Slamming seven Spanish tapas @ Bar Chica

Now, we don’t always eat tapas on Triple B. I mean, why settle for a buncha small plates when you can have one really, really big plate, bro? But we’re hanging out at Bar Chica, this new funky tapas place on Portland, just south of King West, so we can’t just order one thing, or two things, or three things…we’re polishing off seven different tapas, son — and I’ll probably still have room for dessert. 😉

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Now, you don’t ride for free at this bread rodeo, but this toasted sourdough with tomato butter might actually be worth paying for, bro!

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Their vieras crudas (raw scallops) is a playful, mysterious little dish. For one thing, there’s a lot more melon than there is fish — the scallops are hidden at the bottom, so you gotta go diving for em. But hey, at least I ate a green thing today…

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Up next, we’ve got some culinary classic rock en español in Flavourtown, with these jamón croquetas. Only these aren’t your everyday croquettes, bro. Instead of putting the ham inside, it’s stuffed with cheese and truffles, and then there’s a slice of jamón on top…so it’s almost better if you don’t use a fork and knife, to get everything in one bite.

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Up next is another Spanish classic, patatas bravas. But unlike Bar Isabel, which gives you a whole plate of po-ta-toes, at Chica you only get two, and they’re done up all millefeuille style, so you can’t really eat a steak with these, bro…

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Speaking of steak, they do have ribeye on the menu, with blistered shishitos and plenty of Bearnaise on the side. You get maybe six pre-cut pieces of steak to an order — so maybe like eight ounces — but after all this other stuff, that’s OK with me.

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The next two dishes came out at the same time, which I think might be against the law in Tapastown. But anyways, on the left you’ve got grilled octopus with eggs (an off-menu, limited-time special) and on the right, smoked corn topped with corn foam. Man, I didn’t even know that corn foam was a thing. It tastes very…foamy?

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But after all that commotion back there, we’ve still got room for dessert. This ying yang pie is actually two tartas in one — on the left, a chocolate tart with hazelnut spread and brown butter ice cream, and on the right, apple tart with almond ice cream and caramel sauce. Dude, this dessert is as Spanish as tarta de manzana, hermana!!!!

These deep-fried lamb balls are magically delicious, bro!

Now, we’ve had a whole lotta lamb here on Triple B, so when I heard that Bar Koukla, this funky Greek tapas place in Little Portland, was serving up lamb three ways, you KNOW we had to check it out, bro! Man, this place is serving up lamb ribs, sweetbreads… and these round mounds of Flavourtown, lamb croquettes:

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No, we’re not scarfing sheep scrotum, son — these croquettes are stuffed with braised lamb and halloumi cheese, and served with a feta donkey sauce. They only come three to an order, but I could pound these balls all day, bro…

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…except then I wouldn’t have room for lamb ribs. Now, when I’ve had lamb ribs before, I was usually disappointed; either the portion was too small or they just weren’t meaty enough. But these might be some of the best lamb ribs I’ve ever had, nice and tender with a decent amount of meat. You do only get five bones to an order — but that’s OK as long as you’re eating at least two other things.

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And that brings us to some sweet, sweetbreads. We don’t know whether these were lamb or veal sweetbreads — you can’t really dust for sweetbreads, bro. But that’s some tasty thymus gland, son! The rest of the Triple B Krew was too scared to try ’em, but I’ve actually had sweetbreads a couple times before (last time, they were Kentucky fried), so I knew what I was getting into. And call me crazy, but these kinda taste like chicken karaage, or maybe kung pow chicken, minus the pow.

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Now, the last time I went to a Greek restaurant, they didn’t even have any Greek beer. But I guess Bar Koukla has a better beer guy, cuz they had a handful of Greek brews to choose from, including a couple I’d never even seen before. This Olympica Magna Pale Ale doesn’t really taste like an IPA — it’s got more of a malty finish — but it does go pretty good with lamb.

