Girls on Food

Comfort Food

West Coast Media Tasting: Summer Solstice Party at Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar in Dallas and Orange, CA

Carla: Girls on Food got invited to the super fun Summer Solstice Parties at Lazy Dog’s participating locations last week. So I attended one in Orange, CA and Dawn attended the Dallas one. We were celebrating both the beginning of Summer and the release of their the new Huckleberry Haze IPA house beer (by Golden Road Brewing).

The setup for the event was really cute and had different stations for us to try all the different beers on tap. Tons of beer information was provided to us by their knowledgeable staff who gave great insight into Lazy Dog + Golden Roads awesome approach to beer and food pairings.

Summertime Spread – Image by Carla

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar  
Locations spread throughout California, Nevada, Texas and Colorado
https://www.lazydogrestaurants.com/

CarlaRight of the bat I wanted to try to Huckleberry Haze IPA and I fell immediately in love. Normally I’m a tequila or vodka type of gal (effective and calorie conscious drinks) so a lot can be said when I admit to an immediate infatuation with a beer. Huckleberry is super unique to beers and in this case a labor of love between Chef Gabe Caliendo at Lazy Dog and Head Brewmaster at Golden Road, Victor Novak.
Beer Tower – Image by Carla
For those unfamiliar, Hazy IPA’s are made when the hops are added at the end of the beer making process. In doing so the beer acquires a sweeter taste rather than a hoppy one. Fruit notes also tend to stand out much more with this process and they definitely did in this brew. You can totally taste the berries as well as a tiny hint of strawberry and other tropical flavors.
All the other beers provided were perfectly picked for summer. The Ankle Buster Blonde was pretty tasty and the Stargazer Nitro Stout was a bold choice. I totally recommend the Stargazer to anyone who loves a refreshing iced coffee on a hot summer morning.
Dawn: The new summer menu was something to howl about! One of my favorites was the Street Corn Wheels, perfectly grilled sweet corn on the cob seasoned with lime, garlic, queso blanco, tajin and cilantro.
Street Corn Wheels – Image by Dawn
Carla: Zero guilt was felt as I ate multiple of the new Grilled Artichokes. I was glad to have something so healthy and yummy! Seasoned with lemon and herbs then cooked on the grill these little veggies were incredible with their house made roasted garlic tahini.
Artichoke – Image by Dawn
CarlaThe mini corn dogs were the perfect size to nibble on while trying out the different beers. The Sun Spanked Red Ale contrasts beautifully with the corn batter and Nathan’s all beef hot dog.
Dawn: These babies are not are NOT the cereal-filled mini dogs of your childhood. These are all beef hot dogs dipped in a slightly sweet batter and served up with some IPA mustard and ketchup.
Corndogs – Image by Dawn
Carla: Finally the Chili Peanut Wings really stole the show. The sauce and flavors are rich while tangy and would pair great with either the Howling Hive Hefe or the Ankle Buster Blonde. Fun fact: Hef beers such as Howling Hive Hefe are made with German yeast and from this acquire the taste of banana and cloves. Go ahead and try it, its a super palpable taste.
Dawn: The wings are caramelized in mixture of pineapple juice, fish sauce, lime, jalapenos, garlic, ginger, chili flakes, crushed peanuts and cilantro. Think Kung Pao wings!
Chili Peanut Wings – Image by Dawn
CarlaAll in all, I’m glad Lazy Dog is as ready as I am for summer. Beers, bites and best of all the occasional cutie dog on the patio!
Thank you so much to C Squared PR for inviting the West Coast Girls on Food Team to this tasting. Although all food and beverages were comped, all thoughts and opinions expressed are our own.  

MEDIA TASTING: New Brunch Menu at Del Frisco’s Grille is Picture Perfect

Earlier this week I journeyed out to the faraway land known as the Westside and visited Del Frisco’s Grille at its ocean front Santa Monica location. A completely revamped brunch menu was awaiting and OMG- everyone needs to visit and experience the brunch that Instagram dreams are made of. Perhaps Chef Steven Quinn knew his new menu would be so aesthetically pleasing or maybe this gorgeous spread is just like those girls that are naturally pretty with full brows first thing in the morning. Regardless, the food is amazing and photographs better than Beyoncé.

Del Frisco’s Grille
1551 Ocean Ave, Suite 105, Santa Monica, CA 90401
https://delfriscosgrille.com/

To start of this exclusive tasting, fellow media influencers and myself were guided to the patio where the most magnificent spread awaited. Voila!

The spread that dreams are made of

Lions and Tigers and Bears right??? Actually its more like egg yolks and cocktails and greens! Inspiration for the new menu came from around the globe and incorporates food trends that we all want to indulge in. From Brooklyn inspired dishes to a nod to our California love of things gluten-free Chef Quinn really brought it all together beautifully for our enjoyment. I genuinely had sensory overload!

As we all mingled a bit, we were given the first cocktail to sip. The colorful Fruit & Flowers- Tito’s Vodka, St. Germain, blueberry, grapefruit and lime flavors make this a perfect light cocktail for the hot summer days we have coming our way. Plus is has a cute rock candy garnish for fun!

