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Monday
Jul212014

Canoe - Summerlicious 

First #OBlicious @Oliver_Bonacini's Canoe in the 7yrs I've been eating there! @ChefHorne #GoodEats 

Since its inception in 2003 after the S.A.R.S. epidemic, licious has become a twice a year staple event in the Toronto food industry, with many of Toronto's most well known restaurants taking part. It offers guests an opportunity to dine at restaurants with a prix fixe at very reasonable prices; $15, $20, $25 for lunch, and $25, $25, 45 for dinner. 

While I think this is great for the city and the industry, I tend to shy away from restaurants during these two weeks. In past years you would hear stories of the quality of food dropping, portion sizes being reduced, and appalling service. With that said, it's been getting better over the years as restaurants have a tried and true battle plan to ensure a smooth service and consistent experiences for diners. Starting a couple years ago I began visiting restaurants for licious again, two years ago I went to one, and this year a whopping TWO restaurants!

If you know me well, you know Canoe is my favourite restaurant in Toronto. So with some convincing from Chef we headed out to Canoe for the last night of Summerlicious 2014.

Light bright menu perfect for the summer!

 

Course 1: BBQ Trout Escabeche with Pickled 100km Veggies and Sesame Lavash (flatbread).

A Canadian take on a Mediterranean/Latin American dish where fish is marinated in an acidic mixture before being poached. This dish was developed by Chef Bill Osborne before leaving for Stock Restaurant.

Paired with Ziraldo Riesling, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2012.

 

Course 2: Sweet Pea Panna Cotta with Tender Shoots, Crispy Roots (Taro Root), Okanagan Hazelnuts, Fava Beans, and Puffed Tapioca.

Paired with Rosewood Estates Sémillon, Beamsville Bench, Ontario, 2012.

 

Course 3: Aurora Chicken Terrine with Holland Marsh Leeks, Scrunchions, and Wild Gribiche Sauce

Garnished with mustard seeds, mushroom caps, capers, and dried croissant. The terrine is made by puréeing chicken thigh and cooking it souside, combined with breast meat, it's then compressed and cooked again. 

Paired with Malivoire Moira Rosé, Beamsville Bench, Ontario, 2013.

 

Course 4: Caribou Loin with Sqush Blossum, Young Sour Apricot, Smoked Honey, Spruce Grits. 

A preview of Chef Horne's next tasting menu, Taste Grain/Prairies, starting next month.

First time I have ever had Caribou! It's a really gamey meat with a iron/metallic aftertaste that lingers. Incredibly tender and lean this was cooked perfectly. The apricots paired well by providing much needed balance and acidity to the meat. 

 

Course 5: Rye Brined Pork Loin with Kohlrabi Slaw, Niagara Stone Fruit Mostarda, Crispy Barley, Wild Garlic Scapes

Easily the winning main for us. Well balanced with varrying textures and super tender and juicy meat. Only gripe with this dish is that the portion was huge!

Paired with Creekside Iconoclast Syrah, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2011.

 

Course 6: Bison Bavette & Short Rib with Heirloom Tomato, Watercress and Crushed Alliston Potatoes. 

If you love big bold flavours you're going to like this one. The Bavette comes from the belly of the animal, very tender, economical, and flavourful. This cut is perfect for grilling and has a deep earthy flavour! I had really high hopes for this dish, meats had great flavour but the sauce/glaze was jsut a little too sweet for my liking.

Paired with Mission Hill Reserve Merlot, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, 2011.

 

Course 7: Hewitt's Dairy Buttermilk and Lemongrass Flan with Wild Blueberries, Angel Food Cake, and Green Tea Cream

Paired with Cave Spring Indian Summer Select Late Harvest Riesling, Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, 2011.

 

Course 8: Coffee Chocolate Gâteau with Banana Cremeux, Milk Chocolate Chantilly, and Peanut Brittle.

Paired with Lighthall Muté, Prince Edward County, Ontario, 2011.

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Thursday
Jul172014

Canoe - Snack Time

Lots of #GoodEats for snack time @Oliver_Bonacini's Canoe.

 

Milk Chocolate & Kernel Peanut - 46% Milk Chocolate, Banana Butter & Caramel Ice Cream.

 

Preserved Seaside Strawberries - Black Sesame Chiffon, Jasmine & Mascarpone Sorbet.

 

St. Honoré Cheese - Flowerless Honey, Biscuits, and Raisins.

