Tag Archives: travel

Momofuko Bo Ssam and Au Revoir Andy Hoffman

Bo Ssam 1

This is the story of pork butt.  It is also the story of friends (Jenn and Andy) who are moving to place of “the fountain”,  Geneva actually.  Certainly known for things other than “the fountain” but Google Geneva and the Jet d’Eau is all over the Image pages (followed closely by the flower clock).  Don’t ever try to say the words “Jet d’Eau” out loud if you do not speak French, it’s just embarrassing, trust me…

The pork butt portion of the story is sweet and savoury, the friends moving part is more bitter and sweet— though we want to have pals to visit in Geneva (and to tour the fountain with) we also are very sad to have them so far away (they eased us in un-gently by moving to Vancouver first).  We like to get together to eat with Andy and Jenn, a lot of meat, a lot of cheese and a lot of wine.  (Andy could throw around wine terms like “flabby” and “grippy tannins” before Sideways had people hating Merlot.)  Jenn makes mean guacamole.  And cocktails.  (Jenn’s cocktails are so good she should be an anesthesiologist.)

All I have left...and btw..the cayenne one is now gone.

All I have left…and btw..the cayenne one is now gone after the photoshoot.

But this blog is sparked by Andy (not that we do not love Jenn-we do–and she brings chocolate from BC–which I am running short of and desperate for…) because when I last saw him he had his arm twisted into giving me the Momofuko cookbook for my birthday.  He came over to visit and had the book in a bag and then I might have said something like “Is that for me?” and then suddenly it was.  Which I feel bad about…but not a lot.

Cook book momofuko

Especially now that I finally made the Bo Ssam that every blogger every has already posted about, the book is on my “featured” bookshelf (also because it is great reading).   The Bo Ssam recipe came to me at the perfect time as we were having a BBQ (planned for a weekend of torrential downpour–so trying to feature meat but not on the grill) and aside from having delicious, easy food, I wanted to do something fun.  I haven’t had a “cooking day” in a while, and hurriedly making dinner for the family does not count ever.  (Almost ever.)   So meat that would be in the oven for hours, making the house smell inviting with it’s with potentially fantastic results seemed like a great idea… Andy said it would be the best.

Andy

And so I called Cumbrae’s and ordered 14 pds of bone-in pork butt (which the woman helping me seemed to think was a lot for 12 people) but I feared would barely be enough (no need to trust the experts Sue!).  To be fair to my own gluttonous judgement, I really was not sure how many people would show up and how can a person have a BBQ and bear the thought of running low on meat???

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Fourteen pounds of pork butt

Essentially you’re just slow cooking the butt, so this recipe is incredibly simple.  The night before you rub the meat with a mixture of salt and sugar and let it cure overnight in the fridge.  Then you drain off any liquid and cook for 6 hours-ish at 300 F til tender and yielding.  I think ours went 7 hours.

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At that point, when you’re drooling and ready to eat you rub the exterior with a bit of salt and a lot of brown sugar, and fire the oven up to 500° F.  Then in goes the meat for about 10 minutes until the exterior is sweet and crusty (David Chang calls it a “pig shoulder encrusted in Pig Candy”  in the book).

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Finally you bring it outside (under the tarp your husband spent 3 hours putting up for a storm that would pass before the guests arrived) and you hesitate…..where to start?  All the guests, expected to eat at least 1 pd of eat each, hovered.  We also had an emergency as the steamed rice I had picked up from the Chinese food place was actually discovered to be fried rice.  Which was not going to work with my lettuce wrap plan.  (luckily the problem, a bike ride away was resolved though I admit I may have panicked and slightly overreacted when I saw the fried rice–possibly freaked out just a little?)

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Finally, crisis managed, I dug in (we had Boston lettuce for wraps, steamed rice, condiments and cucumber and strawberry salad and red cabbage salad to go with–(the  recipe for the slaw is one  I was seduced by in California (red cabbage is very sexy) made by my brother and sister-in-law’s friend Traci.  Recipe at bottom.  AWESOME.).

