Girls on Food

Dinner

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

A Preview of the New Menu at Crossings In South Pasadena

When I think of Pasadena and what it is known for, I immediately picture the Rose Bowl, Huntington Library, Norton Simon Museum and JPL. Pasadena has a lot of history, and that’s what makes the city so great. I used to live in South Pasadena and have long admired the architect and design. Crossings, located in the Edwards and Faw building on Missions Street, has been around since 1908. That’s 110 years that it has withstood the test of time, very impressive. At a private dinner to preview the menu this week, I was told that this two-story restaurant (with a split level wine cellar!) was once a bottling company. It’s no wonder the restaurant boasts a classic chic and elegant 1940’s style!

Crossings
1010 Missions Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030
http://crossings-restaurant.com/ 

 

Several other food bloggers and I were initially brought to the first-floor bar to try a few of their cocktails. I decided on the Paradise Lost—a concoction of Tito’s Vodka, fresh pear puree, Giffard’s Elderflower, and lime—as I tend to gravitate more toward the sweet and fruity drinks. This definitely made me feel like I was somewhere tropical. I also tried Ichabod’s Muse, which consists of BuffaloTrade Bourbon, pumpkin puree, lemon, honey, and cinnamon and the sweet, bold flavor tasted quite pleasant. Jessie, our mixologist, certainly knows how to craft the perfect cocktail!

Paradise Lost
Ichabod’s Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kumamoto Oysters

After we drank our cocktails, we headed to the second floor where we sat at a table of 9 food bloggers including myself. I already had a notion of what dishes to expect, but Chef Malone Jr. surprised us with an amuse bouche which just so happened to be my favorite type of oysters. These Kumamoto oysters were served with finger lime, mignonette foam, and mint—an excellent start to dinner. Paired with Henri Maire Cremant from Jura. 🇫🇷

Hamachi Verde

Next up was the Hamachi Verde. It was so soft and tender and as one slice laid upon my palate, my mouth became filled with a heavenly sensation. Chef Malone used snap agua chile, kaffir lime, cucumber, and serrano and that gave it a lovely flavor as can be verified with all those who feasted upon it. Paired with 2015 Keunts Bas Pino Blanc from Alsace 🇩🇪

Roasted Sunchokes

Then we had the Roasted Sunchokes. If you’re not familiar with sunchokes, they are the root of a sunflower, native to Eastern North America. Apparently, if you eat too many it will help cleanse your system very thoroughly. The chef roasted the sunchokes and used an orange glaze and habanero sauce to caramelize these roots. This gave it an amazing texture and is very addicting after every bite. I grew even more excited, because I knew the next two dishes were going to be the best! Paired with 2015 Armand Kabinett Riesling from Pfalz 🇩🇪

Hamachi Collar

Bright with sunflower petals and cured blood orange skins, paired with a side of pibil, creme fraiche and a plate of Fresno chili and tortillas was the most colorful Hamachi Collar I have ever seen. The well-prepared meat easily came off the collarbone and paired perfectly with the tortillas and Fresno chili for a pretty fancy taco. Paired with 2015 Stolpman La Cuadrilla Grenache/Syrah/Sangiovese from Santa Ynez-Ballard Canyon AVA, CA 🇺🇸

Wagyu Navel

Now for my favorite dish of the night, Wagyu Navel. I was so curious about the ash, charcoal potatoes, soubise, and burnt leek in this dish. It was phenomenal! I savored every bite and took my time enjoying the flavors resonating in my mouth. I mentioned to Chef Malone that I hope it stays on the menu. Paired with 2013 Ramírez de la Piscina Crianza Tempranillo from Rioja 🇪🇸

Pot de Creme

We were nearing the end and our last and final tasting came before us as Pot de Creme. It was well done with the puffed rice and saltiness mixed in the horchata foam over the ancho chili and espresso. Some were ready to steal the plates of those who were taking their time eating their dessert.

