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Is That The Best You Can Do?

I had seen a delicious looking cheeseburger from Toronto on Instagram and when I found out where to get one I immediately insisted on adding it to our fooding list. It was only after that I found out that the cheeseburger from Resto Boemo at Chef’s Assemebly Hall had been voted best burger of 2018 by Toronto Life*. I was even more excited now! Add on a side of parmesan truffle fries and it was setting up to be an epic meal. And it better have been for that price (high teens, almost 20).

It looked good. The bun was lightly toasted. It certainly looked better than the lamb baklava Brent was having as an appetizer from the stall across the way, it was teeny-tiny. Oh, by the way, Chef’s Assembly Hall is basically a fancy food court with a bar and a beer hall- which unfortunately  was closed that day for a private (Google?) party. I stole a tiny bite of the app and I was not impressed. This trend continued. The burger was a sad little one. I had ordered a single, expecting a hefty patty. Instead I had a shoe-string patty. And it was rather charred- which doesn’t work on such a thin surface. The best part of the burger, and the only thing that made it good actually (besides the bun) was the sauce. And that should never be the case. The fries were good but in the end there were too many and I had to stop. I couldn’t eat any more. If they were regular fries yes, I could have kept eating. That is the downside to parmesan-truffle seasoning.

Dessert would save the day right? An icing sandwich cookie from Short & Sweet. Alas, they were closed as was the place where Brent wanted his dinner from. He instead got kimchi chicken but it was not that good. He eventually abandoned the kale salad for my fries. Smart choice. In the end we had Bulk Barn for dessert- a fine choice.

*looking at the picture in the review, the patty the reviewer had from Resto Boemo is way thicker, I got shortchanged by 2/3 of a patty!

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Posted by on January 21, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie, I Love Thee

This year I am following Cookie Monster’s advice: “dis year me focusing on me self-care. When me need little love, me going to give meself cookie.” Words to live by. And how perfect, best new bakery 2018 was recently posted and #1 is Craig’s Cookies. And it just so happened that I would be in the west end (donating stuff to Value Village around round #1 of KonMari tidying up). It was kismet.

I ordered a half dozen cookies and made sure to cover the spread. We had: original, smores (shaped more like a little cake), Oreo, Reese’s Pieces, toffee , and what I think was some kind of white-chocolate-over-milk-chocolate candy bar? The last one was impossible to remember hours later when we opened the grease-stained cardboard box. I made the mistake of starting with the Reese’s pieces one (it looked so good!). Really we should have started with the original. Either way, he blew my cookies out of the water. Sweetmotherofgod these were the best damn cookies I have ever had. The only point against them (if you can call it that) is that they are so rich and heavy you can’t really binge eat them. Either way, I was in heaven and dessert-wise it is going to be really tough to top that.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2019 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

It’s The Final Countdown

We finished off our year of fooding at Edulis, listed on Canada’s Best 100 restaurants and Toronto Life’s Top 100 of 2018. It took us months to get this reservation and I could not understand why. We didn’t have this much trouble with other double-listed restaurants. What the heck? When we got there I saw one reason why: it was tiny. There was seating for under 50 people. But when we got there, only two tables were filled. The rest sat empty and only filled up over the course of the night. Once things got going I totally understood why the long wait to get a table. This was it. There was no way they would have another seating at our table that evening, the dinner took three hours. There was no turn-around, no one else would be taking our place for the next round.

We decided on the 7 course dinner, figuring we were probably never going back there. Had we known how long dinner was going to be, we would have probably opted for the 5 course option. It started out at a good pace but as the restaurant got busier, the service got slower. Towards the end we were getting antsy and I wanted to go home. Finally the dessert came and we were like YES we can get out of here! Except while Brent was in the bathroom, I was supposed to ask for the cheque, except as the server was clearing our table, I missed the opportunity as I was finishing off my 2008 Matilda vintage port (so good). Crap. I would have to wait. Except she came back… with another dessert!!! We looked at each other and laughed, any chance of us leaving soon was out of the question. It was a giant slice of pound came with a side of chantilly cream. She said it came with a rum syrup and then proceeded to douse the cake. It was funny because she had implied just a hint and then proceeded to drown the cake. It was really good though.