 

Vegetarian Spring Rolls - Kozlik's Mustard Plum Sauce.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul162014

Pangaea - Summerlicious

Just a couple days left to check out some #GoodEats from @MartinKouprie @PangaeaTO!

At $35, it's a great opportunity to check out one of Toronto's staple fine dining restaurants.

 

Tuna Tartare with Shaved Radish, Coriander, Shibori Yuzu Gel, and Crisp Shallots.

 

Ontario Lamb x3 - Oven Roasted Lamb Loin with Charred Lamb Sweetbreads, Sous-vide Lamb Kidney on Cous Cous with Mustard Seeds, Raisins, Ginger, and Almonds.

 

Steamed Halibut with Sous-vide Octopus, Zucchini, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrot Parisienne, Saffron Vinaigrette. 

 

Lemon Bar: Frozen Lemon Cheese Mousse, Graham Cracker Crust, Crisp Sour Lemon Meringue.

 

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Tuesday
Jul152014

La Carnita/Home Of The Brave

Always tons of #GoodEats when visiting @la_carnita & @theHOTB! Easily 2 of my favourite spots in the city.

 

No question, you gotta get the Mexican street corn!

 

Another couple of favourites: ceviche tostada & fried cod tacos.

 

Wold Cup special: German blood sausage taco. Beef Cheeks as well.

 

Rounding off with a couple desserts. Rainbow paleta to celebrate Pride (Strawberry, Orange, Mango, Lime, Grape...I think?). Tres Leche Cake, and Churros...with a spoon!

 

One final dessert, Donut Pina Colada Ice Cream Sandwich.

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Monday
Jul142014

Stock

Check out some of the new things @StockToronto from @ChefBestig & @BillOsbornes. #GoodEats all around!

At the beginning of the year, Oliver and Bonacini took over food services at the Trump Hotel. Chef Bestig, 12-year veteran of O&B (Sous at Auberge du Pommier and Canoe, and most recently the concept chef of O&B restaurants including the Cafe Grills, Canteen, and Windermere House) is the Executive Chef at Trump, in charge of all food services in the building; from room service, to the restaurant, and bar. Chef Osborne is the Chef de Cuisine at Stock, who oversees the Stock Restaurant on a daily basis. He's a veteran of Canoe Restaurant and Bar, head Sous Chef at Canoe running the dinner service for the past couple of years. These two chefs know what they're doing and I'm glad to see the new direction they're taking the restaurant in terms of the quality and consistency of food coming out of the kitchens.

They've hit the ground running and are raising the bar every day. Here's a quick look at some of the tasty offerings at Stock!

 

Osyter and Caviar 

 

Seared Ahi Tuna and Tuna Tartare with Chives, Apple and Celeriac Salad, Compressed Apple, Sliced Grapes, Radish, Walnut

 

AAA Steak Tartare with a Caesar Salad Side, Bacon, Pretzel Melba, Cheese Twist, Crispy Shallots, Capers, Dijon Mustard

 

Sea Buckthorn with Green Sorrel

 

Roasted Chantecler Rouge Chicken, Spiced Cauliflower, Edamame, Wild Mushrooms

 

Kale & Ricota Ravioli, Butternut Squash, Marcona Almonds, Brown Butter

 

Hot Chocolate Pudding (Fudge and Brownie), Toasted Marshmallow, Vanilla Ice Cream, Coco Hazelnut Praline

 

Poached Pear & Stout, Guinness Gingerbread, Baily's Cream, Brandied Toffee, Candied Beets

 

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul092014

Holy Chuck - Holy Duck

If there's one burger on your food bucket list, it has to be @HolyChuckBuger's Holy Duck #GoodEats

And you can't forget the Nutella and Salted Caramel milk shake!

 

The Holy Duck: Single Beef Patty, Topped with seared Quebec Foie Gras, Double Smoked Bacon, White Truffle Oil, Pure Canadian Maple Syrup, and Fresh Italian White Truffle.

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Tuesday
Jul082014

Norman Hardie - Pizza

No visit to the County would be complete without a visit to @NormHardie for some pizza and wine! #GoodEats

 

Tarte Flambée: White Cheddar, Crème Fraîche, Speck, Onion.

 

Salatino: White, Fiore di Latte, Speck, Argula, Shaved Pecorino.

 

 

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Monday
Jul072014

The Agrarian

When in Prince Edward County you have to check out food by @NeilDowsonPEC @Agrarian_PEC! #GoodEats

Locally sourced and inspired, Chef Dawson's new Spring/Summer menu is one to check out.

