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Slow-roasted tomatoes

New obsession. Slow-roasting. Garlic. Tomatoes. Frankly, anything we can get our hands on.

Surprise! I do in fact, turn on my stove every once & a while. Figured I’d take a break from tales of restaurant gluttony. And regale you with tales in the kitchen.

FYI: Best smell in the world is garlic roasting. Someone should really make a candle for it…imagine? L would probably kill me.

Recipe (almost) diligently followed from “Cooking for Friends”.

{Ingredients}

tomatoes: 8-10 plum or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil: about 1/4 cup
sugar: about 1 tsp
garlic: 2 cloves, thinly sliced
sea salt & ground pepper

serves 4-6

{Instructions}

Preheat oven to 300F. Lightly oil a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with sugar, garlic and generous amounts of salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until deep red and wrinkled, 2-21/2 hours for medium or plum tomatoes and 1 hour for cherry tomatoes.

Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Note: 1 of 12964 slow-roasted tomatoes recipes with 12964 different temperatures / length of time to roast. From 2 hours at 300F, to 7 hours at 225F to 12 hours at 200F….bring it on.

tomato & white bean salad

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Sunday Breakfast

So needed today.

Egg sammie with havarti on flaxseed rye…damn delicious.

Luma [Part II]

8 days of great anticipation. Not gonna lie, may have had a mini countdown.

Too much build-up? Nah. Why would you want to suppress the excitement? Keeps it fun ;)

Get ready, this post has perma-smile written all over it.

8 ladies. 8 little black dresses. Lovely bride-to-be. Private room. Intimate setting. Dark wood panelling, blonde wood highlights. Beautifully grand table. Cream leather chairs. Complimentary flutes of prosecco. Sets the scene quite nicely, non?

We’re ready to dine.

Chef Jason walks in, welcomes us warmly and within seconds, manages to charm the stilettos off every single lady. Hell, we probably would’ve agreed to eat pig’s feet had he suggested it.

So, we order and the perks of dining with 8…wider menu coverage! Excited and could hardly wait to try as many dishes as possible. Most excited to try the burrata and butter poached lobster.

When our apps arrived, all of the ladies waited…bless their sweet hearts. For what? Grace? Oui, of sorts. I’ve had the pleasure of dining with most (more than once), and over time, have established this unspoken “grace period”. Pattern as follows: Dish arrives. 10 seconds to snap a photo (or 5). Nod of gratitude. Permission to eat ;)

APPS

BURRATA
{fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette}

LUMA: BURRATA

Grace periods granted, and while intent on capturing last neurotically perfect angle – T, upon her first bite of the burrata caught my attention with “O wow, you need try. Now”. I glance over. She’s nodding emphatically. My eyes widen. Anticipation builds again. First taste. Would it live up to its expectations…

Be still my heart.

Best mozza you’ll ever taste in your lifetime. Ok, best mozza I’ve ever tasted in my lifetime. No exaggeration. So fresh. So unbelievably fresh. So light. And the marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette…don’t know how he does it. Frankly, don’t care. Just give me more. Or, we could sit and stare at this fabulous dish all day long…look at that presentation!

[Sidebar] Not a beets fan. Very much want to like, because they’re so damn pretty. And, anything that pretty must taste good, right? Well, with some mozza & v, best beets ever tasted.

SCALLOP SASHIMI
{sliced thinly w/ celery leaves, herbs, radish & ginger vinaigrette}

LUMA: SCALLOP SASHIMI

Always drawn to scallops. And sashimi. Lingered over this one on the menu. Slices of sashimi with a subtle hit of ginger; vinaigrette was a delicate balance for buttery smooth scallops.

FOIE GRAS TORCHON
{pineapple, brioche, macadamia nut and vanilla}

LUMA: FOIE GRAS TORCHON

If heart wasn’t already set on the burrata, foie gras torchon was a close runner up. Cava still lingers as best foie gras, and willing to try others…just to see, you know? And this was close. Very, very close. Wish I had snuck in another taste. Imagine, scrambling across that beautifully large table in black dress. Would’ve ruined all pretense of classiness. Promptly. Alas, next time. But, wait! Must have the burrata again. Oh, the dilemmas we face sometimes.

MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TRUFFLE SHAVINGS
{amazingess}

LUMA: MUSHROOM SOUP WITH TRUFFLE SHAVINGS

Chef Jason popped back in at this point with a surprise dish and the smell that wafted over…oh la. Truffles. If ever an ingredient could be described as pure decadence…if ever an ingredient could add that element of je ne sais quoi… if ever… you know I could go on. An adaptation from his signature dish at Auberge, he served with a knowing smile; knowing we’d fall head over tummy in love.

Must feel nice to always be right. We practically licked our little saucepans clean.

MAINS

RICOTTA GNOCCHI
{light tomato fondue, basil, sunchokes and roasted garlic}

LUMA: RICOTTA GNOCCHI

Gnochhi like you’ve never had it before. A cloud of ricotta. Yes. A cheese cloud. Most apt description I could think of. And not heavy at all. Oxymoron? Perhaps…just go with me here. 3 ladies ordered…3 identical exclamations of ahhh, so good”. If you’re a gnochhi lover, try Luma’s. You’ll never go back.

BAKED SALMON
{gallo mussels, spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille}

LUMA: BAKED SALMON

The baked salmon had caught J’s eye and if we were honest, the salmon simply acted as a conduit for everything else…mussels, chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille. Fleeting impression from one forkful…spicy & flavourful. Damn table was too big. Couldn’t scramble.

ROASTED COD
{northern woods mushrooms, sweetbreads, hazelnut, celery & porcini cream}

LUMA: ROASTED COD

Who doesn’t love mushroom foam? Who doesn’t love mushrooms? Who doesn’t love porcini cream? Perfectly cooked. Flaked immediately at the touch of your fork. Fleeting taste.

BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER
{steamed potato, corn, grilled leeks, lime and coriander pistou}

LUMA: BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER

High expectations. May or may not have had lobster two nights prior at EPIC at the Fairmont. Listen, it was the best week of dining and I was celebrating the gorgeous bride-to-be. How that directly translates to permissible lobster, haven’t quite worked it out.

Focus your attention on this dish. Now, that’s some serious foam. Too much? Oui. But, underneath serious foam is incredible lobster. All of the work is done. All of that succulent meat is yours for taking. Sigh. Barely remember steamed potato, corn and grilled leeks…too intent on lobster. Managed a remark about the lime and coriander pistou…something to do with a lovely balance of flavours. Really, it’s an art form – articulating pure enjoyment of food ;)

DESSERT

LEMON TART
{sour cream ice cream and blueberries}

LUMA: LEMON TART

Verdict: Best lemon tart in the city. I kid you not, the rumours are true. Believe ’em. Light, creamy and tart with a brûléed top and a thin layer of crust. Ridiculously good. Small scoop of sour ice cream and the combination is lemony tartiness h-e-a-v-e-n.

OPERA CAKE
{almond sponge cake with layers of mocha buttercream, chocolate ganache with popcorn ice cream & caramel popcorn}

LUMA: OPERA CAKE

Will be honest. This takes a back seat. Way back seat to the lemon tart. A huge chocolate & caramel fan. But when up against lemon tart goodness, no contest.

Whew! Indulge, we did. Our little black dresses were a wee bit tighter at this point. Worth it? Absolutely.

Overall, food was outstanding. Service was impeccably warm & attentive. From the extra little touches, to the wonderful team of 5-7 who rotated seamlessly throughout the night, to the generosity of general manager Richard and Chef Jason – it was a spectacular dining experience. Many many thanks for making our night so special!

[Sidebar] Mildly disturbing how often I think about the burrata. Kinda like a good date. Wait. Nevermind. Let’s not go there.

Good thing we’re back at Luma on Friday. To get my fix, of course.