All of the food was really good, it just took so long it kind of soured us. Great food, meh experience. Weird people all around us. Two drunk co-workers, one of whom was trying to convince the other that they should have a girls-weekend-away and refusing to clink glasses because the other said she was only some-number percent sure (the other was ready to book tickets right then and there). There was the couple on the other side who were regulars at Edulis. How do they have the time we wondered?! And also: a three hour dinner with the guy seemed insufferable. He kept talking about home renos and the shows he was watching. At one point he talked about building a bathroom in the closet space under stairs. Over Brent’s shoulder there was a touchy-feely couple. The girl grabbed the guy’s face with both hands and kissed him aggressively.

The food was amazing. All night, with every dish, we debated if it was better than Yasu (the other contender for best of the year). They made me like olives! I didn’t know olives could actually taste good, but there I was, having just eaten a bread cube soaked in olive oil, mentally preparing myself for a pepper-stuffed green olive. Had I been wrong about olives all along? Probably not. I do not have the time nor the expertise to prepare them such that they become edible. What we found across all of the dishes were the harmonies between flavours and textures. It was not something we notice often, but when you are presented with a fish dish that has cashews, grapefruit juice and jalapenos you can’t help but wonder what?! how is that going to work?! followed by OMG this is so unbelievably good. Even the granny smith apple sorbet with coconut and tapioca cubes. At first bite it was alright, but as I kept eating it I noticed that the tapioca and coconut added the lost texture of the apple.

It was only by a fraction of a margin, and partly based on overall experience, but Yasu still wins for 2018. With Edulis a solid 2nd, where all of the dishes were still in the A-range.

Up next: I will attempt to slow-cook a turkey breast for a holiday meal.

 
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Posted by on December 15, 2018 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

I Need A Pronunciation Guide Please

It’s been a long time since we’ve had a spectacular, knock-out dinner. Constantine had recently been voted best hotel restaurant AND it was on Toronto Life’s Top 100 list. To top it off, it was so close to our house- making this week’s dinner plans easy to decide on.

It proved a little difficult to find but eventually we found our way. To start we split a flatbread dish with three toppings: hummus, a meaty-tomatoey one and a Greek yogurt one. It was close but the meaty one came in first with the hummus ac close second. Overall, the dish was excellent and we got to try something from the wood-fired oven.

We traded one bite of mains to see if we wanted to swap halfway. Brent had the grouper with octopus and red chermoula (another item from the 1000 Foods book). I had the house-made noodles (cavatelli) with braised venison. One bite and we both wanted to trade halfway. Both dishes were outstanding.

For dessert we split a sesame mousse and it was the perfect end to an amazing dinner. Constantine was by far one of the most memorable meals of 2018 and some of the best food we’ve had in a while. It should definitely be higher up on Toronto Life’s Top 100. For some reason they have it listed as #63, below Cafe Cancan. Unless the list is not ranked? Either way, Constantine ranks above Cafe Cancan- at least in our books.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Chabrol? Chab-oui!

We finally got around to rescheduling our dinner at Chabrol in Yorkville. It had been over 2 months since we had last been out fooding and were way overdue. Chabrol had been on a list of top 100 restaurants in Canada that I found who-knows-where at this point.

The restaurant itself was tucked off the main street, down a small alley. It was tiny. There were maybe 4 tables for a total of 8 people and then another 8 or so seats around the bar. The patio was not open as it was November in Canada.

One group of ladies came in with a reservation, saw that they were to be seated at the bar, and promptly left. It’s too bad the people with no reservation didn’t come in after them.

Brent ordered a salad because it had kohlrabi in it, which is in his 1000 Foods book. I opted for the tartine of cured trout. Mine was so much better, it wasn’t even close. The kohlrabi tasted like beets with even more dirt flavour. The trout was delicious. Neither dish was outstanding though.

For our mains, Brent had the whitefish cooked in parchment paper. I preferred my dish, the galantine of chicken. I was expecting chicken in gelatin. Not softly cooked chicken. It was good, but again, not outstanding.

