Its a good thing I have friends who look out for me otherwise I would completely miss awesome events like Cheese Boutique’s 10th Annual Festival of Chefs! What a unique series of events – every weekend in May, the Cheese Boutique hosts a local chef from some of Toronto’s top restaurants who makes a dish inspired by the theme of the day. In addition, a local vineyard is also invited to pair the dish with one of its wines – and this past Saturday it was Hidden Bench from Beamsville and the Chef was Chef Sam Gelman from the infamous Momofuku! And all for $5 that goes towards the Famous PEOPLE Players. Ever since I heard rumours of Momofuku coming to Toronto, I knew I had to add it to my restaurant bucket list – although I did go to Momofuku Milk Bar when I visited New York City last December I haven’t had a chance to dine at Momofuku TO yet so this was my first taste of what I can expect. The steamed bun stuffed with pulled pork shoulder, griller guernsey girl cheese and topped with slices of cucumber – it was absolutely delicious! Steaming the bun gave it a soft and delicate texture and the grilled guernsey girl cheese completely reminded me of the texture and saltiness of saganaki. I did walk around the store afterwards and well, $40 later, I came out with three different cheeses, some pastries and an iced coffee to sip on my way home!
Category Archives: Adventures around T.O.
It was Mother’s Day yesterday and although we celebrated with a sushi dinner – my sister in law hasn’t eaten sushi for almost 10 months during her pregnancy and now that the baby is born, she’s craving for raw fish – traditionally its a day celebrated over brunch! And one of my favourite brunch places (there are many!) is Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. Its a spin-off restaurant from a previous place that was known as “Mildred Pierce”, which is no longer there. The space is light and airy with large windows for the sun to shine through, perfect atmosphere for brunch! You know how much I love afternoon tea so you know my friends and I had to have the platter of currant scones and buttermilk biscuits! To die for! Then the dishes started to come: breakfast sandwich on a croissant, savoury tart and fried eggs and bacon. What I like about these is that they aren’t your typical brunch items with lots of home fries, sausage, toast etc. All served with light salads, it was a great brunch meal!
One of my favourite TV shows right now is “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Canada”. Frankly, I’ve got a bit of a crush on both Tom Colicchio (head chef judge on Top Chef) and Mark McEwan – head chef judge on Top Chef Canada. So I recently had the chance to have dinner with a friend at his latest restaurant, Fabbrica. Fabbrica, is an italian restaurant where its cuisine is made from the highest of quality italian ingredients. It was a cold night and I felt like eating something comforting and the fettucini carbonara was just calling me. Made with crab, guanciale (italian unsmoked bacon), cream and topped with a poached egg – something I haven’t seen yet done on a pasta dish. The yolk, still soft and liquid, when you break it oozes out and tastes great when you swirl the pasta in it. It did exactly what it was supposed to do, comfort me and keep me warm. The best part of the dinner however was the desserts. The budino was sticky, warm and sweet but the bombolone donuts were delicious! Really light and airy and stuffed with a custard cream – fabulous! YUM!
Not flashy and a bit tucked away amongst the massive office towers on Bay Street is Gabardine. I first heard about this place from my colleague J who had a great dinner experience here so I decided to check it out with a couple of friends. It was a packed house the atmosphere was casual but full of young hip bay streeters. We started with some fancy cocktails (or libations as the trend setters call it). Next came an appetizer, beer cheese croquettes which were crunchy and gooey on the inside! But the best dish was the special of the night that I ordered, double fried chicken wings! I have never had chicken wings as crispy as these. The taste….definitely asian inspired with some heat and hoisin flavour sprinkled with black and white sesame seeds and julienned nori! I wish this dish was permanently on the menu because I would be going back. I will warn you that the portions are pretty large and saving room for dessert is worth it – especially if its for the chocolate terrine! A restaurant I would definitely recommend!
Brunch is my favourite meal on the weekend! So when we had a free Sunday morning from our usual dragonboat practice, my friend “I” suggested brunch. The tough thing about brunch is that most places don’t take reservations, which is a shame because most of us tend to go for brunch in groups larger than 2. We arrived at Caplansky’s and had to wait for about 30 minutes but well worth it. We were seated in the centre area of the deli. The menu, of course, is very Jewish influenced so you won’t find pork served in this place! But there is definitely no shortage of meat here. This was my first time here even though I did eat from his food truck, Thunderin’ Thelma, at the Niagara Food Truck Festival last summer. Asking the server what she would recommend as my first dish at Caplansky’s, I chose the classic Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich! The meat is cut pretty thick and served on Silverstein’s rye bread. I squirted a bit of plain old yellow mustard (I’m not a big fan of dijon, unless its in a dressing) and took a big bite. I’m no expert when it comes to Montreal smoked meat but this tasted pretty good! It was moist and full of spice, exactly what you would expect from a Montreal smoked meat sandwich. The best part of the meal was the dessert – yes, dessert at brunch! We ordered the maple bacon (not from pork) donuts……devine! Just like how I remembered them since last summer……crispy exterior, dense with cubes of bacon and drizzled with maple syrup! A perfect ending to brunch!
