Friday, 9 August 2013

Seven Lives Taco & Playa Cabana

Seven Lives Taco (69 Kensington Avenue) 

An impromptu visit to Seven Lives Taco (no phone or camera, sad!).

What was ordered: 
  • CARNITAS - slow cooked pork 
  • CAMARONES A LA DIABLA - spicy shrimp with cheese 
  • BAJA FISH - battered mahi mahi with cream sauce 
  • GRILLED SALMON  - sweet and spicy tamarind sauce 
Overall the food was good, filling and great value (pretty full after 2 tacos). I really enjoyed the fish tacos and the carnitas. Not my ultimate favourite place for tacos but great for a quick snack if you are in the area!

Playa Cabana (111 Dupont Street, Toronto)
With so many attempts to dine at Playa Cabana (always solidly booked/reservations full), we finally got in on a quiet Sunday evening. You can almost miss it, as it is located in the residential Annex and I believe used to be a house. Very cute space, albeit very small (i.e. like Grand Electric, hence why it is impossible to get in!) The food was delicious; particular stands outs were the Crispy Chicken Tinga Tacos and the Ancho Braised Short Rib - Brisket Crispy Tacos. One downside are that tacos only come in orders of 3 (I really like variety i.e. ordering multiple types of tacos), so it is ideal if you come here with a small group of people. In addition, service can be very slow on a busy night (experienced on a return visit).

Seafood marinated in chill and lime 
Very fresh and delicious. Great seasoning on the ceviche, although the halibut was overcooked in some bites. 

Baja Fish Tacos 
These tacos were tasty but not my favourite of the bunch. My favourite fish tacos still stands at Grand Electric. 

Taco Al Pastor 
Adobo marinated pork with pineapple
I really enjoyed these tacos, great flavours on the pork which paired nicely with the acidic and sweet pineapple. 

Ancho Braised Short Rib - Brisket Crispy Tacos 
These were absolutely delicious, probably my favourite of the night. Succulent, juicy, flavourful braised short rib/brisket, in a crispy fried taco shell. Nicely balanced with some freshness in the pico de gallo, guac and homemade crema. Yes, a little rich but oh so delicious.

Crispy Chicken Tinga Taco 
Chipotle chicken braised Tinga style with crema and guac
Again the crispy tacos are firing up my tastebuds. Tender, juicy, Tinga chicken with cream and guac. Simplicity at its best.  

Seven Lives on Urbanspoon Playa Cabana on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Buca Summer Menu

BUCA (602 King West, Toronto) 

Still one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto, I am posting a few new dishes from their summer menu. I had another memorable dinner with some classic favourites and some new, delectable dishes.

Cookstown heirloom toamtoes, savoury, "burrata di buca", citrus gremolata, 33 year aged red wine vinegar, "ottobratica" olive oil 
Creamy, smooth burrata with beautifully done heirloom tomatoes, enveloped in a fantastic vinaigrette. 
Fresh, simple and delicious.

White shrimp and halibut stuffed crisp zucchini flowers
Delicately fried, sweet zucchini flowers paired with shrimp and halibut. A excellent pairing which was light, fresh and so addictive.

Fresh scallop and buffalo ricotta dumplings, "polenta fresca", n'duja, saffron charred cippolini onion 
 This dish had so many layers of flavour - seafood, sweet, heat, savoury, smokey, incredibly unique. Great texture and I particularly enjoyed the saffron charred cippolini onions. 

Double stuffed ravioli, braised duck and foie gras, goat cheese mousse, duck crackle, fresh citrus and lavender 
 A MUST ORDER. Small pockets of well balanced, incredible flavours = flavour explosions. You will never want this dish to end.

Sauteed daily selected mushrooms, marscapone, gorgonzola and marjoram 
Another favourite, something I order everytime I go. Creamy, sweet marscapone with the tangy gorgonzola and paired with earthy wild mushrooms. I also love their chewy, light crust.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Montreal Eats (May)

Montreal Eats (May Edition)

Returning for a short trip to MTL, we revisited a few favourites (sorry for no revisit posts for most of these). We have another fabulous meal at Les 400 Coups, delicious arepas at Arepera du Plateau, late night smoked meat at The Main and La Banquise (we were loving the "La Taquise" poutine featured below) and of course Fairmount Bagels. Also featured below are some snacks from the Jean Talon Market, which had an abundance of vendors selling fruits, veg, cheese, meats, breads etc. 

We ordered the classic: Medium fat sandwiches, fries, pickle, cole slaw and black cherry cola!

Patisserie Au Kouign Amann vs. Fous Desserts (Montreal)

Having been spoiled in Paris, it has been difficult to find a croissant of equal or similar value since coming home. I visited the most well known patisseries for croissants in Montreal, Kouign Amann and Fous Desserts (which I had last time). The croissant at Fous Desserts won, hands down. It has to be eaten at time of purchase, incredibly flakey exterior with a soft but buttery interior. The croissant from Kouign Amann was good, but my heart (and tummy) stay loyal to Fous Dessert. The almond croissant is also extremely decadent but incredible. I did really enjoy the Kouign Amann from Kouign Amann, beautifully caramelized with many buttery layers. 