While very pretty, I wasn’t expecting anything too spectacular from the Smoked Salmon Tower. Unbeknownst to me, Del Frisco’s take on the classic lox bagel was a heavy hitter. Chef Quinn informed us all the fish was flown in straight from Boston from Foley Fish. ( yasss, that’s fresh AND fancy).  This smoked salmon was top-notch and took the bagel to the next level. The presentation for the tower is awesome with red onions, cucumber, tomatoes and capers but there’s two different kinds of cream cheeses provided which complimented the salmon exquisitely. One was a creamy plain spread and the other a unique “Everything” caper spread. Being the wise foodie that I am, I went half and half on the spreads since I couldn’t get full on the first menu item!

Smoked Salmon Tower + Fruit & Flowers

Nonna’s Pan Cinnamon Rolls were brought out and there were collective jaw drops around the table.  The bourbon espresso caramel sauce smelled like heaven and for an instant I had a clear image of the Italian grandmother who loved me dearly and baked this to comfort my bad decisions from the weekend. The toasted pecans sprinkled on top gave a great crunch and added protein to the dish!

Nonna’s Pan Cinnamon Rolls

For those admirable individuals who take the healthy route even during brunch you’re in for a treat. The Greens & Grains Bowl is the answer to your fit meal dreams. A cage free egg is awaiting for you to get the perfect boomerang of it being cut. Get that yoke ooze! Quinoa, charred broccoli, edamame, dried cranberries, roasted almonds, baby spinach and BEETS all drizzled with a sweet basil dressing are the rest of the elements in this awesome gluten free dish.

Greens & Grains Bowl

Chef Quinn has two other gluten-free options on the brunch menu: the incredibly photogenic Croque Madame and the delicious Eggs in Purgatory with their avocado flatbread side.

Croque Madame
Eggs in Purgatory

My fave dish was a tie between the Greens & Grains Bowl and the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. Lemon curd, blueberry compote and fresh berries are the perfect summery brunch item to enjoy in the patio while people watching in Santa Monica. It’s on Ocean and Colorado right in front of the pier! 

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Del Frisco’s Grille quickly established itself as a favorite amongst locals and tourists alike and I can totally see why. Not only is their food incredible, the cocktails are so intricate and thought out that they deserve a whole post on their own! As any pro-bruncher knows, brunch is only as good as the booziness involved.

Even though I couldn’t partake in the meat dishes offered (I’m a pescatarian) the void was filled with cocktails! If mimosas or their signature Bloody Mary with Horseradish Wheatley isn’t up your alley there’s good kick in the  Crack Coffee. With its Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, chai tea syrup and Chameleon Nitro Cold Brew, you’re bound to wake up with this bevy. If you need some romance The Honeymoon in Paris will take you away to Providence in summer especially with its super cute sprig of lavender! Finally the crowd favorite at the event was the Watermelon Frozé! Rosé but better because you get a small serving of fruit, hooray! Mom would totally be proud.

Bloody Mary
Watermelon Frozé
Honeymoon in Paris

I’m super excited to hit up the Westside again for brunch. With the semi-new Expo Line Station a block away, there’s no need for a DD! Totally recommend it for all those who don’t want to worry about being stuck in traffic while in a food coma. Also, Del Frisco’s Grille is having a special 16 oz. 45-day Dry Aged Strip for the deserving fathers out there this upcoming Father’s Day ( yes, that’s tomorrow, Sunday 6/17). Fun fact, Del Frisco’s Grille is the cooler sibling of the widely praised  Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, so they know a thing or two about cooking meat.

Watermelon Frozé anyone?

Summer is here and so shall beach day brunches at one of California’s most iconic beaches. A million thanks to all who made this event possible and for everyone at Del Frisco who flew out from Dallas to spoil us with their new offerings. Chef Shawn Quinn really elevated the brunch game with such photogenic offerings. This place is ultimate #brunchgoals!

Thank you so much to Spin PR for arranging this media tasting. Although this tasting was comped, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

What Are Some Of The Trendiest Foods Of 2018?

It can be amazing to see how much trends drive the food industry. But it’s something you might want to think about the next time you order a pork belly taco or whip up a kale smoothie! Food trends can come about for any number of reasons. Sometimes it’s effective advertising, sometimes it’s a renewed focus on the health of a certain ingredient, and sometimes a type of food just becomes inexplicably linked to pop culture. It can feel quite random, and in some cases silly, but it’s also a lot of fun for us foodies!

These are some of the trendiest foods we’ve been noticing in 2018.

Popped Chips

If you haven’t tried popped (or puffed) chips, frankly, you’re missing out. Said to be “never fried, never baked” but rather just “popped,” the brand that took this idea mainstream, Popchips, has become something of a tasty sensation. But it’s also led to imitations that deal with ingredients well beyond potatoes. Check out your nearest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, for instance, and you may find some popped or puffed veggie chips (which pretty much just taste like delicious, airy Ruffles). It’s a fun snack trend that may well be here to stay!

Alternative Pastas

With more and more people looking to minimize carbs in their diets, pasta is a bit of a no-no for many of us, at least on a regular basis. So, naturally, the food industry as a collective whole has begun to produce seemingly innumerable pasta alternatives. There’s gluten-free pasta, quinoa pasta, zucchini pasta, parsnip and sweet potato noodles, and the list surely goes on and on. Basically, it’s become clear that you can make noodles out of just about anything, and a lot of the options are better for a low-carb diet than good old-fashioned pasta.

