Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lahore Tikka House

Opened in 1996 with just a few tables and chairs, Lahore Tikka House is a renowned Halal restaurant in Toronto. The iconic eatery in Gerrard India Bazaar offers Pakistani and North Indian food, and serves as a core for the South Asian community in the city. 


I haven't been to Lahore Tikka House (Facebook: Lahore Tikka House) in a really long time, at least not since I started my blog. What I remember about my last visit was that it was during the summer, and I was eating very delicious food with a group of friends. We were seated underneath a pitched tent in a parking lot, eating with plastic utensils and paper plates. I remembered having a lot of fun. Well, the tents and trailers are long gone now, replaced with this large, two-level stucco building. Talk about humble beginnings!


Anyway, back to present time. It was a Saturday night around 7pm when we arrived at Lahore Tikka House and sure enough, the restaurant was completely full. Although it seemed quite busy the wait wasn't too bad; the eight of us were seated upstairs after about a half-hour. I didn't have a chance to check out the the first floor but the second floor is brightly decorated with a very ethnic touch.

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Once we were seated we were given a paper menu, and a small white board and marker to write our orders on.




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Piano Piano

Splendido, my favourite fine-dining restaurant in Toronto, had its last service on New Year's Eve last year. Almost five months have passed and I can't say I'm over the loss; after all, the acclaimed restaurant proudly holds the title of "The Most Blogged About Restaurant" here on Food Junkie Chronicles. Ahhhhh, damn it. I miss Splendido. I miss their tasting menus dearly *sigh*. I guess the saying is true, "All good things must come to an end". But must it? Must it, really?

In March, chef and owner Victor Barry re-opened 88 Harbord as Piano Piano the Restaurant (Instagram: @pianopianotherestaurant, Facebook: PIANO PIANO the Restaurant). Talk about a quick transformation. To start, the Italian trattoria is now pink and sports a bright and colourful mural. You can't miss it!


In order to achieve a work/life balance, chef Barry's Piano Piano serves simple and delicious Italian food rather than the elaborate, fussy tasting menus that Splendido was famous for. Barry's goal is to have a casual restaurant where he doesn't have to be on the line every single day. He wants a place where he can bring his two young daughters, ages one and two, and welcome other families to dine.


The newly renovated space is decorated with vases of fresh flowers, floral designs, brass fixtures, cushioned banquettes, as well as original artwork from Barry’s eldest daughter, Charlotte.


 I fully expected the white tablecloths to be gone, naturally, as well as the plush, leatherback chairs, but the most dramatic change would have to be the open kitchen (note the large wood fired pizza oven in the back corner, which I was told was made with an insane amount of of bricks, steel and cement)! I wish Splendido had these front row seats! OMG, I must move onnn...




Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off: Chef Alexandra Feswick's Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese

Organized by Dairy Farmers of Canada, the 2016 edition of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off (#CDNCheeseCookOff) took place at the Toronto Food & Drink Market on April 8th. Four of Canada’s top chefs from coast to coast took the stage in an attempt to create the ultimate gourmet mac & cheese. The competitors included Andrew Farrell, Chef de Cuisine at 2 Doors Down Food + Wine in Halifax; Alexandra Feswick, Chef de Cuisine at The Drake Hotel in Toronto; Nicole Gomes, Executive Chef at Nicole Gourmet in Calgary; and Thompson Tran, Chef and Owner at The Wooden Boat, Port Moody.


Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada

Chef Feswick's "Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese" emerged victorious in the culinary comfort food battle. Feswick's winning recipe combines the distinctive nostalgia of home-styled comfort classics such as Cheddar, sage and mushrooms, with flavours of hazelnuts, Blue cheese and Jerusalem artichokes. Check out a quick two-minute recap of the Grate Canadian Cheese Cook-Off here:


Thanks to Dairy Farmers of Canada, I was sent all the goodies needed to make chef Feswick's winning Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese. This is incredibly exciting because it has been a very long time since I've made, and enjoyed, a delicious gourmet mac & cheese.


Rich and cheesy with a light, crunchy topping, this Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese is what dreams are made of. The medley of Canadian cheeses - 7-year-old Cheddar, Niagara Gold, Blue d'Elizabeth and Alpindon - with the mushroom & artichoke infused sauce lend a depth of flavour and creaminess unlike any other mac & cheese I've ever had. Baked in a glass dish until golden-topped and bubbly, the finishing touch of breadcrumbs and toasted hazelnuts brings a delightful crunch to this guaranteed crowd pleaser. The Nutty Home-Style Mac & Cheese is certainly not the quickest nor easiest mac & cheese recipe out there, but trust me, the time and effort is well worth it!