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Condiment wise I made the ginger-scallion sauce reco’d in the Momofuko book, we had Kimchi, pickled onions and a beet horseradish spread I had made for burgers and was nice and earthy with some bite.

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This is not Andy (Andy who sparked the whole idea was back in BC planning what to wear to his first fountain visit), it is my friend Terry (meat consultant), and yes my face melted when I realized we had the wrong rice.  It was horrifying.  Luckily Terry took it in stride and just kept pulling meat.

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You must all try this.  Here is a link to Sam Sifton’s piece in the New York Times Magazine that provides the recipe.

Andy and Jenn-  wish you were here (but Geneva also good)  xo Sue

Red Cabbage Salad (based on a the slaw recipe from a The Northwoods in southern California.)

  • 1/2 head red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
Shred half of the cabbage finely and the other half coarsely. Place in a large bowl.
Whisk together vegetable oil, red win vinegar , sugar, salt, seasoned salt, black pepper, and onion powder.
Toss the dressing with the cabbage. Scrape the salad with the dressing into a zip-top bag or covered container and refrigerate. Let marinate for a 5  hours until cabbage turns deep red, softens a bit, and flavors meld. It’s even better after a few days.   (IT REALLY REALLY IS!)
AND THE CHEESE BOARD–I almost forgot– we had Albert’s Leap ripened goat cheese (ON), Bleu D’Elizabeth (QC) and Mountain Oak Wild Nettle Gouda (ON)
 

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Great Canadian Cheese Festival only 40 days away! Get a 25% discount on tickets here.

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Hey everyone– just a reminder that the annual cheese festival taking place in Picton on June 1-2 is not so far away.  Perhaps farther than Spring…..but perhaps not.  Sigh.

It’s an amazing weekend where you can sample cheese from across the country (Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair) while sipping local wine or cider and there are some fantastic seminars about everything from pairing beer and cheese, wine and cheese, different types of milk, Quebec cheese and so on.  Plus all the dinner—Jamie Kennedy’s shin dig is sadly sold out–sorry.

Anyway–if you’re thinking of going to website has accommodation suggestions too (some lovely Inns and B&Bs in the area) and of course wineries to be toured and tasted.

As a special promotion for Cheese and Toast I can offer you a promo code to get yourself a discount on the event—just a little THANK YOU to all the people who follow the site.

 Get 25% off tickets for The Great Canadian Cheese Festival by entering the promotional code CF13TOAST before starting your online ticket order ONLINE here. Good only on tickets purchased online in advance of the Festival on June 1-2. Visit cheesefestival.ca for information on the Festival.  
Maybe I will see you there!
Sue

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Making Saag Paneer with guest hostess Johanne Durocher

Saag Paneer for dinner-YUM!

I am absolutely thrilled to have my friend Johanne do a guest blog for me!  She has so much going on and yet made time for Cheese and Toast.  Her bio and pic (including a pic of donuts) is here and her blog Fashion in Motion is a fave–not only because of the fabulous content but I love Johanne’s witty and fun writing style.  You shall see as you read from this point on…..  ENJOY, SR.

As a gal who likes to improvise in the dressing room and in the kitchen, following a recipe to the letter is an exercise in restraint. I can’t resist substitutions, additions, modifications. I’ll use a silicone spatula instead of a wooden spoon. I’m such a rebel. Cue the music: I did it my way.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve always enjoyed cooking Indian food: it’s so flexible to adding more of this, less of that, turn up the heat or throw in an extra veg. But every now and again and I take on a new recipe and force-feed myself a little discipline. I do my best to follow it to the letter and not dispute salting the water or measuring only one teaspoon of vanilla.

And so it was with this in mind that I rolled up my sleeves and made Saag Paneer. Most people look shocked and a little scared when I tell them I made Saag Paneer. It is fitting that we reveal the mystery of the saag right here right now.

I followed the recipe here at Active For Life and it boasts a healthy take on the Indian classic. Having made Indian dishes before, I thought, piece of cake. It is very easy- but not necessarily a project I recommend undertaking on a weeknight unless you’re up to eating at 9pm. It will be an event: so pour yourself a drink and start washing your spinach.

