Jump to content

Most Liked Content


Posted by Slapsie Maxie on 19 March 2004 - 05:31 PM

Today, I love my job

Just received an advance of a book I have been working on for over a year

The crispness of the pages and the cover along with the quality of what is on the inside gives me a high that drugs, sex or even foie can't match

#79949 Supper

Posted by Vanessa on 18 March 2004 - 06:14 PM

Working my way through some Indian recipes from a not very good book - an experiment in seeing what works and what doesn't. The night before last I turned my kitchen into a post-hurricane site with a convoluted, improbable recipe involving dal, soaked, ground and then deep fried in seasoned balls, boiled slices of an Indian gourd, and a weird yoghurt/chickpea flour sauce. I knew all along it wouldn't work and it duly turned out inedible.

Then last night a chicken dish, nearly as improbable, but my premonition that it just might work was correct. A whole chicken stuffed with hard-boiled eggs (I soft-boiled them) and an onion/garlic/ginger/chilli mixture, rubbed first with ground green papaya and then a spice/nut mixture of poppy seeds/pistachios/almonds/garam masala. Sliced onions sauteed in butter (ghee if you want to be correct), the chicken put on top, couple of chopped tomatoes and plenty of yoghurt added, with seasoning, brough to a simmer on the stove and put in the oven for a couple of hours. Turned out pretty yummy even if I didn't grind the poppy seeds properly.


#1035468 The Rest of Us

Posted by Sneakeater on 01 August 2009 - 02:42 AM

I read all these threads about these fabulous dinners people have at home, with photogenic, obviously labor-intensive food, and legendary bottles.

I can't speak for anybody else on this board, but my (few) meals at home tend not to be like that. (Well, Suzanne's posts in a recent thread suggested she's closer to me than to the fabulists.) (I don't mean that pejoratively, BTW: I'd love to cook like those guys.)

So I thought I'd start a wine-and-food-at-home thread for people more like me.

Last Sunday, after a very late night at the office, I went to Fuleen Seafood Restaurant, an excellent NYC Chinatown place that stays open long into the morning.

Eating alone at a Chinese restaurant is tough. You end up with enough leftovers to feed the Red Army on the Long March.

So Monday night, getting out very late from work but having to appear in court early the next morning, I dumped about half my Fuleen leftovers -- scallops in black pepper sauce, and fried sea bass wrapped in seaweed -- onto a plate. For an accompaniment, I opened a bottle of 2004 or 2005 Puffeney melon-queue-rouge: a weird Jura white grape that tastes something like chardonnay, but a bit oxidized and acidic as hell.

If I say so myself, this was an inspired pairing. The very slight nuttiness in the wine -- which itself played off against the wine's very high acid level, so that it was simultaneously brisk and mellow -- played off perfectly against the peppery solidity of the scallops.

Tonight, my trial over for the nonce, too tired to go out, I finished the Fuleen leftovers at home. This time I reheated them. As a bed for the scallops, I made some Pennsylvania Dutch thin noodles (I used to date a girl from Reading, and every time she'd go home she'd bring me back huge quantities of noodles and relishes, which are long outlasting our relationship) fried in peanut oil, spring garlic, soy sauce, a little sugar, and sesame oil.

Since the Jura wine was such a success, I paired this with a 2008 Berlioz Chignin from Savoie. This wine is made from roussanne, but it doesn't taste like a Rhone. If anything, it smacks more of riesling -- although no one would say it really tastes like one. What I'd say is that it has the grassy citrus bang of a good sauvignon blanc -- but with a meatier, minerally, more chardonnay-like finish.

What it is, is unique. And EXTREMELY delicious.

Probably it wasn't as good a match for the food as the Jura melon, but it was so outstandingly good that it doesn't matter. I'm sorry I only have three (now two) bottles of this, cuz I think it's going to be my wine of the summer.

#824546 what beers are you drinking?

