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The Week In Yum march 22-28 The Windup Bird Cafe, The County Cocktail and A Crap Tonne of Lentils

The Windup Bird Cafe

This has been another fun filled week of food and adventures what with three restaurant visits on Tuesday alone. I lunched at The County Cocktail, supped at The Windup Bird Cafe and joined the boys for a late night negroni at The Wren before coming home to bed. If you add in all of the lentil recipe testing, it was a full week of eating new things and man, am I stuffed.

Sunday we went to Kensington for ceviche at Seven Lives
You know, when Shack decides he is into something, its all we do for a while. Anyway, it was packed so he went inside to see if they would do the ceviche to go while The Kid and I went across the street and bought him a new vintage vest and a black tuxedo shirt. Thank god my kid likes to have a bit of steeze going on or I would have to trade him in although I did have to draw the line at a red satin smoking jacket that said Playboy with a playboy bunny on the back. After that, we made a quick stop at Mexican Salsas for snacks and it was back home to get ready to leave for dinner with friends.
a quick bowl of pozole at Mexican Salsas held me over til dinner

My friend, Jen, isn't usually a fan of risotto but she does seem to like mine. She was providing the meat, salad and dessert and I was making the risotto and although her husband wanted my beet risotto, I know that Jen kind of hates beets so I tried a little experiment that has been rattling around in my head. I made it using the leftover french onion soup from La Papillion that was languishing in my freezer. Some crispy leeks and a gruyere tuile topped it off and it looked stunning, if I do say so myself. Unfortunately the soup gave it a slightly viscous, thick texture so although the flavour was outstanding, I will not use actual soup the next time but this idea has legs.

looks beautiful, tastes great but the texture was wrong

After I finally got the Cauliflower "Wings" Three Ways figured out last week, it was time to move on to a main dish for the Canadian Lentils Recipe Challenge. I had made a Lentil Chili last week that was my back up entry if I couldn't come up with something better but I knew I could do better. Not that the chili was delicious, because it was, but it wasn't exactly reinventing the lentil wheel, if you know what I'm saying. I was trying a couple of other things here and there and nothing was totally rocking my socks until I finally got around to trying to work out a decent lentil meatball so I could make Swedish Meatballs without the meat. Most of the recipes I tried were kind of dry and not all that tasty until I came across this one on Goop, believe it or not. Because I was making swedish meatballs, I changed a number of things. I left out the tomato paste, changed the spices, added milk soaked bread just like I would if I was using meat and although I did fry them as well, I stuck to baking but I tweaked that as well. It was so good, nobody knew that they were lentil balls until I told them and I am already thinking of the different ways to adapt these things to suit other dishes. I am thinking that I might be able to sub in soft tofu for the ricotta and turn these asian. I will keep you posted.

The Country Cocktail
Tuesday was lunch with Libby day and this time she took me to The County Cocktail and Snack Bar  at 798 Queen East. This is the Leslieville outpost of the every popular County General in the west end. I have never actually eaten at the County General because Shack will only wait in line for dim sum and every time we decide to try it for brunch, there is a line up when we drive by so we just keep on driving. We met for an early noon lunch date and the place was empty so I am hoping that people just don't know it's here yet and I might be able to snag a brunch table before word gets out.

We started off with some jalapeno corn bread with sweet potato jam which was super tasty but I have to tell you, that for $6, it was pretty small. The sweet potato jam, although delicious on it's own,  made it a bit sweet for me since the bread is already quite sweet but that might just be me. Kale salad was really refreshing and crunchy without being too chewy, which is often my beef with raw kale.

honestly, can anyone actually take a bite out of that sandwich?

