Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grand electric

Grand electric, bustling just as much outside as in
Anyone that has a remote interest in the toronto food scene should have heard some of the buzz surrounding Grand Electric, the small mexican-american joint on Queen West, in the past few months. I ventured there on Friday with a few friends to see what all the hullaballoo was about and all I have to say is, get yo ass there asap!! And get there early. Or late, because there will be a line, and it will be long. We arrived just before 8, and the (lovely) hostess said the next table of four would be available in about an hour and a half. Luckily Parkdale is not lacking in the bar/food department so we headed across the street to The Rhino for a drink and some app's. Although we didn't actually get in until just before 10, I can truly say it was well worth sticking around. Not only is the menu price savvy (taco's for $3.50) and the ambiance totally cool ( rooftop patio, picnic table benches, Jay-Z blasting all night, come on.....), but the food was just incredible. I'm starting to see the appeal of smaller menu's - the food comes fast, and always tastes salivation-worthy. My favourite on this menu would have to be the fish tacos, crisp and grease-free, with the grilled corn (lightly covered in a cheese butter) following in a close second. Also, the drink menu is rather impressive, especially for bourbon lovers (there are bourbon lovers out there right?)
bourbon mint lemonade and the grand electric sour (bourbon sour)
an elaborate bourbon menu
tuna ceviche
beef cheek taco, fish taco
grilled corn
grilled squid
....and another round of fish tacos
happy! (note the cool menu in the background)
If you're looking for some sweet eats on Queen, check out grand electric. The patio shuts down at 10:30, but the inside rocks until late.

Happy Tuesday!


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Veggie puttanesca

While it's basically just a spin off the all-time fave pasta puttanesca, i'm quite a fan of the added veggie/sans capers recipe. Mainly because I can't afford capers right now.

Slice up 1 zucchini 
Set aside in a bowl with washed, dried, and sliced mushrooms

Sauté garlic and chopped white onion in about 2 tbsp oil
Toss the veggies in with the onions and garlic

Stir occasionally
Mix 1 jar of Nonna's tomato sauce (or your favourite tomato sauce) with
half a can of tomato paste
Add to the veggies with 1/2 cup olives
Add crumbled feta to taste
Pair with your favourite pasta and bon appetite
I've been reading a ton of reviews lately about Grand Electric, the Mexican restaurant on Queen West. I'm heading there Friday for a farewell dinner with some friends so hopefully my expectations aren't set too high!
Happy Tuesday!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eden on the Lakeshore

As you can clearly see, the view from outside Eden Trattoria on the Lakeshore definitely makes the visit worthwhile, especially on a clear night. I'm not one to give "bad" reviews of restaurants, and Eden was by no means bad, but I think it's fair to say I was not overly impressed with the meal. I had no complaints with the calamari and chicken parmigiana - they were great. But even though you can decorate your pizza with a whole whack of different toppings, I didn't really enjoy the final product. I found the crust too thick, and the sauce too wet, so most of the toppings would fall off when you picked up a slice. That being said, I'm a pretty picky pizza-eater as my family creates a masterpiece that could rival any pizzeria in the city.  I think the ambiance is Eden's real selling point - it has a spectacular view and a great patio so I would come back for drinks and appetizers.  I also got a $100 parking ticket (yes, ONE HUNDRED dollars) which may have left a sour taste in my mouth in addition to the meal, so watch for that if you're parking on the Lakeshore.

Freshly Battered Calamari and Shrimp - $13.99
Large personal pizza with extra toppings - $17.50
Only half with hot peppers
Chicken Breast Parmigiana -$15.99
Happy Thursday!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Zucchini Blossoms

This weekend was spend with cousins and relatives celebrating the life of a departed aunt.  It is amazing how times of grief and sorrow can bring families so much closer together. I am fortunate enough to have all four of my grandparents still alive and well, but I realize that won't always be a reality.  I was thinking of my Nonna (Italian for grandmother) the past few days, and I can't express what an amazing lady she is - such a soft heart, but an incredibly hard worker (seriously, the woman has more stamina than me).   No matter what time of day you visit, she will always have some sort of delicious meal ready to serve. She has taught me that the value of a home cooked family meal goes beyond feeding a hungry stomach, and that most things you should be eating can be picked straight from your backyard garden. While I realize nothing I ever make will ever taste quite as good as hers, I am still going to try and record some of her most famous recipes so I can share them with the family I may one day have. 