Posted by mongo_jones on 12 August 2007 - 01:06 AM

tonigt: full moon belgian white ale--it is not really belgian, but a belgian style witbier from the mudshark brewery based in arizona. i quote my beeradvocate.com review:

looks very nice in the glass--lovely colour, and nice head. unfortunately, let down by the taste and non-existent finish. slight citrusy notes, and a hint of bitterness as it enters the mouth, but by the time you've finished swallowing it you might as well have had a sip of water. but this does make it a very good thirst quencher after a hot, humid day as we've had today in southern minnesota.

is it really 8% alcohol? sure doesn't taste like it.


okay, this is very embarrassing: the beer i drank is not full moon belgian white, but blue moon belgian white. when i went to review it on beeradvocate, i mistakenly did a search for full moon, and when it showed up i assumed that's what it was called. what are the odds that two separate companies would make belgian style witbiers with moon in their names?

review stands--but this one is certainly not 8% abv, which explains my surprise.

#79835 Today I played...

Posted by Wilfrid1 on 15 March 2004 - 05:06 PM

Van Morrison, The Healing Game. One of his later albums, but with some great tracks - the title track, The Burning Ground and This Once Was My Life (with Georgie Fame's call-and-response backing vocals) all hold up well.

Also, I have been constantly replaying Polly Harvey's Songs from the City, Songs from the Sea album - far and away her most entertaining work, I think.

#607267 So, where are *you* going next?

Posted by Scorched Palate on 15 July 2005 - 09:48 PM

I thought it would be cool to have a thread -- akin to the Breakfast and Supper threads -- where we talk about the trips we've booked that we're looking forward to taking.

Cameron and I are going to Seattle (our 'other hometown') in October for a long weekend. Then in late December/early January, we're going to Thailand for 19 days on one of Kasma Loha-unchit's culinary tours. We've put off this trip for at least 3 years (it's been so long, we've actually forgotten when we originally said we'd go), so we're really looking forward to it. We also have a 3-night stopover in Tokyo on the way to Bangkok, which we're in the process of planning.

How 'bout you? What's in your "upcoming itineraries" folder?


#978636 eating in Japan

Posted by little ms foodie on 16 December 2008 - 01:54 AM

starting next week we will be in Tokyo, Hakone, Hiroshima and Kyoto. We are very excited! If you have any do not miss restaurants please let me know.

I'm on the wait list for Molecular Tapas Bar in Tokyo and have a reservation for Ryugin.

We also love the cocktail bars! smile.gif

#616019 Clueless questions II (The Ones You Really Want Answered)

Posted by Tamar G on 11 August 2005 - 05:31 PM

where do baby corns come from?

all joking aside, are they just regular corn that's picked before it's grown?

#459877 Barcelona recommendations

Posted by Wilfrid1 on 15 July 2004 - 08:02 PM

An open letter to two esteemed members who are making their first trip to this, one of my three favorite cities, later this summer. Veterans might wish to skip the "obvious" section:

Obvious things to do:

Gaudi. You should set aside half a day just to see Gaudi's works. The Sagrada Familia is the most famous, but I find there's not much to see when you actually get there. It's most striking seen at a distance. La Pedrera, his weird apartment house, is good, and if it's open go up to the roof (also, some other great apartment facades are nearby, including his Casa Battlo). Go inside the Palau Guell in the Barri Xines if it's open and take a look around. But don’t miss, above all, the Parc Guell. It's a subway ride plus a walk, or a short taxi ride, but it's a total Gaudi environment - a park he designed for a wealthy benefactor. Disneyland as conceived by a conservative Catholic mythologian. Spacey.

Tibidabo. Do the tram car up to the basilica overlooking the city. The basilica itself is not thrilling, but the view is great. Better still, if you follow the road that runs around the left hand side of the basilica (facing it), a five minute walks brings you to spots from which you can look in the other direction - inland from Barcelona. Lovely views of the countryside. There's a bar with terrace seating in front of the basilica, if you need a bit of black pudding or something.

Montjuic. This is the other mountain overlooking the city. Unless you hate Miro, you should spend a couple of hours at the Fundacion Miro. You can also walk around the Olympic stadium area. If you consult a map, there's a pretty easy walk down from the summit which brings you past the old palace, which is now a museum of art (always closed when I've visited - maybe you'll be lucky); again, great views as you descend.

The Picasso museum in the old town, but on the far side of the Via Laietana from the more popular part of the Barri Gotic, is essential if you like Picasso.

