Tag Archives: calamari

The most interesting ham in the world…

Now, right before all restaurants in Toronto shut down for indoor dining again, we headed out to Madrina Bar y Tapas, this funky Spanish joint in the Distillery District. I don’t always eat tapas, but I heard that this place was serving up some high-end ham, like Joselito Gran Reserva, which even comes with its own identity card, so you know it’s gotta be legit…

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Suffice to say, it also comes with a hefty price tag — 42 bucks a plate — but dude, I am trying to keep Toronto restaurants in business, even if I gotta do it all by myself…and I was pretty intrigued to try it, anyways.

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Now, to call this ham would be like calling Pliny the Elder beer. It’s more like a fine-aged, cured Italian meat — like a nice prosciutto, or something. Man, this would be amazeballs on a thin-crust pizza, bro! But it’s still pretty excellent on its own, although I couldda used some bread, or some cheese to go with it. Bread and cheese sold separately…

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Of course, you KNOW I can’t go to a tapas joint and only order one thing, bro! And since one good ham deserves another, I’m about to go ham on these Iberian ham croquettes. These bad boys are super hot and crispy, straight outta the deep-fryer, with a nice creamy centre and some little bits of meat. I don’t think they’re stuffed with Joselito Gran Reserva, though…

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Now, I’ve had patatas bravas before, but these aren’t your ordinary brave potatoes, bro! They serve ’em up millefeuille style, topped with great big globs of sriracha brava and wasabi donkey sauce — shut the front, back and side doors!

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And because two good potatoes deserve more potatoes, I ordered up a Spanish potato omelette, topped with even more donkey sauce, onions, and a chili oil caviar. Dude, this dish is potatoes…and potatoes is good!!!

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But we’re saving the most funkalicious for last, with this pair of crispy calamari sammies with pickled peppers, all covered in squid ink. Dude, I got so much squid ink on my face eating these that you couldn’t even see the bleach in my soul patch, son! But this was definitely one of the top five squid ink calamari dishes I’ve ever had!!!

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But you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, and we’re funking it up another notch with this Manchego cheesecake, topped with raspberry sorbet. This dish is more cheese than cake, with a sugary coating that’s like Babybel Gone Wild, bro! Definitely one of the most outta bounds desserts I’ve had this year…

…I just hope they can find a way to stay open after this month, though. 😦

Japanese-style steak ‘n squid @ Miku

Now, I’ve always said, if I’m gonna drop three bills on a fancy dinner, I’d rather spend it on steak than on sushi. So we’re hanging out at Miku, this fancy Japanese joint at the foot of Bay St, where they do have some pretty pricey sushi…but they also happen to serve steak. Wanna guess what I ordered?

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But first, we are starting off with some seafood, though — I’m talking tempura calamari, bro! This deep-fried squid is cooked to perfection with a light, crispy batter…and they’ve even got some squid ink on the side for dipping!

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But now it’s time for the main event. In this corner, we’ve got a 10 oz ribeye steak, medium rare, with some miso butter and wasabi veal jus, served with a side of roasted potatoes. The plate also had some hot peppers on it, but I didn’t even touch those. Meat was cooked nicely, with some good flavour. I even ate the fatty bits, and there was actually quite a few fatty bits…

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But you KNOW that even after pounding all that beef, I’ve still got room for dessert, son! They call this the Ichigo Mochi Dome, and it’s sort of a two-men-enter, one-man-leaves situation…which means I’m totally not gonna share. What we’ve got is a brown sugar cookie, topped with condensed milk whipped cream, and then there’s strawberries on the inside, along with a scoop of jasmine tea ice cream, more strawberries, and chunks of chocolate peanut butter brittle. Definitely one of the funkiest desserts I’ve had in a while!!!

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PATIO LIT EATS: Duck confit ravioli @ Terroni

Dude, this is body by ravioli, bro! When I was a kid, I would plow through Chef Boyardee’s like it was crack in a can, so when I heard that Terroni, this funky Italian joint on Adelaide, was serving up not just any kind of ravioli, but duck confit ravioli, with not one, but two kinds of mushrooms, you KNOW I had to come check it out!!!!

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But first, we’re starting off with some deep-fried rings of crunchy goodness — Frittura di Calamari, cazzo! And I am sooo on board with the level of breading here… I could crunch ‘n munch these all night long!!!!

