Uno Mustachio

One of my favourite parts of my new job is the proximity to St. Lawrence Market. Before I worked at Yonge and King, discount I was forced to visit the market on Saturdays due to the less than convenient hours. The market on Saturdays is an unbearable event. It is crowded, ambulance people are violently shoving you out of their way as they try and sample their 18th pretzel with Kozlik’s mustard and you can’t spend time looking at the bounty in front of you. Because I was visiting on the busiest days of the week, I would try and make my visits to the market as short as possible: a quick dart, in and out, to pick up a fancy cookie cutter, a bagel with lox and cream cheese or a tube of cured meat. I had no idea about the amazingness of the prepared foods in the basement of the market.

Until now. The basement of St. Lawrence is truly what makes the market amazing and contributes to its title from National Geographic as the world’s best food market. The basement houses all sorts of food stalls where you can buy prepared menu items to enjoy in the food court downstairs or one of the many picnic tables surrounding the building outside. My first visit to the basement of the market left me with an order of pierogis from European Delight ($4.25/dozen) and I was hooked. I knew I slowly had to discover the halls of the basement and see what other deliciousness it had in store for me.

Last week I visited Uno Mustachio in search of a sandwich.

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It should be noted that I am fairly loyal to California Sandwiches and have eaten dozens, if not hundreds of sandwiches from them. I even had to delete the Uber Eats app from my phone at one time because I was ordering too many chicken parm sandwiches. Yes, I have re-downloaded the app and have since ordered more sandwiches.

But when I saw something called the Godfather on Uno Mastachio’s menu I knew it had to be good. Uno Mustachio doesn’t limit you to just a chicken/veal parmigiana or an eggplant parmigiana sandwich. They allow you to get BOTH and have a name for it so you don’t feel like a ridiculous, glutinous human being! I ordered my Godfather sandwich with veal and all the fixings (roasted red peppers, sautéed onions, sautéed mushrooms, and roasted jalapeno peppers) and this garnered me much respect from the older Italian gentleman who rang through my order.

This sandwich is unreal. The pieces of veal are generously massive, spilling g over the sides of the Kaiser bun. The veal is crispy but the breading is a light coating, it is not overly greasy or too heavy to stick to the meat. The veal itself is thin and moist. The meat is tender and easily bites off intact with its coating. The eggplant is thinly sliced, avoiding any of the fibrous starchiness that is common with eggplant parmigiana.
The toppings are the right mix of flavours and textures. The combination of both sweet and hot peppers adds a kick and sweetness with each bite, playing on the same flavours found in the sauce. There is a generous smear of sauce on the bun but not in excess that will result in sauce flying everywhere. You could wear a white shirt while eating this sandwich.

This sandwich blew me away and was incredibly filling. I obviously finished the whole thing even though it was the size of my head and then I felt like a whale immediately after. I will definitely be having another one of these sandwiches (not with much frequency as I am trying not to have a heart attack before 30) and I think my California Sandwiches days are over.

Happy munching!

Maker Pizza… again.

Yes, I went to Maker Pizza two weekends in a row and yes, I had the Bodega sandwich both times. But this time, we split the Bodega and ordered a small pizza to share. I don’t think that is an argument in my favour for health and fitness but it is definitely an argument in my favour for good life choices in delicious food.

We ordered the Porkys but this is what came out to us.IMG_5869No, that is not pork, it is mushrooms and lots of them. Although I love mushrooms and mushroom pizzas, not everyone in attendance that afternoon loves them. When I returned to the counter to clarify my order, the woman behind the counter said, “Oh, ok. Sorry about that. Just keep it. I’ll bring out your order shortly.” HELLS YES. I already was in love with Maker Pizza but now I am completely sold on them.

The pizza that was brought to us was the So Mushroom: honey mushrooms, mascarpone, chopped garlic, grana padano, sea salt and pepper.

