Food, Lists

Things I like to eat & drink (1/many)

1) Chicken & Waffles. I love fried chicken, and I love waffles. Put your hands together. My life is made. This is actually one of my favourite foods in the world.

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2) Churros: What’s better than fried dough sticks filled with or dipped in chocolate and caramel? Few things.

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3) Seafood. I know, this is Red Lobster, but I’m not a snob and it’s pretty delicious.

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4) Starbucks birthday cake pops. Or any cake pops that take like birthday cake. The best.

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5) Cotton candy

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6) Macaron ice cream sandwiches. I’ve only found these in a tiny Italian gelato shop in Dubai, but I saw a smaller, more disappointing version somewhere on the Danforth.

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7) Tiki Puka Pukas and spicy fries from Trader Vic’s. My favourite bar in the world, and my favourite drink in the world. Add fries and a beach view, and I’m home.

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8) Singapore noodle stir fry. I haven’t had any good stir fry in the restaurants here. This is at the Noodle Room in Dubai. Delicious.

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9) Pofak Oman chips. They’re like Arab cheetos but way more delicious. I ate these my entire childhood and eating them now takes me right back to our first home by the gorgeous fold mountains of Oman.

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10) Fried cheese balls from Trader Vic’s. Best fried cheese I’ve had. They mix the cheese with jalapenos, parsley and some other shit, I have no idea. I just know these are fucking delicious.

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Food, Restaurant Review

Summerlicious: Café Moroc & Big Daddy’s

Summerlicious is one of my favourite things about Toronto. I usually don’t do a lot because I don’t have the time or people around me don’t have the time, so I do about 4-5 every Licious season. For Summerlicious, I’m did Café Moroc and Big Daddy’s Oyster Bar.

Café Moroc and Big Daddy’s are the two restaurants I always go to. Once every Licious season. I’m a big fan of Café Moroc. I refuse to pay $50 on a thousand course meal that I probably won’t get through anyways, so Licious TO makes it a lot easier for me. For half the price, you get a meal you can actually eat without bursting at the seams. Although I did anyway.

CAFE MOROC

Here’s their Summerlicious menu.

And here’s what I got.

Maftoul

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Flavourful, spiced beef, cashews and raisins in crispy, flakey pastry topped with chipotle aioli.

I think these were my favourite part of the meal. The beef was so perfectly seasoned and spiced, and cooked well. I’m a big fan of texture, so the creamy aioli, crispy pastry and spicy tender beef was just perfect – beautiful harmony of colours and textures (Wow, I felt pretty gross saying that. But there’s no other way of describing the deliciousness I put in my mouth.) – I literally felt like Remy the mouse when he puts cheese and grapes in his little rat mouth.

Chicken Marrakesh

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Boneless chicken thighs stewed with onions, prunes and dried apricots, served on fluffy cous cous.

The Chicken Marrakesh was very subtley spiced and tasted best when you got onions, prunes and apricots and cous cous in your mouth at once. On its own, separately, the various elements of the dish were pretty bland, I’ll be honest. However the menu’s description of the cous cous being “fluffy” was accurate.

Brulée Royal 

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Your basic creme brulée, but way more buttery, crackly and delicious.

I haven’t had creme brulée you actually have to tap to “break” in a long time. After I was done, my lips had this lovely coating of butter that you only get from eating things that have Paula Deen amounts of butter. Excellent.

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Moroccan Beef Short Rib

My boyfriend got the Moroccan Beef Short Rib, which was on the bone, and was served with Yukon gold parsnip mash, mini Casablanca vegetables (zucchinis, peppers and carrots) topped with a rich red wine demi-glace.

They described the beef as fall off the bone and it was literally fall-off the bone. Tender meat melting in your mouth accompanied by that delicious red wine demi glace – perfection. I’m not eating potatoes but I can just imagine mash being the perfect bland side to it. I use the word bland loosely.

