Tag Archives: empanadas

Going to town on that assado, bro!!!!

Now, Yonge Street might be the longest street in Canada… but when you go downtown, south of College or so, it’s like a restaurant desert, bro! That doesn’t mean there aren’t any restaurants — but they’re mostly fast food, chains like Milestones and/or tourist traps. Your best bet is to hang a right onto Elm Street for some righteous eats, son…

Or you could head on over to Leña, this funky joint inside The Bay at Yonge and Richmond, for some real-deal, south of the border, Argentinian-style cooking! We first came here for brunch a few years back, and the flavours were on point, so now it’s time to see what they’re serving up for dinner…

lena_gaucho_empanadas (3)

You KNOW we’re starting off with some empanadas, bro! I just had an empanada last weekend at Smorgasburg, but it’s not like we’ve got a weekly limit on empanadas here…  Susana’s Gaucho Empanadas have a nice, tender crust, stuffed with beef, egg and olives, with a side of chiminasty sauce (yes, that’s what they call it) that really kicks it up a notch! Gonna need a couple cold beers to wash that down, bro…

octopus_wants_to_fight (7)

They’ve got a pretty decent beer selection here, too, with seven brews on tap — none of which are Molson or Coors. But instead, I went with an Octopus Wants to Fight from the local IPA meisters at Great Lakes. It’s not quite as hop-heavy as their signature Canuck IPA, but there’s no question you’re still drinking an India pale ale…

lena_assado_de_tira (19)

But now it’s time for el evento principal! Man, I haven’t had assado de tira since 2018, so when I saw these Spanish-style short ribs on the menu, you KNOW I’m all over that Maradona, bro! The beef is very charred, but nice and medium-rare in the middle, with a side of potatoes and snow peas. It comes with chimichurri, but I think I could go for more of that chiminasty sauce instead… You could put it on a flip-flop, and it would still be nasty, Ms. Jackson!!!!

lena_chocolate_tres_leches (5)

But even after all that beef back there, we’ve still got room for dessert. I already knew their churros were legit, so I thought I would try their milk chocolate tres leches cake this time. We’re no strangers to tres leches on Triple B, but I’ve never seen a chocolate version before. Let’s just say I was a bit disappointed when it came out in a mason jar…but the four or five bites you get here ain’t bad, Meat Bro-af!

 

 

 

 

A smorgasbord of international flavours @ Smorgasburg

Dude, Toronto food festivals are back with a vengeance like Simon Gruber this summer… but not all food festivals are created equal. I gotta say, I was so disappointed in the Food Truck Festival that I didn’t even blog about it. Seemed like 75% of the food was burgers, fries and tacos — and yes, those are a few of my favourite things — but I was looking for something funky, and I didn’t really find it.

On the other hand, Smorgasburg Toronto, which is going down on the waterfront every Saturday until mid-September, has a list of vendors that better reflects the culinary diversity of this city. You’ve got Jamaican, Sri Lankan, Salvadorean, Japanese, Filipino, Indian, Argentinian… I think I even saw a Somali samosa stand. But you KNOW I love the smell of sizzling meat in the summer, so my first stop was the great big grill at Baan Authentic Thai Cuisine, where I snagged me some pork skewers:

smorgasburg_thai_pork_skewer (2)

You don’t need need a fork to eat this pork! Meat is nicely grilled, with some good char, and they come three to an order, which is a nice light snack in Flavourtown. But if you don’t like it hot, stay away from the green sauce — that shit’s so spicy, I actually ate some of the cucumbers that came as a garnish just to cool things down!!!

smorgasburg_jerk_shrimp_poboy (7)

But you KNOW we can’t go to Smorgasburg and only eat one thing, bro! This jerk shrimp po’boy packs a fistful of crispy shrimp into an irie cocoa-bread roll, with some plantain chips on the side for snacking. Yeah, we be jammin’ this… straight down my piehole!!!!!!

smorgasburg_beef_empanada (5)

Don’t get me wrong, some of the stuff at Smorgasburg is expensive — that shrimp sammy was like 13 bucks, bro! But if you want more bang for your buck, you can’t go wrong with a five-dolla empanada. The pulled beef was nice and tender, the shell was flaky, and the whole thing was piping hot, even though they just pulled it out of a warming station. Dude, I could crush at least four of these…

smorgasburg_ice_cream_sandwich (2)

…but you know I gotta save room for dessert, right? There are some pretty funky dessert stands at this festival, but on a hot summer day like last Saturday, I could really go some ice cream. Turns out Pandoughra’s Box sells both cookies AND ice cream, and combining these two things into an ice cream sandwich is sooo the way to go, bro!!!!