I set a very large pot of salted water to boil and while that was heating up, I washed and dried just over two pounds of fresh spinach. That in itself took a long time and when I make this recipe again, I may just buy it pre-washed.

Fresh Spinach

I prepared just over two pounds of fresh spinach that I chopped into 3-inch long segments

Before blanching the spinach, I coarsely chopped it in half or thirds depending on the length of the leaves. I figured that this way when I would blend them there wouldn’t be a chance of having long strings of spinach filaments- imagined or real, the anticipation caused a coarse chop (see- I just can’t help myself throw in extra steps.)

Okay, when the water is at a full boil you drop your spinach in it, stir to get it all wet and then you wait and watch with the lid off (helps tremendously).

Spinach in Water

Blanching spinach is easy- just let the water come back to a boil and you’re done

When the water begins to boil again, strain the spinach and discard the water. In my case, I was hesitating about blanching it all at once because I had so much spinach and perhaps had not chosen a large enough pot, so I blanched in batches. To do this, just delicately scoop out the blanched spinach from the water and let the water come back to a roaring boil before throwing in the next batch. Worked really well for me.

Blanched spinach

The goal of blanching is to soften the spinach, not kill it to mush

After that bring in the high-powered machine: blend the spinach in a food processor at high speed. It won’t be super smooth so you’ll want to add water at the rate of one tablespoon at a time, then blend again, then add water until it’s looking smooth to you. It won’t be like a creamy-smooth, but it should be well-blended and the spinach particles quite small. No chunks, no filaments.

Food Processor

I was using my mini-food processor and had to blend my spinach in batches. See? Anything is possible

After that comes the fun stuff: on medium heat, melt 2 tbsp of butter in a large pan with high sides. Add ¾ tsp of cumin seeds and cook until slightly browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally. Careful not to let these babies burn. Add 1 diced cooking onion and sauté until golden, roughly 10 minutes. Stir in 3 cloves of grated garlic and 2 tea spoons of grated ginger root. Cook for one minute.

Onion and Cumin

By this time it will smell so good in your house you’ll be thinking you can do this

When the onions are nice and golden, stir in ¼ cup of cilantro finely chopped, ½ tsp each of salt, ground coriander and turmeric. Stir in ¼ tsp of cinnamon and cook 30 seconds until fragrant. Add ½ cup of fresh chopped tomatoes and cook until they reduce and break down, roughly 5 minutes.

Paneer in Pan

I made the execute chef decision to pan-fry the paneer cubes at this step in the game

Set aside the tomato mixture in a bowl and return the frying pan to the stove, adding one teaspoon of oil and set that to medium heat. Dice 1 package of paneer into bite-sized cubes and add that to your hot pan. I added two cloves of grated garlic to them and flipped the cubes until golden crispy on two or more sides and then pulled those aside. This paneer-frying is a deviation that is perfectly acceptable (weeks later I discussed this with chef Vikram Vij who said it’s okay, but you can also just add your paneer later as the recipe instructs and that way it will be more melt-y, less-cube-y in texture. Your choice.).

Golden Paneer

Mmm paneer- a pressed cheese much like cottage cheese brick and commonly used in Indian cooking. I didn’t make the paneer and you don’t have to, either; it’s found at most large supermarkets.

I returned my pan to the heat and picked up where I left off: in it went the tomato mixture which I brought back to medium heat while stirring, and then added the reserved spinach. Cook for 3 minutes.

Spinach and Tomato

See me using a wooden spoon! I’m not breaking all the recipe rules

After that you should be looking at it and asking yourself if the mixture is saucy. If too thick, add water a few tablespoons at a time and stir. Stir in 1/3 cup of plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt and threw in a little extra), the paneer cubes, and 2 tsp of lemon juice.

Yogurt Paneer

Watching this coming together is like waiting for the finale to a figure skating routine and you will get a quad

Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover, cut the heat, stir and admire your work.

FInal Saag Paneer

Ta-da! It will be magic and even the international judges will give you full points

Serve with rice or naan bread, or in my case, eat it straight up with a side of Panch Churan chutney (see top photo).

