Canada – Amsterdam BrewHouse

After indulding in some bacon at Harbourfront Centre’s Baconation we checked out some beers at the new Amsterdam Brewhouse.

Amsterdam BrewhouseWe started with two different Flight Tours – I ordered the King & Portland, GC ordered the Richmond & John. I love how there are so many different beers to try here and so many different ways to try them. The tasting flights features 4 5oz glasses and costs the same as a 20oz pint. The menu serves as coasters for your beers. My only criticism of this – the names of the beers are listed on the round emblems which end up under the glasses. You can’t get fussed about the name of a beer as long as it tastes good!

We shared Amsterdam Pretzel and the Crispy Fish Tacos.

IMG_4032This pretzel is yummmmmmy! Warm, doughy and perfectly salted. There were three flavours of mustard: Natural Blonde red currant mustard,  Big Wheel dijon and wort reduction. The mustards were very hot, a huge kick of horseradish right in the nose. I foresee many nights at the Brewhouse drinking flights of beer and eating these pretzels.

IMG_4033White corn tortillas, apple fennel slaw, cilantro, fresh lime, and house hot sauce. These were okay, not great. That is not surprising as this is a pub, not a Mexican restaurant. Stick with the pretzels, you won’t regret it!

We went back to the Brewhouse for a family dinner last week. I wasn’t thrilled with the service – I had made a reservation but we had to wait 10 minutes to be seated. When we were seated, it was at a table that was clearly meant for 4 people, not 6.Our server, however, was amazing – she knew everything about beers, what they paired well with and had lots of suggestions of what to order based on people’s tastes.

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Rules for Making the Perfect Summertime Drink

Rules for Making the Perfect Summertime Drink from The Kitchn:

1. It can’t be too sweet.

2. It must be refreshing. (A follow up to rule No. 1!)

3. It can’t be a shorty. We’re thirsty in the summer so it’s gotta be a long drink. Sorry Martini.

4. It can’t be too strong. Drinking alcohol in the heat can be dangerous so it needs to stay on the softer side.

5. It must have lots of ice, but it can’t be frozen. I love frozen drinks, but I don’t want to bust out the blender every time I’m thirsty.

6. No obscure ingredients or tools should be in play. It’s summertime and the drinks should be easy and relaxing, like putting on a pair of flip-flops.

#6 – Try a New Sangria Recipe

I have discovered a new sangria recipe: Sparkling white peach sangria from The Kitchn. Cross off #6 on the summer to-do- list!

2012_07_20-PeachPitcher1. This recipe is from the section of the website called “The 10-Minute Happy Hour” which is about how long a cocktail should take to make.

2. This is sweet, ampoule light and fizzy. It would be perfect on a hot summer day while out on a patio.

3. Instead of Moscato I used my go-to white wine, cheap Sibling Rivalry (a blended white wine with Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer) and I added Grand Marnier. I also added raspberry which were a nice compliment to the peach flavours.

This is the sangria I will be making all summer long. Happy drinking!

Canada Day – Baconation

Happy Birthday Canada! What better way to celebrate the birth of our great country then by eating bacon prepared in 6 different ways? NO WAY! On Canada Day we headed down to Harbourfront Centre for Baconation by Barque.

For $7 you got 6 samples (top middle, clockwise):

IMG_40241. Pig Licker – root beer float with chocolate covered candied bacon
This is the best chocolate covered bacon I’ve had. I’m not a fan of bacon and chocolate, I don’t think it is a necessary combination or a successful one. This bacon however, was the perfect amount of crispy and the chocolate was softly enrobbing the bacon. This wasn’t a necessary garnish or a successful one to add to a root beer float but it was still tasty.

2. Fake ‘n Bacon – smoked tofu with lemony greens
I do not typically like tofu. Why eat fake meat when you can eat real meat? But this was one of my prefered samples of the day. Crispy, seasoned nicely and freshness from the greens; a perfectly composed sample.

3. Smoked Pork Belly – with grilled pineapple and hoisin BBQ sauce
This was my favourite sample of the day. Pineapple and pork are best friends and the hoisin BBQ sauce took this up a notch. I could have eaten about 40 more of these. I think I should make my own skewers like this to satisfy this urge – who agrees?

4. Canadian Sausage – smoked bacon wrapped weenie with ketchup BBQ sauce
This was also delicious! The weenie was sweet and the bacon was wrapped tightly but not too tight. With the first bite, the wrapping stayed intact like a tightly wrapped Christmas present. I would love to go to a holiday party where these are the cocktail weenies.

5. Peameal Bacon Taco – with maple slaw and grainy mustard aioli
This taco is better in theory than it is in execution. There was not enough sauce and slaw to make the taco creamy and hold it together. There was no acidity from the slaw or the mustard, which was a huge miss for me. The peameal bacon was unfortunately dry. This was my least favourite sample of the three which I didn’t think would be the case when there is a tofu version of bacon on the menu…

6. Bacon Chips – crispy corn tortillas with smoked bacon salt, charred corn and bacon salsa.
I think all nachos should be made like this. Smoky, salty and crispy. I loved, loved, loved this. I want a huge platter of it next time I go for beers.