Kouign Amann 
Left to right: Kouign Amann, croissant and almond croissant 

Fous Dessert 

Jean Talon Market 

Lunch at Jean Talon Market 

We shopped at Hamel Fromagerie for terrine (liver and dates, to die for) and this insanely delicious triple cream brie (Chateau de Bourgogne), an unpateurized goats milk cheese (stand alone vendor), baguette from Premiere Moisson and meats from Balkani and Cochons Tout Ronds (my favourite was the "Figatelli" - 50% pork, 50% offal .. heart/liver/kidney). Sorry for the lack of names/photos, I was so hungry! 

Havres Aux Glaces

Incredibly well known for their ice cream, I had to try it out. I had the dulce to leche flavour which was a base of vanilla, with a beautiful caramel flavour and gooey caramel layered throughout. I also tried the mango which was fresh and juicy. Great ice cream, I highly recommend! 

  At home charcuterie board with leftovers from lunch!

La Banquise 

This was our favourite poutine variation, "La Taquise," which had fries, gravy, cheese curds, sour cream, tomatoes and guacamole. We got this almost every night and it was mighty delicious at 3am. 

 Patisserie Au Kouign Amann on Urbanspoon Fous desserts on Urbanspoon

Monday, 13 May 2013

Le Comptoir Charcuteries et Vins

Le Comptoir Charcuteries Et Vins (4807 St Laurent, Montreal)

Located on St Laurent in the Plateau Mont Royal area, this spot has been known for their amazing charcuterie boards, share plates and  natural wines. We made a reservation for the bar and what a show it was! The precision, speed and care the chefs take in making the food is quite enthralling and the passion really shines through in both the presentation and taste of the food. I would definately return the next time I am in Montreal! 


The chef in action!

House Made Charcuterie Platter 
I cannot remember everything we had (should have brought a notebook!) but it included two terrines, two sausages (one with cumin, which was my favourite) and headcheese located in the middle. The housemade mustard was simply divine! A very delicious charcuterie board.

Nordic Shrimp Ceviche + Lardon Ravioli + Shallot Confit & Pine Nuts + Squash Ricotta Puree + Sage 
This was another delicious dish. Loved the rawness of the shrimp ceviche (no lemon or lime added in this one) and it also had an interesting crunchy texture. The ravioli was fatty, nutty which went well with the sweet squash ricotta puree. So many flavours happening. 

White wine braised octopus + potato + chorizo + creme fraiche tartlet
Our favourite dish of the night. The octopus was perfectly cooked, which paired beautifully with the buttery tart, creamy creme fraiche, salty and flavourful chorizo and the soft potato. Absolute flavour explosion, the flavours are very Spanish derived. 

Crispy Pork Belly + Lemon Foam + Apples + Radish + Cilantro 
Well cooked, tender pork belly but overall I thought the dish was good (not great). I wasn't as crazy about the BBQ sauce on the plate nor the foam but the apple and radish was a nice addition. 

Carrot Cake + White Chocolate and Cinnamon Mousse + Carrot Peel Marmalade + Nougat Pine Nut Brittle 
Absolutely incredible! Luscious and moist carrot cake with a perfectly balanced cinnamon mousse (reminded me of icing). The carrot peel marmalade was sweet and bitter and the spongey cake had bits of chewy nougat brittle dispersed throughout. Heaven!

Downstairs Prep Kitchen and Drying Room 

Le Comptoir on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

The Cupcake Shoppe

The Cupcake Shoppe (2417 Yonge Street, Toronto)

Some of my favourite cupcakes in Toronto are from the Cupcake Shoppe. I enjoy the dense but moist cupcakes and the buttercream is more often than not, a good balance of sweet. This was an unexpected treat and evidently I could not wait to eat one, hence one is missing from the photos!

Featured below is a mixture including (one is unidentified, blue topping):
  • James Brown = chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream

  • Cookie Dough = cookie dough buttercream with chocholate chip vanilla cupcake

  • Spiced Cake cupcake (not sure what the official name is, they have a couple variations)

  • Sticky and Sweet = vanilla cupcake topped with melted dulce de leche 

Although they were all delicious, my favourites include any cupcake variation with their spiced cake (you will love as a carrot cake fan) and the "sticky and sweet" is to die for. The simple but perfectly moist vanilla cupcake, topped with a gooey, melted dulce de leche. Great texture and the flavour is quite heavenly!

The Cupcake Shoppe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Kupfert and Kim

Kupfert and Kim (100 King Street West, Toronto)

Recently opened in the Toronto PATH, Kupfert and Kim focuses on delicious, fast and fresh foods that are vegan and gluten free. Anytime after 12pm, you will likely find yourself in a healthy line up but luckily it moves very quickly to satisfy the lunch crowd. They offer a variety of delicious breakfast, lunch and snack options. Some of my favourites include the "First Canadian bowl" which is featured below, but I also have a big love for the Oaxaca bowl (Mexican inspired with an amazing Guacamole + Cashew Cream sauce), the kale+ banana smoothie and the numerous vegan treats.

First Canadian Bowl
Quinoa + Tempeh + Rainbow Radish + Kale + Pomegranate Seeds + Carrots + Beets +
Roasted Yuca + Pea Sprouts + Sweet Yam + Alfalfa + Sunflower + Purple Cabbage + Black Sesame Seed
Dressing = Chia Tamari Maple Sauce
Kupfert & Kim on Urbanspoon