Thursday, December 31, 2009

We've Moved!

For anyone that has been following this blog over the last year - we've moved! In an effort to make it easier for you to find my frequent foodie adventures I've created a simpler domain to remember and share:

Feel free to browse through the archives, I've made some revisions as I moved the content, including added links and images for easier reference. Please change any subscriptions or bookmarks you may have to the old blog,, it no longer exists. If you are following on facebook, the full blog has archive and tags such as places and cuisine for easier search so take a peek!

Eat Away! And Happy New Year!

2009 Year In Review: Best Meals On The Road

Tony and I have had an exceptionally busy year travelling and eating - we practically live at the airport! If you can believe it, we've been to Asia, Miami, Vancouver, Vegas, Paris and NYC all in the past 12 months. As the year draws to a close, now is a good time as ever to look back on the delicious meals we've had and the wonderful places we've been!

Japan Dec 08/Jan 09: We spent holidays last year in Japan/HK/Philippines. The best meal we had in Japan was definitely the chirashi we had at Tsukiji Fish Market - the tuna was incredibly fresh (tuna tastes amazing and nothing like in North America), and the uni was sweet and rich like butter. We still lick our lips thinking back to that meal. Had I not been so full I think Tony would have been happy to line-up again and have another bowl. The wait is worth every minute! We weren't allowed to take photos in the small 10 seat restaurant, but here's the menu board outside for a look at what we got to taste. Yum!! Other memorable dishes was a custard we had at a Hokkaido restaurant and these amazing egg and chicken rice bowls we had in the market in the Kyoto Train Station. I cannot wait to go back and eat some more!

Miami March 09: We were in Miami for March Madness this past year, and had the pleasure of eating at Joe's Stone Crab. All the food there is delicious, but you simply cannot go and pass up the sweet and succulent meat of stone crab claws. It was so amazing we went back before we left for the airport - we never want to miss an opportunity for a meal! It is a must stop in Miami, I think we'd go back JUST to eat there.

Vancouver May 09: Vancouver is one of our favourite places in the world to eat. Toronto has more variety, but Vancouver has the best value, and we love it particularly for the fresh seafood and sushi. In our last trip there, we were introduced to a new ramen place: Motomachi Shokudo. It is a healthy alternative to Kintaro's fatty pork ramen, made instead with all organic materials including organic chicken based broth. The highlight was the very unique bamboo charcoal ramen, said to be good for the digestive season.
Vegas June 09:
We love Vegas not because we are gamblers but because it is the ultimate foodie haven. One of our favourite restaurants is Shibuya at the MGM - the sake menu is unmatched and the cooked tapas are a wonderful mix of flavours. The dish that always leaves us pining for more is the lobster and scallop in uni butter. It was so delicious we had no shame asking for a spoon to eat the remaining sauce with rice - apparently that's how the staff eat! Who knows how they are not overweight if that were true, but maybe the waiter was just trying to comfort us :P Another favourite is brunch at Thomas Keller's Bouchon. It is probably the best brunch we have ever had. Most memorable was our friend's corned beef hash! Who knew corned beef hash could be SO delicious.

Paris Oct 09: We had such great food everywhere we went I can hardly pin-point the favourite, but one of the most memorable was the lunch we had at Priori in gallerie Vivienne. The soup was hearty and delicious, and the little cafe was quaint and beautiful. I felt like I could sit there all afternoon. Our meal at Cafe Marly was also pretty unforgettable, sitting under the arches of the beautiful Louvre, I happily inhaled the king crab and guacamole starter followed by a delicious prawn risotto. Our favourite dessert was undeniably the mango panacotta we had at Coup d'Etat. We regret not making a final trip there to take one for the road. I guess there is always next time!

NYC Dec 09:
Can't deny that one of our most memorable eating experiences is at the exclusive 14 seat Momofuku Ko. Our food was unique and delicious, watching the extensive preparation of our 12 course meal by the chefs was part of the great experience. One of my favourites and highlight for the night was the shaved foie gras served with riesling jelly and lychee - so original and tasty.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Guu is guuud!

At long last, Guu has arrived in Toronto! I cannot believe that up until now, there has not been a modern Japanese tapas place like the many delicious ones found in Vancouver. Months ago, I had heard that Guu would soon open here, and I was thrilled to discover that on my first night of holidays, Guu has opened at Church and Gerrard!!

