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Category Archives: Fooding

But First Dessert- Maybe Not

But First Dessert- Maybe Not

I had seen images on Instagram of a new cafe in the Distillery District that served mini donuts with different toppings. This was in the summer, eventually we got to it on my list. We wandered up and down the lane-way, did we have the address wrong? We looked at the legend map. I looked at my phone. We were in the right place, had we just walked right by it? After some more searching, we found a post on their Instagram that they were closing up shop and would reopen in the west end in 2020. Could’ve put that on the website. I was browsing the menu, salivating over the idea of mini donuts with salted caramel and chocolate.

At least dinner was nearby. I had seen Sukhothai on a list of essential Toronto eateries and they were known for their padthai. I remember not being a fan of either thai food or padthai. It’s the coconut milk I don’t like. Or so I thought. We started with an order of the chicken satay skewers and wouldn’t you know it, they were delicious! They were coated in coconut milk and that made them so much better. I had the cashew shrimps and Brent had the padthai. He got his spicy I got mine regular. Even still it was kind of on the spicy side, but in a good way. We traded halfway and I quickly figured out that the padthai was better if you avoided the boiled beef.

It was amazing how many people came in to pick-up to-go orders during the course of our dinner. When we weren’t commenting on that, we eavesdropped on the second date two tables over. It was awkward and I disliked them both. It was also of note that last year around the same time we had eaten next door at Aviary brewpub BUT this year it was our second outing of the year. We should have planned better.

With that we had our new first place winner. (Last year we decided Actinolite was number one- no contest).

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

New Year, New Fooding

The new year of fooding started out with a debate about what exactly a panini is. I thought it had to be grilled/pressed. Turns out it just means sandwich. We had gotten one of each at Forno Cultura. What I thought was lotsa cheese turned out to be egg in my rosemary flatbread with meat. There was still cheese in there, but not nearly as much as I had been expecting. I only had a few bites of Brent’s sandwich and promptly handed it back to him. It was alright but I preferred the warm flat sandwich versus the sub.  It was nothing I would crave or go back for, especially given how hard it was to find in the underground PATH. At least our first stop had been to Dineen Coffee, voted best cafe. It was packed which makes sense given the accolades. We each had a latte, and easily it was the best vanilla latte I’ve ever had, so creamy and smooth and not overly sweet.

For dessert we went to Butter Bakers in search of the city’s best danish. Did they deliver? Yup. Bonus points for the small size, and mega-bonus points for the fresh fruit and custard combo (versus the usual fruits in sweet sticky jam that gets all over everything). The only let-down was the chocolate crinkle cookie that was just too dense and hard for my liking.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2020 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Leaving It Up To (20-Sided) Fate

Leaving It Up To (20-Sided) Fate

What better way to spend a Thursday night when it’s snowy and cold than eating warm, comforting ramen and then heading out to a nerd bar?

Kinton Ramen had been voted best ramen and I figured you can’t really go wrong with something so simple: broth, noodles, some other stuff. I was wrong. The chicken was rubbery and taht really detracted from an otherwise alright bowl. I did get kind of tired and frustrated towards the end, fishing around for noodles. The best part of the dish was by far the woodear mushrooms I had as an add-in, second place went to the broth itself. Except when it came time to sipping an awkward wooden-ladle-ful. On it’s own it was a touch too salty and really it worked better as an accompaniment to the rest.

Bellies only half full (but at least very warm) we set off for Storm Crow Manor. The place had been on my radar for a while. First, because it was supposed to be the new Bar Volo. Then when that didn’t happen, I was curious to see what was taking so long with all that construction. It was a geeky bar. That won’t last, we thought. Turns out we wrong, so wrong that we were now going there. And the place was packed, we got one of the last few tables left. Over the summer I had seen a BlogTO post that they had two options: 1) roll the dice to determine what shot you will drink and 2) build a burger based on dice rolls. Thankfully (?) it was a 20-sided dice.

As we were shown to our table, the lady told us feel free to walk around check out all the rooms. We were in the Mary Shelley room, aka not the Twin Peaks room aka one of the few things I was interested in. I rolled the dice and got a 16, our server knew what it was without reading the menu: Absolut mandarin and orange juice. Yes please! I was very happy I didn’t get something with Jagermeister or hot sauce. Up next Brent had a dungeon burger (I just got the name reference now as I was writing this, it’s a D&D dice!). His burger started out great with a potato bun. Except then it was a veggie patty. And vegan cheese. And mayo, BBQ sauce and aioli?! That’s double mayonnaise! His side turned out to be a Caesar salad. We joked about the kitchen staff being like does this guy know that salad isn’t vegan? The burger was surprisingly good, way better than expected. We also split what was supposed to be a mini order of nachos for one, except it wasn’t. It was enormous. They have a brilliant system though. You can opt for having some guacamole on the side! Topping-less chips saved! So worth the extra cost.

