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Archive for May, 2010

Origin

I get excited, really excited, about trying new restaurants. You all know I do ;) And Origin topped my excitement list. Heads up, this is a raving post. Comfort zone. Scathing…not so much.

I have a long-standing affair with tapas-style restaurants. Reminds me of Spain. A lot of people, however, are on the fence…dishes are too small, expensive, half-satisfied bellies etc.

Pigs.

My take: you get to sample a little from a lot…flit from plate to plate, be experimental & try dishes you’d never think of trying. Life should always be this fun ;)

So, we walked in…and in that first sweep, completely smitten. Dark woods, exposed brick, unique fixtures, stainless steel open-concept kitchen. Main attraction. Inviting. Soirée ambiance. Good energy (like I’m an expert).

[insert resto pic – my shots didn’t do it justice – take my word for now]

We started off with cocktails and immediately, my eyes went to the sake something something. Forgive, it’s been weeks. What I remember are two defining ingredients. Yuzu + ponzu.  Favourite à la moment ingredients. Fresh asian citrus with a sharp tangy bite…love so much that I had to try the sake. It’s like wanting to try your favourite food in any way, shape or form. You just want it. First sip. Interesting combination, clean flavours…

N ruined it when she said it tasted like soap.

Outstanding dishes:

Chinois duck wrap + pickled cucumber + sriracha :

The most lackluster presentation out of all 6 dishes. But oh, the redemption! Tender pieces of duck, smeared with great heat from the Sriracha (yep, rooster sauce), offset & cooled by sour cream, with a slight crunch of thinly sliced cucumbers…took one bite…and completely enamoured. BIG crush. Already planning next encounter.

Salmon tataki +ponzu-soy + dried miso + diakon salad :

Beautiful sashimi-styles, delicate crunch of diakon & the ponzu…this dish so did not disappoint. Not in the least. Reminiscent of Foxley. Our happy place.

Miso-glazed black cod + mushroom + jerusalem artichoke puree  + crispy soba :

Again, we both have a soft spot for black cod. Again, our happy place. And we’re so glad we ordered. Perfectly cooked, light & silky, flaking with the touch of our forks…sitting in a dark pool of serious deliciousness. Not kidding. Try it.

Honourable Mentions:

Shrimp ceviche + lime + tomato + freeze-dried corn + coconut :

Yep, you read that correctly. Freeze-dried corn. The mad scientist in Claudio Aprile making an appearance…down Colborne Lane over to Origin.

N – influenced by helping me achieve mission of trying every ceviche dish in this city – caved, and we ordered. Nice fresh citrus that ceviches call for, but didn’t wow. Lacked… something. Or too much of…something. Unnecessary liquid nitro, hmm?

And instead of shrimp, scallops or arctic char. Probably not up for debate – but hey, you never know ;)

It pains, but forgettable:

Bufala mozzarella + pear + rosemary oil + pinenuts + honey :

Least favourite. And interestingly, it was the most ordered dish.

Couple to our left, couple to our right, couple across the bar… and I wondered: did they all feel the same thing?! Disappointingly devoid of any  flavour. Muted. Beige food is boring.

However. Look at that presentation…not boring at all. You’ll likely order, based on this pic alone.

Dessert: Manchego cheese cake + saffron sorbet + marinated berries :

Waited weeks! May have spent an entire Sat morning reading menus. Food porn, don’t judge.

Patience was rewarded in the form of wee indulgence w. a side of tart… if the sorbet is home-made, kudos. Cheese cake…hmm. If spoons are clanging against plate to break through crust, it’s too hard.

Of course, did that stop us from clanging? Absolutely not…until all that remained, were freeze-dried blueberries.

High time for another Origin dinner! I hear they may have opened up a patio. Who wants the duck wrap?

http://origintoronto.com
107-109 King E.
416.603.8007

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{Sushi} redemption

After the fiasco last week, redemption came in the form of fresh salmon, fresh tuna, buttery avocado, slivers of cucumbers & tobiko in 10 tight rolls.

Also known as the B.C Special.

Thank you Kokoro for making good sushi. And for using white ginger. And for giving me 2 extra pieces. And for being so bloody close & convenient. I appreciate you.

Same goes for Sushi on Bloor. Tried for the first time on Sat. Half the city is infatuated, what’s 2 more?
{Highlights}: salmon dragon roll, spicy tuna crunchy roll & L loved her gold veg roll set.

Now, keep those fingers crossed for Shogun tonight.

Yep, woman on a mission. Scrubbing mouth clean.

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Sushi Inn

I’m a fake critic.

Third party claims. And by third parties, I mean friends. And by fake critic, I mean they claim I love everything I eat.

Until tonight.

Tonight, I “finally” experienced disappointment.

Sushi Inn. Yorkville.

Yes, deliberate insertion. Who assumed it would be fantastic (or at least half-decent) merely based on location? I DID. Shame on me. Wrong assumption. It was bad. So bad, didn’t even want to take pictures. I know. Serious, right?

