Thursday, February 20, 2014

big crow

Girls love brunch. They love brunch with their boyfriends, with their siblings, maybe even with a grandparent if they're into that, but they most definitely love brunch with other girls. A daytime activity with eating, chatting, coffee-ing, re-hashing, and usually some drinking - it's probably the second most girly activity imaginable, next to shopping.  This weekend I joined in a girly brunch at the most non-girly of brunch spots. Welcome to big crow, sister restaurant to the previously blogged rose and sons. This is not your average eggs and bacon brunch spot. Inspired by the beautiful Algonquin Park, Big Crow looks more like an in-the-forest lodge you would stop at for some food after a full day of canoeing, and perhaps a portage or two.  Fur hides layered across long picnic benches, instant coffee, and this dude below cooking over an open fire surrounded by piles of chopped wood - brilliant. And they don't just win on aesthetics either, their food was the real kicker. It all had the same homey feel that R&S had, but instead of grandma's cooking, it was more of an Uncle Bob grilling over a campfire experience. And we all love Uncle Bob.
hot smoked salmon platter, hard egg, dill cucumber, everything bagel ($15)
bbq bacon and fried eggs, garlic broccoli ($14)
coal baked brie, roast garlic with chillies, toast ($14)
soft and sexy maple and cheese grits, fried egg and mushrooms ($12)
The portions were generous, the food was flavourful, and the dishes were refreshingly different from the majority of brunch spots. Everything had a delicious smoky taste without a hint of burntness. This was just their brunch menu but I've heard chatter that the dinner items are even better (1/2 a rabbit in honey butter hot sauce…anyone??). And they DO take reso's so if you want, you can bring a whole girly squad. Make sure you don't have a hot date right after though, as you will leave with a strong smoky scent lingering in your hair. Eau de char, the new trend.

Happy Thursday!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

kale salad with zucchini ribbons

Amidst turkeys and burgers and pie and overloads of Halloween candy, I think a little greenery should sneak back into my life. Cue kale! This salad is really easy and PACKED with vitamins and cancer-fighitng nutrients. All you need is a couple cups of kale, 1 zucchini, crumbled fetta, black olives, and pretty much whatever else you like in your salad/have in your fridge. 
I find kale sometimes has an overly earthy taste - to loosen it up a bit, I cooked it in a heated skillet with about 1 tbsp of olive oil for just a minute or two, to let it wilt and ease up on that really raw flavour. Set it aside and let it cool.
Shave the zucchini using a vegetable peeler, or a mandolin if you have one accessible. I had to play around with it for a while, but don't be afraid to be forceful (it's just a zucchini...).
Heat up a grill and give it a spritz of oil so the ribbons don't stick. Arrange them across the grill horizontally, season with salt and pepper. You'll know they're just about done when they start turning yellow and getting those dark grill marks across them. No need to flip them over, these ribbons are so thin they will cook RIGHT through.
I added pitted black olives, crumbled feta, and slivered almonds. Toss with a vinaigrette made of 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 tsp dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Voila, the freshest, healthiest salad your heart ever did see. Feel free to add grilled chicken or shrimp if you want to pack in some protein. 

Everyone needs a little green to combat the sugar overload from Halloween. Or at least I do, as empty wrappers are currently littering my room....

Happy Sunday!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

rose and sons

taken from

I consider brunch a religious festivity. It is a sacred meal, that glorious time between breakfast and lunch where all things egg, meat, and carbohydrate come together to form a delicious concoction of benedicts, waffles, and the homiest of fries.  While I usually practice brunch on Sundays following a rough night out, I decided to switch things up this week in honour of my dear old ma's birthday. Brunch on a Thursday? I'll allow it.  Off we headed to the north Annex diner, Rose and Sons, owned and operated by two gentlemen (Anthony Rose and Chris Sanderson) both formerly employed by the Drake Hotel. Don't bother looking for a Rose and Sons sign; instead, keep your eyes out for simply the word "FOOD" on the storefront. The space, with about 8-10 booths, holds a max of 25-30 guests at a time...and that would be prettttty cozy.  Lucky for us, it seems thursday brunches aren't overly popular so we snagged a whole booth to ourselves. I had heard great things about the food and I was happily surprised to see that the reputation was very much warranted. It felt like every dish was cooked with a little bit of love, you know? Like we were eating at someone's grandma's house where you get that real homey taste, but without the unnecessary overload of grease you pick up from most diners. The fried chicken was moist and delectable and the apple/beet hushpuppies gave our meat-heavy dishes some much needed freshness.  The smoked salmon wasn't exactly what I expected - instead of the raw, lox-style salmon it was more of a piece of salmon smoked on the grill.  It was still very tasty, especially on a bed of Schmaltz hash browns. The real winner was the patty melt burger - it literally melted in your mouth. Welcome to salivation city! We ended with a birthday cake a la blueberry bread pudding; the perfect match of sweet and savoury. 

coffees, cappuccinos, and warm apple cider
patty melt burger - grilled cheese, fried onions, chill mayo
wild rice and old cheddar hushpuppies - apples, brussels, beetroots, honey
fried chicken club - bacon, ezell's slaw, sour pickle
big crow hot smoked salmon - schmaltz hash, egg, dill pickle sauce
bread pudding w/ wild blueberries . . .  .and an old fashioned

We added an aperitif (or two) with dessert. They make a mean Old Fashioned.  My brunches aren't usually paired with booze (Caesars don't count) but quoting the birthday girl, "It's 12 o-clock somewhere!"..

Happy Tuesday!


Monday, October 14, 2013

giving thanks

If I eat any more turkey or pie, I'm going to turn into a turkey or a pie. Maybe a turkey pie. Regardless of the pain my body may be in today, the culinary feast I experienced yesterday was worth every bite. This post will be a shameless depiction of a delicious thanksgiving that no, I did not cook myself. I'm not going to sugar coat it - besides a bit of assembly work, my only real contribution to the meal was the dessert (and I may or may not have eaten some if the night before...oopsie). My Mom took the reigns on this feast, loosely following the recipes from the Williams Sonoma Blackberry Farms Thanksgiving catalogue while throwing in a lot of her own brilliant ideas and admirable cooking talents. For her, I am thankful.
the bird - dad's own recipe

collard greens with lardons and caramelized shallots
brussels sprouts with radicchio and pancetta
wild mushroom and root vegetable gratin
focaccia stuffing with roasted chestnuts, bacon, and apples
apple cherry cobbler - my contribution, recipe coming soon!
I hope everyone had a fun/family/food/friend filled weekend!

Happy Monday!

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