Welcome to Poutineville!

Poutineville MTL 1 arrDie hard fans of french fries – the hearty type – mustn’t miss out on a hidden gem in Montréal. Sure, there are plenty of self-proclaimed “best-selling” venues of the beloved ‘poutine.’ But when you steer off the beaten path, and follow the locals to 1365 Ontario Est, you know you’re in the right place for all things cheese curds, gravy and piping hot fries. Without further ado, then, ‘Bienvenue’ to Poutineville!

Talk about first impressions: go big on the exterior sign, and feel right at home in this quaint yet cozy family friendly eatery. Clearly a promising indication of greater things to come, this restaurant exudes a pleasantly familiar aroma that leaves the senses anticipating one’s very own plate of comfort food – à la all things potato, of course! Promptly seated, and welcomed by a gracious and bilingual – French/English – host, getting my poutine fix is a mere order form away.

Poutineville MTL 2 arrKid you not, the variety of flavourful poutine options are extensive. As such, patrons can either verbalize a menu item or fill out a sheet to specify desired toppings for their very own customized take on this French-Canadian dish. Choices abound, I feel for the indecisive folks but there’s no need to panic. Instead, take a breath and remember: simplicity is key! Wasting no more time contemplating, get your order in for an iconic staple – before the kitchen closes – and await a generously stacked plate of simply delicious: crispy house cut fries topped with fresh cheese curds and a rich braised beef broth-based gravy. Time ‘properly’ managed and decision made, one thing’s certain: you can never go wrong in keeping with tradition – especially, when talking about food affairs.

Poutineville MTL 3 arrFried and fabulous, I couldn’t help but request a double-take of tubers and ask for the “2 Poutine Sampler.” Having lunch chez-Poutineville, afterall, why not try both hand-crushed and crispy sweet potatoes? Going for twice the poutine, this appetizing select also means one can taste two times the gravy – red wine and pepper sauces – in addition to a mound of oozing melted cheese curds. Combining winning pairings of mild and bold flavours, I’m an instant fan of the peppery sweet potato poutine. Equally exclusive to Poutineville, other inventive dishes include a mélange of vegetables, cheeses – Mozzarella, Swiss, and cheddar – as well as a range of sausage meats, minced beef, and pulled pork additions that contribute to the endless array of unforgettable hot potato dishes, including: “The Montrealer,” “The Hat Trick,” and the head honcho of all ‘Messieurs Patates’, “The Godfather.”Poutineville MTL 4 arr

Comparatively humble in proportion to the aforementioned starchy indulgences, I leave my plate unfinished albeit full-ly satisfied. Pleased with the service and food, every visit to Montréal should include a poutine outing. So if you’re seeking a hot meal ‘rooted’ in comfort, have no fear of carb overload and happen to be in Poutineville’s neck of the woods, now you know where to go – P.S., they’re open until 5 A.M.

© DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Bombe au C’ChoColat

Weekend getaway to Paris North – pourquoi pas? Why not, indeed, to a fab Canadian stay-cation worthy of good eats in beautiful Montréal, Québec. Arriving ‘tout à l’heure,’ I waste no time and make my way downtown where ‘le centre-ville’ is home to several locally authentic French cuisine finds. Forgoing ‘foie gras’ – this time – I have reason for travelling through the hustle and bustle of the city’s artery, and it’s prime – believe me!

C'ChoColat 2 arrGood company and good times! And, as for the weather? Certainly, ‘je me souviens’ – a city to be remembered. But, don’t let the clear skies fool you! Brisk air to some, I would comparatively rate the weather as well below freezing temperature. Nonetheless, this trip was never about the windchill. Food shopping on the mind, this chocoholic-epicurean – that is ‘moi’ – landed in front of the doors of 1255 Rue Bishop for one precise item: C’ChoColat’s signature house dessert, the C’Wow.

Wowed – 100% – by this memorable chocolate bomb, this sweet plate is truly unlike anything I’ve yet had the pleasure to witness. Scanning the menu, the composition of listed ingredients for the C’Wow already sounds pleasantly familiar. Just imagine, a plated dish that includes: a scoop of artisan gelato surrounded by broken pieces of waffles, brownies, pecans, fresh berries, and crumble that is then encapsulated in a chocolate dome. But wait, this dessert gets better when served table side – ‘à table,’ chocolate lover!

