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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

 

Canadian Bookender: Day 4

Canadian Bookender: Day 4

Sun. Nov. 24, 2019:
Port Hawksbury, Nova Scotia to Toronto:

I woke up feeling groggy and sad. The bed was a small comfort, making it harder to get up. I had a few sips of iced coffee left but I would still need coffee. We stopped at a gas station so I too could refuel. We drove to Blue Mountains, NS to see the farm owned by Brent’s great aunt and to see the Presbyterian church. We were also on the lookout for a swimming hole, Brent’s grandpa’s favourite one. It was fun trying to guess which spot it was. We walked into the church but the service was about to begin so it was really awkward, we had walked in looked around and left. We double-backed to where the swimming hole may have been to get a better look. On one side was a pool turning into a river and on the other side of the road it had become a full-on waterfall. It was all very pretty and I was happy to have my camera out. We drove to New Glasgow to visit Brent’s great aunt who couldn’t make it to our wedding. It was so nice to meet her and hear stories about the family and growing up in Nova Scotia.

We still had one more stop before the airport: The Bay of Fundy. I was getting hungry in the car, we hadn’t eaten since lunch the previous day, subsisting solely on cowboy cookies. But we had places to be and things to see. We were scheduled to get to Bay of Fundy at peak low tide. I was worrying because it was already starting to get dark. New Brunswick! We had to drive through Moncton to get around the bay and the river and there weren’t many bridges across. We could see that the tide was low, the muddy banks of the river were exposed.

The visitors centre was closed for the season but there were other cars in the parking lot. We walked over to the lookout points and stared at the ocean floor down below. There was a sign by the Flowerpots lookout that said using the stairs was at your own risk. But the stairs were blocked. How could I use them? I commented on this and the other group there laughed and said: same. One of the guys hopped over the barrier and started down the stairs. We were all ready to follow suit when he shouted that the rest of the stairs had been folded back and you couldn’t make it all the way down. Except there was a lady down there! I wish I had shouted: how did you get down there?! Even still, if we had gone down there, we wouldn’t have had much time. We left 10 minutes before the max cut-off. Plus, I’d been spared a stair climb. And we had to come back again to see it at high tide to get a real sense of it.

We filled up the car and dropped it off. We were returning it after-hours so Brent had to put the keys in a slot on the garage door. It was funny to hear the thunk as they fell to the garage floor, there wasn’t even a box for them to fall into. We tried to order a Lyft or an Uber, the thinking being that it would be faster than a cab. Except both of those are unavailable in Moncton. The cab arrived soon after. The drive was short but so awkward. The cabbie kept saying inappropriate things about people in his town mooching off of welfare and we were both just like uuhhhh. The airport was tiny but at least the Tim Horton’s was full-service and it was in an area with a small bar. I devoured the turkey grilled cheese, leaving barely any crumbs. Brent ordered two beers and pretended one was for me. Little did he realize I might like the one that was made with juice and I ended up having some. But what I really wanted was tea: my beloved apple cinnamon tea. Brent went back for another Pumphouse Brewery beer and this time it came in a bottle. When he asked for the cap the lady gave him two. Just in case I had two fridges. The blueberry beer wasn’t as good as the one that was half juice. It was making me kind of regret having chosen Tide & Boar over Pumphouse on our first night. On the flight I finished Trick Mirror. I made it maybe 10 pages, maybe not even, into Heartburn and I had to quit. It was so dated. So instead I listened to podcasts the whole way home. The guy in the row in front of me had tried to order two beers but his card didn’t go through. The flight attendant offered him the whole can of soda. I sat there eagerly awaiting a whole can of Sprite, no such luck.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Canadian Bookender: Day 1

Canadian Bookender: Day 1

Thurs. Nov. 21, 2019:
Toronto flight to Moncton, New Brunswick:

Our flight wasn’t until 3:15pm, we didn’t have to clear customs and the taxi ride to the airport was covered?! This was my kind of travel. Even with the delay due to construction traffic we made it to the airport in plenty of time. Brent’s business trip to Moncton, New Brunswick had ballooned to an east coast weekender.

The Wendy’s was right behind us at check-in, everything was lining up. Until we crossed over to the other side, not a single Starbucks in sight. I had to settle for Timmie’s which at least was right by the gate. I had a medium tea and chanced upon the brilliant idea to get an extra tea bag, so I had one green tea and one apple cinnamon tea. Genius. It was unbelievable how long one guy near us was talking on his phone. He just would not stop. Instead he switched over to speaker phone. I was one zone ahead of Brent for boarding. I had to get out of there away from that guy. Except he ended up sitting one row in front of me. At least he had stopped talking.