Dim Sum

Dim sum might be the most blatantly trendy item on this list. Restaurants serving these Asian small dishes are popping up seemingly all over the place, in big cities and small towns alike. A Canadian online arcade features a dim sum game among its slot machine collection. (The game simply involves different kinds of dim sum as slot reel icons.) It’s probably a matter of time before a dim sum food truck makes it big on Shark Tank, a la Cousins’ Maine Lobster. With all this said, we’re not complaining. Good dim sum is absolutely delicious, and makes for a great lighter meal.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a little bit different, but deserve a mention here. One article declaring that mushrooms have emerged from underground spoke to how this trend goes well beyond dining. Mushrooms are trendy in pretty much every way imaginable. They’re being infused in food and drink more frequently, as well as being used in beauty products. For that matter, even “magic” mushrooms are being studied and used more to treat certain mental conditions!

Flavored Sparkling Water

Okay, so sparkling water isn’t food, but it can be every bit as satisfying. And suffice it to say we finally seem to have reached a point at which flavored sparkling water is starting to chip away at soda empires. Brands like La Croix and Spindrift are suddenly all over the place, offering light, healthy, and tasty alternatives to sugary sodas. Additionally, alcoholic versions of these drinks are being produced as well by other companies. “Spiked seltzer” is one of the bigger trends in beverages, and serves as a pleasant low-calorie alternative to liquor or beer.

MEDIA TASTING: The Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village, CA Brings Out The Kid In Us!

Los Angeles, I’ve just found your new go-to summer hangout! If you’re looking for good drinks, good eats, and fun games in a laid back but classy atmosphere, look no further than the Thirsty Merchant in Valley Village.

THE THIRSTY MERCHANT 

12430 Riverside Dr
Valley Village, CA 91607
http://www.thethirstymerchant.com

I enjoy watching and playing games as much as the next girl, but I usually avoid my local sports bar because I’m not interested in jockeying for a spot at the pool table with a bunch of annoying bros.

Thank goodness for the Thirsty Merchant. Not only are there plenty of games to choose from (bocce ball, foosball, corn hole, darts—even giant Connect-Four!), but the vibe is warm and inviting with an elegant Victorian-inspired twist. The bar is impressive, and they offer a wide selection of beers, but they also have an excellent wine and cocktail list for those like myself who aren’t into brews.

Hot Lips

Upon arriving, my companion and I settled into a cozy, dimly lit booth and perused the menu. We decided to start off with a couple of spicy drinks to get things going. He ordered a Hot Lips cocktail made with jalapeño infused vodka, mezcal, lime, pineapple juice, and vanilla simple syrup. I ordered a Merchant Mary with Bang Bang Shrimp Cocktail from the “Day Drinks” menu (which, by the way, accompanied a rather appealing weekend brunch menu that I intend to return for).

The Hot Lips definitely did as its name implied- it made my lips tingle with flavor. I know spicy drinks aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy heat, definitely try this drink out. It has a smoky taste on the front end, builds into a zesty jalapeño burn, and softens with the sweet vanilla finish. Delicious!

The Merchant Mary was also a very solid Bloody Mary, though after trying the Hot Lips, it didn’t seem spicy enough for my taste. But the mix is fresh and made in house and had all the right elements – including a refreshing celery flavor that I really enjoyed. Be careful with this one though… it makes for some really easy drinking, and I didn’t realize how strong it was until I finished it. Oh, and did I mention the zesty and meaty shrimp that was the prize at the end of the drink? (Or are you one of those people who eats all the garnishes first? No judgement here!)  

For an appetizer we tried the Roasted Shishito Peppers which were UH-MAY-ZING. Who would think such a simple dish could be so delicious? For me, it was all about the perfect char and garlicky vinegar dressing the peppers were dressed with, and the equally mouthwatering truffle aioli that accompanied them. I could have eaten a bucket of these, but I had to save room for the rest of the night. 

We also tried a Sonoma Salad before diving into the main course. This salad is a refreshing summer treat made with crisp butter lettuce, roasted corn, candied walnuts, and dried cranberries, tossed with a light champagne vinaigrette and feta cheese crumbles. It would make a great meal on its own with some added protein like chicken or shrimp. 

There were a lot of other appealing appetizers that would make for good sharing with a group of friends, such as steak tips and pan-fried dumplings, but we decided to order something more hearty for our main course. After trying the shrimp in the bloody Mary I was tempted to go with the Louisiana Bang Bang Shrimp, but ultimately I decided to go with the Bistro Burger. My companion took a Southern route with the Southern Livin’ fried chicken sandwich.

It was time for a drink refill while we waited for our food and I simply had to try another “day drink” selection, the Frosé (“God’s gift to your mouth” as the menu states.) I have to agree. This is the perfect summer treat. I’m a sucker for frozen drinks, and this one is a delight. If you love rosé, you’ll enjoy its crisp and citrusy flavor. Plus, it’s just plain fun to drink.  

My companion got a Hotsy Tosty – another spicy drink, but more fruity and sweet than the Hot Lips. Like the first drink, it’s also made with jalapeño infused vodka, but the difference lies in the fresh strawberries, agave nectar, and fizzy ginger beer. I liked this one even more than the Hot Lips – but I’m partial to sweet and fruity drinks. You can’t go wrong with either choice. 

Before long our food arrived. The Bistro Burger was one of the best burgers I’ve had in a long time. The patty is ground in-house and crusted with pepper, topped with Boursin cheese and shoestring fries.

