Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lately and The Delicious Project: Mushroom Risotto

As most food-lovers will agree, at meal times, you must have your camera ready. When I dine out, I frequently have my camera sitting in my lap, with the appropriate settings turned on to capture the perfect moment. It's especially awkward however, when the table is small, there's only a smidgen of space between me and the next diner and I have the urgent need to whip out my DSLR. I know they stare at me in bewilderment, I know they're judging, but I do it anyway. It's critical to document these meals ykno? 

So here are the places and things I've been eating. There was a real yum and affordable classic French food at L'Avenue, I went with a food-lover friend, she got the buttermilk fried chicken and I ordered the croque monsieur, all I can say is I can't wait to go back.

There's also been a family potluck in which my cousins who also happen to love food (it runs in the family), prepared not one, but two desserts. There were apple blossoms plus apple and cheddar pies. I'm not even a fan of warm fruit but I was smitten over the blossoms which were deliciously comforting (besides, its fun to say apple blossoms over and over again)

I had an friend visit from California last week and was eager to try Toronto cuisine. I don’t even know what that is. Thankfully, she did some research and found The Black Hoof, I'm still unsure if it's considered Canadian, but this place is definitely worth talking about. I peeked at the menu online and my heart skipped a beat when I saw roasted bone marrow. Ohmygoodness. I was already excited. At promptly 7pm, we surveyed the cocktail selection, settled on sangria (which to be honest, wasn’t very good and disgustingly overpriced) and chose four dishes from the chalkboard menu and waited.

First, came the cheese platter with complimentary jams, chutneys and homemade raisins, followed by the roasted bone marrow (sigh!) served with salsa verde and flakes of sea salt, I’m happy to report that it was exactly what I envisioned: smooth, silky, and unctuous on grilled bread, I could have eaten five plates of it. But I didn’t, we shared it and moved on to the next dish, burrata and asparagus salad, splitting it into three equalish portions (Terroni wins for making an oozier, creamier burrata). The most surprising thing however, was the beef heart with mussels.

I was expecting a slab of bloody meat and a bundle of steaming mussels to arrive at our table, but when the cute waiter set down a neat plate of slivered beef heart, topped with tender mussels (out of their shell) along with a creamy sauce, a scattering of breadcrumbs and frisée tower, I was blown away. This is serious business folks. The most intriguing part wasn’t the tattoos that snaked along our waiter’s arms and legs, but how the heart was seared just on the outside yet retained a decent chewy texture and you couldn't detect any peculiar beefiness, it was mildly meaty and yet still gracious. 

We didn’t have space to stomach another morsel, so we made our way to the Bier Markt, which I think was the smartest idea ever. Overwhelmed with a dizzying selection of beers, we took our time and chose our first round: Lindeman’s apple beer, Muskoka’s Mad Tom India Pale Ale and Rochefort Trappist Achel Ale. I’ve only just started to enjoy beer and now I’m tempted to go back and try more, the ale was complex, rich and fruity, a far cry from the regular beers I've had. It even smelled good. On our second round, I had the Muskoka Mad Tom, as I was immediately drawn to the floral yet bitter flavours. And as if our big dinner wasn’t enough, we ordered the smoked meat poutine which was so darn tasty, a fellow patron walked by, curious to know what we ordered. I highly recommend it.

The following day, I went to Ennismore with a good friend to visit another good friend. We’ve been getting together since the beginning of the year for a girl’s night, and this time, we showed up at our friend’s house near Turtle Bay. Despite the sad, gloomy sky hovering above us, that didn’t stop us from by mixing very strong mojitos and dining on the patio with BBQ salmon and creamy potato salad.
Afterwards, we took our drinks and sat by the dock. It was quiet and peaceful, something that I rarely take time for. Buzzed and a little lightheaded, we made our way back to the house for some dessert: Eton mess, a beautiful mixture of vanilla yogurt and heavy cream topped with broken up meringue cookies and berry compote.

On the same busy weekend, I rushed off to meet up my fellow food-lovers for our third Delicious Project, this time taste testing mushroom risotto. But first, Lisa bought pastries from La Boheme to kick off our epic taste test, we shared croissants, almond croissants, chocolatines, danishes, and vanilla custard filled croissants. Then came the serious work, photographing risotto ingredients and sampling four types of risotto (life is really hard), Lisa has documented the results here. I’d say my summer is off to a great start. 

Recipe here!

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