The Final Brunch of 2016: Lisa Marie

Lisa Marie, Toronto Lisa Marie, Toronto

I haven’t loved brunch enough this year. I can only recall venturing downtown voluntarily to try a new brunch spot four times this year (really – Fat Pasha and now-closed Wind Up). Lisa Marie was on my 2016-brunch-history twice. I’m not a stickler about getting up so early and making the journey south for a meal then figuring out how to carpe diem. If I’m making a day of it, I better have 10 other things planned.

For our very final brunch of 2016, we went on an irregular day of Tuesday. Lucky for us, Lisa Marie had brunch during the final week all week long! The previous time we made our visit, our plates were light. We’re talking shakshukka and some bready item that I’ve forgotten. Our plans were for a visit to the shops for Boxing Day leftovers, snacks at Ebisu and a Curry Tsukemen at Ramen Isshin. Little did we know that we would be far too full.

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Cadillac Jenkins on Queen West: Carribean-Inspired Eats, Libatons + Music

Cadillac Jenkins, Queen WestCadillac Jenkins, Queen West Cadillac Jenkins, Queen West

Queen West is home to a mix of an assortments of eats, drinks and sights. The newest addition is Cadillac Jenkins. The name, homage to the DJ name of owner Tyrone Gayle, Cadillac Jenkins brings about dishes with a Carribean flare, paired with specialty cocktails and good music. The food, we’re talking housemade beef patty sandwiches and whole roasted chicken dinners. These kitchen concoctions are brought to life by Chef Ryan Michailoff, a previous resident of Maple Leaf Tavern on the east end.

For our visit, we had the shrimp & scallop scotch egg which is served with a creamy habanero hollandaise and a jerk taco which is placed within a crunchy shell drizzled with smoked taco sauce, guacamole and black pepper crema. Both which I thought were full of flavour, the scotch egg especially I did not want to end! Continue reading

Let’s Eat: Persimon Tapas, 3 Ways for the #TryAPersimon Black Box Challenge

dsc_09221As the weather gets chillier, it’s prime time to grab a box of Persimons.

Through mid-October to December, these orange gems are the perfect way to sweeten a meal or enjoy on it’s own. Persimmons come in many assortments. The stump tomato-shaped and large leafed one we are all familiar of sighting is the “Fuyu“, should be indulged once firm, another is the “Hachiya” which is a, longer, oblong shape (similiar to the shape of the persimon that I will be showcasing today), but it is necessary that that the Hachiya becomes completely ripened and soft and is more for use in cooking.

Today, we have in our hands the “Rojo Brillante” that is trademarked “Persimon®” and recognized as a special produce from Spain, exclusive to the Ribera del Xúquer Valley as well as being certified and protected by the Denomination of Origin (D.O) Ribera del Xúquer. The flavour of the Rojo Brillante Persimon® is reminiscent to a slightly firm and crunchy cantalope-peach-mango hybrid.

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Visit Spicy Mafia for Personal-sized Hot Pot

Spicy Mafia, MarkhamSpicy Mafia, Markham

Going out for hot pot is always a very long and mindful process. Usually at 2-4 people per pot and at a premium price, we’ve got to get our moneys worth! It’s an all you can eat – give me all of the seafood you have – hand over that menu again, let’s make it 5 rounds of orders, and oh no we’ve got to leave the noodles for last, let’s not get the broth starchy now.

Mini hot pot is my kind of dining game.

Thankfully, Spicy Mafia has recently opened at 20 Gibson Road specializing in personal-sized hot pot and noodle bowls at $12.99 – $13.99. And at a BOGO this was a serious no brainer to try out (BOGO ends Dec 11). Midway, I was so down to go for another order just to try the broths. Continue reading

All New Seasonal Cocktails at East Thirty-Six, Toronto

East Thirty Six Bar | King East, Toronto East Thirty Six Bar | King East, Toronto

East Thirty-Six brings upon all good memories for me. An intimate 1920’s styled space with well-made craft cocktails and savoury shareable plates that hit the spot. Everything is intricately thought out, from the tinctures of the cocktails to the daily-made pickled offerings.

