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Toronto, at the moment


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#46 Sneakeater

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 03:06 AM

Red wine does so go with chocolate.
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#47 Adrian

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Posted 13 February 2012 - 02:05 PM

Red wine does so go with chocolate.


You're nuts. That fat coats your mouth and makes the wine taste "thin". You need something pretty heavy-sweet, usually a dessert wine, for it to work. Certainly not a medium bodied red.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#48 Adrian

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:44 PM

Some of you would hate Agave Y Aguacate, the small Mexican food stand located in a Bodega in the middle of Kensington market. It's cash only, the chef is almost never there (and he's the only guy cooking!), eating there is absurdly miserable, and the food takes forever - everything is cooked to order on hot plates. Anyway, the chef's ex-Scaramouche and the food's great, probably the best in the hood. No, it's not the second best restaurant that opened last year as some have suggested. It's great though - spice, acid, and vegetal stuffed poblanos, slow cooked and deeply flavoured refried beans on a tostado, hot chocolate made to order with dark chocolate. You want an afternoon in Toronto? Start here, dumplings at dumpling house, walk it off going north and get some of the roasted marshmellow ice cream at Greg's.

And because you guys all read this when it was printed, I'll give you a better option than Delfina. But that's another post.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#49 Adrian

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 06:43 PM

A better option than Delfina? Hopgood's Foodliner of course, but let me punt on that until I get over to Grand Electric to give you the (definitive? only? highly imprecise?) take on the Black Hoof diaspora. Until then, slightly better than Delfina is the "refined" barbecue joint Barque, slightly inspired by the brief Mile End revival uptown. "Refined" being their term of art, not mine, so let's break it down that way:

Refined: The room is nice. Which is good. The roadhouse thing may work in the south, or in NYC where people associate it with the south, but in Toronto, where it reminds you of the chain sports pub Gabby's, not so much. So that's a plus. Also "refined" are the stupid refined sides. While gnocchi is Parmesan cream is tasty no doubt, it is merely a stand in for what I really want - mac and cheese. Cold Brussels sprouts with scattered beats fair little better when compared to collared greens. And where's the cotija cheese on my "Cuban" corn? That's a winner if you do it! Kids love it - Cafe Habana made itself an institution selling this stuff to pretty denizens of Nolita. The beer is also "refined". McCaulsan's cream ale and a variety of other micro-brews are a good move, as are the slightly more polished desserts - a good pecan pie with Greg's roasted marshmellow ice cream.

Unrefined: A giant, well priced plate of brisket, dry rubbed pork ribs, and smoked chicken. Brisket is the standout. Clearly influenced by Schwartz's (you can find the articles to back up that assertion), it's got a wonderful texture, a good smoke, and a well spiced, if thinly flavoured, rub. I'm sure it's not Texas. Toronto is not Texas. That's a good thing. The chicken is also nicely smokey if a touch sweet. And the pork ribs? Okay. A touch sweet, a touch tough, lacking deep smoke. Nowhere near what they serve at Dinosaur four hours south.

The upshot? A good option if you're following the NYT. Hopgood's is (much) better, but we'll get there.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#50 Sneakeater

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:28 PM

Yo Adrian, you ever been to this place (in Brooklyn)?
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#51 Adrian

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 07:39 PM

Yo Adrian, you ever been to this place (in Brooklyn)?


I always meant to do a field trip when I was in NYC but, sadly, never made it. Has to be better than The Inn at Little West 12th was. Looks great, although the litmus test is whether they carry Alberta Premium.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#52 yvonne johnson

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 08:12 PM


Red wine does so go with chocolate.


You're nuts. That fat coats your mouth and makes the wine taste "thin". You need something pretty heavy-sweet, usually a dessert wine, for it to work. Certainly not a medium bodied red.

Cognac goes very well with chocolate.

I combo I didn't expect would ever go: Blue cheese and coffee (to drink).
It was not a new dish, as I recognised my tooth marks. Wilfrid

#53 Adrian

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 08:16 PM



Red wine does so go with chocolate.


You're nuts. That fat coats your mouth and makes the wine taste "thin". You need something pretty heavy-sweet, usually a dessert wine, for it to work. Certainly not a medium bodied red.

Cognac goes very well with chocolate.

I combo I didn't expect would ever go: Blue cheese and coffee (to drink).


I would believe that. For something to go with cheese/chocolate it needs to have very powerful characteristics - bitterness, high alcohol, tannins - that are softened by the mile fat of the cheese/chocolate. Else you have the problem of the wine tasting "thin".

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#54 Sneakeater

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 05:05 PM

Big California Zins (that aren't good for anything else).
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#55 prasantrin

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 09:29 PM

YYZ sucks (the airport, not necessarily the city). $10 for a crappy sandwich? $2.75 for a teeny container of organic yoghurt? Why can't more airports have equal pricing policies? (like Calgary--at least Calgary used to have that policy)

(not to mention the crappy service/attitude of the folks who work here)

#56 Adrian

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 09:34 PM

YYZ sucks (the airport, not necessarily the city). $10 for a crappy sandwich? $2.75 for a teeny container of organic yoghurt? Why can't more airports have equal pricing policies? (like Calgary--at least Calgary used to have that policy)

(not to mention the crappy service/attitude of the folks who work here)


The island airport has a wonderful lounge with free coffee, food, and Wi-Fi The new terminal at YYZ is clean. That's about all I've got to add.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#57 prasantrin

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 10:43 PM


YYZ sucks (the airport, not necessarily the city). $10 for a crappy sandwich? $2.75 for a teeny container of organic yoghurt? Why can't more airports have equal pricing policies? (like Calgary--at least Calgary used to have that policy)

(not to mention the crappy service/attitude of the folks who work here)


The island airport has a wonderful lounge with free coffee, food, and Wi-Fi The new terminal at YYZ is clean. That's about all I've got to add.