Like a page stolen from history, suspenseful anticipation for this Trojan horse is no where near reached until post delivery of this gorgeous cocoa structure. Don’t worry, however, this sweet invasion equally makes for one delectably welcome fateful ending. In a nutshell: the C’Wow came, was seen and conquered – by caramel! Ultimately covered by heated caramel sauce, behold: a demolished collapse of layered confection toppling over a rocky bed of waffle and brownie bits. Jaw dropped, bearing witness to a fantastic chocolate demise, a moment of fascination is soon replaced with reality and the realization that it’s taste-testing time – finalement!

C'ChoColat 10 arrAs hoped, every bite of the C’Wow encompasses a mélange of delightful flavours. Inclusion of fresh berries justly brighten the flavours of the dense and rich cakey components. Generous in size and highly caloric, this select is a feat to finish. As such, here’s word to wise: the C’Wow can easily be shared by two or ordered for one large appetite. Either way, this chocolate themed venue offers more than meets the eye and is sure to appease many a sweet tooth.

C'ChoColat 6 arrSatisfying the chocophile-in-anyone, enjoying the finer things in life – if only via chocolate – is a dream come to fruition at C’ChoColat. Never ceasing to disappoint, there’s something for everyone from chocolate-infused beverages dubbed ‘choctails’ to Hong Kong style honeycomb waffles and savoury dishes. Too tempting not to try, the pistachio gelato is truly divine. Still in vacay mode, adding accompaniments like a latté and the Matcha Matcha Man frappé make for an accepted and extended guilt-free indulge-a-thon. Between green tea and herbal varieties, the assortment of milkshakes, ‘chocolat chaud’, hot/cold coffee beverages and Parisian crêpes run plenty. Heart happy in #MTL, C’ChoColat’s C’Wow is a clear winner to be experienced for yourself, ideally in person or just a click away.  It’s seriously, ‘the bomb’ of chocolate desserts!

Copyright © DISHFUL, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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Instant Happiness

Counting one of the many ways I heart cacao, here’s a simplified response: single origin. That’s why, whilst visiting Jamaica, it was a welcome mission – for this chocoholic – to find the very best bountiful pod offerings that mother nature bears in this part of the West Indies. Needless to say, I wanted the chance to taste 100% real Jamaican – homegrown and manufactured – chocolate.Jamrock Food 6 arr

Now, I’m no expert when it comes to producing chocolate. And to this day, it’s my dream – hopefully realized, one day soon – to visit a cocoa farm, stand next to a cocoa tree, and even witness the full extent of this plant’s cultivation from harvesting of pod to extraction of cocoa beans. Still dreaming – for now – there is one thing I can do, which is to get my hands on ‘instant happy’ – a.k.a. fine quality Jamaican chocolate – or so I thought.

Jamrock Food 5 arrProving to be a more difficult task than first anticipated, locating original Jamaican chocolate – in Jamaica – is not that easy, at least for me. Yes, I did visit a local shop and but only found rows of ‘popular’ sugary milk chocolate bars. Setting my sights on 70% or plus cocoa confections, venturing into a Montego Bay supermarket – Progressive Foods – was worth the trip. First making my way to personal points of interest – coffee and baking aisles – I happily found Blue Mountain coffee and unique baking extracts and essences. Proceeding next to the candy aisle, I came out empty handed as I only saw more ‘familiar’ wrapped sweets from home. As the journey continued, waiting in queue to finalize ‘other’ purchases, I asked neighbouring patrons where to find Jamaican chocolates. Kindly informed of “Charles” chocolate treats, I was elated – if only for a few short-lived seconds – and later enlightened that they’re no longer available. Blessings, persistence always prevails! Remember, I was on a choco-inspired mission. Finally, the moment of discovery came to pass and, with it, an awaited introduction to tasting pure and wonderfully made Jamaican cho-co-la-te – courtesy of, CDJM.

Jamrock Food 7 arrSetting my chocolate standards high, I scanned the package to determine if this ‘treasure’ measured up. The label read: “Dark chocolate, 70% cocoa” and “Original Jamaican Recipe.” So far so good, I was delighted at the sight of this particular bar and – without hesitation – picked it up for closer examination. Upon second glance, I noticed the brand was ‘en français’ – Cacao de Jamaïque – that’s consistent with Cocoa of Jamaica or Jamaican Cocoa. With respect to satisfying a “must,” we have a WINNER! CDJM pleasingly uses – as the package clearly reveals – “Authentic Jamaican Cocoa.”

