Girls on Food

Lunch

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!

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.

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!

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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Healthy Cioppino with Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

Up in the Pacific Northwest, we are officially entering the gray monotony of wet, cold, and miserable weather until spring. Which means its time for foods that warm me up! This usually puts what I am craving and what I should eat at a crossroads.

Carb-y creamy things may be delicious, but what about all those veggies I should be eating? Is anyone else feeling big time comfort food cravings as soon as the weather turns??

Instead of choosing between comfort food and health, I’m combining them with this cioppino! Its packed full of veggies, fish, fresh herbs, the most luscious broth, and an amazing secret flavor bomb ingredient: slow roasted cherry tomatoes! They are jammy and umami rich in the best possible way! They add incredible complexity and richness to the soup!

It’s the perfect light – yet filling – way to warm up on these cold wet days!!

Now, to the recipe!

Note: The soup is dairy free and gluten-free. The olive oil crostini is optional for serving!

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My Cuban Spot: Authentic Cuban Cuisine in NYC (FINALLY!)

As a proud Cuban-American, I am obsessed with my culture. It’s crazy that a place I’ve never been to holds such a special place in my heart. Cuban culture is unlike any other. I dream of one day visiting Cuba, but for now, I can only go by the stories I was told as a child and the delicious meals I grew up on, living in a Cuban household in Miami.

After all, food brought us together. Between my abuela’s best arroz con pollo on the weekends, sipping a Materva (Cuban soda) and feasting on the lechon (pork)  during noche buena (Christmas Eve), and pastelitos and croquetas from the Cuban bakery that were present at every one of my birthday parties—I was raised on Cuban cuisine!

Now that I am living in New York City, finding authentic Cuban food has been not just a challenge, but downright impossible. Everyone knows NYC is a melting pot of cultures and offers a plethora of cuisines. The best chefs, restaurants, and food in the world can be found here. But my biggest complaint—and that of any Cuban living in New York—will always be that you can’t find Cuban food like the kind you find in Miami in New York City. The places that try to come close are nowhere near as authentic. Needless to say, I have been disappointed in not being able to find these Cuban bites that I grew up on… until now!

My Cuban Spot
488 Carroll Street (Third Avenue) in Gowanus
Follow the fun on Instagram: @MyCubanSpot

I was skeptical of trying this new spot, given that every “Cuban” place in NY has been nothing short of a disappointment. But when a friend who was visiting NYC from Miami said one of our own (Miami people) opened it up and raved about it, I knew I had to check it out. So I made the trek to Brooklyn, with my Miami crew, to see how authentic this place really was. (more…)

Brunchin’ at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Toronto

 

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen provides an urban dining venue but yet provides a warm and intimate dining experience. The dishes created by Chef Donna Dooher will have you leaving with a new culinary curiosity and memory. Well known for their brunch, I just knew I had to check this place out one day and today is that day!

Mildred’s Temple Kitchen
85 Hanna Ave, Toronto, ON M6K 3S3
http://templekitchen.com
https://www.instagram.com/MildredTempleKitchen/

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Keeping It Lean at Universal CityWalk: Samba Brazilian Steakhouse

If you’re having a cheat day, Universal CityWalk is a foodie paradise, with grub-tastic options like VooDoo Doughnuts, Mini Monster and Pink’s Famous Hot Dogs. For those of us trying to keep within our daily calorie counters, the CityWalk is a little bit more of a challenge. However, I found the perfect casual lunch and dinner spot, which I recommend checking out, especially during Halloween Horror Nights. (so you can get your candy corn on without feeling guilty!)

Samba Brazilian Steakhouse is a Rodizio-buffet-styled restaurant, with all you can eat options on their fresh-off-the-grill meats.

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Wilbur Mexicana in Toronto

Wilbur Mexicana is where a group of friends can meet for drinks and a taco or even going out on your own for time alone. This is a spot where anyone and everyone is welcomed, while also offering cheap downtown eats with big flavour. Wilbur Mexicana is named after the chemist that discovered the Scoville scale of spicy heat, Wilbur Scoville. They offer an upscale but casual atmosphere serving up fast cheap eats that you would not expect in the downtown core.

