Dirty Deeds, Done with Beef @ Yonge-Dundas Rib Fest

Now, some people might spend the May 24 weekend getting wasted at the cottage with the long-reigning monarch of a by-gone era. But for me, the unofficial start of summer is the Yonge-Dundas Rib Fest, right in downtown Flavourtown. You’ve got beef ribs, pork ribs, brisket sammies, a bloomin’ onion, churros…and even an AC/DC tribute band!? Shut the front, back, rear, side, aft, port and starboard doors, son!!!

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So, outta all the meat merchants, you KNOW I had to hit up Texas Jack’s from Arlington, Texas. Or, at least that’s what their sign said — the girl behind the counter was wearing a trucker hat from Martin’s BBQ in Nashville. Now, Texas BBQ is all about the brisket, and while you couldn’t get it lean or fatty, they were serving up chopped brisket sandwiches like they do after 2 pm at Franklin’s:

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Now, this sandwich might be like 14 bucks, but at least they don’t shortchange ya on the meat, shoving all kinds of chopped beefy goodness between two hot dog buns. The only thing I’d say, and I don’t say this every day, is that this brisket couldda used some sauce — but that’s actually my bad for not squirting some from the giant containers out front.

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Now, even though I saw em sitting right there on the grill, these beef ribs weren’t actually on the menu, which meant you had to make a special request. This also meant that the meat had probably been sitting on the grill too long — I had to really rip at it with my two front teeth. But hey, anytime you gotta fight your food, that just makes it taste better, right?

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Of course, even after putting more meat in my mouth than I did at the Montana Testicle Festival, you KNOW I still had room for dessert, bro! These chocolate-covered churros were two for six dollars, and came with an all-you-can-sprinkle sugar bar. Since the wind was blowing, there was so much white powder on my clothes that I looked like I was partying with Charlie Sheen, son!!!

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As for the tuneage, The AC/DC Show Canada was the closest we’ll get to catching the Thunder from Down Under without somebody like Axl Rose singing. And hey, they might not have giant cannons, an inflatable Rosie or a swinging Hell’s Bell, but at least they didn’t play any of the boring AC/DC songs from the last 20 years!!!

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Man, this was the best 38 dollar cheeseburger I’ve ever had!!!

What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a burger, bro? Now, I’m no stranger to great big burgers — you could say I’ve had a few in my day. But they don’t usually cost more than 25 bucks…and that’s if they’ve got six patties stacked between three grilled cheeses.

But now we’re hanging out at BlueBlood Steakhouse, this funky, old-school steak joint inside of Casa Loma. This place has got beef from all over the place — Japan, Australia, Alberta…including some real-deal Wagyu. Dude, I’m not gonna pay 200 bucks for a six-ounce Wagyu filet, though — that’s more like a snack, not a steak! But when I saw they had a Wagyu steakburger for $38, I figured I could go for that… But I gotta get some more beef in me first:

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Now, the great thing about this beef short rib ravioli is that they don’t stuff it with short rib — they put the beef on top. More beef for your buck, bro! And this meat is braised until it pretty much falls apart… it even tastes good with peas, and I don’t even like peas!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event. In this corner, you’ve got Wagyu beef, topped with perfectly melted cheese, some crispy onion rings, lettuce and tomato, all inside a brioche bun. It’s a little lighter, and more flavourful, than your typical burger, but still has a nice thickness to it. Oh, and it comes with some of the biggest fries I’ve ever seen in my life. Normally, I can eat four or five fries in a handful…but these fries are so huge, I could only eat one in five bites!!!

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Now, after eating a couple pounds of potatoes, I didn’t know if I had room for dessert. But man, their baked Alaska is on fire — literally!!!

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This Blowtorch Betty in Flavourtown is set ablaze with flaming overproof rum, singeing its meringue shell. On the inside, you’ve got dark chocolate ice cream and strawberry sorbet, with some raspberries and chocolate truffles. Probably the best 28-dollar dessert I’ve ever had!!!

