When my older brother returned home from a month’s vacation in the Phillipines and Japan, he brought home a package of goodies containing some of my favourite things! If you’ve been to Japan, you will know that they love making KitKat using different flavours. The flavours are usually available during their corresponding peak season – strawberry is one of the most popular. He also brought back green tea and chilli (which was pretty spicy). Another food trend in Japan is the use of milk. In chocolate or milk chewy candy – think sweetened condensed milk, but my favourite of all-time has to be Calpis, a milk base concentrate…delicious! I was first introduced to Calpis as a child when I would visit my grandparents in Japan during the summers. Thinned with water (or vodka for an adult version) and made with a variety of flavours (strawberry, grape, etc.) – if you find it at an asian store, give it a try!
This past weekend I had dinner at a new restaurant, Carbon Bar, sister restaurant to Nota Bene located seven blocks west on the same street. The occasion: a long overdue girls night out and somewhat a reminder of our night out to Stanton Social in Lower East Side in NYC two years ago. Located in an old building with exposed brick/concrete walls, high ceilings and large round booths, it was very much a New York City vibe. The menu is very much pit-fire inspired with a number of platters and snacking plates to encourage sharing. A very interesting item to be found – crispy fried chicken skins and of course, I had to try it! Great in theory, you really can only have a small piece without getting the feeling that you’re eating pure oil and salt. I ordered the pit fired pork tacos which were chock full of pulled pork so much so that you really don’t need to order sides especially if you’re going to be having dessert :) The cheddar ice cream sandwich with maple syrup was delicious – I loved the tuile cookies, it was just enough cookie to satisfy you.
For my birthday, one of my closest friends J took me to Momofuku Noodle Bar Toronto! I was so excited because it has been on my list of restaurants since it opened….and I have to admit, I have huge crush on David Chang!!! Although I’ve eaten at Nikai, which is located on the 2nd floor above the noodle bar, the menu is completely different. The noodle bar has a simple menu of 5 to 6 appetizers, noodle dishes and snacks. Famous for his steamed buns, we order the crispy chicken buns which was delicious! So crunchy but light. Then it was time for the classic Momofuku ramen. And to be honest, I’ve had better. Don’t get me wrong, it was good…..but it wasn’t the best I’ve had and I know what you’re going to say, “of course it isn’t, you’ve been to Japan”. However, I’ve had better in Toronto, yes Toronto! At Kinton – the broth just had so much more flavour. But the most unique part of the meal had to be the soft serve! And after months of drooling over instagram pics posted by Momofuku, I was finally able to try their soft serve. Both the cereal milk and coffee flavour soft serves were good but what made it unique was the cornflake crunch – it was salty not sweet. And combined with the a “not so sweet” soft serve, the meal didn’t have that typical sweet ending. Nevertheless, had a great time catching up with J!
I’m not one to really celebrate my own birthday – don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating birthdays just someone else’s. So its a good thing I have friends that share the same birth month. And having a birthday within the last 2 weeks of August means that I inevitably end up at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition). I’m not into the carnival rides nor the games but I go for the food! And every year, the Ex comes up with some wacky food they decide to serve up. This year its the Thanksgiving waffle, Crowbar and Chocolate fried chicken along with all the other classic carnival food! I, unfortunately couldn’t eat everything so I had to abandon the chocolate fried chicken. However, when we arrived I made a beeline to Fran’s who was serving up the Thanksgiving waffle! After Christmas, Thanksgiving day is my 2nd favourite holiday and frankly, its because we get to have TURKEY! The waffle itself was made from stuffing and used as the bread portion of the sandwich. In between the waffle was a shredded turkey and cranberry sauce with gravy pored over the top. It tasted just like the holidays – ingenious and delicious! Check out the rest of great eats I discovered!
And the winner is……well, you be the judge! The idea of a cook-off was born from my friend I, during a casual conversation about making pizzas on the bbq. Of course, you need at least two people for a competition, and in come myself andB. So, this past long weekend was our first annual cook-off resulting in a great night of cooking, tasting and good conversation! The rules…..there were 3 rounds in total, each round consisting of 2 kinds of pizza (we each took a turn grilling one kind pizza), making 2 pizzas for kind. Round 1 – I started with my version of the classic Hawaiian pizza made with fontina, provolone, prosciutto and grilled pineapple adding much more flavour. B also started with a prosciutto pizza but topped with arugula, caramelized onions and a balsamic glaze. Round 2 – began with my take on a classic salad combination, blue cheese, arugula, pear and walnut pizza. With having a dessert pizza as my last final round,I needed to go last which then resulted in B upping his game on his 2nd pizza serving a home-smoked duck breast, mushroom, cheese, cream and fig reduction pizza. I must admit, it was delicious! But I had my best pizza as my finale – that’s right, a Smore’s pizza! Miniature marshmallows, hazelnut chocolate spread, toasted almonds and graham cracker crumbs! A definite crowd pleaser (I’ll be making this pizza again!). The votes are in – check out board!
As you can tell by the bare trees, this post has been a long time coming. This past Easter, my friends (I, S and W) and I did a little road trip out to Cambridge, Ontario for afternoon tea at the historic Langdon Hall – about an hour or so west of Toronto. It was my first visit out to the the hotel and spa and what a beautiful property! Afternoon tea was served is a small all-white room overlooking the back property. There was at most 10 tables. The selection of teas were limited (I order the Imperial Earl Grey) however, the savoury and sweet selections were delicious! My favourite will always be the scones and devon cream but the strawberry macaroon and the charred asparagus and sweet tomato tart were both so tasty! I also loved the fact that we each got our own three tier stand, no sharing involved – bonus!
It has been quite some time since I’ve posted a restaurant worthy of the “Resto of the Month” title. But El Catrin absolutely deserves this honour. The usual “Finer Things in Life” Supper club members (me included) hit the relatively new restaurant for dinner one night – located in the hip and historical distillery district of Toronto. Specializing in Mexican cuisine, it was a menu of small dishes that can be shares – with a variety of botanos (mini burritos), ceviches and tacos. The guacamole was fantastic with lots of avocado chunks. I usually rate a mexican restaurant by how good the guacamole is however, what made this meal was the restaurant’s signature dish “Gobernador”. A delicious taco made with a flour tortilla filled with sauteed shrimp and lobster in chipotle mayo and black bean puree. I can confidently say that it was probably the best taco I have eaten to date!!! This is a must order! (Don’t forget the margaritas!) In addition, the dessert was unique in that they offered, as part of their regular menu is an option to select 3 desserts on a single place served with salted caramel popcorn. The churros and the hazelnut chocolate bar were to die for! So decadent! I will be back!