Equally fortunate nearing departure, I spotted and purchased Black River Single Origin Chocolates. Specifically using 100% Jamaican Trinitario cocoa beans, Black River is similar to CDJM in that both companies keep true to the promise of integrating native Jamaican cocoa beans and on delivery of premium grade edible luxury. Though I have yet to identify a completely Jamaican bean-to-bar item – cocoa entirely grown, processed and transformed into moulded chocolate – on the island, I’m still “feeling alright” with my decided expenditure of CDJM and Black River Jamaican cocoa-rich products. Simply divine, CDJM’s dark chocolate bar is offered in generously proportioned squares and, as such, a little goes a long way. Smooth to the palate, a single piece of CDJM evokes intensely aromatic and robust cocoa flavour – no guilt, it’s my kind of black velvet. Unequivocally keen to “food of the gods,” I’m falling for Black River’s chocolate as well. Catering to a purist’s soul, Black River’s chocolate is: no fuss, no frills, and requires no ‘extra’ spices or add-ins to mask its exquisitely tempered and refined outcome – it’s pure cocoa at its best. Originating from a single island, Jamaican cocoa bean products are a rarity in their own right. Well-deserving of respect, it is with gratitude I profess: “Big up, to CDJM and Black River for encouraging this cocoa-driven endeavour to being – tastefully – accomplished.”

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

So Nice, It’s IRIE

Jamrock Food 3 arr

Yeah, mon! I just came back from Jamrock – Jamaica – and I had the time of my life. Paradise island for more reasons than one – inviting people, lovely weather, sandy beaches, dancehall music, etc. – let’s not forget the desires of our foodie friends. Jamrock Food 2 arrSure to be left speechless by “real-deal” cuisine, be sure to savour authentic jerk hut specialities and accompaniments. Like no other open-air b.b.q., selection of succulent and smokey jerk seasoned chicken, shrimp or pork with a side of rice and beans is plentiful. And if you like things hotter, laden some scotch bonnet sauce to your plateful and be on your merry way – just don’t forget the Red Stripe.

Jamrock Drink arrSo far, there’s no question Jamaican food is pretty ‘irie.’ Also trying and delighting in other popular favourites, I equally attest to the goodness of ackee and salt fish. The embodiment of tradition, this national dish uses regional ingredients like ackee fruit and is a must-indulge item on my list.

Speaking of produce, being conveniently situated in the tropics has its perks. Wanting a taste of homegrown Caribbean citrus and fruits alike, sampling native ‘otaheite’ – a.k.a. Jamaican apple – is a definite treat. After all, why not enjoy exotic gems that would otherwise be difficult to find in colder climates? To me, eating local just makes sense! Jamrock Food 1 arrPassionate about fruit and passion fruit – both – other splendours include: star apple, ‘chiny guinep’ – think lychee – ‘kamranga’ or starfruit, and ugli fruit that is quite contrary to its name.  A beauty both inside and out, this tangelo’s exterior bears a lime green peel and a contrasting vibrant orange interior flesh. While there are more Jamaican fruits to name, I’d like to share my favourite: naseberry. Until recent, I’ve never spotted or tasted naseberry. Fortunately, befriending and talking to locals is always helpful and equally made it easy to locate this particular edible treasure.

Jamrock Food 4 arrTruth be told: it’s the nase to my knees. But, why do l love it so? Good question! The answer is quite simple: this fruit is s-w-e-e-t. Truly toothsome, one bite of naseberry shares the intensity level of a date – for sugar! Oh so sweet in flavour, I would liken it’s delicate texture to that of an extremely ripened pear. All in all, my mini fruit tasting escapade is revealing of many pleasant palatable surprises.

More important than great food finds, encountering the kindness of Jamaican people leaves me with a lasting impression that I’ll never forget. Beyond words, Jamaicans are incredibly fun-loving and embody a sincerely warm and friendly spirit that added to one lively experience worth repeating. Needless to say: I must go back! Until then friends, bless up!

© DISHFUL, 2016. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Food of the gods”

SOMA chocolate 1 arr

Toronto is home to many foodie hotspots, and rightfully so. But, where do chocoholics go?  Having heard many great things of one particular chocolaterie, I thought I’d pay a little visit to a quaint gem in the heart of the Distillery District.  Say it is so ─ SOMA Chocolatemaker.  Catering to fans of all things cacao, enter this one-stop chocolate shop and you will not be disappointed.  A local paradise of sorts, SOMA looks, smells, and embodies the multifaceted tastes of chocolate.

