Thursday, May 26, 2016

Breakfast with Family & One of the Best Meals We've Ever Had

On Sunday we met up with my cousins Sara and Janine and their husbands (and Janine's ridiculously adorable, lovable, cutest little two-year old boy that I'm slightly obsessed with) for breakfast at The Drake Hotel.

We visited over many, many coffees, I got some sweet snuggles, we got some Toronto tips, and to top it all off, the food was delicious.


I had the eggs benedict, which totally hit the spot.  After our visit, we definitely want to come back to the Toronto-area again, perhaps Hockley Valley Resort, where my cousin's husband is head chef.  It sounds like a beautiful place, and right up our alley.

Since we weren't able to hit up Hockley Valley for dinner on this trip, my cousin steered us toward DaiLo in Toronto, which after one meal, completely blew us away.  We went to DaiLo for dinner on Sunday evening and had one of the best meals of our lives.

To start out, the service was excellent.  We were offered complimentary still or sparkling water, which was a nice surprise, as sparkling water never seems to be complimentary.  We were really tempted by the tasting menu, which is what we usually do, but there were just too many dishes on the menu that we absolutely had to try, so we decided to order a la carte.

The server recommended three-four of the smaller sized plates, along with two of the larger sized plates.  First up, we had the crispy octopus taco, which also had braised pork belly in it, and a jicama shell.


This was out-of-this-world good; even if you are scared of octopus, or don't think you like octopus, I'm convinced anyone would love this dish.  The jicama taco shell is such a creative idea, and it paired so well with every other aspect of the taco.

Our next dish was fried watermelon (with bean sprouts, basil leaves, pickled melon rind, and pork floss).



Wow.  Wow.  Wow.

Everything about this dish was #wow.  So creative, so refreshing, savoury, slightly-sweet, crisp, juicy, fresh, amazing.  I will be thinking about this dish until we have it again.

The third appetizer-sized dish was sizzling sisig, which is a Filipino pork dish, with pig-head meat, quail egg, pickled onions, and mustard seeds etc..  It was served with chicharron and sambal aioli.


This was our first time having chicharron (fried pork rinds).  We loved the crunch of them, and thought they went really well with the sisig.


It was a fun dish to eat, with the perfect amount of spice, and a wonderful combination of textures.

The first larger-sized plate we ordered was the truffle fried rice.


Get a look at those truffle shavings ...


We had the gorgeous rice alongside two massive, dinosaur-sized, Korean beef ribs.  The ginormous ribs were served on top of Kimchi mashed potatoes and an Asian pear salad.


There had to have been about six ounces of meat on each rib; I've never had anything like them.


What an incredible meal!

We don't normally order dessert, but we were so impressed with the menu, that we had to see what they could do with dessert.  We ordered the sake poached pear, which (surprise surprise) is fantastic.


We sipped on some tea while raving about how much we loved DaiLo.


This restaurant came it at #15 of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants.  On this trip we dined at the restaurants that took the #9 and #15 spots.  I'm really curious to try the others that topped the list.

Do you do any restaurant research before you travel?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Saturday in Toronto

On Saturday we got up pretty early and headed down to Yonge Street.  We hadn't eaten breakfast yet, and were immediately drawn to the amazing BBQ smells coming from Yonge-Dundas Square.  We were lucky enough to happen upon the Rib Fest

Rib Fest consisted of award-winning BBQ in three different styles, Louisiana, New York, and Kentucky.


First up (and yes, for breakfast) were ribs from the Kentucky BBQ stand:

 

If all Kentucky BBQ tastes as good as these ribs did, we'll be heading to Kentucky one day!

Next up we shared a pulled pork sandwich, with some beans and coleslaw from the Louisiana stand:


We were full by this point, so we didn't try anything from the NY stand. 

After wandering a bit of Yonge Street, we moved along to other areas; Yonge street is full of big-box/chain stores, which really isn't our style. 


We eventually made our way over to Kensignton Market, which we loved.

In the afternoon we hung out by the pool at our hotel and relaxed.


Dinner was at Ramen Isshin, where we had the best bowl of ramen ever!  The spicy red miso soup is amazing.  I want to eat it every day.


In fact, I'm missing it right now.

We shared that, as well as the black sesame tan tan noodle:


After more wandering, we stumbled across a vegan bakery and grabbed a couple snacks to take back to the hotel room.


Was it a long weekend for you?  How did you spend it?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Toronto Getaway

Very early on Friday morning we flew to Toronto.  Neither of us had been in Ontario at all before, and we figured Toronto was a good place to start.  We arrived before noon, and checked into The Thompson Hotel.  This hotel is absolutely gorgeous, and super cool.  I'd highly recommend it; we loved everything about our room, and the hotel in general.


I wouldn't say it's very good for families; we didn't see a single kid in the hotel all weekend.  There is a night club in the basement, and a pool/lounge on the rooftop with an incredible view.