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Now I’ve had Volkan Blonde a couple times before, but this is the first time I’ve even seen Volkan Black. And you know what they say, once you go black…you’re gonna hafta wheel me outta here, bro! This dark lager almost tastes like a porter, but it’s got a hint of honey at the end, for a little kick of sweetness. Yo sweetness is my weakness, son!!!!!

 

 

 

 

Finally… Taco Fest has come back to Toronto!!!!!!

When it’s summertime in Toronto, that means there’s a different food festival going on just about every weekend. Of course, thanks to COVID, we haven’t been able to hit up any festivals since 2019. But now that everything is reopening, festival season is back in full swing, starting with one of my personal favourites, Taco Fest!!!!

I actually hadn’t been to Taco Fest since 2016, so this trip to Ontario Place was looooong overdue. And in a city where you can pay $31 for three lamb birria tacos, it’s nice to know that most tacos here were anywhere from $4 to $8 max. That means for 80 bucks I had enough for 10 tacos, a couple Coronas (literally the only beer they had, bro) and maybe even an ice cream for dessert. Can’t go wrong with that at all!!!!

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Balam suadero taco
We’re starting off right with some beef brisket, son! Balam lets you add your own toppings, so I loaded this one up with onions, pico, cilantro and lime…to the point where you can’t even see the meat.

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Marquesita taco campechano
Steak meats chorizo in this Flavourtown double down, with just a little hot sauce on top to kick it up a notch.

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Piñata Tacos Grilled Cactus
Had to order this so I could say I had one green thing. Crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside…  Not just one of the Top 5 cactus tacos I’ve ever had, but one of the Top 3 tacos I had at the festival — for reals!!!

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Tamarind Amritsari Fish Taco
This Indian food truck is kicking it up a notch with this breaded fish taco topped with all kinds of veggies. With all this salad, guess I didn’t need that cactus taco after all!

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Betty’s Kitchen Deep Fried Pigs Ears
Now, this one is maybe a little too funky. Pig ears basically taste like you’re chewing on crunchy gristle, without any meat. Hey, I’ll try anything once…but I wouldn’t try this one twice.

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Pico de Gallo chicken milanesa taco
Nice, thick piece of breaded chicken breast with just a bit of chipotle to kick it up a notch.

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Tacos de la Mer Pad Thai fish
Not your typical take on a fish taco, with beer battered cod topped with pad Thai sauce, pico de gallo, bean sprouts and cilantro. Fish is hot and crispy, and the sauce really kicks it up a notch. Good stuff!

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Atomic 10 K-Pop Taco
Korean BBQ beef served cold with bahn mi toppings. It basically tastes like a bahn mi, without the baguette.

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Bacon Nation birria bacon taco
Now, you could line up for an hour at Birria Catrina… or you can go a couple stalls down for this bad boy. Birria with bacon? Shut the back door, bro!!!

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Dope As Duck Dope Ass Taco (duck)
Dope As Duck had one of the longest lines at this shindig, with carnitas loaded fries, churro donuts and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos street corn. But since I’m only here to eat tacos, I’m going for this Dope Ass duck taco. Nice, crispy shell with pulled duck, salsa, sour cream… Not bad, but probably not worth waiting 30 minutes for.

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After all those tacos back there, I think I’m pretty full — this avocado ice cream cone oughtta do’er.

Real-deal South Indian deep in the heart of Scarborough!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great restaurants in downtown Toronto… but sometimes, to get the real deal, you gotta go a bit further from the CN Tower. So we’re hanging out at Anjappar, this authentic South Indian restaurant in Scarborough, a few blocks from Kennedy Station and just down the street from a WalMart. This place is actually a chain in India, with over 30 locations — and they’ve even got three in the GTA, with one in Brampton and another in Mississauga. So you know it’s gotta be good, right?

