Tag Archives: cheese

What I ate last week

Disclaimer: this post is not about chocolate. I’m sorry. I know you’re all eagerly awaiting another snarky post about some chocolatier gone wrong, but you’ll just have to wait.

In the meantime, I present you with a list of things that I ate last week while showing a friend around the city. Split this list between two people…and it’s still a ridiculous amount of food. Also bear in mind that we walked the equivalent of a marathon (42 km, or 26 miles) and hiked up Grouse Mountain last week, so I think we worked off a few of the calories that we ingested.

Without further ado, this is what I ate last week, in the order that my memory came up with:

  • 6 xiao long bao
  • 9 spicy wontons
  • 1 bowl of spicy beef noodle soup with hand-pulled noodles
  • 3 turnip cakes in rice flour pastry
  • 1 cone of pink grapefruit-campari sorbetto
  • 1 cup of passionfruit guava sorbetto
  • 10 crepes with summer berry compote
  • 1 grilled cheese sandwich (contained 4 kinds of cheese)
  • 1 fennel salad with candied walnuts
  • 1 bacon truffle
  • 1 raspberry truffle
  • 5 pieces salmon sashimi
  • 5 pieces tuna sashimi
  • 5 pieces toro sashimi
  • 2 negitoro cones
  • 1 spicy tuna cone
  • 1 scallop cone
  • 2 oysters motoyaki
  • 3 cubes agedashi tofu
  • 3 cubes spicy pan-fried tofu
  • 6 pieces BC rolls
  • 6 pieces avocado rolls
  • 6 pieces yam tempura
  • 6 pieces assorted vegetable tempura
  • 2 dishes neopolitan ice cream
  • 8 pieces toast
  • 6 eggs, scrambled
  • 10 slices of 4-year aged cheddar
  • 2 bowls of pho with rare beef and cooked flank
  • 2 deep-fried Vietnamese spring rolls
  • 2 Japadogs (one oroshi, one okonomi)
  • 2 bowls of my mom’s seafood soup
  • 2 desserts from Boneta: bowl of local cherries with Aztec chocolate ice cream, cherry foam and elderflower jelly; lemongrass baba with chantilly, local blackberries, blackberry sorbet and crispy cookie
  • 1 granola bar, kindly donated by a stranger on the Grouse Grind
  • 1 baguette
  • 1/2 wheel of Moonstruck Cheese ash-riped camembert
  • 1 bowl of kalamata olives
  • 1 homemade pithivier
  • 1 plate of Najib’s Special from nuba
  • 2 pistachio baklava
  • 8 shiu mai
  • 5 fish balls in curry sauce
  • 2 dishes fried noodles
  • 9 pieces of scallop and shrimp takoyaki
  • 1 skewer of grilled pan bread
  • 1 skewer barbecued shrimp
  • 1 skewer barbecued chicken
  • 1 custard-filled Taiwanese waffle cake
  • 1 sheet of egg-shaped waffle dessert thingies
  • 4 shrimp dumplings
  • 3 shrimp rolls
  • 3 pieces pan-fried turnip cake
  • 3 pea shoot dumplings
  • 3 shrimp-chive pan-fried dumplings
  • 2 apple tarts
  • countless bowls of fresh Okanagan fruit (cherries, blueberries, apricots)
  • handfuls of wild blackberries, plucked off spiky vines wherever we found them

And this is what we drank (it isn’t nearly as impressive a list):

  • 1 taster glass of each of three kinds of artisan sake
  • 2 glasses of Joie rose (tastes like summer in a glass)
  • 2 bottles of Powerade from the top of Grouse Mountain
  • 4 perfect cocktails made by Simon at Voya
  • 2 bottles of Ganton & Larsen Prospect Winery Ogopogo’s Lair pinot grigio
  • 1 juicebox of lychee juice
  • 1 cup of Hong Kong style coffee & tea
  • countless cups of coffee (including a stop at Elysian)
  • 1 coconut, juice and pulp
  • 1 cup of drinking chocolate

Looks like a week of salad and iced tea. Anything green, really. I think I might have scurvy.

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If this is bad, I don’t want to be good.

Sometimes, the universe is subtle and coy. And other days, it literally hits you over the head and asks why you have your eyes closed.

I was walking home last night and had an insatiable craving for a grilled cheese sandwich. Now, I went on a grilled cheese kick about a month ago, where I couldn’t get enough of artisan sourdough, whole-grain mustard and a delicious mixture of Gruyere, Emmenthal and caraway Havarti.