Pork secreto al pastor? Shut the back door!

Now, when it comes to real-deal Mexican food, it doesn’t get much more baller than tacos al pastor. You’ve got a hunka-hunka burnin’ pork, seasoned and cooked on a spit, served with pineapple — cuz the only thing better than pineapple on pizza is pineapple on tacos, bro! So when I found out that Quetzal, this funky Mexican family-style joint at College and Bathurst, was not only doing al pastor, but making it with iberico pork secreto, you KNOW I had to come check it out…

Now the deal with this place is that they serve you large portions of food that are meant to be shared between 2-4 people. But when they told me I’d hafta split it, I was like, “Dude, dinner for 2-4 is just a light snack in Flavourtown, bro!” While I did pound all this pork o solo mio, I also ordered three other dishes, which I split with one other person.

hawaiian_kanpachi_aguachile (3)

We’re starting off with a dry-aged Hawaiian kanpachi aguachile, which is sorta like ceviche, except they use chile water instead of lime. I don’t think I’ve ever had dry-aged fish, much less kanpanchi before (I saw they had one hanging in the kitchen, but I think it still had some aging to do), although it tasted kinda like the smoked trout I once had at Karelia Kitchen (RIP).

quetzal_lamb_empanada (6)

Up next, we’ve got an Oaxacan-style lamb empanada, served in a blue corn tortilla with radish sticks and salsa. Last time we were here (in 2019), they did a similar dish with chicken — but I gotta say, the lamb barbacoa really kicks it up a notch. I would eat this off a flip-flop, bro!!!!!!!!!

pork_secreto_al_pastor (5)

Now, other quirky thing about this place is that they charge a certain price for a platter of meat or seafood (starting at $38), and then charge an extra 6 bucks for 6 tortillas. Dude, you can’t have tacos al pastor without taco shells, bro! And it turns out, they gave you enough meat for about five tacos, so that almost worked out perfectly. Pork was nice ‘n tender, but the grilled pineapple is what makes it!

quetzal_duck_breast (3)

But like I said, I split three other things — and this is the third thing, dry-aged duck breast with mole verde and some stringy green thing that I definitely didn’t eat. Duck was cooked perfectly, nice ‘n tender with a good chew. This duck definitely doesn’t suck!!!!!!!

pork+duck_taco (11)

And that brings me to this culinary creation in Flavourtown: the Pork-a-Duck Taco. You’ve got pork secreto al pastor, layered in with duck breast, some grilled pineapple and another piece of duck on top, with a little mole verde. Pork every duck, bro!!!!

mexican_chocolate_mousse (17)

But even after four al pastor, one duck and one Pork-a-Duck taco, half a lamb empanada and three pieces of kampachi aguachile, you KNOW we’ve still got room for dessert, bro! Unfortunately, they didn’t have the avocado ice cream with candied crickets that we had here last time, so instead I’m diving headfirst into some Spiced Mexican Chocolate Mousse, with buckthorn berries and sponge toffee. Again, the waiter was all like, “This dessert is meant for two people, are you sure you don’t wanna share?” Dude, that’s like asking Kobayashi if he wants to order off the kids menu, bro! Let’s just say I destroyed that mousse faster than you can say “57 Hotdogs with Nothing On,” Bro-ce Springsteen!!!!

chocolate_mousse_aftermath (5)

Oh, and it was really tasty, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PATIO LIT EATS: 3 courses from 3 different restaurants @ Yonge & St. Clair

Now, not every restaurant in Toronto has the space for a patio. And while they can open for socially distanced indoor dining now that we’re in Phase/Stage/Step 3, it still means lost revenue for some of the smaller businesses. That’s why I really dig what they’re doing with Patio at Yonge and St. Clair, where they’ve set up a buncha picnic tables in a parking lot, along with a beer tent, and they’ve got an app that lets you order takeout from 11 nearby restaurants — delivered right to your table.