SOMA chocolate 2 arrPleasantly surrounded by one of my favourite things ─ chocolate, of course ─ I take some time to admire the shop’s ambiance and machinery such as the cocoa grinder. Also capturing my attention, I locate an encased chocolate and nut salami that is uniquely made and available by SOMA.  Clarification provided, this show stopping treat contains no meat and can be sliced and served in rounds, making it ideal for individual delighting at any holiday party. SOMA chocolate 3 arr

SOMA chocolate 4 arrNeglecting not the other senses, it’s time to taste test. Patiently waiting in queue, I studiously scan the endless array of handcrafted chocolates, and begin to decide.  Certainly wanting chocolate, which one?  With no shortage of options, I decisively place an order of hot and cold, in addition to both liquid and solid cacao treats:  six truffles and a mug of Spicy Mayan Hot Chocolate.

Saving the confections for later, I first sample the ginger and cayenne infused hot chocolate. Clearly combining sweet with heat, this invigorating hot chocolate will leave your taste buds ─ on fire ─ with a chocolaty picante bite.  Needless to say, this spicy hot chocolate lives true to its name.

Another day, another chocolate? Yes, please!  SOMA chocolate 5 arrOpening my wrapped box of handpicked bonbons, I behold these heavenly beauties:  Brown Butter Truffle, 8 year aged Balsamic Vinegar, Roasted Cacao Bean, Magnolia Peach, Australian Ginger and Meyer Lemon, and a “unique origins” truffle.  Though a select few, the aforementioned truffles are all synonymous with pure quality chocolate that is aromatic, refined, and smooth while equally indicative of a myriad of flavours and textures.  Favouring the Peach Magnolia, I recommend it for its delicately perfumed taste and silky ganache interior.  The clean and bright citrus profile of the Australian Ginger and Lemon is pretty good in its own right, as are all the rest.  In all fairness, I haven’t had a bad ─ “Food of the gods” ─ experience at SOMA, and thank goodness.  Happily, my overall first impression is this:  SOMA truffles are more than chocolate ─ they’re chocolate made right!

© DISHFUL, 2015.  All Rights Reserved.

A Heavenly Beauty Regimen

Heavenly 4 arrWe all know that eating locally-grown food is good for us. After all, remember that saying ─ “You are what you eat” ─ it must exist for a reason, right? Whether it’s true or not, there’s no denying this: the breathtaking island of O’ahu is pleasant in every sense ─ sensory taste buds included! So whilst on a dream escape, it’s no wonder that my vacation memories are inclusive to an early morning breakfast at none other than Heavenly. Ringing true to the “Island Lifestyle,” this eatery specializes in breakfast and lunch items that are in sync with their policy, “Local first, organic whenever possible.”

Heavenly 1 arrAlready feeling content with this chosen venue and its ‘Heavenly’ mission, I follow suit and make an edible-friendly statement of my own: “May I please have…everything?” Kidding aside, this was the exact order: the “Pitaya Bowl” and “Beauty” smoothie ─ for me ─ in addition to the “Big Island Honey French Toast” along with a “Power” smoothie. A lot to take in ─ I know ─ but that ‘morning glow’ must come from somewhere. As in this case, I happily get my daily dose of vitamins via homegrown nutrient-rich fruits. Loaded in antioxidants and all that good stuff, I’m pretty sure there’s no shortage of other good-for-you menu items ─ trust, there’s plenty!

Heavenly 2 arrAs for my ‘beauty’ treatment, here’s the raw scoop: who ever says clean-eating is boring, they’re wrong ─ healthy tastes divine. Far from an ordinary cereal bowl, my ‘flowering’ vision is reminiscent of an orchid-touched purée of fresh dragon fruit that is topped with ruby red slices of fresh ─ never frozen ─ strawberry, chunks of ripened pineapple, crisp granola and coconut milk. Needless to say ─ and as advertised ─ this detoxified select is synonymous of a “Super Fruit Morning!”

Now, let’s talk about that French toast. Just one bite, and it’s quite evident why ignorance ─ of satiety ─ is bliss. Hollering for more Hawaiian-style brioche, Heavenly again uses fine ingredients ─ “locally-made sweet bread” ─ for the making of this classic recipe. Equally similar to challah, just imagine: banana-embedded French toast that is finished with a saucy drizzle of chocolate. So maybe this ‘sweet’ indulgence is not as trim-friendly as the Pitaya, but it’s still worth a taste.

Heavenly 3 arrIn continuum of happy times, the smoothies complement either of the aforementioned plates but are ─ FYI ─ contrasting in flavour. Specifically, “Beauty” ─ also my preferred beverage ─ evokes a mild and sweet taste thanks to these ingredients: berries, coconut water, celery and chia seeds. Those looking for a protein boost, however, may opt for “Power” that carries a somewhat stronger and nutty profile due to the following medley: almond ─ both the butter and milk ─ spiralina powder, a hint of cinnamon, and fruits. Getting used to the spa-like treatment ─ even if it’s table-side ─ other blended items to try include: “Energy,” “Radiant” and/or “Dream.” All in all, delighting in locally-cultivated food items is a daily practice that I welcome with open hands ─ a “Heavenly Island Lifestyle” that, unequivocally, suits me fine.

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Broke Da Mouth, Good!

North Shore 1 arrBig waves, big surf, and ─ fortunately for pescatarians ─big shrimp is a trio to be found along O’ahu’s northern coastline. Home to plenty of land and water action, North Shore is exactly the place I want to be for more reasons than one: food, sunset and beaches. Driving along the Kamehameha Hwy., the town of Haleiwa is a destination worth exploring. Befriending locals, eating shaved iced, drinking fresh coconut water, and ─ need I say ─ ordering shrimp only scratches the surface to a memorably ‘wiki’ ─ fast ─ road trip.North Shore 2 arr

Leaving surfing to the skilled, distant admirers ─ like ‘moi’ ─ do what we do best, the possible. Needless to say, I happily exchange the waves for a seat and ‘professionally’ catch a glimpse of the famous ‘pipeline’ ─ on dry land, of course! And to make the whole experience more succulent, occupying island time can and does get better with a local favourite ─ “Shrimp plate, anyone?” When hunger calls, the friendly staff at the North Shore Shrimp North Shore 3 arrNorth Shore 4 arrTruck answers with this ─ simple yet sufficient ─ menu: spicy, lemon butter or garlic butter shrimp. “To each, their own” ─ literally! Ordering individual lunch plates ─ one for me, and one for you ─ two times a meal makes for an opportune tasting of both spicy and lemon butter shrimp. Skimping not on the scampi, this food truck’s shrimp is not only made to order but is also generously served with rice and Pupukea greens. Spreading the ‘aloha’ spirit, my order was kindly altered to cater to my appetite for less starch and more greens ─ ‘mahalo’ for the much-appreciated service and ‘ono’ food.North Shore 5 arr

Shrimping not on a flavour-marathon, a secondary food-stop is made. This time, behold the ‘Original’ ─ Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. Shrimp so good that it ─ as locals say ─ “Broke da mouth!” I always say, “Busy is a sign of success,” and business is clearly hot for this food truck. So if you make your way to Giovanni’s, be sure to get in queue and place your order. Wait-time both accrued and elapsed, picnic-style table seating is spotted, secured and ideal for resting the requested spicy shrimp plate. North Shore 6 arrAccompanied by two scoops of rice and macaroni salad, Giovanni’s doesn’t mess around ─ this white shrimp plate is on fire! So ‘picante’ as a matter of fact, Mother Nature came to the rescue ─ with a showering of rain! Honestly, it was raining and the shrimp was hot but undeniably enjoyable for those who like it ‘peppery.’ Rain or shine, these bustling roadside food trucks still ‘openly’ welcome patrons and their insatious appetites alike. So if you ever get the chance, venture to the North Shore and be sure to ‘net’ some savoury local delights ─ where “must love shrimp” and “must eat shrimp” unite!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

What’s The Story, Crowning Glory?

Dole Farm 1 arrWhat stands tall, wears a crown, and is internally sweet? ─ Pineapples! Forever my favourite, pineapples rank among my top preferred fruits. Both delicious and elegant in structure, this beautiful natural creation is ─ simply put ─ my kind of wonderful. “Have I told you, lately, how much I love…” pineapples? ─ Just checking! So you can only imagine my excitement upon learning that my recent travel destination is also home to a pineapple farm. Ideally situated in the historic town of Wahiawa, my trip to O’ahu has been made extra special with a very worthwhile visit to ─ you guessed it ─ the Dole Plantation.