Over the course of the evening, I learned that Chef Malone moved from Boston to California to ski when he was just 18 years old. Though he learned about cooking from his father, he was a pro skier for a bit before he found his passion for cooking—which he now shares with us! I loved this updated take on classic American steakhouse cuisine and I know the Crossings regulars will welcome it too!

Whole Roasted Sicilian Style Branzino

Whole roasting a fish intimidated me for a long time. Clean out the insides? No thanks. It sounded a little too chef-y.  Far beyond my capabilities. Or, so I told myself.

But, a few years back, I was craving a dish my family made for years.  So, I decided if my Nonni can do it, so can I.  Now whole-roasting is one of my absolute favorite ways to prepare multiple types of fish!  Overcoming kitchen fears is the best!

If you are new to whole roasting fish, branzino (also, called Mediterranean sea bass) is a great place to start! It’s small in size and has a wonderful flaky white flesh! Due to prevalence on restaurant menus and increasing popularity, its easy to find at fish markets and specialty grocers year-round – regardless of where you live!

Branzino are native to Mediterranean waters although most of what’s available in North America is farmed off the coast of Greece. Nonetheless, this fish and method of preparation are extremely popular throughout the Mediterranean region – including where my family is from in Sicily! Using a simple salt crust technique to lock in the moisture, we can roast a moist, tender, flaky, and flavorful result every time!  Gorgeous, healthy, flavorful, and roasts to perfection in only 20 minutes; what’s not to love?

Lets get started!  The video shows the step-by-step method, and the full recipe is listed below!

Whole Roasted Sicilian Style Branzino

35 minutes, 2 servings per fish

For the Branzino:

1 – 1.5 lb. whole branzino (per 2 persons)*

½ tsp. kosher salt

½ sliced small lemon

½ small shallot, thinly sliced

2 fresh mint sprigs

kitchen twine

parchment lined baking sheet

For salt crust:

2 large egg whites

~ 1 lb. kosher salt

For serving:

2 tbsp. balsamic reduction**

1 tbsp. + drizzle high quality extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tsp.)

2 tbsp. freshly chopped mint leaves

juice from ½ lemon, divided

zest from ½ lemon

freshly cracked black pepper

½ tsp. plus more for seasoning

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Roasted Asparagus:

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

½ lb. asparagus spears, ends trimmed

2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

mint leaves for garnish

*At most seafood markets and specialty grocers, you can request that they gut the fish for you. Just make sure that they leave the tail and head alone! The fish must remain whole to lock in moisture!

**To make balsamic reduction, place ¼ c. balsamic vinegar on stovetop over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium, swirling every minute or so, continue to simmer for 4-5 more minutes until balsamic has reduced by about half (this will yield 2 tbsp.). Immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside. This can be done up to 2 days ahead if desired. Store in an airtight container if making ahead.

Arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

If your fish has not already been gutted: make an incision from the belly side beginning just below the head and continuing to the tail end. Remove all guts and organs. Rinse inside and outside of the fish clean.

Once your fish has been gutted, season the inside of cleaned branzino with salt.  Arrange slices of lemon, sprigs of mint, and thin slices of shallots inside each fish.  Secure by wrapping fish with kitchen twine. (This step can be completed up to 2 hours ahead if wrapped and refrigerated.)

On a separate rimmed baking sheet, place trimmed asparagus, 1 tbsp. olive oil, ½ tsp. kosher salt, minced garlic cloves, and the small sliced shallot. Toss to coat asparagus. Set aside.

To make the paste for the salt crust, use a fork to combine about 1 lb. of salt with enough egg white to form a paste in a bowl.  For me, this was 2 large egg whites.  Spread a thin layer of the salt paste on the parchment paper lining the prepared baking sheet. You only need to cover the surface area where the fish will lay. This should use about 1/2 of the salt paste. Then place fish on top of salt paste layer and arrange remaining salt paste over the top of the fish in a thin layer. You want to cover the entire surface area of fish because the paste forms the crust that locks in both flavor and moisture.