Well.

Last night, I was craving a grilled cheese sandwich made of Wonderbread and Kraft Singles. Thankfully, the grocery store was closed. Another disaster averted.

And this afternoon on Ye Olde Twitter? @fizzpoptweet asked people to name their top guilty pleasures. Okay, universe, I get it. Guilty pleasures.

Read more about it in my post for Foodists.

Czehoski: creme brulee that doesn’t suck

While I was in Toronto a few weeks ago, I met up with some friends from grad school. One lives in Montreal, the other in London (Ontario, that is). And all the stars aligned and our paths crossed in the T-dot. How about that.

We met at Czehoski, a place too hip for its own good. Having said that, I love it just a little bit. The food is great, the wine list thoughtful, and the space cozy. The service is a little more…relaxed than I would like, but no matter. It just means that you can linger as long as you like – which we did. We lingered for six hours, gossiping and re-living our glory days. You know, the days when I wasn’t pining for my bed at 11pm.

Their composed salad changes daily, and that day it was arugula with quail’s eggs, parmesan and pancetta. The pancetta was so crispy it nearly disintegrated into a powder of salty pork goodness on my tongue. If that’s not enough, the Czehoski burger is insanely good. The patty is juicy and beefy, and quite possibly laced with crack.

For dessert, I was skeptical of the so-called “chocolate ganache” until it came to the table. It is exactly that: discs of chocolate ganache, served with bits of seafoam and crushed pistachios. It’s not exactly conventional, but it really was delicious. The tarte tatin was a little bit disappointing. The apples were cooked but not caramelized, and the pastry was a bit soggy.

Now, generally speaking, I’ve got a beef with restaurant creme brulee. There are so many things to get right. I’m looking for a perfectly smooth, perfectly cooked, unctuous custard, served cold. On top, there should be the thinnest possible layer of caramelized (not burnt) sugar that shatters when you take a spoon to it.

Most places don’t get all those things right, probably because most places don’t have a dedicated pastry chef. Most restaurants make the garde manger do double duty: after the salads and cold appetizers go out, then it’s time for the desserts. Really, do you think it takes the same kind of mindset to make a salad (as beautiful as some salads are) as it does to make and present a beautiful dessert?

That’s another post in itself.

Anyway, this creme brulee was beautiful. It was immaculate. It was perfect. In fact, it was so perfect that I got over my pastry snobdom, had a spoonful, and swooned. And then ignored the fact that the restaurant charged $6 for it when I know full well I can make it at home for a fraction of the cost.

But hey, I’ll pick my battles.

Czehoski
678 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON
(416) 366-6787
Czehoski on Urbanspoon

Frasca: food, wine, and chocolate

“I always pick the second least expensive wine on the menu.”

I went with my friend Mark to Frasca, and he picked the bottle of wine. As you can see, Mark is a very discerning wine drinker. Lest you he’s a total plebe, he picked a lovely Cotes du Rhone that tasted like blackberries, smoke and spice. Nom.

Frasca’s beautiful. Once you get past the slightly confusing black curtain in the entrance, you find yourself in a wood-panelled room full of beautiful people and delirious smells. Aside from that, you might want to eat there because of the restaurant’s, for lack of a better word, pedigree. Among other accolades, co-owner Chef Lachlan MacKinnon-Patterson won the 2008 James Beard award for best chef in the southwestern US. Co-owner and wine director Bobby Stuckey is a Master Sommelier. Oh, and they met while working at The French Laundry. Huh.

Anyway, back to food. The market salad was clean and bright, with nice acidity. Garnished with two kinds of cheese and beauitfully salty salami, it was a great start to the meal. I’ll admit, though, that Mark’s braised lamb dish was exceptional.

Mark’s next course was a duck thigh ravioli, which was as delicious as it sounds. I had a lobster pasta alla guitara, thin noodles (think angel hair pasta, but with a fancier name) tossed with lobster and lemon. Rich, redolent and succulent, this dish could have been the end of the night and I would have gone home happy.

Of course, I kept going. We both got the Colorado beef shoulder, which was so. freaking. good. Enrobed in a salty, sweet, rich and acidic jus, the beef was cooked to exactly medium, all seared and crusty on the outside. Served on a ricotta cream with meaty mushrooms that soaked up all the jus, it was tasty. And then some.

