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The Week in Yum Dec 6-12

The Neighbours always set a festive table

Holy crap, the holiday season is upon me. The week started off with a bang when I joined a big group of friends for wings at our favourite neighbourhood pub, Mike's Place, on Queen St. Saturday night, The Neighbours threw their annual Xmas dinner for the same group and we feasted on two types of lasagna (a classic bolognese and another Michael Smith rig that was filled with little meatballs, lobster and a bechamel sauce) and maybe a bottle or 8 or prosecco. Even the penguin enjoyed a flute, as you can plainly see. They always throw a great dinner complete with stockings for everyone filled with treats, a reading of a classic christmas book, carolling and general merry making.
Sat annual xmas dinner at the bonds

my contribution to the dinner was this Rum and Eggnog  Tres Leches Trifle- recipe coming soon

beef with white bean stew to stick to our shivering ribs
On Sunday we went to Kensington Market for the third time to attempt to get The Kid in for a haircut at The Crow's Nest and this time we were there when the doors opened and he was the first walk in. While he got a hair cut, I wandered about and bought the ingredients for a Beef with White Bean Stew since it was still ridiculously cold outside. That sustained us through to Tuesday and on Wednesday I made the final run of a Spanish meatloaf I have been working on (recipe coming very soon) that is full of chorizo and smoked paprika and a quince glaze. I have been tweaking it for a while and was very exited that this one was going to be "the one". I decided to grind up the chorizo using my meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid. Now, I don't have the super powerful pro version mixer so I don't know what I was thinking, trying to grind up a rock hard, cured sausage in there. All I will say is that getting the grinder attachment apart again involved a hand towel and this:

If you make this delicious meatloaf, please just chop it up until you get as fine as mince as you can manage with a knife and learn from my mistakes.

After I finished the meatloaf, I set it aside for later and went out for lunch with Mrs MVP (most valuable peruvian) to Tabule, on Queen St East. I have been dying to eat here but Shack always says no when I throw it in the ring so I was pretty thrilled that Mrs MVP was happy to accompany me for a bit of middle eastern lunch. Apart from the odd beef shwarma, she was not really familiar with the cuisine so it was nice to eat with someone who was coming to it with a fresh opinion.
We were both totally won over with our mint tea, served in beautiful little silver tea pots and tiny little tea glasses. I have a real thing for tiny tea glasses and for small, individual serving vessels, in general, so this was totally up my alley.

We ordered the sample platter of apps with babaganoush, tabule and labni. The labni was the richest, smoothest labni I have ever had - it almost felt like I was eating a tangy, sugarless gelato. The portions were incredibly generous and could easily accommodate four people as a starter. We also shared a meze portion of falafel and mujaddara which is brown lentils, rice and fried onion. The only thing I wouldn't order again was the mujaddara, not because it was bad but it is just kind of plain and the portion was huge. Again, maybe if you were sharing it amongst four people it would have made more sense. Now, about the falafels. OH MY GOOD GOD, they were perfect. So crisp, so crunchy on the outside and then soft and delicate on the inside with just the right spicing that I didn't even need to dip them in the accompanying tahini dip. They were also very big and very filling.
Again, everything we ordered for the two of us would have been perfect, even with four people (maybe one or two other apps if it was four big eaters)
falafels the size of Great Dane testicles. For real.

The restaurant itself is bright and comfortable with a much hipper, downtown vibe than it's Yonge St outlet. Service was impeccable, the food was incredibly fresh, the portions were really big. All in all, I give Tabule ten thumbs up and cannot wait to go back and try more things since I realized after the fact that we didn't even try any meat.

a beguiling sign in the window of The Art Of Cheese on Kingston Rd. Remind me to start shopping here.

Then, if all of this wasn't enough for a Wednesday, that evening brought the annual gingerbread house smackdown that my good friend, Dianne, throws. It pretends to be a friendly neighbourhood gathering of Beaches moms so they can have a couple glasses of wine, socialize and decorate a gingerbread house. What it really is, is a candy fuelled cage fight to the death with people bringing tool boxes full of implements, things that light up, ridiculously expensive, hard to find candy, additions to their houses, their own base plates to accommodate elaborate landscaping.... it's really more like Chopped with wine. For the first time ever, there was a vote and a prize for 1st place. Of course, there had to be monitors to make sure that nobody voted for themselves. I was torn between the perfectly executed, well planned and thought out ice palace that took first prize and the free form, Jackson Pollock cottage that a lovely southern bell cranked out.  I will be posting the full story later tomorrow so stay tuned.
To say that some of these ladies might be a bit competitive is like saying that Rob Ford might like to party a bit.

Those were crushed bay leaves been thrown about as the finishing touch
look at that fire pit in the foreground. Looks like a fire hazard to me

oh, they all look harmless enough. In photos.

A roof made of diaphrams. Love the ingenuity.

Clearly, she stole my frosted mini wheats for her roof. Whatever

and best use of cotton candy goes to......

This fondant family were made at home. Keener. Hey, is that silver foiled box edible? Is it?

Oh yes, people bring little lamps with little battery packs hidden under the cone trees

yes, that is a christmas tree with actual lights

all packed up and ready to be taken home

a wonderful night was had by all. I came in second. Not that anyone is keeping score.

Thursday Movie Popcorn! Enough said!

Pin of the week:  who wouldn't want this in their kitchen??

Facebook share of the week: I am totally making these this weekend

Instagram of the week: not food but very festive

Tweet of the week:

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