Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles

A few weeks ago, purchase Cynthia and I tried to enjoy tortas from San Cosme however, mind they had sold out and had closed for the day. We walked around the corner down Kensington Avenue and decided to try Dirty Bird Chicken + Waffles.
Dirty Bird is another small restaurant in Kensington: there is likely room for about 20 people, stuff standing. When you walk into the restaurant there is a large, island-style table that can fit between 8-10 people around, depending on if people are seated or clustered around the table. There is bar seating along the perimeter of the restaurant that can seat/stand another 10 or so people. The restaurant was full when we arrived on Friday night, however, based on arms weighed down with various assortments of craft beer, we knew the majority of the customers would not be staying in the restaurant.
The restaurant’s concept is fairly simple, fried chicken, served in a variety of ways. You can opt to have the fried chicken served in sandwich form or just the traditional, bone-in bucket way. We decided to order the 6 piece chicken meal with sides of coleslaw and fries.
IMG_5622The intention is clearly for this to be enjoyed by one person based on the size of the sides. The coleslaw was nothing special, just your generic, lightly dressed cabbage, without any major bite or tang. I like my coleslaw creamy and tangy, with hints of fennel. The fries were crispy but still soft and pillowy in the centre.
 IMG_5623The chicken was okay. It was not consistently cooked: the thighs were juicy and very crispy and the drumsticks while juicy, were not crispy. When you are only serving two cuts of meat (which is the standard with fried chicken because you don’t fry the breast) you should be able to manage consistency across both types. And fried chicken needs to be just that, fried and crispy. Otherwise you have the grease factor without the crispy delicious coating. The batter was nothing remarkable, just plain frying batter that was well-seasoned but nothing out of the ordinary. The hot sauce was tangy and had a slight bite to it, it added to the chicken in a nice complimentary way.
We were not completely satisfied from our chicken so we order The Swalty for dessert.
 IMG_5624The Swalty, a waffle ice cream sandwich with salted caramel ice cream, caramel sauce and beef bacon.
This was the highlight of the meal for me. The waffle was crispy on the outside but maintained a light, airiness inside. The ice cream (which is made by Ed’s Real Scoop) had the rich, caramelized, saltiness of salted caramel. The ice cream was creamy and had a smooth texture. No ice crystals had formed in the ice cream that can be so jarring and cold when you bite into the ice cream. The caramel sauce was not cloyingly sweet and complimented the subtle salted caramel taste of the ice cream. The beef bacon was crispy, and had a rich smoky flavour to it. The saltiness in the bacon accented the saltiness in the salted caramel ice cream.
Next time I am craving fried chicken, I will not be returning to Dirty Bird, I will likely revisit my current favourite fried chicken restaurant in the city, Bar Fancy. But I think I will have to have another swalty at some point this summer.
Happy munching!

Dutch Dream

It only seems fitting on a freezing cold day to talk about a hot summer day eating ice cream. Back in the summer GC and I FINALLY went to Dutch Dreams. The reason I say finally is Dutch Dreams is about two feet from my sisters’ apartments and has intrigued me for about 7 years.

Dutch Dreams is everything an ice cream parlour should be: its colouful with checkered floors, check neon-lit signs and an assortment of chotskies that add a sense of whimsy and playfulness to the parlour. There are an epic amount of ice cream flavours, toppings, waffle cones and other candies for purchase. The highlight for me was the variety of Oreos that were available. Obviously someone had been to America and raided a grocery store because there was Lemon, Birthday Cake, Berry and a multitude of other delightful flavours you cannot find in Canada.

As I was completely overwhelmed by all the choice, I stuck with your standard double-scoop cone.

IMG_1296Bottom Scoop: Cookie Dough
Top Scoop: Cherry Cheesecake

There is obviously nothing standard about this. If I had realized my ice cream would be decked out in such a manor, I would have gotten one scoop.

Now I’m not super into ice cream. Blasphemy I know, but I am much more into frozen yogurt because it doesn’t make me thirsty. You are probably at this point questioning why I went to an ice cream parlour. It was August. It was hot and ice cream is a logical choice.

This ice cream was good but I think the appeal is more the toppings and the theatrical ridiculousness of the ice cream. I preferred the cherry cheesecake to the cookie dough, as there was not enough chunks of cookie dough to justify categorizing this as cookie dough ice cream. The fruit on top of my cone was frozen which on a hot summer night is okay but makes it difficult to chew.

If you are into ice cream, Dutch Dreams is obviously delicious. For your basic ice cream, I prefer Greg’s in the Annex so I think next time I would partake in something a little more ridiculous like the Super Royal Dutch Baked Alaska.

Happy munching!

Happy Birthday GC!!!!

Happy, happy birthday to my best friend in the world, GC! Ok, so his birthday was July 3rd and that is when we did celebrate, I am just slightly delayed on the internet celebrations.