With the current Fall and approaching Winter, East Thirty-Six has made a suitable cocktail menu to match. Located at 36 Wellington St. East, this space serves cocktails, wine and gourmet shareable plates.

During this evening, we had a taste of four very diverse cocktails. From aromatic to dark and nutty, there was offerings from all sides of the cocktail palate:

  1. The St-Germainbeefeater, st-germain elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, syrup & cava
  2. Apothecaryhayman’s london dry, hayman’s sloe gin, tonic syrup, lemon juice, rosemary tincture & perrier
  3. Nutcracker – lot 40 rye, drambuie, house spiced rum, walnut bitters & black cardamom
  4. Night Capp – coffee vanilla infused bourbon, macadamia nut syrup & espresso

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Let’s Eat: Jalapeño Mac & Cheese Latkes with Italpasta

Mac & Cheese Frittatas- Instalpasta

Although box mac & cheese is such an inexpensive pantry item, it seems like such a luxurious snack to me. Mainly because the first time I had one of these was three years ago during the period of my low-carb days. I would only have one wheat meal a week or a fortnight where with a dash of chili flakes, the mac & cheese would occasionally be an indulgent sider along with a protein and some veggies, I would eat each macaroni tube one by one until my plate was done.

The Meet: Italpasta Macaroni & Cheese

When I was sent a care package for Italpasta’s new Macaroni & Cheese range, I leaped for joy. Aside from being free of artificial flavours, colours and preservatives, it’s also supportive of our Canadian farmers! I feel better about this treat this time around as it’s made purely of Canadian wheat!

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Light Cafe, Baldwin Village

Light Cafe
23 Baldwin St.
Toronto, ON M5T 1L1
http://lightcafe.ca/

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Baldwin Village is one of the top locations I would recommend a visit to in Toronto. Wandering in from Dundas Square to Baldwin and  McCaul, it’s a whole new light (☺). The diversity along this strip is unreal. From Japanese, Mexican to the best Asian fused Gelato in the city, you could plan out worldwide meals in one visit.

Light Cafe is a recent addition to Baldwin Village, coming in a day after Artic Bite‘s landing. They have 3 location within Taiwan and have moved over to Toronto to spread their roots further.

I really do love seeing worldwide foreign franchises making its way in our city. You get a new visual of how the world sees food from different places. Explaining it the best way I can, I would feel like the meal set offerings are similiar to that of Panera Bread. You get a food item that’s the focus of your meal, then additions of salad with house dressing and bread / fruit salad in addition.

Bright, contemporary space which is a Instagrammer’s dream during the day – I was eclectic of the floor to ceiling living wall (putting my bag into the base which held very… very transparent looking water). Among our food selections, we delved into the Truffle Mushroom Croissant Sandwich ($10.95), Lobster Bisque ($9.25), Bacon & Onsen baked Potato (single, $5.25) and Lobster Roll ($14.75). I was astonished by all of the delicious bites. Three items felt like it was right to share between two.

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Let’s Taste: Barley Islay Whisky, Bruichladdich for #TasteofScotland

DSC08915DSC08928It was on West Queen West at The Tempered Room during #TasteofScotland that I first met a whiskey made of barley for the first time. It was a chilly and wet evening. Clustered in a room surrounded by bottles of Bruichladdich (BROOK-laddie) felt about right as the usual lasting whisky warmth had us comforted from the very start.

Bruichladdich produces Scottish single malt whisky, with it’s distillery located on the Hebridean Island of Islay. The distillery certainly takes a different approach to the journey of soil to bottle. This introduction gave me a similiar feeling to Bonterra Wines, truly focusing on it’s roots. A lot like wine varietals, Bruichladdich takes the route of environmental focus, looking into the terrior that contribute to it’s overall characteristics.