Oh. My. God. This is the best mushroom pizza I have ever had and one of the best pizzas I have ever had. Unlike other Neapolitan pizzas, this crust is slightly thicker and completely cooked through to the middle of the pizza. There is none of that your toppings will slide off the centre and burn your face nonsense that can often happen with this style of pizza. The crust itself is salty, doughy and has subtle yeasty flavour to it. It is the best pizza dough I have tasted. The dough is all made by a guy named Kevin who’s name adorns every box of pizza. At first I thought this was a play on Home Alone and Kevin McCallister’s love of cheese pizza but quickly learned that Kevin is Maker Pizza’s pizza maker and he knows what he is doing.

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I loved the mushrooms on this pizza. The honey mushrooms are thin and papery, melting as soon as they touch your tongue. I love any mushroom that looks like a toadstool; they have a whimsical quality about them which almost makes them taste more woody and earthy. The cheese was creamy, milky and thick and was wrapped up in flavours of pepper and garlic.

I want to eat this pizza again and again and again.

Once I was almost too full on pizza, the Porkys came out and I obviously had to have a slice of that too.

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The Porkys with pork shoulder sugo, stracciatella, basil, garlic, chili peppers, grand Padano, sea salt and pepper.

Again, another delicious pizza. The pork shoulder had a pulled-pork consistency, wrapped up in delicious tomato sauce rather than barbecue. It added a slightly fruity acidity to the richness of the white pizza, which you don’t often find; most white pizzas feature more veggies than meat.

Yes, for those of you keeping track, as this point I had enjoyed half a Bodega sandwich, a slice of So Mushroom pizza and a slice of Porkys pizza. I was obviously stuffed but took my leftovers home and waited anxiously to eat the next bites of this pizza. Even now, I am thinking about my next bite. Maybe this weekend, make it three in a row?

Happy munching!

Maker Pizza – The Bodega

I’m currently on a huge sandwich kick: I’ve been eating various iterations of Cubano sandwiches, I recently munched a lobster roll from Buster’s Sea Cove in St. Lawrence Market, I’m planning a burger date in the next week or so with my pal Lynsey and I’ve been eating copious amounts of breaded chicken sandwiches from California Sandwiches thanks to Uber Eats.

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While the excessive eating of Uber Eats has to stop (or I at least have to walk to California Sandwiches location that is 10 minutes away from my house), the sandwich eating does not. Sandwiches are the most convenient way to eat meat and cheese. On the weekend GC and I put this theory to the test and headed down to Maker Pizza to try their sandwiches. Yes, we went to a pizza joint to eat sandwiches but I suggest you do too. We both ordered the Bodega which is arguably one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten.

IMG_5815The Bodega with mortadella, ham, turkey, salami, mozzarella, provolone, tomato, white onion, iceberg lettuce, roasted red pepper, roasted jalapeno, pepperoncini, sub sauce and served on a sesame bun.

This sandwich is as intimidating, epic and ridiculous as it looks. Despite having four types of deli meat (which I now think all sandwiches should), the sandwich is not greasy or heavy. This is because the veggie portion of the sandwich is made into a slaw with a vinegary tartness to it, which lightens the sandwich. By making the vegetables into a slaw, you do not have any of that wet, sliminess that can sometimes happen with having lettuce on a sandwich – which is why GC does not put lettuce on his sandwiches. The lettuce doesn’t shift and pull with each bite, leaving your sandwich intact until the very last bite. The jalapeño and pepperoncini add a nice level of heat to the sandwich which also helps break up the greasiness of the deli meat. The heat doesn’t overpower the sandwich or your palate, simply highlights the peppery tastes of the mortadella and salami. The cheese combination is perfect. Provolone and mozzarella play together to create a smoky and creamy cheese duet that can stand up against the strong flavours of the meat quartet.

I fell in love with this sandwich and Maker Pizza. I am already planning my next date with this sandwich (hopefully this Saturday) and future picnics that will happen in Alexandra Park with various pizzas from this restaurant.

Happy munching!

