Since we couldn't get him in there we had to settle for a giant bowl of ramen at Ajisen on Spadina. I have been to their Markham restaurant a number of times (Shack is a frequent flyer there) but this is the first time I have eaten in their Spadina spot. I wanted to try something different so I ordered the spicy pork ramen and I was quite happy with it. I am not sure I like it better than the tom yum that I usually get but it hit the spot. I got it med hot and might ask for it a touch hotter next time and I discovered that I love the little shaker of fried garlic powder that they provide on the table. The service is a little less buttoned down than the service at their Markham location and it is more crowded with mostly long, communal tables but it is certainly more convenient for most people.
|cardamom quince layer cookies|
On Sunday we tried to get The Kid a cut again but even though we got there before 11am, the place was already packed and they didn't have a free walk in until 4pm. Since we had ramen as our consolation meal the day before, we agreed on tacos at Seven Lives in The Market. Well, they had tacos and I had to have the ceviche because I live for ceviche even though I am often mildly disappointed in it. Not this time, baby. This ceviche was truly the closest to a mexican ceviche I have had outside of the country. I swear to god that after one bite I was transported to a beach somewhere south of Tulum, toes digging into the hot sand while I swill an icy Corona and happily munched on today's catch. This ceviche was so fresh with the perfect amount of lime juice - so many ceviches that I try here are overloaded with lime and end up sour and mouth puckering. I wish I could go back every day for ceviche (he does a smaller batch of ceviche of the day every morning and when it's out, it's out, the way it should be). Of course, their tacos are off the hook as well but I was too busy eating all that ceviche (a very ample portion for a very reasonable $7) heaped atop a crispy tostada smeared with guacamole.
On Sunday we met our old friends, Kenny and Craig, at Hogtown Smoke in The Beach, our newest and most favouritist restaurant addition to our little enclave. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich with two sides and I have to be honest, after I ate the chili and the corn muffin with bourbon butter and stole bites of The Kid's 2lb pulled pork poutine I was absolutely full and didn't even try one bite of my pulled pork sandwich. I am sure it was delicious judging from the way Shack inhaled his and The Kid was certainly pleased because it meant that he was getting a giant pulled pork sammy in his lunch the next day. The boys shared a sample platter with ridiculously tender beef ribs, pulled pork and smoked chicken.
I have to say, I read a long list of horrible reviews of this place on BlogTo after a good review and I just don't get it. Sure, there is tastier BBQ to be had in the city but not in the The Beach. I keep hearing that AFT is a bazillion times better and although I agree that Leslieville pumps is very good (although a bit too sweet for my liking to be honest), those places are not in The Beach. AFT is not down the road from this neighbourhood as I read time after time in the comments. I am always willing to sacrifice a tiny bit of quality for great location and we have been in desperate need of tasty eateries in the The Beach that aren't chain wing joints, fast food Japanese or coffee shops and now that we have it, the inhabitants of the 'hood are thrilled. If you don't think it's worth traveling from other areas to eat here, then don't but for us, it is a wonderful, neighbourhood restaurant where we can walk to to get really good food, ever improving service and something other than hot wings and california rolls. There is something to be said about having good, solid neighbourhood places and not every single restaurant has to be the hottest, most fabulous, earth shattering food that draws people from all ends of the city.
Okay, rant over.
Okay, rant over.
Monday was lamb stew day! Shack doesn't care for lamb so I almost never cook with it but since I had come up with a lamb recipe to pair with some bold reds that Kwaf was offering, I had no choice. I was basically FORCED to cook some lamb with a virtual gun (if a gun were a beautiful bottle of Meritage) to my head. It was basically a nice, rich stew full of port and parsnips topped with a cap of truffle mashed potatoes that I baked in little ramekins to make it fancier but it was just as tasty when served side by side in a wide bowl with a bit of extra truffle oil drizzled over the top. I think I am going to start making an effort to use lamb more often when I know it's just The Kid and I for dinner because I always forget how much I enjoy those baby sheep until I eat one of them and then I wonder why we aren't eating this stuff all the time?
It was delicious and The Kid and I gobbled it up and Shack did not try one bite. That's the kind of toddler I am dealing with here, people.
The Great Food Blogger Swap is in full swing, with Monday being the deadline for mailing our packages out to our three, hopefully lucky recipients and I have now received all three of my packages. This is the third annual swap and it's the third time I have participated. There is something so exiting about getting mystery boxes in the mail. You open them up and you know some sort of cookie is waiting inside for you but you have to get through all of the festive packaging, the pretty cards, ribbons and bows and by the time you actually get down to the actual cookies, it feels like Christmas already.
My friend and frequent week in yum flyer, Robyn from Planet Byn, send me some crazy assed cookie that has a caramel baked inside of it so it's all gooey and sticky and delicious when you bite into it. I have only had one and a half because The Kid devoured them and the two he left in the bag were claimed for his lunch the next day. The second cookie, courtesy of Dana from Hot Pink Apron was a soft, chewy confection full of white chocolate, nuts and dried cranberries and I have hid those so I can enjoy a couple of them before I let him near them. Lastly, but certainly not leastly, a big box of biscotti arrived from Katie at Katie's Plate and, fortunately for me, The Kid says he doesn't like biscotti so he did not join me last night when I had one with my tea. I took a first bite and declared "oh yeah, these are super biscottyish and you would hate them, good call" and didn't share that they were also soft and full of chocolate and pecans and delectable and MINE.
Fave pin of the week: I could eat this right now
Fave facebook share of the week: brilliant idea from Thomas Lavers Cannery
Fave instagram of the week: not a new photo but new to me
Fave food find of the week: I would eat fried eggs every day if I had this!
Tweet of the week:
The 23 MOST important selfies of 2013 http://t.co/TSTmz9ibWU pic.twitter.com/tPcgcG5YXc
— BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeed) December 3, 2013