If anything, this entire meal is worth it for the damn Maftoul. Dessert was spectacular as well, but the Maftoul was just. BEYOND.

BIG DADDY’S

Big Daddy’s is one of my favourite restaurants. Those places I go more than once. I’ve even had the alligator on their menu. Yes. They have alligator on their menu. That should be the one single reason you go to this restaurant. If you’re not going Summerlicious, I suggest doing their tapas style menu during VooDoo Hours. They have small plates featuring crab cakes, alligator, fried cheese, and more deliciousness.

Anyways, before I get distracted again, here’s their Summerlicious menu and here’s what I ate:

Lobster Bisque 

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I’ve never had soup at Big Daddy’s. I always get the popcorn shrimp, but I couldn’t pass on Lobster bisque. It wasn’t as creamy or thick as I imagined it to be – not that this mattered. It was still delicious. There were some unidentifiable chunks of shellfish with a strange, squeaky texture floating about but there was an equal amount of fresh lobster meat that helped me sort of forget whatever that was. Overall the soup was delish and there are actually few things that are better than a good bowl of soup.

Popcorn Shrimp 

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My sister got the popcorn shrimp but I swapped my soup for her shrimp half-way through, because I wanted both, annnd that how life works. Popcorn shrimp – as it always is, was perfect. The shrimp was perfectly cooked just tender and juicy, and the batter it was fried in was actually popcorn-esque. It came with this yummy, herby, spicy mayo that was a perfect complement to the crispy, spicy shrimp.

 Jambalaya 

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The jambalaya is perfect as always – rich with tomato sauce and juicy tomatoes, and generously dotted with shrimp, chicken and chorizo. This is my favourite dish at Big Daddy’s and they make it perfect every time. The meat is perfectly cooked, never tough or undercooked and the spices and flavours perfectly balance each other out. Get it. Go. Go to Big Daddy’s like NOW.

Apple Crumble

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I have no words for their Apple Crumble. Like really. I don’t ever get any other dessert here, because the Apple Crumble is so perfect. It’s the most perfect dessert I’ve eaten. It’s how I imagine Apple Crumble to taste. Warm, with soft, tangy, apples with a slight bite to them, cinnamon, butter, flakey crumble topped with delicious, melting vanilla ice cream. It’s the perfect apple dessert. I want some now. I miss it. GO GET SOME. Right now.

Okay bye. I’m hungry and I have apples and flour and butter and sugar there is only one way to spend the rest of my night.

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Food, Restaurant Review

Lou Dawg’s

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Breakfast Loutine: Two poached eggs, Black River cheese curds and home made hollandaise sauce sitting adorably on top of a giant pile of fresh cut fries.

I’ve been meaning to write about Lou Dawg’s for a long time now – since the first time I went there, actually (2 years ago), but life got in the way. By life I mean school. I currently have a hectic work life (well, it’s hectic until 5 and then I have a trillion errands to run and social commitments) but I’ve decided to get shit done today. Especially since my apartment viewings were cancelled. Which is terrifying when I think about it because I may not have a place to live in September.

Anyways. Back to Lou Dawg’s. I literally walked past the restaurant the first time I visited, because it’s under Cream (I think that’s what it’s called) and it’s very easy to miss, especially if you’re blind like me and can’t see the giant LOU DAWG’S carved into wood. The first time I was here, I did this thing I do with my sister and boyfriend (aka the only two people I don’t mind sharing my food with) where I got one meal, my boyfriend got another and then we ate half and swapped. Since then, I’ve had almost everything on the menu.

Even though that’s an “almost”, it’s a big deal because I rarely go to restaurants twice. I think of eating out as an opportunity to try something new every single time. So it’s very rare that I’ll go to the same restaurant more than once. I’ll write a separate post on the few restaurants I’ve visited more than once.

