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&Co

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This past Friday, I was invited (this is a sponsored post) to come and try the new recently launched menu at &Co, a resto bar located in Mississauga an area 30 minutes west of Toronto.  I’m going to be honest, when I was first asked to attend I had never heard of &Co so I did a bit of online research and although the comments I’ve read were good, I haven’t been a fan of these types of establishments that bring food and nightlife together (think Brant House).  To my surprise, the food and even better, the service exceeded my expectations!  Y, our server, was great at recommending cocktails and dishes.  My favourite dish of the night was the Ontario Vegetable Curry.  Typically curries are made with cut veggies and served with rice, what I loved about this was the vegetables were kept whole, like they weren’t cooked with the curry.  It was sitting atop a bed of israeli couscous with thai green curry poured over – it was delicious!  The idea or theme for the menu is “fine familiar”, taking familiar dishes and elevating it with flavours that aren’t expected.  This is definitely evident in the crispy thai calamari, the usual breaded and deep fried squid but then served sitting in a pool of green thai curry; or the salmon wellington, instead of beef and beef jus its made with salmon served with a “teriyaki” jus.  We finished the meal with a plate of beignets to be dipped into a chocolate espresso sauce.  All in all, it was a successful revamp of the menu and a great night, and I found out that they are renovating their rooftop patio so I’ll definitely be back in the summer.

The entrance to &Company.

The entrance to &Company Resto Bar.

Inside &Co - view of the restaurant and bottle service area.

Inside &Co – view of the restaurant and bottle service area.

Starting the night with cocktails - the &Co Lychee Martini and Manhattan.

Starting the night with cocktails – the &Co Lychee Martini and Manhattan.

Appetizer 2 - Smoked Pork Nachos.

Appetizer 2 – Smoked Pork Nachos.

Appetizer 1 - Crispy Thai Calamari.

Appetizer 1 – Crispy Thai Calamari.

Main course 2 - Salmon Wellington.

Main course 2 – Salmon Wellington.

Main course 1 - Ontario Vegetable Curry.

Main course 1 – Ontario Vegetable Curry.

A closer look at the salmon baked inside the puffed pastry.

A closer look at the salmon baked inside the puffed pastry.

Dessert - Espresso Vanilla Beignets.

Dessert – Espresso Vanilla Beignets.

A closer look at the sizeable and fluffy beignets.

A closer look at the sizeable and fluffy beignets.

Wine Club: Pinot Noirs From France

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In December my friend H started a wine club.  We all sat together at one of her many dinner parties she loves to throw and brainstormed themes for each “club meeting” (aka an excuse for us to eat and drink wine).  Last weekend was our second wine club dinner and the theme was Pinot Noirs from France so we decided to do a wine & cheese.  I’m not a huge wine connoisseur and in fact, when I find a wine that I like, I typically stick to that wine and rarely try something else.  So this is a perfect way to challenge my taste buds.  I’m into Beaujolais which is a lighter red wine so you would think that I would love Pinots as well but I wasn’t crazy about these.  Of the four wines we tried, the Louis Jadot 2012 was the best.  It could be that we didn’t have food that accompanied well with pinot noirs, perhaps the cheese were too strong – I don’t know.  All I can say is these weren’t at all overwhelming but always great to catch up with great friends and company.  I can’t wait for our next wine club dinner party – sparkling wine & brunch, the perfect combination!

Wine #1 - Morey Saint-Denis 2012.

Wine #1 – Morey Saint-Denis 2012.

Wine #2 - Domaine de Hermitage de Nantoux 2011.

Wine #2 – Domaine de Hermitage de Nantoux 2011.

Wine #3 - Domaine Faiveley.

Wine #3 – Domaine Faiveley.

Wine #4 - Louis Jadot Bourgogne 2012.

Wine #4 – Louis Jadot Bourgogne 2012.

A platter of cheese from France to accompany our wines.

A platter of cheese from France to accompany our wines – including Port Salut, French Gouda and French Blue.

Super soft cheese made with truffle.

Super soft cheese made with truffle.

Warmed brie with sundried tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.

Warmed brie with sundried tomatoes, olive oil and garlic.

My full plate of cheese, baguette, crackers and fig preserves.

My full plate of cheese, baguette, crackers and fig preserves.