Easter 2016

It is Easter Monday and seemingly everyone else is off from work except me. The subway was empty this morning; I didn’t have to do my typical wait on the train for 10 minutes in the tunnel north of St. Clair West while empty trains are sent through for more important people. The offices at work are empty and it is a slow, rainy day.

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Easter weekend was relaxing, spent outside with beautiful weather and with amazing people. On Friday we made our traditional Italian pasta appetizers, calascioni. This is something that Ninni remembers making as a young girl in Italy, when these types of expensive meats and cheese could only be bought at Easter. This tradition has been passed on to me and Giancarlo and we now share this tradition with his best friend Nick and his wife, Rachel. The day is spent rolling out homemade pasta dough, cutting out perfect circles, filling each ravioli-like pocket with the meat and cheese mixture and baking in the oven until they are golden and oozing cheese. After a few hours of hard work, we enjoyed dinner, wine and Yahtzee.

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A3 Napoli

If you are contemplating getting a new job and you are unsure whether or not you should take the plunge, hospital you only need one reason: food and drink. The number of dinners and drinks people have wanted to share with me since the announcement of my new job is ridiculously amazing. There are drinks to celebrating getting the job, order then drinks to celebrate leaving the job, drinks to celebrate the new job and then drinks to celebrate how the new job is going.

Last night Cynthia and I caught up about my new job over beers and food at A3 Napoli. A3 Napoli is a joint venture between the people behind Pizzeria Libretto and Porchetta & Co., two of my favourite Italian spots in the city. It is a little restaurant located in Little Italy, a neighbourhood I seldom venture to; when you live with an 85-year old Italian woman why would you bother?

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Lasagna Grilled Cheese

As March comes to a close we can finally look forward to April: warmer weather, Easter, and of course, National Grilled Cheese Month. I plan to fully embrace this month-long celebration of one of my favourite foods. In preparation of April I have to look back to a sandwich I made a few weeks ago: the Lasagna Grilled Cheese.

IMG_5541 IMG_5544Recipe: Joy the Baker

I think this sandwich, while delicious, is misnamed. There is no tomato sauce, and more importantly, there is no meat and real lasagna has to have meat. Sorry vegetarians, I love you but real lasagna needs and should have meat. A more appropriate name would be a cannelloni grilled cheese. But really, what’s in a name? The important thing is delicious, simple and amazing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe combination of cheese is a perfect blend of creamy, salty and sweet. The ricotta is creamy and smooth but at the same time has a coarse, saltiness to it. The mozzarella is milky, thick and rich. The use of two cheeses in this sandwich brings it to the next level – from snack to full-on meal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe cheeses are both mellowed out and complimented by the basil and the tomatoes. Both are sweet but salty and taste like an Italian backyard in July. This recipe was fresh, simple and makes me yearn for summer. I will be making this grilled cheese again and again this summer using fresh ingredients from the garden.

Check out the recipe on Joy the Baker’s site and maybe check out this recipe too – it’s what I will be making next.

Happy munching!

Movie – Letters to Juliet

LettersTo-101310-0015A few weeks ago I was feeling in a romantic-comedy-movie night-type of mood and I decided to watch Letters to Juliet. The movie is nothing remarkable to comment on but the views of Italy and food are reason enough to watch this movie.

Gael García Bernal’s character is starting an Italian restaurant in New York City so on their pre-honeymoon he and Amanda Seyfried travel through Italy and visit Parmesan factories, wineries and learn to cook from local Nonna’s. This is Seyfried’s version of hell, this would be my ultimate honeymoon. The image above of Bernal making fresh pasta while drinking a glass of red wine is like porn to me.

This movie has caused Italy to move up on my unofficial “Places to Visit” list and has sparked an interest in all things Italian.

 

Dishcrawl – Yorkville

We took part in Dishcrawl – Yorkville two weeks ago.