Before I go off on another tangent, let me just say that everything on the Lou Dawg’s menu is delicious. I can only say this about ONE other restaurant in the city, and that is Khao San Road. I have literally never been to Lou Dawg’s and even slightly disliked anything. Pulled pork? Delicious. Chicken Wings? Amazing. Beef Brisket? Incredible. Fried sole? Scrumptious. Chilli? Flavourful AF. Ribs? Perfect.

Seriously. If you haven’t been to Lou Dawg’s yet. Please go. It’s supposed to be a “Southern” themed restaurant, but there’s enough Canadian twists and this is not, by any means a bad thing. Chilli on fries with cheese curds is the greatest thing ever. Lou Dawg’s smokers work full time, and I imagine there’s always something in there. They smoke their wings, their ribs and all of their meat before cooking it and serving it to you.

Okay, let’s talk food instead of me just gushing about it:

Wings: Lou Dawg’s chicken wings come in saucy or dry rub, and I suggest the dry rub. I just really like getting the rub all over my hands and licking it after, while I chew the meat. I will admit the meat is slightly tough, on some parts of the wing, but for the most part they are perfect and crispy.

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Slow smoked dry rub wings

Ribs: Ribs kind of taste the same no matter where you get them. Except Lou Dawg’s. They rub the smoked ribs (rubtheribsrubtheribsrubtheribs k I’m done) with brown sugar before generously coating it in their BBQ sauce and the result is absolutely delicious. Perfectly cooked pork with sweet and spicy barbecue sauce, soft and tender on the inside and crispy and caramelized on the outside. I always make sure I wear black because shit gets messy.

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Ridiculously delicious BBQ Ribs

Pulled Meat: The pulled meat at Lou Dawg’s is perfect. I mean it’s their thing, so it kind of has to be. But it’s actually incredible. It is perfectly flavoured using just the right amount of spice. Whether you get the beef brisket, the pulled pork or the pulled chicken, all of it is perfectly cooked. I also really, really, really love that they have the option of “pulled chicken” because it makes them seem really thoughtful, because back when I was a moron and didn’t eat beef, it was kind of awesome to have that second option that wasn’t pork.

Sides: Sweet potato fries and corn bread. Those are my go-to sides at Lou Dawg’s. However, their fries are absolutely delicious and freshly cut and fried (I just don’t eat potatoes). Their corn bread comes with pieces of jalapeno and cheese in it and really what more do you want when you have corn bread and pulled meat? Nothing. If you want more, you’re being greedy. I haven’t had their coleslaw or their meaty BBQ beans, but from the noises I heard from around me Saturday night, they’re definitely sides you must try. Apparently the meaty beans are extra meaty, so if you get the 2 meats + 2 sides deal, it might be too much meat (pssshhh). The Black Bean corn salad is fresh and delicious, but I’ve only gotten it once and rarely ever think of getting it. Deep Fried Pickles are super yum, if you’re into that, too.

Alcoholic Beverages: The only reason I have this “section” is because Lou Dawg’s has great drink deals. I never drink there because I’m usually too busy stuffing my face like an animal, but they have nights with cheap JD shots. Look at their website/Twitter before you head there. Also, DELICIOUS caesars.

Condiments: CHIPOTLE MAYO CHIPOTLE MAYO CHIPOTLE MAYO. That is all. But seriously. Get it. Goes so perfectly with their sweet potato fries. They also have an extra smokey barbecue sauce or a spicy barbecue sauce in case your ribs/wings/pulled meat isn’t saucy enough for you.

Now I’m hungry and sad that I’m eating chicken and vegetables for dinner instead of Lou Dawg’s. Do yourself a favour and go eat everything on this menu.

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Clockwise from the big plate on top: Pulled pork, corn muffin and fries, slow smoked dry rub chicken wings, Lou’s chicken and cheese chilli.

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Food, Recipe

How To Pretend To Be A Pinterest Babe or Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

Here’s why baking is better than cooking.

Stealing ingredients while you bake is way more fun. 

