Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Valentines Day

Cooking at Home

To avoid the madness that is usually associated with Valentines Day, we decided to do some cooking at home! We bought all our ingredients fresh from the St. Lawrence Market, Max's Market and Hot Oven Bakery. It turned out really well, especially the Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

Starter Platter (Left to Right)\

PC Cranberry and Fennel crackers: Sweet and savoury and a perfect match for any bold cheese. 
La Sauvagine: My FAVOURITE CHEESE IN THE WORLD. It is a Camembert and can be found at Alex Farms Products. Incredibly soft, creamy, stinkier in flavour (than brie but still mild) - a DREAM.
Serrano Ham:  Serrano Ham from Max's Market. Thinly slices of flavourful, fatty ham. 
Baguette: Hot Oven Bakery White Baguette. Incredibly fresh, good flavour -- prefer Ace Bakery. 

Louis Rodererer Champagne 
Cristal's baby brother, as the man at the LCBO described it. Nice fruitiness but still complex. 
Love celebrating with a nice bottle of champagne.

We got a variety of east and west coast. As you can see, we overdid it for two people but was still very enjoyable. Fresh from the St. Lawrence Market

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

This recipe was recommended to me and it was featured in Saveur Magazine. The funny thing is that since I have been back from Rome, it has been incredibly difficult to find a decent Carbonara. This magazine article actually featured the Carbonara I had in Rome at La Roscioli's, which is hands down, the best plate of spaghetti I have ever had in my life.

The basis of the recipe was based on La Roscioli's and it turned out incredible. Since the recipe is SO SIMPLE, you must you high quality ingredients. Splurge and get the really nice parmigiano (not the stuff from the grocery store, go to a cheese monger). The rest of the stuff I got from St. Lawrence .. the Pancetta from Scheffler's Deli and fresh spaghetti (I don't remember the vendor's name but it is the one upstairs). You can taste the quality and freshness of the ingredients. It is incredibly savoury, rich and utterly incredible! Probably the best carbonara I have had since being home. 

The Recipe: 

* Do not throw out pasta water. It is required to create a creamy, silky rendition of the sauce
* Make sure you cook pasta al dente (approx 4 minutes with fresh)
* Timing is crucial! When your hot pan mixture is cooking (before you add the eggs and parmigiano), your pasta should be just about finished, thus you can add quickly. Serve Immediately

Friday, 17 February 2012

Boar N Wing

Boar N Wing (5164 Dundas Street West)

Recently opened in Etobicoke, I was curious to try out this new wing joint. With 76 different flavours on the menu, there are a lot to choose from. I went with my usual favourite, hot honey garlic. We ordered delivery so the outcome may have been different if I actually dined there.

56. Forever Hot and Honey Garlic 
Since we ordered delivery, the texture of the wings suffered a bit. They are the heavier breaded type of wings, thus a touch soggy but flavour was good. I wish I had gotten the hotter version of the hot honey garlic, as this flavour was quite mild. 
Boar N Wing Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

416 Snack Bar

416 Snack Bar (181 Bathurst Street, ON)

This is one of my favourite places in the city for a drink and obviously, snacks! They always featured well priced wines and beers. In addition, they have their classic snacks (such as the pork belly bun, which is incredibly crucial in my visits there), but they are always changing up the menu to keep things interesting. I have a previous blog post on 416 Snack Bar (http://kyra-mylifeisfood.blogspot.com/2011/08/416-snack-bar.html)but here I have featured a few new snacks.

Jamaican Beef Patty
Flaky, crispy exterior with a flavourful, juicy, meaty filling. This is a fantastic beef patty and the hot sauce it is served with, has a serious kick! 

Lobster Roll
I was dying to try this but sadly I wasn't crazy about this particular lobster roll. The lobster itself was indeed succulent and tender but it was overwhelmed by too much butter. 

Steak Tartare
Another delectable item at snack bar. Nice balance of flavours and would win over any steak tartare fan. 

Special Thing
This menu item changes daily and today "they featured the foie torchon combined with chicken liver. The pate was spread on some sour dough with a sherry reduction (if memory serves me correct). Smooth, creamy and a complete flavour explosion. 

Pork Belly Bun 
My MUST HAVE item at Snack Bar. I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE this item. 
Incredibly delectable. It has fatty, salty pork combined with a sweet hoisin sauce and the pickled vegetables add a nice acidity to balance all the flavours.

Scotch Egg Benny 
This scotch egg benny has greatly improved since the first time it appeared on the menu; it was good the first time but now its perfection! The sausage exterior is perfectly crispy and fatty, providing a fantastic sausage flavour. The egg yolk runs out at first bite and the hollandaise is wonderfully creamy and fantastic. 

Pizza Pocket Bianca 
This item unfortunately did not completely win me over. I am a huge mushroom fan but maybe my expectations were too high. The textures were great but the oyster mushrooms were barely there (in flavour) and overwhelmed by the other components. Still very tasty nonetheless. 

416 Snack Bar on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Harbord Room

The Harbord Room (89 Harbord Street, Toronto)

Situated on Harbord Street, this cozy, quaint restaurant is a new favourite of mine. It is always very busy on the weekends, so reservations are a must. My boyfriend's good friend recently starting working hard in the kitchen here, so we naturally had to make a trip to The Harbord Room. We had been to 416 Snack Bar prior to this, so we only got a few things to try but I will definitely be back soon.

Situated at the Bar 

Oysters with Apple Mignonette 

Japanese Tacos 
Sous-Vide Pork Belly, Avocado, Pickled Ginger, Hon-Shimeji, Fried Nori & Daikon Slaw with Shiso Cream and Mirin Glaze
I am naturally biased and love anything pork belly. These tacos had an excellent balance of flavours and textures - fatty, acid, savoury, crunchy, juicy, soft .. fantastic! I preferred these tacos to ones I had a couple weeks ago at Grand Electric (although those are also excellent and a completely different style). 

Naturally Raised Beef Burger
Sharp Cheddar, Caramelized Onions, Egg Bun with Fries and Salad 
This is one of the main reasons most people come to the Harbord Room. The burger is incredible ! The burger was perfectly cooked, well seasoned and topped with the usual simplistic condiments. I have been on a mini burger streak recently, and I am in LOVE with this burger. 

Fresh Ricotta Doughnuts
Espresso&Caramel Pot de Creme, Espresso Tapioca & Crumble Meringue Wafer
It is always a treat to have made to order beignets anywhere but I found these a bit dense. I thoroughly enjoyed the "dipping" sauce that accompanied the doughnuts. 

The Harbord Room on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Alphorn

The Alphorn (Collingwood, ON)

The Alphorn is an institution in Collingwood and it is a old school, Swiss, family style restaurant. The atmosphere is fun and boisterous, the waits are always incredibly long and the food is comfort food 101.

The Alphorn 

Swiss Fondue
Classic Swiss fondue. Incredible favour with fresh bread to dip. 

German Style Harvest Sausage 
Served with a savoury onion sauce, fresh sausage, you can't go wrong. 

Wienerschnitzel Alphorn Style
Their speciality and WOW is it ever good. Thin but tender pork-loin breaded and fried. The lemon helps bring out the tasty flavour of the schnitzel. This was my favourite of the night. 

Alphorn Restaurant on Urbanspoon