Given that it was just a few days after Halloween, thoughts of dessert turned to thoughts of deeply-discounted mini candy bars instead of creme brulee. Given the meal so far, we did not feel like we were missing out on much. The standout of the whole meal was the little mini cookie macarons made with lavender and orange that were presented with the bill.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Budapest, Vienna, Prague: Honeymoon Edition: Day 15

Fri. Oct. 5, 2018:
Prague Czech Republic:

I woke up just after 9am with purpose: I could finally write the postcard to my dad, I had finally eaten at U Kaliche. Never mind that the postcard would surely arrive way after me. We went downstairs for breakfast but the door was locked. We did not feel up to ringing the doorbell and having them make a fuss over us. We still had butter cookies and apricot jam in the hotel room, plus we had a coffee machine. I would survive. It was an awful coffee maker, with the stupid pods and it was impossible to figure out. When I eventually did get it going it turned even more disastrous. I went to take a sip and it was not even warm. Turns out the coffee maker had been set to cold brew. Except it wasn’t a nice cold brew, it was a room temperature coffee. Add insult to injury: there were grinds in the coffee. Disgusting. We stopped at the McCafe on the way so I could get a better coffee. The cookies with apricot jam barely helped improve my mood. The McCafe, even though it is in the McDonalds, was upstairs and separate. The downstairs kiosks didn’t apply. I had to attempt to order my caramel latte despite the language barrier.

We got to the Klementinum Library just in time for the 10:30am tour. I was so excited to see the Baroque library- it was the main draw. Alas, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. I was so sad about this. I settled for buying a postcard later on our way out. Things only got worse from there. The lights in the Baroque library wouldn’t turn on. I was really starting to regret not having rubbed the dog in the statue on the bridge last night. I vowed to rub it at some point in the day. When the tour guide announced the problem, one lady in our group asked if they couldn’t just open the curtains and let in some natural light. It made me shudder to even think about. Why did she think the place was kept in the dark? Clearly, she knew nothing about museum stuff. We continued on with the tour, the plan being that we would come back at the end of the tour and see if the issue was resolved. In the tower there was a camera obscura onto the Prague Meridian line and when the light was on it, you knew it was midday. It’s too bad we were too early. We continued up into the Observatory Tower. From the deck we had a view of all of Prague. Off in the distance we could see how crammed the Charles Bridge was with tourists- it was just a solid mass of people spanning the whole bridge. When we got back the lights were still not fixed. We were able to walk up to the barrier and at least peek in, once my eyes adjusted it wasn’t that bad actually. Everyone was so quiet, an atmosphere of hushed reverie as we all stole glances. We were told we could come back later and a staff member would escort us to the library to see. I secretly wondered if it would be the same view by the barricade, just better lit. Or would we get to walk through it? The same lady from before piped up again. She was mad and she was leaving town, she wouldn’t get to see it. What she seemed to not grasp was that an electrician had to come and fix the problem.

For lunch we went to a hotdog window shop. We tried to order one hotdog and one kielbasa but the guy said it’s the same meat, the difference is in getting a bun or not. We got two hotdogs with everything. I was too lazy to pick and choose my toppings. Therefore, I ended up with sauerkraut, red cabbage, cucumbers, mustard, mayo and ketchup. Not exactly the ideal assortment- it was still good though. Brent had a Pilsner Urquell, I had a mulled wine. Problem was, the hotdogs were two-handed meals. I held Brent’s beer while he ate, then he held my mulled wine while I ate. It worked out well, my wine needed time to cool down. The hotdog was an unruly mess. We backtracked to the Klementinum so I could buy some postcards (when we were leaving there was no one at the ticket desk).

We stopped at a grocery store on our way back to the hotel, the one across the street from our usual shop just after the bridge. I got a red cacao bean Kit Kat, a chocolate Cornetto ice cream, piquant paprika Lays and a Koppaberg Swedish cider with strawberry and lime. It was a tiny can, but I had run out of bottle caps to collect. Smirnoff Ice being the only one left. The chocolate Cornetto was a lie. The bottom 2/3 of it was vanilla ice cream with only a little bit of chocolate fudge. Why call it a chocolate cone?! Why only have chocolate ice cream at the top?! WHO DOES THAT?!?!?