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Racking up lamb @ Brothers Food & Wine

When’s the last time you had a real-deal gourmet meal on top of a subway station, bro? Don’t get me wrong, the Jamaican patties at Bathurst are legit, but that ain’t nothing compared to Brothers: Food & Wine, this funkalicious little joint right on top of Bay Station. This place is so low-key, they don’t even have a website, and they change their menu so often that you won’t find it online… But when I saw they got a much better review in the Times than Guy Fieri’s Times Square Kitchen and Bar, then I knew I had to check it out. Now feast your eyes on this luscious lambchop:

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Now, the lamb was nice ‘n fatty, just the way I like it, although it was definitely well beyond medium rare. They served it up on a bed of chickpeas and shepherd peppers, which I wouldn’t normally eat, but when you put some lamb on top, they magically disappear down my piehole:

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Now, I know this place has Wine in the name, but when do I ever drink wine, bro? Instead we’re checking out this funky collab sour beer between Brothers and Burdock Brewery:

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This ain’t no sissy saison, son! The mixed-fermentation sour beer is aged on Riesling lees and sea buckthorns, and at 5.5%, it’s not quite as sessionable as, say, Bud Light Orange. But if you like sours, then pucker up for this one, bro!!!

 

Funky four-course feast in Kensington Market

Now, when the weather’s actually nice outside, I like to head down to Kensington Market. You’ve got a buncha killer craft beer joints, some of the best tacos in Toronto — they’re even serving ’em up First Nations style! — and a Tom Cruise-themed burger joint. If it’s funky, you’ll find it here. I mean, where else are you gonna get real-deal Salvadorean pupusas in this city???

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This pupusa revuelta is stuffed with pork, beans and cheese — a true triple threat in Flavourtown! You’ve got some coleslaw on the side, and a not-so-mild sauce on top… all for just $3.65 at the Emporium Latino??? Shut the puerta de entrada!!!

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Now, we ain’t about to wash down that Salvadorean speciality with a Bud Light! Instead, I reached into the fridge and pulled out a Tepachito, this funky pineapple cider from Mexico. It’s like Pineapples Gone Wild, bro!!!

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But you KNOW that a pineapple soda isn’t gonna be the only beverage on this adventure! We’re busting out the German beer, along with a massive veal and lamb sammich at Otto’s Berlin Doner. The craft beer selection at this place kicks the crap outta Supermarket next door, and this meaty, saucy sammy is more than a light snack in Flavourtown. I went with a Hacker-Pschorr Weiss, a nice wheat beer from the old country that they actually have on tap, for $7.50. (Pretty sure the last time I went to Supermarket, I had a Corona…)

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Now, that doner might have been enough food for some skinny-pantsed hipster, but you KNOW I ain’t full yet, bro! So we’re heading over to Blackbird Baking Co, this funky bakery on Baldwin that makes everything fresh in-house…including this Roman-style mushroom pizza. Normally, I’m allergic to any pizza that doesn’t have meat on it, but when you’ve got the fresh mushrooms, black olives, poblanos and red peppers, I don’t think it needs anything else. One of the best vegetarian dishes I’ve had this year!

At this point I probably don’t have room for dessert…but I can always still cram a two-dollar churro down my piehole:

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Launching Lord Simcoe 1791 Lager (well ahead of Lord Simcoe Day…)

Now, I’ve always thought that Lord Simcoe Day was the weirdest holiday in Canada. It’s a random day off at the beginning of August celebrating some dude who died in like the 1800’s. But now that he’s got a beer named after him, I’ve got a reason to start celebrating Simcoe Day early this year!!!

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So, we’re hanging out at the Berkeley Bicycle Club for the launch of Lord Simcoe 1791 Lager, which happens to be the year Toronto was founded. This light, crisp beer would go good in the summer — it’s pretty much perfect for celebrating Simcoe Day on the dock of the bay, bro! It’s pretty easy drinking, but still has some flavour — more Steamwhistle than Molson Canadian. Oh, and it goes pretty good with Canadian food like pizza and poutine:

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Any party with a poutine station is my kinda place to be! And they’ve got the real-deal cheese curds here, too — none of that shredded cheddar garbage! Now, the first time I went up, they only had veggie pizza, so I had to go back for a couple slices of this culinary creation. I don’t know who thought putting zucchini on top of prosciutto was a good idea…but I don’t think you’d see me eating zucchini otherwise:

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Now, somehow this event was also sponsored by Jack Daniels, which meant I got to fire away with a 1791 Depth Charge — a shot of Jack and a pint of lager, son!!!