The burger was bursting with flavor – it had a hint of heat from the pepper tempered with creamy garlic from the cheese. It was as close to the feeling of having a fancy picnic with summer sausage and cheese as you could get in a burger. The shoe string fries were also perfectly crisp and the burger came with an additional side of them as well. I ate the whole thing, which is rare for me when it comes to burgers.

The Chicken Sandwich was equally amazing, but much heavier (as is to be expected with Southern-inspired cooking). The chicken was double-breaded with buttermilk and perfectly crusty on the outside and juicy-tender on the inside. The pimento cheese added a bit of heat, but the dill slaw provided a crunchy and satisfying cooldown.  

We were pretty stuffed, but we had to had to try the highly-recommended dessert: the Peanut Butter Pie. Trust me, you’ll want to order this one – it was so rich and delicious with its Oreo crust and creamy peanut butter filling. It even had a couple Reese’s cups as a topper along with crushed peanuts and a dollop of whipped cream. Peanut-butter lovers rejoice! 

I was honestly surprised by how good the food was for a place that offers sports and games. Oftentimes at bars like these, the food is an afterthought to the entertainment, but not so at the Thirsty Merchant. Come to watch your team on one of the many screens, or get a group together to share some apps and play a round of bocce ball (or three.) Or come with a date and snuggle into one of the cushy booths and enjoy a romantic cocktail. You can do it all at the Thirsty Merchant, and I for one will be making it one of my hangouts this summer. Connect-Four, anyone? 

Check Out Chef Stuart O’Keeffe at Macy’s Herald Square, Presented by Macy’s Culinary Council

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

ATTN: NYC FOODIES!

Are you ready to fire up that grill and learn how to cook tasty summertime recipes with- Chef Stuart O’Keeffe?

Image courtesy of Macy’s Culinary Council

Our friends at Macy’s Culinary Council are hosting a live cooking demonstration at Macy’s Herald Square, in NYC.

Chef Stuart will be on hand, teaching you how to recreate his favorite comfort foods at home with admission of a $25 ticket (purchase here), you will get a seat at the demo (with plenty of bites along the way!), a $20 Macy’s gift card, a Govino wine glass and copy of his cookbook The Quick Six Fix! Plus, if you stick around, he will be signing copies in the home department.

BUT FIRST! HOP OVER TO OUR INSTAGRAM BEFORE MONDAY, JUNE 4TH AT NOON PST, TO ENTER TO WIN 2 FREE TICKETS TO THIS EVENT! 

When: Thursday, June 14th, 6 PM 

Where: Macy’s Herald Square, 

151 West 34th Street

DeGustibus Cooking School, 8th Fl

New York, NY 10001

Purchase admission and RSVP here to ensure a spot.

Tickets are selling quick, so get on it!

I can’t wait to see you there! I’m so excited for this event because

  1. Stuart is ADORABLE!
  2. I’ve been wanting to cook at home more and his recipes are not just easy, but they’re perfect comfort foods.
  3. Macy’s Culinary Council hooks it up at their demos with fantastic bites. Nobody leaves their events hungry!

Running late to the party? Don’t panic! Pop by after to the home department and with any purchase of $15 or more you’ll still be able to meet Stuart and receive a signed copy of The Quick Six Fix!  

Be sure to follow along with us @girlsonfoodblog, where I’ll be posting live stories from this demo!

CHEERS!

Culinary Council is a collection of spectacularly talented chefs, pastry chefs, and food professionals that travel throughout the country and hold various tastings and demonstrations in Macy’s all over the U.S. Check with your local Macy’s to see if any are happening near you!

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Macy’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Image courtesy of Macy’s Culinary Council. 


Hamming It Up At The Haam in Toronto

The Haam is the place to dine if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try unique mashups. Situated in the Entertainment District of Toronto, the vibes here are cool and homey while still pumping out the beats for a meal right before you hit the streets. In Korean, “haam” means to add more, additional to make the best (hence the plus symbol in their logo); they definitely add that extra oomph to make their dish the best that it can be. Keep in mind, that The Haam does love to experiment with different dishes and techniques, so they will be having a rotating menu and these dishes may or may not be available; which does make it even more exciting to visit!

The Haam
342 Adelaide St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1R7
https://www.instagram.com/thehaamtoronto/

Seabass: gochojang, cucumber, extra virgin olive oil, fish skin

The mixture of the balsamic vinaigrette and gochugang (Korean red chilli paste) gives you a nice combo of sweet and spicy that complement the clean seabass crudo. Grab a complete bite of the sauced up seabass with the refreshing cucumber, and crunchy fried fish skin; it’ll hit all the taste buds and provide all different textures that will leave you satisfied.

Scallop: ikura, red onion, yam, avocado, shallot

This scallop plate is super refreshing with a light and citrusy dressing. The fried shallots provide a bit of crunch, the ikura (salmon roe) gives a little bursts of flavour and saltiness and the yam smear ties the entire dish together with a bit of sweetness.

Macbokki: gochujang, cauliflower, smoked cheddar, provolone, gruyere, za’atar

The Macbokki, is probably my favourite item we had. This is a tteokbokkif (Korean rice cake) version of mac and chesse but gochujang style. So creamy with the just right amount of spice (from the gochujang), not too rich with all the cheeses but there is a slight sweetness that just rounds out the dish. To top off the dish are the huge taro chips that are just so much fun to eat with.