 

Prinzen Farm Chicken Liver Parfait with Date and Apple Chutney & Sourdough Toast.

 

Watermelon, Feta, Mint, Salted Sunflower Seeds, and Pea Shoots.

 

Patricia's Garden Salad, Seasonal Vegetables, Greens, House Maple Dressing.

 

Agrarian Burger, 6oz Beef Chuck, Fries, Inceberg Lettuce, Tomato, Dill Pickle, Bacon.

 

Grate Lakes Pickerel, Beau's Beer Batter, Fries, House Tartar, Lemon.

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul022014

Canoe - Taste Maritimes

Off to the east coast Canada for @ChefHorne's next tasting menu @Oliver_Bonacini's Canoe. #GoodEats

Talking with Chef Horne, this was one of the more challenging menus to put together and make interesting, since many of the iconic and traditional meals from that part of Canada are one-pot wonders; boiled, stewed, steamed, everything seems to come out of a pot. This was one of the more interesting menus for me because when I think Canadian cuisine, I think Ontario produce and livestock, or British Columbia seafood, or Québec poutine and maple syrup. Not much attention is given to the east coast, aside from lobster. So to have an entire menu inspired and harvested from the east coast was a treat!

I went on the first night of this menu, and from what I'm told the menu will be going on hiatus during Summerlicious, and will resume after July 20. Once the menu resumes, it will be modified with new produce as it become available with the season.

On top of Taste Maritimes, Chef Gondalves, was kind enough to treat my friend and I to some incredible desserts!

 

Amuse-bouche: Kiss the Cod

Fried cod tongue with wild sauce gribiche (wild garlic), and nori.

Paired with Screech'd-In Sour (pictured below).

 

Course 1: Jiggs Dinner Terrine

Jiggs Dinner is traditionally a boiled meal of cabbage, potatoes, carrot, turnips and corned beef. Served with Figgy Duff, a traditionally steamed or boiled bread pudding, this version is steamed, then frozen, thinly shaved and baked again like biscotti, and made with raisins instead of figs. Under all of that is a Pease Pud'n, which is a thick split pea soup that has been lightened with crème fraîche and herbs. Garnished with thinly sliced gherkins and mustard seeds.

Paired with Anna de Codorniu Brut Cava, Penedès Spain, NV.

 

Course 2: Clam Bake

Razor clams, soft shell clams, mussels, crawfish, smoked seaweed, dashi broth poured tableside onto the searing hot bowl to create steam and enhance the aroma. This dish was inspired by Chef Horne's last visit to the east coast;  he, along with a bunch of other chefs, would dig a hole in the beach, fill it with a layer of hot rocks, seaweed, shellfish, more seaweed, tarp, and sand. Let it sit for a few hours, come back to perfectly cooked shellfish.

It's hard to find anything wrong with this dish, who doesn't love a pile of perfectly cooked seafood all ready for you? Dashi broths are always a winner, had to make sure I got extra bread for all the leftover goodness!

Paired with Éric Chevalier Muscadet Côtes de Grand Lieu, Loire Valley France, 2011.

 

Intermezzo: Cloudberry/Bakeapple Gelée

With vanilla sugar apple jelly. Berries are hand picked from the east coast!

 

Couse 3: Meat & Potatoes

P.E.I. potato finished beef, collard greens with fish sauce, caramelized molasses, geai bleu (blue cheese from New Brunswick, named after Blue Jays which were often seen flying through the farm), confit potatoes.

My kind of dish. Definitely a meat and potatoes kinda guy lol.

Paired with Sidónio de Sousa Garrafeira, Bairrada Portugal, 2000.

 

Course 4: Hodgepodge

Pan seared cod with poached lobster, with market vegetables, and Labrador tea cream.

Paired with Viña Cartin Albariño, Rias Baixas Spina, 2011.

 

Course 5: Baba au Screech

Lemon sabayon, poppy seed cream, fennel pollen meringues.

Had this dessert a month earlier during Taste Dessert, it's been refined a little bit giving it more balance of the the lemon and poppy seed cutting the screech soaked caked. Great way to round out to meal, bringing the screech full circle.

Paired with Has Cap.

 

Petit Four: Chocolate Potato Chip

 

Now for a little bit of fun, a great surprise mini dessert tasting from Chef Gonsalves!

 

Bonus 1: Black Sesame Sponge Cake 

With jasmine foam, lychee sorbet, first batch of Ontario strawberries, fried sesame seed ball (he makes a surprisingly good version of it!). I don't know where Chef Gonsalves gets his strawberries from, but these were incredible fragrant and impeccably sweet.