Okay, don’t be dumb, obviously I mean chocolate chips, sugar, sprinkles, butter, batter and not flour or eggs. I’m a big sucker for batter. I actually think my body’s built up a defense against salmonella because I constantly eat batter without giving any fucks at all, and I never get sick. *touches wood*

Anyway. This recipe is really easy if you know how to make cheesecake, which is also very easy. I was making cheesecake cupcakes/bites for my birthday and I had some Oreos on hand, so I decided to embrace my inner Pinterest goddess. These pictures are pretty bad, so I guess I didn’t embrace her hard enough. Either way, if you’re making these for a party, you will be the queen. I speak from experience.

Here’s my basic cheesecake recipe –

  • 1 egg
  • 1 package of Philadelphia cream cheese
  • Sugar (I don’t have a measurement for this – I just add a tablespoon and then keep tasting – I like mine a little tangier than most)
  • A few drops of vanilla essence
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder

Sometimes I don’t even add the flour or baking powder. But for a fluffy cheesecake, it’s a good idea to add these. If you want a rich, creamy, thick cheesecake, feel free to skip these. Basically just beat everything together until it looks thick like this. It should have the consistency of stirred yoghurt.

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For a regular cheesecake, pour the mixture into a crust (which, if you are making it yourself is super easy – mix 1 cup graham cracker crumbs + 1 tablespoon softened butter and mix until the consistency is like moist sand – then press into a pan and bake for about 15 minutes and let cool) and then bake it on 350˚C until the cheesecake rises and is still slightly wobbly in the middle. Cool it overnight and then cut into it the next morning. Top as you like.

So for the Oreo ones, literally all you have to do, is start by putting a bunch of Oreos in a sandwich bag like this.

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Crush them with a rolling pin, or a hammer, or whatever you have on hand that will not seriously injure you. Once you’ve crushed them to a desired size, simply stir them into your cheesecake batter and bake like normal.

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I poured my batter on top of half of an Oreo cookie, or one side of it (used as crust) and topped with a broken cookie as well just to be extra cute.

Here’s an ugly picture of what the finished product looked like.

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Food, Restaurant Review

Bake Sale: The most underrated bakery in Toronto

I never really do restaurant/bakery/cafe reviews on my blog, so this is a first. It’s not like I try not to, I just haven’t been to an exceptionally good restaurant/bakery/cafe in a long time. I need to be really inspired to write, and this place inspired me enough to sit down and write about it. That’s how you know it’s actually really good. I don’t write about places if I don’t LOVE them.

I’m just going to take a second to apologize for the shitty image quality, I took them off my iPhone since I wasn’t home! 

Bake Sale is a tiny and very easy-to-miss bakery in Etobicoke. Located at the plaza at Six Points, precisely 5230 Dundas St. West in the west end, I’m sure only people who live in the area know about it. I’ve never seen it on BlogTO (which is a website I frequent for restaurant/bakery/cafe recommendations) and I’ve never really heard about it from anybody. It’s probably the most underrated bakery in Toronto. Trust me, I’m obsessed with food and desserts, so I’ve tried them all – Prairie Girl, D-lish, Dessert Lady, Pusateri’s even store brand cupcakes (like: Longo’s, Sobeys – which are surprisingly delicious) and Bake Sale tops my list of best cupcakes. Easily. It’s important to know that I’ve grown up eating some of the most delicious food on the planet, so my standards of food and its yumminess are pretty high.

I only know of this bakery because I know somebody who lives in the area, and I’ve walked past it several times. I keep forgetting to try it out, but a movie marathon is a great excuse, so I bought 12 mini cupcakes in chocolate, peanut butter chocolate, vanilla, strawberry and red velvet flavours. The cupcakes are a perfect size if you want a little treat without crazy calories (unless you eat 3 each, which is what my friends and I did). They’re about $1.75 or so for 1 ($1.30 for 6 or more), so they’re on par with downtown cupcake store prices (definitely above when it comes to taste, though). The mini cupcakes are great if you just want to try out different flavours.

