Duff’s Famous Wings

Two weeks ago we were craving chicken wings. It was the Toronto Santa Claus parade which means Bloor Street was closed and terrible so we couldn’t go to our go-to place, Puck ‘n Wings (I think we are the only people who love this place). We decided to go to a restaurant near GC’s work – Duff’s Famous Wings.

I had heard really good things about this restaurant: GC used to swear by this restaurant and according to BlogTO, this is the 3rd best wing place in Toronto so obviously I had to try it. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by this experience.

We each ordered a pound of wings. GC ordered the barbecue and I ordered the honey garlic.

Duff’s only has a few different types of sauce – various degrees of hot sauce, honey garlic and barbecue. The barbecue sauce was extremely tart and had an overwhelming vinegar taste to it. The honey garlic was sweet but no other depth to it. There was too much sauce on the wings as if to cover up the boniness of these wings. The very little meat that covered the bones was dry and tough. Needless to say I was not impressed with these wings.

We received terrible service. There was two servers working but one was literally doing nothing. It was the semifinals for the CFL and I know no one in Toronto cared about football until last weekend, but come on, it’s a major sporting event, you need to have a few more people working. Of course, there could have been extenuating circumstances I don’t know about but that is no excuse. The tables were left dirty and we had to wait 20 minutes to get our bill after asking for it. This is unacceptable.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t recommend this wing joint or go again. Unhappy munching!

 

Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta

About two weeks ago I made Chatelaine’s Spinach and Artichoke Baked Pasta.

1. Photo courtesy of Chatelaine

2. I used macaroni instead of fusilli. The type of pasta doesn’t matter as long as it has lots of nooks and crannies for the cheese to hide in. That being said, I used too much pasta and not enough cheese.

3. Make sure your cream cheese is room temperature. Because of how little time the pasta spends in the oven, the cheese will not melt. That contributed to the off balance cheese-to-pasta ratio.

4. Artichokes are impossible to cut. Next time I would make sure to use very small pieces of artichokes so they don`t overwhelm the dish.

Overall, I wasn’t crazy about this dish but that could be attributed to the fact that I didn’t follow the recipe directly. I will try it again and see how it turns out.

Recipe below the cut. Happy munching!

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Johnny Jackson

On Thursday night, Gastropost hosted a foodie event at Johnny Jackson and GC and I were fortunate enough to go. Free drinks and free food, how could we pass that up? Despite the fact this this was a foodie event, I have no pictures from the evening. The restaurant was too dark to get any good shots. You will just have to enjoy my descriptions and take my word for it,.

Johnny Jackson is a relatively new restaurant located on College Street in Little Italy. It’s draw is that it has cheap late night eats, being open until 4 am on Fridays and Saturdays. Food is sold by the boxful and is just $10/box. The interior is a combination of bar and restaurant, with booth and table seating. The restaurant is dark but with a cozy vibe rather than a sketchy vibe. The music is a mixture of Motown and classic rock. The atmosphere and music immediately drew me in, so it was just a matter of trying the food.

This was a free event so it was just a sampling of the menu but there was more than enough food for everyone to try everything. They were serving samples of their deep fried pickles, poutine, pulled pork sundaes and mac and cheese.

1. Deep fried pickles are one of those things that a good in theory but are not always good in practice. The problem is when you deep fry the pickle, the juiciness becomes flamingly hot and will burn your face off. JJ has found a way around this – instead of serving up whole pickles, the pickles are quartered. The result is juicy, but not hot and steamy. The coating was bread crumbs mixed with seasonings, including dill and the dipping sauce was also dill. The overall taste was extremely dilly in a good way. The serving was 6 quartered spears which was the right amount  for a tasting.

2. We unfortunately did not get to try the poutine which is served with bacon but we were able to satisfy this craving by going to Poutini’s after the event. I do want to go back and try their take on poutine because when anything has bacon on it by default, I’m there.

