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Bar Isabel – The Stuff Food Dreams Are Made Of

March 4, 2014

Ever since I first heard about the opening of Bar Isabel (797 College St.) I was dying to pay them a visit. After hearing they were named Canada’s Best New Restaurant by enRoute magazine, I knew I had to go! Their Spanish inspired cuisine expertly crafted by Grant van Gameren of The Black Hoof with the help of Michael Webster, Guy Rawlings, Brandon Olsen, and an amazing staff, looked too good to miss. I decided to try it out one Sunday night. Thankfully, I had no work Monday because those cocktails did quite the number on me (in the best possible way). The place was buzzing when we arrived to a very well-decorated, dimly lit dining room with a beautiful wooden bar. When they asked if it was okay for us to sit at said bar, I was extremely excited as this is one of my favourite places to be when eating at a restaurant. I love to engage bartenders/servers in conversation and the bar is the perfect spot! It didn’t hurt that the bartenders were nice to look at too. Below you will find an account of a truly memorable dining experience about a place that left my taste buds satisfied, and my mind made up that their number one ranking is well deserved. I highly encourage everyone to go to Bar Isabel to experience a truly inspired and unique feast!

What I drank:

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Wish I wrote this one down but did not: Definitely started the night off right because I can’t remember what it’s called!

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You Screwed Me Over (Choose Yer Own Adventure) [$15]: I told bartender Josh Lindley (one of my favourites in the city)I liked vodka, a little spice, and to make it boozy, and he delivered! This very strong and unique take on a screwdriver had the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, and enough booze to make me order even more food to keep me from falling off my bar stool :)

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Boozy Coffee (Another choose yer own adventure) [$15]: I knew with dessert I wanted coffee, but why not throw some alcohol in with it. This mixture of their delicious espresso with chocolate bitters and some sort of delicious liquor I can’t recall, left me all warm and fuzzy. It was the perfect complement to dessert, and an amazing way to end the meal.

What we ate:

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Salumi plate ($16): A delicious mix of cured meats that started the meal on such a high note. I still take the advice of my chef friend Mike to let the meat sit on your tongue to bring out the fat and flavour. Everything was delicious and you cannot go wrong with some great pickled veg on the side. van Gameren is known for his charcuterie and this plate did not disappoint!

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Roast bone marrow ($11): Anytime I see bone marrow on a menu, I must order it. I cannot be denied my meat butter! This was one of the best I have had in the city. The toasted and buttered sourdough bread was a magnificent vessel for the luscious, velvety, and succulent marrow. Topped with some chimichurri and a pinch of salt, each bite was heavenly.

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1/2 Grilled Octopus ($34): Grilled to absolute perfection, this octopus was tender and so flavourful. The potatoes and dandelion greens provided bursts of garlic with just a hint of bitterness to balance out the smoky octopus. I made sure to fight and win the last tentacle of course. Absolutely a must order!

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Stewed gizzards and pork ($14): This may sound strange but it was strangely incredible. The mix of melt in your mouth gizzards, pork, tomato sauce, poached egg, and smoky cheese created a dish with textures and flavours I have never experienced before. This gorgeous messy bowl was the perfect end to the savoury portion of the meal.

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Cinnamon bun with blood sausage pastry cream and prune glaze ($7): Another odd sounding but drool worthy dish. This cinnamon bun topped with blood sausage pastry cream and a prune glaze was one of the best desserts I have ever had hands down. We asked the waiter what he recommended for dessert and he came back with, “If this at all sounds appetizing to you, it will be the best decision you have ever made.” I kid you not, I licked the bowl clean. Everything about this dish was just right in the most delicious sort of way. It was like a cinnabon on highly sophisticated and gourmet steroids.

The Golden Rule: This won’t be the cheapest dinner you ever had in the city, but I can guarantee it will be one of the most memorable. There was so    much more I wanted to order but because of budget and my ever expanding stomach, I had to hold back. I highly recommend reservations and going with a larger group so you can order many dishes to share! If something sounds slightly strange to you, order it; I promise you won’t regret it. I also recommend sitting at the bar. I was able to get amazing and insightful recommendations on both food and drink, and learn a bit more about why Bar Isabel is among Canada’s elite restaurants.