LUMA
http://www.oliverbonacini.com/Luma.aspx
TIFF Bell Lightbox, 2nd Floor
330 King St. West
647.288.4715

 

 

Luma [Part I]

Life has been hectic. In a great way hectic. Playing catch up, and so much to share. Rewind back a few weeks, shall we? My dearest & bestest was getting married and as maid of honour, was responsible for planning her final ‘single’ party.

I had wanted to do something a little different, fun and interactive for the bride-to-be. Toyed with the idea of private cooking classes at the Calphalon, The Chef UpstairsDish Cooking Studio etc. but sadly, we’re not made of money. <pause> Don’t even say it. Blissfully unaware. <longer pause> Fine. Personal restaurant track record MAY beg to differ.

Reached out to friends for more reasonable ideas and suggestions flew in – from inviting Massimo Bruno to cook a family-style dinner to oyster shucking at Oyster Boy to a simple themed potluck to private dining at Toronto’s newest restaurant Luma. The last suggestion came from Luma’s own Chef Jason Bangerter.

He was offering an intimate 14-seat private room for exclusive dining and a grand meal to remember.

Should’ve seen my face.

Beamed like I had just won the mayoral debate.

If the room was available that night, it was ours. And a few days later, confirmed. Bless his heart, this was going to be the best experience ever. Then…then, it gets better. I know, right? Then, Chef Jason asked if I wanted to design the menu for the eve.

P-a-r-d-o-n.

Had Christmas come early?! Sweet j, this was fantastic.

T’was the early season of giving, so I called in my clever strategist and talented art director into a meeting. Pourquoi? Well, common denominator lies in our passion and slight obsession with food. K is our resident chef and E is a budding macaron maker & appreciator of all things French & wine. As 90% of our conversations – when not work-related, of course – center around food, they were perfect.

With that, extremely important meeting was called. Urgent. Needed ASAP in main boardroom. Moi, frantic? Never. Ahem. Ever so kind, both rushed to my defence. And projected on the screen was Luma’s menu. 1) select three appetizers 2) select three mains 3) select one dessert. Go!

Should’ve seen us. Like three little pigs in mud, so happy we were. Laboriously debated each dish, drooled (quite literally) over every ingredient, balanced several options against tastebuds, sacrificed dishes for others… and this is what we ended up with:

———————————————————————————————————–

APPS

BURRATA
{fresh mozzarella cheese with beetroot, roasted eggplant, marjoram and pine nut vinaigrette}

SCALLOP SASHIMI
{sliced thinly with celery leaves, herbs, radish and ginger vinaigrette}

FOIE GRAS TORCHON
{pineapple, brioche, macadamia nut and vanilla}

MAINS

RICOTTA GNOCCHI
{light tomato fondue, basil, sunchokes and roasted garlic}

BUTTER POACHED LOBSTER
{steamed potato, corn, grilled leeks, lime and coriander pistou}

GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN
{braised beef cheeks, crispy potato chips, celery root purée, caramelized sunchokes, watercress and wild mustard jus}
-or-
BAKED SALMON
{gallo mussels, spanish chorizo, piquillo pepper and saffron rouille}
-or-
ROASTED COD
{northern woods mushrooms, sweetbreads, hazelnut, celery and porcini cream}

DESSERT

LEMON TART
{sour cream ice cream and blueberries}

———————————————————————————————————–

Best menu ever. And obviously torn with the last main dish, we left it up to the executive chef to make the executive decision. But, oh so proud we were with our selections…as if we had created these dishes ourselves. Can you imagine?? What great fun we’d have.

[Sidebar] Always try to approach life with this much enthusiasm. Good for the soul.

Oh my, could not WAIT to dine. Too bad it was 8 days away.

To be continued…in tomorrow’s gluttonous edition of LEKIM.ca

Open-faced omelette

Contrary to popular belief, I do turn on a stove every now & again. And relaxed-style dinners (ahem, lazy-styles) are breakfast dinners. Who wouldn’t love, right?