For dessert, I had the house special bombolini, otherwise known as warm, deep-friend pillows of delicious. With a passionfruit centre in the middle and dusted with icing sugar, the bombolini looked a bit like doughy eggs. Served with homemade vanilla ice cream, the hot-cold combination was beautiful. Mark’s chocolate peanut butter torta was a peanut butter mousse on luscious chocolate cake, with banana ice cream.

And because that wasn’t enough, I insisted on getting a plate of house chocolates. More on those tomorrow.

Frasca Food & Wine
1738 Pearl St
Boulder, CO
303-442-6966
Frasca Food & Wine on Urbanspoon

Osteria Marco makes a mean pizza

From the street, Osteria Marco looks more like a tea shop or gourmet food store than a restaurant. Once inside, the hostess leads you down the winding staircase to the cavernous, but not oppressive, dark-panelled basement dining room. Looking at the room, you wouldn’t even know that we’re in the midst of a recession. It was buzzing on a Tuesday night.

Since we were a large group, we were given a prix fixe menu to choose from. I started with a baby arugula salad, smartly dressed with a simple vinaigrette and finished with toasted baby pine nuts and currants. The arugula was delicate and didn’t have its typical bite, and the pine nuts provided a lovely nuttiness and richness to the salad. There were a few too many currants for my liking, but they did provide a sweet contrast to the dish.

The main course was touted as a margherita pizza from their wood-fired oven, but the menu didn’t say that it was going to be 14″ in diameter. I would have liked the crust to be a wee bit crisper, but aside from that it was delicious. The tomatoes were rich and meaty (San Marzano tomatoes, I’m sure), the basil nice and bright, and the mozzarella fresh and gooey. After trying to hock a few pieces of pizza to my dining companions, I ended up taking half of the pizza home with me.

The dessert menu was a little uninspired, but I was also so full of pizza that dessert wasn’t an option.

The kicker: all this food (including next day’s breakfast in leftovers), plus a glass of wine, came in at $20 including tax and a generous tip.

Osteria Marco
1453 Larimer Street
Denver, CO
(303) 534-5855
Osteria Marco on Urbanspoon

‘Wichcraft is a lifesaver

The thing with travelling is that sometimes you can’t be picky. Sometimes you’re surrounded by tourist traps and fast food, and you just want something good. Not fancy, not expensive, just good.

Well, if you’re in New York City, you can rely on ‘Wichcraft. I thank my stars that Tom Colicchio started this chain of shops that serves fresh, tasty soups and sandwiches at a great price point.

When I was there, I ordered the tuna sandwich on baguette. They manage to toast the baguette without making it all crunchy and painful to eat. The tuna was nicely accented with thinly sliced fennel and lemon, which made the whole thing fresh and bright. I also had a cauliflower soup with parsley oil. The taste and texture were exactly what they should have been.

They serve bread sticks on the side, which is cute. The walls are covered in giant food photography (can you say food porn?), and there’s a great selection of pop culture, fashion and food magazines to read while you’re munching away.

I wish I had tried the grilled fontina with morels and truffles, but oh well.

Note that the location at 60 E. 8th Street is dangerously close to Broadway Panhandler. Broadway Panhandler (65 E. 8th Street) is a fantastic kitchen store – one that I could easily spend hours in.

‘Wichcraft
various locations
New York, NY (also San Francisco and Las Vegas)
'Wichcraft on Urbanspoon

Best of New York: John’s Pizzeria

John’s Pizzeria
(Greenwich Village)

My second cousin took me to John’s Pizzeria. I had to double-check the address with him, because there are tons of variations on the name in Greenwich Village. He impressed upon me that we weren’t just going for the best pizza in New York; we were going for The Best Pizza in New York.

To be fair, he didn’t give me a chance to try any of the impersonators in the neighbourhood, so I have no idea what the competitors were offering.

But John’s pizza is delicious. The thin crust is simultaneously crispy yet chewy. More amazingly, the crust actually tastes like something: like flour, yeast, and salt. We had a margherita pizza, with brightly fresh tomato sauce and basil. It was perfect. The tomato sauce is rich and full, just salty enough, and complements the crust beautifully.

We also had one with pepperoni and garlic, and another with anchovy and black olives. Both were good, but neither came close to the plain old tomato sauce and basil pizza.

Also, the Murray Cheese Company is just down the street at 254 Bleeker Street. They have a beautiful selection of cheese, meat and other goodies. Like chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

John’s Pizzeria
278 Bleecker Street, between Seventh Avenue and Jones Street
New York, NY
212-243-1680
John's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon