Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Delightful Day for a Walking Tour in Elora


A mere hour and a half west of the city is Historic Elora. A beautiful town where the people are friendly, the streets are clean, the air is fresh and all of the businesses are locally owned. The only chain establishment I saw was a drug store. The streets have sculptures made by local artists and there is no shortage of galleries displaying their works out front.  

We came all this way for a Culinary Walking Tour and we came hungry.

The tour met at our first stop where we were introduced to Harisson, our fabulous tour guide. The Village Olive Grove is a gourmet extra virgin olive oil and vinegar shop that imports from all over the world. There we learned how to tell if extra virgin olive oil is authentic and how it's made. We also learned how to taste vinegar without the acidic flavour getting in the way. Just when you think you're a foodie, you learn something new! Love it! Last, but not least, we sampled Mapleton's Organic Ice Cream. It was flavoured with dandelion. It had a mild mocha flavour. Pretty good! We all looked worried when he said it was made with dandelion, but were all impressed. 

Our next stop was Mill Street Bistro. This was a house converted to a restaurant with a patio on the Grand River. Great view! Here we were served their Signature Mac & Cheese. The creamy cheese sauce with spinach and tomatoes smothered in a dangerous mix of melted cheese was to die for. We all wished we had a full serving! For a pasta dish, it wasn't heavy; the sauce was creamy, but light. A savoury start! Let's keep it going! 


From there, we stopped by Cork. Greeted warmly and seated, we enjoyed the clean lines of the monochromatic décor. This looks like the perfect place for a date. Our sampling was the Brie & Pear Flatbread with salad topped with house dressing. I could eat brie with pear everyday and that day was no exception. The flatbread was fresh and together it was delicious. The salad was alright; the dressing was good, but the greens were a little blah. I definitely could've gone for more pear and brie! 

After those savoury dishes, it was time for some sweets! E & G Pastry & Fine Cakes were armed with some sweet treats. The first taste was Marble Chocolate Cake. Yes, yes and yes. The cake was moist and the icing was rich, but not too rich. They made a little extra, so some of us had seconds. I have no shame, I was totally one of them. The second treat was Baklava. I've never been a fan of baklava. Tried it a few times, but meh....until today. It was flaky and fresh and sweet all over. I don't know what they did differently from the rest, but it was very good. It didn't have the 'my teeth hurt' effect other baklava has had on me. It was a winner in my books! 
 
Just down the street, we found ourselves at the Elora Bread Trading Company. A relatively new business in Elora, these ladies work hard and sell out almost every day. They presented us with sandwiches on fresh focaccia. It had house made mayonaise, roasted red peppers, zucchini, sprouts and goat cheese. OMG. I can't even think of a word to describe how fantastic this sandwich was. I'm a meat eater, but this won my heart(and possibly some of my thighs).  

To another venue with a Grand River patio, The Cellar. A pub with a modern feel, I would consider this a gastropub; not just pub food here! Sauteed mushrooms topped with mozzarella on crispy, fresh loaf and sprinkled with basil. Another winner! This dish was very well balanced, not too savoury, not too salty. I couldn't find it on the menu and people are missing out! 

The second last venue was Shepherd's Pub where we were given a sampling of local brew. Stone Hammer Pilsner. Stone Hammer is brewed out of Guelph, Ontario and they make 7 different beers. Shepherd's Pub has many local brews on tap. It had a comfortable vibe perfect for having a good time. Even though it's in the lower level, you can still sit at the back and enjoy a view of the Grand River.  

Our last stop was right next door at Ashanti Café. The owner is very passionate about his business and supporting other local businesses. This location is the only franchise; the other locations are owned by the company. He enjoys that Ashanti owns the coffee plantation, ships it here for roasting and distribution. He advocates how the plantation is run, telling us that they provide a hot meal and lodging for the workers in Zimbabwe. Impressive, but how is the coffee? Smooth. I tried the light roast and it was great. The baked goods that stared at your while you enjoyed your coffee were from bakeries right here in Elora! 

While we toured, Harisson would stop and tell us the history of the buildings we were walking by or going into. This was more than just a food tour, it was a history lesson! Our guide was pleasant and knowledgeable. He did a fantastic job! Thanks, Harisson! 

The Elora Culinary Walking Tours run year round for groups up to 20 people. All of the stops on the tour are support local farms and businesses which is alright in my books! The weather was perfect that day, but it runs rain, snow or shine! A great day trip out of the city! 

Lisa 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Edmonton! Craft Beer Market! Rooftop Patio!

Craft Beer Market 
10013 101A Ave 
Edmonton, AB  
T5J0C3 
780-424-2337 
So, I was in Edmonton for a wedding and we had a few hours to kill between the ceremony and the reception. The bridal party told everyone to go to Craft for drinks and eats. They said the would be on the patio. Sounded good to us!  

The street Craft is on, has many delicious looking places on it. I wish I could've stayed in Edmonton longer to try them! The Craft Beer Market is a large building; you can't miss it. The main floor is full of large, leather booths, but the eye is immediately drawn to the big ass bar. So much beer! We headed in and said we were meeting a wedding party on the patio and they pointed to the stairs. We were told to go all the way to the top. Rooftop patio FTW. 

The patio was busy and beautiful. It had a great variety of places to sit, TVs, flowers, a bar and a great view. THIS was the place to be! 

The service was fabulous. We got the menus made our food and drink selections and she was right there to take our orders. Perfect. The beer menu is fantastic; over 100 beers on tap! We all tried a different beer. I lied. It was a summer day and I had a hankering for some Fruli. I did try everyone elses! They decided to keep it local. They chose Hog's Head, Alley Cat & Rice Howard Ale.  