A classic French dessert of creme brulee to have on our France-themed dinner.

A classic French dessert of creme brulee to have on our France-themed dinner.

Winterlicious: Luckee

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Most major cities these days have restaurant week, where restaurants prepare fixed prix menus for lunch and dinner at reasonable prices giving us an excuse to try new places.  In Toronto, we have it twice a year and for this Winterlicious week my friend S suggested Luckee, a place she’s wanted to try for awhile.  One of the more recent restaurants by Susur Lee, is located in Senses’ former space in SoHo Metropolitan hotel.  Beautifully decorated inside we sat in the front dining room and as you can tell by my photos were seated in front of the large neon red sign.  I’m a big fan of Susur Lee and his food has always been so innovative and beautifully presented.  Luckee was no different.  The best course of the night was my appetizer – sliced duck served with wrappers, waldorf salad, fruit relish and a black bean dipping sauce.  I love food that you somewhat have to work for so this course is totally me.

Luckee

Luckee by Susur Lee

Luckee - inside

Inside the very red lit Luckee restaurant.

Luckee - art

Some of the art on the walls at Luckee.

Luckee - wonton

Crispy shrimp wontons.

Luckee - duck

My appetizer – Luckee duck.

Luckee - cocktails

Some cocktails to start the night.

Luckee - chicken

One of the main dishes, 5 Spice chicken.

Luckee - cod

My main dish – Soya marinated baked black cod.

Luckee - dessert

The dessert course – a trio of sesame ball, chocolate sponge roll and vanilla ice cream.

Luckee - close up

A close up of the sesame ball.

 

Miami: Hakkasan

I’m going to admit, the reason why I decided on Hakkasan was the location.  Ever since the last time I was in Miami, the hotel Fontainebleau was only under construction so this time around, I really wanted to check it out.  If you haven’t been, its beautiful!  And if you haven’t been to Hakkasan, definitely worth having dinner.  What I love most about it is the atmosphere.  Not your typical Chinese restaurant, Hakkasan provides a “nightlife” type of environment serving some good asian-fusion food.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been to Hakkasan – my first experience at this restaurant was in London, England (Michelin star location) and although I don’t remember the food per se but I clearly remember the atmosphere and liveliness of the place.  And this location is no different.

Inside the bar area at Hakkasan.

Inside the bar area at Hakkasan.

The view from the lobby of Fontainebleau hotel in South Beach.

The view from the lobby of Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.

Starting the night off right with a variety of cocktails.

Starting the night off right with a variety of cocktails.

A platter full of vegetarian steamed dumplings.

A platter full of vegetarian steamed dumplings.

Pan-fried vegetable dumplings.

Pan-fried vegetable dumplings.

Wild mushroom hand pulled noodle.

Wild mushroom hand pulled noodle.

Fried chicken and orange.

Fried chicken and orange.

Crispy Szechuan beef tenderloin.

Crispy Szechuan beef tenderloin.

Braised vegetable tofu with assorted mushrooms in oyster sauce.

Braised vegetable tofu with assorted mushrooms in oyster sauce.

Miami: Yardbird

Probably my favourite restaurant and meal of our Miami weekend was Saturday morning brunch at Yardbird Southern Table and Bar in South Beach.  Another beautiful day, we were seated by the window soaking in the sun in a lively, loft-like and inviting interior.  Its brunch and we were on vacation so we deservedly ordered Yardbird’s famous blackberry bourbon lemonade made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon and cardamom – it was tart and sweet with just enough bourbon, if you know what I mean :).  Everything on the menu looked delicious so we had to make some tough choices and our server was extremely helpful.  My favourite dish was the BLT Benedict Cast Iron Casserole.  Gorgeously presented in a cast iron dish, made with chunks of their buttermilk biscuits mixed right in the eggs and topped with hollandaise sauce was delicious!  Finished off with cubes of cured bacon and a light frisee salad on the side, its the perfect brunch meal.  I can understand why this place was on every top restaurant list for Miami – I’ve added it back onto my list to go back for dinner, its that good.

Yardbird in South Beach.

Yardbird in South Beach.

Inside Yardbird.

Inside Yardbird.

Yardbird's famous Blackberry bourbon lemonade.