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And hey, while they do serve Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala, there is also a lot of food here that you won’t find at an Indian buffet. We’re talking Mutton Chukka Masala, Tandoori Prawns and a funky vegetarian dish called Chettinad Kozhambu in a tamarind-based gravy. Man, even the veggie dishes here taste good!!!!

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We’re starting off with sambar, a lentil stew that’s packing more of that sour tamarind taste. I get the feeling that they use a whole lotta tamarind in South Indian cuisine…

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Dude, this Mutton Chukka Masala is sooooo outta bounds, bro! You KNOW I’m a glutton for mutton, and this goat curry doesn’t disappoint! You’ve definitely got some tamarind in here, as it starts off sour, but ends with a strong, spicy kick. And the meat is super-tender, too. One of the best goat dishes I’ve ever had, it goes great with both naan and some potato masala, which is like mashed potatoes on flavour steroids, son!!!

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But now we’re gonna kick it up a notch with prawn biryani! After that last biryani I had from King Palace, I was surprised that this was the least spicy dish on the plate. But the shrimp were super juicy and tender…we might have left a bit of rice and sauce behind, but we definitely ate all of the good stuff, bro!!!!!!

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Gonna take it right into the danger zone with Top Gun Burgers!!!!

Man, I don’t think I’ve even ordered Uber Eats ever since I had to spend time in “self-isolation” after my trip to Iceland (cuz that was still a thing back in January). But I can’t be rollin’ out all over this city, looking for Toronto’s greatest burgers, bacon and beer every night. Sometimes, I just wanna stay in and watch Top Gun for the 100,000th time. You KNOW I feel the need for speed, bro!!!!

And hey, if I’m gonna watch my second-favourite Scientologist (John Travolta FTW!) fly fighter planes, then there’s only one place I’m ordering takeout from, and that’s Top Gun Burgers, this funky little joint in Kensington Market. Not all of their sammies are named after characters from the movie — but a few of ’em certainly are. I guess you can’t copyright the word Goose, eh? 😉

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Now, I haven’t even seen Top Gun: Maverick yet, but it can’t be as good as the original, right? And when it comes to Top Gun Burgers, this OG is baller like Anunoby, bro! Maverick is a beefy double cheeseburger that’s almost as big as Tom Cruise in real life. You’ve got lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mushrooms, a fried egg, and all sorts of donkey sauce oozing all over the place. Clean up in Aisle Flavourtown, bro!!!!

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Goose is actually a chicken burger, which kinda makes sense. I mean, you’re not gonna find foie gras at a fast food burger joint (unless it’s Holy Chuck), so chicken is about as close as it gets. Now, this ain’t yer average chicken burger, either. Instead of one chicken patty, you’ve got four chicken strips. And yes, it’s about as messy as you might imagine, cuz it’s kinda hard to keep four separate pieces of chicken between two buns. But that chicken is tender, juicy, and just a little peppery… Show me the way home, honey!!!!

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And last but not least, it’s Iceman, a Philly cheesesteak sandwich smothered in queso and donkey sauce. You’ve actually got a few unusual veggies here besides onions and peppers — lettuce, tomato and pickles — but the main ingredients are definitely cheese and beef. On that note, the steak is not thinly sliced, it’s cubed, which gives it a little more chew. And that cheese sauce is soooo outta bounds, bro! You can be my wingman any time!!!!

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And yes, I did crush all three sandos by myself, bro. I don’t even feel uncomfortably full, but you can bet that in a couple hours, I’m gonna feel the need for something else. Let’s just say it’s time to buzz the porcelain tower… 😛

Viva la birria @ Rasa!!!

