Peach Jalapeño Pops

Peach Jalapeño pops or paletas.

Paletas are Latin American ice pops made with fresh fruit. Apparently peaches and jalapeñoes are a very traditional Mexican combination but I thought it was very unique and interesting. This was the first recipe that, while browsing through the People’s Pop cookbook, I stopped turning the pages and knew this was one of the pops I had to make but unfortunately I hate to wait for peaches to be in season. Finally! August comes and Ontario peaches are overflowing in the grocery stores so I can make these delicious treats.

They are fleshy like a peach and flecked with orange and red from the gorgeous, soft peach skin. Because the skin is pureed you don’t get that terrible peach-sensation of eating a sweater. Through simmering the jalapeño with the simple syrup you really get the essence of the pepper rather than just the heat. By the end of the pop you definitely get some of that lip numbing  from eating something spicy sensation but this pop allows the actual sweetness of the pepper to shine through rather than just the spice.

These are delicious but I would suggest making them for a party rather than just for personal consumption. Every time you finish a pop you have had just enough of that flavour combination to be satisfied but after eating 4 or 5 over the course of a few days you are all popped out. These are definitely delicious but like all good things, should be enjoyed in moderation. I have included the recipe below the cut.

Happy munching!

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Last week I spent some time on Lake Huron at a cottage with my family. We spent the week going to the beach, watching sunsets and visiting picturesque towns along the coast line.

Sunset in Kincardine.

In Port Elgin we stopped in at an Italian restaurant called Rosina. I realize this isn’t a real link to the restaurant’s website, but this is as good as we are going to get regarding information about this place.

Every town, regardless of its size seems to have an Italian restaurant and luckily for Port Elgin, this is a good Italian restaurant. The interior is modern with rustic touches like the butcher block topped with a huge chunk of Parmesan cheese. Although it is nice inside, you can go in and be served looking  like a beach bum which is what we did. My favourite part of the aesthetic of this place is the little Nonna they have as their logo – she just captures Italian cuisine and eating perfectly.

I took pictures of the menu for my own purposes (I have been to too many small restaurants without websites and only realized it after the fact, forcing me to make up descriptions and ingredients) so I have included them in the off chance that someone from Port Elgin is looking for information. Based on the quality of the food we had that night, I can only assume this menu changes seasonally but I am sure there are some items on here that are year-round staples.

Amelia and Dad both ordered starters.

1. Dad ordered the Caesar Salad

Romaine hearts, crisp pancetta, anchovy croutons, parmigiano fricco, with roasted garlic and caper dressing. I love this parmigiano fricco that came with it. I think it’s a different way to incorporate parmesan into the dish. A modern take on a traditional and common salad.

2. Amelia started off with the Scallops

Pan-seared scallops, smashed avocado, garlic, arugula, pancetta, tomato and black olives in lemon thyme oil. I think it is interesting that they paired avocado with scallops and interesting in a good way. Avocado does not make its way into enough dishes even though it is completely fantastic.

For dinner Dad, Amelia and I ordered pizzas and Mom ordered veal.

1. Dad’s Funghi Pizza

Pizza Funghi with roasted portobello, button and porcini mushrooms, tomato and asiago cheese. I do apologize as this isn’t the greatest picture but it gives you the general idea that this pizza was loaded with mushrooms. Mushroom pizzas, when done right, are delicious. There are so many different types of mushrooms that we don’t get to use in our everyday cooking and a mushroom pizza really highlights the depth of flavour mushrooms are capable of. I liked that Rosina would feature different Italian cheeses on each pizza. This pizza featured asiago, a nuttier cheese that brought out the earthy qualities of the various mushrooms.

2. Amelia’s Pepperoni Pizza

Pepperoni pizza with pepperoni, tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. The pepperoni was spicy which is not common to traditional thin crust pizzas. There is always a slight hint of spice in pepperoni, due to the curing process, but never to the extent that it leaves your mouth feeling hot when you are done. This pizza had that heat.

3. My Fig Pizza

Fig Pizza with fig marmellatta, Gorgonzola, prosciutto and arugula. This is one of the best pizzas I have ever had. The marmellata was sweet and grainy, giving the pizza the essence of figs without the fleshiness that I dislike. The Gorgonzola was creamy, with that strong blue taste that works with the sweetness of the figs to offset the overpowering qualities that figs and Gorgonzola both have. The arugula was crispy and fresh. The prosciutto was salty and a great accent for the sweet creaminess of the figs and cheese working in tandem with one another. My only complaint about this pizza was that the crust was slightly too crunchy for my liking.

