It was a Portugal Party for the Eurocup. Not terribly interesting. By far the winner of the day was Woofstock. The street had actually been blocked off for all the dogs. Never have I seen so many dogs in one place, so many different sized dogs. We wondered aloud, how quick one dog barking would get the whole crowd of dogs barking or how quick a dog parade would form of one dog sniffing another’s butt, a conga line of dog’s sniffing butts.

(Portugal Party)

(Paddlefest, as I walked home… bringing my total walking time to just short of six hours.)

 

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Attempted Brunch

Yesterday we were headed to a Blue Jays game. It was decided that we would eat something beforehand. Because I showed up relatively early we thought we would head on over to Auntie’s & Uncle’s and attempt to eat brunch there. On a Sunday. At 11am. At one of the most popular brunch spots in Toronto, voted best brunch in the city. It was not happening, we got there and there was a line almost a block long! Our other back-up plan had also failed, we wanted to go to St. Lawrence Market for best peameal bacon sandwich, alas St. Lawrence is closed on Sundays.

We had a back-up plan, anticipating the line-up: Sadie’s Juice Bar & Diner, voted best something. (I am really at a loss right now as what, something breakfast/brunch). The place should really be called Slowdie’s, because it was sloooow. Maybe that is OK, if you are one of those people who sit around for hours slowly eating and talking etc… but when you are on your way to get a free bobble head before the Jays game, you want your food ASAP. To put it in perspective: it was about 15 minutes before our orders were even taken.

You cannot go to a juice bar and not order juice, it just doesn’t work like that. I had the fresh squeezed lemonade (sweetened with maple syrup!) and Brent had the grapefruit, orange, lemon juice. Mine was clearly the winner, I won yet again! To go with the juice I had the buckwheat pancakes with chocolate chips. I was kind of expecting the chocolate chips to be inside the pancakes themselves, but was surprised to find in the middle chocolate chips had been piled up between the pancakes! A nice surprise. The pancakes were a bit thinner than the giant thick ones you would normally expect. You know, the kind that you have to drench in maple syrup before they are even halfway soaked with it? Yep, these pancakes were thinner and much more absorbent of the maple syrup I doused them with. And the veggie sausage that came on the side, it tasted like fast-food chicken (i.e.: somewhat reminiscent of chicken, but not the real thing).

As soon as our food came Brent asked for the bill, when she returned with it he handed her the money and asked for the change back. As soon as we finished eating we were out the door, it must’ve looked like we were dining and dashing. We were not, we were countering for slowness. We got out of there before the two who had started eating when we were seated.

For dessert we went next door to the best Latin American cafe & bakery: La Merceria, which just happened to be right next door. Being the coffee addict that I am, I could not pass up having a cafe manchado (espresso with a drop of condensed milk). I made the stupid mistake of adding sugar, forgetting that it was most likely sweetened condensed milk. It was so sweet it kind of burned my throat. But still a really good drink. A delicous way to get a quick hit of espresso without the (occasional) bitterness. Brent had thealfajor, which according to the internet is a cookie. But in the cafe there was also a sign saying it was an espresso with a dollop of ice cream. Which is what he got, it was at least cooled down for him. There were some cookies in a jar that I had suspected initially were the alfajors. And now looking at the BlogTO site for it, yep those were in fact what we had wanted. Also: because we had our espressos to go, we missed out on the complimentary cookie on the side. This is one we have to revisit.

(The ice cream melted really quickly)

 

NOTE: Sadie’s was voted best diner.

 

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Only One Pickle On Top…

A guy in front of us ordered just one pickle atop his burger at Woody’s. Why on God’s Green Earth did we venture to the edge of the city, almost into Mississauga, to a burger joint? It might have something to do with the fact that their turkey burgers were voted best in the city! The place has the same set-up as Big Smoke Burger, burgers cooked on giant grill from raw not frozen and tricked out with tonnes of topping options. The guys working the grill were hilarious, making innuendo jokes while cooking the burgers.

He called my burger boring because I got just the turkey burger rather than one of the fancy pre-topped ones. I made it my own with the smoky ketchup and roasted red peppers. It was anything but boring, it was better than the menu one (Smokey Turkey) that Brent had ordered, so ha! I say to the grill guy, ha! Except I am certain he gave me mustard instead of the curry mayo. But that just means I have to go back. For more delicious turkey burgers.

All in all it gets a mustardy thumbs up!

 

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Jerk Dinner

Nope, I did not dine with a jerk, I dined on jerk, as in jerk chicken (not cannibalizing a jerk). For our rainy Friday afternoon dinner (and it really was rainy, why even Union Station got flooded) we ventured east to Mr. Jerk for the city’s finest jerk chicken. And just to satiate my curiosity we also got oxtail stew and a goat roti. It was a cold miserable windy walk home. It was not helped by the gnawing hunger. Or the confusion. While we  placed our order a guy (and his friend on the phone) seemed to be picking a fight with the lady (whom I assume to be the owner) over her owing him a meal, and her saying it was someone else and periodically complaining about the shoddy reception. It was all very weird, confusing and most of all: it held up the line. The line that was to the door, we had arrived just shy of the dinner rush. And the place is a broom closet.

So how was the jerk food from a broom closet sized restaurant with weird goings-on? The chicken was amazing, it was borderline charred and yet still succulent. The real stand-out however was the oxtail stew. Not really a stew so much as chunks of meat on bone sitting in a broth. The meat so soft & just fall off the bone delicious. My first thought was that it tasted like braised beef (more specifically, the kind you find in goulash)… and then I Googled oxtail stew and found out it IS beef. That would explain the strong beef taste.

The goat roti was the sad laggard, it was nowhere near as good as the previous roti from that place whose name I forget. It was the spiciest of the dishes, but it loses points for not enough curry and bits of bone. The goat meat, well it just tasted like meat.

 

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