Barceloneta. This is the gritty, social realism bit of the trip, even though a lot of the old seaside bars were torn down before the Olympics. This is a long-ish walk from the center, but gets you to the city's only beach. On the way, you pass plenty of seafood tapas bars. When you get to the beach area, do explore some of the sidestreets to get a glimpse of what ordinary working life in Barclona is like. I've visited some of the bars around here at night, but they are home to simple, drunken fisherfolk, and I was aware I was the only tourist. Fine in the day-time, and the beach is okay for swimming.

Barri Gotic. Most of your time should be spent simply exploring the Barri Gotic, the largest preserved mediaevel city zone in Europe (forget Venice). Walk endlessly down tiny alleyways, looking at antique shops, bars, and food stores. Inexhaustible. There are a couple of streets where the kids get a bit lively at night, but personally I think you can walk the Barri Gotic twenty four hours. Barri Xines on the other side of the Ramblas - I suggest taking a walk around in the day-time to get your bearings. The sidestreets can be dark and creepy at night, and there were still a lot of stray drug users around last time I looked. On C/de Escudellers, near Los Caracoles restaurant (you can't miss it - there are chickens roasting on a spit outside), look out for a big store selling really good ceramics and houseware from various regions of Spain. Once inside, look out for windows in the floor. They reveal a cellar downstairs which is a wine bar - good list by the glass, and plenty of hams and cheeses to sample. Late hours around the Barri Gotic, you'll find countless small spaces which you wouldn't notice shuttered during the day are actually modernistic cocktail lounges, each with its own idiosyncratic design - these are spaces for drinking rather than eating tapas.

Placa Reial, a square just off the Ramblas, is worth looking at - Gaudi designed some of the lampposts, and there's usually some street entertainment going on - but avoid the bars and restaurants. Over-priced and touristy.

One more thought. A side-trip to Monserrat is a good way to spend half a day. It's an easy train ride, followed by a spectacular cable car ascent. The alleged point of it all is the basilica dedicated to the "black Virgin", and associated souvenirs. What makes it worth while is climbing up beyond the church to higher parts of the mountain, where you get wonderful air, amazing views, and some peace and quiet.

Less obvious things to do:

In other words, I worked these out without much help from guidebooks.
The Museo Federic Mares, near the Cathedral, boasts an endless collection of religious statuary. Everyone knows that. Less obvious is the little Museum of Everyday Life which is upstairs from the Virgins and angels. Odd opening hours, so check, but this is a terrific collection of everyday objects from Barcelona's belle epoque. Children's toys, timepieces, snuff-boxes, shaving kits, household items - you name it - an endless display of good taste. Nearby, look out for the Salo de Tinell, once a royal chamber - it's the most beautiful example of an arched gothic room (oh, I'm no good at describing architecture - it's a lovely space to take a peek at).

Boqueria Market. You won’t miss this - the main food market on the Ramblas - but in addition to drifting around the stalls, remember that this is a great place for breakfast or a snack. There are a number of tapas bars in the middle of the market, among the stalls. Choose one which has a view of something interesting - like the fish stalls, where experts gut and serve vast quantities and varieties of seafood - get up on a stool, order a beer and a slice of tortilla, and you can watch the market at work at your leisure. I could do this for hours.

Once you've explored the main part of the Barri Gotic, centred around the Cathedral, and stretching essentially from the big square, Plaza de Catalunya down to the waterside, consider crossing Via Laietana - going towards the Picasso museum. Wander around the backstreets here. It's an old part of town which is definitely not touristy. There are some great little bars here where you can drink for almost nothing, and eat good seafood tapas. I could take you to them, but addresses I don't have. But it's not a large area, so it's worth a look. I don't believe it's dangerous, but it's a working class neighborhood, so I'd dress down (generally, I have never found Barcelona dangerous, but petty crime is everywhere - pickpockets and bag snatchers - so arrange your valuables accordingly; and particularly beware being surrounded by "gypsies" giving you flowers - I just yell at them and walk into the street).


El Xampanyet. Most guidebooks mention this little cava bar a few doors from the Picasso Museum, but you need to know how to make the best of it. It opens for a brief time, early in the evening. My book says 6.30, which sounds about right. You should get there right away and belly up to the bar. They bring out tray after tray of delicious morsels - anchovies, butifarra catalana (white sausage), ham, etc - served on small slices of bread . You can point and order. I find the artisanal cava a little sweet (think Babycham), but the cider's not bad. Friendly service from people who've been working there many, many years. Obviously combines well with a trip to see Picasso's blue period.

