A Little Shuck & Awe

Pure Spirits Oyster House 1 arrIt’s late in the night, you’re in the heart of the city, and crave a taste of the sea.  Where does one go?  Thinking not of Toronto’s Harbourfront, my anchor is set on D-squared.  Better known as the Distillery District, just take a stroll along the copper-red brick road and find none other than Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill.

Pure Spirits Oyster House 3 arrServing last-minute patrons ─ myself included ─ ‘raw-bar’ enthusiasts are promptly seated and informatively served with a bi-coastal listing of ocean fresh selects.  Scanning the best of east and west coast shucked clusters, I tread close to common waters ─ the Atlantic ─ and decide on three regional offerings:  Bluepoint, Caraquette, and Oddball.  Among all that’s fine and brine-y, I’d rate the meaty New York Bluepoint as a dominant standout in comparison to the Maritime alternative ─ this time, at least!

Feeling squeamish at the thought or taste of oysters?  Don’t be shell-shocked!  Fortunately, the captain of this seafood house prepares a tasty trio of savoury sauces for smooth sailing of slurping good eats.  Minding table-side manners ─ always ─ loosen your oyster of choice with a spoon or other provided utensil, and top off with these condiments:  classic cocktail, jalapeño mango or refreshing cucumber-infused vinegar.  Pure Spirits Oyster House 4 arrDynamic and all good in their own right, my ‘addition’ of choice is the pleasantly unexpected mélange of sweet heat courtesy of the spicy mango dip ─ a flavourful pairing that simply works.

The night, however, is still lively.  And so, this candlelit supper is not over until it’s over ─ fully satisfied!  Seafood and pasta options abound, order’s up for my table:  a “fancy salad,” and “branzino and beer.”  A bore ─ for some ─ I can never get tired of a healthy mix of veg.  Pure Spirits Oyster House 5 arrSpecifically, in my bowl of “chopped salad” one would not be disappointed to find a well-intended toss up of all that goes together:  pieces of grilled chicken breast combined with creamy avocado, sweet corn, chunks of feta cheese, chick peas, crunchy asparagus and capsicums, cucumber, a touch of sunflower seeds, and a gentle dousing of cilantro dressing.  Given my liking for the aforementioned greens, I approve though it’s understandable if this is not the case for some.  On that note, why not savour a pan-seared serving of branzino ─ p.s. it comes with a glass of beer.  Uncomplicated for a fish dish, the branzino’s exterior is cooked to a crisp while maintaining a fork-tender flaky flesh, and is then bedded on top of a medley of sautéed dandelion and mushrooms.  Generous in portion and flavour, either hot or cold plates won’t leave you flagging any white napkins.  If anything, catches of the day are so fresh you’ll be happy to slap them ─ on a fork!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

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Some Bunny Loves Chocolate

Chocolate Pretzels 4 arrSpring is in the air ─ finally!  Welcoming April showers, Easter, Passover and a four-day long-weekend, who wouldn’t be in a hopping mood?   Chocolate Pretzels 6 arrWithout a doubt, I am!  And for this chocolate aficionado, there’s no better way to share some edible joy than with everyone’s favourite:  chocolate-covered pretzels.

Counting the ways I love chocolate, here’s my triple take for a sweet, salty and crunchy chocolate pretzel fix:  chocolaty egg’s nest, sugar-coated chocolate-covered pretzels, and Cadbury chocolate marshmallow pretzel bark.  Chocolate Pretzels 5 arrSurely ─ for those in the know ─ these treats are no news.  As for me, tackling and creating first attempts in delicious never gets old ─ ‘egg-specially’ when it includes cho-co-la-te!

Chocolate Pretzels 3 arrJoining the fun fare hunt, then, chocolate bunnies get ready!  In preparation of this seasonal snack, get your hands on the only basket required ─ shopping ─ and proceed to fill it up with the magic three must-haves:  melting chocolate of choice ─ milk, dark or white ─ a bag of pretzel sticks or knots, and Cadbury eggs.

Already a no-bake recipe, there’s better news:  no-preheating leaves plenty of time for pre-eating.  Possibly getting chocolate egg on one’s face, I gladly take the risk!  Chocolate shamelessly tested ─ in good faith, of course ─ I concur:  these samples are good, and most definitely shall be used.  Now, for the actual steps:  place broken pieces of chocolate into a heat-proof bowl, and over a double-boiler; second, dip the pretzels into the melted chocolate; lastly, arrange the chocolate-coated sticks, leaving a concave center, and allow them to cool.  Chocolate Pretzels 2 arrOnce the nestled chocolaty bundles are set, decorate each pretzel-weaved nest with pastel eggs.

As for additional announcements, here’s what to do with all that extra “egg-xtra”:  pour spare melted chocolate over a parchment-lined baking sheet, dot the bark’s surface with pretzels, and then add a few more Cadbury mini eggs.  Chocolate Pretzels 7 arrSeemingly lost in a chocolate pool, bunny-tails ─ miniature marshmallows ─ can be used or replaced with other desirable candy toppings.  Last but not least, the chocolate-covered knotted twists also follow the same path:  dip salt crusted pretzels ─ one-by-one ─ into melted chocolate, and finish by dusting its surface with crystalized sugar.  So, there you have it!  Three tempting nibble-worthy sweets ─ or as Bugs loves to say, “That’s all folks!”

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.