Sunday, 18 January 2015

Byblos


First post in 2015! I bring you Byblos (@ByblosToronto), an restaurant I visited in 2014 and really enjoyed. Byblos is brought to us by Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji of Weslodge and Patria, with Stuart Cameron (@chef_stucameron) as the executive chef. Nestled in the Entertainment district of Toronto, Byblos serves up Eastern Mediterranean influenced cuisine & cocktails, with a chic and contemporary spin. 

Byblos interior



Byblos has an inventive cocktail menu, with genuinely unique and well-crafted cocktails. I had the Gulab, consisting of rose-infused vodka, pomegranate reduction, fresh citrus and cardamom. The cardamom flavour really stood out and the rose flavour was subtle. My friends had the Outlander and Ten Suns. The presentation of these cocktails are gorgeous, aren't they?

Gulab
rose-infused smirnoff vodka, house pomegranate reduction, fresh lemon, cardamom


Outlander
Bombay Sapphire, tamarind syrup, fresh lemon, lavender bitters


The Ten Suns
green tea-infused vodka, lemongrass/ginger/honey syrup, yuzu juice, cardamom


Byblos offers up small sharing plates. I have become increasingly fond of tapas style dining, sharing lots of small plates with a group of friends and trying a little bit, or a lot of, everything. It makes the meal more intimate and dynamic, not to mention it opens people to try things that they normally would not. We ordered 10 dishes and shared them. We started with their Organic House Labneh, a thick yogurt topped with honey and olive oil, served with hot Barbari bread, garnished with cayenne and fennel. This dish was simple, yet satisfying. The Barbari bread was grilled prior to serving, arriving at our table piping hot, slightly charred and fragrant. 

Organic House Labneh
fennel, honey, olive oil, Barbari bread


We tried their Crispy Eggplant next, consisted of fried eggplant pieces covered in Tahini aioli and Bayildi sauce. It comes with basturma, a type of cured beef, which we got on the side because I don't eat beef. These were crispy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside, with a hint of coolness from the Tahini and a hint of spices from the Bayildi sauce. This dish might draw its influence from Imam Bayildi, a Turkish dish consisting of braised stuffed eggplants. It's certainly a beautiful interpretation of the tradition dish.

Crispy Eggplant
Tahini aioli, Bayildi sauce, basturma


basturma on the side...


You'd be surprised that 9 out of 10 dishes we ordered were vegetarian, because of various dietary restrictions and preferences at the table. However, we had an amazing dining experience, I assure you! The only non-vegetarian dish we ordered was their Spanish Octopus, consisting of grilled octopus served atop Turkish salad and garnished with pomegranate.

Spanish Octopus
Turkish spoon salad, pomegranate


Their Fig Salad was well received at the table. The salad was made up of slivers of ripe sweet fig, greens, pistachios for crunch and Ackawi cheese for richness. I don't typically eat cheese, but I managed to try a few bites without the cheese crumbles and it was quite good. This dish, surprisingly, reminded me of my childhood in China, picking ripe figs straight off the tree and stuffing my face with them. 

Fig Salad
orange blossom honey vinegar, Ackawi cheese, kholrabi, pistachio


We had some more Barbari bread with a piping hot tomato based sauce, drizzled with yogurt. The sauce was savoury, sweet and lightly spiced. I don't recall the name of this dish, but it was polished up by my table within a matter of minutes.

Barbari bread & tomato sauce


I have to confess, I have never been to a Turkish restaurant, mainly because I don't know of any located in Toronto. Seeing Turkish Manti Dumplings on the menu, I had to order it. It was filled with smokey eggplant and topped with a sweet yogurt sauce. I quite enjoyed the dumplings themselves, but I found the sauce to be too creamy and sweet for my liking. 

Turkish Manti Dumplings
smokey eggplant, yogurt sauce, molasses


Our friendly server recommended their Sweet Jeweled Basmati Rice. It was perhaps the most beautifully presented rice dish I have ever had, and I grew up in China, where rice is a staple and consumed in numerous ways. The rice gets its colour and fragrance from the saffron and it's laced with berries, pomegranates and nuts. I found this rice dish to be more on the sweet side than the savoury side, which should not come as a surprise given the fact that the word 'sweet' is in its name. I think next time I would try their more savoury rice dishes because I think it would pair better with the other small plates we ordered.

Sweet Jeweled Basmati Rice
carrot, saffron, barberries, almonds


Byblos The last couple of small plates we ordered were the Seared Cauliflower and Roasted Carrots. Both dishes had a similar preparation, consisting of caramelized vegetable covered in a creamy dressing. This was quite good, even though it consisted of few ingredients. This goes to show that food doesn't need to be complicated to be delicious. If I can eat dishes like this everyday, I might turn into a vegetarian.

