Saturday, 22 November 2014

Season's Christmas Show

Location: 6900 Airport Road, Mississauga, ON L4V 1E8, Canada
I wasn't sure whether I should put up this post about a Christmas Show, but I really enjoyed my experience here (with interesting seminars and presentations). Therefore, I thought I'd put up a post that deviates from my usual food posts about places I've eaten at. 
My friend had tickets to the Season's Christmas Show (Nov 21 - 23, 2014), so we went to the International Center to check it out. As we were wandering around the hall, we were freely enjoying the samples and promotional sales until we got to the center and saw the Cheese Seminar. Jackpot! Free cheese samplings and an information session on cheese all in one? Sign me up! (Actually it was 'line up 20 minutes before the session starts to get in')
The seminar location led by a representative form teh Dairy Farmers of Canada
Note taking sheet
There are 3 ways to describe cheese: raw, pasterized and thermalized. 

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Baguette accompaniment to cleanse the palate between cheeses
The cheese list: 
1) Bella Casara Ricotta by Quality Cheese was the winner of the best cheese in the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2013. It was the first Ontario cheese to win and it was also the first fresh cheese to the competition. When they served us the sample in the spoon, they paired it with some cabernet franc ice syrup to add some sweetness. The cheese was delicate and balanced: not sweet, sour or bitter and despite looking a little lumpy, it went down pretty smooth.
2) Dofino Creamy Havarti by Arla Food was semi soft, mild and a tiny bit sour - but it wasn't bitter or sweet. I learned that washing the curd releases the whey and softens the acidity.
3) L'Ancetre's light mild cheddar was one of my favourites. It's a certified organic and lactose free cheese using unpasturized/raw milk. It had a rubbery texture from the skim milk and had a lot of flavour for a mild cheddar. I learned that if you use whole milk, the texture of the cheese is not as rubbery and aged cheddar forms a dry crumbly texture.
4) COWS Inc.'s Extra Old Cheddar had big flavour: it even lingered long after I finished the cheese.
5) Empire Cheese's caramelized onion cheddar was made with real sauteed onions in the cheese that made a strong impact on the medium cheddar.
6) Mountain Oak Cheese (which is a farmstead producer) had a cheese called Wild Nettle Gouda which was a hard and firm cheese with bold and strong flavours. Fun cheese fact: ivory coloured cheeses are aged cheeses.
Lots of fun and a great learning experience - I learned much more about cheeses and had enjoyed trying everything.

Also, at 4pm, there was a Purdy's Master Chocolatier teaching us about different chocolates from around the world and demonstrating how to make ice wine truffles. 

Zet's Restaurant

Location: 6445 Airport Rd, Mississauga, ON L4V 1S8, Canada
October 23, 2011
(Photo courtesy of Google Streetview)

I LOVE Zet's!! It's a super far drive for me to get there but it's totally worth the long trip out to Pearson airport for their burgers and chicken souvlaki. They make a great Tzatziki sauce and you can put the sauce on your burger too! (I substitute it for mayonnaise and ketchup in my burger). The portions are HUGE and you really get bang for your buck there. A hamburger (with a 5 oz patty) is $3.80 and a 8 oz Homeburger is $5.50 and they're put on massive toasted buns and garnished just the way you like it (don't forget the Tzatziki sauce!!!). The chicken souvlaki is $13.95 but it's huge! you have a separate plate of salad and these massive overgrown potatoes (double the size of Jimmy the Greek's).

Overall: I definitely recommend this place. It's super convenient if you're ever near the International Center or just near the airport - it's open 24 hours and it's quick service, what more could you ask for???
November 22, 2014
Finally! I've been meaning to come back to Zet's for years! (1) Because whenever I talk about burgers, I somehow always bring up Zet's and (2) They have amazing burgers and they make it even better with their tzatziki sauce. The problem? They're in Mississauga near the airport which is pretty far for me. Despite all my trips, I'm always in too much of a rush to and from the airport to actually swing by Zet's and grab a meal.
8oz homeburger
8oz Homeburger
The classic! A huge burger patty with fresh ingredients and a butter and toasted bun. And of course I got the Tzatziki sauce which just made it so much better! It's still as good as I remember! The prices went up a bit, but the portions are the same gigantic size.

Banquet burger with cheese and bacon
Banquet Burger with cheese and bacon

Zet's Drive-Inn Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bite Bar

Location: 57 Elm Street, Toronto, ON M5G 1H3, Canada
June 28, 2013

There was quite a bit of publicity early this year on Bay Street about Bite Bar. They also had a Buytopia promotion where you could pay $15 for $30 worth of food. My coworker and I decided to give it a shot.
Cute menu: 

I started off easy with 3 bites:
3 bites and a marshmallow bar
In order from right to left:
1) Mint: The mint icing was thick and heavy. It was a little overwhelming for a bite and would have been nicer with a lighter fluffier chocolate cake. 
1) Cookies and cream: light icing and sprinkled cookie crumbs on top. I thought this one was okay.
3) Lemon: the icing tasted a bit like dish soap and it was too thick and heavy for the cake. However, I found the lemon cake was really lovely and light.
4) Cookies and cream marshmallow bar was really sweet with all that white chocolate and rice krispies.