While waiting to board I quickly got bored with my new book The Cheffe, thankfully I had packed a second book and my iPad. I downloaded Nora Ephron’s Heartburn as a backup. I was not in the mood for fiction, but I did need to read one more food-related book. I cracked open Trick Mirror… and then was unable to put it down until we landed. Having just read the intro I was already in the group-chat recommending it to everyone.

My annoyance (PMS?) only got worse once we were all seated. My seatmate had still not arrived. Some guy who seemed like the last one on the plane put stuff in the overhead… and then left. I was not going to do up my seatbelt until the person was seated, except we were taking off soon. Eventually, timed perfectly to when I did my seatbelt that same guy came back. During drink service he asked if they had cream. The flight attendant looked at him confused, thinking the same thing I was: this guy just wants a cup of cream?! Eew. He laughed and so no, obviously he only wants coffee if they have cream. As if it is that different from milk. She asked me if I wanted cookies, pretzels or both. I almost yelled with excitement BOTH! I love Biscoff cookies but pretzels are good too.

It was a really short cab ride to the hotel. On the way to our room we scoped out the spot where tomorrow we would watch the tidal bore. I had pictured us waking up, shuffling to a window, either in our room or in the hallway, and watching it. But we had an exterior room. In the hotel lobby they had a sign saying it would be at 5:30am the next day but Brent had a website that said 6:30. We later found a different website corroborating the hotel time.

We walked over to the Tide & Boar for dinner and drinks. It was one of the two places I had found in my searching of where to eat. The other was the Pumphouse brewery but this place had ciders! So yes, I was a little biased in my choice. We ordered the seafood charcuterie board and umami pork bites. The oysters were in season and as delicious as promised. The little neck clams were pretty good, i got one of the shrimp legs stuck in my teeth momentarily in a not-so-graceful eating of the shrimp. The real standout of the board was somehow the pickled veggies. Who new that fiddleheads and brussels sprouts could be good?! The maple smoked salmon was ok but not as good as the light and airy fish mousse. I had a cider from Fredericton that was strawberry and lime flavoured. Soon Vino joined us and we ordered a boar poutine (what the pub is known for according to You Gotta Eat Here). It was round here I started feeling awful. I don’t know what did me in, but by the time I was scooping some poutine on my plate I felt hot and nauseous. I went to the bathroom and my face and chest were all flushed, my eyes were glassy and bloodshot. It was all so sudden. All I could do to feel better was splash water on my face. I was bloated and so uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe how quickly it all happened. I was really struggling to keep it together. But at this point even just the sight or mention of food was enough to make me feel ill.

I felt a little bit better outside in the cold. It was snowing which was a nice distraction. We walked a few blocks up the main street and then one over. We were in search of Brent’s great-grandma’s two listed addresses from archived documents. The first one turned out to be a bust, it was an empty lot with construction materials. The second one was an even bigger with a giant billboard for condos coming soon. On the walk back I was so bloated I considered unbuttoning my pants. There was a Shoppers Drug Mart across the street but it was past a giant parking lot and I could not stand the thought of walking that far only to find out it was closed. Instead I stealthily unbuttoned the top bottom of my pants under my coat as we walked back to the hotel. All I could think about was a hot shower. Even though it was only 10pm back home, I was ready for sleep.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2019 in Travel, Uncategorized

 

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

 

Unixpected Gonads*

Unixpected Gonads*

I went into Alobar expecting the same caliber food as we had experienced at Alo all those years ago. Why would it be any different?

Brent, lover of scallops, ordered the scallop ceviche. I ordered the beef carpaccio. Our server came back almost immediately to let us know that the scallops came with sea urchin. Hence the title. When you got a bite of the beef carpaccio with the arugula and cheese it was delicious. On it’s own it was a bit bland. I did not enjoy the scallops at all, the unexpected gonads ruined them (the world’s most obvious sentence?). For my main I ordered the octopus, again it was heavily reliant on the accouterments. On it’s own it was pretty good, but with a hazelnut it was so so so much better. Brent had the tuna. He tried to convince me that the tomato on the side was good. I fell for it and tried one tiny bite, further adding to my argument that tomatoes are horrible.

So far the drinks had been the best part of dinner. Which is why, even though we had to get up at 2:45am for our flight to Miami the next day, we had a second round. I insisted on having dessert. And it was a good thing I did. Dessert was the best part! We ordered the raspberry mille-feuille and it was everything I dreamed it would be. Except I felt kind of bad, as soon as I dug in with my fork I ruined the beauty. It instantly became a delicious mess of crumbly pastry and raspberry cream, smeared all over the plate as I chased bites.

Alobar was nowhere near as good as Alo and I was really disappointed. The internet had made Alobar out to be this really great place and it kind of fell short of that.

*see? am I not just sooo funny? It was originally supposed to be Unexpected Gonads and that I could take zero credit for, but now I made it funnier because sea urchin= uni

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 
 
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