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About greedocatucci

Guy Fieri only wishes he had my hair.

POUTINE WEEK 2016: It’s pulled pork o’clock somewhere

With every freakin’ diner, drive-in and dive in the city serving up pulled pork, it was just a matter of time before I had some pulled-pork poutine this week. But hey, if you’re gonna put pulled pork on poutine, you gotta do it right. I wouldn’t go for that processed crap you’d get at Harvey’s—gimme something served up by a pork ninja, like the ones at Wenona Craft Beer Lodge.

This funky Bloor St. joint was probably a Portuguese dive bar in its past life, but they’ve really made it nice and cozy, putting canoe paddles up on the wall, craft beers in the fridge, old-timey bluegrass on the stereo, Turner Classic Movies on TV…oh, and real-deal BBQ in the kitchen.

pulled_pork_poutine

Now, they call this a pulled-pork poutine, but it’s really a plateful of pork surrounded by some fries and cheese curds. The fries are super-thick, nicely seasoned, and the pork is super-tender. Nice tang from the pork gravy, but I gotta say, the curds just didn’t have that squeak, bro. That being said, I could totally pound this pork with a side of mac ‘n cheese and collard greens, and a couple pints of their tasty house ale on tap. Hey, if I’m still hungry after hitting up that vegan joint across the street, I know where I’ll be heading!

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Braise a little beef, braise a little beef, braise a little beef!

Man, I loves me some Trooper. Good Ol’ General Hand Grenade, Boys in the Bright White Sports Car, Raise a Little Hell… That band is off the charts, dude! (They haven’t had a hit single since 1991.) But while Trooper is no longer raising hell, the Tesla Café in Koreatown will braise a little beef and put it on top of fries for just 11 bucks:

braised_beef_poutine (2)

This dish is TheBomb.ca, bro! Fries are nice and crispy, beef is nice and tender, service is nice and friendly at this cozy neighbourhood joint. (They even put beer nuts out for noshing on the bar. Who does that anymore!?) The one thing I would say is that you don’t get a whole lotta cheese here. The curds are few and far between, and they just sorta melt into the beef. But man, as far as beef stew served on top of French fries goes, this one is right up there!

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Killer Korean BBQ, and I didn’t hafta cook it myself!

Remember like 10 years ago, when Korean BBQ joints were popping up all over the place? Man, you could never get me to eat at one of those joints, dude! I mean, why would I go to a restaurant if I gotta cook my own food? That would be like Rogers paying me to watch TV, instead of jacking up my cable bill! (Except, y’know, if Rogers actually did that, it would be a good thing.)

But the good thing is that at Poutineville, they’re serving up Korean-style BBQ beef on top of poutine—and the beef’s already cooked by the time it hits the plate:

korean_poutine (2)

Now, I was a little scared when I saw the sauce, especially after yesterday’s BBQ sauce incident. Fortunately, this sauce wasn’t spicy; instead, it had a nice, sweet, tangy taste that went great with the beef. The fries had a nice crispness, and while these curds were a lot smaller than the other funky joints I’ve been to this week, the texture was on point. But the beef is what makes it. Nicely seasoned, grilled to perfection. Dude, you could put this beef on a salad, and I’d still stuff my face full!

(As long as it’s macaroni salad. Or maybe a nice, crisp chicken-bacon caesar.)

POUTINE WEEK 2016: That bacon be takin’ dem blues away!

OK, so this one time, I was at this funky vegan joint, and I asked if they could put some bacon on my kale/quinoa salad. Those dudes looked at me like I was a zombie from Mars, bro. But c’mon man, everything’s better with bacon! Case in point: the bacon blues poutine at Let’s Be Frank.

bacon_blues (2)

This funky Chinatown joint is right next to the El Mocambo, which is supposed to be reopening sometime this year. And while it looks like a total dive bar, Frank’s got craft beers and vinyl records in ample supply. They were playing some funky southern rock from the 70’s when I got there, which kinda sounded like early Hank Jr.—y’know, back before he started hanging out with Guy Fieri’s homeboy Kid Rock.

And hey, I gotta give ‘em bonus points for presentation—that’s one fine-looking poutine. But while the bacon bits added a nice bite, I wasn’t a big fan of the spicy BBQ sauce. Don’t get me wrong, I would put that shit on some nice baby back ribs, but when it comes to poutine, spicy sauce does not compu-tine.

But hey, when they start doing shows at the ElMo again, I might stop in for a hot dog or something.

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Gettin’ frisky with the brisket!

OK bro, I’m pretty sure I’d eat beef brisket off a flip-flop, so if you put it on top of fries, curds and gravy, now you’re cooking with poutine oil. Bareburger specializes in putting fancy cuts of meat between big buns (I think I had some lion tacos there once, or maybe that was in Tampa Bay), but this brisket poutine is actually a regular menu item:

brisket_poutine (1)

Now, let’s break it down. What you’ve got here are thin, tender, melt-in-your-mouth slices of brisket, with some cheese curds that don’t lose their squeaky texture, and poutine sauce that I swear couldda come outta a can from Quebec. But what makes it are the fries. Crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy when you bite into ‘em… Look bro, you can’t have a perfect poutine without killer fries, and these spuds know what’s up.

And hey, call me crazy, but as soon as I finished this delish dish, they started playing “I Believe in Miracles.” Coincidence? No way, Jose!

POUTINE WEEK 2016: Who knew lobsters had ribs?