After checking into the hotel we immediately walked to Kinton Ramen.


We're ramen addicts; it's hard to find a more comforting food.

After lunch we walked to the CN Tower, and went on up to the top.


I stood on the glass floor, but Christopher just couldn't do it ... awwwe. 

We wandered all afternoon, and later on in the day we hit up Bar Raval.  This gorgeous cocktail/tapas restaurant was rated #9 of Canada's 100 Best Restaurants

We shared a bunch of small plates, starting with sobrassada sausage, which is spreadable, and murcia al vino cheese.


The sobrassada was fantastic spread on the bread.

Next up were tuna/pickle skewers, which look pretty basic, but are so satisfying in taste and texture. 


One of our favourites was the stracciatella and boquerones, which are pickled anchovies over a burrata-like cheese, on bread, topped with parsley oil.


We also raved about the octopus, which was so tender, perfectly cooked, and served with potatoes.


We were starting to get full, but then we found out that Bar Raval has a raw bar, and we just had to order some oysters.


And with that, our first day in Toronto was complete, and we were ready to crash for the evening.

Have you ever been to Toronto?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Little Quiz, and Eating Things Up

We have a little getaway coming up, so we didn't buy much for groceries this week, and have been eating odds and ends that are in the fridge.

We made pita pizzas on Monday evening; I always forget how much I like these until we have them again.


We have to load 'em with olives, and something spicy, or they just don't make the cut ...


A generous sprinkle of cilantro on top for the win!


We cut up this pineapple and have been having it for dessert this week:


Last night we had bee bim bop, which uses up a lot of veggies.  After dinner we went out to see Money Monster in the theatre.  We both really enjoyed it.  I love movie nights!

Tonight we made BLT sandwiches, and salad for dinner:


A blogger friend, Lisa, posted a little quiz on her blog, and I'll share my answers to the questions here:

1)  How old were you when you flew for the first time?  I was in grade six, so around 11 years old.  I flew to Vancouver.  I didn't fly again until I was in my 20s.

2)  What is your favourite colour?  Black.

3)  What is your go-to book recommendation?  The Know it All, by A. J. Jacobs.

4)  What store do you buy most of your clothes from?  I mostly buy clothes when I am out of town, so it's different stores all the time.

5)  Do you prefer that the toilet paper roll be "under" or "over"?  It must be over.

6)  What are three words that describe you?  Happy, motivated, efficient.

7)  Are there any movies that you can watch over and over again without getting tired of them?  Home Alone and Home Alone 2.

8)  What is one thing you are looking forward to doing in 2016?  Celebrating.

9)  Are you a morning person or a night owl?  I used to be a night owl, but I've definitely become a morning person as I've gotten older.

10)  Where do you plan to go for your next vacation?  We have some little getaways coming up, but our next bigger vacation is to Halifax.

11)  Do you prefer the mountains or the ocean?  Ocean.

Now it's your turn!  
Answer any or all of the questions above in the comment section (or on your own blog).

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekend Things

We had a fabulously, fun weekend, with a lot of great eats.


One of our dinners was fried chicken with bourbon, bacon coleslaw, and a Mediterranean potato salad.


Bourbon Bacon Coleslaw
(Original source: Food Network Magazine)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1-2 T bourbon
Juice of 1 lime
2 T brown sugar
1 T dijon mustard
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 small-medium head of red cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
8 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped

Mix the mayo, bourbon, lime, brown sugar, dijon, and spices in a bowl.  Pour the dressing over the cabbage and toss to coat.  Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or so (up to 6).  Just before serving, stir in the bacon.


What a great meal!

We did a lot of snacking this weekend ...


And made southern eggs benedict for breakfast:


Such a satisfying way to start the day!


There was a strobe-light dance party for two, and our first fire of 2016:


First hotdog of the year too!

 

We had been craving char-grilled oysters since our trip to New Orleans, so we decided to make some at home.  We picked up massive oysters from Pacific Fresh Fish:


We sprinkled Parmesan cheese on them, and put them on the grill until the cheese was bubbling.  Then we topped them with a garlic, green-onion butter, and cooked them a few minutes more.


We had them as an appetizer, with escargot:


And then we enjoyed bacon-wrapped scallops with portobello mushrooms, a tomato/avocado salad, and corn:


And if that wasn't enough for a weekend of good eats, on Sunday we went to a low-key family BBQ.  Leah and Riley cooked up burgers, fries, and corn, and made pasta salad and pico de gallo for the side.  It was nice to catch up with them, and steal some snuggles from our nine (nine!?) year old nephew Giovanni.  He's growing up too quickly!


Dessert was angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream, but I forgot to snap a photo.

We have a short work-week this week, and then a little getaway!

How was your weekend?  What did you do?