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The Week In Yum March 15-21 Dino's Pizza and Tamales

tamale workshop with Paola of Santo Pecado Catering

Dinos Wood Burning Oven Pizza
After last week's failed adventure to the west end to eat dinner,  we ventured back out to Etobicoke to try the pizza at Dino's  last weekend . Lots of Shack's friends have raved about this place, he was dying for pizza and it was a good day to go for a drive so that is how we ended up way in the wild, wild west in search of lunch. I was afraid that it was only a take out place after reading some reviews on the drive but thrilled to find that there are, in fact, a few tables so you can most definitely eat in. This is not a place to go for a lovely family dinner or a date or anything but I just wanted to let you know that you can eat in if you are okay with eating at table slapped down in front of the take out counter. The staff are so friendly that they make up any lack of decor or ambiance and the wood oven cranks out some damned fine pizza.

So, we ordered a small pie but couldn't agree on which one to get. Our helpful waitress assured us that it was totally fine to do half and half or even a threefor, which was great. We settled on this comb:

1/2 Pizza Americana - tomato sauce, mozzarella, pepperoni, mushrooms and sausage
1/2 Italiano- tomato sauce, mozzarellea, pepperoni, spicy italian sausage, mushrooms, red peppers - $15.99

Oh happy day, the pizza as delicious! The crust was lightly charred in spots,  thin and crispy with a nice chew, it was not over sauced or over cheesed, there was a generous scattering of toppings without going overboard and the almost impossibly fresh basil leaves were a wonderful touch. The chili oil on the table could have been a bit spicier but the pizza was great.

The Kid tried a Gyro Pide - garlic butter sauce, mozzarella, lamb, beef strips for $12.99. It was basically a pizza made in the classic, boat shaped pide form and he certainly polished it off but thought that the next time, he would try a different topping as it was a bit bland. Personally, I would just stick to the pizza. We also ordered a HUGE greek salad for $9.99, which I thought was kind of steep when you compare it the prices on the rest of the menu until it came out. It says all salad feed 1-2 people.
Yeah, 1 to 2 people who are 23 ft tall and weigh 500 lbs each. I would say it would feed 6-8 people if those people were the size of , say, the three of us in my family. 

Shack lamented that we live too far east for delivery when the pizza chef piped up "We can deliver to you if you make a big order" 
When asked what constituted a "big order" , expecting to hear over $100 or something, he said, sounding apologetic for being so unreasonable

"Well, you know, it's pretty far to go so it would have to be at least $50 and not at a busy time like a Friday or Saturday night"


Shack ordered pizza the very next night for the stunt crew on set, delivered in good time down to the Pinewood film studio in the portlands. Keep this in mind my east end people. A couple of large, crazy good pizzas can be yours for just a bit more than the price of Pizza Pizza.

Dino's Wood Burning Oven Pizza on Urbanspoon

Finally Monday arrived and it was time for the tamale workshop at The Depanneur  ( I talked about this place last week)on College with Paola from Santo Pecado Catering. My friend, Jen, picked me up on the way and we met up with my trusty bloggy bud, Heather, once we got there, ready to get down to business. If you have never had a tamale it's time to find one to try. It's basically a dough made from the same corn flour that is used to make corn tortillas, stuffed with some sort of filling, wrapped in a corn husk and steamed. When they are good, the dough is impossibly light and fluffy and when they are bad they are dry and heavy and sit like a rock in your stomach. I wanted to learn how to make great tamales and was pretty sure that this was the woman to to make that happen.

