Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Frida Restaurant

On the channel SunTV on the Rogers Network, there is a Toronto Dining show and I was flipping channels the other day and this restaurant, Frida, caught my attention. It is Mexican food. And I love Mexican food. It was a quick clip, but I remembered and decided we'd go there last night as a family. Tuesday night, there were only 2 tables needed attention - ours, and a young couple out on a date. They have high-chairs, so it was kid-friendly. Located on 999 Eglinton Avenue West, it is between Allen Road and Bathurst Street. Kind of a strange location for an upscale Mexican restaurant, but I hope that it doesn't deter people from going. The food is impeccable. Definitely not inexpensive, on the contrary, it is pretty darn expensive for Mexican food. An appetizer runs over $10 and main courses over $20. Definitely worth it if you enjoy food, but don't expect stellar service to go along with it. Service in Toronto leaves much to be desired. When my husband ordered an espresso at the end of the meal, there was no sugar on the table or accompanying. The waiter was somewhat shocked when he asked for it. That is a given. Sugar ALWAYS accompanies coffee/tea! Water was never refilled in our glasses without us having to ask for it. To us, that is the tell tale sign of bad service in a restaurant.

Now onto their food...Their horchata ($4) and sangria by the glass ($9) are made in house and both were delicious. The guacamole appetizer ($11) was fresh and delightful. The tortilla chips could have been larger and more in quantity. I ordered the deep fried chile rellenos and Maurizio had the braised baracoa (lamb) and they were both exquisitely done. We capped the night off with a flan for dessert ($7) and a espresso for M. The bill came out to over $90 and that was before tipping.

We enjoyed our meal very much and would definitely go back - we just know what to expect from the service end of it for next time.

Cafe Jules patisserie, Toronto

For an amazing focaccia and "light" almond croissant, look no further than Cafe Jules on 617 Mount Pleasant Road, south of Eglinton. I stopped in one random late afternoon on my way home from the gym and impulsively bought the 2 above mentioned goodies and was left wanting more! The focaccia is baked with olive oil, thyme, and sea salt - the crispness the olive oil lends the bread and the softness inside - and oh, the salt bits, the saltiness is just happiness on my palate. The "light" almond croissant consists of a delicious almond paste inside a flakey buttery pastry that doesn't show it's true buttery role. It is out of this world. I thought Rahier on Bayview Avenue was good - this is even better. A focaccia loaf will run you $5.00 and a croissant nearly $3.00, I believe. Not cheap, but worth every penny.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Me Va Me

Me Va Me - never heard of it before until Miah told me about it a few weeks ago.
It is shawarma like you've never had before.
Hummus like no other.
We went there yesterday for lunch and it was fierce. Fiercely busy and delicious.
Well worth the wait - the shawarma sandwich was large; the chicken was tender, and spices including hints of cinnamon. Like the greedy pig I am, I had every topping from their choices (cole slaw, red cabbage, tomato, pickles, hot sauce, tahini, hummus, etc.) and it was not even THAT messy to eat. This is a no-frills but big bang for your buck place to eat and if you've got kids, you can easily walk to the Toys R Us located a mere steps away. Me Va Me, I will come back for you!

Tiramisu II from

Tonight, like a crazy person who's played one too many Nutcracker's, I made a tiramisu based on a recipe given to me by my sister, Carol, who found it on This recipe on that site is called "Tiramisu II" and when Carol made it here for Thanksgiving, it was just divine. My husband gobbled up all the leftover tiramisu for the next few days for breakfast. He could've easily inhaled it in one sitting. It is easy if a little time consuming, and my ladyfinger cookies drank quite a lot of the coffee/liquor combo (12 ounces worth), but the photo on your left is the finished product. The recipe is on the bottom. Enjoy!


  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons rum
  • 2 (3 ounce) packages ladyfinger cookies
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder


  1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils. Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 1 hour.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. Whisk mascarpone into yolk mixture until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum. Split ladyfingers in half lengthwise and drizzle with coffee mixture.
  4. Arrange half of soaked ladyfingers in bottom of a 7x11 inch dish. Spread half of mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers, then half of whipped cream over that. Repeat layers and sprinkle with cocoa. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Swish by Han

On Wellington Street East tucked between the Pravda Vodka Lounge and Trevors Wine Bar, is Swish by Han - a fantastically nouveau way to eat Korean food. Shabu-shabu that they call Swish-swish. After detoxing at Body Blitz Spa first thing in the morning, I went with Sarah and Olga for a most delightful lunch. For $15, you can get your very own hot pot with it's own propane burner with lots of fresh vegetables like mushrooms, bok choy, napa cabbage, etc. in a clear broth with your choice of meat, seafood or mushroom (for vegetarians). We all ordered meat swish-swish, and it was just divine. At the end of the meal, the waiter arrived for the porridge part of the meal - with just a little broth left in the hot pot, they stirred in an egg, rice, sesame oil and green onions till it became smooth and creamy. Comfort food in a pot. I also meant to say that the Korean fried dumplings called "mandoo" we ordered as an appetizer were also to die for. All in all, I have to say, we would go here again for lunch any time! 2 thumbs up! Han is open for lunch between 12 noon and 2 pm only.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Terroni on Balmoral