The Golden Scale: 10 out of 10!

Twitter: @BarIsabel797

Instagram: bar_isabel

Home of the Brave – Join or Die

January 8, 2014

I ventured to Home of the Brave (589 King St. W) a while back with a friend to try out what I knew would be an amazing meal of classic American comfort food. I was very excited to go to the second restaurant by the La Carnita team (Andrew Richmond and Jon Hamilton), as I had a great experience with their delicious Mexican cuisine. After looking at some very drool-worthy pictures and scanning the menu, I knew that health and counting calories would not be on the table. I put on my stretchy pants, and readied myself for a very epic meal. Everything on the menu looked so amazing that I knew it would be hard to choose. My general motto is order as much as possible, so I definitely applied it to this meal. You only live once right! I put my stomach in the trusty hands of chef Jon and chef Nate Middleton along with dessert by La Carnita paleta aficionado Sasha Bogin, and they did not disappoint. I walked away happy, full, and possibly a few pounds heavier, but the meal was excellent from start to finish. The cocktails by bar manager Taylor Corrigan were a perfect complement to the meal as well. You can’t go wrong with great booze and classic diner food. Their American themed food paired perfectly with the vintage Americana decor and the classic hip-hop blasting through the speakers provided an ambiance after my own heart. The staff and service were great. I love when they appreciate that you have a hearty appetite! Here is what we ate:

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Summer in Sakon ($12): The combination of ginger beer, thai spiced vodka, pineapple, and lime was amazing! I love Thai flavours having traveled there a few years ago and I love my vodka so this drink was made for me!

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Tater Tots ($5): Crispy fried potatoes, cheese, gravy, and herbs = pillowy balls of deliciousness. These tots were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Dip them in the salty gravy with some cheese on top and you have a little bite of heaven.

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Ribwich ($12): Move over McRib! This sandwich made of beef short rib, honey jus, pickles, and acidulated onions on a milk bun was juicy and definitely very comforting!

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Fried Bologna Sandwich ($9): This was the highlight of my meal! It definitely was a heart attack waiting to happen with the salty layers of fried bologna, but I would gladly take it to eat this sandwich. It screams American classic and Home of the Brave does it right. The bologna was fried perfectly topped with oozing homemade American cheese, pistachios, and spicy sour cream. The best final bite was the crispy burnt ends of the bologna topped with some cheese and pistachio, so make sure to create an epic last bite if you eat this!

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Steak ($50?): This was one huge slab of meat. My friend, with the help of a little bonus, decided to go all out and order this huge 20 0z 40 day dry aged steak after sharing our food above. I took a taste of the sous-vide meat and it was so tender, juicy, and flavourful. Combined with the crispy hickory sticks, I made a crunchy meaty bite that left a smile on my face. He actually managed to finish a decent amount of it. I’m proud of you Mike!

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Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich ($6): I love ice cream and cookies, and combined even better! I knew that I had to order this from the moment I saw it all over Instagram. At this point in the meal I was pretty full but I was determined to finish the entire thing. After much encouragement from my friend and bar manager Taylor I took my last bite and licked the ice cream that dripped all over me off my hands. This was a delicious decadent dessert. The cookie was baked perfectly and the ice cream mixed with cookie dough was awesome! The ice cream cookie sandwich is constantly changing with different flavour combinations, and I definitely need to try some more!

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Root Beer Float ($?): My friend ordered this one and loved it!

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The Golden Rule: If you love classic comfort foods done exceptionally well and are not on a diet, this is the place for you. The atmosphere was great and the food and drinks left me satisfied and wanting more! If you follow them on twitter or Instagram, you know they are always coming up with new menu items for dinner and dessert. Looking at these pictures, I know I will be back soon for more! Join or Die is their motto, so join and perhaps fall into a nice food coma rather than die, but I promise it will be well worth it!