Yardbird’s famous Blackberry bourbon lemonade.

'77 Elvis Pancakes - chocolate chip pancakes, banana compote, bourbon maple syrup and peanut butter.

’77 Elvis Pancakes – chocolate chip pancakes, banana compote, bourbon maple syrup and peanut butter, YUM!

Buttermilk biscuits.

Buttermilk biscuits.

BLT Benedict cast iron casserole.

BLT Benedict cast iron casserole – crumbled biscuits, eggs, and hollandaise….delicious.

Macaroni & cheese with 5 different cheeses.

Macaroni & cheese with 5 different cheeses.

Buttermilk biscuit with honey butter and house jam.

Buttermilk biscuit with honey butter and house jam.

Miami: Tongue & Cheek

A beautiful interior space, Tongue & Cheek was our stop for dinner on our second night in Miami.  Our server was great and we practically ordered all her recommendations.  My main dish, the Florida red snapper was delicious.  Typically when there’s fried chicken on the menu, I ignore everything else, but how can I be in Miami and not order seafood – so I took the server’s suggestion and had the red snapper.  However, the most memorable dish of the night was the dessert.  The homemade smoked mallow cream was so unique and a flavour so unexpected – definitely not for everyone but I really liked it.  Completely reminded me of toasting marshmallows over a fire pit.

Tongue & Cheek in South Beach.

Tongue & Cheek in South Beach.

Inside Tongue & Cheek.

Inside Tongue & Cheek.

A pillowy little bun to start the meal.

A pillowy little bun to start the meal.

Strawberry lime and gin cocktail.

Strawberry lime and gin cocktail.

Cheese plate - Bayley Hazen blue cheese, Aged goat cheese and truffle gouda.

Cheese plate – Bayley Hazen blue cheese, Aged goat cheese and truffle gouda.

Roasted beet salad with triple cream goat cheese, hazelnuts and hearts of palm.

Roasted beet salad with triple cream goat cheese, hazelnuts and hearts of palm.

Bucatini with uni butter and parmigiano-reggiano.

Bucatini with uni butter and parmigiano-reggiano.

Fried Chicken, cheddar biscuits and creamy coleslaw.

Fried Chicken, cheddar biscuits and creamy coleslaw.

My main dish - Florida red snapper with red quinoa.

My main dish – Florida red snapper with red quinoa.

Strawberry parfait with smoked mallow cream.

Strawberry parfait with smoked mallow cream.

Decadent chocolate bar.

Decadent chocolate bar.

Miami: David’s Cafe Cafecito

Located in the up and coming area of Miami’s Design District (similar to Toronto’s King East which is lined with furniture shops), is a retail space called Chrome Hearts that allows emerging artists and designers a space to sell their goods.  And tucked away past the black gates right beside the open air atrium and patio is David’s Cafe Cafecito.  Normally we would have walked right past this cafe if it weren’t for the folks across the street at Jonathan Adler‘s store.  Taking their advice on getting some good coffee we ventured to David’s.  And what a gem!  Such a funky locale and the perfect weather to sit out on the patio.  Being an iced coffee junky, I ordered the iced cafe con leche.  Made with milk and a giant coffee ice cube – an ingenious way to avoid coffee dilution.  The menu is simple but we didn’t go there to eat.  It’s all about the coffee and the details here, even down to the designs on the sugar cubes.  Great place to sit, have a cup of coffee (iced for me) and catch up with a friend.

Chrome Hearts in Miami's Design District.

Chrome Hearts in Miami’s Design District.

The beautiful outdoor patio to David's Cafe Cafecito.

The beautiful outdoor patio to David’s Cafe Cafecito.

The counter at David's.

The counter at David’s.

Inside the funky space of David's Cafe.

Inside the funky space of David’s Cafe.

David's Iced Cafe Con Leche.

David’s Iced Cafe Con Leche.

A close up view of the coffee ice cube in the iced cafe con leche.

A close up view of the coffee ice cube in the iced cafe con leche.

Mango pastry.

Mango pastry.

Guava and cheese pastry.

Guava and cheese pastry.

Deliciously light guava and cheese pastry.

Deliciously light guava and cheese pastry.

A cup of David's cafe con leche.

A cup of David’s cafe con leche.

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