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The Week In Yum Jan 23-29 Winterlicious, The King Street Social, La Cubana, Franks and Shakes and Lentils Coming Out of My Pores

Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Butter Poached Jumbo Shrimp from King Street Social's Upcoming Valentine's Day Menu

La Cubana

 Oh my good god, we ate out so much this week I am almost embarrassed. It was a wealth of belly riches that started off with a bang after a trip to La Cubana on Roncesvalles. We were in the west end last Friday and hungry when Shack remembered that his friend recommended a place that makes a great short rib kimchi sandwich and since I am always up for Korean anything, I was in. He got the name (La Cubana is Korean??? okay, who can explain what these crazy kids come up these days) and address, we parked and when we rolled up to the door I was sure that we had the wrong place since this shiny, white, modern take on a fifties diner was most definitely NOT Korean but he insisted that this was the correct address, so in we went.

Does this look like the place to get a kimchi sandwich??
I am sooooo glad that we went even though it wasn't a kimchi shortrib sandwich, it was a Guava Shortrib Medianoche ($9) . A medianoche is a Cuban sandwich on a nice bun as opposed to the usual, crusty Cuban loaf and it was delicious. Because we sat at the bar, we watched the chef everyone's lunch so our own order of a sandwich and Black Bean Soup with Chorizo Jerky ($5) soon expanded to include Habanero Glazed Fried Squid ($7), Tostones Rellenos with Beef Picadillo ($6) and side of Red Cabbage Slaw ($4). We would have kept ordering if this really well priced food wasn't so filling but it just means we are going to have to return asap to try the rest of the menu.

My black bean soup was delicious and if you held a gun to my head and forced me to come up with one complaint it might be that it was too rich, too filling and left me unable to eat more of the other things and although I loved it, I would only order it again if my meal mate would promise to share it. Our fried squid was really soft, not chewy but with a light, crispy coating that somehow retained it's crispness despite being napped in a spicy/sweet habanero sauce and it was the dish that both of us could not shut up about all day. I am not sure how this place was so under my radar but it's certainly right up there near the top now.

Saturday night we ventured out to the west end to have dinner at my old friend and amazing caterer and godfather to The Kid, Michael Tong of Sublime Catering. Because I told him that I am obsessed with onsen tomago and he wanted to show off his sous vide machine (I am currently working on getting one myself so WATCH OUT), he prepared the delicate eggs that are poached in the shell until they reach the perfect degree of doneness, which just happens to be somewhere between 63.5C and 65C depending on how runny you like your yolks.
As an added bonus, he served it atop a wonderful kale salad and some crispy, fried pork belly. The Kid ate 5 eggs. FIVE EGGS. And that was just the first course. Okay, he ate five eggs and we drank five bottles of wine. Even Steven.

Shakes and Franks

We also finally tried out Shakes and Franks, a brand, spanking new hot dog/poutine/shake shop in the heart of The Beach on Queen St East. They pride themselves on using the best quality products to produce their fare and it really appears to be the real deal.The hot dogs are Nathan's Famous, widely considered to be one of the very best all beef dog available, the shakes are made from good, local ice cream, whole milk and a crazy array of add ins and the poutine was also delicious with a generous amount of cheese curds and very tasty gravy. You can get all manner of crazy french fry concoctions but we just went old school for our first foray so we could honestly assess the goods.

The Kid ordered the Banana Cream Pie Shake (fresh banana, graham cracker crust, whipped cream and caramel) and , personally, I couldn't have more than a sip because it's insanely sweet and rich but he said it was amazing. They got the Cowboy Dog which gets you a deep fried, bacon wrapped frank, with caramelized onions, bourban bbq sauce and cheddar but I ordered a plain hot dog and garnished it myself at home with my Nanny Hudson's Homestyle Ketchup, Nathan's Horseradish Sweet Pickles and some deli mustard because A) I wanted to really taste the dog and B) I am a condiment addict and I wanted my own stuff on there. The only thing that will keep us from eating there more often is the lack of seating because I would rather eat it hot than bring it home to eat.
Shake's and Franks, Welcome To the 'Hood!

