Friday, April 13, 2012

Toronto: Yours Truly

one of everything

You hear it, and it's an eye-roller.  But you see it, and it's quite the heart-warmer. 

Yours Truly has one of the nicest bars I've seen in a while - rustic and stylish and of course, fully stocked.  The concrete tables and copper drop lights are urban accents one might expect to find in a hip resto-bar.  And at about 9, true to form, the lights turn down low and the music goes up.

I find Yours Truly's story endearing so I'll tell you a bit about it.  It was going to be a "snack bar" until the owners hired Jeff Claudio (off of Craigs List by the way).  Claudio has worked at some of the world's most notable restaurants, one of which (Rockpool) I will be trying in a few months (can't wait).

Their menus are ever-changing, but there are only three.  Two set (veggie and not) and one snack.

April 8, 2012
Of all the things I loved about Yours Truly, the most notable was who brought us our food - their chefs.  That's correct - they make it and then bring it to your table to walk you through it.  Love that.

Last Sunday my sister and I met up with The Scotsman and Venus to grab a drink and sample the snacks.  A lot of the menu is more preparation than cooking, but either way, food boils down to concept.  The chef has an idea and he brings it to fruition.  I would describe it as a gastronomical pub with classic charm and molecular whimsy.  Some of the ideas weren't innovative, others were, but every one was presented beautifully, and tasted near perfect.

The four of us joked that we should just get one of everything.  But you know it's not a joke if you actually do it...and we did:
Deviled Eggs. Sriracha , furikake, sesame.  The srirachi was a dollop of genius.

Salt Cod. Inari, kewpie, nori, rice.  My favourite things in one bite.

Thuet Bread with whipped duck fat and crispy shallots.  Cutest presentation ever. Duck. Fat. OMG.  (Wished there had been more shallots.)

Monforte Cheese with osprey bluffs honey.  Melts in your mouth.

Salmon Sashimi. Sour apple, white soy mustard, shaved foie gras.  I would like to squirt white soy mustard on everything.

Rice Pudding.  While I'm usually not a fan, this one was really delicious.

I just checked their menu today.  They have a chinese pork rice bowl and a behirir moroccan pancake.  They're calling me. 

Yours Truly on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Toronto: Cool Hand Luc

:King West:

I don't not like ice cream.  I'm just not unparticular. 

It started as a child.  My mother says I was an extremely picky and very particular eater.  It has gotten better with age, but I am still really, really weird about my ice cream.  My people laugh because they know that technically I don't like ice cream, but I will enjoy CERTAIN ones.

For example:
  • Baskin Robins' Jamoca Almond Fudge.  My 'go-to' since I was about 12.
  • Greg's Roasted Marshmallow.  I love burnt marshmallows to the point I will start a fire in my backyard and get roasting.
  • Bilboquet's Coconut.  I used to detest coconut.  Following my trip to Cuba in 2006 that all changed.
  • Dairy Queen's Banana Split Blizzard.  Newly added in 2011.  It's a something different treat.
Now we are adding a fifth to that list: Cool Hand Luc's Maple Walnut.

I love ice cream!
 A lip-smacking blend of maple ice cream and lots of walnuts.  Heavenly.

Minnie got Heavenly Hash:

I hate ice cream.
 Luc is a welcoming cute joint with a side of smiles:

But Luc is also expensive, then again, look where you are.  King West.  That's what happens when familar things get big citied. 

I don't mind.  I totally didn't dislike that ice cream.

Cool Hand Luc on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Toronto: Arepa Café

when one door closes, another opens
:Queen West:

I woke up on the Saturday of the long weekend really happy.  My sister and I were heading to BMB aka Banh Mi Boys.  So you can imagine my disappointment when I walked by it and saw that it was closed for "kitchen repairs". Tear.

I dried my eye and messaged The Scotsman for ideas of where to go.  He suggested Arepa.  I'd never been but I was down with "Venezuelan urbanity".

Arepa Café is a Queen West joint that's urban hipster meets chic café.  It's bright, narrow and casual.  An arepa is traditional Venezulean comfort food of homemade cornmeal pockets stuffed with stuff.  And at Arepa, they are generous in their stuffing.

Their menu is pretty extensive, but as I looked around, it seemed most people were munching on an arepa of one kind or another.

My stuff was adobo roasted pork ($8.50):

The Scotsman ordered the pabellon (shredded flank steak, black beans, sweet plantains, mozzarella, $9.75).  And my sister (accidentally, I say accidentally because she meant to get what the Scotsman) ordered the vegetarian option.  When hungry our brains only use the minimal amount of energy necessary for average cognitive functioing.  Put another way, we not so smart.

pabellon veggie arepa

I should warn you - their hot sauce is hot.  Think throat closing, mouth on fire, red-face hot.  It's no joke.  I made the mistake of thinking it was and slapped it all over my arepa.  