Back in our hotel room we found that all of our towels, save for one crumpled one on the floor, were gone. The coffee bar had not been replenished and we did not have new sheets, the bed was just made. I felt like we were getting ripped off. I brewed one of the sample teas I had gotten from Kusmi, the lemongrass green tea. It was so good! Once I got caught up in my notebook, we settled on planning the evening, and if I had time, maybe some Mario Odyssey. I finished writing all of my postcards. The Czech stamps were so big I had to stick them on sideways. With this I had to move on to pen #3 of the trip, #2 finally giving up. In the course of the trip, I had only acquired one free pen. Thank god I brought some from home. My book, Amy & Isabelle, was finally available again. I made it through 2 chapters before I called it quits and took a 30-minute nap, I was so so so tired.

Dinner was at the Medieval Tavern, which apparently was under a kilometre away from the hotel? We must’ve walked by it and yet I couldn’t place it. I did remember passing a pub touting itself as medieval. Could that have been it? What were the odds that there were two medieval pubs? It was so funny to get there and realize how many times we had passed by it on our way back to the hotel. Now it made sense why I always saw people outside taking pictures. Even walking there, having confirmed the address, I still questioned it. Was this right? Were we going to the place that the Toronto Star had written about? As soon as we stepped inside, I was sure, this was definitely the right place. It was dark with low vaulted ceilings and lit only by candles. It 100% felt like Prague’s oldest pub. The outside had been misleading but it makes sense being so close to the castle. In the doorway a lady asked us if this was the place with all the bones. I said it was a good bet that it was, especially given the skulls over the entrance. For some reason they left.

When we said we had reservations, they asked (again!) if we were absolutely sure that we did not want to stay for the medieval show. The first time they had asked after we made an email reservation. It was hard to see when we first entered, it took my eyes a while to adjust. Reading a menu by candlelight may sound romantic- but it really isn’t. We didn’t order any apps because we’d had a pretty heavy lunch. Brent had the duck leg confit and I had the goulash. The first drink I ordered was grog. It was just as I had expected based on what I had read on the internet: rum in hot water, garnished with a lemon and sweetened with sugar. It was really hard trying to carve the duck leg by candle light, so instead of swapping plates we just traded bites. The goulash was so good. It was more along the lines of what I had expected and was used to. Except instead of potato dumplings (kopytka) it was served with “bread dumplings” which were just slices of white spongy bread. It was good for dipping in the gravy. Brent ordered a second pint, actually it was more of a half litre, but pint is so much easier to say! I had already finished my dish while Brent was still hacking away at his duck leg. I ordered a glass of mead when Brent’s second beer was brought. The lady asked me if I wanted it hot or cold: HOT! I almost yelled it from excitement. While I waited for my drink I wandered over to the bathroom- more so because I wanted to see the rest of the pub décor and I was curious what a bathroom in a medieval pub would look like. There were skulls and animal pelts hanging everywhere. The bathroom had an old-looking stone sink and it was tiny. The hot mead was the best drink I’ve ever had. This one was less sweet and slightly more herbal and it was amazing. There are hearts drawn in my notebook around this experience.

After dinner we walked over to the Estates Theatre. Brent had gotten the last ticket to a show. It was a Russian poetry reading with Czech subtitles. He really just wanted to see the theatre. I was more than OK sitting this one out. I had found a nearby mall where I intended to while away the time. The trouble was I didn’t have data on my phone. Brent had to walk me to the mall where I was able to connect to wifi and keep in touch. We agreed on a meeting spot at the Palladium Mall and I set off on my shopping adventure. Except my phone was being spotty about connecting to the wifi and immediately worry set in. After eventually getting it to connect I saw that Brent had messaged me. The theatre performance was the following night. Once we met up, we went to the Albert grocery store for the all-important snack supply. We grabbed white chocolate covered Oreos and vampire teeth gummies. We went up one floor and Brent found a spot on a bench while I set off for some shopping. The mall had a really confusing layout, there were half floors and all the escalators didn’t line up. I had to walk to the other end of the mall for the next escalator to the next floor. There were only a few stores I wanted to go to but now I did not feel like exploring to see if there were any new stores, I was unaware of. At C&A I found two dresses but they weren’t in my size. Eventually I found a black dress with white and blue flowers. I also found a ~$2CAD long sleeve t-shirt for Adrian. I had no idea how European sizing worked, who measures children in inches?! I got the largest size even though it still seemed so small (I later found it was for a 2-year-old toddler- oops).