We have a love/hate relationship with Terroni on Balmoral (there are 3 other Terroni's in Toronto and now Los Angeles). We love the pizza - I always get the same pizza - the Capricciosa. However, the service always leaves us angry. Our server last night was horrifically rude and as our friend Sarah put it, he was a jack-ass. To protect his identity (yeah, right), I will call him "Jonathan". Jonathan was awful, and we felt that to ask him for anything was an inconvenience to him. At the end of the meal, when we were all stuffed and wanting our bill to go home, Jonathan had to tell us that most people eat an entire pizza AND order a secondi. While he was at it, he should've told us people order ALSO a few dolci, a million bottles of vino and THEN call it a night. Our $100.00 cheque was a little too palfry for his greedy silk lined pockets, apparently. Management there - WAKE UP! The food is still great, especially the pizza, but the servers need a slap on the wrist to do what the profession calls for - serving!

PORT Restaurant in Pickering, Ontario

Located on the bay in Pickering, Ontario, is a lovely restaurant called PORT.
We went as a party of 4 and toddler for brunch this past Sunday, December 6.
3 of us ordered the Huevos Rancheros - delicious! It was an interesting compilation of crispy tortillas, refried beans, eggs (however way you wanted them), bacon, sour cream, guacamole and pico de gallo. Since I've been on a salsa kick lately, I opted for this Mexican influenced breakfast meal and I licked the plate clean. Roasted potatos accompanied this dish and they were perfectly cooked and plentiful. The restaurant just brought high chairs into this establishment, so our daughter christened their first high chair, making it family friendlier. On a side note - service was a little inconsistent. We all ordered water alongside another beverage and only 3 of us got a glass of water. I have a thing for removing plates from the table when all guests at the table are not finished eating. That happened here. Coffee was ordered but spoons to stir the coffee did not accompany. A man came by to ask how are meal was, and when my husband asked for some extra napkins, he hesitated and I wound up jumping in to save the day with paper towels I brought from home. He should have been instantly agreeable. Simple etiquette and techniques for wait staff should be reviewed in order for this establishment to get on my repeat performance list.

Jeanet Spa and Salon

Jeanet Spa and Salon, recommended by someone on - I was there for a pilgrimage of sorts - the much anticipated yet dreaded, bikini wax! Egads! Well...a lovely lady named Amanda performed the task with not much pomp or circumstance. She did a good job and I would go back again. Located in Yorkville at 140 Yorkville Avenue, Second Floor, it is a good price and conveniently located. Now, let's wait for the ingrowns...ok, I'll stop here. :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sabores Latinos "Salsa Fresca"

For the most amazing, gloriously chunky, refreshing, and truly fresh salsa, I have found the "Salsa Fresca" by Sabores Latinos to blow me away. I went to the One of a Kind Show 2009 on Friday, Nov.27. I went again on Monday, Dec. 2. I tried the salsa both times - it left a huge impression on me and my taste buds. Having grown up in San Diego, California, (a stone's throw from Mexico), and doing my summer work in Santa Fe, New Mexico - salsa is my thing. This salsa from creators in Burlington, Ontario, sells for $5.00 a tub, and is worth every penny and then some. I ate the entire container of salsa in one sitting yesterday, it is THAT good!
Call (905) 333-5377 to get some or go to:

Friday, November 27, 2009

Rodney's Oyster Bar

On 56 Temperance Street here in Toronto, there is a little hidden restaurant called Rodney's Oyster Bar and it is fantastic. We did not have reservations for a table for 2, but we were seated anyways and served immediately around 5:45 PM. It is a hip place where all the business/financial types go for oysters, drinks and other good food. I ordered the moules and frites - it was excellent - the mussels were fresh, the fries crisp and the roasted garlic mayo that came on the side of the fries was amazingly delicious (I asked and they make the mayo in-house). My husband had the fish n' chips and the fish was perfectly crispy, fries, and the coleslaw was thinly sliced in a refreshing vinager dressing. My only observation is that it is noisy in there thus making it hard to hear any conversation without yelling across the table. Music is loud and it makes the crowds talk louder to compete. Aside from that, we had an excellent meal and at around $50 including tip for a meal for 2 downtown, super reasonable. I recommend this place heartily and will go again.


On Monday, November 23, 2009, I went to Costco and bought a book I was very interested in reading. It is written by Andre Agassi and it is called "Open". Being a tennis lover, having watched Agassi play against Alex Kim in the first round of the U.S. Open in 2001 and having followed Agassi's career in my youth, I was very intrigued by his latest work. But the thing that got me, was a New York Times review, where I read how Agassi has always hated the sport that he excelled in. Myself, being a professional violinist having started at the age of 4 (like Agassi), I could relate to his feelings of ups and downs, wins and losses completely. "Open" is 386 pages long. I finished reading it last night (Thursday, November 26) at 1:30 AM. I could not put it down. I was riveted, fascinated, laughing, crying, understanding, sympathetic and the way it was written made me feel like I was right there with him, getting ready for each match. It is a brilliant book and I recommend it to everyone. I love it, I love how it was written, and I am ever so thankful for Agassi for writing it. It has helped to save myself for what lies ahead.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nati's Mexican Restaurant

If you want some old school Mexican food that is cheap and fast, go try Nati's. It's a main stay resto of over 40+ years in Ocean Beach. I had the fish tacos and the plate of 2 tacos, beans and rice was under $10.00. The taste was excellent - the fish could've been a little crispier on the outside, but nevertheless, I still enjoyed it. The best part are the complimentary fresh fried tortilla chips and salsa - YUM! This place is also kid friendly and they have their own parking lot out back.