The Golden Scale: 8.5 out of 10!

http://www.thehotb.com/

Instagram: thehotb

Chantecler – Culinary fusion at its finest

December 16, 2013

I have had the absolute pleasure of eating at Chantecler (1320 Queen St West) for both their regular dinner menu and their outstanding tasting menu. Chantecler, whose kitchen is run by Jonathan Poon (a culinary genius in my mind), is my favourite restaurant in Toronto at the moment with an Asian-fusion menu that delights all senses. Not only are the flavours full of depth, dimension, and creativity, but each plate is a feast for the eyes. I love the old-school feel of the decor and kitchen appliances in the open kitchen. I would have to say hands-down their popcorn shrimp is one of the best things I have ever eaten, and I tell everyone I meet!

Here is a visual break-down of some of the amazing food I ate there for a regular weeknight dinner and their weekend tasting menu. Just a tip, if you want to reserve a seat for their incredible tasting menu, set an alarm on your phone to call on the first of the month! I promise it will be worth the month long wait to feast on chef Poon’s unique, beautiful, and delicious creations. Our menu sampled some of their new Sunday lunch dishes, which I now need to attend so I can re-visit the amazing flavours of my meal. The staff are also attentive, and really know their stuff. The drinks our waiter recommended paired perfectly with the unknown dishes we were to encounter during the meal. Thank you Chantecler for your amazing food, atmosphere, and staff – I will be back soon!

Dinner: A la carte

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Gin and grapefruit tonic ($8): The addition of the grapefruit, created a hint of sweet citrus that kicked this classic drink up a notch.

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Oyster shots ($4): You can’t go wrong with oyster, quail yolk, yuzu, and wasabi! Sweet, spicy, and briny.

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Fish wrap ($4.50 each): If a filet o’fish was attacked by a gourmet master chef, this would be the outcome. The light and crispy coating paired with the lettuce made for a fresh bite, with the Japanese tartar sauce a great substitute for mayo.

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Lettuce Meal ($21): Chantecler’s specialty! This is an amazing dish to share (although I could have finished it on my own it was so good). The braised beef and pork shoulder were so tender and juicy from their broth bath. It was fun to create different wrap combinations using the lettuce, rice, pickled vegetables and sauces. This is a must order!

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Calamari ($11): I hadn’t originally planned on ordering the calamari, but once the smell hits you as it wafts throughout the restaurant, I dare you not to order it. The smell was intoxicating, and the taste even better. It had a unique soggy texture, and with the caramelized peanut and tamarind sauce, a sweetness that made my mouth water.

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Spicy Popcorn Shrimp ($11): The star of the meal for me! This is possibly the best thing I have ever tasted, and so unique that any chef would be jealous they didn’t think of it first. This is not your run of the mill popcorn shrimp. The shrimp are coated in actual pieces of popcorn and sprinkled with morita pepper to give it a kick. The deep fried bits on the edges of the popcorn mixed with each bite of juicy shrimp, blew me away.

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Ice Cream Sundae: We decided to order dessert, and out came a mixture of sophistication and whimsy. Each bite took me back to my childhood as I dug into a sundae full of my favourite cereals, chocolates, and delicious homemade ice cream.

The Tasting Menu ($72 per person, varies):

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Beef tartare: You can get this dish on their regular menu as well, but it was one of the stars of the meal for me. This incredible opening to the tasting menu covered every flavour sensation. Each bite of the tartare paired with the peanut, fish sauce, and shrimp chimps, proved that Chantecler is a contender for the best tartare in Toronto.

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Clams Casino: This dish was not only beautiful, but the clams and smoky bacon provided another great appetizer to the feast that was to come.

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Pork Special Wrap: The combination of the tender pork, the dried oyster, and puffed wild rice had great texture and flavour. I could probably eat a few more of these.

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Chicken Congee: This was one of the highlights for me. The thick rich congee, alongside slow cooked egg, mushrooms, fried garlic, and chicken came together in a beautiful marriage of flavours and textures. It had a really luxurious feel on my tongue. A great middle course in the tasting menu to warm up our stomachs for more!