Deep-fried zucchini flowers (blossoms)

These were picked today, straight off the zucchini plants in my Nonna's garden. If you don't have a zucchini garden, you can get them at most grocery stores - they're best used the same day they are picked.  Look for blossoms with green, moist stems that haven't dried out, and bright orange flours that aren't wilted.

Peanut oil/ Canola oil for deep frying
6-8 zucchini blossoms (hand picked
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup flour
flaked sea salt and pepper

I had about 16 flowers, so the recipe is doubled.
Wash and dry flowers thoroughly. Remove the pistil (the inner part
of the flower).
Put the egg and milk in a shallow disk, add salt and pepper,
and whisk to combine.
Mix the flour with salt and pepper in another shallow dish.
Dip the zucchini in the egg wash..
..and then into the flour mixture...
...so they look something like this.
Heat oil to a frying temperature of 350F-180C. Drop in the flowers.
Remove when they're golden brown (about 10 seconds).
Drain on paper towel and serve.
Happy Monday everyone.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Paris - Not sure how French women stay so thin...

Seriously, the whole concept of a stick-thin Parisian women is an anomaly to me... either they don't get out much, or their metabolism had adapted to French cuisine over the years. Regardless, the food and wine in Paris was unbelievable, and yes, it is true, it is very comparable to Italian cuisine (which is better?....no comment). Unfortunately, this was near the end of my trip and I had become a bit lazy with recording the restaurants and dishes we ate, but I hope the photos will suffice.
This restaurant was called "Finzi" and it had AMAZING pasta

Happy Thursday! My weather network app keeps shifting from "Sunny and 30 degrees" to "Chance of severe thunderstorms"....*shakes head. Hopefully it's just a glitch in the system...


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Utrecht and Amsterdam Part II

Just a few more photos from the end of our stay in Holland. Two things you need to try in Amsterdam - 1) "Bitterballen", a meat-based snack, covered in batter and fried with curry and vegetables. It may sound kinda weird, but it's great dipped in mustard (how can anything battered and fried NOT be  great, seriously). 2) Pancakes! We went to a fairly popular chain called Pancakes Amsterdam. Be prepared to wait a while at any time in the day (you'd be surprised how popular pancakes are for dinner..), but it's definitely worth it.

a mishmash of noms
croque monsieur (Got really used to these in Europe)
dutch version of a "patio"
I need my own cheese wheelbarrow
banana peanut butter pancake (mine)
ham and cheese pancake
apples and cinnamon pancake
Happy Monday!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Utrecht and Amsterdam Part I

The Netherlands in general was likely my favourite spot on our Eurotrip  - and no, not for the reasons you would think. We went into Amsterdam most days and a few nights, but we actually stayed in Utrecht, a small town about 20 minutes outside of the city. Not gonna lie, at first I was slightly disappointed that we weren't staying right in the middle of Amsterdam with all the action - my sister's friend was on exchange in Utrecht, so we decided to hotel there instead. But after 4 days here, I couldn't have been happier! Not only is it the most beautiful, quaint little town but there were TONS of shops/stores/restaurants/bars lining the streets. And although Amsterdam was a lot cleaner/nicer than I anticipated, Utrecht didn't give off that major tourist vibe and wasn't so rammed with people. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Karel V, right across from the train station that takes you into Amsterdam and it was gorgeous. While we did eat out a bunch, our hotel had an amazing breakfast buffet and restaurant on-site, The Louisa Brasserie, which was actually an old military kitchen used during the war. The Netherlands aren't really known for their food, but it's hard not to enjoy a meal when you're sipping an ice-cold pint on a patio overlooking the canal. 

Patio at the Grand Hotel Karel V
Individually packaged granola and muesli for breakfast..!!!!
..Although sometimes I just stuck with the basics.
Fish dish at Louisa Brasserie
Sliced beef with potatoes and asparagus in a beef broth
Couscous with goat cheese, green beans, in a tangy tomato sauce
Dessert - daily sorbets of strawberry chocolate chip, lemon, and banana
Patios line the canal to prepare for Queen's Day
Advertising food everywhere in Utrecht
If you're planning a trip to Amsterdam, I would recommend taking a stop in Utrecht. And if you're a student- go on exchange here!

Happy Friday! Go outside and enjoy a healthy dose of Vitamin D.

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