Friday, 28 November 2014

Museum Tavern

We were celebrating a good friend's birthday with dinner and tickets to Friday Night Live at the ROM.  So, we chose Museum Tavern because (a) it got good reviews and (b) the proximity to the ROM

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken Burger with fries

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House Crafted Game Sausage with elk, boar, lamb and spaetzle
The sausage was good if you like game and a little tougher than your typical sausage.
I wasn't a fan of the spaetzle though.

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1/4 lb. Yarmout Lobster Roll
The lobster was sweet and the roll was nicely toasted and buttered. Very meaty, but a little expensive for $24.

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Triple chocolate cake
White chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate mousse - yum!

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Cinnamon sugar pie
The last time I was here I fell in love with their sugar pie, so I knew I had to get it again if they had it. They had a cinnamon version of the pie, but I found the cinnamon overpowered the pie and the crust was just soggy and gooey.

Overall: There's an interesting variety of pub food at Museum Tavern and generally something for everyone. It can definitely be on the pricier side depending what you're getting and there's some hits and misses. Good vibe though and quick service.

Museum Tavern on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 23 November 2014

V2 Ramen and Izakaya

V2 Ramen and Izakaya

Beef tendon and cha siu ramen in tonkotsu broth
Beef brisket ramen and cha siu ramen (BBQ pork ramen)
Of the two, I prefer the cha siu ramen, but I thought the broth was really heavy.

Tonkatsu
Pork Tonkatsu
The pork was crispy, but it was pretty dry and the meat was on the tougher side.

Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki
Octopus pancake with mayo, okonomiyaki sauce and bonito flakes on top. I found the pancake a little mushy and soggy, but the flavours were there.

Deep fried tofu with unagi
Stuffed tofu
The tofu was done well with a nice soft inside and a crispy skin. The bonito flakes were a little overwhelming though.

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Dessert
Cold lychee flavoured jelly with tapioca balls (?)

Overall: V2 Ramen and Izakaya is definitely more of a snack place than a restaurant, but I wasn't impressed with their food. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Season's Christmas Show

I wasn't sure whether I should put up this post about a Christmas Show, but I really enjoyed my experience here (with interesting seminars and presentations). Therefore, I thought I'd put up a post that deviates from my usual food posts about places I've eaten at. 
My friend had tickets to the Season's Christmas Show (Nov 21 - 23, 2014), so we went to the International Center to check it out. As we were wandering around the hall, we were freely enjoying the samples and promotional sales until we got to the center and saw the Cheese Seminar. Jackpot! Free cheese samplings and an information session on cheese all in one? Sign me up! (Actually it was 'line up 20 minutes before the session starts to get in')
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The seminar location led by a representative form teh Dairy Farmers of Canada
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Note taking sheet
There are 3 ways to describe cheese: raw, pasterized and thermalized. 

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Baguette accompaniment to cleanse the palate between cheeses
The cheese list: 
1) Bella Casara Ricotta by Quality Cheese was the winner of the best cheese in the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2013. It was the first Ontario cheese to win and it was also the first fresh cheese to the competition. When they served us the sample in the spoon, they paired it with some cabernet franc ice syrup to add some sweetness. The cheese was delicate and balanced: not sweet, sour or bitter and despite looking a little lumpy, it went down pretty smooth.
2) Dofino Creamy Havarti by Arla Food was semi soft, mild and a tiny bit sour - but it wasn't bitter or sweet. I learned that washing the curd releases the whey and softens the acidity.
3) L'Ancetre's light mild cheddar was one of my favourites. It's a certified organic and lactose free cheese using unpasturized/raw milk. It had a rubbery texture from the skim milk and had a lot of flavour for a mild cheddar. I learned that if you use whole milk, the texture of the cheese is not as rubbery and aged cheddar forms a dry crumbly texture.
4) COWS Inc.'s Extra Old Cheddar had big flavour: it even lingered long after I finished the cheese.
5) Empire Cheese's caramelized onion cheddar was made with real sauteed onions in the cheese that made a strong impact on the medium cheddar.
6) Mountain Oak Cheese (which is a farmstead producer) had a cheese called Wild Nettle Gouda which was a hard and firm cheese with bold and strong flavours. Fun cheese fact: ivory coloured cheeses are aged cheeses.
Lots of fun and a great learning experience - I learned much more about cheeses and had enjoyed trying everything.

