What are we doing for lunch today?

"Come on guys, it's Friday. Let's go to Upstairs" - T. Koop

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Roti Palace

I've been on a west Indian/regular-Indian kick lately and we hit up roti palace at Bathurst just south of Bloor.

The goat roti is a decent size for $6 and is tasty as hell, and boneless, which is a bonus, because goat curry and goat roti usually has bones in it.

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More Veal

Yesterday I didn't go downtown because of the TTC strike, so I decided to try the Chesswood outlet of California sandwiches. It's located on Sheppard just north of Downsview park, basically in the middle of nowhere. If you look up the location on their website you get a sense of what the place looks like...total suburban blah. Anyway, inside there's a lady taking orders, a lady frying up the veal, and a lady wrapping up the sandwiches, all in the area that you can see. In the back, there are more ladies dusting and breading up the veal. The veal frying is such a process. There are 3 different pans of oil and the veal frying lady is moving the meat from pan to pan. I never really figured out what was going on in the end.

So anyway, I ended up getting a sweet veal sandwich ($5.65+tax) with an eggplant topping ($2.xx+tax) which ended up being a $9 sandwich. The eggplant is a breaded and deep-fried slab of eggplant, not the marinated stuff you get at San Francesco or whatever. The result is a pretty huge sandwich - no feeling hungry after this one. This is a good thing, because a $9 sandwich is pretty much blingin' it.

However, having eaten the Calif veal twice now, I'm going to have to reverse my previous stance and conclude that the veal is inferior to what you get at San Francesco. Somehow it's crispier (good) but less flavourful (bad). The veal at SF has some nice meaty taste to it whereas the veal at Calif is more like an institutional veal cutlet at the mental hospital's cafeteria - bland. Maybe having the hot peppers last time covered this fact for me; the texture of the Calif veal is a bit nicer, but it doesn't make up for the lack of flavour.

Of course, it was a veal sangwich so I can't complain - still a good lunch.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Veda Takeout

Today I hit up Veda. I'd heard about this so-called "healthy" Indian takeout style place.

It's on Yonge just south of Davenport, a little takeout type place with a few seats, and it has a totally clean, spartan "new age" appearance. It's obviously meant to appeal to office chicks and Yorkville types who work in the area, or anyone who would take a yoga class.

It was totally empty when I went for a late lunch. The concept is there's only a few dishes and it's served up combo/bento style. You get rice; spinach rice or non-spinach (but not plain) rice with two dishes ($5.25 for two cheap dishes or $5.87 for one cheap and one more expensive dish -- ie. meat).

I went for the spainach rice with curry chick peas and saag chicken. The stuff was lightly oiled and lightly spiced, nothing close to the usual grease/spice bomb that Indian places usually deliver. More along the lines of Indian homecooking. It came with a so-so flatbread which was bland but good for dipping in the sauces.

The chickpea curry was pretty good, tangy, light spice. The chicken the the saag chicken was dry and bland, but the tomato/spinach sauce was good with the rice. The portion size is good, so it's a great value.

It was decent, really good value, maybe on the bland side, but certainly something you could eat everyday, but if you dig spicy or rich Indian food you won't find it here.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pizza Salad

We're making a pizza for dinner tonight, but because I'm trying to be healthy, I made a salad out of all the toppings that are going onto the pizza (except pepperoni): sweet onion, tomato, artichoke, and a bit of stringy mozzarella cheese. Dressed it up with some sherry vinegar and olive oil, a bit of dried basil, and some pepper. It's pretty good. I wish I had some bocconcini at home though - that would really make it work.


Saturday, May 13, 2006

Nova Era Bakery Pastry

The last week or so I've been a slave to every food craving I've had. Today I was jonesin' for some sweets, so I hit up the Nova Era bakery at Bloor and Dovercourt. It's one of the highlight of the Portuguese/Caribbean/African Bloor west strip (between Ossington and Dufferin).

I had a cannoli and a custard tart (very typical Portuguese thing), and two cups of coffee (total $6.43). The stuff is pretty tasty and not too sweet. There's an awesome selection of pastries, from donuts and tarts to cakes and flaky type things, and they're all in the $1.50 range. It would be pretty easy to put back three or four items -- no sweat.

The place also has sandwiches, for about $3.50, ($4 for proscuitto), which is a killer deal. There's actually seven Nova Era locations around Toronto, in pretty much every Portugese/Little Italy type 'hood (College/St. Clair/Dundas yadda).

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Friday, May 12, 2006

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

Yesterday I was feeling lazy after I got home, so I just put together the Elvis special: the PB and B sandwich, with a Nutella twist. Best to use some mushy, mushy bananas, and to toast the bread. It's a pretty good snack, if a bit on the sweet side.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Recipe: Roasted Garlic

The first time I tried roasted garlic was at Kilgour's on Bloor st. Normally I don't like too much garlic, but what blew me away was how much milder the taste became and how soft and speadable it was.

I decided to gie it a go at home, I know there are specially designed garlic roasters, but all I did was :

1) remove the outer peel of the garlic
2) wrap it in foil
3) roast it in the oven (or toaster oven) at 400 deg for about 40 mins.

You can easily do this if you're roasting or baking something already.

If you're wondering if it's done, you can just feel the garlic to see if it's squishy. You can slice off the top of the garlic and just serve it that way. The cloves pop right out. I remove the cloves and put it on a bit of melted butter, then I spread those soft buttery cloves on toasted (or grilled bread).