Eggs. Spinach. Tomatoes. Mushrooms. Avocado. Parmigiano Reggiano. Chili powder. Cumin. Cracked black pepper. Open-faced omelette.

Ruby Watchco Take II

Our first experience sans photos. Our second experience avec photos.

This wknd, a girlfriend asked if we enjoyed Ruby Watchco just as much the 2nd time round, and I belatedly realized with some chagrin that I had never posted our fabulous dinner from July.

Blasphemy!

Let’s fix that, shall we?

So, we were celebrating sweet A‘s birthday, and on the menu for the eve was Ruby’s BBQ chicken dinner. Now, if I may be completely frank, chicken doesn’t excite (ever). Perhaps to see what it’s been stuffed with, but given the amount of time I devote to a menu…barely a cursory glance. 2%, if that, to le insignificant poulet. Judge away. I judge your chicken with my snobbery.

Wish I could say that night was different. And I can’t, so I won’t.

Instead, will focus on what was underneath…and O MY, did it ever make up for its nonexcitingness.

Coffee porter braised beef brisket hash.

Yes. Sounds pretty freakin’ good, right? Forget the chicken, we were all digging for the braised beef. Dig dig dig.

ruby watchco: feast

Stand-outs: Warm and unbelievably fresh, you bet your pretty little smile those chive buttermilk biscuits taste just as good as they look.

…and even better with their to-die-for house churned butter.

ruby watchco: cheddar chive buttermilk biscuits

Now, honourable mention goes to the grilled corn with honey smoked paprika butter. Boiled, cooked in milk, finished off on the grill and smeared with that crazy good butter. Sweet corn on a summer’s day is the best, isn’t it? Too bad it’s no longer summer.

Right then, moving along!

It pains, but forgettable dishes of the night included the creamy cilantro lime napa slaw + summer bean salad.

The slaw was far too creamy, and absolutely unfair, but slaw triggers salivation over Susur’s singaporean version. The bean salad had a nice crunch from the yellow and green beans. Nice, like, your first blind date nice. Never again, nice.

ruby watchco: feast II

Cheese plate! So, I’m a stinky hard cheese kinda girl.

The riopelle was soft, brie-like, a triple cream cheese from Quebec…quite nice & smeared exceptionally well. Talk to the other ladies, they’ll give you a more eloquent orgasmic reaction.

ruby watchco: le riopelle de l'isle

Mmm, warm & peachy crumble.

More crumble & a stronger hit of cinnamon would have been just what autumn ordered.

ruby watchco: ontario peach crumble

Now, don’t worry we’re ending on a high note. Like you guys were even concerned ;)

Pavlova. My new FAVOURITE dessert.

Meringue-based, light, delicate and velvety with a spongey-crunchy shell; texture is fantastically good. Berries were bittersweet, but fork kept returning to the plate…for more pavlova…like it had a mind of its own. Hmm.

ruby watchco: pavlova w/ blackberries

ruby watchco

Ultimately, enjoyed the food more the first time around – however dessert redeemed itself tenfold, remember our le-gourmand-style-hard-rock cookies?! Service was just as lovely, we toasted the day A was born & happily stuffed our faces like the little piggies we were and enjoyed every minute of it.

Now, it’s been months and we need to find ourselves another pavlova.

http://rubywatchco.ca/
730 Queen St. East
416.465.0100

Is it too much to expect that a dish served high-styles at a restaurant opening will be the same dish, when you order from their menu weeks later?

Months ago, fell head over tummy in love with the tuna lettuce wraps at the O&B Café Grill opening / media launch (timely, this post is not). Generous hunks of Ahi tuna dipped in a wicked good citrus soy, topped with crispy taro and ginger…may or may not have staked claim beside table.

S had to tear me away to meet other food lovers, writers, chefs, publicists…and while peppering them with questions, I’d sneak in a rave or two about the tuna lettuce wraps, and we’d inevitably make our way over to sample (again and again).

Fast forward a few weeks, returned with friends and eagerly anticipated a repeat performance. Instead, was hit with an underwhelming version of the wrap. Lonely iceberg shells with 1/3 Ahi tuna and little to no presentation…for shame! Would’ve been comical, had it not been so disappointing.