The restaurant is boisterous, social and friendly - even more so than I remember of the Guu locations in Vancouver. There are small tables and share tables and also plenty of seats around the bar, where we ended up sitting tonight. We loved our location, facing the bar tender, Jin, who was a hardworking adorable Japanese guy. He turned out drinks all by himself quickly and calmly - when I asked what his favourite drink was, he decidedly told me "beer." I was hoping he might recommend one of the fancy drinks he had concocted during the night and I would quickly order one. Our waiter was also super friendly, who with his charming smile convinced me to have a "big mug" sapporo, on special for $7! Tony had vodka with Japanese red bull, and also a vodka soda with fresh grapefruit that was very popular. They actually serve the grapefruit, but our lovely bartender squeezed the juice for us.

The star of the show is of course the great food - tapas mostly ranging from $5 to $7, cold, warm, fried, stewed, and grilled. We had some specials from the menu: sweet shrimp sashimi, which the kitchen fried the heads for us after - the bartender said "you guys know how to eat shrimp, " and uni (sea urchin) sashimi, which was sweet but still can never compare to what we had in Japan. We also had some old favourites: kimchi udon with spicy cod roe and ebi mayo. Some new items on the menu we tried included oden, a delicious assortment of slow cooked fishcakes and tofu, stewed pork belly, and grilled squid. Although full of beer and delicious food, we made room for dessert - I recommend the almond tofu for something pallet cleansing, and absolutely the banana tempura with chocolate sauce and banana...very indulgent.

I can't say enough how excited we are that Guu has finally opened - on it's first night it was packed mostly with Japanese people (a good sign!), and possibly other loyalists like myself from Vancouver. It's fun, lively, inexpensive and delicious - perfect for any occasion. I am sure we will be regulars, so anytime you want to meet over a beer or sake, ring us up for a visit to Guu :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NYC 2009: A Vibrant and Delicious Lunch at The Modern Bar Room

I always seem to save a great meal to look back on after we return from traveling. On our last day in NYC, we had a wonderful brunch at The Modern, found at the MOMA. I have said before restaurants that feature something other than JUST food usually loses some of the "taste," such as turning restaurants in towers and often museum restaurants; The Modern, however, was fabulous. We were lucky to sample yet another Michelin star restaurant on our short visit to the Big Apple and another James Beard award winner (best chef in NYC!).

Our Menu from the Bar Room:
Flounder tartare with yuzu juice - a firm tartare that was refreshing and unique. This dish surprised us at how simple and tasty it was.
Liverwurst (pate) with pickled vegetables - although I was not a big fan of the pickled vegetables, the liverwurst was delicious and very filling.
Poached egg in mason jar with Maine lobster - this was highly recommended on several food blogs. It was indeed a very beautiful and delicious dish. Eggs seem to be the latest ingredient to show up in various forms on fine dining menus.
Braised tripe with chick pea in a sort of ratatouille - this was very hearty and delicious! Felt like French home cooking.
Duck breast with pistachio sauce - I admit my duck craving was from the amazing meal we had at Momofuku Ko, this couldn't compare, but was served with a delicious sauce. Pistachio is another ingredient we've seen show up in several places.
For desert, we had a beautiful concord grade sundae, served with meringue. It was lightly satisfying and a great way to top off our already amazing meal.

I think every item on the menu at The Modern is worth trying - we looked around at our neighbours' dishes and they were all very tempting, the soup seemed especially popular in the chilly weather. This is surely a restaurant we will visit again. The Bar Room was vibrant and lively, filled with patrons of various ages and backgrounds. Surely everyone was there to enjoy the delicious French inspired cuisine! Make this a visit whether or not you are on your way to MOMA (we were very disappointed that the Tim Burton exhibit was sold out).

Monday, December 7, 2009

NYC 2009: An Exclusive Dining Experience at Momofuku Ko. Genius.