 

Things stared to get interesting here, before our Taste Dessert tasting, Chef Gonsalves traveled to France for a chocolate class, and this was the first we got to see of his new learned skills. The star of the show is a unique 46% milk chocolate from Valrhona Chocolate, a small chocolate company that represents only 0.5% of total world sales of chocolate. This company focuses all their resources on their product, and the sustainability of the product ensuring the farmers that supply the cocoa beans can earn living.

What struck me most about this chocolate is it's depth in flavour, something that you usually get with a dark chocolate can be found with this milk chocolate. Also, the first thing I noticed about the chocolate was a floral note from the aroma of it. It's something I've never gotten from any other kind of chocolate I've tasted . Really interesting stuff!

Bonus 2: Peanut Butter and Chocolate

46% milk chocolate, banana butter, and caramel ice cream, chocolate covered puffed rice, candied peanuts, caramel. 

 

Bonus 3: Chocolate 3 Ways

Mousse, bar, and ice cream, with chocolate covered puffed rice and sponge cake. 

Honestly, I was a little skeptical when this came, I mean really? Chocolate on chocolate on chocolate? There has to be something more...and there was! The range in temperatures and textures alone were enough to win me over, but the balance in how each of the chocolate components built on tip of each other delightful surprised me! I really shouldn't be surprised from Chef Gonsalves anymore, he has turned me from a person who was apathetic about desserts to someone who looks forward to them every time!

This takes the cake for best and most surprising dessert I've ever had!

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jun272014

Canoe - Taste Dessert

Not usually much of dessert person, but Pastry Chef Gonsalves @Oliver_Bonicini's Canoe has changed my mind over the past year. At the beginning of the year we began talking about doing a dessert oriented tasting menu, and we finally were able to do the tasting early last month. It was 5-courses of incredibly well balanced desserts with a wonderful progression of flavours, textures, and temperature.

 

Couse 1: Floating Island with Poached Meringue, Roasted Rhubarb, Pistachio Cream, Strawberry Sorbet

Perfect start to the meal, a dish that screams spring with bright flavours and a beautiful aroma. The sponge was an ideal median for soaking up all those wonderful juices from the rhubarb and melting sorbet. 

Paired with Cave Spring's Oliver & Bonicini Private Label Sparkling Wine. 

 

Couse 2: Baba au Screech with Lemon Sabayon, Poppy Seed Cream, Gennel Pollen Meringue

First bite of this dessert threw me off a little bit, the baba cakes were soaked in screech (rum) so you get an initial hit of liquor. The lemon sabayon and poppy seed cream work really well in cutting the alcohol and brings balance to the dish.

Paired with Cave Spring's Oliver & Bonicini Private Label Sparkling Wine.

 

Course 3: Apple Verrine with Poached Green Apple, lviore Emulsion, Cinnamon Crumb, Green Apple Sorbet

One of my favourites for the evening, white chocolate is emulsified with glucose to give it a unique mouth feel. Compared to normal melted chocolate this can be best described as having a bit of a chew to it, it's thicker and creamier. It was one of the most refreshing desserts I've had, you get the sweet creamy flavours of the white chocolate but it remains incredibly light. Not heavy at all.

Paired with Cave Spring Indian Summer Riesling.

 

Course 4: Japanese Rice Cake with Okanagan Hazelnuts, Green Tea Custard, Red Bean Sherbet, Apricots, Crème Fraiche, Kumquat and Puffed Rice 

I had this dessert a couple nights before our dessert tasting during Taste BC. Very much an Asian inspired dessert with authentic flavours that reminded me of my childhood. I've had my fare share of red bean ice cream, this was probably the best I've ever had!

Paired with Sperling Old Vine Riesling.

 

Course 4: Mochi with Japanese Cheesecake, Apricots and Puffed Rice

Since I had the Rice Cake earlier in the week, Chef was kind enough to prepare something a little different for me to try.

 

Course 5: Canoe Chocolate Bar with Puffed Rice, Banana Butter, Smoked Marshmallow Ice Cream, Candied Peanuts

Winner all around. The chocolate covered puffed rice was easily my favourite component of the dish

Paired with Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Tawny Port.

 

Petit Four: White Chocolate and Black Fig Mendiant with Raspberry Macarons

 

A sweet ending to an incredible tasting. Easily my favourite desserts in the city! Thanks Robert for a memorable night of good eats.

Click to read more ...