Transfer both baking sheets to the oven and roast for about 20 minutes.  Roast fish on top rack and asparagus on bottom rack. After 20 minutes, remove fish from oven! Give asparagus a turn and roast 5 minutes longer.

Allow fish to rest for 4-5 minutes before removing the salt crust.  Use your hands and dull knife to peel away the salt crust.  It should come off very easily and often in large sections.  Discard salt crust.

Remove asparagus form the oven.

Remove the twine and try to remove as many additional bits of the salt crust as possible from the fish. Work carefully so that the fish doesn’t completely fall apart.

Transfer branzino onto the baking sheet with the asparagus. Working with one side at a time, make an incision down the spine of the fish and near the fish’s tail, so that the skin can easily be peeled and rolled away from the meat. Roll the skin away until you reach the fin/gill region. The fish’s skin worked hard to lock in the fish’s moisture and flavor in the oven. The combination of the steamed flesh and the skin’s contact with the salt paste will make it very easily peel off of the fish’s tender flaky tasty flesh. Carefully flip the fish over and repeat this step on the other side.

On a 1 – 1.5 lb. fish, the meat from one side of the fish is about one serving.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle of olive oil, pinch of kosher salt and Himalayan pink salt, chopped mint leaves, lemon zest, and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with roasted asparagus and crispy shallots. Garnish with slice of lemon and a few mint leaves.

Enjoy!

XO,

Maria


Don’t forget to share your recipe photos on Instagram by tagging @girlsonfoodblog and @almostproperly. We love seeing what you make!

 

Supra: Georgian Cuisine in D.C.

The last time I was in D.C. (2012), I spent the summer there, and while I ate a lot of good food that time, the food scene in the District has changed considerably – in a good way. Since I was in town for a wedding, I made sure to hit up restaurants and museums while I was there for the weekend. The scene is lit – the food is on another level. Thankfully I have a cousin who lives there and she recommended we try out Georgian cuisine – a first for any of us.

Supra
1205 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
https://www.supradc.com/

Supra opened a month before I got there, and it’s Washington D.C.’s first Georgian restaurant. The owners, Jonathan and Laura Helms, have a deep appreciation for Georgian cuisine, having traveled and lived in Russia and Georgia throughout their career and even dined at the now executive chef’s restaurant in Tbilisi, Georgia. Executive Chef Malkhaz Maisashvili, former chef of the Embassy of Georgia, wanted to introduce D.C. to the cuisine’s stews and soup dumplings, among other things while also putting a modern twist on the cuisine.

Supra – the name, that is – means both a Georgian traditional tablecloth as well as an abundant Georgian feast. When you enter the restaurant, there are unique interior touches that pay homage to the culture, but it’s also a modern fine dining space. Luckily, Supra takes reservations (a rarity in San Francisco) so we walked right in and made our way to our table. The chef was walking around and also taking orders, so we asked for recommendations – and he suggested to try the imported Georgian sodas. Happy I tried them, but not really my thing, stick with your usual beverage of choice.

Georgian cuisine has a lot of similarities to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food, so it’s something I’m very familiar with. Supra is family style and small plates, so we ordered small plates from the “hot” section. I mean, it was December, so it was cold. We started off with the Elarji, cornmeal and cheese croquettes with almond sauce and red ajika. Ajika is a spicy dip; it reminds me of spicy chutneys that are often found in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisine, especially Afghan food. The croquettes were delicious and the cheese was nice and stringy. We also ordered Kale Moshushuli, which was sautéed kale, garlic and svanuri salt. I thought this would have more unique flavor, but it ended up being a standard sautéed kale.

Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian dish that is essentially cheese-filled bread. Supra offers several variations, ones filled with vegetables, eggs, and meat. It immediately caught my eye, not only because it’s bread (I love carbs), but because of the “puri” part in the word. In Pakistani cuisine, puris are a flaky, quickly deep fried bread, so if it had any similarity then I was sold. We ordered the Pkhlovani, which has spinach and cheese. It’s much thicker than paper thin puris, but it’s packed with cheese and spinach. I would liken it to a calzone, and Georgians actually prefer Khachapuri to pizza.

And this is the reason we came – Khinkali, Georgian soup dumplings. I know soup dumplings are extremely popular Chinese cuisine (xiaolongbao), so it was cool to see the Asian influence in Georgian food. This was my first time having any type of soup dumpling, so I was very excited. It comes out on a tray with a small cup of water with a lemon and a pepper grinder. To eat (according to our waiter), you dip your hands into the water bowl to wet your fingers, hold the soup dumpling by the top and carefully bite in. Then you slurp the broth and meat inside! I’m not totally sure if this is the “correct” way to eat it, but we did it. The table across from us was watching us to see how we did it – maybe we were just making fools of ourselves… haha. Either way, the broth had a hearty beefy flavor and very comforting on a cold day. And it’s also addicting.

And finally, we ordered two kebabs – the Chicken, marinated in sour cream and served with alike and tkemali, and Lamb, marinated in yogurt with alike and tkemali. Tkemali is a sour plum sauce. The lamb was delicious and cooked perfectly but the chicken was just okay. We didn’t order any larger plates since we had so many things on our table.

Supra is definitely worth checking out. It’s fun to try a new and underexposed cuisine, and I always enjoy seeing the commonalities and influences from other cultures!

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!

Lauren’s Last Bite Takes Over London

There’s no need to dread turning 35 if you do it with an epic trip to London. Turn up!! Turn up!! If you read any of my previous posts, you will recall I was living in Puerto Rico. I have since relocated back to Washington D.C. I love to travel as often as I can, but I am frugal. I would much rather spend my hard-earned moolah on food and cocktails! It is cheaper to book a flight out of NYC to London, which gave me the opportunity to try the ‘Purple Amethyst Latte’ at The End in Brooklyn. This vegan latte was a berry-infused, antioxidant rich, mood lifting drink with ube and a touch of lavender honey! This coffee shop offers a couple of energizing drinks as alternatives to coffee at their “Plant Alchemy Bar”. They are also famous for their ‘Unicorn Latte’.

Upon landing in London, a city known for its abundance of Michelin starred restaurants, I didn’t know which one to choose.  Luckily there were a few near my hotel. Another plus about London’s bevy of Michelin starred restaurants is that most of them are open for lunch and offer a prix fixe option that won’t blow your food budget. Unfortunately, I have a food budget AND a drink budget. My drink budget has been known to be loftier than my food budget. I chose the Typing Room’. It was modern, sleek, yet still approachable. I ‘day-dressed up’, but other diners were more casually dressed.  The food was stellar and the open kitchen gave way to a wonderful show. It was raining (duh, I was in London) and I ate a little heavier than usual for lunch. Venison, braised cabbage two ways with yogurt and demi-glace. The venison was so tender that no knife was needed.

Venison Medallions, Cabbage 2 ways, Spiced Yogurt and Demi Glace

Blown away by the service, food and the experience at Typing Room, I couldn’t leave London without checking another Michelin starred restaurant off my list. I love some fusion and StreetXO was highly recommended. This was a Spanish/Asian fusion. Ok, I can dig it. No surprise I started with a celebratory drink. They had me at vodka, St. Germain and that big a** glass. StreetXO has a variety of tasting menus, but being alone I was able to order a la carte. YAY!!! I had the “club” sandwich. Being a former Boricua, I couldn’t resist a croquette. These were a perfect mix of Spanish/Asian fusion: kimchi, raw salmon, trout roe, Lapsang Souchong tea, and sheep’s milk. These were perfect from the first dribble-down-your-chin-I-don’t-care-I-am-in-public bite. It was THAT good. The menu looked so good. I want to go back with more people and devour the entire menu…twice!  Most of the clientele were Spaniards. I loved this, because you know if natives are eating there it is legit. This also let me know how far my Spanish has regressed since living in Puerto Rico. 