Speaking of eating in the Beach, we also had dinner at The Stone Lion and Shared this pretty decent pad thai for a pub and surprisingly delicious lobster poutine 

 The Kid and I continue our love affair with Turkish coffee in all it's cardamomy splendour

One of the reasons we ate out a ton and I did little cooking is because I am in recipe development hell right now and it's nothing but lentils, lentils, lentils.

Winterlicious at King Street Social in the Hyatt Regency Toronto

From top left: Tofu and Vegetable Steamed Wonton Soup, Pan Roasted Ricotta and Baby Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast underneath, King St Beef Lo Mein in the corner, Homemade Tofu with Black Bean and then a Grilled Chicken Satay and the big photo is the 40 Day Aged Rib Eye with Teriyaki Prawns

Last but not least, it's time for Winterlicious! I was invited to a media preview at King St Social, the restaurant at the Hyatt Regency on King where we got to try a few items that will be featured in their lunch and dinner prix fixe menus as well as their upcoming Valentine's Day menu. After a welcome French Martini in the Mix Bistro Bar, we were all ushered downstairs to have dinner at the restaurant in their private room, separated by the dining room by a wall of glass.

a lovely table was set for us in the private dining room downstairs

At media dinners, I always appreciate a well lit area where the dishes are plated and available for photo taking so that I can take nice shots to share with you and, when it's time to actually eat, I can concentrate on my meal instead of trying to find a way to make the food look appetizing in the dark at the table while my meal goes cold. Ah, the hard life of a food blogger - cold food, soft focus and low light lol.  Full disclosure- I didn't get to taste all of the things that we photographed as those dishes  spanned the entire lunch/dinner/valentine's day offerings but everything certainly looked good, didn't it.

Chef Wesley Boodhram came out to explain the inspiration behind the menus and told us that, for Winterlicious,  he asked his kitchen staff to come up with dishes inspired by their favourite street foods and, as a result, most of the menu has a definite Asian feeling to it.

Dinner started off with a bowl of Tofu and Vegetable soup with steamed wonton and a Red Oak  and Aged Ontario Goat Cheese salad, followed by the Grilled Chicken Satay. All three of these dishes are the featured starters on both the lunch and the dinner menu. That was followed by three mains- King St Lo Mein from the lunch menu and a bowl of homemade Tofu with Black Bean on Udon Noodles, which is available on both menus and a Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Butter Poached Jumbo Prawns with a tasty cauliflower mash from the Valentine's Dinner  menu. We were served a Trius Riesling which was a good choice, pairing well with all of these asian flavours. A Winterlicious dinner will cost $35 pp while the lunch menu will cost only $23.

For dessert, we were served a little cup of Passion Fruit Creme Brulee off of the Valentine's Day menu. That particular dinner will set you back $49.95 per person  and it includes a complimentary glass of sparkling, the official Valentine's Day libation.

Lemon and Raspberry Tart for both lunch and dinner

Poached Haddock and Wasabi Emulsion with Red Jasmine Rice and Pan Fried Kale

Many thanks to Hyatt's Chef Boodhram, Vivek Satoskar and Nancy MacDonald for their warm hospitality and to Mary Tang of Mary's Happy Belly for letting me tag along for a lovely evening

Superbowl Sunday is almost upon us and although I don't care about football one bit, I love a gathering. In honour of this time honoured sporting tradition, I came up with my dream menu for a Superbowl Party for people who want to move beyond things that contain cream cheese, jarred salsa food shaped like pigskins.

Although many of my food loving friends and colleagues do not enjoy the 'Licious's, I actually do enjoy trying new restaurants, especially the more pricy places without breaking the bank before I decide if I even like them. My friend,  the cheeky 'Licious hating Libby Roach , had me in stitches all day after reading her diatribe about all of the ways she hates it. I will most likely hit up two more restaurants by next Friday so make sure to check back in same time, same bat channel to get the low down.

Pin of the week: This inspired me to make my own version which will be up soon by the way

Instagram of the week: My favourite new feed found this week

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