What have I been up to lately?
A whole lot of eating.
From the end of February until mid-March, my friend Dan (from France) came to visit Toronto for the first time. It was pretty exciting for me because I met him while on vacation this past fall in San Francisco and didn’t expect to see him so soon. I had gone with one of my good friends and we were lucky to have been able to connect with him through her personal network.
I’ve included photos and blurbs of some of the places that we ate at and what I thought.
This was probably my third time at Hibiscus but my first time here having their dairy-free ice cream. A friend of mine had raved about this dairy-free ice cream. The past couple of times I had their salad and soup combo and their crepes.
I got the pistachio and it tasted like it was made with some kind of bean milk but I didn’t know what kind. I really liked how nutty it was. I also loved the tiny wooden spoon that it was served with alongside the small brown/green bowl. One of my friends asked the server if all of the ice cream was made with coconut milk. He went on to explain that some of the ice cream was made with mung bean milk, some almond milk and some coconut milk. Before this, I had never heard about mung bean milk, only soy milk with mung bean in it. Turns out my pistachio was made with mung bean milk. All their ice cream is made in house. Amazing!
The service has been consistently good and so has the food. No complaints.
See the beautiful salad & ice-cream pictures and review of Hibiscus by Feedthesink.
I heard good things about Pizza Libretto and when I got there and read over the the menu my eyes landed on the description of the pizza. The pizza would be soft with blackened spots and how it takes less then 90 secs to bake in a 900 degree wood oven (hand built). What? 90 secs? Amazing. Imagine if we measured what we could accomplish in 90 sec increments… Nothing. I would need more time! haha
We ordered two pizzas, tiramisu, panna cotta and Crocche di Patate (Neapolitan potato croquettes).
The pizza was pillowy soft. The texture reminded me of a fresh naan. Although I had initially picked the sausage pizza, I preferred the salami one because of the tomato sauce. I fell in love with the tiramisu, seeing it in a jar made it seem as though it was a staple item, something you’d find in your pantry. I had never seen dessert in a glass jar before, well other than baby food and I found the mascarpone heavenly. It was my first cake in a long while, so I think the flavour combination made me crazy. It was more mascarpone then cake, but I didn’t care, I wanted more. All in all, a good time was had. The place is quite popular as there was a line up going immediately after we were seated and all the way up until we left.
Last summer, I ended up at The Stockyards one evening for take out. I remember the tasty burger devoured on the way to a house party and how my eating companions and I couldn’t stop talking about how good it was. When news came of Dan coming to Toronto, this place made the list of places we had to eat at. It was just as great as I remembered. There was a great balance of flavours and on a toasted sesame bun too (gotta love a hot toasted bun!). The aged cheddar and caramelized onions are my favourite toppings. The fries are good too and remind me a bit of the ones at Smokes and NYF, only they are thinner. I love the novelty of being served food in a cast iron pan. Although might not be too fun for the waitresses to carry those things around. Heavy!
We ended up at La Paloma when we couldn’t get into Dutch Dreams as it was closed. My friend told me it’s been around for ages (since 1967) but I haven’t ever been. They had an assortment of flavours that I hadn’t ever seen before like gelato that was covered in marshmallows and candies but I had one flavour in mind from the get go – pistachio. It was very satisfying. Although I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad gelato. I had tiramisu on the brain because of our Pizza Libretto visit and so that was my second flavour and I opted for the larger size. Dan got the coconut gelato. Mine is the one pictured in the front. Love how much it overflows. haha 😉
My family’s been coming to Hodo Kwaja for years. I’ve grown up in the Christie/Bloor area so we are no strangers to walnut cake. My BF suggested that we bring Dan here and it was a good call. Dan seemed to be amused at the sight of fresh pancakes being made. Don’t you love watching people cook? I know I do. There’s just something about the process that gets me excited and hungry. There are two pancake flavours: red bean and brown sugar with sunflower seeds.
As for the walnut cakes, we ordered a mixture of all of them: mashed potato with walnut (my fave), mashed potato with almond, and red bean with walnut. I grew up eating the mashed potato with walnut but this time I tried the mashed potato with almond and you know what, it was pretty good too. I’ll add that to my rotation.
If you come during the day you can see the walnut cake machine in action and get hot ones! The store always smells like butter and sugar. Yum!
Bi Bim Bap
One of our friends brought us to Bathurst/Eglington to have some bibimbap from a restaurant called Bi Bim Bap. The restaurant was modern and I loved the wooden tables with the white porcelain bowls. The prices were a little higher than I was use to paying for bibimbap but I guess it makes sense because of it’s location in the Forest Hill area, the decor and the variety of bibimbaps on offer. I went with the Traditional pictured below.
The Corn Beef House
Dan couldn’t make it to Montreal so I thought the least we could do was try some eats here that would give him a taste of what he was missing out on back home at The Corn Beef House. I found out about this place because we had our BCBD Christmas party here – December 2010. The sandwich was delicious. The meat was warm and full of flavour. Love warm sandwiches! Although, it was a little heavy for me (maybe because of the side of fries we ordered), my tourist friend was very happy with it and finished the whole thing.
It was really hard to describe poutine to Dan as he did not know what this “gravy” was that I was talking about. I took him to Smokes Poutinerie hoping he’d like poutine as much as me. Gravy made more sense when he saw it on the fries. He explained that he was used to seeing it on roasted meats but not on fries. He opted for the large and really enjoyed it. I got the regular size but was a little bit disappointed in the gravy, it wasn’t as great as I remembered. I like beefy tasting gravies and I think I like the City Hall Blue Chip truck a little more but that’s better in warmer weather.
Perogies and Cabbage rolls. Who doesn’t love comfort food? These are two of my faves and I was so happy last fall when BF and I walked into this restaurant by chance only because the Japanese place next door wasn’t open. We took a quick look inside. I saw perogies on the menu and we were down.
When Dan told me that he tried perogies for the first time at St. Lawrence Market (European Delight), I thought of Amber’s and how I like their perogies so much more. I’ve been to European Delight too but after having tasted my BF’s grandmother’s home made perogies it’s really hard to settle for anything that didn’t taste like grandma had just made them. Hot and fresh, not just reheated.
Everyone was happy with the cheddar perogies with fresh dill and sour cream. We had two plates to share between three of us (each plate had 8). We also ordered cabbage rolls – delicious, melt in your mouth quality. The cabbage is soft, tomato sauce is a good complement and there is a good ratio of meat/rice. The flavours all seem to go well together.
Overall, it was really fun having a friend visit because it shook up my routine and I got a chance to hang out with people I might not usually see. It was especially nice to see everyone showing Dan the same kind of warmth/hospitality that he had shown my friend and I while we were in SF. I hope Dan’s visit was chock full of happy memories with great people, great food and good times that he’ll be able to relive through all the great photos he’s taken.