Seared Cauliflower
duck fat, Tahini sauce, sesame, coriander


Roasted Carrots
Halloumi, Tahini, yogurt


We ended our meal with their dessert item of the day, a fried dumpling covered in strawberry sauce. I'm not a fan of fried desserts and wished that they had a little bit more variety in their dessert selection that day.

Dessert


Overall, we had a delicious meal that was beautifully presented, and I have to say I'm quite happy with it. However, I did find this restaurant to be on the pricier side, so maybe it would be more of a 'special-occasion-restaurant' for me. 

Please let me know what you think about Byblos! Find me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous)! Thanks a bunches my lovelies. Speak to y'all soon. 


Until next time,

Allison

Byblos on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 11 January 2015

January 2015 - Update

Happy New Year my lovelies! Apologies for being away for so long, I just haven't had the time/motivation to sit my butt down and write a post. I will try harder in the new year to blog regularly.

I have quite a few tasty restaurant reviews lined up:
- Byblos (Eastern Mediterranean)
- Dailao (Asian fares)
- Milagros (Mexican)
- Trattoria Nervosa (Italian)

Also, I will write a blog post to give you my Valentine's Day restaurant suggestions.

In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@Simply.Gluttonous). I Instagram almost daily! Also, subscribe by email to never miss a post. ;)

Hope you have been well. Can't wait to get back to blogging!


Speak to you soon,

Allison

Sunday, 21 December 2014

St. Andrew Poultry


I was invited to St. Andrew Poultry for a foodie tasting and I'm excited to share my experience with you, starting with that photo of the golden fried chicken above.

This meal was complimentary, but the opinions are my own.

Let's start with a brief introduction, shall we? To those who are familiar with Kensington Market, they would know St. Andrew Poultry (@standrewpoultry) as a butcher shop, and a Kensington Market institution that's been in business since 1962. In 2012, Dr. Jerry Jesin, purchased the shop from his father. The shop has gotten a top to bottom renovation this past summer and it has become a gourmet food store and a foodie bar in addition to a butcher shop. The chef behind the food, Chef Bernadette Calpito (@ChefCalpito), is also no stranger to the Toronto food scene, having been the executive chef at King East's Kultura. 

St. Andrew's Poultry now has a foodie bar, a prepared food section, a bakery section, a butchery and a grocery shelf. The foodie bar serves up hot prepared food such as BBQ chicken, pork ribs, an interesting take on the traditional shawarma, and my favourite, the fried chicken. The prepared food section has offerings such as salads and home made dressings, packed in cute glass mason jars, as well as marinated, ready-to-bake offerings like cornish game hens. The bakery has house-made baked goods like cookies and tarts and the grocery shelf is in the back is stocked with items such as grains (they have my favourite brand of organic quinoa) and oils. You can get everything you need to prepare a gourmet three-course dinner all in one place.

St. Andrew Poultry's offerings
clockwise: shawarma station, prepared foods, butcher section, marinated ready-to-bake offerings


Now onto the delicious food I got to try. Chef B started our evening with items from their catering menu, a cold sandwich with grilled chicken and avocado and a hot sandwich with baked chicken that you'd swear tasted like fried chicken. If you know me, you know that I have an obsession with sandwiches, probably stemming from my love for bread. The cold sandwich made with seasoned grilled chicken, coleslaw and avocado on French baguette, was thoroughly enjoyable. It definitely hit the spot and it was nothing like the typical catering fares like sliced deli sandwiches. It was so good, I ate two sandwiches, which really was a disservice to myself, as I was too full to eat other items later. But good food is good food, and it's meant to be eaten, with gluttony. 



Next up, Chef B brought out these beautiful canapĂ©s. I didn't try them personally because it had cheddar cheese in it and I don't typically eat strong cheeses, nor do I eat very much dairy in general. The canapĂ© was beautifully presented and it was well received by the other foodies.


The highlight of the evening was Chef B's amazing fried chicken. It was... I guess everything you wanted fried chicken to be? Looking at the photo below, you are probably imagining crunching into a piece of this fried chicken, the perfectly seasoned and crunchy exterior and the incredibly juicy interior... Your imagination would not be far off. They were as good as you had imagined. 


We weren't allowed to leave without having tried their signature shawarma, chicken or lamb, served with all the trimmings and topped with their vanilla bourbon fries. Yes, vanilla bourbon. You'd think the vanilla would add a strange flavour to these fries, but these were savoury and interesting. I can't say that I'm a shawarma connoisseur, nor can I even say I have had shawarma more than 5 times in my life, but I thought this shawarma tasty and interestng.


Do you love my selfie with Chef B? ;)


Lastly, I wanted to thank the awesome folks at St. Andrew Poultry for treating us to a wonderful evening and sharing their story. 