In N' Out Burger

I love a good burger - and I love a good burger that has a drive-thru window, paraphenelia on sale, friendly and relatively fast service. In N' Out Burger is my favorite place to go for just that thing. I get a hamburger "animal style" (it's secret code language for grilled onions), extra lettuce and tomato. I get a side of fries and a milk shake or a coke. For roughly $5.00, it's a steal. That's the funny thing I noticed in San Diego - the cost of eating out is remarkably cheaper than eating out here in Toronto. I don't think I can get a homemade burger and all the fixin's for under $5.00. Unheard of! Two thumbs up for In N' Out. I love it!

Negligent Writer

I have been a negligent writer of food, and I am very sorry for that.
I will make it up by writing on a smattering of food I just had in San Diego/Los Angeles.
My bad...I have no excuse.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Auberge du Pommier (an old review from Feb. 9)

Ahhh...Winterlicious. Something as a foodie, I look forward to every year. It's difficult getting a reservation here because of it's fame and for $45/prix fixe 3-course meal, it's supposed to be good bang for your buck. And being a foodie, I have heard delicious things about Auberge du Pommier. It is one of those Oliver Bonacini restaurants that are like a dime a dozen here in Toronto, except this one is supposed to be the Mother Ship of them all. Maurizio and I went with our delightful friends, Beatriz and Alberto, whom we always have a fabulous time talking and catching up with. But my food was so-so and the service was worse so. When given a menu that describes each dish with a written essay, I grow very wary. To start, we had the tiniest of all amuse buches - which was a mushroom quiche or tart. Meh, it was just o.k. All 4 of us ordered the "Salade de Saison" - arugula and endives with Muscat raisin dressing, Bleu de Gex and toasted walnuts. I am sad to say, this salad was the best thing on my tasting menu (next to the bread basket, the artichoke/onion/olive oil spread and the plump kalamata olives). As the main dish, we ordered the "Medallions de Boeuf" - swede aligot and roasted onion with comet tail (btw, what's a comet tail?) peppercorn jus. Everyone's meat was chewy in texture, and over cooked for a fine dining experience. I had and still have no idea what swede aligot is and if it was on my plate. Lastly, for dessert we had the "Brioche Pudding" - bread and butter pudding with apple puree and milk chocolate caramel. There was no brioche bread in here and no milk chocolate. It was more like flan meets creme brulee. It had no structure and no real taste. I ate it anyways more out of hunger than delight. Funny thing is, our waiter also agreed that to call this dessert a bread pudding was false advertising. The drip coffee was made of beans on the over burnt side and the coffee came AFTER we had already eaten our dessert. The "mignardise" were short bread cookies - to their credit, they were flaky, but again, no taste. My husband and I had a lovely appertif at the start of the meal and we ordered a bottle of the Shiraz, a 2006 Penmara Shiraz from New South Wales, Australia. It was nice and reasonably price pointed at $40/bottle. Would I ever come here again? No way. No one could pay me enough money to come here again. I would certainly go to Quince or Delux faster than I would go back here again. I can not, in good faith, recommend this restaurant to anyone. It's just not worth the bang for the buck and we clearly went on a night when the wait staff were not on their game.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Foxley's on Ossington

Foxley's - located on Ossington, a few blocks north of Queen Street, is Asian Fusion at it's finest.  My girl, Janice, and I went there a couple weeks ago - it's taken me this long to write about it because it was such a special evening and a very unique dining experience.  We had no wait - we arrived a bit after 8 PM, I believe, and we sat at the bar.  We ordered a couple glasses of red wine that was very smooth and easy to drink.  As this is a tapas type resto, we ordered a few treats - the shrimp with spicy sauce, the ribs in a shallot glaze and the blue crab avocado salad.  The shrimp was amazing - each one, very fresh, crispy and the sauce was spicy without being too over the top.  I believe the word jalapeno was in the sauce description and if you know anything about Mexican food, a jalapeno can be "burn your mouth" spicy!  The crab salad came on top of a halved avocado.  I took a spoon and separated the avocado from the skin and we just dove on in for what was a delicious and fully loaded crab salad.  It was just awesome.  The textures of the crab and the avocado were just amazing.  Lastly, the ribs - omg...those ribs are out of this world.  We actually ordered 2 full orders of the ribs, knowing how good they were - Janice had been here before and absolutely drools over these ribs and now I know why.  If ever I want a unique dining experience, or to treat myself to a nice meal, Foxley's Bistro would be an excellent choice.  Between the 2 of us, with tip and tax, we spent $36 each.  Not bad if you ask me!  As it is Asian Fusion, I don't know about you, but I have to be in the mood to be enticed by different flavors and textures - so when the mood hits you, go for it, because you can't go wrong here.  