3. Pulled Pork Sundaes are nothing new but they are something I had not tried until that evening. These were assembled in a sundae glass, layered with pulled pork and mashed potatoes and topped with cheese; this is definitely a dinner type of sundae. The pulled pork was moist, sauced and a little spicy. The mashed potatoes, on the other hand, were not great. They were too pureed and had a more liquidy texture than a mashed texture. If I were to make a pulled pork sundae the mashed potatoes would be creamy but thick, and perfectly scooped using an ice cream scoop. The pulled pork would be  smothered on top, spilling down the sides of the mashed potatoes like chocolate sauce.

4, Mac & Cheese is one of my favourite foods and my go-to comfort food. Lately, whenever I see mac & cheese on a menu I order it in my attempt to find my favourite one in the city. This mac and cheese had serious tang and zing to it. I was trying to determine what spice was used in the sauce but I wasn’t able to = foodie fail. This was creamy and cheesy but I found the seasoning took away from the cheesiness of it. A good mac and cheese but not my favourite.

This was a great event that Gastropost set up for all the writers and I hope there are more in the future! It’s always fun to try a new restaurant with people who love food as much as you. Johnny Jackson is worth checking out, especially since how many restaurants serve food that late at night, especially good food?

Happy munching!

Turkey Burgers

I always choose meat over vegetables and real meat, like beef and pork over meat like chicken. However, when I came across this recipe for turkey burgers I was intrigued. They promised to be meaty and juicy, something you don’t always find in turkey, and luckily, these statements were true.

1. The recipe is from Chatelaine’s Dinner in 30 Minutes magazine. This magazine is where I have been getting most of my recipes for the last few months and I love it. Everything is simple, fresh and most importantly, quick.

2. These burgers are moist. Almost more moist than any fatty, juicy beef burger I have had. That is because you mix the ground turkey with Balkan style yogurt. I even used lean turkey meat and these were still incredibly juicy. These burgers are lean and healthy but still give you that satisfying juiciness you crave in a burger.

3. The topping is a cherry onion relish of sorts and it is delicious. The taste is similar to cranberry sauce making this a Christmas burger. If you don’t have time to make the relish, you could easily substitute cranberry sauce but the onions give this relish a caramelized sweet taste. I used a can of cherries I had leftover from making a Black Forest cake and that did the trick. It worked out to be much cheaper than using fresh cherries in November and had the same result. If you make this relish, make sure to start making it before the burgers, it will take longer to make.

Recipe is below the cut. Happy munching!

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Fancy Frank’s Gourmet Hotdogs

On Sunday, we went to Fancy Frank’s Gourmet Hotdogs, a new hot dog restaurant on College Street.

I like hot dogs more than hamburgers and I say hut dog not hot dog – that’s pretty much my view on hot dogs so obviously I had to visit this place.

The mural on the side of the wall is incredibly enticing, fun and a little silly. The inside of the restaurant features a wall filled with a mural comprised of retro photographs of people enjoying hot dogs. There is a decent amount of seating at high tables and the kitchen is completely visible to the customers. The menu is immense and daunting but it seems more understandable when you look at the individual menu cards rather than the menu wall. You can also just order a plain hot dog and top it with your preferred toppings. My preferred hot dog topping combination: ketchup, mustard, relish and diced onion.

Since it was our first visit here, we decided to order off the menu and see what they could do with a hot dog. I ordered the Franko Fancy-Aano – the Italian hot dog.

Franko fancy-Aano – wrapped in prosciutto, reggiano cheese, arugula, and balsamic Dijon mustard. Holy yums was this hot dog good. It was obviously like nothing I’ve ever tasted before and these were obviously not toppings I ever thought to put on a hot dog. The prosciutto was crispy, the cheese was nutty and salty, the arugula was fresh and crisp and the mustard added a slight spiciness to the hot dog. The balance of flavours and textures was perfect, nothing overpowered anything else and it was a perfect sample of Italian flavours on a hot dog.