Fried Chicken: curry, sambal, mint

Now, who doesn’t love fried chicken?! For those that are a bit uncertain of the dishes above, this one will soothe your soul. Hearing of the combination of the three sauces may sound strange but amazingly enough the three combined create a symphony of sweet, minty and spicy. Alternatively, all three sauces are just as magnificent on their own! Also cannot forget about the super crunchy chicken that is perfectly friend and is straight up KFC (Korean Fried Chicken).

Holy Crab!: Soft shell crab, scallop, shrimp, squid

This rice dish simply reminds me of a seafood paella. My most favourite seafood paella that I had had a sweetness to it that just combined the seafood along with the rice in a way that I just wanted to keep on eating it; this dish plays that exact same role. There’s just a sweetness that just makes you want to keep eating until every last grain is complete. To help balance the sweetness is the fried soft shell crab that provided a bit of saltiness and that crunch factor that is needed in all rice dishes.

Aburi Chirashi: uni, tuna, salmon, shiso, ikura, garlic mayo, truffle

To wrap up our entire meals is the final touch of the Aburi Chirashi. A traditional chirashi consists of sushi rice and fresh raw fish. This dish consists of a bed of the sushi rice with fresh uni, tuna and salmon laid at top of the rice, topped with garlic mayo and torched to perfection (aburi). Aburi (torched sushi) is a very popular style here in Toronto and this dish is definitely a unique and different take on it. The torching provides a melt in your mouth feel that just with every bite you feel like you are eating something so decadent and it feels so wrong but tastes so good.

The Haam makes you feel like you’re at home and your mom/dad decides to come up with an experimental meal to wow you; except, that The Haam does wow you every time without fault. They have only been open for a bit over a month now and I can tell you that you can expect some fairly unique (and even daring) dishes coming out of this little spot. I cannot wait to see what other creations they have in store!

DaiLo Brings Chinese with Filipino Flavors to Toronto

DaiLo means ‘big brother’ in Cantonese and DaiLo pays tribute to this in the sense that their dishes pay tribute to traditional Chinese dishes but with a modern update. You may be familiar with DaiLo as their Chef de Cuisine, Chef Dennis Tay, was on Top Chef Canada and Top Chef Canada All Stars! If you have never watched Top Chef Canada, then you must know that DaiLo ranks 18 in the 2017 Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants!  Even prior to all of this, I had heard many beautiful things about this spot and was super excited to go!

DaiLo
503 College St, Toronto, ON M6J 2J3
http://dailoto.com/

Crispy Octopus Tacos (2pc)

We started out our meal with their Octopus Tacos and Hakka Brown Wontons. These tacos were prepared with super tender fried octopus, red braised pork belly, sambal aioli, jicama shell. Tender pieces of octopus and melt in your mouth pork belly wrapped in a paper thin jicama shell, provide a great combination of texture. While throwing in the slightly spicy but creamy sambal aioli, helps balance out the flavours and adds that extra oomph.

Hakka Brown Wontons (pork & shrimp)

 

While their Hakka Brown Wontons were a play on traditional pork and shrimp wontons. These wontons were covered in their house xo sauce and toasted sesame oil; every bite was wonderfully coated in the sauce that when you would pop in a wonton, it would just explode with flavour.

 

 

Special: Steamed European Sea Bass

The first entree we ordered was a special of the day, their Steamed European Sea Bass. This is another traditional dish that even Filipinos dine on as well! It is one of my favourite ways of consuming fish! Traditionally, steamed fish has a sauce mixture of soy sauce and sesame oil; this steamed fish is in a soy sauce glaze with boiled sesame oil poured over. When they poured the sesame oil table side, you just get such a beautiful scent of sesame oil and hear the sizzle as the oil hits the fish and garnishes. The sea bass was super tender that the meat pulled away so easily and would melt in your mouth. The soy sauce glaze and sesame oil add a bit of sweetness and a nuttiness to the otherwise simple, clean flavours of the sea bass.

Olliffe’s 90 Day Dry Aged Rib Eye (12oz)

Next is definitely a pleaser, their 90 Day Dry Aged Rib Eye. This beautiful cut of meat is from a local butcher shop, Olliffe’s, that source their meat from local farmers within Ontario, Saskatchewan and PEI. This rib eye was is presented along side bok choy, radish, pickled mushroom and black bean bagna cauda. The rib eye, itself, was super tender and melted in your mouth with every bite. Having a bite of the rib eye along with the savoury black bean bagna cauda could prove to be too rich, which why the pickled mushrooms and radish are there to help cut the richness and help balance the dish.

Truffle Fried Rice

Of course, a staple in Asian cuisine is the rice! You must have rice with your meal in order for it to be complete! Welcome the Truffle Fried Rice. This fried rice consists of black truffle, egg, carrots, edamame, puffed rice and a side of xo sauce. I definitely wish there was more xo sauce of this plate of deliciousness! This dish starts off to taste like your usual fried rice, until you get little crispy bites of the puffed rice, the earthiness of the black truffle and top off the bite with the flavour packed xo sauce. So addicting, so good; has the most difficult time trying to not devour the entire plate myself.