So, we’re hanging out on the patio at Rasa, this funky little joint in Harbord Village, within stumbling distance of Spadina. At this place, instead of dividing their menu by appetizers, mains and dessert (although they do have dessert), they split it up by veggies, seafood and meat. So you probably know which section I’m skipping, right? 😉

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Yup, we’re heading right past the veggies and diving into some popcorn shrimp, son! These crunchy, juicy nuggets of flavour are topped with a chipotle buffalo hot sauce, herb crema, pickled carrots and cilantro, making them so messy, you can’t really eat em with your hands, bro. It seems to me like Rasa’s MO is to take finger food and de-finger-ize it, as you’ll see coming right up…

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Now, birria tacos are usually served with the consomme on the side, so you can dunk your tacos like so. But at this place, the sauce already comes on top of the tacos… which means it’s about to get messy, cuz there’s no way I’m using a fork and knife to eat tacos, cabrón! (Let’s just say they’re gonna need some extra Tide Pods for that cloth napkin!) But with that said, these lamb birria tacos were pretty tasty, a nice hard shell with lamb and cheese inside, and some pickled onions, cilantro and that messy ol’ sauce on top. I gotta say though, at $31 for three tacos, these were even pricier than the mushroom birria tacos I had a couple months ago. So I dunno if birria is always this expensive, or I’m just looking for love in all the wrong places, bro…

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But man, after a few bites of non-finger finger food in Flavourtown, we’ve definitely still got room for dessert. And one again, they are taking something you would normally eat with your hands, and making it very difficult to do so with their PB&J ice cream sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, this dessert is too legit to quit — you’ve got peanut butter ice cream sandwich between peanut macarons, and then they put bumbleberry jam on top? Shut the back door, bro! But let’s just say that my cloth napkin looked like a crime scene in Flavourtown after I finished this bad boy off…

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And when it comes to beer, their list is kinda short, but they do have a few good brews from the likes of Collective Arts and Burdock. This here’s a Burdock Cherry B, and it’ll put a smile on your face 10 miles wide! This dry-hopped cherry sour is made with real Niagara region cherries, so you know it’s gotta be good. Who needs Cherry Pie when you can have Cherry B, Bro-rrant???

This Atlantic cod tajine didn’t actually come in a tajine. (Apparently, they were all out of tajines…)

I first had tajine at Sultan’s Tent, this funky Moroccan joint near St. Lawrence Market, and it was pretty legit. So now we’re hanging out at Luma, this seafood joint in the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre, and I see they have an Atlantic cod tajine on the menu (although they spell it “tagine”), so I figure I should probably check it out…right after I go to town on this grilled octopus:

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They say it’s just a starter, but this could probably be a meal in itself — if you’re on, like, a Mediterranean diet or something. Octopus was just tender enough, not too chewy, on a bed of spinach, with some tomatoes and black olives for an extra little kick. Nothing wrong with that at all.

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Now, when I saw the tajine come out to other tables in the proper clay pot, I thought this was gonna be good. But then they serve mine on a great big plate, like we’re at a French restaurant or something. Well, it turns out this place only has six main courses to choose from, and they happened to have a run on tajines before we got there, so they musta figured that if they brought it out on a plate, the white guy probably wouldn’t notice. WRONG!

But hey, the flavours of this dish were still on point. Nice, flaky fish, with a tangy sauce and just a little bit of heat that kinda sneaks up on ya. This might actually be the best tajine I’ve ever been served on a plate! 😛

Going Through The Wreckage @ The Morning After

Now, we don’t always get up for brunch on Triple B, but when I heard about this funky little joint called The Morning After, within stumbling distance from the Rogers Centre on Fort York Blvd, it just felt like it was calling my name. When it comes to hangover cures, they’re offering up this funkalicious take on a breakfast poutine — this is The Wreckage, bro!!!!

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Now, what we’ve got here are some home fries, topped with cheese curds, hollandaise, two kinds of meat — bacon AND smoked meat, bro! — and then they put a fried egg on top??? Shut the front, back and side doors, son!!!!!!!

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The beer selection here is pretty boring, so instead we’re going for a prosecco supernova in the sky, Bro-asis! This Mango Tango is a crazed gyration of the rock generation, with bubbly, mango nectar and grenadine, plus a strawberry on top. But you KNOW we ain’t done yet, bro…

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The Deep End is taking me out to the ballgame with some baby blue curacao, along with lychee, lemon and prosecco. I’m about to dive into an ocean of these, Jacques Cous-bro!!!!!