NUTTY HOME-STYLE MAC & CHEESE - By Chef Alexandra Feswick

Photo: Dairy Farmers of Canada


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Zomato x FoodismTO @ The Good Son: A #ZomatoMeetUp

Maybe, just maybe, you're wondering "What the heck does she mean by Zomato x FoodismTO @ The Good Son: A #ZomatoMeetUp?" Meh, it's just my way of telling you guys I attended a Zomato Meetup dinner hosted by Zomato and Foodism Toronto at The Good Son Restaurant, that's all. I'm trying to be more creative with my writing these days. I'm failing miserably already, aren't I?


Last week, Zomato and Foodism Toronto, invited me and several foodies for an intimate tasting dinner at The Good Son, a restaurant that I've been dying to check out. As a matter of fact, The Good Son (Twitter: @thegoodson_to, Facebook: The Good Son Restaurant) is one of 12 restaurants participating in the #TOMealsForAYear giveaway, an amazing contest going on right now where one lucky winner will win a prize consisting of 12 meals (and drinks!) for two at 12 of Toronto's top restaurants. That's right, one meal every month for a year. Imagine that!



In association with restaurant listing and booking engine Zomato, Foodism Toronto has pulled together 12 of Toronto's most vaunted restaurantsThe list is very impressive, if I may say so myself:

Cafe Boulud
Lisa Marie
George
The Good Son
Canoe
Carmen
Windsor Arms
The Chase
Miss Thing's
Miku
NAO Steakhouse
The Carbon Bar

You MUST love food if you're reading this, so what are you waiting for? GET ON IT and enter now! If you snooze you lose because the contest ends on April 1st. By the way, if you're not familiar with Foodism Toronto, you will be very soon. Foodism is, in fact, London England's largest food and drink magazine, and in November 2015, Foodism Toronto was born. It's a website and weekly newsletter, and coming September, they will be launching a  print magazine which will feature local trends, profiles, personalities, gadgets and stories from Canada’s food and drink capital.  

Whew. With that outta the way, let us now focus on All The Good Food at The Good Son! That was pretty clever, right? Right?! ;) First things first, sitting by the pass has its pros and cons. I love being close to all the action in the kitchen, especially this one with that beautiful wood fire oven imported in from Mam Forni, Italy, in the back. At the same time, though, it's the absolute worst when you're hungry. DAMN IT, JUST GIMME ALL THE FOOD RIGHT NOW!


Chef Vittorio Colacitti (@vittorioreoand his team at The Good Son prepared a special seven-course tasting menu for the evening. The dishes were either entirely off-menu or a variation of what's normally offered on the menu.

SEA BREAM CRUDO
Tomatillo, apple, almond, avocado
Great start to the tasting. A beautiful and delicate dish that's rich in flavour and texture.




The Winner of the Made With Love Toronto 2016 Giveaway is...

@BaoTDao

Congratulations, Bao! You've just won a pair of tickets to this year's MadeWithLove™ Toronto Regional Finals taking place on April 4th from 6-10pm at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex. Get ready to live the ultimate experience of the largest mixology competition in Canada next to you! Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com.


A big THANK YOU from me to the 74 contestants who participated in this contest! 

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcmwl hashtag from day one of the contest. The tracking was done using chronological order, as in, #1 was the first person to enter the contest. To enter, the person had to tweet "Hey @foodieyu take me to the largest mixology competition in Canada @_MadeWithLove_! http://bit.ly/1QK5J8x #fjcmwl #enjoymwl". Each person could tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Once the contest was over and everybody's entries were accounted for, I checked to see if they follow me (@foodieyu) on Twitter. Below are the 186 valid entries:


I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick one winner for me:





Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Nota Bene - New Look, New Menu

On February 18th, one of Toronto's most notable and established restaurants, NOTA BENE, relaunched with a new look, menu and concept. After seven years in the Queen West neighbourhood, Executive Chef and Owner, David Lee, decided it was the right time to "evolve and update the restaurant from top to bottom". 


Still located on 180 Queen St. W., one of the main focal points at the new NOTA BENE is the art piece, shown below. Treated with "Shou Sugi Ban", an ancient Japanese process of preserving wood by charring it with fire, the salvaged iron wood tree trunk is showcased at the front of the restaurant with a canopy represented by a 3-D printed installation.