Dessert: Their take on a Filipino treat called Champorado

I know I said that your meal is not complete without rice, but let’s be real, even though the rice would complete my meal I always have room for dessert! This dessert is a play on a Filipino dish called, Champorado. Now this dish is traditionally a rice chocolate pudding and is typically eaten for breakfast but can definitely be consumed any time of the day. DaiLo’s take on champorado consists of chocolate pudding, cocoa crispies, chocolate polvoron (Filipino shortbread), white rabbit candy ice cream and salted caramel. This is a chocolate lovers dream while combining all good sweet things of my childhood. This dessert does get a tad bit sweet but consuming some of the polvoron helped to balance out the sweetness. Maybe textures were at play and provides a very pleasing experience while indulging on your sweet tooth.

I highly recommend DaiLo, not only for it’s Asian flavours and French twist but also because it is a local restaurant that is doing it big

The Best Ricotta Pancakes in LA: Brunch at Odys + Penelope

Last year, while scrolling around on the Renzell app, I discovered the high ranking spot Odys + Penelope, a modern-American Churrasco in the La Brea area of Los Angeles. Girl on Food Cristina and #plusonebae Devon joined me for a fantastic dinner packed with fresh grilled meats and cocktails. When I was recently invited in to taste their brunch offerings, I knew if it was just close to being up to par with the dinner menu, I’d be in hog heaven… but did it come close?

Odys + Penelope
127 S La Brea, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Like The Mighty, which I recently stopped into for dinner, O + P (mysteriously named after Greek mythology characters) is also owned by culinary husband/wife team Quinn and Karen Hatfield. This power couple definitely knows how to build a solid spot with great food, consistent service and a busy customer base in LA, which is not easy.

I’m also never one to ever notice really famous people, but just like at The Mighty, I noticed some familiar faces, including one key cast member of The Big Bang Theory. So I do recommend bringing a pal or family member who geeks out over that sort of thing. Bazinga.

Frisee Salad

While the dinner menu focuses on Brazilian Churrasco style meat main dishes, the brunch here is a little more of a North American-meets-South American melting pot.

Chicken Adobo Fried Rice

For the mains, I decided to start with Chicken Adobo Fried Rice—with my mom being half Filipino and all, I’d feel wrong not tasting this dish of adobo-marinated chicken lightly fried with soft poached eggs, radish salad and a mild sambal hollandaise. This isn’t quite the chicken adobo that I remember from my childhood, but is a tasty, lighter take on it. I’m used to a more vinegar heavy adobo chicken, but the flavor is played safely here for the more mainstream LA crowd, which may be a smart move on their end. The Frisee Salad, with grilled salmon, warm fingerling potatoes, avocado and potatoes is like a California take on a nicoise salad, minus the mercury content of tuna and a sunny-side-up egg instead of hard boiled.

Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes with Pudwill Farms Blueberries

My favorite item was the Cornmeal Ricotta Pancakes with Pudwill Farms Blueberries. I know ricotta pancakes are trending in the LA brunch scene, but I haven’t been this blown away with them before. O + P also manages to get the same lightly griddled pancake that my dad made me. They’re beautifully crisp on the outside but maintain a soft fluffiness on the inside. Savory from the salted butter, fruity from the blueberries, these are the best I’ve had in town. The side of maple syrup is only optional, it doesn’t necessarily need it.

To answer my question from earlier: yes, O + P’s brunch program is 100% on par with their dinner. I will be returning to Odys + Penelope for those pancakes and other brunchy items soon. I can’t wait to see what other programs they come up with!

Morning Glory Cafe in Eugene: French Toast, Biscuits, and Vegan? Oh my!

Morning Glory on a snowy weekend morning.

On the brisk snowy mornings of the Pacific Northwest there is nothing that warms the soul more than a big, hearty, and savory breakfast. Being a vegetarian, though, it can be difficult to find such a meal to exclude bacon, sausage and eggs without ultimately settling for a mediocre bowl of oatmeal. Luckily, there is a place in Eugene, Oregon that offers delicious and wholesome breakfast and lunch options that also checks off all the boxes of a mostly vegan diet.

Morning Glory is a small breakfast and lunch café that presents a bohemian atmosphere and vegan/ vegetarian dishes proudly made from scratch and local fresh ingredients. It is the oldest vegetarian restaurants in Eugene. Due to this reputation it is a very popular spot, especially on a weekend morning, so keep that in mind before you visit and expect to wait. Thankfully, this wait will be worth it.

Morning Glory
450 Williamette Street, Eugene, OR 

http://morninggloryeugene.squarespace.com/

The Vegan Biscuits and Gravy

The dish that I highly recommend is their Vegan Biscuits and Gravy. This was the first thing I ordered during my first visit to Eugene and I can not confirm nor deny that it may have been an influence on my decision to move here from California. Biscuits and Gravy is a breakfast meal that I often crave but can not enjoy due to the gravy being traditionally made with sausage. At Morning Glory, however, they make their gravy with a mushroom base, seasoned heavily with dill, and when it coats the warm and fluffy biscuits it is a great vegan alternative that keeps me coming back. This is a menu item I order every time but on this most recent visit I wanted to change it up and try one of their sweeter options, the Vegan French Toast.

The foundation of their French Toast is the thick slices of cinnamon-raisin walnut bread. Instead of an egg batter they use a cinnamon nutmeg mixture. The toast is then served along with a blueberry-apple compote, organic maple syrup, and vegan butter.

The Vegan French Toast at Morning Glory

I’ll be honest, their interpretation of the French Toast into a vegan substitute is not as successful as their other savory dishes. The flavors where there, especially in the sweet fluffy texture of the bread that includes the crunchy surprise of the walnuts. Even the thick blueberry-apple compote was a nice fruity compliment for the toast. However, that moist and creamy element that is synonymous with French Toast was lacking due to the bread not being soaked in some kind of a diary and egg mixture. This plate was still delicious but, for me, it wasn’t entirely convincing as a French Toast.