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Wait, did somebody say “Fire Away?” Cuz the Greg Williams Band was playing everything from Chris Stapleton and Kip Moore to Chuck Berry and The Band. You know there’s something bout a truck and a beer and a shot and a poutine, and some good ol’ rock ‘n roll, bro!!!

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These nachos are baked, not fried…

For me, Cinco de Mayo is not a one-meal deal, bro — so you KNOW I had to get some nachos in me before the weekend’s over! Sure, I couldda just stumbled down the street to Sneaky Dee’s, but I heard they had like an emo dance party or something. So instead we’re hanging out at Burrito Starz, this funky, not-so-little joint at Richmond and Spadina. This place used to be an Italian restaurant — they’ve still got pictures of Italy on the walls — but now they’re serving up oven-grilled burritos, quesadillas, and these never-deep-fried, oven-baked nachos:

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Now, I’m no Dali’s Llama, but when it comes to nachos, I try to be one with everything. That’s why these chips come fully loaded with tomatoes, green onion, red onion, green pepper, black beans, jalapenos, cilantro, corn, guac, salsa, burrito sauce and sour cream…oh, and steak. No soy veggie soy nachos, hermano!

Now, the problem with the baking process is that the cheese doesn’t stick to the chips, so the bottom chips are completely plain, while the top layer looks like this:

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So yeah, I guess if you’re gonna cook your nachos like a lasagna, you gotta layer the meat ‘n the cheese, bro! The people who owned the place before it turned Mexican couldda told em that!!!

Cinco de Mayo Mexican fiesta @ Quetzal

Now, if I had to pick a favourite holiday, it’s gotta be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Yarrr matey!) But, y’know, Cinco de Mayo is right up there, too. I’ll take any reason to drink beer and eat Mexican food, bro! But this year, we ain’t going for any old tacos or burritos — we’re hanging out at Quetzal, this funky Mexican joint at College and Bathurst, stumbling distance from Sneaky Dees…in case you’re looking for tacos or burritos. I think I’d rather have a half-moon empanada, though:

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This I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-A-Quesadilla stuffs smoked chicken into a blue corn masa shell, topped with holy mole amarillo, and side servings of crema and green salsa cruda, for that extra kick. And if that’s not enough masa, then how ’bout some avocado and white bean dip?

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Man, I could eat this all day. You’ve got the creamy avocado, some zesty white beans, queso fresco, a coupla pepitas–even some cactus chunks. Dude, cactus chunks is what they called me after I spewed at the Delta Tau Chi kegger in college!!!

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Now, the idea of this place is family-style plates. And you’re probably gonna wanna share, unless you think you can eat a whole skirt steak by yourself. I dunno man, I could probably pull it off…but then I wouldn’t have any room for some seabream:

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Why yes, that is an entire fish, grounded ‘n pounded chicken parm style with some Mexican herbs and spices. If this dish was a classic rock song, it would be She Sells Sanctuary, son!!!

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Now, I don’t remember who ordered the kale salad, but that person has already been kicked out of the Triple B Dinner Krew. On the other hand, when it comes to side dishes, these roasted sunchokes with some more of that mole were pretty tasty. Dude, you could put mole on a flip-flop and it would still taste good!!!

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Of course, even after that culinary land, sea and air adventure, we still had room for dessert. And this dish is bringing another guest to the party–we’re talking avocado leaf ice cream with cocoa flakes and candied crickets! Now, I’ve never actually chowed down on chapulines before, but the way they do ’em up here makes ’em taste kinda like raisins. I dunno if I’d wanna put ’em in a taco, though, bro…