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Turnip Cake: The homemade Chinese sausage and XO sauce had nice flavour, and I really enjoyed the soft consistency of the turnip cake. This was another dish that I definitely could’ve eaten more of.

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Shrimp and Vermicelli: Another hit for me! I have loved glass noodles ever since my trip to South East Asia, so this took me on a trip down memory lane. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the addition of the garlic oil really provided intense flavour.

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Duck Breast: This was a visual beauty and incredibly well flavoured and composed dish. The duck was tender with just the right amount of fat. The pancetta provided another hint of fat that complemented the duck so well. Every element of the dish was so well thought out and worked in such harmony to create amazing flavour. The sweetness from the onions, grapes, and beet sauce added another dimension of flavour to take this dish to a new level of awesomeness.

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Ovaltine ice cream coated in coffee grinds: If there was a dessert that reflected being an adult and child at the same time this would be it. The familiar warmth of ovaltine is frozen into a silky rich ice cream coated in what we all need each day – caffeine. This was a grand slam! The smooth ice cream paired with the crunchy grinds created an amazing texture with each bite. Chef, if you ever want to make a tub of this for me, I will gladly take it and devour it.

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Homemade Donuts with  grapefruit custard: I thought the ovaltine ice cream was the end of this amazing feast, but along came donuts. They were fluffy, fried to perfection, and coated in sugar. With a spoonful of the delightful tangy custard, every Timbit should dream of being as good as these.

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In action!

The Golden Rule: Go now if you have never dined at Chantecler! I tell everyone I meet to go, and they have never been let down by the incredible cuisine of this restaurant. You must order the lettuce meal and popcorn shrimp (it will blow your mind, I promise). It is also a must to make reservations for the tasting menu and let chef Poon take you on a culinary journey of epic proportions!

The Golden Scale: 11 out of 10!

The First Bite: Hot Bunzz TUM Preview

September 27, 2013

To celebrate the two year anniversary of the Toronto Underground Market and their one year, Hot Bunzz created a special TUM Alum Collection of Bunzz in collaboration with other amazing TUM Alum; Rock Lobster, Fidel Gastro’s, and La Carnita. I had the pleasure of attending a preview event to get the “First Bite,” of these delicious collaborationzz. TUM’s two year anniversary event will be tomorrow and these delicious bunzz will be available for anyone attending, I highly recommend you try all of them, to get a taste of some of the amazing dishes that have come about with the help of TUM. They all began as pop-ups, and have graduated to serving their tasty and unique food from permanent homes. Mark and Mitchell of Hot Bunnz really exemplify the heart, soul, and passion of these food vendors that got their start at TUM. I had the pleasure of watching them grow into the business they are today, and couldn’t be happier that they are celebrating their one year anniversary! They are a great example for other pop-ups just starting out at TUM, that with a little hard work and support, the possibilities are endless. I made my way over to Urban Bistro (21 St. Clair West) last week, where Hot Bunnz has set up shop, excited to get my hands on some hot bunnz.

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Mark making those bunnz!

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The Spiced Sailor Bun in collaboration with Rock Lobster: Stuffed with lobster and lobster on top! You can’t go wrong with an abundance of lobster. This bun was rich and creamy filled with lobster, pears poached in Sailor Jerry’s rum, mixed with cheddar and topped with even more lobster and a lemon garlic aioli. This bun had a great combination of flavours, reminding me of the signature Rock Lobster roll (if the bun turned mutant and decided to grow and roll itself around the lobster meat). It was delicious and not to be missed for any lobster lover!

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The Molé Rojo in collaboration with La Carnita: This bun was classic La Carnita stuffed with braised, pulled chicken in molé rojo sauce, topped with Mexican crema, queso anejo, and a grilled pineapple salsa. If tacos, came in bun form, this would be the perfect one! The chicken was flavourful and tender, and the sweetness of the pineapple salsa along with the slight saltiness of the cheese was a winning combination!

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The B.L.T.O in collaboration with Fidel Gastro’s: This was a huge hit for me! The bun was filled with crispy fried pork belly in a Clamato roux, and topped with fresh tomato, lettuce, parm, and a caramalized onion aioli. It was messy, and delicious. The pork belly was melt in your mouth and the flavours hit so many levels of awesome. All other B.L.T’s should be jealous. I give a huge Olé for this bun!