ROOFTOP PATIO EATS: Bacon-wrapped steak and an Aussie parmy @ Hemingway’s

Finally, patio season has come back to Toronto, bro!!! We’re heading up on the rooftop at Hemingway’s, the legendary Thunder from Down Under in Yorkville, and down through my piehole goes parm ‘n chips, mate!!!!!

But before we get to this Aussie pub classic… it’s time for some bacon-wrapped steak bites.

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Now, you know a place has been around for a while if they’ve still got steak bites on the menu. But Hemingway’s is keeping this culinary classic rock current by wrapping them in extra crispy bacon, bro! These Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in Flavourtown go down nicely with some BBQ sauce on the side…but I think they taste even better with ranch!!!!

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But now they’ve got me ringin’ Hells Bells for the main event!!! It’s not really known how the Chicken Parma came over to Australia , but apparently it’s as popular at the pubs down under as AC/DC and Fosters. And unlike most places over here that serve it with spaghetti, a proper Aussie Parmy comes with a side of fries — I like the way they think!

Hemingway’s Parmy, which is only available on Wednesdays, is coming in hot ‘n thick with ham, tomato sauce and a nice layer of cheese on top. The fries are the extra-crispy kind you’d used to get at a school cafeteria, which is kinda like a comfort food flashback in Flavourtown. And between the side salad and those carrots and celery sticks, I’ve probably eaten more veggies this evening than I have in a month…

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Now, since they don’t actually serve Fosters at Hemingway’s, I had to go with something Canadian for beer. So I decided to try an Amsterdam Fria Cerveza, which they had on special, to get the summer started. But I dunno, bro, I was expecting something more like Flying Dog’s Numero Uno, a Mexican lager with a hint of lime brewed right in, which I had a few summers ago down south. Instead, all I really tasted here was lime… No mas!!!

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Instead I opted for a Muskoka Detour ISA — that’s India Session Ale, son! A lighter, easier-drinking take on a IPA, at 4.3%, it does have some hoppiness to it…but when it comes to lighter IPAs, I prefer the flavour of a Blood Light. (That’s right, I said Blood Light, bro!!!!)

Toronto Blue Jays are selling $1 hot dogs on Tuesdays…so I ate 10 of them.

Take me out to the ballgame, bro! Last night, my double bacon bro Jake Burger and the Chicago White Sox were in town…but we’re not eating burgers, cuz it’s Loonie Dog Night at the ballpark, son! That’s right, every Tuesday you can buy a hot dog for just one dollar — or do what I did, and get 10 for $10.

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Now I gotta say, these seem smaller than your regular ballpark franks — I could scarf ’em down in just a couple bites. And unlike in Chicago, where you’ve got tons of toppings you can pile on, our continued pandemic precautions mean your only options are packets of ketchup, mustard and relish:

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While I did grab about as many condiment packets as I could carry in one hand, I still did not have enough to go around. About halfway through, I was all outta mustard, and for the last five dogs, I only had two packets of ketchup and three packets of relish left — so some dogs got only relish, and others only got ketchup:

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Man, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten this many hot dogs in one sitting before. (I once scarfed down 10 Doritos Locos Tacos, but that’s a different story, bro!) And I didn’t start to feel full until maybe the seventh or the eighth. Once I got to the end, I still wasn’t too uncomfortable, but I did NOT need to have another hot dog, put it that way…

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But you KNOW I still had room for dessert, bro! We’re talking soft-serve ice cream in a batting helmet, with vanilla on top, and chocolate on the bottom:

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OK, so I was getting pretty full after the ice cream. I had to eat it pretty fast, cuz it was like 29 in the shade last night, and I didn’t want it all to melt… It’s a good thing it doesn’t come in a full-sized batting helmet, bro — I don’t think I’d have room for that.

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