It was over the course of this second dinner that we conceived of our most brilliant idea: a pop-up restaurant themed around the sketch show I Think You Should Leave.
After dinner we walked through the house and looked at all the rooms. Unfortunately the Twin Peaks room was closed for a private event, all I saw were the red velvet ropes and the tiled floor.

I could see us going back there again for drinks.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Well That Was Fun!

Well That Was Fun!

At this point in the year I really cannot remember why Kaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto was on the list. I can’t even tell if it was my list or Brent’s. Brent decided on this place for his birthday lunch. It was a few weeks before we got confirmation of a reserved table- of which they only had 3. I had no clue what we were in for, so few tables?! Would we be forced to interact with people? Would we hear everything??

The restaurant was located in the Japanese cultural centre: that should have been a clue. We were led through a beautiful archway complete with a small waterfall and garden-like area and down a hallway… to our own private dining room! At first I was worried it would be awkward, just us and the server? He was more of a server actually, he taught us a little bit about Japanese culture as well.

All told we had a blast. It was a memorable dining experience. It never seemed to drag on as some tasting menus can seem to at times. We got to try a lot of new foods that we may not have otherwise tried if we had seen them on the menu. When I think of lotus I picture it borderline setting off my fear of holes (I can never remember what it is called and I sometimes Google it EXCEPT the first results are images, as if to confirm if you  have it- WHO DOES THAT?!). Meaning odds are, I would probably never order it. Having tried it now, meh I don’t think I really missed out on much. Overall the dishes were well-made and we got to try a wide variety but nothing was blow-away. The miso soup was borderline as was the first course.

It was a really fun experience and it’s a hidden gem in Toronto.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Fooding

 

Aloette is French for Disappointing*

Aloette is French for Disappointing*

*I am well aware I gave away the ending.

I went into our odd-hour lunch (3pm is neither lunch nor dinner) at Aloette with medium-low expectations based on our experience at Alobar. If only I knew how wrong I was. I am actually a little bit impressed with just how below-expectation Aloette was! Seriously! Across the board everything was subpar. The cocktails barely saved it. The bread was alright.

To start we had the hamachi sashimi. We were presented with a bowl and a spoon. Just one, so we could serve ourselves. It was a confused dish. The fish, the avocado and what was supposed to be salsa verde (but was really just flavourless green goop) did not go together at all. The fish was underneath it all but had taken in none of the flavour. The avocado, though warm and salted, seemed like it was tossed in just because, more of an after-thought.

The potato gnocchi looked good but all I could taste was Parmesan cheese. With a cheese that expensive and that rich in flavour, a little goes a long way. Even the pieces with little cheese had soaked it up from their mates. Brent said the bacon, which I avoided as if I needed any more umami flavour, was chewy. The fried chicken looked and sounded promising. Yuzu and honey! Except the lettuce was served on the side: were we supposed to make a salad of it? Wrap the chicken in it? I ate just the chicken. Which was not that good. I doused it in hot sauce and that helped a little. The best (though so few) bites were the ones with the yuzu-honey combination! Why was it just a little tiny sprinkling?! Why didn’t it get the Parmesan treatment?! Pile it on!

Brent ordered the octopus, maybe that would save our lunch. The octopus at Alobar had been good. Nope. It was bland and tasteless. It was on a par with the romanesco in the dish (read: broccoli!). At least I can cross that one off the 1000 foods list?

The award for most lackluster, most disappointing meal goes to…. Aloette! I don’t even feel the need to wait until the end of the year.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2019 in 1001 Foods, Fooding

 

I Guess I’ll Just Title This BURGERS

I Guess I’ll Just Title This BURGERS

Early on I was not good about making notes. I would just message Brent with my “I want to eat here” demands. Sometimes I may say why. Sometimes I would just send a drool emoticon. And so we found ourselves one Wednesday evening, puzzling over why I had said we should go to Ozzy’s Burgers in Kensington. My guess was either it was on a burger list or I had seen it on Instagram. Maybe known for their chicken sandwich?

We ordered one burger (that inexplicably had a fried egg on top) and one chicken burger. Brent had tried to order cajun fries but when the lady asked if he wanted to make a combo, she inadvertently turned our cajun fries into regular. The chicken burger won hands down. The regular burger was good in some bites, bad in others. It tasted like real good, high-qualty meat, but was not seasoned that well. I absolutely hated that there was egg yolk running out of it and onto the fries. The fries, while not cajun spiced, where still pretty damn good fries.