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Don’t miss your chance to grab some amazing bunnz (the Hot Bunnz kind, or the other if you’re feeling flirty) at TUM tomorrow. This is your chance to try some of the great TUM Alum signature dishes stuffed inside the delicious buns of Hot Bunnz, so don’t miss out. Happy One Year Anniversary guys!

AwesTRUCK 2013

September 24, 2013

When I heard that AwesTRUCK would be back for another year with 50 trucks, both new to the street and the veterans we’ve come to know and love, I knew attending this event would be a no brainer. This is the second time around for the event, which honours the best and brightest of Ontario food trucks. I quickly bought my early bird ticket ($25), which allowed early entry an hour before general admission ($10) and counted down the days until my food truck dreams would come true. Unfortunately mother nature had other plans this past Saturday at Fort York deciding that rain would be in the forecast all day. I decided this would not stop me from heading to this wonderful event, so I put on my rain gear and headed out for some incredible food truck eats.

After reviewing the list of trucks posted earlier by the amazing organizers Food Truck Eats et al (Suresh Doss, Frank Kocis, and the rest of the amazing crew), I decided I wanted to stick to trucks that don’t normally come to Toronto. Ontario has a wealth of amazing trucks representing various cities, and I was excited to see what was in store. Car2Go was the title sponsor, which might have come in handy rather than the painfully slow street car I took, and there were many great drinks available as well (Samuel Adams, Kensington Brewing Co, and more), which definitely eased the pain of the slow commute. When I arrived, the rain was coming down hard, but that did not damper my spirit or my appetite. I surveyed the scene and was in awe of the vast amount of trucks and cuisines available.

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I decided my first stop would be El Gastronomo Vagabundo from St. Catharines, last year’s Road Warriors and one of my favourite trucks. They were one of the first trucks in Ontario, and helped to spearhead the street food movement. They don’t come around here much, so I knew I needed remind myself just how good their food is. I settled on their grilled octopus dish with fried new potatoes, chipotle gastrique, salsa verde and paprika ($10). The octopus was done beautifully, and I’m not sure what they did to those potatoes, but they were incredible. I ended up going back again later for a second one! I hope you guys come back to Toronto again soon so everyone can get a taste of your amazing food.

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Another truck I had on my list was The Dirty South from Hamilton. I follow their social media, and generally drool every time I see a picture of their Dirty Southern Love sandwich ($9). If sandwiching fried chicken and bacon with waffles is wrong, I don’t ever want to be right. The sandwich was a mini tower of chicken, waffles, and maple bacon. This was going to be no easy feat to eat, while juggling my massive umbrella, however I managed to scarf it down pretty quickly. The chicken had great flavour, the bacon was crispy with a maple flavour that added the perfect hit of sweetness, the arugula added a nice peppery bite, and the waffles were soft and fluffy. It all worked so well together, and I managed to make it through with minimal sauce on my face. This is the ultimate brunch sandwich, that I could see myself eating many times in the future. Dirty South is another truck I hope to see more of! Congrats on the many nominations!

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After the monstrosity of my Dirty Southern Love, I figured I needed a lighter bite next. Gourmet Gringos have always been one of my favourite trucks in Toronto. Terry, Christian, and the crew make incredible food! I noticed they had some menu items I have never seen before, and was excited to get a taste. I love ceviche, and after seeing they had one, I knew that was the perfect light snack for me. The ceviche ($6) had tuna, watermelon, and avocado piled high on a tostada. The flavours were amazing and fresh. There was just the right amount of acidity from the tuna, sweetness from the watermelon, and creaminess from the avocado. The tostada was a great vessel for this dish. Congrats on the People’s Choice win guys!