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But now it’s time for the main event! These pillows of chewy goodness come in a nice, creamy sauce, topped with fresh Parmesan for that extra kick. The mushrooms are melt-in-your-mouth, but the duck meat is ground down to the point when you’re missing that unctiousness — I mean, this could be beef or veal, and I wouldn’t taste the difference. (I mighta had a few Menabrea beers by this time, though…)

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Of course, you KNOW we always have room for dessert on Triple B, and this flourless dark chocolate lava cake really takes the cake…so it takes itself? You’ve got some warm, chocolately goodness, with a nice oozy centre, on a bed of cream, with some strawberries and blueberries on the side — I’ve eaten my five pieces of fruit for the week, bro!!!!

TORONTO’S TOP TAKEOUT: Whole pile of Thai-style squid!!!

Now, to be honest, I’ve been ordering a lot more delivery than takeout… hey, I don’t wanna get the Camaro dirty, bro! But when Uber Eats gave me a code for $10 off an order — as long as I pick it up — that means I’m heading on over to Salad King, this funky local Thai joint that’s been serving it up since the early 80’s.

This place is known for super-spicy food, with its choose-your-own-chili level of heat. So when I saw that this squid dish called Sea Queen was “already a bit spicy,” well, I’m just glad they put the sauce on the side!!!

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Now, it might not look like much in those little containers, but this is actually quite a lot of food. Squid is nice and chewy, lightly breaded and seasoned, and it turns out the sauce isn’t too spicy. And then, for another six bucks, I got three super-sized spring rolls. You definitely get your money’s worth here, bro!!!

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PATIO LIT EATS: Three-course, real-deal Italian meal!

Man, it feels like Toronto is the last place in the world to reopen after this Coronavirus! But finally, last night, restaurants were allowed to open across the city — for patio dining only. So, it’s time to bust out the Kim Mitchell, cuz you KNOW I’m gonna be the first to eat, bro!!!

We’re breaking the seal at Blu Ristorante, this classy Italian joint in Yorkville. They actually just moved into new digs on Avenue Road, in a space that used to be Estia (another Italian joint), with a great front-porch patio. Now, especially for a Wednesday night, this place was packed — we had to wait about 20 mins to get a table. But what’s 20 minutes when I’ve been waiting three and a half months for this???

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We’re starting off with one of my personal favourites, grilled calamari, on a bed of mixed greens with olives, capers and pepperonata. These actually came with seedless olives, so you didn’t have to spit the pits out onto the plate — that’s some solid social distancing in Flavourtown! But the squid was cooked perfectly; not too firm, but not too chewy. I usually like my calamari like my chicken (fried), but I definitely can’t complain about this dish!

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And then we’re going for another real-deal Italian meal… say hello to ma lil’ friend osso buco, served over risotto with a chunky tomato sauce. Now, the last time I was here, I had a killer veal chop, so I know they know their way around baby beef — but this meat was so fall-apart tender, you didn’t even need a knife to cut it! And don’t let the super-close-up fool ya — that’s a pretty big hockey puck of flavour in Flavourtown!!!

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Now, the sun went down before dessert, so the patio lights really added an extra spark to this picture. They were all sold out of my first choice — tiramisu — so I went with panna cotta instead. I think I ate this little slab of gelatin in 4-5 bites…but after all that osso buco, I really didn’t need much more than this.

Kamayan III: Kamayan with a Vengeance

Now, it’s been a couple years since I last had Kamayan, the Filipino feast you eat with your hands. But when I heard about this new funky joint called Bagnet Bros, I knew I had to come check it out! This place is serving up stuff like milkfish, tilapia, mussels, shrimp and crispy pork belly, all for just 16 bucks. They’ve even got both kinds of calamari — grilled AND fried!!!

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Now, the pork skewers were outrageous, the milkfish was creamy and delicious, and the peel ‘n eat shrimp were the most fun you can have with plastic gloves on…but what makes it is the bagnet:

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Dude, this deep-fried crispy pork belly is sooo outta bounds, bro! It’s kinda like a chicharron, but with the meat still attached! Man, I could pound these all day…but then I might not have room for dessert.

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They call this a turon, and they tu-ron-ron, son! Picture a sweet ‘n sticky spring roll, stuffed with deep-fried platanos — this dish is bananas, and bananas is good! The 16-dollar dinner comes with your choice of ice cream or turon, but for just a dollar more, you can have both…

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No way Jose, that’s ube!!!

Fried chicken ‘n fried calamari @ Eastside Social

So, we’re hanging out at Eastside Social, this funky little joint on Queen St E that’s kickin’ it East Coast style with all kinds of seafood. You’ve got octopus, ceviche, crab cakes, poke…and these crunchy onion rings of the sea, fried calamari:

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Not gonna lie, this was some of the best calamari I’ve ever had. The squid just melts in your mouth like buttah! Batter is crispy, but not too heavy, you’ve got some zest from the lemon, and a nice chimichurri aioli. I would put that on a flip-flop!!!