So, we were making tamales and Atole Champurrado which is like a Mexican cinnamon hot chocolate but thickened with a slurry of masa harina which gives it a bit of texture and a distinct, earthy, corn flavour. Paola let us take turns mixing the masa, forming a few tamales using a couple of different methods, using fillings that Paola had prepared for us in advance. I can now say not only am I no longer intimidated by the thought of making these tasty bundles of joy but she inspired me to get creative with them so be forewarned, there will be a flurry of tamale making in the near future. I can see why tamale making is best done in groups where you can make an event out of the whole process because it would get quite tedious making 50+ tamales all alone but once you get a system down, it's actually not difficult.

spot the food blogger

While we waited for our tamales steam, Paolo, our delightfully charming teacher,  entertained us with a story about a brigade comprised of mostly Irish Catholic soldiers who died while fighting for Mexico during the Mexico- American war of 1846-1848. Because the brigade also include some disgruntled Americans, some escaped slaves among them, they were considered traitors back at home but in Mexico, they were thought of as heros. Despite the reality that they were most likely highly motivated by the promise of land grants and wages, it is also widely believed that the Irish soldiers felt a kinship with the Mexicans and their shared faith. To this day, The Batallon de San Patricio is celebrated on two days every year; September 12th, the anniversary of the executions of the soldiers convicted of deserting the US Army and March 17, St Patrick's Day. She explained that it is not about drinking your face off  and acting insane in Mexico but more of a civic holiday that is a more sombre, respectful tribute to these brave Irish lads who died alongside their Mexican comrades in an attempt to ward off the invading American troops. Not only did we all learn to make a new dish, but we all learned a new bit of history to boot.

Behold Heather's impressive technique

With this in mind, it was fitting that we spent our St Patrick's Day making tamales and champurrado with Paola instead of drinking green beer and throwing up in a planter. A much more civilized way to honour my ancestral peeps, if you ask me.

Viva Los San Patricios!

New Baja Fish Tacos
Shack and I stopped in for lunch at Mexican Salsas this week to discover that they have had a bit of a facelift, complete with fancy new sign and a couple of new menu items. I have only been there mid week a time or two as it is a weekend haunt for us so I don't know if there is new management or if things are just very different during the week, but the food was much better than usual. Three cochinita pibil tacos were groaning under the weight of the pork that was stuffed inside each double layer of corn tortilla and they were also fresher tasting than I recall. The prices are much better that on the weekend and at just under $7 for three, it's a great deal. The new Baja fish tacos were also massive and although not bad, there was twice as much doughy breading than fish so while filling and tasty enough, they were far from the best fish tacos I have had. Stick to the regular Mexican menu items and you are golden and it seems that you should also stick to weekday lunch too.

Since we were right next door I had no choice but to stop into one of my favourite Latin American markets, Perola, so I could stock up on provisions. I am going to be allllll about the tamales for the next little while and I wanted to get the Tamal masa harina by Maseca. When we were making the tamales at the workshop, both Jen and I immediately noticed that the masa felt so much grainier than regular Maseca masa. Paola assured us that we could make tamales with the regular stuff but I wanted to replicate the light, fluffy version we made with her. Of course, I couldn't leave without some fresh tomatillos and poblano peppers and just look at that jar of aji amarillo peppers from Peru up there!

Tuesday night was beet risotto - recipe coming soon

Tuesday and Wednesday were all about Days Of Our Lives  with Alice
Thursday I was attempting to recreate my Red Chili Pork with Beans using king oyster mushrooms and lentils and I totally messed it up by adding 3X too many lentils. I salvaged it instead of pitching it by turning it into a more classic vegetarian lentil chili and ended up with a great dish. I love it when that happens. Neither of my boys even noticed the absence of meat in there and gave it two thumbs up.

I wrapped the week up by working on a recipe for Buffalo Cauliflower with a bit of a surprise twist and made three batches. Since every man and his dog is making these things and basically making them exactly the same way, you can rest assured that these are a little different. I am almost there but I want to try one more thing before I post it even though The Neighbour and The Kid ate these up and said I don't need to change anything. I am too sick of them to make any more so I am going to take a day off and make what I hope is going to be the winning treat over the weekend. The lightened up blue cheese dip was pretty great off the hop so that isn't going anywhere but in my belly.

Pin of the week:  I could eat one of these for breakfast right now

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