4. Mom’s Grilled Fillet of Veal

Grilled fillet of veal, crushed mini red potatoes with black olive, baby carrots, sauteed baby spinach, beet tapenade and sauce agro dolce. Mom really liked this dish – her only complaint was that she ordered her veal medium-rare and and it came medium-well. Apparently this is a common issue when ordering veal.

If you live in Port Elgin or you are just cottaging in the area, this restaurant is definitely worth a taste. Classy and classic Italian flavours and aesthetics.

Happy munching!


Museum Tavern

Tonight I met up with Cynthia and we checked out the new Museum Tavern across from the Royal Ontario Museum on Bloor Street.

Museum Tavern has a great patio that overlooks Bloor St  with bistro chairs and tables. The only downside on being located on a busy street is that the tables were covered in a fine layer of street dust – the joys of al fresco dining. The interior was gorgeous and I am definitely going to sit inside next time. It has a tin copper ceilings and cozy bistro tables. The bar was packed as we left at 7:30 which speaks volumes for a place on a Tuesday night. The crowd was young professionals but there was a table with this old man and his two sons that looked identical but with different coloured hair – a ginger and a brunette. Adorable.

We started off with food and then moved on to drinks. We are professional, working girls!

Cynthia ordered the Pulled Lamb Torpedo.

Pulled Lamb with harrisa, goat’s cheese, green olives and arugula pesto. Here’s what Cynthia thoughts of her sandwich: “The sandwich was definitely very tasty. There was a good amount of goat cheese. Sometimes they don’t put enough for you to taste, sometimes it is too strong that it overwhelms everything else. I can’t comment on the pesto by itself but it went well with the lamb. I don’t usually like arugula. The lamb was tender and well seasoned. The coleslaw was interesting and unique – not sure how I felt about it. My only complaint was it was too salty. I would take it down a notch. And the olives didn’t help with the saltiness. I would have done without them.”

I’m going to have to bring this foodie out more often! Thanks, Cynthia!

I ordered the Lobster Rolls.

Lobster rolls with mayo, chives and double smoked bacon. This is not the best lobster roll I have had. The mayo was used sparingly which is always a good sign. There was the light hint of citrus from lemon but I wish I had been given a wedge of lemon to give it a squeeze more. The chives were fresh but the lettuce was not as crunchy and fresh as I would have liked. The bacon was too crispy and I don’t think the smokiness worked with the creaminess of the lobster. The bun was a little too tough and the lobster did not penetrate deep enough into the bun. It was delightfully toasted though. It was good and considering the price of other lobster rolls it was not a bad price – $18/two rolls. And really, a lobster roll or two is always a good bet.

Once our bellies were full, we each ordered a cocktail,

Cynthia ordered the Apricot Bourbon Sour.

Maker’s Mark bourbon, lime, black pepper-apricot syrup, decanter bitters and egg white. This had a sharp booze taste which was highlighted by the apricot syrup. I couldn’t taste the lime or the hint of heat that should have come from the black pepper. I always feared cocktails with egg white but we didn’t die so that fear has been conquered!

I ordered the Watermelon Collins.

Bombay Sapphire Gin, watermelon, basil, lemon and pink pepper-aloe syrup. This was amazing! The watermelon and basil work in tandem together to excite every taste bud in your mouth. The gin is the perfect alcohol to bring out the fruity tones of the cocktail. Bombay is made using other herbs so it is a natural choice for this cocktail.

I would definitely suggest you check out this place – a combination between an old boys’ club and lounge with high quality food and drink. A great addition to the neighbourhood.

Good atmosphere,great food, fantastic cocktails and of course, amazing company. Another successful food experience with one of my favourite people.

Happy munching!

Roundhouse Craft Beer Fest

On August 12th, GC, my sister Amelia and I went to the Roundhouse Craft Beer Festival.

This event was similar to the Toronto Beer Fest – an admission price of $10 which gives you a sampling glass and two beer tokens. Tokens were $1/token and could be bought in multiples of 5, 10 or 20. Samples were 1 token for a half glass, and 2 tokens for a full glass. The pouring wasn’t amazing so it made more sense to get a half which would end up being almost  three-quarters full which was the same as the full. The breweries participating were:

Steam Whistle
Grand River Brewing
Wellingston Brewery
Mill St. Brewery
The Flying Monkey Craft Brewery
Great Lakes Brewery
King Brewery
Nickel Brook
Black Oak Brewing Co.

Craft beers are always great – the flavours are always more unique and reflect the seasonal changes of produce and trends. I think my favourite of the day were the beers from Wellington Brewery.