Alice's Tea Cup in NYC

I forgot to write about my favorite little place in NYC called Alice's Tea Cup.
They have one of the best buttermilk scone's I have ever had.  Dense but not too dense.  Flaky, without being doughey and pastry like.  It is cakey without being cake.  And accompanied by one of their many loose leaf teas (I always get Earl Grey), it is one fantastic scone with clotted cream and jam.  Yum...

Alice's Tea Cup is located on 102 W. 73rd Street off of Columbus.

Quince Restaurant (2nd time)

It is Friday the 13th, the day before Valentine's Day, and my husband just took me to Quince for yet another good meal.  We started off with aperitif's - sweet vermouth on the rocks and dubonais on the rocks for me.  We shared the pork/celeriac/apricot terrine - it was good, but Delux's terrine's are softer and more flavorful.  I'm always in awe of the way the grainy mustard is presented on a plate - the cutest spoonful of mustard shaped like a mini-football.  For entrees, one of tonight's special's was fresh pickerel.  It had a lovely broth and came with sugar snap peas and beautiful thin sliced mushrooms, and heirloom looking tomatoes.  My husband ordered that.  I had the braised lamb shank with mashed potatoes and watercress salad.  It was melt in your mouth delicious.  We paired our meal with a half liter of Pinot Grigio.  For dessert, we both ordered our own chocolate bread pudding with vanilla ice cream.  It is SO good.  This is what bread pudding should be.  Not like the one at Auberge that was a cross between flan and creme brulee.  I most definitely recommend Quince now the way I did before.  Even more so because service came with a smile, the price point is just right, and the food is delicioso.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Community Restaurant in NYC

As I was leaving on the Saturday morning, Jan. 31st from NYC, I thought, should I have my last meal be at my favorite haunt, Sarabeth's?  Or should I try something new?  I decided life's too short - I've gotta try something new recommended by Elena.  And I'm so glad I did.  Ziv and I went to Community Restaurant on Broadway between 112th and 113th and it was delicious.  Started with the freshly squeezed pear juice (amazingly refreshing) and I ordered the BELT - bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato sandwich that came with an awesome potato/carrot hash.  Ziv ordered the famous blueberry pancakes with maple butter that was all melted and so delicious. 
I'd gush about this meal even more, but I've gotta give my kid some attention right now...more soon!  

Pear Juice:

Blueberry Pancakes:


Red Mango on 32nd St.

Have you heard of this crazy new fad in Korea/Japan of frozen yogurt?  There are so many different stores, versions, rip-off of store concepts, etc., but all I know and care about is Red Mango.  It's located down W. 32nd St. in the heart of Little Korea in NYC, and I love it!  I've probably already written about it here once, I've been here now 2 times, and will always go back as long as I am standing.  There are only 3 flavors of yogurt here.  Plain (which is what I get), and on the 30th of January, they had pomegranate and something else, I don't remember.  Probably green tea.  You add toppings, like MOCHI bits, oh, was I a little excited about the mochi?  Uhhh, yeah, I was.  I love mochi - sweet rice cake bits - no red beans, just sweet chewy rice cakes on top of the frozen yogurt.  And I also got greedy and had fresh pineapple and strawberries.  It was divine.  I love it there.  Super refreshing and no matter how much Korean food I've just eaten a few steps away, I seem to be able to make room for this dessert.

Han Bat, Korean food in NYC

On 53 W. 35th St., is this Korean eatery open 24/7 called Han Bat, and I used to go there fairly often.  Introduced by my friend, Alan Gilbert (I am soooo name dropping here, but I love Alan and he took me here whenever he came thru town), I recalled meals of crunchy, savory pah jun's: a seafood and green onion pancake, and the infamous dolsot bim bim bop, which is a mixture of rice, meat, veggies, and egg all served in an extremely hot stone pot that you stir as soon as the food arrives at the table.  The side dishes of kimchi were great - especially the napa kimchi and the radish kimchi.  I could do without the half moons of hard boiled eggs in soy sauce.  I went with my foodie cousin, Elena, Ziv and his fiancee, Megan.  It was good, but I was thinking how the food is better in Toronto or maybe we should've have gone next door to get bijjie jigae.  Ahhh...there's always next time for next door.  However, my next post is one of my new favorite places in the world!  Red Mango!  Yummy...dessert!

Shake Shack in NYC

On January 30th, I had a very good burger at a really good price.  What was even more surprising were the fries - they were delicious, flavorful, crisp and potato-meaty at the same time.  Usually, a thicker cut fry is not as crunchy on the outside as I'd like - they're more like soft fingers.  But at Shake Shack, for about $8.00 for a cheesburger, fries and a fountain coke, I would definitely go there again, and again...this place is very reminiscent of In n' Out burger in California.  It has that feel of fast food but is cooked as soon as you order.  With the name Shake Shack, you'd think I'd order one of their decadent custard shakes.  I didn't, but that won't stop me the next time I go back.  It was pretty fast, and for the price at the convenient location, you can't help but go, and often.  Shake Shack has a website - and it is located on Columbus at W. 77th St.  