David Chang is a genius. Chef and owner of a quartet of Momofuku restaurants, he has won three James Beard awards, which are, as my friend described, the Oscars of the food world. We were among the few lucky patrons to visit Momofuku Ko on Saturday night for an unforgettable food experience. Getting this reservation was no small feat, although completely accessible to anyone who did a bit of research - you have to register on the website and log on for reservations 6 days in advance for one of the 12 precious seats. There is no menu, there are no pictures, and even the restaurant itself is scarcely marked (we walked right by the door the first time we passed). You have to trust in the food. Arriving at the restaurant exposes no more about what you will eat, how much nor the cost, but we were ready for our adventure. One of the first questions the chef asked was if we had any allergies - I cannot imagine what to do if one showed up with one, because there were 12 courses to come, carefully planned and prepared in advance, I'm not sure what options there would have been. In addition to the amazing tastes and unique preparations, watching the busy chefs at work was an experience in itself. Ko is set up as bar surrounding the narrow kitchen, reminding me of the geisha tea house we visited last year in Japan as a part of our walking tour. The 12 seats around the bar were filled by parties arriving at different times. Cooking was like a round in song - the chefs were organized and calm in their preparation of each appropriate course for the parties around the bar, with never a miss and easily making their way around and with each other. They started with only several dishes at once, but as the bar filled up, every group was having a different course - their ability to manage it all in stride was amazing. We had generous portions of sake to go with our dinner, passing on the wine accompaniment, which in hindsight we are glad as we were able to save room in our bellies for all the glorious and delicious food.

Unfortunately, photos were not allowed, and I also did not want to take away from the exclusive dining experience, but below is a detailed account of our menu. I had to take notes as we ate in an attempt to remember all the chefs were telling us!

1. Sweet shrimp in jalapeno sauce with scallions served on a Chinese spoon.
2. Snail sausage, fried pork skin and biscuit - the snail sausage came in tiny cubes, very unique.
3. Long island fluke in spicy buttermilk with poppy seed with spicy red herb - this was one of our favourite courses. The spicy buttermilk was very tasty and just the right flavour for the fish, topped with sparse tiny leaves of a spicy red Japanese herb that I cannot recall in name, but found it very unique. They looked like little red clovers.
4. Tataki Spanish mackarel with yuzu mustard green - I loved the mustard greens, adding a unique flavour to the mackarel that was prepared with a side of thin crispy skin.
5. Daikon tortellini with carmlized onion puree and oxtail, in oxtail consomme - watching one of the chefs make this dish was fantastic, two pods of daikon filled with onion puree/oxtail then wrapped and flipped into tortellinis. So smart!
6. Soft boiled egg with hackleback caviar and small chips and onions - this was the most beautiful dish of the night in its colour and preparation. The caviar was served flowing out of the bright yolk, seeping out of the half open egg. Was as delicious to taste as it was to look at!
7. Pine mushroom ravioli with buckwheat coriander, served with pine mushroom tea with a ball of french toast on the side - this was fantastic! Although I could not hear what the chef said upon serving the dish, I recognized the unique taste of the pine mushroom immediately (see our latest adventure at Ematei). I felt incredibly smart to recognize the great flavour of the pine mushroom, because for most of the meal, I couldn't keep up with what they were telling us!
8. Monk fish with sea urchin served in spicy shell fish stew - the sweet taste of sea urchin was a nice counter to the spicy shell fish stew the monk fish was set in. When I saw the chef make the stew again I saw the 3, 4 peppers he had put in the small pot and let boil down. No wonder it was so spicy! I personally think it took away from the sweetness of urchin, best enjoyed fresh, but nonetheless, the combined flavours were a unique experience.
9. Shaved foie gras and reisling jelly and lychee and candied pecan - this was probably the most unique plate I have ever had. The foie gras was served in a bowl looking much like a mound of shaved ice, hiding the jelly, lychee and pecans underneath. This was unbelieveable to eat - can you imagine light, fluffy foie gras!? Tony and I simply could not get enough of it! It is surely a memorable plate that we will tell stories about over and over again.
10. Crispy skin duck - we watched the chef start to prepare this from the moment we sat down, multiple and careful preparations made an AMAZING canard. The duck, served medium rare, is probably the best duck I have ever had, simple in taste, yet so incredibly delicious.
11. Spiced white wine sorbet with asian pear and elder flower - this was a nice cleansing of our pallet.
12. Goat milk and ricotta curd cheesecake with squash sorbet, cranberries and pumpkin seed oil - I think the best cheesecake I have ever had, light and so uniquely paired with the pumpkin seed oil and squash sorbet...who would have thought of that!?