Amadeu's In Kensington Mkt.

Last summer I hit up Amadeu's and it's famous patio for dinner. I'd been there before for drinks, it's usually a happening patio, but it's also a full on Portugese restaurant. I took my cousin who was visiting from Bombay and is used to the Portugese and Goan style seafood (most Bengalis won't eat mussels and squid).

The pic below is the seabass plate with sides of steamed vegetables and potatoes.

We has mussels and calamari as starters. As with a lot of places the starters are disproportionately expensive and we both went for the seabass mains ($13). The starters were good, but nothing more than you'd hope. The seabass was damn good too. It all came to $35+T&T.

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New York Subway

Yesterday we went to New York Subway, a confused little place on Queen W, bit east of Bathurst. This place serves up burritos filled with non-traditional stuff like curried cauliflower. I had a "jumbo satay chicken burrito" which was grilled marinated chicken with lettuce and tomato wrapped up in a tortilla shell - $5.49 plus tax. The chicken sauce was spicy and kind of sour, almost like spicy ketchup but more spicy than ketchup. They also squirted on some weird caesar salad-tasting sauce. Despite the weirdness, the burrito was actually pretty tasty, although at the bottom, where all the sauces had pooled together, it kind of tasted like the "tomato" sauce on the pork chops at the House of Gourmet.

They have other jumbo burritos that are "grilled" for about a buck more - don't ask me what the difference is between the grilled ones and the satay ones. The normal size tortillas are about $3.50 each but I don't know how much smaller those are either. The jumbo burrito I had was enough for lunch but not huge. From looking at Now's cheap eats page I see that they have "California Rolls" which add cheese (and maybe more?) to the burrito.

Anyway, this place was weird but pretty tasty. I guess if I'm in the mood to walk all the way down to Queen, I might check it out again.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Baked fish

Tonight I cooked up some frozen sole fillets in the oven. I was inspired by that fish sandwich that Amit made, but I cooked it up a little differently. I threw the fish in a glass dish with some olive oil and lemon juice, covered it with aluminum foil, and baked it in the oven for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, I cut up some onions, red pepper, and tomato. When the 10 minutes were up, the fish was still pretty transparent. I guess if you defrost the fish first, you can probably skip the first 10 minutes. I took it out and added the veggies as well as some lemon zest, salt and pepper, and thyme. Covered it again and cooked it for another 10 minutes, then removed the foil and cooked for 5 minutes more. It turned out really well. Covering the fish allows it to steam so you don't dry it out, and that blend of vegetables worked well. I used the juice of half a lemon, which was quite a bit, and that also helped to get rid of any fishy taste. Served it with rice. I'd make it again - the whole thing took about 30 minutes including the time it took to preheat the oven.

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Spicy Food Craving

I've been on a roti kick for the past week. So I tried out a few different places in that time. A roti basically consists of a flatbread that has ground up chickpeas in the middle wrapped around some filling.

Roti Palace
: (Bathurst near Harbord) The goat roti was $6, about medium size. The boneless goat curry filling was nice and saucy and medium spicy. Note that a lot of places have bones in the goat roti, which must be a real pain. Really flvourful. The roti was folded over many times, so there was a lot of layers of roti bread. I would go back.

Pam's Caribbean Kitchen: (Bloor near Ossington) This is a tiny ass place and the prices are a bit higher than Roti Palace. Chicken roti is $6.50 and the others are $7-8. I went for the chicken. It was pretty big, maybe 50% bigger than the roti palace roti, the filling was chicken and potato curry, okay, but not mind blowing, not that spicy but there was hot sauce available. It's really not fair to compare the rich taste of goat to chicken though. It came with some lettuce, but no dressing or anything (why bother?). I'd go back to try some of the other dishes. Chicken and Rice+peas is $5 and there are other weekly specials.

Sunday I was jonesin' for a spicy lunch. Roti palace was closed, Pam's was closed, and another place I'd scouted on Dovercourt north of Bloor was also closed. But I knew there was a Garvey's Jerk at Bloor near Dufferin, so that's where I ended up. Instead of roti I got a goat curry on rice+peas. Pretty decent portion size, but it comes in a styro container and you eat with plastic utensils and a little coleslaw onthe side. It realy hit the spot. Rich, rich flavour and they had the hot sauce to spice it up.

Conclusion: The only thing I can conclude is that west-indian food is always good. I can't really say there's a big difference between the different places I've tried, but in general it's a bit more expensive ($7-10 for a dish) and the portions sizes a bit smaller than other types of food in the same niche and dishes almost never include extras (eg. if you order a roti you just get the roti and nothing else) which means the bill can add up.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Indian Snack

A couple weeks ago I went to an Indian reception. They had a meal, which was ho-hum, but before that they had snacks/appetizers which were pretty good.

Pretty self-explanatory.

Update: I found out that the flatbread is commonly called a "puri", it's similar to a sopapilla, just a flour dough that is flattened and deep fried:

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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Bored at Asslab? Go to Naperville

So I was hosed into being at AssLab for 2 1/2 weeks or so in April. AssLab is totally ass. So what does one do? Go to Naperville, which is only half-assed....hey, I'll take half-assed over totally ass anyday.

So in Naperville, there's this Japanese restaurant called Sushi House. It's not bad, but I would say quite overpriced.......good food though. Luckily, I wasn't the one who paid.

You can see some pictures below: some tempura, some nigiri, some bento boxes, some udon....
Well beats lunch at the High Rise!