12 bites
Row 1: Cookies and Cream, Strawberry Lemonade, Just Bite It and PB&J
Row 2: Banana Splitz, Red Velvet, C Cup, Mocha Chocolate
Row 3: Mint Chocolate, Strawberry, Lemon and Red Velvet
5) Strawberry lemonade: This bite was really delicious! The sweetness of the strawberry icing really brought out the tangy delicate lemon cake and it was the perfect complement. My favourite bite of the day.
6) Just Bite It: The signature bite with thick raspberry icing and light vanilla cake. I didn't really taste the vodka in the icing, but I thought it was a nice summery dessert.
7) PB&J: A peanut butter and jam cupcake. I only got a little bit of jam because the peanut butter taste stood out, but I really liked the vanilla cinnamon cake underneath it all.
8) Banana Splitz: banana cake with chocolate icing. Maybe I just missed it, but I didn't taste the strawberry puree or caramel icing.
9) Red Velvet: It was a nice take on a simple and classic flavour. The cake was moist and good, but the cream cheese icing was a little too subtle.
10) C cup: Double Chocolate threat with the chocolate icing and chocolate cake (no sprinkles in sight here). Very rich and decadent for chocolate lovers.
11) Mocha chocolate: Ooh caffeine...straight from the coffee bean on top. A hint of caramel from the icing, but the cake was mostly lost on me from the aromatic coffee bean.
12) Strawberry: A nice light flavour of strawberry in the cake with a heavy vanilla butter cream (slightly overpowering) and I found the pink sugar crystals made it a lot sweeter.

Overall: Cute concept and cute store. It's only $1 for a mini indulgence every once in a while.

November 20, 2014

I came back to try the South Indian coffee after another coworker mentioned it. 
South Indian coffee
Blended hazelnut coffee with warm milk and sugar, topped with cocoa. 
I could definitely taste the hazelnut coffee, and I thought it was really nicely done with warm milk and spices. A great drink for a really chilly day!
Bite Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

7 Numbers (Midtown)

Location: 516 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto, ON M5N 1A5, Canada
7 Numbers on Eglinton is actually one of two restaurants owned by the Marinuzzi family. The website is great! It gives off the impression that you're going to eat real classic and homey Italian food with a friendly Italian family.

My friend and I decided to go family style for $30 per person so we get to try all these different menu items with antipasti, primi and secondi (and contorni)
Calamari with lemon on the right and beet gorgonzola almond salad, caprese salad and arugula and pepper goat cheese salad
The calamari portion was really more than I expected and it had a nice simple and clean flavour with the lemon and sauce.  I liked everything on the salad plate - very distinct and strong flavours from the two salads: the gorgonzola cheese and beets with balsamic was done quite well and the peppery arugula and goat cheese was nice too.

First pasta course: veal lasagna, farfalle with ricotta and linguine with rapini
The lasagna is one of the dishes they're known for and it was probably one of the best lasagnas I've had. I didn't know fresh pasta could make such a difference until I tasted this - I was really wowed by it - each bite just seemed to melt-in-your-mouth! The veal was the perfect meat to add into this lasagna too because it complemented the soft pasta and the lightly tangy sauce just brought it all together. So good!!! I definitely have to come back for more.
The farfalle and linguine were both cooked to a perfect al dente and were good, but I think the lasagna just eclipsed everything else on the plate.

More food! Onto the meats like the carnivores we are...
Grilled Pork Chop and Osso Buco
Top: Osso Buco, asparagus and salad and Maile (grilled pork chop)
The osso bucco was tender and covered with a onion and tomato sauce which suited it. The pork chop was a LOT of meat - especially after those other courses we had. It was seasoned and grilled perfectly with roasted red peppers on top. Everything was really well done!

Overall: Fantastic place for simple and classic Italian food (no fancy fiddleheads or stinging nettle here). It's almost rustic in its simplicity and it seems like one of those great Italian restaurants using recipes passed down through generations. The service was great and the food was even better - the best part was I didn't have to break the bank eating everything I wanted off the menu! :D

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup & Bibimbap

Location: 5865 Leslie Street, North York, ON M2H 1W8, Canada
I've been craving Ginseng Chicken soup for the last few weeks. It was probably because (1) I've been watching way too many Korean Dramas and (2) thinking back on my recent trip to South Korea and the amazing Ginseng Chicken soup I had in Seoul).
After asking around, we found Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup and Bibimbap on Leslie Street.
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Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup & Bibambap Menu
I was a little surprised that not everyone in the restaurant was ordering the Ginseng Chicken soup that they're named for.
Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup (samgyetang)
The soup came out bubbling hot with a bowl of noodles on the side.
The bowl was huge! I definitely didn't expect that, but it was also a little deceiving too since the chicken looked really tiny in comparison to the bowl.
The chicken was a little bland in flavour and there wasn't a lot of ginseng stuffed into the chicken, but it was present. Compared to the one I had in Seoul, it needed more chicken essence, spice and vegetables to make it taste better. However, it did deliver the simple and traditional samgyetang soup that I wanted and it satisfied my craving.
The side dishes were really good! Especially the tofu and chapchae - we ordered a lot more servings of those.
Hot Stone Bibambap
Very pretty! It was good and the hot stone was actually hot enough to make the rice stick to the sides of the bowl so that some of the rice had a bit of a crust to it.

Overall: The Ginseng Chicken Soup was pretty good - it's not as great as the one I had in Seoul, but it'll do. On the other hand, the side dishes I had here were much better than most of the side dishes I had in South Korea.

Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup & Bibambap on Urbanspoon