Dole Farm 2 arrNothing ventured, nothing gained? ─ Precisely! Somewhat off the beaten path, the Dole Plantation is outside the heart of Honolulu City, but certainly not to be missed. For a ‘field’ day in of itself, merely take a drive along the Kamehameha Highway and you’ll be happier for it. And once you arrive, guiltlessly reward yourself with a self-indulgent treat ─ ‘ananas’ of course!

Between fresh and ‘freshly’ preserved airtight goods ─ macadamia nut cookies, praline candied nuts, Kona coffee or dried mangoes/papaya/pineapple chunks ─ I have my eyes set on one thing only: “Dole Whip.” Saving my appetite for this momentous treat, my unique pineapple cup of Dole’s very best ─ homegrown golden delicious ─ does not disappoint. Dole Farm 3 arrConsider this: tangy yet sweet and smooth soft-serve pineapple ice cream that is topped with succulent dices of ripened pineapple fruit. Undeniably irresistible, Dole Whip is simply divine ─ spoonful’s of heaven. Befitting of venue and warm climate, this chilled refresher is exactly what this pineapple-lover ordered. In essence, the chance to taste Dole Whip is an authentic experience not to be missed ─ the edible souvenir of choice!

To my heart’s content, this pineapple adventure similarly fed my mind as much as my appetite. Catching up on some thematic Dole Q&A, I learn a memorable “Fact of Life” for a pineapple. Did you know, the pineapple plant takes its ‘sweet’ time ─ approx. 1 year and 8 months ─ to yield its first fruit? It’s no wonder this glorious fruit earns and rightfully wears a crown. Dole Farm 4 arrWhile I won’t trifle with Mother Nature’s timing, it’s times like these I’m grateful for the produce aisle, and waiting ─ ever so slightly ─ at the “Plantation Grille” for dessert.   Catering to all, other activities include: a tour of the grounds via the Pineapple Express train, discovery of flora in the botanical gardens or getting lost/found along a maze course. Whether in memorabilia or snack formation, this massive stretch of cultivated pineapple devotion is truly worth the journey ─ and it didn’t take 20 months!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

A Taste of “HI-Life”

Keoni 5 arrSea, sun and surf ─ life’s pleasantly a beach! Recently back home from the most surreal island vacation, I’m not only living the life, I clearly lived the “HI-life” whilst in the beautiful archipelagic state of Hawaii. Unforgettable for more reasons than one, ‘mahalo’ is in order ─ thank you ─ to the incredibly warm and kind-hearted people of O’ahu, who have left me with countless impressionable memories. Beyond beachin’ splendors ─ ocean air, salt in in my hair, and sandy toes ─ befriending locals has enriched my short-lived stay with plenty ─ good company, light-hearted conversation, and delectable food of course.

Keoni 2 arrTalk like the locals, why not? Here, ‘ono’ means delicious. And for a meal worth recounting, this foodie is ready to talk about all things ‘ono,’ primarily breakfast ─ made Hawaiian-style! Feeding my mind, heart and soul with every bite, Keoni is the place I ventured for a simple yet elevated Hawaiian take on the all-American pancake breakfast. Not too far from Waikīkī Beach, Keoni’s offers a generous plate at a modest price. Serving plentiful of all things wonderful, behold: two strips of crisp bacon, two scrambled eggs, and two moist golden pancakes.

Keoni 3 arrFar from ordinary and with keeping with the numerical trend, Keoni’s pancakes are made particularly enjoyable for TWO reasons: macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. Yes, indeed ─ coconut syrup exists! Tried and true to authentic flavour, I am very familiar with maple syrup but now ─ and courtesy of the gracious hostess ─ I have learned the ‘proper way’ to indulge in mac-nut flapjacks: first pour equal portions of maple and coconut syrup onto a separate plate, and then soak up morsels of cake into the pool of heavenly liquid nectar. Combining coconut-essence sweetness with crunchy bites of moist cake and seasoned bacon, this dish is comfortably similar while somewhat welcoming different. In a nutshell, fluffy macadamia nut-embedded pancakes soaked up with coconut syrup, in addition to its salty and crunchy accompaniments of ‘extras’ echoes a balanced dish full of flavour and texture ─ in other words, pure ‘extra’-ordinaire!