My struggle with birthday dinners as someone who loves food is picking a place out of the ordinary, but still with the food and style that I like and with a price tag that shows whoever I am taking out that I love them. Yes, money buys love especially when it is buying fancy food. This year’s restaurant that satisfied all of these requirements: Farmer’s Daughter.

Farmer’s Daughter is latest addition to the Farmhouse Tavern family. As the name suggests, it is more modern, focusing on seafood and is less Ontario-centric. The menus are still seasonal and fresh, but not geographically limited. I absolutely love Farmhouse Tavern (I credit it to having my favourite brunch in the city) so I was eager to try it and so was GC!

We were first seated on the patio but as this summer has been unseasonably cold we moved inside to stay nice and toasty as we enjoyed our meal. The inside is sleek, modern and very simple. My favourite touches: the neon “Fried Shrimp & Friendship” sign, the various food related books on each table and the white board-style bar menu.

Throughout the course of our meal, we each tried two cocktails. I ordered the Tell Tale Heart and the Bruce Banner. GC ordered the Old Cuban and the Summer Sangria.

CocktailsTop left, clockwise: the Tell Tale Heart, the Old Cuban, the Summer Sangria and the Bruce Banner.

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Big Crow

You know those friends you haven’t seen in forever but when you finally meet up you pick up where you left off and it is the most natural thing? I had a dinner like that last week. Last week I met up with my friend Laura and we went from dinner at Big Crow.

Big Crow is by the same guys who do Rose & Sons, and for those of you who don’t remember, I did not enjoy my experience there. Despite this, I was eager to try Big Crow. I was intrigued by what they were doing there: a patio only restaurant, cooking up barbeque at the back of an existing restaurant.

When we arrived, we were quickly seated at a picnic table close to the smoker where we could watch all the action. The result of this was my hair smelling of bonfire by the end of the night which I did not mind. That is one of my favourite smells in the world. We started with a pitcher of Algonquin Iced Tea which is their spin on the classic Long Island Iced Tea. It has vodka, gin, tequila, rum, blackstrap bitters, and ginger beer. It was delicious.

Next, we had the All Beef Verscht.Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset All Beef Verscht with apricot glaze and mustard.

This was basically Montreal smoke meat style barbeque so it was obviously delicious. The meat was smoky, fatty and charred nicely. The apricot glaze was sweet and thick, smothered over the meat and complimenting the richness of the meat. The mustard was spicy and grainy, a nice balance to the sweetness of the glaze.

Then, we ordered the JW Bird.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetThe JW Bird – Cornish hen with sour pickle brine and salsa verde.

DELICIOUS. This hen was so incredibly moist. It was juicy and tender. The skin was crispy and kept all the juicy goodness inside. There was a slight sourness from the brine but it did not overwhelm the bird and make you think of pickles. The salsa verde was fresh and light. It added a different type of crunch to the bird.

We ordered sides of Picnic Potato Salad and Mexican Broccoli Salad.IMG_0919The Picnic Potato Salad with buttermilk ranch dressing, eggs and asparagus.

This potato salad was good. The dressing was light and thin, but it was slathered on a bit too heavily. The potatoes and asparagus were tender and retained a slight bit of crunch. I don’t typically like egg in my potato salad but this egg was in small chunks throughout the salad, giving a bit of smoothness and thickness to the salad. And it would be easy enough to recreate at home! Yums.IMG_0922The Mexican Broccoli salad with pepitas, tomato and avocado.

Broccoli salad is so underrated! Barbeques are fraught with pasta, bean and potato salads but rarely does the broccoli salad make an appearance. This was delightful. It was fresh and with different flavours then what filled the rest of the menu. The pepitas, a Spanish word for pumpkin seeds, were nutty, crunchy and completely tasty. These should be sprinkled on everything. Again, this would be such an easy salad to recreate at home for your own barbeque.

And lastly, we finished off with the S’mores Ice Cream Sandwich.IMG_0923An ice cream sandwich on a brioche bun?! Heck, yes! The brioche was sweet, fluffy and airy. Due to the sheer size of the bun it overwhelmed the contents of the sandwich.The ice cream was slightly too cold to make biting into the sandwich enjoyable or easy. The graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow were not incorporated enough into the sandwich to make this truly a s’mores ice cream sandwich. The graham crackers should have been mixed in with the ice cream or sprinkled on top. The chocolate should be a piece of chocolate rather than chocolate sauce.

After tasting this, I plan to get a quart of Greg’s Ice Cream’s Roasted Marshmallow  ice cream and make my own version of a s’mores ice cream sandwich. Or maybe that will be my next ice cream venture – s’mores ice cream. Who’s in?