Now, you know me, I can’t just order from one or two different places on an evening such as this… so I made it a three course meal from three different funky joints, along with a coupla beers — cuz hey, this ain’t Burgers, Bacon & Diet Pepsi, bro!!!!

9_bars_empanadas (4)

So, we’re starting off with a handful of empanadas from 9 Bars Latino Cafe, this funky little joint just east of Yonge St. You can choose from beef, chicken, cheese, fish or black bean & cheese, although they don’t let you mix and match, so you gotta get five of the same. I paired these tasty little flavour nuggets with a Henderson Radicle Gose, which added a nice, sour, limey taste to the mix.

zelden's_reuben_sandwich (16)

For the main meal, I slammed this Reuben sammy from Zelden’s Deli and Desserts, which is just south of St. Clair. It comes with your choice of fries, rings, slaw, tater salad or a “garden salad,” for some reason. I went with the onion rings, and I’m glad I did — these were the biggest, beefiest rings I’ve had since I ordered takeout from The Irv, bro!!!

zelden's_onion_rings (2)

Now, that’s a really nice ring, Au-bro Graham!!!!

figo_italian_pilsner (5)

We’re washing this down with a Figo Italian pilsner from Henderson. This might be the maltiest, most flavourful pils I’ve ever crushed — and there’s nothing wrong with that at all!!!

capocaccia_trattoria_cannoli (9)

Now, speaking of Italian… When we went to Capocaccia Trattoria last weekend, I actually didn’t have room for dessert. But when I saw them sending up cannoli to the Patio, you KNOW I was all over that like Danilo Gallinari, bro! You’ve got pistachio to the left of me, chocolate to the right, and here I am chowing down in Flavourtown, Leroy Brown!!!!!!

PATIO LIT EATS: Cod fish empanadas & truffle tater tots!

Dude, if there’s one thing I like more than comfort food, it’s comfort food that kicks it up a notch. So we’re hanging out on the patio at Canteen, this funky O&B joint at the bottom of the TIFF Lightbox. And they’re all about the comfort food — Caesar salad, tacos, burgers, sliders and pizzas…but when I saw the truffle tater tots, you KNOW I gotta have my tots, bro!!!

truffle_tater_tots (4)

OK, so what makes these truffle tater tots is the truffle aioli dipping sauce — there’s a reason why these are eight bucks, and not 800! But the taters were nice ‘n crispy, and the sauce adds a bit of a kick…I can’t complain at all!

canteen_cod_empanada (3)

But you KNOW that order of tots wasn’t gonna tide me over, so we’re pairing it with a pair of Piri Piri cod empanadas, cabron! These fish pastries were super-flaky, coming in really hot out of the oven. The fish was pulled, and not very spicy — but still pretty tasty!!!

canteen_mac_n_cheese (2)

But the party is just getting started, son! Up next we’ve got mac ‘n cheese, with mushrooms, cured tomatoes and herb bread crumbs. There was supposed to be kale here, too, but friends don’t let friends ruin mac ‘n cheese with kale, bro! You’ve got some nice, big noodles, a creamy cheese sauce, and the mushrooms add a nice bite. I couldda maybe used a little more cheese on top, though…

maison_selby_wit (5)

And we’re washing it all down with a coupla Maison Selby Wit beers, brewed by Big Rock for another O&B joint…but they serve it on tap here, too. Nice, light and refreshing, but not too citrusy — I could slam at least 10 of these!!!

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:

smoked_chicken_empanada (9)

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?

white_bean_avocado_dip (7)

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!!!

quetzal_grilled_skirt_steak (1)

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:

quetzal_grilled_seabream (3)

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!!!

quetzal_roasted_sunchokes (3)

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!!!

avocado_leaf_ice_cream (3)

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…

To get real-deal Cuban food in Miami…you gotta go to Las Vegas!

