Pink’s

As you’ve come to realize through my blog, whenever I travel I do a lot of heavy research before hand. The last thing I want is to feel disappointed leaving a destination having not experienced it (food-wise) to its fullest.

Prior to my trip to Los Angeles, I quickly brought together a list of all the restaurants I wanted to visit. The list came together in a matter of minutes, and didn’t require a repetitive Google search of “Los Angeles+ Best+ Restaurants” to find my short list. In fact, all the restaurants I pooled together were a result of references from popular television.

One of those restaurants is the infamous Pink’s. Located at the intersection of Melrose and La Brea, this hot dog stand has been up since 1939 and is best well known for serving its Hollywood celebrity clientele. It has been featured on “Nip/Tuck”, was the inspiration for James Taylor’s song “Chili Dog”, and was featured on “Jackass” where  the love of my life, Brad Pitt, was abducted while waiting in line.

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Puttanesca

I like  one pan wonder recipes. Especially when they use pantry items and don’t require a special trip out to the grocery store.

Pasta Puttanesca is one of those dishes that can transform boring staples into something magnificent. It’s rustic approach, and combination of lively strong flavours is what it is best known for, although the debates over the origin of its name are far more entertaining: Diane Seed’s “whore’s spaghetti” or Sandro Petti’s “garbage/worthless pasta”? Which do you prefer?

Okay, before I turn you off from making this pasta, let’s move along. My inspiration for this pasta came from the tube of anchovy paste sitting in my fridge. I had purchased it the week before to make Jamie Oliver’s version of the Perfect Caesar Salad. The anchovy paste brought me that much closer to perfect…trust me!

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The Cupcake Shoppe

If you want to get in my good books, all you’ve got to do is show up with cupcakes. That’s what I’ve decided recently.

I don’t know where this love sprung from. I think it may have started quite some time ago while watching Victoria Gotti scarfing down cupcake upon cupcake on her A&E show (now cancelled) “Growin’ up Gotti”. Or it could have been during day camp when I was 6 years old while frosting a Betty Crocker chocolate cupcake with straight-from-the-can rainbow sprinkle vanilla icing. Those were the days.

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Fusaro’s

I have many friends who have tweeted their love for Fusaro’s Kitchen at 147 Spadina Avenue. At least twice a week, they would entice me with twitpics of gorgeous pastas that would glisten under their blackberries. They were adamant that if I was in the area at any point in time, that I would HAVE to invite them to lunch, as they wanted to share in my first experience at this Italian eatery.

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Miraculously, I happened to be in the area one day, and called up one of those friends, and was rejected when I requested a lunch date. Ouch! Well I couldn’t blame him, he was starving, and decided to satisfy his hunger pangs about an hour and a half prior to my arrival.

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What Up “Dawg”?

Although the above salutation may be inappropriate walking into a business meeting with a client who is about to finance your next project, it isn’t walking into a BBQ pit. Especially when it’s a pit located at 589 King Street West.

If you are a lover of the Food Network, as I am, you have watched Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives hoping that the wonderful Guy Fieri would pick you up in his red Camaro and drive you down south to experience the most fantastic barbeque you have ever tasted. If you’re a Bobby Flay fan, then you most likely caught yourself drooling when he challenged one of his viewers to a Pulled Pork Throwdown.

Lucky as we are to be able to experience such tantalizing programming, it is sometimes tough to find those sort of home-grown restaurants and authentic experiences in our backyard.

My quest for barbeque in Toronto began with my investigation of Phil’s Original BBQ. Canadian Chef David Adjey praised the restaurant for its fantastic smoked meats and its mustardy coleslaw which he advocated as a hit on Food Network Canada show Restaurant Makeover. I had to try it out for myself.

Though it’s been a couple of years since that experience, here are the few things I remember. Although the smoke was wonderful, the pulled pork had a stringy texture and wasn’t as tender as I thought it would be. Space was another issue at their location. There was hardly any, and every diner in the restaurant was within elbow knocking distance of one another. However, if there is one thing I will admit, it’s that their barbeque sauces were killer. This place definitely needs a revisit and a more focussed review the next time around.

Most recently in the news, I kept hearing about a place called Lou Dawg’s that offered an authentic southern barbeque experience for under $10. Who doesn’t love a deal like that! It didn’t take much convincing to decide to make a trip to taste their wares.

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Liège Waffles

Belgian waffles are universal. You can find them in your local cafe, at the hotel restaurant when travelling, and they are very easy to recreate at home. It’s fair to say that one need not be in Belgium to experience a good Belgian waffle.

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However, if you do happen to make your way to this European destination, this sweet treat is plentiful and come in more variations than you can count on your fingers. Nutella, honey, strawberries, chocolate, bananas, whipped cream…you name it, and it’s on it.

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They are light, crispy, and just melt in your mouth. A small dollop of chantilly cream and some macerated strawberries just take the entire experience to a whole other level. Their simplicity is such that you can easily recreate them at home.

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Gordon Ramsay’s Shepherd’s Pie

If you want comfort, this Shepherd’s Pie will do the trick. I had never prepared a Gordon Ramsay recipe before (only stared at them in awe), and decided to take a stab at this stewed lamb pie after watching an episode of the F-Word where monsieur prepared this meal for his patrons.

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The peculiar/funny thing about his preparation is that he slaughtered a few lambs that he was rearing in his backyard for this special dinner service. Fortunately I am lucky enough to purchase my lamb in slabs, unaware of the final moments of their lives. I prefer it this way.

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