I loved my meal here. It was fresh, juicy and tasted like summer. I am looking forward to more visits to this back patio, especially when the days of summer are long behind us and our only connection to hot summer nights is food that brings back those memories.

Happy munching!

Bang Bang Ice Cream

There is a new addition to the Ossington Strip – Bang Bang Ice Cream. Bang Bang Ice Cream is brought to you by the people who are behind Bakerbots. It opened earlier this summer in May. Since it has opened, it has been busy and people can’t stop talking about it so we decided we needed to check it out.

We both ordered a half cookie each, at the price tag of $4.50 each. I got the RoCocoa Dark Sable cookie with Strawberry Ice Cream and GC ordered the Gingerrrrrr Spicy Chewy cookie with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

IMG_0810Top: The Gingerrrrrr Spicy Chewy cookie with Barbados molasses and peppered tops.
Bottom: The RoCocoa Dark Sable cookie with cocoa brut, 70% callebaut chocolate, and maldon salt.

These were both delicious! As you can see, the ice cream to cookie ratio is generous and well worth the price. I don’t think I could eat a whole cookie by myself but I am definitely not ruling that out as these are so good! My cookie was rich and decadent. I loved how the chocolatey richness was offset by little salty granules. It was soft, moist and chewy, making it the perfect cookie for an ice cream sandwich. The strawberry ice cream is easily the best strawberry ice cream I have ever had. It tasted like fresh Ontario strawberries: sweet with hints of tartness throughout the luscious ice cream.

GC’s cookie was the best ginger cookie ever. It was soft, moist and perfectly spiced with ginger. There was no cloying sweetness from excessive molasses, just the perfect hints of sugar to balance the blend of spices. The vanilla ice cream was pure and simple, dotted with dainty dark vanilla beans. Yums.

We will definitely be going back. I am mad to try the birthday cake cookie, the avocado ice cream and the ice cream puffs! Happy munching!


Summer 2014

We are officially into summer 2014. The days are longer, hotter and spent outside. With the intense humidity, warm air and stickiness I try to keep it simple and basic. Here are my top three inspirations for summer 2014.

Summer Inspiration1. Picnics – Photo Credit: Your Intrinstic Beauty – when in doubt, eat outside. This is going to be my mantra this summer. I will be taking to parks, backyards and curbs munching on foods thoughtfully prepared at home. A picnic doesn’t require a basket or a gingham blanket, just some good food shared with even better company. Hiking, beaching, and parking (meaning to sit in a park not to sit in a stationary car) are just some of the places you will find me this summer with good food. What picnics am I most looking forward to? I still owe a friend a birthday picnic and I plan to indulge in some appetizers and cocktails at one of Toronto’s many outdoor films this summer.

2. Barbeques – Photo Credit: Abu Dhabi Confidential – Why turn on your stove, let alone your oven to cook in the summer? Whether it is propane, charcoal or gas, food just tastes better from the barbeque. Hot dogs, burgers and steaks are the favourites of my grill but this year, I have more ambitious plans. I want to use my barbeque as a smoker, an oven to bake something sweet, a grill for sweet pineapple and peaches and of course, the way to cook epic amounts of August sweet corn. Yummms.

3. Popsicles and Iced Treats – Photo Credit: Endless Simmer – There is no better way to cool down on a hot, sticky summer day than enjoying a cold, iced treat. Ok, maybe a beer is the best way to cool down but I don’t plan to get in brewing. Yet. I plan to keep my freezer stocked with homemade popsicles and to venture into the land of sinful booze pops. If that wasn’t enough to cool me off, I want to FINALLY (yes, I’ve said that before) use my ice cream maker and this might just be the recipe to try. And if I have homemade ice cream in the house why not making my own cookies and have ice cream sandwiches?

What are you inspirations for summer 2014? Happy munching!

The Ace

Last weekend found us wandering Roncesvalles on Saturday and Sunday. It was a beautiful – sunny and warm, no winter jacket required and tons of cute boutiques and shops to pop in and out of. Saturday we enjoyed empanadas curbside from Mabel’s and Sunday afternoon we enjoyed brunch at The Ace.

The Ace is literally a hole in the wall in every sense of the phrase – it is easily missed from the street, is small and sunken in away from sidewalk. The inside has a retro vibe to it with its bar stools, milkshake machines, floral wallpaper and 1970s tunes.  Literally every song played while we were in the restaurant was great – they played the Stones, CCR and Motown. It felt like you were enjoying a meal out of The Big Chill. The restaurant has a capacity of 39 people so seating is at a premium, especially for brunch. We arrived around 1 o’clock and were seated within 10 minutes. Since the restaurant is so tiny it is better to go with a small group (no more than 4) or as a pair to make sure you are seated quickly.

I ordered the Ace Benedict. IMG_5503Yes, that is my side of sausage creepying into view… I can’t resist ordering sausages at every brunch I have.