El Portalon. I regard this as the essential Barcelona bar. It used to be a typical bodega, but now it's about the only one left. Like El Xampanyet, quirky opening hours - evenings only - and it's hard to find. But if you follow the curve of C. Banys Nous, looking for number 20, you'll track it down amidst the expensive antique stores. It looks like the inside of a barrel. Excellent tapas (try the deep fried artichokes and the snails), dirt cheap wines drawn from the cask, and some real atmosphere. For a sit down meal, the specialty is fideu - essentially a paella, with vermicelli instead of rice.

If you've any interest in twentieth century art, don't miss having a drink in Els Quatre Gats, down a little street called c/Montsio. It was the nightclub at which the Barcelona avant garde gathered around the turn of the century, including the young Pable Picasso, who illustrated the bar's newsletter and made many drawings there. It's a true landmark (http://www.tamu.edu/...os/quatref1.jpg). There's a dining room, but I;ve only ever dropped in for a glass of wine or acav to admire the art work. (Website: www.4gats.com)

Bar Pastis is Barcelona's version of the French House. Take C/Santa Monica, a turning off the Ramblas a little down from the Barri Xines. After dark, unless they've been moved on at last, you'll find a cluster of cross-dressing hookers at the entrance to the street. They won't bother you, and you'll be irresistibly reminded of British wrestling greats like Jackie Pallo and Adrian Street in full regalia. You'll see the lighted sign above Bar Pastis on the right. It's a dark, smoky little boite, with perpetual Edith Piaf and Charles Trenet playing, and the obvious drink is absinthe. Open very late.

Another bar which is a personal favorite is Padam! Padam! It's a tiny place at c/Raurig 9, just off c/Ferran, and you have to be buzzed in. It's small, friednly, and a bit of an Edith Piaf theme bar, but usually has interesting art exhibits. I suppose the clientele tends to be "mixed".

Non-alcoholically speaking, you should start at least one day with hot chocolate and churros. My favorite is a bar in one corner of Placa San Jaume. This is the square which has the local government building on one side, and the regional parliament on the other - you're bound to pass through it a lot. Walking away from the Ramblas, this hot chocolate joint is in the far left hand corner, on the square. Beyond it, a narrow pedestrian street leads uphill, along which you'll find a couple of good wine stores and groceries, and two cute hole-in-the-wall bars which are good places to take a morning coffee.

Tapas bars:

All over town, of course, but you'll find a concentration of popular ones along C/Avinyo, which runs from C/Ferran down towards the water, and especially along C./Ample and C/Merce which are parallel streets near the bottom of Avinyo. Also, if Scott gets homesick, there's a pub on Avinyo (or possibly the parallel c/del Regomir)which shows soccer and serves Guinness. In fact, if La Barca are playing, the streets are deserted, and everyone goes to a bar to watch the game.

Anyway, you'll want to walk up and down all these streets. El Tropezon on Regomir is a good place to order chunks of octopus, cut fresh from a whole, huge beast. You'll also see bars advertising chorizo al diablo - bits of spicy sausage flamed with local liquor. Don't miss Bar Celta la Pulperia on c/de la Merce, a popular but spacious bar specialising in fried seafood tapas. Nearby is a small tapas bar which specilaises in cooked ham from the Canaries, served with little boiled potatoes. Unusual. Also in the area, you'll find several Asturian-style bars - you can't miss them, they have lots of heavy wooden beams, and specialise in cider, strong blue cheeses and an alcoholic milkshake (essentially) called leche de pantera, or panther's milk.


I'm not the best person to ask about the new wave of Barcelona restaurants. You've probably read plenty about them, and if you have specific questions, other members can probably help more than I. I was going to Barcelona a long time before this trend happened. Indeed, I would caution you that, until recently, Barcelona was not a great restaurant city. The best eating has always been in bars, and from the market, and some of the old-time restaurants you see in every guide book can be big let downs. I really would avoid some heavily promoted places like Quo Vadis (if it still exists), Los Caracoles, Agut D'Avinyon and Amaya (the tapas bar is fine, I'd give the restaurant a miss). Set Portes, down by the water on Passeig d'Isabel - go if you have time; it's like Rules without the game, and it attracts many Americans and Japanese, but it's a lovely old room and the food's okay. In fact, if you're going to eat paella, eat it here. The roast kid is another option.