Our experience at Momofuku Ko was unbeatable. All the food was fresh, the flavours light yet complex in how they were paired. I liked the slight kick in the dishes by various means, was lively for our taste buds. We couldn't have asked for a better meal - incredibly unique and worth every penny. Our meal in particular was a mere $125 a head, pennies for the unique food and experience we had. And of course, we couldn't help but pick-up the Ko cookbook (there are pictures in there!) for our growing collections of cookbooks we drool over. The spicy buttermilk recipe is included...yum! What is more amazing is that we were done right at 9:30pm, just in time for the second seating of guests to arrive and have their ultimate food experience. The whole operation is truly incredible, very deserving of its two michelin stars! Provided you don't have any allergies, fish in particular, this is a MUST visit for foodies. You will enjoy every dish in flavours and uniqueness.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NYC 2009: I Heart Porchetta!

In 2005, Lorena and I went on Eurotrip part deux over Christmas holidays. Easyjet dictated the places we would visit and we ended up in the South of France to explore Nice, Monaco and Cannes. In addition to the wonderful and convenient little hostel we stayed at (I'd consider it a hotel really), one of our favourite parts of the trip was exploring the market in Nice. While wandering, we came upon an amazing discovery: porchetta! In Nice, it was a delicious roasted pig, stuffed with an assortment of meats, sausage and spices. It was served by the deli in slices. While we ooh'd and ahh'd in excitement at the piglet in the display case, a friendly American lady came to help us - thank goodness she spoke English because we really wanted to try some of the then unknown delicacy! She gave us small portions to try and explained what it was. AMAZING.

In Tony's relentless research of places to eat in NYC, he discovered Porchetta, a small deli on the East side that featured its namesake. I was thrilled to discover this little gem since I have not had porchetta since our trip to Nice! We were the first to arrive on a rainy and cold Saturday morning, and happy to take a seat at one of the few bar stools in the intimate deli. Most patrons came and went with a sandwhich to go but I couldn't have been more excited to sit and enjoy my food and stare at the porchettas. It wasn't exactly like the stuffed piglet I had in Nice (the meat was wrapped rather than fully stuffed and roasted), but it was pretty darn close. Less exotic stuffing for those less adventurous as well, but delicious all the same. Tony and I split a savoury mushroom soup, a porchetta sandwhich and a porchetta plate, which came with beans and vegetables. It sure satisfied my 4 year long craving!

If you are a meat lover in the NYC area and looking for something unique and delicious, be sure to stop by Porchetta, a sandwhich is only $6! They also feature a cozy cookbook, which unfortunately we did not pick up as we had no way to keep it from the pouring rain that day, but we'd love to hear if anyone does and picks up any recipes!

NYC 2009: A Contemporary Experience at Perry St by Jean-Georges

The thing about big cities we love most is that restaurants are open late. It was wonderful to get a 10:30pm reservation at one of Jean George's restaurants, Perry St, upon our late arrival into the city (and thanks to opentable, of course). It is located near the water, a little far from where we were staying (Madison and 50th/51st) but a close cab ride away. I have had the pleasure of eating lunch at Jean Georges before (the best halibut of my life!) and was excited to try this place out.

Perry St is simplistic in decor, and clearly a great place for groups and dates alike. We were seated in the small lounge while waiting for our table, which featured popcorn snacks (who needs nuts!?). I loved that the tables were spacious allowing for intimate conversations. Our picks for the night:

King oyster mushroom and avocado carpaccio with light jalapeno oil
Japanese snapper sashimi
Black pepper crab dumplings - the best of what we picked, had a slightly spicy taste.

Butter poached lobster with lemongrass and kaffir lime broth and potato ravioli - this was my entree and it was amazing! The lobster was meaty and generous and I couldn't soak up enough of the delicious sauce, it reminded me of the delicious prawn risottos we had in France. The potato ravioli was also surprisingly enjoyable, lightly filled in thin pasta. My plate was so amazing I refused to trade with Tony as we normally do!

Tony had snapper with asparagus and shitakes, which was very ornate with small asparagus and shitake slices placed carefully on top of the snapper. Yum!

We shared an apple confit with green apple sorbet and creme fraiche - our favourite part was the sorbet.

Overall, Perry St is a good deal - affordable and accessible as a Michelin Star restaurant (one star!). I found our mains to be most complex and unique, although the crab dumplings were really quite delicious. Another favourite was the cherry-yuzu soda we had with dinner, it was better than any cocktail we could have had!