Although a vegetarian restaurant, Morning Glory is still satisfying for the carnivore’s palette. Their food is so good that the average American eater is willing to forgo meat for at least one meal. My Husband was accompanying me this morning and he is a self-proclaimed eater of the meats. He ordered the Biscuits and Gravy for himself but because he loves me, and because he knew I was going to ask anyways, he allowed me to finish his plate. Ladies, find yourself a man who is willing to share his biscuits with you, and then take that man to Morning Glory.

Me, seconds before inhaling the plate in front of me.

Chainsmoker Urban Smoked Meats in Toronto

Chainsmoker is Toronto’s newest smokehouse offering straight up real smoked meats with a chill atmosphere. They have just opened a few days again and I am hooked! They are still working out what works for them, so I am definitely planning on dropping by here and there to see what new thing has been added. Now, I do not know much about interior design but I do know that the furniture used and the mix-match of furniture really does set the mood as a place where you can relax, eat with your hands and just feel at home.

Chainsmoker
The Spread

Not only do they serve up amazing smoked meats but they also serve delicious sides to complete your meal. We opted for the classic roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (yes, that is steamed rice in the bottom corner but the vegetables look yummier).

Sides: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Roasted Cauliflower

I have always been a huge fan of roasted vegetables, especially Brussels sprouts and cauliflower! The crispier the better! Chainsmoker makes their roasted vegetables very simply by roasting and seasoned with their house spices. The Brussels sprouts are well roasted that they are still a bit soft in the inside but there is a nice crunch to the exterior. While the cauliflower is a bit soft in the stalks but the little flowers are like crunchy little nuggets. Throughout our meal, I would continue to pick on these even after I was super full from the meats.

Side: Jalapeno Cornbread

Two words, JALAPENO CORNBREAD. LOVE. You have no idea how much I truly did enjoy this; so much so that I would continue to lovingly whisper “I love cornbread” after every other sentence while I was chatting with my boyfriend. It is such a struggle to find some legit “crunchy on the outside, soft and moist in the instead and actually taste like corn” cornbread in this city. I wish I just bought them out but the funds were running low by the end of the day! Although Chainsmoker specialize in their smoked meats, I just love cornbread so much that I would definitely come by solely to buy cornbread. (No shame)

Smoked Wings

Enough of the sides, I should probably get to some actual meat. We had a few options but will mention two via photos for you. First up, is their smoked wings. These bad boys are smoked up to 1 hour which give them just enough smoke without overpowering. Drench these guys in their BBQ sauce that is offered at the table and you got yourself some smoky BBQ wings.

Braised Beef Ribs

Next up are their Braised Beef Ribs! These are like dinosaur ribs! They are so moist, so meaty and just one rib is enough! The meat was fall off the bone tender and melt in your mouth good. Would definitely come back to have a rib and pack one for lunch the next day.

Look at the size of this rib!
Citrus Custard Pie on Oreo Crust

Now, what’s a great meal without a sweet treat to wrap it up? Chainsmoker is still in the process of finalizing their current dessert of a citrus custard pie on Oreo crust but we were lucky enough to get a taste! The citrus custard is sweet but tart and has an overall creamy light texture while the top is bruleed to add that extra bit of sweetness to balance the tart. To balance out the sweet and tart, the chocolately Oreo crust adds that extra richness to smooth all the flavours out.

Chainsmoker Urban Smoked Meats has just warmed up and we hear that there will be other great options coming our way! Be sure to follow and check them on Instagram and Facebook to be up to date and see what they have in store.

Montreal, Mon Amour!

As the middle of winter consumes us, dreaming of somewhere warm is the most typical thought that crosses our minds. Punta Cana, Brazil, Mexico…to name a few. For me, I am a proud, winter-loving Canadian… who has barely seen Canada. I’ve travelled to Central America, I’ve road tripped and flown throughout U.S.A. numerous times, yet I haven’t traveled my way through Canada. For Valentine’s Day, I decided to take my husband to somewhere he has never been before, the home of the poutine, Montreal, Quebec.

Now, I’ve been to Montreal before for a day trip but did not get to experience the culture nor the amazing cuisine. We packed our bags and set off for a 5 and a half road trip to Montreal. We had no plans, zero bookings and just wanted to roll with the punches.

After settling in, we decided to wonder around our little neighbourhood near the hotel. Since our French is “Je ne c’est quoi” (literally means I do not know what) we wanted to try something a little familiar to us.

Our first stop: Bier Markt Montréal
1221 Rene-Levesque Blvd W Montreal,QC

I absolutely love the Bier Markt. I’ve been many times before but never in Montreal. It is traditionally a place that sells a ginormous variety of beers. From pints, to bottles, sample trays, cocktails, champagne, wine, literally everything. The only thing I’ve ever consumed here is beer, because that is what they are known for. This particular trip, we decided to order some snacks to go along with our sampler tray of beer. I never even knew we could order food let alone have a great selection to choose from. We decided to go with a shareable board of seafood and cheese. Just typing this, I’m already missing that board. Our three choices were fresh mozzarella, tuna poke and grilled calamari. It was paired with fresh bread, pickles and a raspberry compote. Spectacular and overwhelming perfect is the only way for me to describe the food, the ambiance and the general vibe of this establishment. We loved it so much, we ended up going back the next night for a little night cap.