My top recommendation, which is missed by most guidebooks, is the closest thing Barcelona has to a St John's. It's the Ateneu Gastronomic (www.ateneu.com). Just off C/Ferran, about five minutes from the Ramblas, it's a plainly decorated restaurant (with wine bar attached), at which the husband and wife proprietors offer dishes researched from the city's history and ingredients carefully sourced from the Catalunyan countryside. They also have a wine list which focusses on local co-operatives. Since it's a very reasonably priced restaurant, I strongly recommended a full blow out. First, choose from the "para picar" (for picking at) menu - artisanal sausages and cheeses, good foie gras, and various hams with toast. Then appetizers - look out for local wild mushrooms, or even a thistle salad. Meat or fish (specials often involve re-creations of mediaeval dishes). Cheese with honey is a good dessert. This is the place I go to for horse tartare! The wine list is such that you will probably be able to order the most expensive bottle on the menu without a second thought. I've never had trouble getting a table in the restaurant without a reservation.

A more conservative recommendation is Ca D'Isidre, down a little sidestreet, C/les Flors, off C/de Sant Pau which runs straight through the Barri Xines. This is a small, smart dining room, offering quite sophisticated Catalunyan cooking. This doesn't mean lots of ingredients on a plate, but quite conservative, well-executed dishes - sauteed baby eels, followed by a simply roast or braised piece of meat or fish. Excellent cheese tray. Popular with diplomats and well-heeled visitors. I managed to walk in, but it may be wise to reserve.

I also quite like Can Culleretes, up an alleyway in the Barri Gotic - the oldest restaurant in the city. It reminds me of traditional restaurants in Rome - a simple dining room with paper tablecloths and matter-of-fact service. But some of the dishes, like the braised partridge with spinach and pinenuts, are pretty good. This is not a fancy place, and it is old-fashioned.

That'll do for now. I hope other members will add to, or indeed criticize, these recommendations.

#616715 cheeses i've recently tried

Posted by djk on 15 August 2005 - 12:54 AM

i was just wondering what cheeses people were trying now, maybe because of the season's offerings or just because. i was buying some favorites recently and then got turned onto two new one's that seemed worthy of mentioning here in case they weren't known.....delice de bourgogne, okay yes, it's a 75% butterfat triple creme cow's milk - so why wouldn't it be good. a fair point. but this was a particularly delightful example of the category. it's pungent and smooth and completely luxurious in the mouth - deep and dusty. each layer kind of reveals itself as it fills your mouth. it just gets creamier. i brought a few cheeses to a dinner party this wknd, some favorites and these two that were new to me. the two were instant hits. this one is from burgundy, it's produced by fromagerie lincet and (both) avail at murray's. the next was a raw sheep's milk from the pyrenees called ossau vielle i think. it was almost sweet and then also very field like, grass mixed with earth and nuts. excellent. it went perfectly with a piemontese red wine we were having.

#567659 Burger Of The Month Club

Posted by Fay Jai on 08 March 2005 - 11:25 PM

Beatcha, Anita! :rolleyes:

Let'd Do This! :(


#509687 Montreal

Posted by Orik on 02 August 2004 - 11:40 PM

Currenly on the list:


Au Pied De Cochon (been to before and had the best raw platter we've had in North America)

La Chronique (good reviews on other sites)

possibly Brunoise or Anise.

We've dined at Les Caprices de Nicolas before and found it to be mediocre.

Any interesting casual dining? (other than Schwartz and the bagels?)

#862564 The Missie K Thread

Posted by Daniel on 26 November 2007 - 04:28 AM

Miss K, never worked on the charcoals before we bought her a couple of pencils yesterday .. We followed her around the museum and had a really fun day..

#212600 Fragrance

Posted by Lippy on 20 April 2004 - 10:25 PM

I love perfume and wear it all the time, even to bed. I used to have a signature scent that I wore sometimes for years on end. Now I like to mix it up. I'm wearing Coco right now, but tomorrow it may be Marc Jacobs, Sublime, Manifesto or something else altogether. I use citrus-scented candles to chase away fish cooking odors, and I consider the classic Riguad Chypre candle to be the smell of money (figuratively.)

Anyone else?