If you are in Kensington Market, definitely come and check them out, have a piece of fried chicken and some vanilla bourbon fries!

Keep up with my foodie adventure by following me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@Simply.Gluttonous). Follow by email to never miss a post! Thanks a bunches.


Until next time,

Allison


*This meal was complimentary. All information provided in this blog is for entertainment purposes only and they are my own opinion. *


St. Andrew Poultry on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 30 November 2014

McEwan All Access 4.0

I have to say that I love being a food blogger, because it allows me to share my food experience with you and it lets me connect with the food community both locally and abroad. 

When the lovely Michelle Jobin (@michellejobin) extended me with an invitation to the McEwan All Access 4.0 event by the McEwan Group (@TheMcEwanGroup), I was over the moon and beyond excited. I'm a huge fan of Chef Mark McEwan (@Chef_MarkMcEwan), thus making this such a treat.

This year's event was held at Chef McEwan's ONE restaurant in Yorkville, situated within the five-star Hazelton Hotel. The gathering took place in the bar and lounge area. The lighting, the posh yet approachable atmosphere and the small group size gave the whole event an intimate feel. I was quite impressed by the fact that Chef McEwan spent the entire length of the event in the lounge chatting with us.

Now onto the highlight of the experience, the food and drinks. The drink list consisted of crafted cocktails and wine. I tried three cocktails: the Hennessy & Grand Marnier based Grand Theft Autumn, the Johnnie Walker Black Label mojito and the Ciroc red berry iced tea. I quite enjoyed all three cocktails, if I had to pick a favourite, it'd a toss up between the Johnnie Walker Black Label Mojito and the Ciroc Red Berry Tea. I would have loved to try more drinks, as everything sounded absolutely delicious, if I wasn't drinking on an empty stomach that is... You know that's never a good idea. ;)

Grand Theft Autumn
Chai infused Hennessy, Grand Marnier, lemon, vanilla syrup


Johnnie Walker Black Label Mojito
Johnnie Walker Black Label, fresh lime juice, ginger ale, simple syrup, splash sour mix


Ciroc Red Berry Tea
Ciroc red berry, lemon juice, pomegranate syrup, iced tea, mint leaves, mint sprig


On the topic of empty tummies, let's talk about the food. I literally gasped when the servers started circulating the lounge with trays filled with bite-size delectables. The beautiful presentation really blew me away. The servers did an excellent job describing each dish, which sounded extremely enticing. 

Passed appetizers
clockwise: truffle risotto, blue crab and avocado spoons, butter poached lobster tail and crispy shrimp taco


Each passed appetizer was creative, well thought out, beautifully presented and so very delicious. I was more than impressed. My  favourite dishes of the evening were the devilled quail eggs, topped with Sturgeon Caviar, fresh chives and sweet pickled shallot to balance out the creaminess; the blue grab & avocado spoons, with each bite you get the brineness from the blue grab meat and the creaminess of the avocado; the butter poached lobster tail; and lastly the miniature pork belly bun. Pork belly, lobster, avocado, blue crab... With ingredients like these, how can I not fall in love with them?

I made sure to photograph each item so I can share my experience with you!

Deviled Quail Eggs
Sturgeon Caviar, chives, sweet pickled shallot


Crispy Shrimp Taco
Red pepper jam, pickled shallots, ginger aioli


Steak Tartare
Quail egg, arugula, pickled shallot, black truffle an buttered crostini


Blue Crab and Avocado Spoons
Red onion marmalade, sesame seeds, celery



Pork Belly Steamed Buns
Pickled carrot slaw, yuzu aioli, coriander


Truffled Arancini
Buffalo mazzarella, romesco, basil, 15 year Balsamic


Butter Poached Lobster Tail


Tuna Spoon 


Truffle risotto


Mini cheesecake


Besides the delicious fares, I loved the social aspect of this event, meeting and chatting with fellow foodies and Chef Mark McEwan. I was admittedly kind of awkward and slightly shy when I first started chatting with Chef McEwan. What do you talk about with a famous chef? I know, I know, food, of course. I might have also told Chef McEwan that I once tweeted something to the effect of "Chef McEwan is super hot". Yep, that happened. Not my finest social moment. However, I did loosen up fairly quickly and I got to meet a bunch of super cool foodies, many of whom I was already connected with on Twitter and Instagram. There's nothing better than putting a face to a... social media account? :) 

Event Fun Times
clockwise: photo with Chef McEwan, my goodie bag, selfie time with @EatnMingle and @ev3rydayfoodie, my personalized copy of Chef McEwan's cookbook


It was a fantastic time and I left with a pretty awesome gift bag too! I can't complain. Thanks to Michelle Jobin (@michellejobin) for the invitation, McEwan Group (@TheMcEwanGroup) and Chef McEwan (@Chef_MarkMcEwan) for such an awesome event. Also thanks to EatnMingle (@EatnMingle), The Everyday Foodie (@ev3rydayfoodie), Berg's Bites (@adrianberg) and Gastro World (@GastroWorldBlog) for the lovely conversations. :)

If you need more doses of yummy food in your life, follow me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@simply.gluttonous). Subscribe by email to never miss a blog post! (on that note, sorry for not posting for so long! Life has been super busy and kind of stressful)


Thanks a bunches love!