Slacker I am...a big compilation on NYC eats! Let's start with Cupcakes first!

It's been almost a week now since I left for NYC on the worst traveling day of 2009.  Aside from the plane delay, I had some good eats in NYC.  I will share them with you now.
I have been obsessed until most recently, with red velvet cupcakes and naturally, Buttercup Cupcake Shop in New York turned me on to that flavor years ago.  Buttercup built a new eatery on the UWS (W. 72nd St. and Amsterdam), which are my old stomps, and most recently, Magnolia Bakery (W. 66th and Columbus) built one as well.  Naturally, this meant for a red velvet cupcake show down.  Who won?  Well, neither...exactly.  As I taste tested with my dear friend, Ziv and our friend, Bruno, we all agreed (doing a blind taste test) that Magnolia had better frosting, at least the texture of the frosting was better (although I found it flavorless).  But Buttercup had better cake texture.  Which leads me to the conclusion that here in Toronto, at Caffe Doria, the red velvet cupcake that they out source to a bakery on Queen Street is the best I've tasted to date.  I don't need to fly 100's of miles away and spend 100's of dollars getting there to have a good red velvet cupcake anymore.  Thank God.  

This cupcake is from guess where? 
Ok, hard to tell?
Which thus means this cupcake, by way of process of elimination is the Magnolia Bakery's version.  You can see how light and fluffy the frosting is, but man, it got no flava!  And they don't use cream cheese!  Egads!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Terra Burger

On 532 Eglinton Ave. West, just due east of Spadina Road, is a fantastic, new organic burger joint called Terra Burger.  Being "organic" and a new restaurant, I was a little skeptical today, as I went in with my 2 for 1 coupon I received in the mail a couple of weeks ago.  The menu is a bit dissected in that you choose your meat first, next is a white or wheat bun, then the condiments you want on it, and any additional extras like smoked bacon, cheese, etc.  With my coupon in hand, I ordered a hamburger on wheat with dijon mustard and the fixings of lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and added smoked bacon for my husband.  For myself, I ordered also a hamburger on wheat, but with mayo and ketchup as well as the dijon mustard sans bacon, and asked for the "terra sauce" on the side.  Terra sauce is sauteed onions that have been pureed into mayonnaise - it is deliciously earthy tasting.  I also ordered a large french fry to share and it was plenty for the both of us and some for our toddler, Giulia, as well.  In approximately 10 minutes, my order was complete and we took it home.  It was delicious.  I literally scarfed my burger down in a few minutes.  I couldn't even bare to savor it because it was so good, I just gobbled it up.  Thank God we love meat, because I'm definitely going back there whenever I have a burger craving.  It was a good sign when I walked in, that it was crowded with happy customers.  May this place become a local institution for hard core burger lovers like myself.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kultura Restaurant

On King East, just off of Jarvis by 1 block is a restaurant called Kultura.
They have a sister restaurant called Colborne Lane, located on Colborne Lane, a few blocks away.  For my girl Miah's birthday, a group of 8 of us went there for dinner and drinks.
None of us had ever been there before and it was Miah, myself and 6 burly men.  
Kultura considers themselves to be Asian-Fusion with a tapas style menu at very expen$ive price$.  It is a beautiful space, and I'm sure that's where most of our money is going towards.  The rent.  Lots of brick and lit pillared candles gave it a really romantic and cozy atmosphere.  Once we were seated, the waiter proceeded to tell us that for a group of 8, we should narrow down the menu to 5 different dishes and order 5 of each of them.  Glancing quickly at the cost of each entree, I nearly had a heart attack after doing the multiplication of 5.  Since I'm usually asked to take the reigns at a dinner party, I went down the list, picked the tastiest (keeping the price in mind) entrees and multiplied them by 3, not 5, to feed our stomachs, with the notion that if we were still hungry, we could always order more.  Makes sense, right?  Right...  So, what did we order and was it memorable?  We had chicken samosas, beef tartare that was wrapped in something crispy, spicy tuna roll (that had no rice or resemblance of sushi except for the fact that it was "rolled" up), mushroom orecchiette,  butternut risotto, and I feel like we had one more thing, but it escapes me right now...we also had dessert - a few orders of doughnut holes covered in vanilla sugar with caramel sauce and hot fudge to dip it in, a claufouti (that had eggplant tasting like apples) and some decadent chocolate dessert that had salted caramel in the center.  (On a totally random side note, I think salted caramel is super trendy right now and I'm really enjoying it!)  Out of the entrees, I enjoyed my pinot grigio by the glass that cost $12 whoppers.  Oh, woops, sorry, that's not food.  Ok, seriously, I really enjoyed the chicken samosas and the mushroom orecchiette.  The dessert disappointed me because as someone at the table put it - the doughnut holes just reminded them of Timmy's (aka: Tim Hortons).  The caramel sauce was not thick and dense.  It was as fluid as water and had no taste.  The fudge was good, but nothing special.  The chocolate cake with licorice ice cream was yummy.  And the claufouti was interesting, but again, to make eggplant taste like apple bits is no easy task, but it was still nothing to write home about.  For a party of 8 of us, for just the food, we spent $50 to $55 each.  Drinks were calculated individually.  I have to say, I loved the space, the atmosphere, but mainly the company I was with.  If you're wondering if I'd ever go back there for food again, I would, but only if I was on a diet and expected to not each much for a lot of money.  Fortunately, I don't diet.  