The three of also shared empanadas. Big mistake - it was weird.  Slightly sweet and a dry bland filling.  But again, I was hungry so not so smart. There is still no empanada that holds a candle to Las Palmas.

Overall the arepas were delicious, very filling, and messy.  Since I'm not one to shy away from a mess I would go back, but I would definitely skip the empanadas.

Arepa Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Toronto: Nadège Patisserie

in full bloom


Happy Easter - I hope it's full of mini eggs and bubbles - mine will be.  This weekend is what I regard as the official first day of spring.  And next to fall, it's my favourite season.  Last year's spring wasn't so.  I had to contend with some crazies.  A year has since passed and the crazies have fallen by the wayside, leaving my world back to only being full of rosies and posies.  FYI, I don't invite these crazies in, they just let themselves in.  They're the type of women who are bothered by my existence because as they put it "I make them feel inferior".  So they blame me for their "issues" and lash out.  I simply bow out.

It was recently pointed out to me that a year later these crazies still have problems.  Well, duh.  I think the catch-22 is lost on them.  All their negativity reaffirms their inferiority.  Class and grace cannot be taught.

That is my holiday anecdote.  Remember, Easter should be a time of reflection - use it wisely.

It's also a time for pastels and pretty-ness - like high tea, scones, cupcakes, and macarons. 

Last week, as the Dream Team and I were walking back from GE, I saw Nadège, and it beckoned.  It really, really wanted me to come in and look at it's pretty display:

I heard their croissants and macarons are perhaps in 'the best of the city'.  Here is my little one:

Salted Caramel
She's precious.  She also tasted delicious, but a bit chewy.

I would say she was one of the better macarons I've had in Toronto.  Course I'm not a macaron expert because I don't really get the whole fascination.  To me, it's just flavoured egg whites.  I'd give a box to the crazies, I mean nothing warms the heart like sugar, right?

Nadege Patisserie on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Clear Improvement Mask by Origins

back to black
:Average at $26:

I got turned off my black masks because they seem so gimmicky.  Even moreso after Boscia.  A year-and-a-half later and it still annoys me that it was annoying to pick that crap off my face.

My favourite mask at this very moment is the same as it was about six months ago, when I hand-delivered it to Greenthumbs, as per his request.  It made his face angelic.

So I bought it for myself.  It was pricey.  But it makes my skin glow.  Course I look more like a cherub, but that's because my genes armed with fat cheeks.  I'd like to blame my parents, but I can't because their DNA also gave me with babybutt skin.  Anyway, I'll tell you what IT is another day.  Girl can keep a secret a little while longer.

I can, however, share another great mask.  I did it last night.  This afternoon my complexion is still very clear and bright.  See:

Origins Clear Improvement uses activated charcoal and white china clay to draw out debris in your pores and absorb environmental toxins, respectively.  It sounds so effective - likely because it is.  If you read my early posts, you'll remember I love charcoal.  I still use this stuff.  It's stockpiled in my bathroom vanity. 

5 minutes elapsed

It's black and goes on smooth, and dries tight, real tight.  I could barely move my face.  It's annoying to remove with just your hand, so use a wet warm towel to help it along.

My skin looked clean.  It felt clean.  I wonder how much crap was on my face?  Knowing me, a lot.  I accumulate crap wherever I go in everything I do.

But look at me now, oh.

Like it.

Lash Stash Fails

:LashStash buy:
I'm that 25%

During the holidays I got my LashStash.

I then immediately told you that I liked Fairydrops, LashGasm, and Gifted.

Then nothing.


Why? Because everything else in there fell short. I know I'm in the 25% because the majority loved everything in the box. But I'll put it to you like this. The other mascaras in there are for girls who still wear TNA pants tucked into UGGs.

That needs to be banned.

I need more. Actually I demand more because there are mascaras that do it all. Remember this and this. Yes, they're still my favourites and yes I still buy them, use them, and love them.
No thanks, pass.


You get the picture...there were many more.

Finding a good mascara is very much like finding a good man. You don't know until you try, and even then, you need to give it a couple weeks. That's how long it takes to dig deep. Some come in slick packaging, others are shiny, some are matte and simple...

Whatever catches your eye you still need to wear the sh*t out of it to see if it delivers, remains consistent, does what it says it will, doesn't disappoint, can withstand the elements, and lastly, doesn't flake or leave crap behind.