The bar has been extended to accommodate more guests.


We started with a few cocktails and snacks in the lounge.

THE G&T (2oz, $17)
THE GIN - Hendricks (Scotland) - Cucumber, rose, honeyed citrus, juniper
THE FEVER TREE TONIC - Mediterranean - Thyme, citrus, quinine
THE ICE - Large - Slight chill, minimal dilution 




Thursday, March 10, 2016

Made With Love Toronto 2016 Giveaway - CLOSED

Are you ready to experience an extravagant night of amazing cocktails? If your answer is a resounding "YES!" then enter my contest now for a chance to win a PAIR of tickets to MadeWithLove™ Toronto Regional Finals taking place on April 4th from 6-10pm at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex. The tickets are valued at $130! 


Founded in 2009, MadeWithLove™ (Twitter: @_MadeWithLove_, Facebook: MADE WITH LOVE) is the largest mixology competition in Canada. It has a mission to demystify the cocktail culture and to offer an experience where creativity and diversity come together in a casual environment. For one night only, the best bartenders in the city gather under one roof to showcase the Canadian cocktail scene. Since its inception, MadeWithLove™ has hosted more than 60 competitions across Canada and Mexico.
 Every year, they organize the competitions (qualifiers and then regional finals) in Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Toronto and Vancouver to select the best bartenders in Canada. Once a year they invite all the finalists for a national final (this year in Montreal in May).

On April 4th, the MadeWithLove™ Toronto Regional Finals at the Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex will host 20 of the best bartenders in Toronto. They will be presenting exclusive cocktail recipes to impress the jury and the guests. The two winners of each category of Public’s Choice and Judge’s Choice will represent Toronto at the National Finals held in May 2016.
 
Judges and attendees will have the challenging task to taste and evaluate the cocktails based on originality, creativity and savour.

The Toronto finalists are:
 

Aaron Male, Miss Thing's
Albert Chan, Byblos
Alex Pearce, The Drake Hotel
André Aitchison, e11even
Brooke Banning, Freelance Bartender
Chris Flink, Café Belong
Danielle Yoon, Annette Food Market
Greg White, El Catrin
Ian Moores, Odd Thomas
Jamison Cass, College Street Bar
Joshua Oliver Prout, The County General
Matteo Gorla, Barchef
Matthieu Rajchman, East Thirty-Six
Michele Maffei, Balsamico
Nick Incretolli, Tavern on George
Parham Rahimi, Cluny Bistro
Sam Dobie, The Gaslight
Tyler Della-Nebbia, Lake Road Restaurant
Tyler Edward Newsome, Soho House Toronto
Will Howden, Freelance Bartender

Date: Monday, April 4, 2016
Time: 6:00pm - 10:00pm
PlaceLiberty Grand Entertainment Complex, 25 British Columbia Rd, Toronto, ON 
Prize: Two tickets valued at $130
What is included: Your tickets allow you and your guest to taste the 20 competing cocktails, and enjoy special food pairings so as to prepare you to vote for the best cocktail.



HOW TO ENTER
1) You MUST be following me (@foodieyu) on Twitter
AND
2) Tweet the following sentence, exactly as shown, nothing before or after it: 

Hey @foodieyu take me to the largest mixology competition in Canada @_MadeWithLove_! http://bit.ly/1QK5J8x #fjcmwl #enjoymwl

1. For your entry to be valid, you need to tweet the above sentence exactly as shown
2. You may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Re-tweeting others do NOT count as a valid entry
3. Contest is tracked by the #fjcmwl hashtag. If you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream it means there is no entry from you. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Thursday, March 10 and ends on Thursday, March 17 at 12PM. 
One lucky winner will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^



The Winners of the One Of A Kind Spring Show 2016 Giveaway are...

@verycutekitties
@loucheryl
@EldoLai
@Adds29
@dreamflyer100

Congratulations! You've all just won a pair of tickets to this year's One of a Kind Spring Show taking place from Wednesday, March 23 to Sunday, March 27 at the Enercare Centre Exhibition Place. Get ready to meet 450+ artisans, shop local and support handmade! Please email me at foodjunkiechronicles@gmail.com to get your e-tickets :)


A big THANK YOU from me to the 52 contestants who participated in this contest! 