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sunday Brunch at The King Edward aka: King Eddy

One of my favorite past times, besides eating, is eating Sunday brunch.  And not just any brunch.  A buffet style brunch.  But do you know how hard it is to find a quality one?  It's not the quantity that matters - I'm always one for options, but for a buffet brunch, I'm all for quality over quantity any day.  The King Edward Sunday buffet brunch in their Victoria Restaurant is the best buffet brunch I've ever had.  The minute you get seated, you're offered a freshly squeezed juice of orange or grapefruit and it is outstanding.  There are white table cloths, high vaulted ceilings, big windows and a harpist gently playing during the meal.  For food, there a ton of items to choose from, and they are tasty and cooked to perfection.  There were tables on one side of the room with fruits, breads, pastries, cheeses, meats, grilled veggies, etc.  There were other tables with lots of seafood - cooked, steamed, raw oysters, crab claws filled with succulent meat, shrimp cocktail (one of my personal favorites at buffet brunch), smoked fishes, salmon, squid, etc.  There were even more tables for entrees like chicken, pasta, sides of potatoes and veggies, and another personal favorite, the carving station!  The King Eddy always has Beef Wellington, which is a lovely tenderloin of beef surrounded by puff pastry with the option of red wine jous on the side.  It is spectacular.  They also had a big lamb roast that was perfectly cooked.  And how can we forget the breakfast type foods like waffles, blintzes, sausages, bacon, eggs benny and the such.  And last but not least - dessert!  The best out of all the options for all of us today was the butter tart.  Amongst the desserts there were also tiramisu, chocolate cake with green tea icing, carrot cake, mousses (vanilla and chocolate), creme caramel aka: flan, apple galette with cinnamon whipped cream, chocolate cake, and the list goes on and on.  The King Edward Hotel is located on King Street, just east of Yonge Street.  For roughly $50/per person and that doesn't include tax or tip, it is a special treat but a tasty one at that.  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Lemon Yogurt Cake a la Barefoot Contessa, my Idol

This is a knock out.
I made it this afternoon after coming home from the ass-chapping cold outdoors, and it turned out beautifully!  Love that Ina Garten!  Here's the recipe from the Barefoot Contessa "At Home" cookbook with directions and my own modifications below:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (1 small container of organic yogurt does not make 1 full cup so buy a bigger tub, or 2 cups of plain yogurt and I don't think my yogurt was whole-milk)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
3 extra large eggs (I used 3 regular large omega-3 white eggs -- Ina uses extra large eggs b/c she thinks she gets better value for bigger eggs, but you don't really seem to need extra large eggs for this recipe)
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (off of 2 lemons - it looks like a lot after you zest them right into the bowl, so I extracted some, but now regret it, so use it all up)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil (didn't have veggie oil, so used canola instead)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (after you zest the 2 lemons, squeeze them to make all the juice you need for this entire recipe including the glaze)

For the glaze:
1 cup of confectioner's sugar
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a standard sized loaf pan.
Butter the pan.
Line the bottom with parchment paper.
Butter the parchment paper.
Flour the entire pan.

Sift together ONLY flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl.
In a larger bowl, whisk the yogurt, ONLY 1 cup of the sugar, all 3 eggs, lemon zest and vanilla extract.  (DON'T MIX THE OIL IN YET!  Although I screwed up and mixed the oil in, too, and it still came out fine).
After you mix that up, slowly whisk in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  With a rubber spatula, fold in the veggie oil into the batter, making sure it's all incorporated.  Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a tooth pick place in the center comes out clean.  (My loaf took the 50 minutes in my oven).

Meanwhile...cook the 1/3 cup of remaining sugar plus the 1/3 cup of lemon juice (the juice from the 2 zested lemons), in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear.  Set aside.  (You could also make the glaze now and have it ready for the end now, as well).

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan (I used my toaster oven's rack and mini-sheet pan).  While the cake is still warm, pour the lemony-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in.  Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and pour over the cake.  

This was so easy to make, it's unbelievable.  And it tastes SOOOO good.  You won't regret it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Apple Cake

I've been drooling over this apple cake on the Smitten Kitchen's blog.  So, finally, I bit the bullet and made it the other day and it's just awesome.  It is so good.  So tasty.  So moist!  And as much as I love kitchen gadgets, I do not own a tube pan, so I used my trusty Pyrex 9 x 13 glass casserole dish and it worked out just fine.  I will post the ingredients and directions here now:

6 apples, McIntosh
1 tablespoon of cinnamon (I think I'd use a touch less, personally, for next time).
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil (I used canola b/c the store did not have veggie oil).
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional - I did not use walnuts).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a tube pan (or 9 x 13).  Peel, core and chop apples into chunks.  (This part nearly killed my right hand).  Toss with the cinnamon and sugar and set aside. 

