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The Week In Yum May 3 -May 9 The Beech Tree, Matcha, Lentil Hunting with Michael Smith and Delecq

Charcuterie, cheese and smoked mackerel pate at Delecq, a brand spanking new wine bar in The Beach

I have been doing the week in yum for almost a year now - okay, I started doing it in July but it's almost a year so shut it. Anyway, over the year it has become more and more popular and I find that I spend as much time eating out, attending food type media events etc more and more. It almost feels like I spend as much time eating out and sharing that stuff as I do cooking and sharing recipes. It is time to freshen up what was originally just a little blather about what I ate that week to make it more useful for those of you who are reading. I am going to streamline my mini reviews, add in a little section where I alert you to any fun food events coming up and I am now going to share a new Instagram user and Pin Board of the week since I now follow so many people that it is becoming impossible to just choose one actual pin or photo.

Okay, that said, let's see how my week shaped up:

The Beech Tree
Finally, a full dinner at The Beech Tree on Kingston Road,  heart of my heart new restaurant just a stone's throw from my front door that is going to make life in the Beach worth living. Saturday was the Avalon Montessori (our magical unicorn school) annual fundraising party at The Balmy Beach Club so it made perfect sense to meet up with friends at The Beech Tree for a pre party dinner. I made reservations for 6:30pm and was worried that we would toddle in for the senior's blue plate special but it was already half full so we were not the only people who wanted to dine early on a Saturday night.

Shack and I were thrilled to see that the pimped out pim's cups that the bartender made us on our first visit are now on the menu so it was a round for the table. Our dinner guests are from Tennessee and this was their first experience with a pims cup and they were suitably impressed with this cocktail that came overflowing with fruit, fresh mint and even a sprig of rosemary that she crammed in there. I am not sure that it tastes like a true pims cup but it is delicious and I will happily consume these all summer.

We ordered the brie mouse, cauliflower and stilton on bread and a larger app of lamb sausage with fennel, red peppers and chickpeas to share and the green salad. The mouse was as light and airy as the last time we had it and I am still kind of in awe over this brain bender of a dish. My momentary disappointment in finding out that the rabbit arancini was off the menu was waylaid by the arrival of the cauliflower and stilton on toast. This chef has a way with cheese, I must say. He manages to make two potentially heavy cheeses and turn them into something light and subtle - even picky Shack ate some of it and he professes to hate blue cheese. 

Lamb sausage was great and the perfect size for sharing with each of us getting a chunk of sausage and a big scoop of the vegetables. Rounding out the apps was a really nice green salad that was sitting on top of some sort of buttermilk cream that you sort of scraped up with every forkful. YUM

We girls both ordered the pork tenderloin and cheek of whey fed pork and the guys had steaks and let me tell you, every little piggy in the world should be fed whey. Sunchokes don't always do it for me because they are kind of starchy and can be dull and heavy but the ones that came with my pork were almost caramelized, tender and full of flavour. I only managed one little bite of the steak due to the selfish hoovering of said steak by Shack but it was a delicious little bite. Judging by the sparkling, clean plates at the end of the meal, I think we can assume that the steak was very, very good. 

Both couples finished the meal by sharing a piece of flourless chocolate cake with maldon salt and creme fraiche. I think we will be taking many an after dinner walk to The Beech Tree just for dessert if they keep this cake on the menu. Rich, creamy, not dense the way flourless chocolate cake can be, with wonderful bursts of crunchy salt.

After dinner Shack won this foodie basket for me at the fundraiser thankfully since we were out of coffee

Sunday we ended up a the Pickering Flea Market for some reason so, when in Rome...poutine, cabbage rolls, pierogi, a patty and British Crisps for breakfast? Why not?

Kiss Me Organic Matcha

Kiss Me Organics sent me a bag of their organic culinary grade matcha powder recently and so far, I love it. At $30 for a 113g bag, the price is certainly right - don't confuse this with the super expensive tea grades that you will find out there. For the same amount of top end matcha, you are looking at much higher prices. The ceremonial grade matcha at Teavana, for example, is $35 for only 80g and that is the low end of ceremonial grade and I have seen it go as high as $50 for a tiny 30g tin.

Matcha comes in grades all the way from Ceremonial, which is the highest grade meant for tea drinking as koicha, or thick tea style all the way down to culinary grade which is meant for use in baking, ice cream making, smoothies etc. The culinary grade isn't in any way "bad" tea, it's the same tea leaves but they use the more mature leaves and the stems aren't fully removed. Unless you are a green tea expert and/or plan to do the whole matcha thing with the whisk, the bamboo bowl, the perfect temperature water etc there is no need to buy the higher grade matcha to make a green tea latte at home.

I haven't baked with it yet but we have been putting a tsp in our morning smoothie and I have made a green tea latte or two. I love Starbucks green tea lattes and thought I was being a good girl by getting it made with 2% milk and only 1/2 pump of sweetener until I started poking around and found out that there is more crap in it that I didn't know about. The "matcha" powder they use has ground green tea, sugar, flavourings and finally some actual matcha. What the hell are "flavourings"?

Now I understand how a grande green tea latte with fat free milk can still be so high in calories - they all come from hidden sugar and there is no need for any "flavourings" at all so now I just dissolve this matcha powder in a bit of hot water, steam some 2% milk and froth it with my immersion blender, add a bit of honey, mix it all together and I am good to go. 