The hotdog itself was really good too. There was none of the preserved, salty, fattiness you typically associate with hot dogs. It tasted pure, fresh and meaty. I would go back just to get one of these hot dogs with just a little bit of ketchup on it, they are that good.

GC ordered the Fancy Francine – the breakfast hotdog.

The Fancy Francine – 2 fried eggs, bacon and hollandaise sauce. I think we can safely call this hot dog a breakfast heart attack. GC liked this hot dog but he said it was too messy to eat (they didn’t have knives, only forks) so he wouldn’t order it again,

We also ordered a side of fries. The fries were crispy on the outside but warm and chewy on the inside.

This place is cute, hip and retro. It highlights the comforting, All-American quality of hot dogs but also illustrates that they can be reinvented and dressed up. We already have plans to go back because I want to try their mini donuts, and more hot dogs. Some of the hot dogs I’m looking forward to trying are: the Southern Fancy, Frankie Goes to Buffalo, Fancy 90210, the Frankaphone and of course, the corn dog.

Happy munching!

Moo Milk Bar

Last Saturday morning, order GC and I ventured out to the Beaches to finally try Moo Milk Bar. When I had heard about this bakery months ago I knew we had to go and check it out. The problem is, cialis the Beaches are ridiculously far from our house and we rarely make the trek over there. Our trip on Saturday was just to get milk and cookies, viagra sale to satisfy a craving and this week’s Gastropost mission.

Moo Milk Bar opened in August and is literally a milk bar. I think this is great because I always talk about how if I had my own cupcake shop (this is not happening so don’t get excited, it is just one of those things that gets thrown around whenever we visit a bakery and we compare what is there versus what I would do if I had my own spot) I would have a sign saying “We have milk on tap.” They make different flavoured milk and cookies to go with the milk. The store is small and simple but beautifully showcases the reason why you came – the milk and cookies. The aroma is overwhelming and cozy and just makes you feel nostalgic and happy. My favourite part of our visit was talking with the owners. It is a husband and wife team and we were served by the husband. GC asked him where they got the idea from and he launched into a speech about how it was his wife’s idea and how she is brilliant and everything she makes is delicious. It was so touching to hear how he talked about her. You could tell it was genuine and he loved his wife and her cooking/baking so much. When she came up from the basement, his face just lit up even more – it just added to the coziness and warmth of the place. This bakery combined two things a love – delicious baked goods and people in love with food, and more importantly, each other. We bought a cookie and a milk each – for $5.00 – and then headed down to the boardwalk to munch. It was windy, cold and brisk that day but one of my favourite things to do is to visit the beach when no one else is there. The beach wasn’t empty that day – there was people kite surfing and walking their dogs (on a cold November afternoon) but we were still able to have a little snack picnic in peace.

GC got an Oatmeal Raisin cookie with Bottom of the Bowl milk. GC liked his cookie but it was a little hard for his liking; he prefers his OR cookies to be chewy and soft. It had a good amount of oatmeal and raisins though, it was just the texture we had an issue with. If you are getting just milk, I would recommend Bottom of the Bowl. It is from Cinnamon Toast Crunch and it tastes exactly like the milk at the bottom of the bowl after you finish your cereal. It is such a strange sensation when you drink it – you feel satisfied as if you have just finished your breakfast but you haven’t. It seems like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s magical, playful and sweet. You can also ask them to heat up your milk or turn it into a latte of sorts – we are definitely doing that next time.

I got a Chocolate Chip cookie with Vanilla milk.

This is the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever had. It was moist, buttery, chewy and still slightly doughy. It was perfectly browned and crunchy on the outside but this was all a protective shell for the deliciousness inside. The chocolate chips were melted and delicate when you bit into them. Yums.

This milk was perfect for drinking with cookies. It was speckled with gorgeous vanilla bean seeds and tasted exactly like a vanilla milkshake. This would be an amazing milk to make lattes and other coffees with.