Walking back, it was unbelievable how many people were still at Old Town Square. It was just a giant mass of very slowly moving people. I waited until we were at the start of the bridge before cracking open the Lisacke-Jablko cider. It was good, tasted more like a traditional cider and it was the perfect walking drink. The only downside was that it was in a can, so no new bottlecap for the collection. On the way back over the bridge I caved to peer pressure and rubbed the dog on the statue. As we passed by the Medieval Tavern the place was rocking, loud music was playing. No wonder it had been empty when we were there. Everyone wanted to see the show.

Going up the awful stairs, there was a small group of people sitting on the stairs. From afar I guessed it was rowdy teenagers out on a Friday night. I was worried they would laugh at me as I struggled up the stairs. When we got closer, we saw that there was one guy standing and telling stories to the group. My guess was that it was an improv troupe all telling stories about the stairs. But fine, maybe Brent was right, maybe it was just a regular old boring ghost tour. My version is more interesting. It was a small comfort knowing I’d only be going up those damn stairs a few more times.

Back in the hotel room I finished off the apricot jam (that for some reason became known as marmalade in my book halfway through) while catching up on writing. The Shake Cocktails: Mojito from the Ukraine was ok, but it was not the best mixed mojito by far. I was only trying to delay the inevitable: having to wash my hair in that stupid shower. It made me so mad just thinking about it.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Flame-Seared Sushi?

Miku had been on my radar for a while. A co-worker had mentioned that they have a house specialty: flame-seared sushi. I was intrigued. My intrigue grew when I learned they were on a top 100 list from 2017. Our dinner plans for the weekly fooding outing were settled. We were able to get a reservation quite easily (as opposed to last year when my co-worker complained about having to get a reservation month’s in advance)- it was a Wednesday and it was just after work.

We were both really hungry and it showed in our ordering. The miso soup was amazing, it had mussels in it. You know it was good, because even Brent liked it. He had ordered the tofu and beet salad, which was actually surprisingly good given I don’t like salad or beets and am indifferent to tofu.

Up next we had a seafood plate of soba noodles. I was shocked. Brent had knowingly and willingly ordered a noodle dish?! When it arrived I was relieved to see that it was reasonably sized. When he ordered a dish that was an assortment of seafoods I had flashbacks to that one (delicious!) monstrosity he had ordered a long time ago. This dish was amazing. Brent was about to compliment it’s equality until I dug deeper and found a third shrimp. The shrimp, though rather large, was rather tasteless and I was more than happy to bail on it. At this point I had abandoned the chopsticks and taken to using the fork that had been provided for that very reason.

When we had first ordered, our server made a suggestion to us to get a half order of the chef’s plate of sushi, featuring three house specialties. We ordered that and three more sushi’s a-la carte. We had also ordered some pepper-y edamame beans but those seem to have gotten lost in the shuffle along with our waygu beef sushi. In the end it worked out because that would have been too much food. The unagi was the clear winner. We debated if we were supposed to eat the giant battered and deep-fried prawn heads staring at us. As we discussed it, our server walked by confirming that yes in fact it was edible and she gave us tips on how to eat it. I was quite full and still hoping for dessert so I passed on it. Brent braved the weirdness and took to eating it. He made a face when he got to the brains. They were not pleasant. I was content with my decision to pass.

For dessert Brent had ordered a pavlova. I kind of sort of had an inkling of what it may be. But oh man it was good. It had a really good meringue crust and I actually liked the elderflower flavour, sublte though it was. I had ordered the yuzu sorbet but it did not really taste like anything. At this point I was also semi-drunkenly (empty stomach plus ordering a 9oz glass of wine to save myself from having to remember what my second would be= not so smart in hindsight) trying to find Polish jokes for Brent to read during his wedding speech that weekend.

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2018 in Uncategorized

 
 
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