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I figured I should try at least one more dish before I picked a few desserts, and after winning awards for Best Concept and Best Menu Item I knew Luchador Gourmet Streatery from Waterloo was where i was headed. I decided to try the Korean Zombie ($7), which consisted of tofu, kimchi, cucumber, and jack cheese in a naan bread taco. I was very intrigued by naan as the taco. I also loved their luchador masks and the Mexican-Asian fusion concept. When I bit in, there was a flavour explosion. I loved the kimchi and tofu along with the bite of the cucumber, which all provided an array of great textures. The naan was such a creative substitute for a taco. This was reminded me of a South Asian grilled cheese taco – a combination of many of my favourite foods and ethnic cuisines! Congrats on both of your wins!

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As for dessert, I had my eye on the Itty Bitty Pie Co. from St. Catharines. Their mini pies were just too cute to resist. I decided to go with the Coconut Cream and the Sweet Potato ($4 each). I only have one word for these pies – OMG! They were absolutely delicious! The sweet potato was creamy and topped with toasted marshmallows for the perfect fall treat. The coconut cream was soooooo good. The combination of coconut cream and whipped cream was heavenly. The pie crust was perfectly flaky and buttery. I can’t wait to try more flavours!

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I figured I would be nice and bring home a treat for my family. I knew Curbside Bliss was the perfect choice! I saw their caramel apple cupcake ($2.75) consisting of a vanilla cinnamon cake, apple pie filling, graham cracker bottom, and a buttercream frosting with caramel drizzle. Unfortunately, the cupcake looked and smelled too good, so I had to eat it myself. It was all in the name of saving my family from having to split it between them. It was so delicious! Eating an apple pie in cupcake form was the perfect ending to my eating adventure!

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I wanted to give a big congrats to all the winners! It is amazing to see how far we have come in the street food movement and the amazing trucks and people that are so passionate about providing great food and service to us! There are so many unique ideas and cuisines that these hard-working individuals have created to help diversify food cultures throughout Ontario. It was wonderful to see everyone braving the rain to support these trucks and vendors. There are so many great trucks out for lunch and dinner every day, and I hope that you will all try them out to see what amazing street food is like! I am so happy to have been around to see many of these trucks blossom into what they are today, and I hope to continue to see even more trucks and street food freedom in the future!

People’s Choice: Gourmet Gringos

Best Menu Item: Pork steam bun tacos – Luchador Gourmet Streatery

Best New Food Truck: Frankie Fettucine

Best Graphics: Food Dudes

Best Concept; Luchador Gourmet Streatery

Best Pop-Up: Babi & Co

Road Warrior: Sid Friedman, Ontario Food Trucks Assocation

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Golden on the go – momofuku noodle bar

August 28, 2013

I have been on a slight hiatus as I have been working on a food related side project that has been occupying my time these days. Can’t complain about being occupied by something food related though ;) I am still making my way around the city, and want to share my experience at momofuku noodle bar with all of you. I went last month with a few co-workers when I found out they had a prix fixe lunch consisting of a bun, noodle, and milk bar cookie for $18! I couldn’t say no as I have been meaning to try it for some time now. Being a quick walk from my office, noodle bar is a great lunch spot for those working in the King West/Entertainment district. With the opening of milk bar, it is also a great spot to pick up something sweet to keep you awake at the office :)

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pork bun: hoisin, scallion, cucumber

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shiitake bun: hoisin, scallion, cucumber

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smoked chicken ramen: miso, menma, egg, mushroom

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momofuku ramen: pork belly & shoulder, fish cake, and egg

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beef cheek tonkatsu ramen: scallion, beef cheek

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milk bar cookies: cornflake chocolate chip  marshmallow, compost, and blueberry & cream

Golden on the go Tasting Notes: Two of us decided to go for the pork bun especially after hearing so much about it online. The bun was pillowy and soft, just as I had hoped. The pork was tender and juicy with just the right amount of fat. The hoisin added an extra hit of flavour, and the cucumber a nice crunch. My friend also enjoyed her shiitake bun. One friend ordered the momofuku ramen and another the beef cheek tonkatsu. They really enjoyed them noting the noodles and flavour were great. I decided on the smoked chicken ramen. After having been to Kinton I knew the first thing I had to do was break the egg to let the yolk run through the broth. The noodles had a nice texture, and I loved the addition of the crunchy chicken skin. Overall, it was a nice bowl of ramen in a sophisticated atmosphere. I was so excited to get my cookie that I slurped down the majority of the ramen as fast as I could. The server brought over the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie and after I took a few bites, I knew they used quality ingredients and a ton of butter! I also went upstairs and bought a few more at the store – compost and blueberry & cream. The compost cookie was amazing! Each bite provided a new flavour and texture. I also loved the blueberry & cream. It reminded me of a freshly baked blueberry muffin.