Also, at 4pm, there was a Purdy's Master Chocolatier teaching us about different chocolates from around the world and demonstrating how to make ice wine truffles. 
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Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bite Bar

June 28, 2013

There was quite a bit of publicity early this year on Bay Street about Bite Bar. They also had a Buytopia promotion where you could pay $15 for $30 worth of food. My coworker and I decided to give it a shot.
Outside
Cute menu: 
Menu

I started off easy with 3 bites:
3 bites and a marshmallow bar
In order from right to left:
1) Mint: The mint icing was thick and heavy. It was a little overwhelming for a bite and would have been nicer with a lighter fluffier chocolate cake. 
1) Cookies and cream: light icing and sprinkled cookie crumbs on top. I thought this one was okay.
3) Lemon: the icing tasted a bit like dish soap and it was too thick and heavy for the cake. However, I found the lemon cake was really lovely and light.
4) Cookies and cream marshmallow bar was really sweet with all that white chocolate and rice krispies.

12 bites
Row 1: Cookies and Cream, Strawberry Lemonade, Just Bite It and PB&J
Row 2: Banana Splitz, Red Velvet, C Cup, Mocha Chocolate
Row 3: Mint Chocolate, Strawberry, Lemon and Red Velvet
5) Strawberry lemonade: This bite was really delicious! The sweetness of the strawberry icing really brought out the tangy delicate lemon cake and it was the perfect complement. My favourite bite of the day.
6) Just Bite It: The signature bite with thick raspberry icing and light vanilla cake. I didn't really taste the vodka in the icing, but I thought it was a nice summery dessert.
7) PB&J: A peanut butter and jam cupcake. I only got a little bit of jam because the peanut butter taste stood out, but I really liked the vanilla cinnamon cake underneath it all.
8) Banana Splitz: banana cake with chocolate icing. Maybe I just missed it, but I didn't taste the strawberry puree or caramel icing.
9) Red Velvet: It was a nice take on a simple and classic flavour. The cake was moist and good, but the cream cheese icing was a little too subtle.
10) C cup: Double Chocolate threat with the chocolate icing and chocolate cake (no sprinkles in sight here). Very rich and decadent for chocolate lovers.
11) Mocha chocolate: Ooh caffeine...straight from the coffee bean on top. A hint of caramel from the icing, but the cake was mostly lost on me from the aromatic coffee bean.
12) Strawberry: A nice light flavour of strawberry in the cake with a heavy vanilla butter cream (slightly overpowering) and I found the pink sugar crystals made it a lot sweeter.

Overall: Cute concept and cute store. It's only $1 for a mini indulgence every once in a while.

November 20, 2014

I came back to try the South Indian coffee after another coworker mentioned it. 
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South Indian coffee
Blended hazelnut coffee with warm milk and sugar, topped with cocoa. 
I could definitely taste the hazelnut coffee, and I thought it was really nicely done with warm milk and spices. A great drink for a really chilly day!
Bite Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

7 Numbers (Midtown)

7 Numbers on Eglinton is actually one of two restaurants owned by the Marinuzzi family. The website is great! It gives off the impression that you're going to eat real classic and homey Italian food with a friendly Italian family.
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Menu

My friend and I decided to go family style for $30 per person so we get to try all these different menu items with antipasti, primi and secondi (and contorni)
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Calamari with lemon on the right and beet gorgonzola almond salad, caprese salad and arugula and pepper goat cheese salad
The calamari portion was really more than I expected and it had a nice simple and clean flavour with the lemon and sauce.  I liked everything on the salad plate - very distinct and strong flavours from the two salads: the gorgonzola cheese and beets with balsamic was done quite well and the peppery arugula and goat cheese was nice too.

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First pasta course: veal lasagna, farfalle with ricotta and linguine with rapini
The lasagna is one of the dishes they're known for and it was probably one of the best lasagnas I've had. I didn't know fresh pasta could make such a difference until I tasted this - I was really wowed by it - each bite just seemed to melt-in-your-mouth! The veal was the perfect meat to add into this lasagna too because it complemented the soft pasta and the lightly tangy sauce just brought it all together. So good!!! I definitely have to come back for more.
The farfalle and linguine were both cooked to a perfect al dente and were good, but I think the lasagna just eclipsed everything else on the plate.