I like YVR. I could have been eating a White Spot burger but instead I'll probably have a bag of $1.89 potato chips. (My flight from NRT to YVR was cancelled, so I got rerouted to YYZ. I shouldn't complain too much since I got a flight out today while most of the folks on my flight probably didn't.)

#58 prasantrin

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 05:11 AM

My flight kept getting delayed, so I dug deep in my pockets to pay for an almost-$12 sandwich ($10 plus tax) from Bar: 120. It wasn't bad.

#59 Adrian

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:25 PM

Hopgood’s Foodliner is the new restaurant of Jeff Hopgood, ex chef Hoof Café and the latest offering by members of the Hoof Diaspora. With that, Hopgood’s snugly fits in with the other, idiosyncratic openings of the last year or so – Bear Robe’s personal, precise cuisine at Keriwa; the recently christened “best new restaurant in Toronto” the fascinating, flawed, schizophrenic Yours Truly; the strangely southern food at Acadia; and the hipster Mexican fair at Grand Electric among others. These quirky, mid-range restaurants, taken together, are probably the most exciting culinary development in Toronto in some time. Instead of serving staid farm-to-table comfort food, these restaurants have the definite perspective that Toronto restaurants have hitherto lacked.

Hopgood’s Foodliner’s premise is a conceit: east coast “comfort” food. A lot of the restaurants press has focused on this. Hopgood’s food is too chef-y to be characterized as such, although the food doesn't scream "manipulation". Those touches are a bit more subtle and, I think, lost on a lot of the people commenting about the place. Take the excellent horse’s heart tartar. The olive and cauliflower purees are smooth, so smooth that I’ll bet that there’s a little stabilizer in there. And on top? Shaved, dehydrated cauliflower underneath a soft mound of reduced, caramelized, frozen, shaved cream. The shaved cream is near brilliant. Like the Ko foie, the lightness of the texture undercuts the heaviness of the ingredient. Just great stuff.

Yet, the tartar isn’t what’s getting the lion’s share of the press though. Instead, it’s Hopgood’s reworking of two east coast staples – doner kababs and crab dip with Triscuits. Both dishes come from an interesting idea. I've always felt that there are two kinds of guilt in eating. The hedonic guilt of fat and butter and foie and cream and fry and the guild of liking something that you know is, objectively, kind of bad. Maybe you like it because of memory, maybe because it’s kind of good, but you're kind of embarrassed to like it. This latter kind of guilt pervades much of the menu. Hopgood takes these things we like in spite of ourselves and makes it okay to enjoy them. Unfortunately, the famous dishes are the worst examples of this. Even with the house made pitas, the doners are too spiced, too sweet, too much like doners to be actually good. They serve to remind you of why you only eat them drunk. And even with fresh crab, the crab dip is crab dip. Like the doners, it’s kind of gross.

But when Hopgood succeeds in this endeavour, it rocks. Shrimp cocktail – an east coast dish of raw button mushrooms, iceberg lettuce, a tangy mayo based sauce and shrimp, becomes acceptable with barely cooked spot prawns. The raw mushrooms add crunch and body, the lettuce crispness, the mayo tang, and the prawns a delicate sweetness. Elsewhere, marmite is palatable when it’s used to cure tuna, giving the fish extra depth against tart, brunoised, pickled apples and daikon. Or, baked beans with cocktail wieners, except you don’t even notice it’s that, because the beans taste like cassoulet and the “hotdogs” are wonderful, meaty sausages, and the sweetbreads on top are crisp and creamy. Beside the pot, brioche, crispy and hot, to mop everything up.

And some stuff doesn’t need a gimmick. Corned beef with turnips may reference east coast dinner, but it doesn’t matter. Some turnips are pickled, others are pureed, and the beef is rich, salty and good. A dish of scallops and pork is a good iteration of a popular theme. I’d speak higher of it, the technique is there – almost an entire shoulder of pork is condensed into three fried cubes, scallops are well seared and rare – it’s that the dish is ten yards behind a similar dish I had in the fall down the 401 at 400 Coups. Oh, and chicken with grits and bacon sauce shows another hidden bit of technique. The brick of chicken is equal parts light and dark meat, stuck together with meat glue and cooked sous vide.

What else? Oysters, crab legs, a weak dessert of maple, pecans and crème anglais, a better house made chocolate bar with caramel and toffee.

Hopgood’s is good. At times excellent. And when it isn’t excellent, it fails in interesting ways. This is progress. No longer are Toronto’s NBC restaurants satisfied serving tired roasted root vegetables or unadorned cuts of meat. The food is becoming more modern, more technical, and far more compelling. So good on Jeff Hopgood.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.


#60 Adrian

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 02:10 AM

Someone throw some money at this guy to bring him home.

I think you need to interpret what I'm saying in a reasonable way.