Saturday, August 28, 2010

Deep Fried Butter at The Ex courtesy of my cousin Bryan.

It tasted like fried butter, really. I didn't get the funnel cake flavour and when you bite into it, it's mostly hollow with melted butter coating the inside batter. Selling at $5 for four pieces, it's a great gimmick to attract a constant long line-up.

The very friendly vendor also had other similar wonderful delights available, such as deep fried Mars bar, chocolate-covered bacon, and some crazy chocolate- and nut-coated Twinkie creation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chicken tikka at Casa Lina

My aunt can whip up the most delicious food from Italian to Indian to Chinese at a moment's notice. I never go hungry at her house.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Singapore, Newton Hawker Centre

After three days eating my way through Kuala Lumpur as much as I possibly could, I took the 8-hour train ride to Singapore to meet my uncle who lives there. (Can you believe I didn't have to pee the whole time? Mind over matter, my friends.)

My uncle was awesome. He was waiting for me as soon as I got in at about 10:20 on a Friday night. He immediately offered to take me home to shower and change, then to do what Singaporeans do best -- eat.

We went to Newton Hawker Centre, which is one of, if not, the most famous hawker centres in Singapore among tourists. It's open concept with food stalls lining the perimeter, serving all sorts of Singaporean dishes. You sit at a numbered table, go up to the stall, order, give them your table number, and in a few short starving moments, your food arrives. You pay the food runner and dig in.

While we waited for food, my uncle ordered lime juices to satiate our thirst. This is a very common drink in Singapore, and it's exactly what it sounds like plus sugar. Considering how much I love citrus, it was perfect for me.

My uncle ordered an enormous feast, considering it was just me, him and his super skinny competitive synchronized swimming 17-year-old daughter Priscilla. We had Singaporean classics: oyster omlette and chili crab; as well as little clams in a spicy sauce, some fried greens, and seafood tom yam soup (not pictured).

The chili crab came with little warm bread rolls that kind of reminded me of marshmallows if you can imagine.

I'm not sure what this cost because my uncle paid for everything, but each dish, since they were all seafood, probably ranged from S$7-S$15; and one Canadian dollar equals about 1.5 Singaporean dollars.

Singaporeans seem to love spicy foods, sauces and seafood. How they cook and eat it all in the thick humidity year-round is beyond me. But thank goodness they do because this is like their version of fast food, and I really, really love that. Hot, super tasty food and lots of it!

Friday, August 20, 2010

BLT on bagel

...for $2.89 at Bagel & Co. in the PATH at 120 Adelaide St. W., east of York Street. Fresh to order; warm and yummy. Your choice of bagel. Mine? Whole grain.

Life's little indulgences. Love it.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

La Bettola di Terroni

I met my friend Yasmin (@yasminATlesauce) a couple of week's ago at Terroni's latest empire addition, La Bettola di Terroni, the wine bar at Richmond and Victoria.

It's a really lovely, open, airy space, and has that Terroni Italian wooden rustic charm most Torontonians have come to know and love. We met on a Wednesday afternoon at 5:30 p.m., and I was surprised to see how empty it was, considering every time I've walked into a Terroni, it's packed to the pasta-, pizza- and wine-soaked gills. We sat at the bar and my only slight problem was the stationary swivel chairs. I get it, but I don't necessarily like it.

Service was friendly, knowledgeable and helpful for each person who came around: hostess, bartender, food runner, dish cleaner-upper (i.e. busboy, but seems like such an archaic term, no?). We had a half litre of wine, and right now I'm still treating wine like boys -- can't really remember their names but I know whether I liked the way they smelled and tasted -- and this wine, on the dry and crisp side, I definitely liked.

We also split the rice cones ($9) to nibble on, and they couldn't be more perfect little golden browned Christmas trees, filled with creamy tomato risotto and spring peas. A little arugula and shaved pecorino (maybe parmigiano-reggiano?) on the plate, and satisfaction complete.

But wait, there's more! From 4-6 on weekdays, if you sit at the bar, the kitchen dishes up little crostini bites for free. So we had a nice fresh tomato bruschetta, and something else... something else... shaved pecorino again, but in any case, I do love that Terroni always serves up quality ingredients.

I'm more into scotch than wine at the moment, but this La Bettola is easily a nice laid-back after-work drink and nibblies spot where you can actually have a conversation with the persons you're with.

I approve Terroni. You're back in my good books.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summertime Eating

I'm losing interest in eating out. My friend said it's probably because it's summertime, and it's difficult to eat heavy, rich meals during summer, which is obvious and true.

All I have a taste for these days is crisp, crunchy cold vegetables, and sweet, tart, fleshy fruits.

I've eaten at a number of higher-end upscale restaurants since returning from Asia (Nota Bene, Ruby Watch Co., Splendido), and I've noticed my taste for food is very different now. I know this is going to sound so pretentious but I feel like my palette and knowledge of food is so high now that "fancy" food will inevitably always be flawed. Because what I want is freshness altered slightly to my taste (i.e. salt, pepper, maybe a little of olive oil or lemon).

My sister said to me a couple of summers ago that she's tired of food. All she wants is to grow the perfect tomato and eat it. I thought at the time she was crazy.

Now all I want to do is grow the perfect tomato and eat it.

I will probably continue to eat out, just because it's the most social activity I do but I know the food experience is different for me now. I don't think my interest in eating out is gone forever, but it's definitely on pause at the moment.

Spanish tapas and paella: La Sala Rosa in Montreal

Tapas is a "fancy" Spanish word for appetizers, but it's not, really. What I love about tapas is it's everything food should be -- sharing lots of little meals between friends and family, so you can experience a range of foods and flavours with the people you love and enjoy being around. It is what I love about food the most.

My 17-year-old cousin Rochelle from Tampa, Florida is visiting Montreal this summer. Her family comes up to Toronto every other year, and this is their "off" year, so when I found out she would be in Montreal on her own, staying with my sister, I decided a weekend road trip was in order.

She's a budding foodie. Reading about food, cooking new recipes, trying new places, as much as a 17-year-old can try. So when she mentioned that she read about this place called Casa del Popolo in Montreal, after looking at the website, and spotting paella, I decided we should go for dinner when I came.

But Casa del Popolo is the casual sandwiches and soups-type eatery. It's La Sala Rosa that is the dinner venue. I went with Ro, my 18-year-old cousin Michelle from Toronto who road-tripped with me, and of course, my sister and her husband. It was a really simple meal but reasonably priced and not your typical restaurant. Very unassuming from the front, but a warm, Spanish feel in the actual dining space. (Or maybe faux Spanish? I can't really make a true comparison because I've never been to Spain before.)

The server was extremely accommodating, even bringing us the paella plate when I asked how big the portion would be. For tapas, we had warm asparagus "salad" with roasted mushrooms; a marlin brochette on rice; fried potatoes with rosemary; mussels in a white wine sauce; and grilled calamari. We had a chicken, chorizo and shrimp paella. I had a glass of wine, my brother-in-law had a beer, and we also ordered two iced teas.

The music was a bit strange: high-pitched opera-ish (but not really) folksy music that made my younger cousins laugh somewhat uncontrollably at times.

It wasn't the most outstanding meal of my life, but the mix of atmosphere, company, value of food and super congenial service definitely made it one of the most memorable.

Fried potatoes with rosemary; seafood, chicken and chorizo paella. Photos courtesy of my cousin Rochelle.