Hawaiian Sun Coconut Syrup arrFortunately, time and distance away from the south-pacific doesn’t mean one cannot recreate this “must-indulge” plate for a Sunday morning treat or everyday breakfast. For a taste of “Hawaiian Sun”, an insider’s tip is that this brand of coconut syrup is ‘the one’ to try. Hopefully spreading ‘aloha’ ─ love and kindness ─ is achievable via coconut syrup on top of your homemade flat-top griddled rounds. But in case this syrup is far-reached and inaccessible at your grocer’s, know this: a golden morning can still persist with shredded coconut or flakes sprinkled over ladled batches of your favourite pancake recipe. For an alternative spin on this local find, you can even add bananas and/or chocolate chips into the nutty batter. Trying one or all, happily decide how to make your very own pancakes ‘extra.’ All in all, I take away more than a recipe from this trip. Fully embracing the HI-Life state of mind, life is about enjoying the small and simple things ─ edible mac-embedded sunrises included!

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Chiado Is What Chiado Does

Chiado 1 arr Summertime is sizzling and for one reason ─ Summerlicious! If you haven’t heard, no worries, there’s still time. Every year, this Toronto food event caters to hungry, enthusiastic and curious patrons. Foodie or not, now is the time to literally sample a three course menu from that establishment you’ve been eyeing for some time. Among friends, here’s a little piece of FYI: please do, R.S.V.P. Chiado 2 arr“I used to be indecisive, but now I’m not so sure.” This expression clearly resonates, given we’re ready to eat but uncertain in which locale to invest. Choices galore, the range of participating venues leave many to contemplate between fair to fine dining hosts. This year, however, I just had to taste my way through a ‘prix-fixe’ that was inclusive to an item never tried. And so, I must ─ “must-indulge,” at Chiado. Chiado 3 arrDid someone say ‘sizzle’? ─ Sim, sim, sim!!! ‘Chiado’ ─ as in the Portuguese term ─ indicates ‘sizzle,’ and for a reason. Happy to greet, seat and serve guests, the start of my experience is sizzling with great service. Waiting not, prompt seating and tableside attention is not an issue ─ mind you, former reservation had been made. Evidently still, staff are welcomingly present, professional and do their very best to accommodate patrons. First thing’s first, treat your senses with a taste of complimentary: black cured olives, an overfilled bread basket, and dipping olive oil. Already noted ─ here ─ it’s all about quality.Chiado 4 arr Eager for more appetizing delights, the menu selection is consistent with palatable options. For starters, opt for a seaside inspiration via saffron and cognac-infused shrimp bisque, grilled lemon garlic sardines or salmon tartar à la avocado mousse. Agreeably tempting, I forgo the aforementioned for a vegan appetizer that satisfies while taking account of needed room for the ‘main’ choice to come. In the meantime, my first course leaves a pleasantly earthy and enriching taste that is: portabella mushroom and eggplant that is topped with delicately broiled goat cheese, and justly flavoured with champagne vinaigrette.  Chiado 6 arr A true reflection of the Mediterranean, Chiado succeeds in a menu that well-encompasses regional cuisine as seen with: ‘dourada’ or fileted sea bream, grilled squid and a salted cod terrine, in addition to other piscatorial dishes such as pan-seared skate fish and Atlantic salmon. Seafood cooked right is an incomparable experience in its own right. Chiado 5 arrNonetheless, I set my ‘mainly’ mind on Chiado’s apparent “rule of the roost.” Tried for the first time, the garlic and herb-crusted “Roasted breast of Capon” is overbearingly succulent, adequately heated with ‘piri piri’ sauce, and persists to be undeniably preferred over the usual ‘white meat’ chicken alternative.  Absolutely hearty, the generous serving of ‘capon’ is enough to satisfy one’s eyes and appetite, though the root vegetable and ‘haricots verts’ accompaniments are worth savouring. Chiado 7 arrAnd now, time for dessert! Beyond comfortably-full ─ several bites ago, into the second course ─ how can I ignore Portuguese tradition? Treated to a pillow slice of light ‘molotof’ ─ egg white meringue ─ enrobed in caramel, this cotton candy-like cloud denotes both a sweet finale to this delicious meal, and a prelude to a necessary siesta. Happy eats and sweet dreams in, this Summerlicious experience is ─ most definitely ─ ‘Chiado.’

© DISHFUL, 2015. All Rights Reserved.