And of course, floating around the plate, the seasoned popcorn that greets you at your table at Barque. My palate is not defined enough that I can actually identify all the spices and seasonings but floating around in there is some cinammon and chili powder. I wish I could get this rub and put it on my own popcorn at home or sneak it into the movie theatre.

This event was a great introduction to the cabilities and creativity of Barque. It was a nice little taste for us to experience before we went to the restaurant, two days later for GC’s birthday – more on that later! Another great event put on by Harbourfront Centre and another great Canada Day.

Happy munching and happy Canada Day!

Common Goods: Muvbox

This summer Harbourfront Centre is introducing to Toronto to Muvbox: steel shipping containers that have been re-purposed into solar powered kitchens. Muvbox is an international project, having locations in New York City, Montreal and Paris. Harbourfront Centre is lucky enough to have three boxes: Sully’s Honest Dogs, Lobster Roll and Blue Goose. Last week I meet my sister Liz after work and we checked out the food crates.

I ordered the lobster roll with a side kettle chips and pomegranate with hibiscus ginger soda from Lobster Roll.

IMG_3995This lobster roll was amazing! One of the best that I have had. There was huge and excessive chunks of lobster in the bun. There was enough meat to make up a whole lobster with 4 claws. There was an appropriate amount of mayo in the lobster; not enough that it becomes water and excessively creamy but enough to hold all the delicate sweet lobster together. The salad was dotted with fresh, crispy chunks of celery which added another level of freshness to the roll. The bun was perfectly toasted and buttery. This is also one of the bigger lobster rolls I have eaten. The price is right too: $10.95

The soda I ordered was the pomegranate with hibiscus from Fresh Ginger. I first tried this about a month ago when we were in Buffalo, and I thought it was one of those delicious things that can only be found in America. But no! You can get it here!!! It is so delicious you should all venture down to Harbourfront for this alone.

Liz ordered the organic beef burger from Blue Goose.

IMG_3996Everything was delicious and there is even more deliciousness to try. Sully’s has hot dogs inspired by the neighbourhoods and flavours of Toronto: “The Danforth” (thick Tzatziki, olive tapenade and feta), “Hot Dogchimi” (sesame glass noodles, kimchi, roasted garlic mayo and wakame seaweed), “Banh Mi Dog” (mango salad, hot mustard, bean sprouts, sweet chili glaze and fresh basil) “Ano Yan” (crushed pineapple salsa, caramelized onions, pork rinds and garlic mayo) and “Little India” (vindaloo Curry, yogurt and mint).

5 different types of hot dogs to try – I am so down to spend my summer trying new hot dogs with unique and Toronto-inspired recipes. The food crates are only open seasonly and will close in October. You have four months to get down to the water and enjoy some food and some sun! Do it!

Happy munching!

Penne Carbonara

IMG_3957

Sometimes it is hard to maintain a food blog. You feel lazy and uninspired with your cooking so you go out for dinner. But instead of trying new and exciting places you opt for the good ole standbys. For us, this includes wings, sushi and unfortunately, a lot of Wendy’s. This has been my problem for about the past two months. Life has been chaotic lately and the weather has been unbearable with humidity and rain so my interest in food has fallen by the wayside.

BUT good news brought good food. Things at work brightened up so we had a celebratory dinner of pasta carbonara.

1. The recipe I used was from Michael Smith. I had taken a personal day the week before for an appointment and some shopping and while bumming around on the couch I stumbled across this recipe. It looked too good to not make as soon as possible.

2. Do not be scared by seemingly raw eggs! (They aren’t seemingly raw, they technically are).The hot pasta cooks the eggs and melts the cheese and makes for a creamy, delicious, stringy nest of yums.

3. This meal is the perfect hit of salt if you are craving savoury food. The quick fry of the pancetta and prosciutto brings out the fatty, salty goodness which is a natural pairing for the creaminess of the pasta.  The two types of Italian pork make this dish decadent and completely ridiculous.

4. The oregano is the  third component of this meal and it completes the dish. It brings a freshness to the dish that offsets the richness of the cheese, meat and egg. My brief stint in gardening is not resulting as well as I had planned and unfortunately my fresh herbs are shrivelled and pathetic. Instead of a summer with fresh herbs from my garden I have had to settle on fresh herbs from the grocery store. However, regardless of where the oregano is coming from, it makes this dish complete.

5. This might be my new favourite meal to make. It takes about 15 minutes to make and is filling, satisfying and a completely delicious. It is like a piece of Italy in a bowl that you can just hug close and drift away on a cold, rainy, gloomy day or a bright, sunny, happy day. That is the best kind of meal – a meal that brings comfort regardless of the  context you make it in. The only downside of this meal is the cost. Because of the limited number of ingredients: Parmesan, prosciutto and pancetta, they need to be very high quality and therefore expensive. It is probably a blessing in disguise because although it is delicious it is extremely not healthy.

6. GC said this is the best and creamiest carbonara he has ever had = seal of approval from an actual Italian = you should all make this now.

Happy munching!