While enjoying the local brews, we went with a light lunch. I downed a Margherita Flatbread. Everything about it was fresh; fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, fresh cheese, fresh garlic. My breath was fantastic. My dad picked the Fresh Vegetable Platter. It came with a pile of veggies, olives, a pile of flatbread and a big bowl of hummus. I always assumed veggie platters would leave you hungry, but this one was huge and had more than just veggies to fill you up! My brother and his lovely lady shared the Baja Fish Tacos. They said they were good, but the heat from the hot sauce didn't really add anything to the dish. They said it seemed out of place. The fish, dressings and salad were both very good.  

If I'm ever in town again, I'd definitely come back. Craft has a great vibe and we really enjoyed our visit. 

Lisa







CRAFT Beer Market on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Bistro 67 Brings the Flavour

Bistro 67 
1610 Champlain Ave. 
Whitby, ON 
905-721-3312 

Time to go to where many of our favourite chefs started....school! Durham College has a culinary arts program that allows their chefs-in-training to practice in a real restaurant kitchen. Love this! In fact, there's a screen in the dining room where you can see chefs making your meal. The next big chef could be cooking you dinner and you didn't even know it!  

That's not all; it's field to fork. When you drive by on Champlain Ave or drive to the restaurant parking, you can see their gardens and there are plans for greenhouses too! It doesn't get any fresher than that. Whatever is in season is what they're serving.  

The venue itself is beautiful. Bright orange walls were the backdrop for the dark wood tables facing floor to ceiling windows. Everything was beautifully designed, right down to the lighting and table setting. Great atmosphere. Once the construction at the college is complete, the view from your second floor seat will become much more esthetically pleasing.  

After we ordered our drinks, bread and a house spread. The bread was fresh and the spread was AMAZING. Garlic, shallots and a whole lot of yum. When our Warm Baked Flatbread arrived, we kept what was left of the spread and used it for the flatbread too! Marinated tomatosfontina cheese, sherry onions and even more garlic all on a flatbread fresh out of the oven. The toppings were tasty, but not overwhelming. We made quick work of it even though it was huge. 

For mains we went with Steak Frites, Local Cornish Hen & Grilled Birch-Glazed Salmon. The Cornish Hen was tender, juicy and was infused with citrus. The strong citrus flavours were cut nicely with the pepperoncini polenta. Fantastic combination. The piece of salmon was HUGE. The picture doesn't do it justice; it was easily over an inch thick. The roasted peppers were great but the potatoes weren't fully cooked. The Steak Frites was probably the favourite. The steak was tender and well seasoned. The fries were truffled, sprinkled with thyme and served with tomato jam. You read it - JAM. This was not your grocery store ketchup. It had such a unique flavour that I have nothing to compare it to. Either way, it was fantastic. Gotta try it! 

The service was great. They were quick, attentive and knowledgeable. They are very professional. You wouldn't even know that the people there are in training to be chefs because it tasted like they were pros already! 

I realize they just put a huge logo for this place right ON the building, but it just doesn't stand out. I know if I'm looking for a restaurant, I'm looking for the traditional big sign near the road. If you're not from the area, you might not find it.  

This was my first meal at the culinary school and it won't be my last. Support your local college and give them feedback to make them the best of the best! 

Lisa






Bistro '67 on Urbanspoon

Friday, 8 August 2014

Must Go Back to Bistro 238!

Bistro 238 
1413 King St 
Oshawa, ON 
L1E2J6 
905-579-4688 

It was my grandmother's birthday and I wanted to take her somewhere we both hadn't been. Bistro 238 had fabulous reviews and a tasty looking menu, so off we went. The décor was beautiful. Dark leather chairs that you just didn't want to get out of. The staff were friendly and seated us quickly. It's a small space, but it doesn't feel small. They make use of the space, but you don't feel crowded. It's located in a plaza, so the picture above should help you find it. 


We were hungry, so we quickly made our choices. My Nan went with the Veal Tenderloin Special. It was a huge, tender piece of veal with seasonal vegetables smothered in au jus. I was worried because she's not a big eater. I stand corrected. She ate the whole thing it was so good. All she could say was that it melted in her mouth. My Dad selected the Alberta Striploin. It was as big as the veal! He too said it was fantastic and didn't leave a morsel on his plate. Cooked and seasoned to order with veggies and the cheddar & leek croquette smothered in mushroom ragout. So savoury! I picked the Honey-Dijon Pork Tenderloin. Juicy, tender, sweet and savoury; I was very happy with my choice! The mashed sweet potatoes with the apple-brandy reduction was a winning combination. The presentation of all plates was perfect and the flavour combinations were perfect. Needless to say, we were stuffed. 

But...it's a birthday! Cake was in order. I chose the Lemon Mousse Cake, It was perfect after a meal like that. Light and airy with a delightful lemon flavour, but not too sweet. What Nan chose was AMAZING. I had to copy this description from their Facebook page to get it right, "New York style Cheesecake wrapped with Phylo pastry, baked in the oven and served with a warm berry compote." There aren't words to describe how amazing this was. I was lucky to get a bite. The warm cheesecake, the Phylo, the warm berry compote was absolutely to DIE FOR. I cannot encourage you enough to try this. I'm a chocolate person and I would give it up for this dessert.  

A fantastic venue to treat my grandmother on her birthday. She loved it and told everyone she knew about the food, and especially, the dessert. The service was professional and the prices were on par with the quality of the meal. 

I can't wait to go back; MAYBE I'll get a whole piece of that cheesecake to myself! 

Lisa






Bistro 238 on Urbanspoon