Drinks

Rhum Corner

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of family, friends, laughs, and of course good food!!

If you are looking for a cool new spot to try, check out Rhum Corner. Located on Dundas between Bathurst and Ossington, this Haitian restaurant is brought to us by the owner of The Black Hoof. The casual, dimly lit vibe made for a cozy evening when the weather outside was anything but. I almost felt like I was vacationing ian the Caribbean…

The menu is small, but offers something for everyone, and is very reasonably priced.

The wall behind the bar is filled with over 100 different kinds of rum. Their cocktail list is quite unique and intriguing, while also keeping up with old classics. The pina colada caught my eye, and tasted like I was at some island resort basking in the sun (if only!). It was frozen, sweet, and creamy, just like a pina colada should be. Careful not to drink it all in one sip though! It is really THAT good!

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For starters my brother, father and I ordered the Accra, which are deep fried fritters made out of malenga, which is a root vegetable similar to taro. I had never had malenga before but the mild flavour and deep fried crispiness made for a delicious start. They were served alongside a house made mayo and their homemade coleslaw made from cabbage, onion and scotch bonnet hot peppers.

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Next was the Macaroni Au Gratin, which was penne pasta coated in a creamy, cheesy mornay sauce, which is a béchamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese. Toasted breadcrumbs were sprinkled on top for added crunch. I am usually not a fan of overly cheesy or creamy things but O-M-G was this good. I was scraping the bowl when it was finished.

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For the main course, we ordered cashew chicken, and pork ribs (if you follow along you know I don’t eat pork due to preference, but my dad and brother enjoyed them!).

The thought of cashew chicken sounds boring and ordinary. However, not this dish. The chicken and cashews were coated in a sweet sauce, and the rice with black beans and kidney beans had a nice flavour to them as well. The entree came with “bananes frites” which were basically fried plantains, which were sweet, salty and perfectly crispy.

IMG_2483We also ordered the oxtail with bean sauce which was bursting with flavour as well. I was already pretty full by this point but I still managed to have a taste.

IMG_2484We ended off the meal on a sweet note with something called Pen Patat, which means “potato bread” in Creole. It is basically a sweet potato pudding. The variation at Rhum Corner consisted of sweet potato, yam, banana, and condensed milk and topped with rum, raisins and whipped cream. It was dense, sweet and very interesting combination of flavours.IMG_2485

The staff are all extremely friendly and knowledgeable and the place is pretty hip and trendy. I would definitely recommend you pay Rhum Corner a visit if you are looking for simple, yet unique food.

La Carnita

Toronto is a great city to give into your taco and all things Mexican cravings. One of the most popular Mexican restaurants in the city is La Carnita. Reservations are only accepted for groups of eight or more, so for parties less than eight, prepare for a usually lengthy wait.

After finally being seated, I took a look at the menu. It was actually a smaller menu than I had imagined, but after eating, I realized it was all I needed.

To get started, I ordered a cocktail by the name of “So Fresh and So Clean”. It was a combination of gin, jalapeño syrup, pineapple, cucumber, mint, and lime juice. The name says it all, as it was fresh and had the perfect amount of sweetness.

I was with a large group so we ordered quite a lot of food. It is barely a Mexican experience without guacamole, so we tried all three dips including guacamole, corn salsa, and serrano & cashew bean dip. The tortilla chips were crispy and perfectly salted and the dips were bursting with flavour.

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Another appetizer was the Mexican Street Corn which came with 2 cobs smothered in Mexican crema (basically sour cream), queso anejo (Mexican cheese similar to parmesan), and dusted with arbol and ancho chili powder. The sweet corn paired well with the tangy sauce and chili powder, and made for a wonderful, yet filling appetizer.

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As if we hadn’t had enough corn, my group decided to try the Rice & Corn Frituras which are fried balls combining brown rice, sweet corn, queso cotija (another Mexican cheese similar to parmesan) and topped with habanero sauce and creme micro slaw. The brown rice added a great texture and more nutty flavour, which complemented the sweet corn and fried batter. Beware though, the habanero sauce is quite spicy!

This evening La Carnita was featuring chicken wings which were sweet, crispy, and extremely spicy!!!!

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As it became time for tacos I was already on the verge of being stuffed, but I made some room. I tried three different tacos, “In Cod We Trust”, “Pollo Fritto”, and “Beef Cheek”. The cod taco was your typical fish taco, consisting of deep fried cod drizzled with voltron sauce (their secret soy sauce based sauce), lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple, and cilantro. The crunchy red cabbage and sweetness from the green apple added an interesting sweet tang to the taco which was a pleasant surprise.

The “Pollo Fritto” was my favourite, which I actually least expected. The corn tortilla is stuffed with multiple pieces of fried chicken, topped with a peanut mole sauce, pickled green cabbage, and salsa fresca. I am a huge fan of peanut anything, so naturally I looooved the peanut mole sauce, and the chicken was perfectly crispy and tender.

The beef cheek taco was also quite a hit, topped with green cabbage, pickled jalapeño, crispy shallots, and a piece of avocado.

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Although I was quite full, the dessert menu was too tempting. We ordered two paletas (Mexican ice cream popsicles), as well as the seasonal tres leche cake. The flavours of paletas that we chose were peanut butter chocolate, which was delicious other than the overly saltiness, and the cookies and cream which was quite a delight!! The tres leche cake was served with apples, walnuts and cinnamon, which was literally to die for. It was creamy and cinnamony and appley and was the perfect dessert!!!