This place is simple perfection fitting for a bakery serving up childhood memories in the form of milk and cookies.

Coconut Curry Mussels

Coconut curry was the flavour of the week this past week. I used it to make a sauce for chicken and then later, sale a sauce for mussels.

1. Mussels are my one of my favourite types of seafood, cure next only to scallops. I love how they perfectly pop open like a little ring box to show the beauty that is inside. They are tender, purchase fleshy and a little salty. The perfect morsels of the ocean.

2. This sauce was amazing. Light, and flavourful. There was a subtle fruitiness from the cilantro, red onion and tomato which emphasized the fruitiness of the mussels. The hint of spice from the curry was mellowed by the coconut milk. All of this goodness was absorbed into the mussels and later sopped up by crusty bread.

3. This dinner is made in one pot = sold. This is convenient, quick and easy. This is now going to be a dinner staple in our house.

4. If you are only making this dish for two people I would suggest using only one kilogram of mussels rather than the two that is suggested for making this meal for four people. This dish is very low in cost to make – we paid $4.99/kg of fresh mussels.

5. Mussels can safely be reheated the next day. Bring the broth back up to a boil and then add the mussels back to the broth. Simmer until the mussels are reheated but not cooked until they are rubbery. This will take about 5 to 10 minutes.

Recipe is below the cut. Happy munching!

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Dlish – Yorkville Location

Dlish opened a second location at Bloor and Yonge, shop just on the outskirts of Yorkville and exactly 350 meters away from my work. This could be trouble.

I went on Tuesday at lunch for a cupcake date with my friend Caitlin. I paid for my cupcake all in change, for which I apologized for, and the cupcake barista (what is the title for someone who works at a cupcake shop who is not the baker? Cashier sounds so crass and simple) said anytime I had excessive change I should come to the bakery. Again, this could be trouble.

Caitlin ordered the Nutella cupcake and I ordered the Cinnamon cupcake – a first for me.

It was a little too sweet, but it had a light, subtle cinnamon flavour. The only thing that was missing was a glass of milk to wash it down.

Happy munching!

For the Love of Cake

Sunday afternoon found us in Liberty Village to try For the Love of Cake.

1. For the Love of Cake is currently ranked #1 on BlogTO’s list of the city’s best cupcakes. They have recently redone this list and I don’t know how I feel about it. There are 3 bakeries I still have not visited (obviously this will be rectified and anyone can feel free to join me in this endeavour) so I can’t make a fair assessment of it but I typically don’t completely agree with BlogTO. I use them more of a jumping off point to discover new things and things that are tried and true. Their lists are consistent and a great way to discover Toronto. They have lists for almost anything you can think of and are constantly revisiting and updating their lists. And they have an app – it doesn’t get much better than that.

Also, their list has 9 bakeries on it – everyone know a Top ___ list has to have multiples of 5.

2. I know why this bakery is on their list at number one. It is because they are doing something different with cupcakes. It’s not just cute sprinkles, unique flavour profiles and delicate piping. It is that the have 4-dimensional cupcakes: cake, filling, topping and garnish. This is one of the more creative things I have seen done with cupcakes and especially in recent history. Cupcakes are becoming overdone and boring but this is a fresh take on a tasty treat.

3. Liberty Village is completely dead on Sundays. We had a bit of a time finding this place, more due to the fact that Apple Maps are terrible and completely inaccurate. Once we found the building complex that houses For the Love of Cake it was a bit of a mission to find the entrance of this building but we finally did. The store front is all windows allowing you to peer into the bakery.

The cupcakes and cakes are the only decorations – simple and tasty. The bakery did look as though it needed a fresh coat of paint and that the desserts on display needed to be replaced as they were covered in a thin layer of dust but this is just me being nit picky.

