December 2011 archive
Having a brother going to school in New York leaves me with the perfect excuse to visit quite often. How could my parents resist me saying that I miss my big bro and would love to go see him?! This time around it was a mother daughter trip. My parents had gone a few weeks prior but due to sickness I was unable. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time together over shopping and good food! What could be better than that?
Eataly is probably one of the best places, like ever. Think gourmet grocery store with numerous restaurants, a coffee shop, and a gelato shop all in one. Mario Betali is the genius behind this. For lunch, the prime rib sandwich was my choice, which was literally to die for. It was a simple sandwich drizzled with just olive oil, however I still salivate at the thought.
Although my parents brought me back Crumbs cupcakes last time, I still had to visit for myself. The flavours are incredible, and the cupcakes are huge! My mom and I shared a peanut butter banana cupcake named The Elvis.
After a day of shopping, we met up again with my brother at another one of Mario Batali’s restaurants called Otto. This Italian eatery did not disappoint. We shared a cobb salad, pizza topped with potatoes, butternut squash pasta, and a mushroom tomato pasta.
As for dessert, we opted for something simple like this trio of gelato. Tangerine, caramel and apple cider were the flavours we chose and I could not believe how delicious they were!! It tasted exactly like real apple cider.
Another day, another cupcake! Today we gave Sprinkles a try, which is a cupcake shop that started in Los Angeles. My mom loves fruit flavoured things and I was in the mood for something light so we compromised on the orange cranberry, which was the perfect balance between tanginess and sweetness.
Self-serve frozen yogurt seems to be all the rage these days. This is a picture from one of the New York chains called 16 handles. A few of the flavours were original tart, peanut butter, strawberry lemonade, cookies and cream, chocolate, vanilla, and many more.
Trendy, yet quaint was a coffee/ice cream shop called Van Leeuwen. The flavours were incredibly original, such as Earl Grey Tea, Red Currant, Ginger, Burnt Caramel, Hazelnut, along with a variety of others. My choice seems really boring in the real ice cream world, but here, it was simply mouthwatering! I chose Strawberry, which had real pieces of strawberries in it, and Vanilla bean which was so creamy and pure tasting.
Since my brother lives in New York and knows all the cool spots, he took us to a tiny, very low key, casual burger joint called the Corner Bistro. They serve simply burgers, cheeseburgers, and grilled cheese. The burgers are thick and juicy, and cooked exactly how you like it.
To end the trip, I just had to stop by Magnolia Bakery (even though I’ve been years ago). I have to say, these are still my favourite. The light, buttery, moist cake slathered in creamy butter cream frosting makes for one heck of a cupcake.
Inspiration from the fish and chips resulted in another home cooked meal. This time, we cooked dinner for not only the two of us, but for my parents as well. My dad loves crab cakes so I knew that would make for the perfect appetizer. As for the main course, we stuck to fish tacos. The crab cakes consisted of crab, egg, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic and onion. We then coated them in panko breadcrumbs and pan fried them. As for the fish, they were also tossed in panko and began cooking briefly in the pan and then into the oven to finish. On the side we made our own guacamole, salad, and had the usual toppings such as chopped tomato, lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream. It was a tasty meal shared with great family, and I’m sure my mom appreciated the night off from cooking!
For dessert, we made spring rolls. Although the picture does not do justice, they were a hit! Some were filled with peanut butter and chocolate, some just with chocolate, and others were apple cinnamon.
It was time to take a break from the restaurant scene, and time to cook something at home. Since my brother loves being in the kitchen and is a superb chef, I luckily have an array of supplies at home. Jonty and I decided on fish and chips, so we instantly grabbed the deep fryer. Cod is the perfect fish for this dish, as are russet potatoes for the fries. Jonty thinly sliced the potatoes, while I prepared the beer batter for the fish. After giving them a generous dunk in the batter, Jonty carefully dropped them into the sizzling hot oil. The fries were twice-fried to give them a crispy texture. We also prepared our own homemade tartar sauce. The final product was pretty restaurant-worthy if I do say so myself.
Although you may not believe me after reading this blog, we do like to eat healthy some of the time. There’s nothing better than something that tastes incredible, and is also good for you. I shall introduce you to The Fish Store. This is a tiny storefront (basically a counter) on College Street right near Little Italy. It is kind of an odd location since it is in no way Italian. The menu has many varieties of grilled fish that are served either as a sandwich or on top of a salad. The simplicity and freshness of this little shop is perfect for a quick, healthy and satisfying meal. There is a patio out front if you prefer to eat there rather than take it to go.
Jonty ordered a black cod sandwich complete with lettuce and tomato, while I opted for halibut. The fish is topped with a variety of mild spices, salt and pepper and cooked to perfection. We also were dying to try the shrimp burger so we figured we would order one too and split it, what the heck! Although it was no dessert, the shrimp, cheese, lettuce, tomato were a great ending to our meal.
I don’t even know where to begin on this one. This tiny, and I mean tiny little spot on Queen Street East at Coxwell is called The Burger’s Priest. It opened its doors just this past summer and is already booming with business, with a second location opening at Yonge and Lawrence. On any given day you can find people lined up literally out the door waiting to bite into the tastiest burger they’ve probably had in a while, or ever. Foodies all over the city quickly discovered this goldmine and labelled it Toronto’s Best Burger in 2011. The menu is pretty simple, including items such as a plain burger, cheeseburger, fries, and the vegetarian option, which is actually called “The Option”. This is like no other veggie burger. Take two portobello mushroom caps, stuff them with cheese, roll it in flour and deep fry it, and there you have it, “The Option”. If that isn’t enough, this magical burger haven has a secret menu which is not posted in the restaurant. You can find it online or just by word of mouth. There are some pretty crazy items, which you will see below.
