Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanks Giving

Our Thanks Giving tradition is to avoid tradition... no turkey, no stuffing, just Canada's Wonderland and spicy snacks. After maxing out our adrenaline by riding the Behemoth we stopped in at Linda, for Mieng Kum and Crispy Duck.

Mieng Kum is a great example of how a few simple ingredients come together to create something incredible. I can never remember the name of leaf used to create this little pocket of fire, but you pile on chopped lime rind, shallots, peanuts, coconut, chilies, candied shrimp, something like an oyster sauce, and then pop the whole thing in your mouth. I can't describe the flavour, you'll just have to try it for yourself, but be warned... it's a mouth surprise, and the heat isn't for everyone. Have a beer close by!

If you can't make it up to Don Mills Mall, head over to their location on Gould, above the Salad King.


So Long Speedy Burger

Seems like every weekend, when I get back to the hood, there's something new opening up, closing down or being demolished. On Saturday we were fueling up at our local, F'Coffee, enjoying coffee and breakfast sandwiches, while across the street Speedy Burger was being torn down. I won't miss SB or the rest of the strip mall, but I'm not looking forward to the new condo either. Slowly, all the local colour is bleeding out of the hood and being replaced with a lot of gray. If Jilly's goes, I won't be far behind.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Going to New York for Dinner

I don't need much prompting to jump on a plane, let alone one headed for New York. So, when Manchego suggested we go to NYC for the weekend, it seemed like a plan. Except that it was Thursday, and last minute flights are hard to come by these days... especially on Porter. I checked for flights, just to see how insane the price would be, and I was shocked to find flights for $95. It was clearly a sign... except to Manchego who bailed and decided to spend the weekend relaxing. Lame.

We didn't make it to the High Line on our last trip, so after breakfast we walked up to the Meat Packing District to check it out. It was the highlight of the trip for me. I love public spaces, and this is an incredible example of how cities can reclaim, and adapt abandoned land. The HL passes under two buildings, the one shown here is the new hotel The Standard. Swank.

After walking most of the afternoon, we stopped into Fatty Crab for a PBR tall boy and a Chupacabra.

Chili Crabs are the specialty of the house, and normally that's what I would order, but after watching our neighbour eating them, I decided I really didn't want to get up to my elbows in sauce. Instead we ordered pickled watermelon and crispy pork. It may not look appetizing in this shot, but the hot/cold, salty/sweet, crunchy/soft contrast of the ingredients was a magical mouth tour.

After first dinner, we headed to the patio at Pastis to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and watch the outfits stream by. An hour into the fabulous people parade, we decided to see where they were all going. Lesson learned—follow the outfits to fun. We ended up down the street at The Standard Beer Garden, under the high line. It's an open air patio, with two bars and ping-pong tables! There's nothing better than watching drunk ping-pong, which should be called "where's the ball?" Because usually the ball was floating around the floor between fashionable footwear.

For second dinner we headed to Macau Trading Co., a not-so-secret restaurant, behind an unassuming metal grate, marked only by a red lantern. Despite the elaborate interior design, which usually makes up for a weak menu, the food and drinks were on equal footing. It was too dark to take pictures, and almost too loud to talk in the downstairs room, but not too dark for drinks. I had the delicious Mr. Ho, and Fusilli ordered the Dr. Funk. The Macanese /Portuguese menu was full of small snacks, and each dish we ordered was better than the last. Olive oil poached octopus with potatoes and fennel, chicken dumplings in chili oil and mushroom & truffle croquettes.

There's only one breakfast in NYC that's worth traveling 70 blocks, and lining up for 20 minutes when you're feeling hung-over. Barney Greengrass.

The sun was out, and it felt like summer, so after breakfast we headed through Central Park towards the Whitney museum to see the Georgia O'Keefe exhibit. I've been through the park many times, but I've never walked through the Ramble. At certain points, the city pokes dramatically through the trees, highlighting how amazing it was to be standing on a bridge over a stream in the middle of the city.

The Ramble just gets better the further you explore. I was completely lost at this point, but who cares when you've just had breakfast at the Sturgeon King and your only job that day is to make it to your next meal. Welcome to the magic forest.

In an effort to cram as much into two days as possible, we got last minute tickets to the Sufjan Stevens concert at the Bowery Ballroom. I think I would have enjoyed the concert more if my feet weren't so tired.

One last meal before a quick nap and an eaaaaarly flight home.

Pasta and Frisse Salad at Balthazar.


Galette, a.k.a. a rustic topless pie


A quick trip to Manotick (just outside of Ottawa) a couple weekends ago resulted in an over-abundance of apples. My friend Sunny took us to her favourite apple orchard where we picked Spartans and Cortlands. So crisp and delicious fresh from the tree! But I can't seem to eat them fast enough, no matter how many I've given away. So I've been trying to incorporate apples into every meal. Last weekend was Ontario porkchops with apples, before that it was a huge pan of apple crisp. Last night was apple galette. But what else? How can I use up the rest of these apples??


Monday, October 5, 2009

(dis)comfort food

The days are getting shorter and chillier so the thought of oxtail ragu and semolina gnocchi really appealed to me. I slow-cooked the ragu for almost 3 hours while the semolina gnocchi chilled in the fridge. The final result was a rich, hearty ragu that definitely offered a comfort aspect– initially. But in the end, the meal ended up being so rich and heavy (from the semolina), that I conked out and actually got sick. I won't go into any further details but let's just say that I'm sort of over the whole thick, stewy, saucy thing for the time being. On the plus side, C made me a very nice Aperol Sprizz as an aperitif. The dinner started off with so much potential, alas it did not end the same way. :-(


Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Publican

Two days of awesome food, capped off with a visit to The Publican. You have to love a restaurant with paintings of pigs on the walls.

Cheap and delicious

The Sunday price fix menu, and three pedicures.

Heirloom tomato salad

Squid and sausage pizza!!! The best pizza I've ever had, hands down!

Yes, that's two fried eggs on french fries... I think it's called "Awesome Fries" on the menu

I was on the verge of exploding, and then the next course arrived.



Chicago Gourmet

Last weekend we went to Chicago to visit Cupcake, and sample food & wine at the excellent Chicago Gourmet. I knew we were in for a good time when they handed me a wine glass on the way in. From that point, until we left at five hours later, it was non stop tasting and "tasting".

Great location—Millenium Park

I looks like a burger, but it's an itty bitty bite sized steak

Scallop and corn salsa

Braised short ribs (like butta)

Waiting for the delicious... the lines were short and fast

More meaty goodness. Note to the organizers, more veggies next year please

At this point we couldn't stop eating, I had to eat it... they gave it to me!

This was the only thing I didn't like... it was a panna cotta of weirdness. If it were on a menu it would be called "Mouth Surprise"

Not sure what this was. I see some meat and other things.

This was dessert part 1

This was what happened when the green dessert jumped off my plate, landed face first and slid down my shirt. Alcohol had nothing to do with this incident.

Nice view. I could hang out here every weekend eating and drinking

The best thing the day after a gourmet bender—Mimosa's and mexican breakfast

Side of bacon, side of heaven

Dessert cupcakes