Although I do love beer, we wanted to attend this event due to the food trucks that would be there. The food trucks that were participating were:

Dobro Jesti
Hogtown Smoke
Tide & Vine
Buster’s Sea Cove
Rome ‘n Chariot

Unfortunately, these trucks were divided over the two days. I think the event could have supported all trucks on both days. On the Sunday Dobro Jesti, Tide & Vine and Gorilla Cheese (not on the original list!) were there. We tried treats from all trucks.

1. Tide & Vine

We all tried the Lobster Roll: Atlantic lobster meat with caper and tarragon mayo on a warm bun. I am torn to whether or not I liked this lobster roll more than Buster’s. I think Buster’s illustrates lobster at its best, with a simple dressing and a squeeze of lemon. This lobster roll uses the caper and tarragon mayo and lemon juice to illustrate the fruity, sweet quality of lobster. This was delicious and I would eat it again and recommend it to everyone.

The barbecued oysters on the other hand, were not my favourite. The enjoyable part of eating oysters is the slurping back of all the gooey goodness. But when you barbecue an oyster it becomes flamingly hot and you can’t eat it in true oyster fashion. Besides this, the oysters were good. The dressing had chilies and garlic and it was a perfect shot of seafood barbecue… once cooled.

2. Gorilla Cheese

Amelia and I ordered The El Jefe. I did take pictures of our grilled cheeses but they don’t look so great. I think this grilled cheese had too much going on with it: the shredded pork was the one element that I think could have been removed. It wasn’t dressed in BBQ sauce and was smothered in mustard. I think there wasn’t enough cheese on this GRILLED CHEESE which means it was unsuccessful as a grilled cheese.

GC ordered the Lumberjack, which is always a classic choice. Sweet and savoury in a classic grouping of ham, cheese, apple and maple syrup.

One thing that we liked was that Gorilla Cheese is changing the types of bread they are using. I think in order to step up your grilled cheese, you need to use types of bread other than sliced Wonder Bread.

3. Dobro Jesti

We ordered the Arancini balls. Creamy, warm and moist, as per usual. One thing we learned about Dobro Jesti was that unless they are doing a service in their hometown of Hamilton, they WILL NOT be serving their garlic donuts. This is probably one of the most disappointing pieces of food news I have heard in awhile. Apparently they are too cumbersome to make during a large event. I can respect this but I am not happy about it and I think this is something they need to work on.

Another great event involving food and alcohol. Through pure coincidence and accident, I have come across another event involving this perfect pairing, Toronto Beer Week, September 14-22.

Happy munching and drinking!

Gastropost – Food on a Stick

Here is my first world problem of the day: they didn’t include my “food on a stick” in this week’s edition of Gastropost! It is understandable, and quite alright because there were a lot of other great submissions and they included my face as other Gastroposters who completed the mission but were not featured. You can find my post on the Gastropost website here or down below.

That inevitable moment when the marshmallow you have been carefully toasting for 15 minutes bursts into flames. My favourite food on a stick is roasted (or slightly charred) marshmallows.

This week’s mission is basil vs mint and since I live with an Italian I think it’s clear which one I am going to be featuring…

Happy munching!

Fran’s – Mac & Cheese

I normally wouldn’t do a write up on something that I had at Fran’s, but since I am in search for the best Mac & cheese in Toronto, or rather, trying as many as I can, I need to include the Mac & cheese from Fran’s.

On August 17th, I went to Fran’s with my sister Theresa. If you live in Toronto, and you have never been to Fran’s, I don’t even know how this is possible. Fran’s is quintessential diner-style food, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All day breakfast, burgers, milkshakes and other classics are always available to you. If you haven’t been, please, go now.

That night I ordered an overload of dairy – a strawberry milkshake, mozzarella sticks and the Mac & cheese.

Baked macaroni and cheese with five cheeses: Cheddar, Parmesan, Swiss, Jack and Blue.

I didn’t have high expectations for this but I wanted to order it just to see Fran’s take on mac & cheese. The cheese sprinkled ontop does not melt unless you give all the pasta a good stir which fully incorporates all the cheese. You can only taste the cheddar in this mac & cheese which is disappointing because I think the other cheeses would have added a nutty (Parmesan), smokey (Jack and Swiss) and creamy (Blue) taste/texture to the pasta. I think they went a little light on the other cheeses because they are more expensive.  There is no other reason why you should not or would not be able to taste an overbearing cheese like blue. This is your standard, run-of-the-mill mac & cheese but nothing special and not a version to be sought out when deeply craving mac & cheese.