Here's a snapshot of the Excel spreadsheet where I tracked the #fjcooaks16 hashtag from day one of the contest. The tracking was done using chronological order, as in, #1 was the first person to enter the contest. To enter, the person had to tweet "Hey @foodieyu I want to #win a pair of tickets to @ooak_toronto! http://bit.ly/1QSqEYU #fjcooaks16 #ooaks16". Each person could tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Once the contest was over and everybody's entries were accounted for, I checked to see if they follow me (@foodieyu) on Twitter. Below are the 106 valid entries:


I used "True Random Number Generator" from random.org to pick five winners for me:




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

New Café Boulud (Lunch)

I've written about Café Boulud a total of four times on Food Junkie Chronicles. No other restaurant, besides Splendido, holds that kind of record (FYI I have five posts on Splendido). Now that Splendido is *sadly* shuttered, Café Boulud (Twitter: @CafeBouludTO, Facebook: Café Boulud Toronto & d|bar) will soon take over as "the most blogged restaurant" on Food Junkie Chronicles because I got this lunch post up now plus a dinner post scheduled soon (that post will be fairly long since it'll combine my three dinners there).

In any case, all this clearly indicates one thing, that I'm a big supporter of Café Boulud. I was already a fan of the "old" Café Boulud - I had countless meals there with my friends and family - and not surprisingly, I'm now an even bigger fan of the "new" Café Boulud ever since its "transformation" last September.


Located at the Four Seasons Hotel, the new Café Boulud features a stylish redesign by London-based designer Martin Brudnizki. The ribbed wraparound banquets upholstered in jaguar green and the 1950s-shaped chairs in ruched leather mixes classic with contemporary. The dining room is elegant and sophisticated, yet warm and inviting.


If this doesn't scream "French brasserie" I don't know what does. I love the retro-modern look of this dining bar counter which is constructed in wood panels painted in a high gloss lacquer and topped with marble. It features a bronze and glass gantry, and eight leather bar stools.


Café Boulud's new menu highlights both bistro classics and contemporary dishes inspired by Chef Daniel Boulud's family growing up in Lyon. Deeply rooted in French tradition, the menu was created in collaboration by Chef Boulud and Chef de Cuisine Sylvain Assié.

My boyfriend and I went for lunch two Saturdays ago to celebrate his birthday. It was my first time ever having lunch at Café Boulud and this visit marks my fourth time at the new Café Boulud.

When you're at the restaurant, whether it's for lunch or dinner, make sure you start off with a cocktail! My favourite cocktail there is the Led Zeppelin with tequila, amaro nonino, aperol and lime. It's so delicious! Cocktails I also enjoy includes Watermelon Smash, Elderflower Fizz and Sazerac.

MARTIN BRUDNIZKI ($14)
Gin, jack rudy special batch tonic, lemon
ELDERFLOWER FIZZ ($15)
St. germain, chambord, lemon, prosecco




Tuesday, March 1, 2016

One Of A Kind Spring Show 2016 Giveaway - CLOSED

I'm giving away FIVE PAIRS of tickets to this year's One of a Kind Spring Show #ooaks16 taking place from Wednesday, March 23 to Sunday, March 27 at the Enercare Centre Exhibition Place! Each pair of tickets is valued at $26.


The mission of One of a Kind (Twitter: @ooak_toronto, Facebook: One of a Kind Show and Sale) is to provide a marketplace to bring together makers and buyers who share a commitment to handmade excellence. Since its inception in 1975, One of a Kind has been cultivating creativity, craftsmanship and connection in order to deliver an inspired shopping experience.  


Did you know there's also food at the One of a Kind Show? Take a look at the show's website and under the "Flavours" category in "Explore The Artisan Profiles", you'll find profiles from over 50 artisans specializing in food & beverage.


HOW TO ENTER
1) You MUST be following me (@foodieyu) on Twitter

AND
2) Tweet the following sentence, exactly as shown, nothing before or after it: 

Hey @foodieyu I want to #win a pair of tickets to @ooak_toronto! http://bit.ly/1QSqEYU #fjcooaks16 #ooaks16

1. For your entry to be valid, you need to tweet the above sentence exactly as shown
2. You may tweet once a day for the duration of the contest. Re-tweeting others do NOT count as a valid entry
3. Contest is tracked by the #fjcooaks16 hashtag. If you don't see your tweet in the hashtag stream it means there is no entry from you. Read this to find out the possible reasons why your tweets are not showing up

CONTEST DURATION
Contest starts on Wednesday, March 2 and ends on Wednesday, March 9 at 12PM. 
Five lucky winners will be chosen randomly from www.random.org and I will announce the winner shortly after.

GOOD LUCK!!! ^_^