A little pizzazz for the opening, absolutely – but expectations were set for something quite stellar, particularly if same dish was offered on the regular menu. Granted, we didn’t need it to be served on a beautiful slab of wood, but imagine meeting Megan Fox, when you were expecting Angelina Jolie. The poor man’s version. Deflating.

O&B Cafe Grill: tuna lettuce wraps (Jolie-styles)

Yet, we’re still drawn to her. Like a moth to the flame. A dirty flame.

Anyway. I’ve been back, several times…with fingers crossed each time. Out of sheer stubbornness or because we enjoy their patio & play the repeat game? Whatever the reason, have continued to order with hopes that the wraps would improve over time.

And on 3rd attempt, 3 months after launch…while still not Jolie-styles, certainly better.

O&B Café Grill: tuna lettuce wraps (fox-styles)

Random Q: Perfectly circular…what happens to the excess lettuce?

The things we ponder.

Out of all O&B restaurants, the least spectacular. Mind you, not competing with their brothers & sisters. Casual, bistro bar bites with a few gems like their mushroom soup and grilled calamari. Have a go if you haven’t tried… the heat lamps will keep you warm.

Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill
33 Yonge Street
647-260-2070

Feature: C5 corn salad

You haven’t lived until you’ve tried the corn salad at C5.

Bold statement. But, if there was ever a moment you could prolong a dish (or two)… first few that come to mind: arctic char ceviche at Foxley, foie gras at Cava and the corn salad at C5. Gave myself seconds to write down. Pretty definitive, non?

We can discuss later.

Seriously. It’s incredible. Fresh creamy polenta, romaine hearts, chipotle lime dressing, Cookstown green radishes. And the 65 degree egg. Fantastic. Textures, flavours, match made in culinary heaven.

C5
http://www.c5restaurant.ca/
100 Queen’s Park
416.586.7928

O&B Canteen

Simple menu. Local ingredients. Attention to detail. Casual charm. Canteen.

O&B’s newest restaurant with a home in the TIFF Bell Lightbox…yep, just in time for film fest.

Defying the notion that simple fare can’t be done well, Canteen’s menu is centered around familiar, comfort foods. Pasta (gnocchi, tagliatelle), pizza (calabrese, al parma), pressed sandwiches (chicken BLT, prosciutto), steak frites, mussels etc. with a weekly chef’s menu that changes based on seasonality.

Two encounters in the past two weeks. Our first was complete with C listening to me lament over forgotten camera every time a new dish was brought out… plated with care and served in beautifully heavy French cast iron cookware…we were all over the presentation. I’m partial, can’t help it.

A feast for the eyes, and our first indication of Chef Jason Bangerter’s influence. Second indication? Housemade ketchup. Seriously, try with the handcut fries…addicting. Third indication? Edible flowers. Try the Soma brownie. Could keep going, but he really does have his hand in everything. A little touch here and there…exceeding your expectations for casual dining.

Imagine spending eight years at Auberge and then making the leap to Canteen/Luma (higher-end lounge, opening Sept 12). Worlds apart and difficult to believe…unless you’ve experienced his personality. Warm, engaging and incredibly personable – he’s just as passionate about creating the finest French cuisine or $7 beef brisket sandwich and $11 mac & cheese.

Returned this eve, with camera in hand, and enjoyed a handful of new dishes. No repeats. Yet.

Stand-outs so far: the salads (thai coleslaw, beet root, israeli couscous), chicken liver parfait and desserts (soma brownie, lemon posset).

New challenges, exciting launches…and if both restaurants survive TIFF (Sept 9 -19), they’ll survive anything. Including the noise on King St.

Canteen: handcut fries & housemade ketchup

Canteen: chicken liver parfait

Canteen: gallo mussels

Canteen: lemon posset w/ chantilly & berries

O&B Canteen
330 King St. West, TIFF Bell Lightbox
647.288.4710