More food! Onto the meats like the carnivores we are...
Grilled Pork Chop and Osso Buco
Top: Osso Buco, asparagus and salad and Maile (grilled pork chop)
The osso bucco was tender and covered with a onion and tomato sauce which suited it. The pork chop was a LOT of meat - especially after those other courses we had. It was seasoned and grilled perfectly with roasted red peppers on top. Everything was really well done!

Overall: Fantastic place for simple and classic Italian food (no fancy fiddleheads or stinging nettle here). It's almost rustic in its simplicity and it seems like one of those great Italian restaurants using recipes passed down through generations. The service was great and the food was even better - the best part was I didn't have to break the bank eating everything I wanted off the menu! :D

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup & Bibimbap

I've been craving Ginseng Chicken soup for the last few weeks. It was probably because (1) I've been watching way too many Korean Dramas and (2) thinking back on my recent trip to South Korea and the amazing Ginseng Chicken soup I had in Seoul).
After asking around, we found Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup and Bibimbap on Leslie Street.
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Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup & Bibambap Menu
I was a little surprised that not everyone in the restaurant was ordering the Ginseng Chicken soup that they're named for.
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Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (samgyetang)
The soup came out bubbling hot with a bowl of noodles on the side.
The bowl was huge! I definitely didn't expect that, but it was also a little deceiving too since the chicken looked really tiny in comparison to the bowl.
The chicken was a little bland in flavour and there wasn't a lot of ginseng stuffed into the chicken, but it was present. Compared to the one I had in Seoul, it needed more chicken essence, spice and vegetables to make it taste better. However, it did deliver the simple and traditional samgyetang soup that I wanted and it satisfied my craving.
The side dishes were really good! Especially the tofu and chapchae - we ordered a lot more servings of those.
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Hot Stone Bibambap
Very pretty! It was good and the hot stone was actually hot enough to make the rice stick to the sides of the bowl so that some of the rice had a bit of a crust to it.

Overall: The Ginseng Chicken Soup was pretty good - it's not as great as the one I had in Seoul, but it'll do. On the other hand, the side dishes I had here were much better than most of the side dishes I had in South Korea.

Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup & Bibambap on Urbanspoon

Monday, 10 November 2014

Iruka Sushi

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Soup with noodles
Something different from the traditional miso soup

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Salad
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Sashimi Dinner with rice $16.95
The salmon and butterfish were buttery and delicious, but some of the other fish felt a little dried out and not as fresh.

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Spicy Roll Set: 6 Spicy California Roll, 6 Spicy Salmon Roll & 6 Spicy Tuna Roll $17.95
I did enjoy the rolls more than the sashimi. The spicy salmon and tuna were good and they had some crunch to them with the tempura flakes. The only spicy part of the California roll was the sauce on top - which was okay.

Overall: The sushi rolls were okay, but I wasn't a big fan of the sashimi.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Patisserie la Cigogne

October 12, 2011
 For my brother's birthday, instead of buying one cake - we bought a selection of cakes (well it was also because our favourite cake at Patisserie la Cigogne [the Croq Pistache] wasn't available and the selection that night that was available wasn't super appealing to us). So instead, we grabbed the Bacarra, Exotic Flower, the Harmony, St. Eve, Louis XIV and Treasure Island (clockwise from the triangle at the top). We've had the Bacarra before and loved it - the patisserie chef at Patisserie de la Cigogne is amazing with pistachio desserts! We've had the best pistachio desserts here. The rest were really interesting, the Exotic flower was good and we thought the St. Eve was very nutty at first, but it grew on us and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The rest of the desserts were good - but I think once was good enough for us.
Since I love macarons, we also decided to pick up a box. The pink ones were rosewater (which is not a favourite flavour of mine), but we really enjoyed the yellow and orange ones. The brown and green ones weren't as good. It's quite hard finding really good macarons in Toronto. So alas, the search continues...

Update: September 9, 2012


Tarte Flambée $11.49
Alsatian style thin crust pie with bacon, chopped onion and cream cheese baked in stone oven. 
The tarte flambée is also named flammekueche  in the Alsace region of France (Flammekuchen in German). 
Delicious! It was like a thin-crust creamy alternative to pizza. The cheese, chopped onion and bacon combination on the thin bread was scrumptious! Patisserie la Cigogne only serves tarte flambées on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 3pm and it's definitely worth the trip!