In the spur of the moment, after meeting friends for a drink after a long work day, a few of us decided to go for dinner. It was later in the evening and walking past Tutti Matti we noticed free tables. By word of mouth, I’ve heard some good things about Tutti Matti so I was secretly hoping that we would end up there! According to our server, the restaurant just received a shipment of truffles that late afternoon and so they created a last minute pasta special with the truffles. Of course, anything with truffles is music to my ears so I immediately knew that was going to be my dinner. I know truffles are pretty pricey but I didn’t imagine that the pasta truffle special was going to cost me $36! Not worth it in my opinion (a pretty ordinary dish) so I was a bit disappointed. However, the budino I had for dessert was delicious!!! The best part of the budino was the salted caramel gelato – so creamy and smooth with that salty/sweet flavour! I could eat an entire pint of this stuff
Its now become a tradition that on every trip to London, I must do Afternoon Tea so of course when M was visiting me from London, we had to go for high tea here. I’ve been to a few afternoon teas around the city but none has “wowed” me like the ones I’ve had in London. Well, I think high tea at the Ritz has topped my list of favourites in Toronto. Why? The service! Right from when you walk in, you are greeted and brought to the lounge area that is well lit with the entire back wall of windows. We chose our tea and along came our savoury tray of goodies. Cucumber and egg open-faced sandwiches, quiches, traditional scones and smoked salmon croissants (which was my favourite!). The croissant was buttery and flakey which tasted great with the smoked salmon. After sandwiches and scones, out came the sweets. No disappoints here either. The lemon meringue tart, chocolate madeleine and the caramel chou were yummy! What better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than drinking tea with great friends! I’ll be back soon!
When my friend M contacted me to see if she could visit me in Toronto, I was ecstatic! I hadn’t seen her for well over a year and her last visit to Toronto was five years ago. Her plan during the days was to relax and really take time to enjoy the city so she left the evenings and weekend planning to me – so of course, I jam-packed them like I typically do when I travel! The first stop was a late dinner at Lee Restaurant when she landed. I haven’t been to Lee for a year and it was great to come back. Because this was M’s first time, I thought why not ask the Server what he would recommend as some of Lee’s best dishes and well, his picks were delicious! His top recommendation, Susur’s Singaporean-style Slaw! Made with 19 different ingredients – and yes, when it came the server rhymed off all 19 ingredients! Now, there aren’t a lot of salads that I rave about but this may be one of a few exceptions – it was so full of flavour I could have eaten the entire dish! It was nutty with flavours of sesame, sweet with salmon/tuna sashimi and crunchy with crispy taro strips – it was one of the most memorable dishes I have had! Definitely worth going to eat just that!
My last restaurant on my winterlicious tour is Parts & Labour. This resto has been on my list for the past year and when I saw on the winterlicious list, well I jumped at the chance! What I love about this place is that it has a story behind it. The location was an old neighborhood Pro Hardware store and the sign is still hanging in its original spot. Inside, touches of some of the items that would have been sold in the hardware store are used in unique ways – in the lighting and cement flooring. Along with four friends (F, I, S, and A) we went for a three course dinner completely surpassing my expectations! Its not often I like only a specific part of a dish but the pickled cucumber atop of my mackerel was devine! A touch of crunch from the skin with tartness from the vinegar and a bit of spice from the chile. However, the best course was my dessert – the Parts & Labour doughnut! Deep-fried, crispy on the outside and nice and fluffy on the inside with strawberry compote drizzled over top, it was delectable! I would definitely go back!
My third restaurant on my winterlicious tour was Colborne Lane. I went with two of my good friends G and H. This restaurant has also been on my wish list for awhile because of its association with Origin – so my expectations for the food were really high. We began the night with cocktails of course and I started with the Tom Yum soup. Although pretty tasty, what I loved was the presentation – a bowl with the prawn, crispy chicken wing and shiitake mushroom is brought to the table and the broth in a separate cast iron tea pot and poured table side. My main dish was braised pork belly and well what can I say – you can’t really go wrong with pork belly. By far, the best part of the meal was the desserts. Mine, the chocolate bar with caramel peanut dust, freeze dried blueberries and the most devine banana sorbet! Not only was it pleasing to look at but I practically licked the plate! The other dessert, a plate of alternating dulce de leche cheesecake, coffee cake and a blood orange sorbet – delish! As you can tell the food was great but I will warn you, if you’re used to eating a lot more you may leave feeling hungry