Until next time,

Allison

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sansotei Ramen

Apologies for my tardiness on blog posts lately. If you need more doses of yummy food in your life, follow me on Instagram (@simply.gluttonous) and Twitter (@SGluttonous). :)

In an unavoidable and unapologetic fashion, the bitter cold winter has arrived. Having lived in the Great White North for 13 years now, I thought I'd offer up some winter remedy:
  • Vitamin D supplement (consult your doctor first, what do I know?)
  • Gamjatang (Korean pork bone soup, try my favourite spot)
  • Ramen (Japanese noodle soup. Check out my previous post on another ramen spot, Raijin Ramen)
That brings us to the subject of this post. Sansotei Ramen requires no introduction, given the fact that there is a line up outside every single time I walk past this ramen shop around lunch/dinner time. 

I have been to Sansotei numerous times. Their menu is compact, serving up 6 types of ramen (Tonkotsu, Tonkotsu Black, Miso, Shio, Shoyu, Spicy Tantan), and a choice of thick or thin noodle. My go-to dish is their miso ramen with thick noodle, sometimes with extra chashu (pork belly) and bamboo shoots when I'm feeling particularly gluttonous.

Miso ramen
miso broth, pork belly, corn, bean sprout, egg, green onion



I also really like their Zangi. Japanese style fried chicken, whether it's Zangi or Kara-age, is incredibly moist and juicy because they are marinated in sake for hours before being fried. Just imagine taking a bite into this fried chicken. Imagine its crispy exterior and its incredibly juicy and flavourful interior...

Zangi
Deep fried chicken


Isn't it beautiful?


As for dessert, they used to have a pretty good green tea ice cream mochi, which doesn't seem to be on the menu anymore. Instead, their dessert offerings consist of green tea muffin and daifuku. 

Overall, Sansotei Ramen is a solid option for ramen and Japanese fried chicken in the city, give it a try if you haven't already! 

Until next time,

Allison


Sansotei Ramen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Khao San Road

Khao San Road (@khaosanroadTO) needs no introduction, considering its status of being one of the most popular Thai restaurant in the city. Every time I pass by the place, there seem to be a crowd waiting outside to be seated. Needless to say, Khao San Road doesn't take reservations. I have been here so many times, I have devised the perfect system: get here before 11:45 am for lunch and get here before 6:30 pm for dinner to beat the line. 

The interior of Khao San Road is sleek and simple, with long wooden communal tables, a chalkboard wall with daily specials written on it and walls accented with art pieces by local artists. It serves up authentic Thai food, yet it's also kind of cool. It is definitely not your mom-and-pop Thai joint.

Khao San Road interior


The most fitting adjective that I can think of to describe Khao San Road's food is 'bold'. The flavours here are not mild, nor are they subtle. They pack a punch and they are big on flavours. My favourite appetizer is their garlic shrimp, which is everything you ever hoped fried shrimp to be. They are incredibly crispy on the outside, succulent and meaty on the inside. The naam djeem dipping sauce is salty, garlicky and spicy. 

Garlic shrimp
Panko crusted shrimp, fresh kaffir lime leaf, garlicy naam djeem dipping sauce


My other favourite dishes include their pad gra prao with pork and their pad thai. Pad gra prao is a stir fry of ground meat (pork, beef, chicken or shrimp), onion, garlic, red bell pepper, green chilli and holy basil. It's served with steamed rice and a fried egg with a perfectly runny yolk. What really brings this dish over the top for me is the holy basil. Honestly, I just love all varieties of basil. If I'm not getting their pad gra prao, I'm getting their Bangkok-style pad thai. The tamarind and fish sauce flavours really stand out in this dish. 

Pad gra prao
stir fry of beef, red bell pepper, onion, garlic, green chili, holy basil, fried egg



Bangkok-style pad thai
Rice noodles, tamarind, egg, tofu, bean sprout, pickled radish, shallot, chives, dried shrimp, fish sauce, peanuts, lime


The food here are seriously decadent and they don't make a light meal, but they are very much satisfying. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Keep up with my foodie adventure by following me on Twitter (@SGluttonous) and Instagram (@Simply.Gluttonous). Follow by email to never miss a post! Thanks a bunches.


Until next time,

Allison

Khao San Road on Urbanspoon
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...