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Archive for February, 2011

We’ve waited a long time. A very long time. YEARS. And pinch me hard, it’s finally here.

A trip to the MOTHERLAND.

30+ years for our parents. And never for me & the bro. Yes. Finally.

A little exhausted from the insanity of trying to go on vacation; it’s with sleep-deprived excitement that I write this post. I haven’t finished packing and mind has been compiling endless TO DO lists for the past few days. But, will any of that matter in 24hrs? No. It’ll be glorious.

3 weeks in VIETNAM.

Itinerary: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), My Tho, Can Tho, MeKong, Mui Ne, Hue, Hoi An, Tam Coc, Ha Long Bay, Hanoi.

You recognize some, yes? Of course you do. And I kinda love that you’ll likely not recognize others. I certainly didn’t. And that was important for us; we couldn’t simply play tourists. I don’t need to explain why, you get it.

Bro and I will be experiencing a culture that I hope will feel familiar, whilst at the same time, appreciating the fact that we’ll be surrounded by history, traditions, nuances etc. completely new to us. What struck me this eve: in anticipation of this trip, I could vividly imagine what it’d be like to eat a steaming bowl of pho on the streets…but truly couldn’t fathom what it’d be like to explore the neighbourhoods where our parents grew up.

Very, very special.

I’ll be taking my beautiful leather-bound journal, my camera, and Ooo yes, those tastebuds. M has asked that I do a photo journal. Fab idea. With that, S cheekily requested I include some nice scenic shots, to balance the plethora of food shots. Oui, certainly. Up for that challenge.

Btw, do you like my new masthead? Thought it’d be fitting…thx A.

Ok, last note before bed.

Mission: Eat 1 bowl of pho every day for the next 21 days.

SO. EXCITED.

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January = a month of tiny gluttony. I know, two words that should never sit side by side.

And 23 days too late.

In my pathetically weak defense, I DID start this post 23 days ago. And if I don’t complete, N will shoot me her “work/life balance” look. So let’s give a try (speaks the girl who’s going on vacation for 3 weeks in 3 days).

Hello tapas. Hello Wine Bar, Malena and Salt Wine Bar. Sans photography, written snapshots.
Hope you enjoy :)

 

{WINE BAR}

Sorely disappointed. Wasn’t overly enthused about the menu (which changes on a daily basis), but still optimistic a few dishes would stand out. Sadly, no. Qualicum bay scallops were overcooked, tomato ratatouille too sweet for the braised beef cheek, and the B.C fluke, pulled pork poutine and risotto simply didn’t live up to their expectations. Enough moaning, you get it. Highlights: Beautiful use of the space. Ambiance. Open kitchen. And we all admired the pickled jars lining the back wall & the recipe wallpaper in the ‘loo. Would I recommend to others? Negative.

http://www.9church.com/
9 Church Street
416.504.9463

 

{MALENA}

Beautifully serene, with meticulous attention to detail – from decor to the menu designs, it’s quite lovely. You do feel as if you’re a guest in someone’s house, even if it’s accompanied by the feeling that one must be on their best behaviour. Fitting for its Yorkville locale. Dishes are influenced by some Greek love, some Italian love, and all quite memorable. Worthy of the prices? Debatably no. Would I recommend to others? Debatably no. Unless, it’s a special treat. Then, by all means yes.

Outstanding

Rodney’s oysters on the half shell – agro dolce & ‘bomba’
Seared maine scallops with winter squash & raddichio risotto

Honourable Mentions

Grilled octopus with pancetta & root vegetable fregola, greek yogurt & orange agro dolce
Sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi with braised rabbit, spinach & crisp parsnip

Sadly, forgettable

Squid ink chitarra & lobster with tomato, fresh herbs & calabrian chillies
Warm chocolate budino with local preserved strawberries, honeycomb & fresh whipped cream 9.
Greek honey ‘loukoumades’ crispy fried doughnuts with attiki honey, pistachios & cinnamon crema

http://www.malena120.ca/
120 Avenue Road
416.964.0606

 

{SALT WINE BAR}

Darkly inviting and intimately familiar, imagine the inside of a wine & pickled goods cellar. You’d really like to stay a while, wouldn’t you? We certainly did. The newest kid on the Ossington block, she’s a sexy mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Really, quite lovely. Interior aside, the menu has the potential to be stellar. But, when only a handful of dishes hold our attention and dessert takes the limelight; it’s not there yet. Would I recommend to others? Yes. I do feel compelled to come back. To try other dishes. Introduce others to it. Discuss over a bottle of vino or two.

Outstanding

Braised oxtail consumme with garlic mashed, tthyme
Wagu beef crudo with truffled quail egg, parmesan croutons, watercress
Brown butter creme brulee
Cinnamon churros with dark pot of chocolat

Honourable Mentions

Striped beets on bed of arugula, goat cheese, marcona almond, tarragon & citrus vinaigrette
Pulled pork sandwich with guacamole
Oyster mushrooms on toasted baguettes with parsley & garlic
Lobster bisque ‘basque’ style

Sadly, forgettable

Grilled calamari (this one didn’t really stand a chance after disappointment over no octopus)
Rapini with garlic, chili, olive oil

http://saltrestaurant.ca/
225 Ossington Ave.
416.533.7258

 

Next on the list: LEE LOUNGE

Expectations are through the roof. Can’t help it. Susur commands it…for me anyway. And I peeked at Toronto Life’s review last night. O my. 1. Peking duck rolls 2. Asian-style salmon ceviche. Y’all know my long-standing mission. Find the best ceviche in the city.

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