Thoughts on leftovers….

For me it was the best on the night-of, the leftovers were delicious but the creaminess never matched the same bliss as when the sauce came out of the pan. Chef Vikram Vij told me that flavours will intensify over time, too.

Come over here to see the full instructions to make this Saag Paneer and feel like an Indian figure-skating sensation.

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Zuni Cafe, Hope and Anchor and boy is it hard to park in San Francisco

The beginning of San Francisco

The beginning of San Francisco

We drove to the Zuni Cafe straight from the airport with loads of time to get there.  Or so we thought since we allowed not too much thought for finding parking (you’d think coming from Toronto…) but I suppose we were in vacation mode.

Anyway, 40 minutes later, many one way streets and devastating parking spot “sightings” that were not parking spots because the street cleaner has priority wed between 12-2pm we found a place.  And headed down to the Zuni Cafe

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The famous made-to-order Caesar salad and house cured anchovies.

Here’s a little excerpt of history from the website–read the whole thing it’s quite a great story….

“Billy West opened Zuni Café in 1979, with a huge heart and exactly ten thousand dollars. In the early years, the restaurant consisted of a narrow storefront with a creaky mezzanine, roughly one quarter of its current size. To capitalize on the neighboring and highly visible corner cactus shop, (where Billy had been a partner, until it became clear cactus sales wouldn’t support three partners), he hand-plastered the walls and banquettes of his new space to give it a southwestern adobe-look. He chose the name Zuni, after the native American tribe, and decided to offer mostly simple and authentic Mexican food, drawing inspiration from Diana Kennedy’s cookbooks. A Weber grill was an important early investment, and was rolled on to the back sidewalk for each day’s service. Next came an espresso machine, which doubled as a stove since you could scramble eggs with the milk steamer.”

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Tad’s lunch: roasted quail…

I started with a glass of white wine (my actual request was local and not excessively oaky) and ended up with a lovely glass of minerally Zuni Chardonnay which hails from a vinyard in Santa Cruz.  Felix has the best apple juice he’s ever sipped-organic, fresh pressed.  Tad had an Anchor Steam beer.  His main was the Wolfe Ranch quail with quail egg, pan-fried sweet potatoes, kale salad and harissa.

It looked a lot less phallic when it was on the table in front of me I promise you.

I really was torn about posting my lunch photo which was described as house-made  Llano Seco Ranch fennel sausage (so juicy and delicately flavoured it was heavenly) with escarole, roasted Yellow Finn potatoes, cracklings, watermelon radish and caper-shallot vinaigrette— but somehow my photo has turned it into something phallic.  Avert your eyes if you have to.

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So while Felix used the best manners at his disposal to finish his pasta and tomato sauce (with a side of fennel sausage) Tad and I decided we made the wrong decision by skipping the fresh oysters and remedied the situation.

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We shared a pair of Pacific Hog Island Oysters (bottom, from Tomales Bay just north of San Fran) and Marin Miyagi’s (top, also from Tomales Bay).  Here is a great blog piece about the Tomales Bay oysters and area.  We liked the Hog Island the best, lighter and a little sweeter but both were lovely–the ocean in your hand.

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And then dessert.  Meringue crisps, coffee and chocolate whipped cream with chocolate sauce and toasted almonds.  With a coffee.  And Felix only ate a bit–too full.  Spoils for me.

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Moe proof we were in San Francisco–Felix watching the cable car being turned.

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Anchor and Hope on Minna Street

Our second day we went for lunch at the Anchor and Hope (thanks Janice!)  Here is their lunch menu-there was definitely a business lunch scene happening but the overall atmosphere is casual, open and funky space with huge nautical ropes strung around the ceiling beams.

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Kettle Chips and garlicky aioli arrive when seated.

And would have been nice had we all been there at the same time–again not knowing the parking secrets, it took Tad about 35 minutes to park and finally Felix and I had to order without him.  I had the Cubano, roasted pork, jamon de paris, swiss cheese, pickles, Dijon, taro chips and Tad had their extremely juicy burger.  Felix had their fries, aioli and ketchup. (yes, I just gave in to maintaining calm child while people negotiated business around us.)