“Club Sandwich” from StreetXO
Croquettes with kimchi, trout roe

I fell for the hype and went to the ICEBAR in London. It is exactly what you imagine…a bar with everything made of ice: the bar, the glassware, the seats, EVERYTHING. I’m guessing it’s an improbability that they ever run out of ice.  At the door you are greeted with ski jackets to keep you insulated in the constant brisk -5 Celsius temperature. It’s as cold as it sounds and your jacket comes with gloves attached. BRRRRRRR. I’m having cold flashbacks. It was a cool spot (literally and figuratively). The bar is sponsored by ABSOLUT and each year the inside has a different theme. When I visited it was a zoo them. Gorillas, zebras and tigers, oh my! I’ll be honest, I was a bit too cold to take it all in. Even the cute bartender with the sexy, South African accent couldn’t coax me into staying. Look me up when you have a job in a temperate climate.

treacle tart

As always, I will conclude with my last bite. I will go back to London for the ‘treacle tart’ from Boxcar Butcher and Grill. From my understanding, treacle is term for molasses, but is also slang for sweetheart. This tart had a sweet/salty combo from a dusting of caramel corn. All I can say is, “WTF?” Where’s the Food?

Cute Bartender @Icebar in London

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!

Dinner in DTLA: The Mighty

The intersection of 2nd and Main in Downtown Los Angeles is becoming quite the foodie stretch with The Edison, Badmaash, Redbird and now, The Mighty.

From the moment you walk in, it’s tough to not acknowledge that owners Quinn and Karen Hatfield (Odys + Penelope, The Sycamore Kitchen) have one of the most Instagram-able restaurants in LA. The tiles are so cute, it’s impossible to keep your phone down when you’re here, but I had to focus on the food and stop taking pictures of my feet…eventually.

I have this thing with floors…

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A Taste of Napa at The One and Only Palmilla Resort in San José del Cabo

The One and Only Palmilla resort in San José del Cabo, located in the southernmost tip of Mexico on the Baja Peninsula, is as close to paradise as you can get. This exclusive ocean side resort provides butler service, immaculate and lush resort grounds and ocean views so stunning that during the winter months you can see whales and dolphins from the comfort of your room! It’s so exclusive that it’s not abnormal to find yourself in the company of celebrities and boasts two restaurants by Michelin rated-chef Jean George Vongerichten and a third by Chef Larbi Darouch who apprenticed with the legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin beginning at age 13. The only thing that would make this experience even better would be to bring in a three Michelin star-rated chef from Napa for a pop-up dinner.

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A Mexico City Classic: San Ángel Inn

Since 1325, Mexico City has been a marvelous place full of so many surprises. One of the delightful sites are the hacienda like restaurants, right in the middle of this crazy busy metropolis.

One that has been around for a couple centuries is the forever classic San Ángel Inn. Located in the beautiful and traditional neighborhood of San Angel this restaurant not only allows one to believe you’re away from a big city but also delights with its delicious food, perfect service, mesmerizing decor and beautiful music.

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Maize Runner in Toronto: Arepa Guys

Arepa Guys is run by two buds, Moises and Jorge, who currently serve up arepas on the weekends. Situated within a local convenience store, Arepa Guys offers authentic Venezuelan arepas with their own twist. Although they have a set menu, they also offer a special every week which is updated on their Instagram account. HINT: go follow them now. The specials give you a different treat each time you visit. You can also mix and match different fillings to create your own custom Venezuelan creation!

Arepa Guys
9587 Weston Road, Woodbridge, Ontario L4H 3A5
https://www.instagram.com/arepaguys/

Owners and Buds: Moises (left) and Jorde (right)

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