On the way home we stopped in at Eataly. I had gone earlier in the day and now we went back. I wanted to get cannoli for dessert and Brent wanted to see the birroteca. The upstairs was crammed. While Brent waited for his slices of pizza, I wandered over to see about getting an aperol spritz from the bar. Everyone around me in the marketplace had one and it made me want one. Alas, I found out that the line parallel to the pizza one was the bar line. And it was moving even more slowly. This would have to wait, as would all of the restaurants. The lines to get in were huge. The birroteca also stocked regular Indie Ale House brews, not just the four made specially for Eataly. We could have had a table at the birroteca but I wanted to go home to my ciders and eat my cannoli. The cannolis were ok, a little over-baked. The pistachio one was meh. The sweet goat cream one was good but what made it stand out was the sour cherries we had it dipped in. It’s too bad a jar of those costs $40 at Eataly. On my first trip I had seen mini pannetone cakes, and now I could not find them for the life of me. I’m not sure if they all sold out (mini=cute) or if because they had been at eye-level they were now being blocked from my view by the busy crowds?

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2019 in Fooding

 

I’ve Got That Thing Golfers Get Except for Titles*

I’ve Got That Thing Golfers Get Except for Titles*

*the yips, I figured it out

It’s getting close to the end of the year, except this time around we actively ranked restaurants soon after our meals instead of waiting until the very end. Who can remember a dinner from almost a year ago? No one, except maybe Proust. That being said, it’s hard to edge out our top three contenders thus far (we are only counting Toronto-based fooding, counting our California trip would just be plain unfair). I had high hopes for Grey Gardens, it was from the lady behind Black Hoof and they had a Michelin-starred chef. We walked right by the place the first time, it had grey grating on the window and legit looked like a closed down storefront. We double-backed and even still once the number was confirmed, questioned if we had the right place? It did fit right in with the Kensington vibe (ironically it was the finest and most expensive dining we’ve ever had in Kensington and the total opposite of the usual fare).

So how did it stack up? Pretty damn well. It was one of the better meals we’ve had, everything was well-balanced and in harmony. They get major bonus points for encouraging sharing.  I initially had my eye on the truffle sausage until i saw the fried maitake, which only caught my fancy after I googled it and found out it was a type of mushroom. And it was served with a mustard dipping sauce? Heck yes! I tried to order the cider they had on tap (such a rarity) alas they were all out. Instead I went with my backup: orange wine. I half expected it to be made of oranges but apparently it referred to contact with the skin grapes.

The mushroom was amazing, so lightly breaded and perfectly deep fried. The mustard dipping sauce was perfect. Up next we had scallops. I am generally not a fan, I will eat them but not always enjoy them. I might be wrong, when done right they are so good. They were thinly sliced and so soft, there was a citrus-y zing to them and a tart crunch from something we could not quite identify? When you had a bite of all three it was amazing. That’s what we were starting to realize over our first bites of the arctic char: all the elements of each dish paired together and created a balance. Everything was on the plate for a reason. It reminded me of another time when we had ordered two different mains but we were served the same sides.  The skin on the char was so slightly crispy, it borderline wasn’t even crispy. I usually kind of ignore the stuff underneath i.e.: the stuff listed in the menu after the main item. Not so with the char, every forkful had a piece of fish and an equal amount of the farro. It was so damn good, even now I am thinking about it and craving it. Our last dish was the skate, you can never go wrong with skate. It might be one of my favourite seafood dishes. The skate was delicious, even if the tamarind was faint. It was so delicate and yet meaty? I was not a fan of the mustard greens, the mushrooms were good but I was reaching the point where I couldn’t eat any more.

We were still hungry for dessert but nothing on the menu caught our eye. Brent pointed out that Little Pebbles Bakery, voted best Japanese dessert, was just around the corner. We ordered a slice of strawberry shortcake, a coconut yuzu tart and a matcha canelle. As soon as we got home, I was barely settled and already had a fork in hand. The yuzu tart was the clear winner. How can you go wrong with that combination? You can’t. It was delicious, the tartness of the yuzu set off by the sweetness of the coconut in a not-too-sweet tart shell. We should have just gotten two of those and left it at that. The strawberry shortcake was OK, I liked the cream but the cake itself was kind of dry. I was surprised to find that the exterior of the canelle was rock hard. I had tried to cut it in half and I struggled. The inside was a soft and spongey cake but it was just a weird little dessert. I ate it first, anticipating it would be the worst of the three based solely on my trying to cut it. Then I took a bite of the cake and the tart to determine who was next.
On the walk back we passed by Eataly again. It was opening day and I had assumed I could casually just go in. My initial plan was to go in the afternoon after yoga. Nope. They didn’t’ open until 5pm. Ok, alright I thought, we’ll go after dinner. Except on the way to dinner we saw a huge line around the block. Surely it would dissipate by the time we came back? Again no. Oh how wrong I was.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I tried to go back on Sunday, surely it would have calmed down? Nope still a line of approx 60 people? Eataly closed down on Monday to rejig after the madness. I have a feeling for my third attempt on Tuesday, it’s gonna happen. It will, you’ll see.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 
 
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