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.  
In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla extract.
Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time.
Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan.  Spread half of the apple mixture over it.  Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top.  Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.  Buon Appetito!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Indoor Tennis in Toronto

So my latest obsession, (other than making pizza over and over again) has to do with finding some hobby that makes me active.  I'm not talking walking to the corner grocery store to buy food as active, but something that makes me sweat from running, chasing balls or people.  I have a passion for tennis and golf.  However, I live in the land of winter for 9 months, and construction for 3.  So, I have been looking for an indoor tennis club for this winter and have found a bunch but need to call.  That's the part I dread.  "Sorry ma'am, registration is closed."  "Sorry ma'am, club is not open for winter."  Or how about "Ma'am, to join our club, you have to sell the soul of your first born child and buy a fur coat from Holt's to prove you're worthy."  I'll let you know if I find something...and that's one big IF.  

Home Made Pizza

Another night, another try at making pizza using store bought dough.  Today's pizza didn't turn out the way I had hoped.  The dough I bought was frozen, and the owner of the little Italian deli nearby told me to keep the dough in a warm place to thaw it out in time to make it for dinner.  So, I stuck the dough on top of the fridge, where it gets awfully hot back there.  The dough...well...that's what makes pizza, pizza, right?  The dough.  The crunchy crust.  The toppings are more like an after thought.  In any case, it didn't turn out well at all.  I can't even begin to describe it...however, I will post a photo of my last pizza I made and it was not a huge success by any means, but now, pizza is becoming an obsession, and I will try it again soon.  I promise. 

Repeat Performance of Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

I did it again.  Made that cranberry vanilla coffee cake, and it turned out so much better than the first one.  Thank God.  I thought either I was really grouchy when I made it the first time, or I was just jealous that this Deb person of Smitten Kitchen glory had found the recipe first.  It was a success and I here is proof of my mission completed.  

Toronto Day Cares

You know, I talk mainly about food because that is my #1 hobby, but I also like to talk about things that interest me, concern me, or whatever I want to vent or bitch about in life.  Since I have a 13 month old who is the center of my universe, her well-being is of my utmost importance.  Hence, I have started to look for a day care in the area and I had no idea how hard it was to find one.  However, that being said, the nearby recreation center has an office for P.O.I.N.T.  It stands for People and Organizations In Northern Toronto.  Or, at least, I think that's what those letters all mean.  And for a mere $3.00, you can buy a pamphlet that outlines all the nearby day cares and schools in this vicinity.  I can't tell you how much time that saves a person like me.  For 3 bucks, someone else has already done all the research for me!  YAY!  We like organizations like P.O.I.N.T.!  

Winterlicious 2009

Ok, everyone, get your AmX out and your phone ready to dial, because tomorrow, Jan. 13, if you're an AmX card holder, you get to put yourself ahead of the game and book reservations for restaurants in town participating in Winterlicious this year, and it is totally worth it.  I've already narrowed down the list to a short list, which I then made even shorter and have come up with 4 restaurants worthy of my time this year, provided my calls go thru tomorrow morning.  The lucky 4 restos I hope to visit are:  Amaya, Auberge du Pommier, Corner House and Quince (as a repeat performance not to mention the price is just right at $25 for a 3-course meal).  From January 30 to February 12, foodies like myself can enjoy prix fixed meals of 3 courses for a range of $15 to $30 for lunches and $25 up to $45 for dinner to places like North 44, Canoe, etc.  You're lucky if you can get an entree for $25 let alone a whole 3 course meal!  What I do every year is check out the list of restaurants online by googling Winterlicious, and then when I see a restaurant on the list that has intrigued me for awhile, I will check the menu to see if that gets my attention.  If it does, then that makes it onto my short list.  My original short list also contained North 44, Boiler House, Oliver Bonacini and Grill, and Canoe.  I think my shorter short list is far more fascinating and I can't wait to wake up tomorrow!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