The only draw back is that this Green Tea is only available from Amazon but since I am a Prime member, I get free shipping and it arrived in two days. I am writing this at 9am on Monday and the site says that if I buy it within the next six hours, it will arrive by Tuesday so it really doesn't get quicker than that. I also know that not everyone lives in downtown Toronto with easy access to a ton of Japanese grocery stores and speciality tea stores so the online option is certainly handy.

Bottom line is that I was given the first bag for free so I could try it, review it and all that stuff but when this one runs out, I will be buying myself the next bag. 

My favourite smoothie combo, so far has been:

3/4 cup vanilla soy milk
1/4 cup non fat greek yogurt
1/2 frozen banana, cut in a couple chunks
1/4 cup frozen strawberries
1/4 cup baby spinach
1 tsp Kiss Me Organic Matcha

throw everything in the blender and whiz until pureed

I am not going to go on and on about Tabule in Leslieville because it's the third or fourth time I have eaten lunch there so, clearly, I love it. It's already been in The Week In Yum twice as you can see by reading it about it here. This week, I met up with my blogging babes, Robyn from Planet Byn and Libby Roach so that Robyn could finally taste the wonder that is the Tabule falafel. To be honest, everything at Tabule is delicious it's just the falafel is so often made badly that when you eat a perfect specimen, it's always a big deal. I have still not been to the Yonge St restaurant because it is not convenient for me so I can only vouch for the Queen St E outpost and this I can do whole heartedly. We shared those, a plate of hummas, tabule and labni, the spicy shrimp and some ma'anek which are just little spicy Lebanese beef sausages which I don't find particularly spicy but they are tasty nonetheless. 

Another fine lunch at Tabule with my girls

nothing is more obnoxious than a table full of us, photographing all of our food at the same time

Tuesday brought a lovely corn risotto so I could pretend it's warm and sunny out there
May is Love Your Lentils Month
On Wednesday, Canadian Lentils was hosting a kick off to their Lentil Hunter series with Chef Michael Smith. There is a great contest that coincides with the whole shebang at Love Your Lentils and all you have to do is watch all of the videos in the series, spot the little mini chef in each video and correctly answer the questions for all five videos. Chef Smith travelled to Morocco, India, Italy, France and Dubai to learn more about how lentils, deeply imbedded in each culture, are treated. I was shocked to learn that Canada actually produces the majority of the world's lentils with India coming in at a distant second. This was a fact that absolutely floored me because I just assumed that because India's cuisine almost hinges on the lentil that they would be the top producer.
Classic Umbrian lentils with spicy sausage were a fave
At Cirillo's Cooking Academy we were treated to a little culinary tour of lentil dishes and got to sample something from each country, ranging from a typical Indian dal to a crispy fritter Smith had in Dubai that contained nothing more than red lentils and spices but was one of my favourite lentil treats of the evening.
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It was a fun evening listening to Chef Smith share his travel stories and his passion for this Canadian agricultural powerhouse. It would seem that I have horseshoes up my bum right now because not only did I grab the grand prize in the Recipe Revelations Challenge but I won a great carry on suitcase from Projekt in a random draw that night (perfect for my upcoming trip to Portugal!) . I entered the Love Your Lentils contest this morning after watching all five videos so I am hoping for a 3X win! I would be a human Lentil Triple Crown winner, change my name to Triple L (lucky lentil lover) and take to wearing a bridle in the kitchen.
the man is seriously the friendly giant

Last but not least, I took Shack down to Queen St to check out our new, neighbourhood wine bar, Delecq. Hopes were high because if this place is good, it means we will finally have a spot that we can walk to where we can grab a glass of wine and some nibbles without the $20 cab trip home from Leslieville. I chatted with one of the owners and he is full of enthusiasm with hopes to bring in more tasty, seasonal treats to add to the menu. At this point, they are a cafe by day,  offering breakfast sandwiches and pastry and then charcuterie and cheese plates, some smoked fishy treats, a couple of salads and some sandwiches in the evening. Of course, they have a small but lovely wine list seeing that they are a wine bar.
 We both had a glass of red wine - I went with the Chilean Porta Cabernet Sauvignon reserve for a reasonable $8/glass and Shack tried the Italian pinot at $9. Since we were very peckish we ordered the mixed charcuterie/cheese plate that came with some branston pickle, arugula and these gorgeous little red pickled peppers from France. It was just the right amount for the two of us to share. We added  a caesar salad, the daily selection of olives and smoked mackerel pate to turn it into dinner. If The Kid would have been with us, he would have grabbed a fork and ate the smoked mackerel straight out of the ramekin like it was a bowl of pudding but since only I was eating it (Shack is not about the smoked fish) it was the only thing that was left unfinished.

The cheese was delicious but neither of us can figure out why it was served all crumbled up into little pellets. Perhaps the next time I will request that they just serve each cheese in a one little chunk  but the actual cheeses themselves were great.

Sure, there are a couple little bumps to be smoothed out here and there but with only one week under their belt, just opening May 1, it is a much needed addition to The Beach and once they get their sea legs, they should enjoy a very busy summer.

Fun things coming up this week:

This Monday, May 12m The Ontario Wine Society is hosting a little wine pop up at The Vintage Conservatory at 100 Lombard from 6-8pm for $20. This one will feature wines from Tawse and Sprucewood Shores. 

Crave TO is coming up so you might want to get tickets now. The fun outdoor event is being held on May 30 at Wychwood Barns and tickets are a very reasonable $20. Lots of great street food, craft beer and a trio of DJs make the event a must visit.

Facebook share of the Week: seems like a no brainer but it's not

Tweet of the week: 

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