Dishcrawl is an organization that hosts guided tours through a neighbourhood allowing people to discover restaurants and new foods with other foodies. It started in San Francisco and has spread to about 20 cities in North America. I had heard about Dishcrawl through Twitter and Facebook a couple of months ago but it was my sister Liz who let me know about the Dishcrawl Yorkville event. The event was $75 per person not including drinks and featured four different restaurants: Prime, Babaluu, Ciao Wine Bar and MoRoCo. When you sign up for the event you know that you will be going to four different restaurants but they announce the first restaurant two days before the event and the other three are announced day of.

We met the group at Prime which is located in the Windsor Arms, one of the most prestigious and swank hotels in the city. We first went to Prime for Winterlicious 2011 and had a great experience. I really want to go to Prime for high tea because it would be magical, fancy, adult and of course, very British.

The Windsor Arms is beautiful and soothing and I wish I had the money to spend an evening there and enjoy every luxury. The closest I will get to this is occasionally dining and drinking here. The tea room has intense, red walls, portraits of various members of the royal family, jeweled chandeliers and plush bench seating. The dining room is a little more modern and subdued. We enjoyed appetizers and cocktails in the tea room. I ordered a gin and tonic and was actually asked which type of gin (all British, of course) I wanted by a charming British man. We enjoyed three types of appetizers (only one of which I photographed).

1. Duck Spring Rolls

2. Bruschetta Canapes topped with Bocconccini

3. Smoked Salmon and Creme Fraiche Tartlet.

After our appetizers we headed into the heart of Yorkville to Babaluu. Babaluu is a Latin American salsa club and restaurant. Every night there are free salsa lessons before the restaurant becomes more about dancing than eating. I want to go back, have a few glasses of sangria and take in a night of dancing.

The restaurant is in the basement of the building but instead of feeling cramped and damped it felt cozy and like a Mexican cave. Here we had a Latin American tasting plate sampling the highlights of Babaluu’s menu.

A little plate of Latin yums. Top left clockwise – vegetarian sopas with beans, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce, paella with shrimp, chorizo and calamari, and a beef empanada with pico de gallo. Everything was delicious. The sopas was the perfect mouthful of flavour and spice. Paella is one of my favourite dishes – it is creamy and light and full of so many different things. Seafood, meat, and veggies – everything I could ever want. The empanada was not my favourite – it had a cornmeal crust/shell and I don’t really like cornmeal. It has a gritty texture and a sweet taste = Not for everyone.

Our next stop was Ciao Wine Bar. They gave us an excessively large amount of food that was served family style. The general manager came out and told us about the restaurant, what they serve and about their Tuesday night lobster special – 1 1/2 lbs of lobster on a bed of fettuccine. It goes without saying that I am going back to this restaurant – preferably on a Tuesday.

This is just a sample of some of the food we tried that night. Of everything we tried, the Fettucine Porcini was the best. It was so creamy, and had a real woodsy taste from the mushrooms. If you are a mushroom lover, this is the ultimate dish for you. My only complaint was that there was so much food that I couldn’t eat more than a few bites of each.  This just means I will have to go back.

Dessert was a visit to MoRoCo for some chocolate and a lesson on tempering chocolate. The inside was an overload of purple and velvet and curlicues – it was very Marie Antoinette which when eating chocolate and sweets is key. We tried a variety of different chocolates (milk, dark, white and caramel), chocolate covered ginger and Turkish delight, gluten free chocolate cookies, vanilla and orange hot chocolate, macarons and two things we didn’t try – dark chocolate bark with orange extract, orange peel, toasted almonds and dried blueberries and chocolate bar with bacon and peanuts. Everything use the highest quality ingredients and with this comes a price tag. Since I am not the biggest chocolate fan I don`t know if I will come back just for chocolate. There is an actual menu though so you could have dinner, brunch or afternoon tea.

Overall this is a great way to discover new food, new restaurants and new people. I would not only do it again but also recommend it to other people. I had a great time and now have four more restaurants I would like to go back to. There are a couple of Dishcrawl events coming about in May and June and I am currently debating which one to check out and with who.