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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

 

Disaster Averted

House on Parliament had been voted best pub and thankfully it was close by (apparently that is an important factor for me). I was thrilled. The tempura-fried cheese curds sounded amazing. However I had only chanced on them after settling on my main: 4-cheese grilled cheese. I bailed on my choice (who wants Parmesan cheese in their grilled cheese?- it’s too much). The fried chicken sounded good. I was a little wary though of getting fried chicken at a British place. Even though we were an ocean away from Britain’s bad fried chicken, I was still apprehensive. When we got there and I saw that they had bangers and mash- actually it was, fancy bangers and mash- my mind was made up.

The evening started off great, with a cold pint of Thornbury’s blood orange cider. It was easily one of he best ciders I’ve ever had. It was like cider mixed with lemonade. We split an order of fried cheese and Scotch eggs. I was pleasantly surprised at the Scotch eggs. They were wrapped in a thick coating of breaded meat. And once you scooped out the yolk, it was a fine dish. It was also quite filling. Especially when combined with the delicious fried cheese. I had to rethink my main order. The plates around me were ginormous and I was getting flashbacks to the last time I ordered bangers and mash in a British place (they gave me three sausages and a mountain of mashed potatoes). On a whim I ordered the French onion soup. While it was a tad too salty, it was still delicious and very oniony. I had some of the mashed potatoes that came with Brent’s tourtiere. Not good. So not good. I was glad I had gone with the soup.

Throughout our dinner the quality of service had steadily gone downhill. I had ordered a lavender and prosecco drink that didn’t arrive. After 30 minutes, when we ordered our dessert I inquired about it. Thankfully it arrived rather quickly. Unlike the pecan pie with Ed’s Real Scoop burnt marshmallow ice cream. I had left for the bathroom and when I came back I had planned on saying “what’s taking so long? are they making the pie from scratch?” except it had arrived in that time. And it was warm.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

I’ll Drink to That

Gusto 101 was another restaurant on my list, conveniently enough it was also voted best sangria. And even just two weeks ago we had gone to the sister restaurant, Trattoria Nervosa, we headed down there on a Wednesday night. What we had not anticipated was that given Gusto 101’s location, it would be super busy- even on a Wednesday. It was a beautiful Wednesday evening and we were heading into the heart of the entertainment district. It was no surprise that when we got to the door we were told it would be a 1hr 45min wait. She was a little taken aback when Brent said perfect, that’s great! I gave my phone number and we headed off on King St. First to MEC so I could get a new backpack and then diagonally across the street to BarHop. We had almost 2 hours of time to kill and this outing was just an 8 minute walk away.

We figured we wouldn’t be waiting that long. Maybe an hour? That’s why we were surprised when 45 minutes later I got a text from the restaurant. I had barely finished my second drink, an unfiltered cider from West Ave (the blueberry one had just sold out, so my first was a raspberry sour). I got a second rather alarmist text asking if we were still interested in our table. At this point I was speed-walking along King St, desperately avoiding pedestrians while responding to a third text asking if we still wanted to keep our spot on the list.

I arrived sweaty and out of breath. Brent had stayed behind to settle the bill at BarHop. I sat there red-faced and panting, pretending to look at the menu. Soon the server came by and poured me some water and asked for my drink order and I swear there was a note of pity in his voice and it dawned on me. To the outside world it looked like I had been stood up. Once Brent arrived and our server returned to take our drink orders I was tempted to be like see? I was not stood up! 

When Brent ordered a sangria the server asked: red or white. We both smiled, we had been hoping for this. Brent had red and I had white. It was a damn good glass of sangria, even if it was lacking in fruit. There were maybe 2 pieces of melon floating around in the bottom, the drink relied on peach schnapps to add the rest of the fruit flavour (no complaints here, it was delicious).

We split three apps because Brent was getting a salad for his main (despite merciless teasing on my part). The shishito peppers were amazing, barely better than Bar Raval but only by a smidge. The mushroom bruschetta was also amazing, but I only had one of the three, I had a mushroom pasta coming as my main and I did not want to risk overdoing it and being sick later. The grilled octopus was good, despite the not-so-great sauces accompanying it. I preferred it on its own. After all of Brent’s complaining about the capers, I finally tried one to see what he was talking about. I had tasted nothing olive-y in the dish. I have no clue what he was talking about, the capers were delicious and not olive-y. They tasted like the burnt crust of a cake.

The mushroom pasta was excellent, thankfully with just a light amount of parmesan that didn’t overpower the mushrooms. Brent was presented with a giant pile of kale, with just a sprinkling of shredded pecorino and parmesan cheeses. He had been expecting something along the lines of that time I ordered the buffalo mozzarella and it was part salad. I pointed out that it had been an app not a salad and his dish made total sense in the salad context: a giant serving of (horrible!) veggies with barely enough other non-veggie stuff to make an edible dish.

This time we had saved room for dessert: tiramisiu. I had debated getting the house-made cannoli but thought better of it. In the end this was the right choice as I felt so full on the walk home (drinking a bottle of Gatorade to counteract the earlier dehydration followed by 3 drinks did not help). The tiramisiu was so unbelievably light and not overbearingly sweet and the crumble tasted like Coffee Crisp. It really was some of the best tiramisiu I’ve ever had.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

Stupid Burger

A co-worker was recently talking about black garlic and I was like wait, what?! you can get that at a fancy grocery store? (we both said Pusateri’s at the same time after he couldn’t remember the name). I thought it was a seasonal and artisinal thing that you needed to know how to find. This changed everything. I was certain it would be in the 1000 foods book, plus we live downtown so how hard could it be to find?!