#303088 Madrid

Posted by Wilfrid1 on 20 May 2004 - 09:26 PM

Has anyone heard much recently about the following Madrid restaurants?

Zalacain - which I gather has been around for a while.

Terrassa del Casino (spelling?) - boasts some relationship with Adria.

I am strongly tempted to re-visit La Broche, but wonder whether these (or others) merit serious consideration.

#79811 Currently Reading...

Posted by Wilfrid1 on 12 March 2004 - 04:30 PM

Just finished Ask the Dust by John Fante, a slim novel which didn't live up to the extravagant praise I've heard from Bukowski fans. Henry Miller and Hubert Selby did this kind of thing much better.

Almost had enough of Ted Hughes' Collected Poems. A hugely repetitive talent when presented on this scale: how many poems about Crow do we need? This made me look again at Syvlia Plath, and I remain lukewarm about her poetry too. A poet I am enjoying - although, not reading any Russian, it's a remote experience - is Anna Akhmatova. The volume of her collected poems is a labor of love, with a good biography, a memoir by Isaiah Berlin, and copious sections of photos.

#1219794 Sydney, Ten Years Ago

Posted by Wilfrid on 11 February 2013 - 05:22 PM

I found it interesting to transcribe menus from several long dinners in Sydney, ten years ago. You'll find them at the Pink Pig.


#1125584 Toronto, at the moment

Posted by Adrian on 14 January 2011 - 10:56 PM

Before I begin this long post, I wanted to mention that Joe Beef in Montreal is serving a foie gras double down. It is two pieces of deep fried foie, bacon, maple syrup smoked cheddar, duck skin schmaltz mayo, and brown sugar apple juice. The self parody that is Montreal bistro-trash food has reached a new level of awesomeness. I sincerely hope to get to Montreal before this thing disappears from the menu.

Coming home for the holidays, I realized what an oddly dynamic city Toronto is – it’s a relentless trend chaser at its worst, constantly looking Southeast to New York, when it should be looking West to Chicago, but at its best it’s clever and creative, a mosaic (not, heaven forefend, a melting pot!) of vibrant neighbourhoods that are constantly reinventing themselves. As such, most of my recent dining adventures have been spent exploring the neighbourhoods around Ossington street, which have, over the past decade, transformed themselves from an old-Toronto Siberia into a perfectly acceptable place for a family dinner (and also a perfectly acceptable place to meet friends out afterwords).

Foxley, on Ossington and Foxley, feels like it should be standard NBC type of place (It' NBC, I don’t care what the state of the thread a couple forums up is) but isn’t and not really in a good way. Where the location, the room, and even the name suggest the sort of pretentious, relentlessly local, restaurant that can be both consistently refreshing when done well and unbearably tiresome when done poorly, the menu is Asian tapas. Kind of dated, eh? I hate it when I agree with Joanna Kates, but the ceviche and raw fish dishes are uniformly excellent. Precisely balanced between sweet and acidic, they spotlight the fish not the prep. Similarly, the wild BC sockeye was inexpensive, due to the summer surplus, and delicious, if a hair overcooked, although the accompaniments were unremarkable. Funnily, this, the most NBC thing on the menu, was also the best of the cooked dishes. The rest of the menu trended towards mediocrity which would be fine if the restaurant didn’t irk me with its tapas style of presentation. Why must the size and number of portions on each plate always be woefully inadequate for the number of people that are eating it? Sometimes it is easier to order a plate of hipster pixie dust seasoned artisanal buttermilk fried chicken with a side of pixie dustless and under-seasoned Brussels sprouts to share.

Further north on Ossington is Pizzeria Libretto. More Motorino than Franny’s, it sits at the vanguard of Toronto’s nascent Neapolitan Pizza movement (must. copy. New York), which, despite my snarkiness, represents a vast improvement over Teroni’s fancy chain pies. Before the pie, we split some Niagra Prosciutto which made up for in a salty porky flavour what it lacked in provenance, some sort of bland seasonal salad (back to Brooklyn!), and another too small for sharing portion of very good octopus something or other. As for the main event, the pies are good, if slightly inconsistent in the crust, with an excellent sauce, and a poor cheese (but you can upgrade to a better one for more than I want to spend). But again I’m too snarky; the pizza is a best excellent and at worst vastly better than what Toronto had before.