For mains, we shared a burger and the chicken thigh sandwich, which is easier said than done. The chicken thigh was delicious but awkward to cut in two and I made a bit of a hot mess of things. I found it almost impossible to eat as a sandwich anyway and just let it fall apart and picked at it like that. We had better success cutting the burger in half and although it was a small burger, it was a very tasty burger, indeed. The buns were great and I meant to ask where they get them but because Libby tricked me into drinking half of her cocktail as well as my  own, I forgot. Her Fernanda Rosa was delightfully bitter and they clearly do not skimp on the tequila at all and because I preferred that to my First Word, a lemony gin based drink, I drank half of hers for her. I love cocktails that have a nice, bitter edge so anything with bitters, campari, grapefruit juice etc are my thing and I only ordered something else so that we could taste two different drinks. Next time, I am getting myself a Fernanda Rosa all for myself.
Panna Cotta topped with sugary cornflakes was sooooo good. It was like eating grown up frosted flakes and we both loved it to death and I look forward to having brunch there ASAP.

Libby wanted nothing to do with me and my attempts at halving the sammie
County Cocktail on Urbanspoon

Later that day, I went to the media launch for a new west end spot opened by Toronto restaurateur and TedX speaker, Sang Kim. Stay tuned for a full review of The Windup Bird Cafe at 382 College St in the coming days but highlights, for me, were not just the knock my socks off lamb chop in a jar, but the array of really interesting workshops, programs, classes and other community based initiatives that he and his all women staff, have up their sleeves.

It is, first and foremost, a restaurant so, for the moment,  lets get back to the lamb. After lamenting, at lunch, about the fact that I want to know when desserts served in a mason jar are going to over, I am presented with a damned lamb chop in a jar. It just happened to be a perfectly cooked, delicious lamb chop sitting on top of a bed of mustardy watercress and couple of paper thin slices of green apple. 
You know what? Dessert in a jar is so last week but Lamb Chop in a jar???
I'm sold. If this little chop was an indicator of the food to come, I am excited.

The food will try to satisfy everyone whether you are vegan, gluten free or an unabashed meat eater, like myself. We were given a little bowl with Chef Yumiko Kobayashi's interesting take on ceviche. One tender ring of calamari, one shrimp and one tasty little scallop in a light marinade, tasting of sesame oil was fresh, clean and a unique spin on one of my favourite dishes. The Walter's Umami Caesar that came with it was gone in three, long sips and finding these Umami Bitters has become my current task at hand. I had already sampled their signature vegan dish, an avocado-tofu gratin, at Recipe for Change and it was this unexpected dish that got me interested in checking them out in the first place. It's rich and creamy and filling and quite comforting in the same way I find congee comforting. I think if I were to become vegan, I would have to eat an asian vegan diet because this was the first vegan dish I have tried in a restaurant that appealed to me as something I would actually go out of my way to order.

After the lamb, we were introduced to Cook Slash Book, where San interviewed writer Joyce Wayne while she made her favourite dish. That dish happened to be a mango cheesecake and after she finished, the kitchen miraculously produced slices of the cheesecake to all of us like magic. The idea is that San will interview writers while they cook their most beloved food and the kitchen will tailor a three course meal built around it and serve it to the attendees. Pretty cool idea and I hope it takes off.

They are planning to feature Kid-Chen or cooking classes where big kids teacher younger kids to cook, a community garden out on their massive patio space and a rotating collection of UofT music students playing in the restaurant instead of piped in music, which I love. Basically, he is attempting to fuse food, literacy, community activism and food literacy for children. Lofty ideas that I think he is going to be able to see take off and soar.

I am hosting a giveaway of a great package of stuff from Misura ( Imported Italian line of cookies, crackers, rusks and pasta)  valued at $100 so go enter if you are in Ontario.

Finally, I am going to shamelessly ask you to take a minute and pop over to the Canadian Lentils Facebook Page and like my entries in both the appetizer and the main course catagory in their Lentil Revelation Contest.
You will have to scroll through to find them and I will love you forever if you take the time to do it. If you actually leave a comment as well, I might just weep from emotion.

Swedish Lentil Balls is my main course entry

Cauliflower "Wings" Three Ways is my app

Food Find of the Week:


Pin of the week: I think I will make these for Easter Dinner

Facebook share of the week: Im all about the chili paste right now

Instagram of the week: because ramen

Tweet of the week:

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