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If you are looking for a true Mexican experience, check out La Carnita. Do beware that many dishes are quite spicy, so look out, and ask for less spice when possible.

 

Pai

Pai Northern Thai Kitchen is the new venture by owners of Sukhothai, Sabai Sabai Kitchen and bar, and Khao San Road. After deciding to depart from Khao San Road, Nuit and Jeff Regular opened Pai. The name comes from a city in the Northern region of Thailand, and is where Nuit and Jeff met. Jeff was traveling to (and later returned to live for nine months) Thailand and Nuit was working as a nurse, but they immediately fell in love. Nuit would spend her spare time cooking, which led to the two of them to open a restaurant in Thailand. Eventually the pair moved to Toronto and began their culinary journey. Janet Zuccarini (Gusto 101) is also a co-owner.

The restaurant is designed to mimic the town of Pai, with an open kitchen, just like the street markets, artwork and prints from the area, and a hippie, casual vibe. Drinks include Thai iced tea complete with condensed milk, Thai beers, unique cocktails, coconut water and fresh juices.

My cocktail of choice was topped with gin, lime, lemongrass syrup and muddled with mint and  Thai basil. The flavour combinations really worked well for a refreshing drink.

As for the food, we stared with Tom Yum Soup which was the perfect amount of sour, extremely spicy, and filled with Thai flavours.

As an appetizer, and brought over from Khao San Road is the squash fritters with a garlic tamarind dipping sauce. The thin strips of deep fried squash all stuck together make for an interesting, pull apart, tasty treat.

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Keeping it simple for the main course, shrimp pad thai and chicken green curry were ordered.  The stir fried rice noodles in a homemade tamarind sauce with bean sprouts, tofu, egg, chives, Thai coriander, fresh lime and home roasted peanuts tasted perfectly authentic, with the right amount of sauce and stickiness. The only thing negative that I wish I didn’t experience was that the shrimp tasted a bit off, a little too fishy. We let the restaurant know just for their own good to make sure it was safe to serve to other customers. They were kind enough to take it off our bill (which wasn’t the reason for our complaint).

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The green curry with chicken was served in a hollowed out coconut, which was a creative display. Be careful with spice here, we ordered mild and I found it a little spicy! The creamy coconut milk sauce with bamboo shoots, kaffir lim leaves, basil leaves, green and red peppers was a delightful dish, with wonderful flavours.

If you are looking for a casual, yet authentic Thai experience, head to Pai Northern Kitchen at 18 Duncan Street.

Chicago

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It’s crazy to think how quickly the summer flew by, and even how time has continued to fly by since. I can’t believe it’s almost the holidays already! Appologies for the delay on this post. However, better late than never!

Anyways, my girlfriends and I decided to take a little girls weekend in Chicago for some shopping, eating, and sightseeing. I must say, I was blown away by this city. The shopping is unreal, the architecture and buildings are beautiful, with such intricate detail, and the city seemed very clean and proper. I loved everything about it. Between shopping and taking the architectural boat tour, there was still plenty of time left for eating. Check out below for some must-visit Chicago eateries.

After settling in from the airport, we headed to a place called Big Star. It is a Mexican eatery, with a huge outdoor patio, and a bustling, loud, exciting vibe on the inside. For those of you that know of Grand Electric here in Toronto, the guy who started it actually did his apprenticeship at Big Star. While we waited for a table outside, we grabbed a drink at the busy indoor bar. Once seated with our pitcher of margarita, we ordered chips and guacamole to start. It was perfect. Next it was time for tacos. We chose a whole bunch including the chicken, braised pork belly, fish, and potato. Each one was better than the next, including fresh ingredients between soft taco shells.

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As soon as I saw the word dulce de leche on the menu, I was sold. Dulce de leche is basically a South American caramel, and MY FAVOURITE THING EVER! The dulce de leche milkshake at Big Star was thick, creamy, caramelly, and insanely delicious.

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Mother Daughter Bonding

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.

Cottage AKA Time to Eat!

Once again, this past summer, Jonty and I took to the kitchen during a weekend getaway at my cottage. By the time we grocery shopped, prepared, cooked and cleaned it had been a whole night’s affair. However, we have tons of fun together along the way! As you will see in the following photos (and throughout this entire blog), we have huge eyes. Just a heads up, it may look like there was an entire army over for dinner.

 To start off the weekend, we concocted one of the most classic, refreshing cocktails- a mojito. PS-How cute and perfect are these glasses?!
                          
Below is a photo of the entire meal before I break it down into pictures of individual dishes.
When it comes to barbecuing, I steer clear and leave that job for Jonty. On the grill here we have chicken wings in Jonty’s homemade secret marinade, two steaks cooked to a juicy medium, and shrimp, lobster, vegetable and mango skewers.

While Jonty was out back taking care of the grill, I started on some other dishes inside. Pictured here is fried calamari and shrimp in our own homemade batter which consisted of a dip into an egg bath and then rolled around in a mixture of Italian flavoured breadcrumbs, flour, salt, and garlic.

                          

This potato heaven is a combination of purple, sweet and small white potatoes which were first boiled and then broiled in the oven to crisp up. They were combined with onions, mushrooms and garlic.

 

*Not pictured individually,but buttery garlic bread, grilled shrimp, and a side salad made it into our bellies as well!

Although we may have had to unbutton our pants after this meal, as always, I was in need of something sweet. The chilly August night had approached and the fire pit was calling our name. Nothing goes together with a bonfire better than s’mores! We made our own version with a cookies and cream chocolate bar, milk chocolate, peanut butter, and of course marshmallows and graham crackers! I am still dreaming about these.