But let’s go deeper into Toronto’s NBC scene and walk further up Ossington and turn right on Dundas, go past Trinity Bellwoods Park and sit down for dinner at the Black Hoof, shall we? This, I think, is the way forward. One common NBC complaint is that the food is redundant – the obsession over hipster provenance means that less distinguished ingredients are served over better ones because inferior ingredients are local/organic/artisanal/grown on a rooftop/infusedwith authentic beard sweat. But I think that the objection runs deeper than this. The problem is that, at its most mediocre, NBC food doesn’t evince anything. It’s food that, ironically, often lacks a sense of place and time. The Hoof is different. The charcuterie may not be as accomplished as Bar Boulud’s (I know, I know), but it is distinctly Ontarian. You get venison and rabbit and foie and duck and berries and all these distinctly Canadian things in the very well made charcuterie. And a bright and acidic smoked mackerel salad. And a witty tongue sandwich that’s as earnest as a Montreal version of the dish would be ironic. The only misstep was smoked sweetbreads that didn’t have the requisite crisp nor a particularly interesting flavour. Oh, and they actually make a good cocktail (more on that later).

All this talk of ingredients brings me to the ever frustrating Nota Bene. David Lee used to run Toronto’s best kitchen at Splendido, now he runs the painfully corporate, slightly dated, Nota Bene. For a restaurant that started with such promise, the composed dishes have deteriorated over the past couple years. The crispy duck salad is neither crispy nor as bracingly acidic as it once was and a truffled pasta dish is, well, barely there. This combined with the braying Bay Street bankers and girls in sausage casing dresses would almost be too much if it wasn’t for one thing: Nota Bene may be serving the best steak out there right now. But back to the dishes that are not the densely marbled, perfectly seared, 45 day on the bone dry aged masterpiece of a rib eye that I could eat nightly. The fries are soggy, the mushrooms are a little too spongy, and I can’t remember what other unremarkable sides we got. But holy shit, the steak is revelatory. Maybe it’s not a Luger’s porterhouse (although you’d be hard pressed to get me to say that I’ve ever had a better steak at Luger’s), but the beef that Steven Alexander is supplying and aging at Cumbrae is as good as I’ve ever had – the marbling on some of the steaks is often wagyu like and it has the deep, dense dry aged flavour of great aged prime beef. And at Nota Bene, David Lee is getting the best of the bunch. Maybe it’s unsurprising that Nota Bene has become a high end steak house given the clientele, but what a steak house. Oh, and lest I forget, the salted caramel truffles that you can purchase of the dessert menu are very, very, very good.

A couple notes on drinking in Toronto for those who are still, miraculously, interested in what I have to say. Although I refuse to go to the M&H knock off that is the Toronto Temperance Society (it pains my fingers to type that terrible, terrible name), I think I can safely say Toronto lags in the cocktail game. For example, why must everyone shake their Manhattans? I didn’t expect it at Nota Bene and I definitely didn’t expect it at Goodnight!, the latest hidden, trendy, call ahead bar. The vibe was nice, the location sufficiently inconspicuous, and I’m sure it was the bell of the nightlife ball at Tiff, but they can’t make a cocktail and, even worse, they don’t even know their own menu. Will the hipsters be better at this game? Well Reposado on Ossington serves plenty of great Tequilas, but the margarita usesd some house made mix that stripped the enamel off my teeth. Now, the Manhattan at Black Hoof, made with Alberta Springs 10 year Rye, was the only well made drink that I had. Toronto’s brewpubs, including the new Duggan’s in a wasteland of a neighborhood, continue to be the best bet for good, fresh and interesting alcohol.


#1282258 Sydney, Today

Posted by LiquidNY on 05 April 2014 - 01:44 AM

Going to Sydney soon for a few weeks on business (and they're trying to get me to relocate there...  we'll see about that).  Where should I eat besides Quay and Tetsuya's?

#1218392 Photography: lenses Filters

Posted by Stone on 27 January 2013 - 04:09 PM

Ive got a Canon 40D with a 28-135mm lens. I'm heading to the Canadian Rockies. Is there a particular ens I should get for outdoor photography? Any type of filter? I think I've got a basic protective something over the lens now. (Sunpack 72mm UV)

Obviously, I don't know much about photography?