And then there are the cakes:
From top (clockwise): Ba-Ba au Rhum Cake, Bacarra, Apricot Almond Pie, Pinacolada, Croq Pistache and Raspberry Cheesecake in the middle.
My top 3 cakes are: Bacarra, the Apricot Almond Tart and the Croq Pistache. (I may be biased towards pistachio cakes)
Apricot almond pie: sweet crust filled with almond cream topped with sliced apricots and finished with apricot glaze and it was absolutely heavenly! This tart could totally give Clafouti tarts a run for their money. I also really liked that they added fresh raspberries to the tart to give it a tangy taste.
Pinacolada: coconut mousse & light pineapple mousse with dark chocolate cake soaked in rum. It was really different and the pastry chef stayed true to the pinacolada taste. Light, tasty and summery. 
Ba-Ba au Rhum Cake - It looked very pretty and light, but it had a heavy rum flavour and it was a little overwhelming.

Raspberry Cheesecake: sweet crust filled with white chocolate, cream cheese and fresh raspberries
Despite being a cheesecake, I found it rather fluffy and light. It was a simple and nice cheesecake, the downside was that the cookie didn't hold up too well.

Croq-Pistache: sweet crust filled with almond cream and crunchy hazelnut, finished with pistachio mousse
Wow - what a combination of flavours and textures with the crunchy hazelnut filling, soft airy pistachio mousse and the slightly chunkier almond cream filling. The flavours of the hazelnut and almond stood out more than the pistachio. It was a really unique cake.

Bacarra: crunchy pistachio, dark chocolate ganache and light caramel cream filled with peaches
This is my favourite dessert here! It just works wonderfully together with the pistachio, dark chocolate, peaches and dried apricot on top. Before this, I had no idea that these ingredients would even work together - but the chef has made a masterpiece with pistachio. Every bite is a delight!

Overall: One of my favourite cake places in Toronto! The service might be a little slow sometimes, but they consistently put out great desserts (especially pistachio ones) and food. On a weekend, the tables fill up with customers enjoying their coffee and patisseries similar to a cafe in France.

Update: October 31, 2014

Wow, I can't believe it's been two years since I've last had one of Patisserie la Cigogne's cakes (I guess this is one of the reasons why I still keep blogging haha). 
It's so weird because every time someone asks me for a cake recommendation - the first place that comes to mind is "Patisserie la Cigogne - it's a little far from the downtown core, but it's worth the trip!". It also helps that there's the Danforth location now - which is where I sent my friend recently for their amazing pistachio cakes. 
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Croq-Pistache (x2), Opera, Mikado, Prince Noir and Symphony
The Croq-Pistache was just as good as I remembered it with the crunchy & crispy layers in the cake. However, I was a little sad I couldn't get the Bacarra (which is my new favourite cake). Instead, we got these other cakes to make up for it. 
Opera was a mocha butter cream and chocolate cream layered with Joconde biscuit with a chocolate glaze. I liked the mocha and chocolate cream with the crispy biscuit, but after all the pistachio desserts - this seemed a little too simple for me. It's classic and delicious - but I appreciate innovative desserts and cakes more. 
Mikado was another choice made with lemon madeleine sponge and lemon mousse with strawberry filling. The tart lemon made the white chocolate stand out more and made the cake overwhelmingly sweet. I would have liked if they used something else to balance the sweetness like a dark chocolate instead of white chocolate.
Next, the Prince Noir (I think?) with crispy praline crust, roasted hazelnut coffee butter creme and chocolate mousse finished with a dark glaze. The hazelnut mousse really stood out to me - it was so rich in nutty flavour and the cake had all these great textures. I would definitely order this again.
Last, the Symphony with a combination of dark, white and milk chocolate mousse filled with fresh raspberries with a pink sparkly glaze on top. The flavours seemed like it would work, but I feel like la Cigogne is known for their rich vibrant flavours that stand out (at least that's the case with bacarra and Prince Noir) and I felt the raspberry and chocolate flavours were a little lost in this cake since there was too much going on with all three chocolates.
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Up close and personal pictures...
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Working those camera shots and angles (LOL)
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November 2, 2014
I can't help it - I had to go back for the Bacarra
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Bacarra, Pear Sabayon Tart and Tiramisu
The Bacarra was just as delicious and heavenly as I remember it. YUMMY!
The pear tart and tiramisu were really good too...but the highlight of the day was the Bacarra for sure. 

Website: http://patisserielacigogne.com/
Patisserie La Cigogne on Urbanspoon