Jonty and I have eyes bigger than our stomachs most of the time, as I’m sure you have noticed. Pictured here is an item from the secret menu, called “The Tower of Babel Pope Style”. Two beef patties, topped with cheese, “The Option”, deep fried jalapeno pepper, fried onions, lettuce, ketchup, all in between two grilled cheese sandwiches! Let’s just say Jonty could barely breathe, talk, or walk after inhaling this. As for my burger, I kept it simple with a single pattie topped with “The Option”. The patties themselves aren’t exactly huge, but the freshness of the high quality meat cooked on a flat top grill is the perfect fix to any burger craving.
Now I know the title of this post may sound intimidating. I figured I would warn you for what you are about to see. Let’s just say that we were appologizing to our hearts and arteries after this night. The Canadian National Exhibition is a fair that comes to Toronto every year at the end of Summer. Along with games and rides, there is TONS of food! Of course, Jonty and I knew this was our calling.
We decided to start the evening off by ordering a blooming, fried onion. This however was just a side dish to something that was all the talk this year at the Ex- the Donut Burger. We have had a donut burger before this, but I will save that for another post. It is a burger between two Krispy Kreme donuts, topped with lettuce, an egg, bacon, and cheese. They were out of egg on this day and Jonty and I do not eat bacon, but I’d say we still had quite the burger. This may sound revolting to some, but we had to try it! To be quite honest, it was strangely tasty.
After wandering the fair grounds, playing games and going on rides, we had room for some more! Next we tackled mac and cheese, which oddly came with a hot dog. Surprisingly it was all pretty delicious, as the mac and cheese was quite creamy and cheesy.
Even after all this food, I’m sure you could have guessed what I needed…It was a toss up between a deep fried Oreo or a deep fried “Ah Caramel”. If youaren’t familiar with this, it is kind of like a Joe Louis but it is caramel filled white cake covered in chocolate. Since Oreos are more popular, I decided to for the “Ah Caramel”. For those who know me, you know I cannot eat anything fried or basically any hot dessert without ice cream. That’s where the waffle ice cream sandwich came in! The combination of the fried batter, the caramel, chocolate and ice cream was truly all I needed to complete this calorie laden evening.
Once in a while instead of going out for dinner, Jonty and I like to stay in and cook. This time around we decided on pizza, which is pretty easy, yet always delicious.
We tried to be a little healthy by using whole wheat dough (which we bought pre-made). As for toppings, we went crazy. Avocado, homemade pesto, salami, sauteed onions and mushrooms, roasted garlic, chicken, potatoes, oregano, and of course tomato sauce and a blend of cheeses. On the side, we made a Caesar salad and roasted salami in the oven to a crispy perfection.
So I think it’s safe to say that I pretty much have dessert on my mind at any given time during the day. This being said, I naturally thought of making a dessert pizza. We smothered the dough in peanut butter, topped it with chopped oreos, milk chocolate pieces, sprinkled with cinnamon and a caramel drizzle. Hot out of the oven, I indulged in this masterpiece with a side of vanilla ice cream.
This past summer a couple friends and I decided to take a last minute trip to NYC. If you hang with me, you gotta love to eat! Thankfully, we did just that!
As featured on the Food Network on shows such as Unwrapped, we visited The Donut Plant. Our pick was the Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jelly donut. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!
Next, we stopped at Cafe Habana in Nolita. This is also a well known little Cuban restaurant featured on Best Thing I Ever Ate. The most famous dish is the corn on the cobb smothered in mayonnaise, cotija cheese (kind of like parmesean but a little tangier) and cayenne powder. I am not a huge fan of any of these ingredients but somehow the combination along with the corn is truly a melt-in-your-mouth experience.
Naturally, I was beyond thrilled to visit a CAKE BOUTIQUE called Lady M. There were a variety of cakes on display and our choices were strawberry shortcake, chocolate mousee cake, layers of crepes in a cake, lemon cake, and a banana cream cake. They were all to die for.
The most important meal of the day was enjoyed at Sarabeth’s. It is a cute, warm, homey restaurant which all started with selling only jam years ago. Today you can find this place lined up out the door with tourists and locals edging to try homemade pastries, breads, and breakfast favourites. They do also serve lunch and dinner which I’m sure is just as delicious! Since I can eat anything sweet at any time of day, I ordered the french toast topped with strawberries, powdered sugar, and served with a side of maple syrup and butter. Nothing says “Good Morning” quite like this!
Next we tackled Rice to Riches in SoHo. It is kind of like an ice cream shop, but for rice pudding. To tell you the truth, I have never been a fan of rice pudding, but Cassi insisted I try this place. With an open mouth and stomach, we decided to try two flavours- french toast and rocky road. To my surprise, it was delicious! It was extremely flavourful, creamy, yet very rich even for my sweet teeth. If you ever visit New York, just be warned that this is definitely a snack to be shared.
The streets of Toronto are seriously lacking in food trucks. Apparently there are some strict laws and permit issues. Anyways, there was this incredible, well-needed event at the Distillery District this past summer called Food Truck Eats. An array of trucks came out to this event from all over Ontario. Participating in this event was a grilled cheese truck, a Mexican truck, cupcakes, ice pops, pies, along with many others. I decided to tackle this event with Cassi, who also adores food.
Our choice of grilled cheese was one filled with ooey mozzarella, onions ( I really dislike raw onions so I picked them out), and tomatoes. It was simple, yet classically delicious. I’m sure it will come as no surprise that I begged Cassi for us to try the dessert grilled cheese as well. This was my favourite. It was a blend of nutella, mascarpone cheese and strawberries all nestled between buttery, grilled to perfection bread.
While Cassi waited in line for the grilled cheese, I could not wait to get my hands on one of the individual pies. My choice was the sweet, flaky, buttery peach pie.