The Golden Rule: Although this prix fixe lunch deal isn’t available all the time, momofuku noodle bar is a great place to go for a nice lunch if you work downtown or are down for the afternoon.  The service was great and efficient if you only have an hour (although we all wish we have more time).  I am excited to try more from the menu and stop in for even more steamed buns and bowls of ramen! Another bonus is the addition of the milk bar, where you can pick up delicious treats for any occasion!

The Black Hoof – mmmmeat

July 4, 2013

I think it’s about time I wrote about my amazing experience at The Black Hoof (928 Dundas Street West). Sometimes I get lazy and forget to post, but this restaurant deserves some love. I went on a Sunday evening with my best eating buddy Mike, to sample some of the delicious and curious meats that Jen Agg and team have created. We got seated at the bar, which I was very excited about, as it provided an amazing view of the open kitchen. Although the kitchen is small, the chefs work effortlessly in the narrow space  to create each dish to perfection. I was just mesmerized watching them cook and plate, almost to the point where I forgot about the delicious food in front of me. I also love going out for dinner with a chef, as they can really add to the dining experience and food appreciation. Thanks again Mike.

The Meal:

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Tea & Sympathy ($12): This was a delicious mix of earl grey infused gin, honey syrup, lemon cream sherry, and jasmin bitters. You could really sense the tea flavour, and all the elements worked beautifully together.

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Charcuterie ($19): I wish I could remember everything on the plate specifically, but it was all oustanding! They are known for the charcuterie and this board was delicious. I loved watching them slice the meat and create such a beautiful dish right in front of me. I remember the mortadella being one of my favourites, but everything had its own unique flavour. Paired with their amazing bread, this is a must order. Kudos to Mike for telling me to let each piece sit on my tongue for a while to really bring out the flavour.

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Pork Belly & Cappuccio ($15): My favourite part of the night was watching the chef cooking the pork belly. It was a beautiful sight watching it grow crispy in that frying pan. The pork belly had a great crunch on the outside with a smooth and creamy interior. The brussel sprout cappuccio was a great accompaniment to add some greens to the richness of the pork belly.

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Tongue On Brioche ($14): I had heard amazing things about this dish and could not wait to try it. I was practically drooling when it arrived. This was insanely good! The tongue was so tender and flavourful reminding me of smoked meat. The brioche was soft and buttery, and the perfect bread for the massive amount of meat. The pickled celery and grainy mustard were nice touches, which I paired with any meat that spilled out of the sandwich to create delicious bites. I would not think twice about ordering this one again.

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Bone Marrow (Market Price): I apologize for the dark photography as it was late by the time we got our bone marrow. At this point in the meal I was so stuffed so could only manage one bite. I had never tried bone marrow before, so I knew I had to have at least one. Mike described it as meat butter and he was spot on! The marrow on toast was so rich and delicious, I almost died and went to meat heaven (after the meal my heart was probably ready for it).

Overall, The Black Hoof is one place that everyone should visit in Toronto. The staff are friendly and extremely knowledgeable. The atmosphere is awesome. Can’t go wrong with some old school rap and hip hop. The food may sound strange to some, but everything is delicious no matter where it comes from on whatever animal it may be!

Follow owner Jen Agg on twitter @TheBlackHoof!

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Magical old school stove!

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Sizzling pork belly!

The Golden Rule: Make sure to order a nice selection of different dishes, but the charcuterie and tongue on brioche are a must! If you can, sit at the bar so you can sit back and enjoy the magic that goes on in the kitchen!

The Golden Scale: 9 out of 10!

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