Lips by Bite & Skincare by Somerville

rising north
:Average to Pricey:

My apologies.  It took a few people nagging on me to realize that I have really been remiss in posting my beauty buys.  Oopsiedaisy.  I have about a hundred excuses, none of which I'm sure you care a lot about.  Although your complaints are well-intended, I've been really happy with my skincare regimen and my makeup.  Which isn't to say I haven't been accumulating more products.  I have.  My little box of stuff has turned into a one tonne crate.  I'm trying to get through everything, but it's not so easy.
I mean I wasn't joking when I said the beauty world is over-saturated.  Not that that is a bad thing.

Let's just let bygones be bygones.  I'm isn't that what counts?

I will be rapidly posting some of the best and worst of the 1% I've managed to get through.

The best news I have to give you is that Kate Somerville and Bite are now both available in Canada.

Oh glowing hearts!

I like Kate for a few reasons.  I dig her simple packaging.  I also dig that she's considered an expert in addressing aging skin issues. 

Coolest dispenser ever.  It's high-techness for your face.
It absorbs quickly and let's me target my forehead wrinkles.
I don't fear them.  I just worry that if I do nothing about them I may start to look like a sharpei. 
Sharpeis are cute.  If you bark.
I like Bite because it's food-grade, and shouldn't anything that touches your lips be?  They didn't sacrifice colour either; they have a large selection of lipsticks and glosses.  Ever since Dr. Oz talked about them, mini-van moms and yummy mommys have been the reason they're flying off the shelf.

Sleek and chic.
I know what you're wondering now...where in Canada?  Why Sephora.  Where else, right.

Love it.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Toronto: Grand Electric

fiesta in your face

I heard.  I went. I loved.

Grand Electric has been busy.  I heard it was a two-hour wait.  It wasn't.  It was about 30 minutes.  (FYI: No reservations, but you can leave your name and number and the hostess will add you to her already burgeoning list.  Be patient or stay home.)

Last week I was craving me some Mexican - might have something to do with all those annoying Old El Paso commercials.  Anyway...I decided to do something about it so I asked Dream Team if they'd be interested in going with me after work on Thursday.  It opens at 6 (six nights a week; closed Tuesdays) so we figured we'd get there before and wait.  Of course Dream Team said yes, because they are none other than Cracker and The Scotsman - and these two do food like I do.

Dream Team headed over and were in line by the time I arrived.  It's a longer trek for me so I didn't get to Parkdale until about 5:45 pm.  Doors opened at 6 and we were the fifth party seated.

GE is very chill.  That's the best way to describe it.  It's the kind of joint where you can walk in, get fed, drink up and go home...happy.  It's what I like to call a P-spot: Personal-Pleasant-Poppin' - as in the music.

So there's a lot you can learn about GE if you care.  Who's behind it, what they're doing and why, etc.  I'm not here for that.  I'm only here for the food.
And the drinks.  GE has fantastic drinks, such as a bourbon sour:

Egg white foam and a kick of pepper
GE's food is really tasty Mexican fare.  Quality ingredients brought together into familiar, authentic flavours, but kicked up a knotch.
Beef crudo tostada - beef tartare, peanuts, mint

Tuna ceviche: perfect zing, lots of zest, and lovely fish
Special: Queso fundido - chorizo, cheese, egg
Not as good as it sounded.
Their tacos are $3.50 and worth EVERY penny, and a high 5.

Baja Fish

Beef Cheek

Pork Belly

The baja fish taco made my list of best fish tacos.  Of the three we tried, it was my favourite.  It was also The Scotsman's favourite, and Cracker's favourite.  Three people can't be wrong.
We ended on a sweet note - the key lime one was really, really good.  The chocolate-pecan thing was okay.  I don't like chocolate, but I do love praline pecans.  We should have got two of the key lime...perhaps three.  I didn't like sharing.

I really want you all to eat here, and not because it's "hip".  When I eat out, I want to enjoy the company with whom I'm eating. Enjoy the place I'm doing the eating. And of course, really love what I'm eating, and after all is said and done, like the price I paid.  Anything else people say is just a whole lot of hoopla I don't remember.  I think one of GE's owners said it best. "'We are restaurant workers. We’re serving you food and getting you drunk.'"  Oh, high 5 there buddy.  

So, for as long as GE keeps it real, there will be a lot of happy eaters.  I just wish it wasn't so far.  I also wish they'd open up a taco stand closer to the downtown core so that me and my lil' two feet could step on by and pick up, oh I don't know, perhaps ten?  Ya, ten  tacos sounds about right. 
Grand Electric on Urbanspoon