We believe that Islay Whisky should have an authenticity derived from where it is distilled and where it is matured… from the philosophies of those who distil it. A sense of place, of terroir that speaks of the land, the barley and water from which it was made, and of the human soul that gave it life.

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Cask Days 2016 – 400+ Casks and 200+ Brewers

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Read my previous post on Cask Days 2015

Cask Days is the ultimate weekend of the year, the event to mark in your calendar for mid-October. After saying goodbye to Bar Volo, it wasn’t long before Cask Days rolled around. We were momentarily relieved as we were welcomed by 400+ casks by 200+ brewer at Evergreen Brickworks. They’ve made the amount of casks even harder to browse, upping the total by 100 from last year! The folks behind Bar Volo has truly  gone a long way since their days of holding it at their quaint bar 12 years ago!

What’s most special about the beer and ciders served up here is that they’re created in casks which are a one-off. Which means… once it’s finished, it’s finished and you will (most likely) never taste it again. Since there’s only one cask to each beer and cider offered up, the first day of the three-day event is the most reasonable day to go.

Beers come across the border, from British Columbia, Quebec, Maritimes, Oregon, California and New York. Also exclusive tastes of IPA Challenge, Cider and Homebrew casks. I admittedly stick to Ontario and Quebec for beers as they’re mot along the lines of my kind of brews.

Of the evening, surrounded by 400+ casks, I fell in love with the name of 8. I strictly only go with half cup pours as I like to keep room for others. Of what I can remember, I tried:

  1. Maritimes – Unfiltered Flat Black Jesus, American Stout
  2. British Columbia – Howe Sound Pumpkineater, Rum & Chocolate Aged Pumpkin Ale
  3. Quebec – Dieu Du Ciel! Sul’ Pouce Vers La Galaxie, American IPA with Galaxy Hops
  4. Quebec – LTM Shitake Brown Ale. Brown Ale with Shitake Mushrooms
  5. Ontario – Barncat Durian Saison, Fruit Saison
  6. Ontario – Big Rock Dan’s First Dis Track, Bourbon Barrel Aged Dark Amber
  7. Homebrews – Mark Verok @ Rainhard Brewing Co Vanilla Gorilla. Vanilla Coconut Porter
  8. And… one from the IPA Challenge, my last beer.

There’s a certain point where your tastebuds go numb and everything tastes delicious. But I’m certain that my favourite was the Shitake Brown Ale. Serious stuff. Smelled like mushrooms, tastes like faint mushrooms and it had a sweet mouth feel. Continue reading

Let’s Eat: Lamb Lollipops

Lamb Chops

Fresh food produce, it’s here! Apart of this “let’s eat” series, I’m making a stop at my local grocer each month to pick up the next seasonal produce in line and discovering ways to experiment with it. Saute, bake, or in a salad? There are so many methods. Let’s see how they each go!

Anything lollipops is bound to be good. I love lamb. The extra step to turning regular ol’ lamb racks to the star of the show, lamb lollipops is with a method called ‘frenching’. This is to fully expose the bones to be the sticks of the pops, done by cutting through the fat. I, myself prefer the fat staying on but lamb lollipops are fun and cleaner to handle! If  you ask the butcher to french a lamb chop for you, you can keep the extra (best) piece for yourself – after all, you are paying for the whole thing.

Tonight, we went the same ol’ route to crust our lamb. Since it was frenched, we had less surface space to work with. With a combination of chopped garden herbs (rosemary and thyme) as well as mustard, garlic and salt & pepper, it was ready for a roast in the oven. After the oven, a sear, and it was put on the side to rest then sliced to serve.

For sides, we got experimental for the sake of colour. A bacon potato mash and carrot with jalapeno. I may have been stubborn this time around and took the seeds out of the jalapenos with my hands… Then rubbed my nose and took out my contacts shortly after. With no pain looking to be insight, I was burning, like little flames propped under my nose to suffer.

The technique we used was reverse-searing the lambracks first roasting it then searing it.
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