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Friday, November 14, 2014

The Week In Yum Nov 8-14 Paula Costa DInner at The Depanneur, Zomato Meetup at Pai and Getting Ready To Go To Jordan

the lovely and talented Paula Costa




I was a lucky lady this weekend because I scored two spots at Paula Costa's Ottelenghi Inspired Dinner at The Depanneur on Sunday! Because Shack is in the middle east eating actual Ottelenghi style food at the moment, I took my friend, the female half of the MVPs. Because I am a total idiot who has nothing on her mind but her impending trip, I made my friend pick me up to get me there for 6:30 only to find out the doors opened at 7:30 and dinner was not until 8! 
DOH

We had some tea at Starbucks and killed an hour so by the time we were in there and seated, we were starving. From the hummus to the olive oil and apple cake dessert, everything we put in our gaping mouths was delicious. We both lost our minds over the fennel salad and the chicken was perfect. My friend doesn't really drink so we were the only people who didn't bring wine but you are welcome to bring a bottle or two for yourself. 
roast chicken with sumac, za'atar and lemon
A few times a month, a different person takes over the helm and cooks up a feast for the members of the "supper club". It cost's $40 pp to join the club and your membership expires at the end of the evening so you are basically attending a private meeting, being fed food at your meeting and if you choose to bring a beverage, so be it. Anyone who would like to prepare a meal here can sign on so you never know who will be cooking at any given time. It might be an established chef wanting to try out some new recipes, a blogger or a food truck operator.

Click to check out a couple of upcoming dinners here
green beans with walnuts and orange and couscous with apricot and squash
 Paula writes The Dragon's Kitchen and is a blogger that I have gotten to know a bit over the last little while and I jumped at the chance to taste her food. The photos of the sweet potato galette alone are pretty much responsible for my decision to attend and I was not disappointed. Tender, flaky and butter with soft slices of cooked yam, a smattering of pumpkin seeds....oh my.

fennel and feta salad with pomegranate

Sweet Potato Gallette


Nathan's Famous New York Style Pickles



I attended a pickle tasting party last week and the stars of the show were the Nathan's Famous sours and half sours. Nobody was more shocked than I was that both Shack and I chose the half sours over the Strubs because we have always been a hardcore Strubs family. Nathan's got wind of our pickle devotion and offered to send me some pickles to try out at home and they came right this week! I was pretty excited over the arrival of the sweet horseradish pickles because I love sweet pickles. Neither of my dumb menfolk like sweet pickles so these are going to be all mine. 

The horseradish is really strong in these puppies, which I love but be forewarned that if you are not a fan of the radish of the horse, you are going to hate them. I ate a few slices straight out of the jar and that was enough for one sitting - I can't gorge on them the way I can the regular pickles but that is not a bad thing. I have a plan for what to do with them but it will have to wait until next month when I am home again.

Nathan's pickles come from the same company that has been serving up delicious Kosher hot dogs since the company began in 1916 on Coney Island. The pickles arrived in Canada this past September and appear to be taking the place by storm and for good reason. These are damned fine pickles. For now, you can buy your own pickles at Loblaws, No Frills, Fortino's and Value Mart. Just keep your dirty paws off of mine.

Pai Northern Thai Kitchen



I looooooooooove Thai food so when I got the invite from Zomato to join them for a little meetup at Pai, I was pretty damned excited that A. it was at Pai and B. that I would be able to attend because we don't leave til Saturday. Did I mention that WE ARE GOING TO SPEND TWO WEEKS IN JORDON AND ARE LEAVING SATURDAY???
Yeah, I didn't think so.

So, we have the private dining room behind the bar and there are at least 20 bloggers and general active online reviewers there to meet and enjoy an evening out eating and talking about food. If you haven't heard of Zomato yet, you will. They are a restaurant review/social media platform that originated in India and have finally arrived in Canada, starting with Toronto. I discovered them when I was looking for information on some of the smaller Portuguese restaurants that we ate in on our trip to Lisbon and the only place that I could find anything at all was on a site called Zomato. It looked like a European Urban Spoon or Yelp so instead of just getting the info I was looking for, I left reviews in english as well in case other adventurous travellers were looking to eat somewhere off the beaten path.

As soon as I found out they were here in Toronto, I hooked up with Jimena, a lovely Spanish Zomatite who has relocated to our fine city to get things underway here and I have been adding reviews like a madwoman ever since. I really like that someone from Zomato actually goes to EVERY restaurant listed and they check up again on them periodically to ensure that the information is still current. I am loving it.

Okay, back to dinner. We were served a set menu but since I eat everything, that was okay with me but I can't wait to go back and order other stuff to try.  We started with a tray of crispy shrimp chips, chicharron, rice noodle nests and a big pile of Som Tum Tad ($12), a green papaya salad with salty little dried shrimp. I didn't not like it but I wouldn't order it again but that was the only thing I can say that about from the entire dinner, so it's all good. The shrimp chips and the chicharron were not oily and nice and crispy - checking out a couple of deep fried items is always an indicator of skill in the kitchen and these were great.

For mains we had a green curry chicken ($16) served in a gutted coconut that was brimming with freshness. I could taste lime leaf and lemongrass and it was clear that the paste is made in house.  
I was surprised by the level of heat and happy to say that although too spicy for a couple of people, most of us were going back for more until the coconuts were empty. Pad thai ($14) with chicken was also delicious, fresh and full of tamarind and heat, the noodles soft and springy and not stuck together but not overly oily either. Wonderful stuff. There was a little container of homemade chili oil that only a few of us braved but none of us who did had any complaints.



The third dish we had was a pork larb that was a special and not on the menu. Larb is a very traditional Laos dish and it's basically a meat salad, which might not be your thing but I love it. this Northern Thai version was made with minced pork meat with some liver and kidney goodness, fried up with lots of spices - it was the first time I have seen white cardamom- and most importantly, pigs blood. It's crispy and spicy and chewy and, perhaps not for everyone, but I would absolutely get it again.
The meal ended with a beautifully presented platter of sticky rice on shiny leaves and a slab of ripe mango.

an example of small worlditis - Chef Nuit Regular's son and my son go to school together and are friends in geekdom


Pai Northern Thai Kitchen on Urbanspoon






Apart from the dinner out on Sunday and my dinner at Pai, it was a whirlwind week of getting ready to take The Kid to see his father in Jordan. We had to get out summer clothes, pack, launder, buy last minute supplies, get all of his school work in order because even smarty pants have to do homework when they take a 2 week trip mid semester. Pretty much the only thing I actually cooked all week was Spaghetti With Panko,


We will get there Sunday night so you might want to sign up to follow me via email up there on the right as I am going to try to post updates daily. Expect hummus, hummus and more hummus.
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The next time I post, it might be on our layover in Vienna while eating little cakes or in Jordan, impersonating two zombies, pie eyed and drooling with exhaustion, wandering the street with hummus in our hair after about 18 hours of travel.

Have a great week!




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