Ace Benedict – two farm-fresh poached eggs with parmesan leek fondue and peameal bacon, served on English muffins with crispy home fries.

Yes! This is what an egg’s benedict should look like! I should not see the English muffin, my peameal bacon should be draping off the muffin and there should be a huge cloud of egg whites! I loved that this was not your traditional benedict. The fondue sauce was unreal – nutty and salty from the parmesan with the soft, subtle onion flavour from the leek. I would love to dip everything in this and pour it over everything. The peameal bacon was the best peameal I have ever had. It was thick cut, fatty, salty and rich. The whole benedict was perfectly formed and was easy to cut and capture every layer of the sandwich. Yum.

GC ordered The Ace Breakfast. IMG_5500The Ace Breakfast: two farm-fresh eggs any style served with sausage, bacon, peameal bacon, crispy home fries, brown toast, grilled tomato, and black beans.

For dessert we shared the Zucchini cake served with a scoop of housemade oatmeal ice cream.

IMG_5505The zucchini cake was moist, dense and chewy. But the highlight is really the ice cream. It had the texture of oatmeal and tasted like brown sugar and cinnamon. In theory, I could make this (no, I have not used my ice cream maker yet!) but it is easier to have someone else make it for me.

The Ace is so cozy and perfect, I want to go back. We will be going back for dinner and probably for brunch, and might as well go for lunch too! If you haven’t check out Roncesvalles, you should and if you haven’t been to The Ace, you should do that too.

Happy munching!

Greg’s Ice Cream

Greg’s Ice Cream is a Toronto institution – it has been around for 30 years which is impressive for an ice cream parlor that is only open seasonally. Despite Greg’s longevity, check and the fact that I’ve lived in Toronto for 7 years (eek!), help I had never tried it until a couple of weeks ago when we were in the Distillery District.

Ice cream is one of those things that I don’t LOVE. I have never been the one to scream for ice cream. It leaves my mouth very dry and I would rather be eating gelato or frozen yogurt. I eat ice cream about 5 times a year and 4 out of those 5 times the ice cream is on top of pie.

But as the day was unseasonably warm and we were wandering around the Distillery District, the day just begged to have ice cream eaten. We split a cone of Roasted Marshmallow, a flavor I have heard people rave about for years.

IMG_4572This ice cream makes me scream for ice cream. It tasted exactly like a roasted marshmallow; all that was missing was the graham cracker and chocolate to make it a perfect s’more.

I plan to enjoy more Greg’s Ice Cream next summer!

Happy munching!

Friday Night at the ROM

I went to Friday Night at the ROM on May 25 with GC.

We had gone for drinks and a light dinner after work so we thought it was acceptable to start with some dessert.We had some waffles from Waffle Bar. They had the option to have a traditional Belgian waffle topped with ice cream and fresh fruit OR you could have a waffle sandwich! The choice was obvious…

This was my first taste of Greg’s Ice Cream. It was nothing special but it was just vanilla ice cream that was serving as a vehicle for the delicious syrups – salted caramel with rosemary and mint chocolate. The syrups were sweet and a great topping for this sandwich. The mint slightly overwhelmed everything which was an oversight when creating flavour combinations – the rosemary salted caramel profile would have been unique and tasty on its own. This wasn’t the easiest thing to eat – it would have been better if the ice cream was in puck form. The waffle had a subtle vanilla flavour and was fluffy and airy. It truly was the perfect waffle. And now I want my own waffle maker. I would enjoy this more on and been able to eat it with more ease if it had been on an actual plate with a real fork and knife.

Next we tried Fidel Gastro’s.

Can we all reflect on the fantasticness of this pop-ups name? They are bringing Cuban-inspired sandwiches to people and at every event they bring their Honest Ed’s Elvis bust – clearly they are all about good foods and good times.

We ordered one Havana Club and Sgt Slather – messy, juicy , pork goodness. I am not over the pulled pork craze and I hope it doesn’t go anywhere anytime soon.

And of course, we had JK Frites. This was GC’s first taste of the infamous hobo chips and he instantly fell in love like Lesley and I did. With the chips. He fell in love with the chips. This time we tried some of their unique sauces on the chips. Unfortunately, the sauce names weren’t written down and since this was two weeks ago, I don’t remember. Foodie fail. But I am pretty sure they were the sauces that they served up at the Luminato event we attended this past weekend. More on that later!

Another fun night at the ROM with good food, good music, great company and DINOS. There are only two more Friday nights left before this event is over and then it’s gone forever. Well… possibly not because they are thinking of continuing this program again in the fall but it would be unfortunate to miss out on this event. If it does happen again in the fall I am seriously contemplating doing part of my birthday celebrations here because clearly dinos would make my birthday even better.