The next morning we decided to hunt down the perfect poutine. But since it was 10 am, we decided cheese curds and French fries were more of an afternoon treat.

As we were walking looking for a coffee shop, we found a little spot called: Paris Cafe
1333 Saint-Catherine St. W Montreal,QC

It turned out to be a quaint little restaurant serving crepes! The menu was in French but Nutella is a universal word in any language. I indulged in a London Fog latte and an incredible Nutella Banana Crepe that they prepare right on display as you enter the cafe. It was extremely decadent and the best latte I’ve ever had. This two story restaurant was packed but not busy as everything was made so quickly and devoured within minutes. It was a lovely spot to start our day off right.

Montreal is known for its beauty and art. On the side of buildings, you could see paintings of the late Leonard Cohen throughout the city. A beautiful tribute to a great Canadian artist in his home town. The architecture and museums were extraordinary. Some of the best I’ve ever seen. Everywhere you looked, there was beauty.

After touring the city, our quest for the perfect Poutine had peeked. As a vegetarian, I haven’t come across many poutines that I was able to enjoy. Most poutines I’ve come across had a beef base. I was concerned but determined I could find something just right.

That is when we stumbled upon: Ye Olde Orchard Pub
1189 Rue de la Montagne Montreal, QC

We were instantly greeted by a gentleman wearing a kilt. Typical old pub setting. What I thought would be a tiny pub was actually fairly large with dim lighting and stone walls. I eyeballed the menu and found the poutine section. There it was…my gateway poutine into the poutine world. Vegetarian Curry Poutine. It was a trifecta of my three favourite foods merging together in one dish. The curry actually just tasted like a spicy gravy. The cheese curds, although I hate the word curd, they were delicious. I had found euphoria in a pile of French fries. And I was in love.

This trip was filled with so much delicious food, we have barely eaten since we’ve returned home. Montreal really does feel like you’re in a different world. The cuisine, the culture, the people….its hard to describe but definitely somewhere everyone needs to go. Even in the winter, it was magical and felt like the perfect weekend getaway.

Until next time, Au Revoir, Montreal!

D Spot Dessert Cafe in Etobicoke, Toronto

Can you ever have too much dessert? Nah, there is no such thing! Luckily, if you are not too fond of dessert, D Spot Dessert Cafe has got you covered with many savoury meals. D Spot Dessert Cafe has a multitude of sweet and savoury dishes to curb anyone’s cravings of the day!

D Spot Dessert Cafe
1060 The Queensway, Etobicoke, ON M8Z 1P7
http://dspotdessert.com/
https://www.instagram.com/dspotcafequeensway/
https://www.instagram.com/dspotcafe/

Jessica (@TOFoodieFriends) and the cafe owner Rahim, giving their opening remarks

We were given the opportunity to try D Spot Dessert Cafe through a media event hosted by @TOFoodieFriends. This cafe has been open for 2.5 months with many other locations covering all corners of the GTA (Greater Toronto Area). Their menu comprises of in-house made ice cream, crepes and waffles all while using their own house recipes.

Butter Chicken Poutine

Before I get to the sweets, let’s begin with a Canadian treat, POUTINE. If you do not know what a poutine is, it is basically fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. Poutine is life to me (along with many many other dishes). D Spot Cafe’s butter chicken poutine completely satisfied my usual poutine craving and my longing for butter chicken. The fries were crispy but had that perfect softness, mixed with the rich gravy, perfect squeaky cheese curds and butter chicken, just makes the perfect bite each time.

Mexican Dream Crepe: A home made crepe filled with chipotle chicken, onions, green peppers, tomatoes, green onions and roasted red peppers, served with a side of sour cream.

The next savoury dish we tried was their Mexican Dream Crepe. This crepe was everything you would expect and more. The chipotle chicken had just enough spice to give you a little kick while all the sauteed vegetables provided the cooling and sweetness to balance it out. Not to mention, how perfect the crepe was in texture and flavour!

COOKIELIOUS

Now onto a sweet thang! This here is the COOKIELICIOUS, a monstrous dessert that contains warm chocolate chip molten cookie and a Belgian waffle, topped with cookie dough bits, brownie bits, cookie dough ice cream and a drizzle of Belgian milk chocolate. Although it may seem like sweet on sweet, the in house made waffle and ice cream balance out the sweetness. The waffles were perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in the centre, while the brownie and cookie dough bits had the perfect texture and were not cloyingly sweet.

A BIT OF BOTH

Do you love pancakes? How about waffles? Why not have BOTH, with the “A Bit of Both”?! This sweet treat contains buttermilk pancakes and fresh Belgian waffle, topped with strawberries, marshmallows and strawberry ice cream finished with white Belgian chocolate drizzle. A Bit of Both was definitely contained a much better balance between the sweet and savoury for those that do not have too much of a sweet tooth. The waffles were just as great as the ones on the Cookielicious and the pancakes were nice and fluffy! Throw in the little marshmallows, fresh strawberry, strawberry ice cream and white chocolate drizzle, these toppings remind you that it is indeed a sweet treat!

D Spot Dessert Cafe not only serves desserts but they also have many savoury options! Whether you want lunch, dinner or dessert D Spot Cafe has what you are looking for!