The beer menu was impressive and long and a satisfying read in itself if you like beer.

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S’long San Francisco…..may we only ever take the amazing vintage style trolley next time we visit.

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I am flying 6 hours to get to lunch on Wednesday.

Zuni Cafe Lunch Menu

CLICK ON THE MENU TO SEE FULL SIZE AND BE JEALOUS

HMM, I guess the above menu could have used an outline or something.  Well, let’s just call it free form blogging.

So I am off to San Francisco tomorrow and still have to pack, wash hair, pay some bills, charge iPad, iPhone and laptop, remember to pack passports, panic that I forgot to pack passports, panic that my name does not match my passport on my ticket and figure out how to wake at 4-year-old gently at 4am knowing we have 15 minutes to be out of the house.

And snacks.  Must pack snacks.

But otherwise–check out the deliciousness that will greet me at 1pm California Time.  Will report back from the ZUNI Cafe.

And did I mention my reservation at Chez Panisse?    Oh boy oh boy.

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Curds and Eh 9: On Writing (a Book about Cheese)

Kelsie’s notebooks of cheese facts….(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

To see video from Kelsie’s travels check his Pied de Vent post and to follow his other adventures just search “Curds and Eh” on the Cheese and Toast home page.

On Writing

I find that the hardest part of writing a book is… writing. This summer I spent 3.5 months traveling across Canada. I visited 120 cheese makers to research content for my upcoming book about Canadian cheese. Planning the trip was easy. Getting time off work was no problem and the actual research and traveling was a blast (and delicious!). But one thing that I find difficult is writing. At times it’s even painful and depressing. It’s frustrating because I know what I want to say but how do I express my thoughts in a way that others would find interesting? I’d love to sit down with every potential reader of my book and have a conversation about Canadian cheese. I’d explain the intricacies that excite me and the stories that fascinate me but alas that approach isn’t very realistic.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m enjoying writing. I’ve never written a book before and I love stepping out of my comfort zone to do something new and learn. As a bonus, I get to relive my summer adventure all over again.

On the road….

After 3.5 months on the road I returned home and sat down at my computer with notebooks full of facts. Unfortunately most readers probably don’t want to read a book consisting of bullet-point cheese facts. If that were the case I would have finished writing long ago!

About a month ago I returned to my job as a cheesemonger at Sobeys. I claimed that I’d write the book in the evenings and on my lunch breaks. Easier said than done! Weeks went by and I barely lifted my pen. It turns out when working full time I need a bit of down-time to relax and not write a book.

When writing at home my day tends to stick to the following pattern: Check Facebook, do household chores, check Facebook, have a snack, exercise, check Facebook, play the guitar, and then check to see if words magically appeared on the page I was working on. I get distracted easily.

Revel Caffe

To write I need a day free of commitments and I need to be out of the house. I’ve taken this week off work just to focus on writing. Lately I’ve been spending lots of time at Revel Caffe drinking coffee and writing away. I bring along a pen and paper and set up my computer on the wooden bar that used to be a bowling lane. I face an old brick wall and zone out in the buzz of conversations. It’s one space where I can free myself of distractions and just write. The library is my second favourite place to work but I find the quietness turns every sound into a distraction.

Humming Under Pressure yet? Just a shout-out to Queen and Bowie.

I love working under pressure. No pressure means no work gets done. Tight deadlines mean I’ll focus, stay up late writing and get it done.

Recently I hired on a graphic designer, David Kopulos. Perhaps the best thing (so far) that has come out of hiring David is that I now have deadlines. I need to have the final edited text to him by the end of April. That sounds like a long way away but I’m looking at it as 3.5 months to finish writing and 2 months to complete the editing. I’m sure I’ll be writing and editing my Canadian cheese book up until the minute that it’s due.

Another obstacle is that I keep revisiting the same chapter over and over again. I’ll rearrange it, change a few words and spend hours tweaking it. When is it ok to accept the writing the way it is and move on?