OK, so here’s the deal. Baton Rouge is a local chain of semi-upscale rib joints—you could say that it’s to Toronto what Tony Roma’s is to Calgary or Tony Romo is to Dallas. So hey, when I heard that their Eaton Centre location was participating in Poutine Week, I figured I could expect some nice baby backs with BBQ sauce served on top of fries.

Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was almost as much of an epic fail as the time Tony Romo dropped the extra-point hold against the Seahawks in the playoffs. Cuz instead of ribs, y’see, they were dishing out a mean lobster poutine:

lobster_poutine (1)

Dude, this dish was bananas, and bananas are good! You’ve got some huge, meaty chunks of lobster sitting beside equally sizable squeaky cheese curds. The sauce was on point, and while the fries were a little on the thin side, there was plenty of flavour to go around. But the green onions are what makes it, adding a nice crunch and a bit of a kick. I’ve actually had a couple lobster poutines in my day, and this one was right up there. And it was only 10 bucks! Tip your servers, folks, cuz this generous portion is worthy of a gracious gratuity!

Poutine: It’s not just for breakfast anymore… except when it is!

(Originally written August 8, 2014)

poutine_matinale

Meet la poutine matinale, a before-lunchtime version of the Quebec tradition, as served at popular Outremont brunch spot Faberge.  This place packs peppers, onions, cheese curds and an egg on top of hash browns smothered in hollandaise.  I even paid extra to add bacon–because face it, everything’s better with bacon!

La poutine matinale, $12 (add $2 for bacon) @ Faberge, 25 avenue Fairmount Ouest, Montreal, PQ

banquise_poutine

OK, so this wasn’t my first meal of the day.  (I had, like, a bagel or something beforehand.)  But you almost don’t need dinner after chomping down on La T-Rex at legendary diner La Banquise.  With ground beef, pepperoni, bacon and hot dog atop a bed of poutiney goodness, you actually hafta chew through a couple layers of meat just to get to the fries, gravy and curds.  And yes, that is their signature La Banquise beer in the background. 😉

La T-Rex, $9.75 (regular), $14.95 (large) @ La Banquise, 994 rue Rachel Est, Montreal, PQ.

Who needs real cheese when you’ve got salsa con queso?

OK, so here’s the deal. This one time, I was making mac ‘n cheese, and I realized that I was all out of Cheestrings and Cheez-Its. So, to solve this dilemma, I reached into my nacho drawer, and pulled out this jar of good times:

mac_n_queso

Luckily, I still had some left over from that time I ate 10 Doritos Locos Tacos, so I poured it into the pot, and boom goes the cheesamite!

Food Truck Feeding Frenzy Friday: Hmm, wonder if I could eat 10 of these…

(Originally written January 16, 2014)

Now this is the kind of food-truck experience I’d been expecting after seeing several episodes of Eat St.  Quirky characters, friendly service and food that someone surely cooked up in their college dorm—in this case, a grilled-cheese sandwich.

gorilla_cheese

Let’s just say this wasn’t your grand-dad’s grilled cheese, with both Doritos and jalapenos inside.  The crunch of the chips hit me right away, with the processed cheese double-teaming my mouth alongside real cheddar.  The jalapeno peppers added a nice sweet kick, making this the equivalent of a nacho sandwich.  Could use more than one napkin though, as things get quite greasy!

Throwback Thursday: That time I ate 10 Doritos Locos Tacos

(Originally written September 4, 2013)

doritos_locos

I had been waiting for this moment to arrive for eons, if not millennia.  Every time I’d see an ad for Doritos Locos Tacos within a commercial break during a football game, or another entertaining episode of Duck Dynasty, I’d immediately drop everything and run down to my nearest Taco Bell (which, incidentally, is three long blocks away).  But even if they weren’t closed at the time, they did not have any Doritos Locos Tacos; twas but an American-only offer… until now.  When I first heard the news that they were finally coming to Canada, I did not jump off the couch, because it was pretty late, and I am well aware of their hours of operation.  That said, I made sure to make my way down there this evening for a most delectable, gut-busting feast.

doritos_locos_receipt

As you can see, the 10 tacos only came to $15.90 plus tax, which is less than you’d pay for a martini at Suits Lobby Lounge.  They did try to upsell me to “Doritos Locos Tacos Supremos,” but it really wasn’t worth paying extra for a little salsa and sour cream, not when I’ve invited my friends Tabasco and Salsa Con Queso to the the party:

side_sauces

What doesn’t taste better with processed cheese sauce? I’d put that stuff on a flip-flop!

locos_with_cheese

Man, this taco was like a one-way ticket to Flavourtown.  Make that 10 one-way tickets.  The shell was hard and crunchy up top, but soft and mushy on the bottom, which is less unappetizing than it sounds.  The beef was lightly seasoned, with the crispness of the lettuce, a little kick from the hot sauce…  But what makes this dish is the salsa con queso.  You’ve got the creaminess of the cheese sauce, some heat from the peppers–I put that shit on everything (or at least on macaroni).

Of course, 10 tacos in one sitting is not for the weak of cholesterol.  By the fifth one, I was already counting how many I had left; by the seventh, I could start to feel it in my chest.  When I bit into the ninth, the aftertaste kicked in, and I broke into a violent coughing fit about halfway through.  But nobody wants to be the guy who buys 10 Doritos Locos Tacos and only eats nine of them, so I soldiered on, leaving a whole mess of wrappers–and some orange Dorito fingers–in my wake:

taco_aftermath

(See those pill bottles on the left?  I’m gonna be needing some of all of them in a bit…)