The red velvet was one of the most perfect, satisfying red velvets I’ve eaten in a long time, possibly ever. It was a beautiful colour and the cream cheese icing was perfect – the perfect amount of sweetness, offset by the right amount of tang from the cream cheese. The peanut butter and chocolate had a rich, dark, chocolate cupcake with whipped peanut butter frosting. Peanut butter is heavy, and whipping it into a light, melty buttercream frosting kept the richness without the thickness. This might have even been better than the red velvet.

Red Velvet

I tried the strawberry cupcake, which is new for me. I don’t wander too far from my chocolate/red velvets, but my friends’ reactions to it (which were “OH GOD”, “OH BOY”, “HOLY SHIT” – direct quotes) made me try it. It was possibly the yummiest strawberry cupcake I’ve had. What made it amazing was that it wasn’t a default cupcake recipe. You could tell the regular cupcake recipe was altered to make the flavour more shortcake-like and there was no artificial flavour whatsoever. The icing was vanilla and the cupcake itself had pieces of real strawberries in it. It was light, and fresh and delicious. I honestly didn’t think I’d care for a non-chocolate, non-peanut butter, non-red velvet cupcake, let alone LOVE it.

Bake Sale offers other baked goods like tarts, danishes and such, but their cupcakes are to die for. They also have cake pops and sliced cakes, mini cakes that you can take home from starting at $20 a pop. The only issue with this bakery is that both locations are a little out of the way, especially if you live downtown. However, it is most definitely worth the drive/trek there. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by. I’m genuinely surprised by how good these cupcakes were, and how little people know about this place!

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Food, Recipe

The best, easiest ever CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

Chocolate chip cookies are the best food ever. Let’s just agree on that, before we go on. I’m pretty sure I found this recipe on Buzzfeed, one of those “individual” dessert recipe thing or maybe it was Tastespotting. Regardless, here’s the original recipe.  This recipe makes a lot more than 2 cookies, because I refuse to consume a tablespoon of butter just like that. Plus eating lots of small portions makes me feel better about myself whether or not it actually makes a difference.

I have this recipe scribbled on a post-it on my fridge, because it’s that easy and you can make it as soon as your craving hits (provided you have all the ingredients). One time I made it without baking soda and pretty sure I cracked at least 14 of my teeth. I haven’t checked. This recipe makes 6, so doubling it will make 12, tripling will make 18, etc.

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour 
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened (this means you have to melt it a little, when I didn’t the cookies were weird and crumbly)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chip (or more, depending)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence

Preheat your oven to 350. Do it right now, so it’ll be done by the time your dough is ready. Soften your butter in a microwave safe bowl. Do it. Don’t skip this step. When I attempted this a few times before the cookies came out crumbly and not as crunchy and delicious. Don’t ask me, science and baking is weird. Soften your butter, stir in your sugars, vanilla essence, egg yolk (make sure your butter isn’t hot, or your egg will cook) and baking soda. Sift in (or just dump, I don’t really care) your flour. The consistency of your batter at this point should be thick but not doughy. I don’t know if you can tell from this picture, but basically something like this:

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Add your chocolate chips.

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Using dinner spoons, spoon the cookie dough onto buttered foil or wax paper on a baking tray/cookie sheet. I don’t care about making mine look pretty cause I’m all about that rustic life.

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Stick your cookie sheet or baking tray into the oven. My sister the chef says it’s best in the middle of the oven, but I’m careless and I don’t find this makes a HUGE difference, so whatever. Keep an eye on them, because baking times vary depending on how you like them. 10 minutes for soft, chewy cookies, about 15 for crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside cookies and 20 for burnt crisps. I could be off those times a little, so keeping an eye is best. They should have a golden brown colour all over when they’re chewy, a darker brown around the edges if you want them crisp on the outside and chewy inside. Pitch black if you hate your life and are a waster.

Now, enjoy these pictures of my gorgeous cookies:

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