On 92 Ossington Avenue, a block and a half north of Queen Street, (right before you get to the T -intersection where there's the infamous psycho ward of Toronto), is a sign-less restaurant called Delux.  Well, almost nearly sign-less.  If you consider an outdoor lighted sign with an arrow pointing to the door with the number 92 a sign, well, then I guess there is some sort of signage.  :)   Props goes out to my friend, Janice -- her advice and food critique is always bang on.  She knows her stuff, and when she told me this place has cookies and warm milk on their menu for dessert, somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew I had to go check it out.  Fortunately for me and my husband, it was date night, and I chose to go check this place out.  We were both so pleasantly surprised.  We had a dinner seating for 6 PM, and we arrived a couple minutes early and found the front door locked.  Delux opens at 6 PM.  Someone promptly came to unlock the door and we were seated in a cozy little corner booth where I was facing a brightly lit alphabet display hung on the wall.  Coats were checked.  Water was promptly poured.  Menus were given and the menu was surprisingly short and sweet.  It makes choosing an appetizer and entree much more efficient for someone who already has Type A personality.  I'm not talking about myself here.  At my first glance, I saw there was a rib meat bourguignon, which omg...I love a beef bourguignon.  Who doesn't like melt in your mouth braised beef?  But, then I saw the steak frites and thought, omg...steak frites.  Who doesn't love steak and french fries?  But then I saw and made up my mind when there it was:  bouillabaisse.  I'm not a big seafood cooker at home, so to see that on a menu just made me get shivers down my spine.  I love a good bouillabaisse (saffron broth with clams, mussels, fish and shrimp) and I haven't had it in I don't know how long.  It has been a long time.  As an appetizer, today's special was this terrine made of pork on one end of the plate and on the other end was a pate made of rabbit/pork/foie gras.  There were toasted points, grainy mustard, candied plums or something and cornichons aka: gherkin.  It was unbelievably yummy.  What complimented the meal was the wine my husband chose.  A rose, in honor of our dear friend, Peter Greene, who introduced us to rose wine in Santa Fe at Casa Sena Restaurant.  It really brought out all the textures and flavors in the pate and terrine.  It also was a perfect compliment to our bouillabaisse main course.  The wine disappeared by the time we finished our meal.  So, what else was there to order?  Dessert!  Tonight, there was a special of a tasting of all 4 desserts listed on the menu.  Duh.  Total no brainer.  The four desserts were chocolate cake (had a molten chocolate center, whipped cream and creme anglaise), 2 chocolate chip cookies (the reason why I came here in the first place), apple galette, and a Cuban coffee infused creme brulee.  I'm not a creme brulee girl, my husband loves the stuff, but I could honestly say it made me weak to my knees to tastes something so smooth like that.  Even the drip coffee they served was delicious.  What a rare gem, pleasant surprise of a find we had tonight.  Service was excellent, totally unpretentious, food was outstanding, the decor is understated so you don't feel under or over dressed, and of course, my company was out of this world.  Delux is our new favorite restaurant in town and for the price point, (dinner for 2 including a generous tip was approximately $145.00), you can't go wrong.  

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rice Pudding

I just made this rice pudding tonight that was pretty good...still not my idea of perfection, but since I was so uninspired to make anything tonight, after a glance at The Smitten Kitchen's blog, I decided to do just that: make rice pudding using arborio rice.  The interesting ingredient was the bay leaf.  It's such an easy recipe, I actually have it somewhat memorized, which for me, is amazing these days.  1/2 cup of arborio rice, 4 cups of milk (I used 1% milk), 1/4 cup of white sugar, a spoonful of vanilla extract, 1 bay leaf -- bring all these to a low boil and then turn it down for a simmer.  I also added a dash of cinnamon and a shake of nutmeg and used a whisk to get it all incorporated.  I guess arborio rice was to get the rice pudding all starchy gooey, and the Smitten Kitchen said it'd take 30 to 40 minutes, but mine took more like an hour.  Also, what cracked me up was that her recipe said it'd feed 4 people, HA!  More like 2, and maybe 3, but that'd be pushing it.  I don't know why I didn't double the recipe.  I probably thought I'd run out of milk for my coffee tomorrow morning at that ratio.  :)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Joy Nails

On Eglinton Ave., east of Avenue Road, there is a joyful little nail salon called Joy Nails on the north side of the street, across from the Petro Canada gas station.  At Joy Nails, they do your nails in style.  Once there you get directed to the batch of various nail polish to choose a color.  Then you are led to these wonderful massaging chairs.  Next, is the menu---ahhh...the moment I always look forward to.  Which smoothie shall it be for me today?  Hmmm...strawberry mango?  Or do I need a pick-me-up like a cappuccino or espresso or tea?  As my nails get expertly trimmed and painted and my feet smoothed and softened, my eyes wander to the flat screen t.v.'s located on the wall facing you in the massage chairs.  This is where I get my fix of chick flicks playing right before my eyes.  At the end of the whole process is where you get directed to the little island of air where your nails get even more time to dry off in an expedited fashion.  It is here where I get tantalized by some sweetness whether it be a caramel, a Swiss chocolate or some other creative candy concoction.  For a mere $25 a pedicure, it's totally worth it and I have the credit card statements to prove it.

Body Blitz Spa is already 2009 and I went to Body Blitz Spa in 2008 and forgot to write about it!  EEK!  Body Blitz is only the most amazing spa in all of Toronto.  I can not write about it enough and rant and rave about it's wonderfulness.  The all-female spa has three pools---a hot green tea, a large sea salt pool and a very icy cold plunge type pool.  In the middle of a bustling city like downtown Toronto, this is a bit of paradise for us city folk who can't get away to Hawaii at a drop of a pin.  For $45 for a water therapy visit, it just verges on the tip of too expensive, but it is SOOOOO worth it once you're there.  This place has a small menu of services ranging from mud wraps, scrubs and massages.  I've had the salt scrub and the massage in my previous visit, and they were good, but it's really for these amazing hot tubs that you go to Body Blitz.  You completely feel so rejuvenated and refreshed after a couple hours here.  This ain't your place if you're looking for waxing, facials and mani-pedi's.  For a great mani-pedi, one goes to Joy Nails on Eglinton Ave., east of Avenue Road, where you sip smoothies, or a cappuccino while getting your nails done by swift professionals.  But that's for another post.  :)