Gastropost – Taco Take Over

This week’s challenge for Gastropost was Toronto’s Taco Take Over. I decided to do a little research into a new food truck that is starting, Gourmet Gringos, and find out what kind of tacos they will be serving up. The people at Gourmet Gringos were great, they gave me a photo of their Mahi Mahi fish taco and a description of all the deliciousness that it contains. You can check out my Gastropost page here and the the contains of the original post below.

Photo Credit: Suresh Doss – Spotlight Toronto

Instead of featuring a taco that I have had and so has everyone else, I decided to feature “The Taco I Can’t Wait to Eat” – the tacos from Gourmet Gringos. Gourmet Gringos is a new food truck that will be launching in the next couple weeks and is Toronto’s first Latin American inspired truck. The truck will feature a variety of tacos: mole braised short ribs, carnitas, cochinitas, braised shredded chicken, Argentinian steak and what I can’t wait for, the Mahi Mahi Fish Taco.

The Mahi Mahi Fish Taco uses fresh Mahi Mahi fillets marinated overnight, then battered in a seasoned beer batter and fried until crispy and golden brown. The fillets are served on a fresh corn tortilla topped with homemade coleslaw, guacamole and finished off with a chipotle aioli (as described by the chef behind Gourmet Gringos).

Umm, yes, please! Only two more weeks until this becomes a reality!

This week`s Gastropost challenge is pack your food… Anyone up for a picnic?

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.


Jumbo Empanadas

A couple of weeks ago, GC and I were looking for a quick bite to eat in Kensington Market and strangely enough, this was not as easy as it would seem/should be. Our first attempt was The Grilled Cheese and I’m pretty convinced I am destined to NOT eat here. We were told it would take 25 minutes for us to get our sandwiches. Why? In what world should it take 25 minutes to make a grilled cheese sandwich, especially when that is pretty much all your restaurant makes? Hipster fail. I think this is just another reason why my heart still belongs to Cheesewerks.

After our first failed attempt to satisfy our hungry, we wandered into a few more restaurants and still no luck. Hungry, cranky and pressed for time, GC suggested we go to Jumbo Empanadas.

For those who don’t know, an empanada is stuffed bread/dough that is fried and is common in Latin American cultures. Jumbo Empanada draws on inspiration of Latin culture in Texas and the decor has a southwest feel to it.

The menu is pretty straight forward but a little daunting if you don’t know anything about empanadas. We should have asked for a suggestion/what the best selling item on the menu is – next time we will do this. This is a good tip for any restaurant you go to where the menu is large and you are overwhelmed with options. You will get the best and most popular item as a suggestion and insight into the restaurant and it’s staff.

We opted to each get a chicken empanada – the empanadas are made in the morning and then warmed to order. You can get your empanadas to stay or to go or to eat on their patio.

This is the empanada before I tore it apart. The outside was crunchy but when you bit into it, it was doughy and soft.

Here is the inside of my empanada. Shredded chicken, herbs, spices, peppers and a hard boiled egg. The salsa added the perfect amount of heat and complimented all the ingredients. The egg kind of threw me off at first but it was cooked perfectly so there was no grey around the yolk and the yolk was soft and creamy.

These look huge but I think I could have eaten two but maybe I’m just a glutton. Despite its size, the empanada was light and didn’t leave you feeling like you had a rock in your stomach.

I want to go back in the summer and sit on the patio and make the people walking by jealous of my delicious food. If you are in Kensington Market and need a quick bite to eat, this is the place, and would be even if there was a plethora of options.