Wilbur Mexicana
552 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M3
http://wilburmexicana.com
https://www.instagram.com/wilburmexicana/

Once you enter the restaurant there is a sign up on the menu board that states, “Wilbur first timers, grab a menu at the door”, when you read this, you look to your left and see some menus hanging off the side rack. Once you figure out what you want to indulge in, you simply order and pay at the cash where you give you a numbered placeholder that contains a photo of a cartoon pepper. If you are dining in, just grab a seat at a table to you prefer and sit pretty; if take out, sit comfy on a stool right next to the cash.

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Isabel’s Whole Roasted Chicken

There’s something about whole roasted chicken with it’s the perfect balance of herbs, spices and lemony aroma! It makes my heart sing and my tummy rumble with joy. It reminds me of all my favorite things; my mother’s house, fall, cozy nights playing cards with my family! Not only is it delicious, it’s also one of those meals that produce little baby meals all week long.

To me, the best part of roasted chicken is the crispy skin. I realize that might gross some people out, but when it’s cooked correctly, it’s delicious. This roasting method gets a nice crisp outside but keeps the meat nice and juicy on the inside. No dry white meat here! You can really use any combo of spices and herbs you want, but I personally love the combo in this recipe.

Serve your beautiful chicken with your favorite sides and you have a delicious dinner for the whole family. My favorite sides are quinoa or rice, steamed broccolini or roasted veggies, and a side salad!

Isabel’s Whole Roasted Chicken

1 organic, free range whole chicken (Mine was about 4 1/2 Lbs)
Tons of fresh rosemary
Two or three large garlic cloves
Lemon
1/2 white onion (optional)
Pink sea salt
Lemon pepper
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Paprika
Olive oil
Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F (If your oven runs hot or cold adjust it accordingly).
Pat chicken dry with a paper towel so the skin will get nice a crispy-steam=soggy skin.
The wings will be pointing up when cooking so starting on the bottom season starting with lemon.
After lemon, add olive oil and a good amount of spices.
Flip over and liberally season in the same way.
Stuff the used lemon halves, rosemary, garlic and onion inside the chicken.
Truss the legs of the chicken tightly. (Don’t skip this step!)
Bake covered for 25-30 minutes.
-Tip- be sure that the tin foil or lid doesn’t touch the chicken because when you take it off the skin will come off with it wherever it’s touching.
Baste with juices in the bottom of the pan and season with a little more lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt.
Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes or until internal temp is 165F and skin is crispy.
-I like the skin almost burnt, in some places, as you can see in this photo. If you want it a little less intense just turn down the heat a bit or “tent” with tin foil. This method allows the direct heat to be blocked without trapping steam, which will uncrisp the skin.
Let rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting to keep the juices from running out which will make your chicken dry. 
Once you’ve cooked a whole chicken the possibilities are endless as far as where to go next. Plain old leftovers, cold chicken salad, chicken sandwiches, and the best part…bone broth! The process of bone broth involves slow cooking the chicken bones in water with spices, herbs, and vegetables. This takes the nutrients from the marrow of the bones and the vegetables and makes an extremely nutritious broth that can be eaten alone or made into any soup that calls for chicken broth. Homemade is always best in my book! It adds such amazing flavor and depth to your soups that you’ll never go back to store bought!

The Top of Dallas: Mirador Restaurant

The question I’m asked the most is “What’s a good new restaurant in Dallas?” Fortunately for Dallas residents and visitors alike there are usually at least two new options every 6 months. In this case my new favorite spot is in downtown Dallas on the top floor of a very posh boutique (Forty Five Ten) with a terrace that overlooks the art piece that locals call “The Eyeball”.

The Eyeball.

Mirador
1608 Elm St., Dallas
http://www.mirador-dallas.com

I had a feeling that Mirador would be great simply because of the culinary backgrounds of the two collaborating chefs, Josh Sutcliffe (executive chef) and Nilton “Junior” Borges (executive chef of The Joule Hotel). Sutcliffe, most recently, was executive chef at Filament and before that worked at FT33, both led by Food and Wine’s Best New Chef-Southwest and James Beard nominee, Matt McCallister. Borges also had a stint at FT33 as an executive chef. Prior to that, he was executive chef at Uchi when they earned 5 stars from the Dallas Morning News. Uchi, by the way, is also owned and operated by another James Beard winner, Tyson Cole.

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