Normally when I got to Fran’s, I order the Monte Cristo. I would highly recommend this sandwich. Next time I go and order it, I will photograph it so you can see the deliciousness that it truly is. A triple-decker ham and Swiss sandwich on Texas toast dipped in French Toast batter and crisped until golden brown and then drowned in maple syrup! Also, dip your french fries in the leftover maple syrup. Trust me, it’s a fun surprise of sweet and savoury.

Happy munching!

Terroni – Part II

A few weeks ago I went out for dinner with my sister Amelia to Terroni. This time, hospital we went to the Queen St W location. We went on a Saturday night, tadalafil around 6:00, which for Queen W, is early. But surprisingly, it was packed with young hipsters, young families and old friends sharing bottles of wine and pasta. This location is more rustic, and hodgepodge than the Uptown location, making it quintessentially Queen W. There are tall shelves that line the entrance, full of pasta, sauces and other Italian foods. The tables are wooden, and the walls are filled with antique picture frames lit beautifully by chandeliers. Although this location is rustic and cozy, I think I like the Uptown location more. It is more upscale, and grown up. Uptown Terroni is the type of place I want to mimic when I am an upscale, grown up. I’ll keep you posted when that happens…

The menu is almost identical (I am sure there are slight difference) and we both ordered different things then we did the first time. I want to slowly discover everything on this menu, so if you want to go to Terroni, invite me!

I ordered the special – Lobster Spaghetti. This was delicious and why would it not be? It is lobster. It is pasta. The sauce was sweet, with hints of spice and citrus. The lobster was tender and flaky.  I loved the addition of little tomatoes in this pasta. It added a fresh from the garden quality to the meal. Anytime there is seafood pasta on a menu, I’m all over that.

Amelia ordered the Smendozzata Pizza.

Tomato, mozzarella, homemade spicy sausage, Gorgonzola, and red onions. Another delicious pizza from Terroni.

As always, another great meal.

Strawberry & Balsamic Pops

Don’t be turned off by these pops – balsamic vinegar and fruits are a natural and perfect combination due to the sweetness of the vinegar. The tartness in these pops comes from the strawberries. I would actually suggest using slightly more balsamic in these pops to make the flavour really stand out and give you that sweet tang you are looking for from the balsamic. The balsamic gives the pops a deep maroon colour. I strain every batch of pops I make so it’s just pure juiciness.

I have two pop recipe books and both contain a recipe for these pops. I made the recipe from The People’s Pops which uses a larger amount of balsamic. I am not going to try the recipe from Perfect Pops because I think the recipe could use more balsamic and that recipe uses barely any. Although I am incredibly intrigued by the addition of ground black pepper. I am going to leave you with both recipes and you can decide which recipe to munch on.

Happy munching!

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Sloppy Joes

We all have food guilty pleasures, some more embarrassing than others. One of my big ones is Sloppy Joes. Note: this is not one of my food guilty pleasures that I am embarrassed about. I will tell anyone who asks how much I love these sandwiches. Call them white trash, call them gross but I love them. I hadn’t eaten one in probably close to 15 years and I recently finished watching Roseanne and their loose meat sandwich inspired me to make Sloppy Joes. This past Friday was the perfect opportunity – it was a cold, rainy August day and I finished work at noon.

The receipe I used is from, again, Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook. Am I convincing you to buy it yet?

Again, because it is literally impossible for someone who is not a professional to make Sloppy Joes look appetizing, I stole the picture from the cookbook.

The meat has an amazing blend of spices and seasonings – chili powder, Dijon, Worcestershire and brown sugar – which gives it a warm, cozy taste. This would be a great base for a chili (and I hate chili). The vegetables become tender but sustain a slight crunch which are satisfying in every bite and give you the feeling that you can justify this meal as healthy since there are vegetables. The meat is slightly fatty but doesn’t feel heavy in your stomach. The whole mixture comes together and stays together really well, making these not-so-sloppy Sloppy Joes.

Recipe is below the cut. Happy munching!

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Montreal 2012

Again this year we went to Montreal to check out Osheaga. This year was a much more relaxed trip – no car accidents, no running around, just listening to music and having a few key bites of Quebec food.

Our Osheaga schedule was as follows:

Friday – Fun., Down With Webster, Of Monsters and Men, Atlas Sound, Wintersleep, Florence and the Machine, and MGMT.

Saturday – Young the Giant, Dumas, Brand New, Garbage, Feist and Snoop Dogg (Lion?)

Sunday – Zeus, Dan Mangan, Airbourne Toxic Event, Common, Santigold, and The Shins.

More importantly, on to the food. We only had four major food stops this trip, Jean Talon Market, Restaurant A L’Aventure, Montreal Poutine and Schwartz’s Smoked Meat.

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