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Of course, because one fried thing deserves another, we’re going with the fried chicken. These weren’t the biggest pieces of bird I’ve ever had, but throw in a chipotle hot sauce and a nice potater salad, and I definitely can’t complain…

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SUMMERLICIOUS 2019: Big, beefy burger @ Batch

Now, I’m no stranger to paying 38 bucks for a burger, so when I saw that Batch was serving up its signature Batch burger, plus two other courses, for just 23 dollars, I was all over that like beef on a bun, bro! Their Summerlicious menu starts off with apps like salad, tomato soup, peas on toast…or these fishy flavour nuggets in Flavourtown, fried squid:

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This I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-calamari comes served on a bed of basil and a smoked tartar sauce, and the breading’s got a bit of a kick. They were quite tasty, but aren’t calamari supposed to be round?

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Now, me and this burger are a match made in Flavourtown Heaven, aka Austin, Texas. Patty is nice and thick, cooked to not-quite medium, and topped with swiss cheese, pickles and a bit of lettuce — the meat to veggie ratio on this bun is just the way I like it. And then you’ve got a great big pile of some of the thickest fries I’ve even seen — these are like three-bite French fries, bro!!!

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Now, you know the first rule of Summerlicious is “Always save room for dessert,” and I’m definitely gonna go with the most chocolatey thing on the menu:

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This chocolate tart was packed with dark-chocolate richness and some hazelnut crunch, but I don’t really get the frozen orange stuff on top. (Mine was a little pulpy.) Still, I gotta say, it totally satisfied my sweet tooth!!!

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Of course, because Batch is a craft brewpub, you KNOW I’m not gonna order a Coors Light, bro! This Creemore Springs Boundless IPA was a nice balance of hops and citrus, with just a little bit of sweetness at the end. Maybe they couldda poured some of this on that chocolate tart instead…

Tacos and spring rolls and ceviche… Oh Mai!

So, we’re hanging out at Mai Bistro, this funky little family joint in the West West End–we’re talkin’ bout Etobicoke, bro! Now this place takes Latin food, they take Asian food, they put the lime in the coconut and mix it all up! With so many of my favourite foods on their tapas menu, I almost don’t know where to start… Oh yeah, how bout with some curry lamb spring rolls?

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Dude, this dish is like a Bollywood Kung Fu double feature in Flavourtown! You’ve got the richness of the curry, wrapped up in a deep-fried wonton, and dipped in chili sauce??? Shut the back door!!!

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Now, at this place, they’ve got both kinds of calamari: grilled AND fried! But why grill anything when you can deep-fry it, dude???

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And now, it’s totally time for tacos, bro! These shrimp tortillas are grilled with chipotle, and then they throw down some mango, avocado and pico de gallo… It’s a party in my piehole!!!

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Of course, you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert–and we’re chowing down on some ceviche, son! Who needs chocolate cake when you’ve got shrimp and crab???

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Now, up to this point we’ve had some Mexican, we’ve had Italian, an Indian/Chinese fusion and Peruvian. So why not end off with some Japanese fried chicken karaage? It’s around the world in 80 bites, bro–and it’s all right here, at Mai Bistro!!!

$33 freeky Greek feast @ Pan on the Danforth

Everybody in Toronto knows that the Danforth is the place to go if you want some real-deal Greek food. And I’m definitely no stranger to the area. Whether it’s the BBQ quail and Greek fries at Astoria, the four-pack of lamb chops at Mezes, or the bitter balls at Borrel…OK, so that last one’s Dutch, but my point is there is plenty of great grub in Greektown.

Now, I’ve heard that one of the best, most authentic Greek joints in this city is Pan on the Danforth, but I’d never been there before. It can be hard to get a table sometimes, cuz they’re packing ’em in for their Panlicious Dinner–three courses for 33 bucks, bro!!!

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So, we’re starting off with some lightly breaded, deep-fried calamari, so hot you gotta wait a couple minutes before you pick ’em up. Lemme tell ya, there are few things I love more than deep-fried squid, and these squid are too legit to quit!

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But you know that was just the first course in Flavourtown! We’re moving on to the braised lamb shank, which is my go-to at Jimmy the Greek…but this one’s, like, 10 times better! The melt-in-your-mouth meat falls off the bone and slides straight down my piehole, while the orzo pasta in a tomato broth is like risotto gone “Opa!” (Smashing plates not included.)

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Now, I kinda hate to admit this, but I actually did NOT have room for dessert. So I had to get this piece of Greek ravani cake to go. The sweet semolina with syrup on top, some chopped almonds and blueberries still tasted good for breakfast the next day, though!!!