It pains (not this time), but forgettable:
Yam Tempura, Spicy salmon maki, Spicy tuna maki, Dragon B (aka Red Dragon)

Q: When does locale compensate for poor quality? It doesn’t. To describe in one: sloppy. Rolls so loose, they don’t stand a chance with your chopsticks. Rolls that just fall apart. Rolls so lacking in presentation. Teeny, tiny rolls. Yep, even the Dragon B…all smoke, no fire. Bits of shrimp tempura, avocado, salmon, tobiko…naked & exposed for the world to see… or rather, our judging eyes.

Did they run out of sushi rice? Did they try a new rice vinegar? Did they bypass the fresh fish market? Did they hire a new sushi chef apprentice? Sigh. Endless questions.

And the best part… IT WAS PACKED!!

No words.

[Sidebar]: T & I  were particularly distracted by the couple sitting next to us, who appeared to be on their – hmm, wild guess – 2nd date, eating quite possibly the s-l-o-w-e-s-t meal of all time. One udon noodle at a time. Agonizing. Yet, bizarrely fascinating.

Ok, meanie rant is over. Starved. Need a midnight snack.

How’s that for a scathing review? I feel dirty.

http://sushiinn.net
120 Cumberland St.
416.923.9992

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Prettiest chocolates you’ve ever seen.

Seriously! Don’t you just want to sit and stare at them all day? What a lovely, special gift.

And too beautiful to eat. Couldn’t possibly. Must exert willpower…Ooo, dulce de leche would be divine…maybe just one…mmm, need to try the crème brûlée…and the key lime…whoops.

Hand made artisan chocolates. Apt description.

Utterly mesmerized by their flavour guide (complete w. pictures!): salted caramel, pistachio, lemongrass, cappuccino, grand marnier, pear & ginger, biscotti, grapefruit & tarragon, macadamia caramel… shall I keep going?

And may I too, be a chief chocolate officer (CCO) like William Dean Brown (best business card ever).

http://williamdeanchocolates.com

Open up shop in Toronto…pretty pls.

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N & I were searching for the greatest little patio over the long weekend. Timely, this post is not. Pls forgive, life has been a bit of a whirlwind! Anyway, we were about to brunch. Our favourite activity :)

Queen W. was our neighbourhood for the day, and two places immediately came to mind: Saving Grace or Swan. Unfortunately, no patio for Saving Grace, and Swan didn’t particularly appeal to N.

Ruthless in our pursuit for sun and good food, we wandered off and found ourselves at the Hoof Café. Be still my heart. Literally. Suckling pig benny, rabbit buckwheat pancakes, tongue grilled cheese, side of bone marrow… you know, your everyday brunch menu. Have wanted to try for AGES, but alas, no patio and stuffed with carnivores. Another time.

With that, I suggested La Bréhandaise. Deliciously simple, quintessentially French, with a great, secluded patio around the back. N was happy. She had been dying to try their savoury galettes (buckwheat crêpes)…and I could already taste their sweet dessert crêpes.

photo cred: Stephen Chung

What I’ve come to realize – if ever in doubt, overwhelmed by options or completely undecided b/c everything looks so good – ask your server.

And so, we looked up trustingly at John. Without hesitation, he rhymed off his favourites…food confidence, could anything be more attractive?

We ordered, and while we waited, enjoyed the sun and sipped their newest hard cider from Bretagne. Served in traditional bolée cups, the Coat-Albert was refreshingly light…happy gals we were that day.  

photo cred: Stephen Chung

Galettes were lightly filled, folded, topped with an over easy egg and choice topping.  Initial reaction? Deflation. Ouch. Why? Buckwheat : filling ratio. Where was the rest of it?! Tasty, but disappointingly sparse (or authentically thin – whichever way you want to look at it). And then…the salad. Iceberg lettuce? Deflation x 2. Hrmph! Why why why. When it’s so easy not to do it…why?

Slightly mollified when John said the magic words – “sweet crêpes, ladies?” Absolutely. Hmm, salted butter caramel or caramelized apple or strawberry coulis & whipped cream? No, what we wanted were bananas, warm chocolate sauce, & a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Oui, s’il vous plaît. Satisfied smiles.

Food photos are taken by John, who also served as our photographer for the afternoon. Really, he hijacked my camera. But, who am I to complain? Gladly handed over.

La Jugonaise: Galette with egg, ham, Emmental & creamy mushrooms

La Saint Glennaise: Galette with egg, ham, Emmental & onion compote

Pléneuf: Crêpe with banana & hot chocolate sauce

Simple fare and tasty. Sweet crêpes… infinitely more satisfying. Would love to know your thoughts – agree or disagree? By the way, the chocolate sauce, strawberry & raspberry sauce, salted butter caramel & crème Chantilly are homemade.

942 Queen St. W
Toronto, ON
647.259.8634

Closed Mondays.

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Healthy eating

Yes, I eat well… every now & again.

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Indulgent eating

Yes, I treat myself… every now & again.

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