4. You have many choices of yums at this bakery: cakeballs, cake pops, mini cupcakes, regular cupcakes and mancakes. Criticism of the mancakes: if you are not comfortable enough to eat a delicious bite size yum of something then you don’t deserve to eat it. But I guess some people are not comfortable in their own skin. It was also slightly sexist – I would not object to eating a maple bacon cupcake just because I’m a lady.

Although the bakery cannot 100% guarantee that the cupcakes are completely allergen free they do separate the cupcakes that have nuts from the ones that do not have nuts.

They do not, however, in the names of the cupcakes tell you what the filling is. I guess you should look at the website before you visit the bakery or ask but I like that type of information to be readily available to me.

5. We felt particularly greedy and order 6 cupcakes. The cupcakes turned out to be a little less than $16.00 which is standard for a half dozen cupcakes but will still make you question why you are being ridiculous and spending that much money on cupcakes.

GC’s Choices Top row, right to left: Gingerbread Man, Cookies and Cream and Very Vanilla.
My Choices: Bottom row, right to left: Bailey’s Hot Chocolate, Drunken Eggnog and Death by Chocolate.

Gingerbread Man: A gingerbread cupcake filled with their homemade lemon curd and topped with cream cheese frosting and a gingerbread man (candy cane).

Since when is lemon a natural pairing with gingerbread? This was a huge miss for both GC and me. The cake was dense, with aromatic spices and it was sweetened by the cream cheese frosting. That was great. The lemon curd filling, on its own was great but was incredibly off putting with the gingerbread and even the cream cheese icing.

Cookies and Cream: Moist chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate ganache and topped with vanilla frosting with Oreo cookie crumb and an Oreo cookie.

This was one of GC’s that I did not try. I can only imagine that it was delicious if not for the chocolate ganache filling alone.

Very Vanilla: A traditional vanilla cupcake filled with our homemade vanilla custard and topped with vanilla bean frosting and a fresh berry or pomegranate seeds in our case.

This cupcake was top heavy and ugly. The custard in the middle was too sweet and tasted slightly fermented (I ate it today and we bought them on Sunday so I’ll admit that was my fault). The cake did not have a real vanilla taste to it, it tasted more like and had the texture of angel food cake. The icing was yummy and very vanilla though.

Bailey’s Hot Chocolate: Moist chocolate cupcake filled with a Bailey’s milk chocolate Bailey’s ganache and topped with a toasted marshmallow frosting and a milk chocolate chunk.

When I ordered this cupcake she warned me it was more coffee than hot chocolate. I found that interesting as Bailey’s does not have a coffee taste to it. When I bit into it, it did not taste like coffee or Bailey’s which was incredibly disappointing. The chocolate cake was moist and the right amount of chocolate. The marshmallow frosting was the best part – perfectly toasted and sugary.

Drunken Eggnog: A flavourful eggnog cupcake filled with homemade eggnog custard and topped with rum frosting and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

I was skeptical to try this cupcake after the lack of flavour from the Bailey’s in the previous cupcake. But this cupcake did not disappoint. The cake itself had a subtle eggnog flavour which was emphasized by the custard. Omigosh this custard was amazing. I hate eggnog but I am always drawn towards eggnog desserts. This custard was sweet, creamy, with a hint of spice and booze to it. The frosting was slightly boozy but had a hint of cream cheese flavour to it. The nutmeg added a final touch of spice to it. This is a cupcake I would highly recommend and it will make you feel festive and happy.

Death by Chocolate: Moist chocolate cupcake filled with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate butter cream and chocolate shavings.

Omigosh. This chocolate was completely overwhelming. But in an amazing way. The icing was smooth, creamy and milky. The chocolate ganache was rich, thick and completely heavenly. This is my favourite of the cupcakes we tried that day.

These cupcakes were a perfect combination of cake, icing and filling. I was very happy with these cupcakes and I would make the trek back to Liberty Village for them. And you should too!

Happy munching!