Turns out it was harder to find than one would imagine. Pusateri’s did not appear to have it, I asked two employees. I tried calling Whole Foods but no answer so I had to walk over. I collected employees like a katamari rolling through the store. In total I had three people walking me around the store, interviewing me about this black garlic and trying to get more details. In the end we found it in pouches by the regular garlic.

My plan was all set: I would attempt to make the black garlic burger from an episode Bob’s Burgers. The episode made a lot more sense now, trying to chop up the black garlic I could understand why Gene was able to just smoosh it. It was also quite sticky and it did indeed taste like licorice (as the 1000 foods book stated). I mixed it with mayonnaise to make a black garlic aoili.

In the end we had mammoth burgers that had the perfect amount of everything –including mouthfeel– even if the brioche bun started to disintegrate from the grease. And what burger is complete without a homemade pickle and some BBQ kettle chips accouterments?

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2018 in 1001 Foods, Fooding, Uncategorized

 

What a Knockout!

We had not gone for best splurge sushi because for the longest time it was a place out in Etobicoke and we just never got around to going that far (if only it had worked out while we were both still living there).

But now we finally had our chance: it had been revoted to Yasu, conveniently located at Spadina and Harbord and we had the perfect excuse: my birthday.

We somehow managed to get a reservation for that same week. I say somehow because in total there were about 16 spots for dinner. That’s how fancy it was. A small intimate setting, wherein we could watch the chefs as they prepared everything. It was amazing to watch their knife and sashimi preparation skills, knowing I could never in a million years do any of that.

Given that we were about to eat some damn fresh sushi in a damn fancy restaurant, it made sense to do the accompanying sake tasting menu. 5 sakes, chosen by the chef, 2ozs each. Brent tried a sip of each one, we made observations as we sipped and ate. It was a lot of fun and easily one of our most memorable (not just because of the whopping price tag) and delicious dinners of all time. The BC oyster just melted in my mouth. The rice was cooked in such a way that elevated it above regular rice and if rice were regularly like that I may enjoy it more. The eel was amazing. The smoked bonito tasted like kabanos. The mackerel, while good, I am still not a fan of. I even faced down my old nemesis: sea urchin. A small smidge of it atop a sashimi is way better than just sea urchin as the main. It turns out that when freshly ground, wasabi is actually delicious.

All the sakes were delicious, alas they were hard to find on the LCBO website later on, some were rare and very expensive. But now I would be open to alternating a nice bottle of sake with the port wine in my usual rotation of evening sips.

The fish cheesecake was a bit odd, but not bad. I am not even sure that it was fish cheesecake, it may have been something-that-sounds-like-fish cheesecake and the fishy flavour was just because we had eaten copious amounts of it and forgotten to finish it off with ginger. Who can say. The black sesame ice cream tasted exactly as promised, and it was delicious.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2018 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Bamboozled Again

It had been so long since I had written my list, I could scarcely remember why Trattoria Nervosa was on my list. We later figured out that it’s a highly regarded restaurant with a (somewhat?) known chef? Something along those lines anyways. It also turns out that Brent has had some business lunches there before. Regardless, our Friday night plans had been made.

I had misread the menu, assuming that they had multiple house specials, when clearly it was daily specials. Oops.

We started with a plate of Asiago “al forno” aka a sizzling hot skillet of melted cheese with pieces of bread to dip in it aka HEAVEN. I was floored by the dish as soon as I laid eyes upon it. Then I immediately proceeded to burn my knuckle and my fingertip while trying to eat too-hot-cheese.

I had gone with a last minute change-up and ordered the pizza instead of the blackened cod. Then I changed my pizza at the last second. Originally I was going to get the prosciutto and arugula one but I kept having flashbacks to the last time I ordered that elsewhere and ended up with a salad pizza. I ordered the one with sausage and rapini. Rapini sounded like kale or arugula. I was ok with that. I was also ok with this being a white pizza, sans tomato sauce. I preferred dipping it in their (highly?) touted house-made olive oil.

I was not expecting a pizza piled high with what appeared to be (and turns out was closely related to) broccoli. But still, I gave it a try and had a bite. Bleh. Brent looked at me like, duh, it’s related to broccoli to which I was like why didn’t you warn me?! He claims he did, but all he warned me of was the chances of getting another pizza salad.

It was really hard to rank the dishes after the clear winner: the cheese. The crust on my pizza was excellent, the mushroom risotto from Brent’s dish was also excellent, but the meat was subpar and the sausage on my pizza was similarly blah. I did enjoy the artisinal gin & tonic. It was good… for a gin & tonic. I am still not a fan.

It was also boiling hot in the restaurant and I was coming down with a headache that was threatening to become a migraine.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2018 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 

Scaramouche, Scaramouche, Do The Food-Ango

I was excited for our dinner at Scaramouche, and not just because we could sing at each other about it. I was looking forward to the coconut cream pie, which according to Rick Mercer, was epic.

I met Brent at a corner, surrounded by old condo buildings. I was very confused. He also looked confused. But clearly we had both gotten to the same place, the restaurant had to be here somewhere? Turns out it was in the condo building. It was odd. It reminded me of a hotel restaurant.

The view overlooked the Rosedale valley… and were it not for a building blocking our way, we could easily have thrown things at our friend’s apartment building. We walked right by it on our way home.

To start Brent ordered the daily special, a foie gras terrine and I ordered the buffalo mozzarella. Turns out I got swindled. I was expecting cheese, not cheese hidden under a salad. For the main I continued my Quebec-sourced food and ordered the pork. It was delicious, but oh man the mushroom pasta was a clear knockout.

Also a knockout was the coconut pie, even though it was a giant slice. Clearly, another case of “if they’re sharing it we should serve a larger portion.”

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2018 in Fooding, Uncategorized

 
 
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