George Orwell

Sue sent me this quote by George Orwell:

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

Does that mean cheese is my demon? I’m ok with that. 😉

I never claimed to be a writer. I’m just a guy that loves cheese.

My question to you bloggers, students and writers of all forms is what helps you write? How do you transform your ideas and thoughts into a form that others hopefully would want to read? Any tips or thoughts would be much appreciated!

(Sue says she thinks Kelsie is a great writer.  And sounds like he’s got the procrastination skill down pat…..)

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A cocktail at Tundra may lead to….dinner at Tundra.

Tundra Launch Party (I danced my heart out… ok, its not really me just my body double)

In mid-September I was invited to drop by the re-launch of Tundra restaurant located at University and Richmond–a hop skip and jump from anywhere you might want to be downtown.  Which is what I was thinking about when I needed to pick a spot to meet some friends on Saturday night.  Afterall, why wait on a windy street corner when you could order a Manhattan at the beautiful horseshoe-shaped bar (with built in electrical plugs for workaholics!) sit back and not care how late anyone is.

The Tundra Manhattan

The Manhattan I strategically wove into my intro is pictured above– and I have been able to secure us all the recipe.  I will pause while you go make one and then we can continue together.  If you are reading this at the office at 9am I hope to God you mixed it in your styrofoam coffee cup–this isn’t Mad Men.

Tundra Manhattan

2oz Knob Creek Bourbon

1oz Taylor Fladgate Late Bottle Vintage Port

Dash Orange Bitters

Dash premium maple syrup

Shake or Stir with fresh ice and strain into chilled martini glass.  Garnish with 2 maraschino cherries

Seared scallops with celery and cilantro emulsion

While you’re sipping your drink, look around and check out the newly revamped room which was designed by Montreal firm Lemaymichaud.  What I like is that there’s space to be social in the bar/restaurant area and but there’s also space for quiet conversation  (“Great doing business with you”  or “Why does it always take you so long to order?”)

The wooden sphere by west coast artist Brent Comber (apologies for shoddy iPhone photo….)

Tundra’s warm cozy feeling comes from the wood used throughout the design and the entrance features a very cool sphere carved from one giant piece of Vancouver Island Redwood.

And then there’s the menu which you may casually pick up while you sip your drink.   May I make a few suggestions from the new Fall dinner menu; firstly the the scallops (in the Small Plates section) which featured seared scallops, celery and cilantro emulsion, chorizo, coconut curls, and crisped salsify.

House cured gravalax

Also on the Small Plate men is the house cured gravalax with rye bagel crisp, preserved ramps, mustard cream cheese, dill and radish.  It was the mustard cream cheese that called my name, but the preserved ramps were also a nice refreshing touch.

Roasted Heirloom Carrots

My main was Roasted Heirloom carrots, radish, cauliflower steak, watercress, oven dried ricotta and fig vinaigrette.  (Is there a vegetarian-steak revolution in Toronto- I just had grilled and smoked carrot “steak” at Yours Truly a few weeks previous.)  Anyway, this plate is quite lovely, no?

Northern Ontario Rabbit Confit

And then I sampled some of my friend’s Northern Ontario Rabbit Confit, which was as good as comfort food (fancy comfort food!) gets. Soft, tender and juicy.

Dessert and Cheese Sampler at Tundra

We rounded off the meal with a sample of dessert–that is the addictive pine nut brittle in the front, there were soft, chewy macaroons and a deconstructed creme brulee, mini-meringues and some lovely cheese.   And could the cheese/dessert board itself be more rustic?   I feel like that was ripped right up from an old barn and polished up.  A floor I’ll eat off of anytime.

And if you really want to hit the town and then not have to make your own bed, there are the trendy and luxurious Hilton suites.   We got a sneak peek at the launch.

Executive Chef at Tundra is Kevin Prendergast and the kitchen team sources local foods, wild ingredients come from a Quebec-based organic forager and other herbs come from the hotel’s garden.  Cheese is from that wonderful place, Cheese Boutique, in the west end.

Most importantly you can get jerk wings off the “nibbles” menu until midnight.

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