Now, one of the best things about living in Toronto is that you can pretty much pick any country on a map, and you’ll find at least one real-deal, authentic joint somewhere in this city that’s dishing out some of their righteous grub. (This doesn’t really work if you’ve got a fever for some Finnish food though, bro!) But when it comes to Cuban, you’ll be lucky to find much more than a copycat Cuban sandwich anywhere up here. So we’re heading down to the most Cuban city that doesn’t have socialized healthcare — welcome to Miami, Big Willie Style!!! — right here, right now on Triple B!

OK, this city has got an entire neighbourhood called Little Havana, so you know it’s gotta be good–but we’re all about finding these too-legit-to-quit establishments a little farther off the beaten path…so we’re hanging out at Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine, this friendly neighbourhood joint inside a strip mall up in Pembroke Pines. Man, this place has got everything: yuca frita, papa rellena, pan con lechon, tostones, medianoches and a takeout lineup longer than the line for the men’s room at a Justin Bieber concert, bro!

las_ vegas_empanada (7)

So, we’re starting off with some real-deal, Cuban-style empanadas. These empanadas are so good you’ll wanna smack your mama, cabron! They’ve got chicken, they’ve got pork, they’ve got beef… but we’re definitely going with beef, cuz we gotta save room for some pulled pork tamales!

pulled_pork_tamales (7)

Dude, this pork is unctious-alla-dunktious, bro! The flavours are amazing, it’s super-tender, and goes great with the masa dough. Dude, this is body by masa dough, bro!!!

las_vegas_ropa_vieja (4)

Aaaaand now it’s time for the main event, some real-deal ropa vieja. Normally, if I’m chowing down on some old clothes, it’s because the Camaro stalled out somewhere on Route 66 and my celly is all outta juice from streaming too many Smash Mouth tunes. But when it comes to this Cuban stewed beef delicacy, man, I could eat this morning, noon and night! You’ve got some white rice, black beef and a few peppers mixed in with the beef, but the plantains are what makes it:

las_vegas_ropa_vieja (18)

Now, here I thought that deep-fried plantains were only for dessert…but I was so, so wrong. You’ve got the hot, the sticky and the sweet, all mixed in with the meat. Pour some sugar on me, cuz I’m about to slide this dish down a stripper pole right into my piehole, bro!!!!

This steak was imported from Argentina para Vos…

Man, if there’s one food I’d eat pretty much any way you slice it, it’s gotta be steak. I’ve tackled a 22 oz cowboy ribeye, a 20 oz porterhouse, a 22 oz prime rib…I even ate most of a 67 oz roast beef for one. But one thing I’ve never done was eat steak that was shipped all the way from Argentina–until now.

So, we’re hanging out at Vos Restaurante Argentino, this funky little joint just three doors down from Southern Accent on College Street. These guys get their hormone-free, grass-fed beef straight from the source, and they cook it with charcoal, just like back in the old country. They’re even serving up this killer take on an Argentinian classic–say hola to my short rib empanada!

vos_shortrib_empanada (5)

OK, first of all, this crust is so flaky it makes Gary Busey seem like a normal guy. They deep-fry it to perfection, and stuff it with tender chunks of short rib, along with some onions and carrots. Then they throw in some smoked chorizo for a double down in Flavourtown! Dude, I could crush, like, 16 of these…but then I wouldn’t have room for the main course:

vos_steak_two_ways (1)

Now, with so many great cuts of beef on the menu, I couldn’t have just one. So I went Splitsville on an entrana de ternera (veal skirt steak) along with some more beef short ribs. Who needs mas tequila when you can have mas asado, bro???

SkirtSteak_ShortRib

Now, the skirt steak was thinner and chewy, while the short rib was thick ‘n delicious–which is also my online dating handle on Plenty of Beef (why have fish when you can have beef, bro?). Both were nicely seasoned, with a nice charcoal flavour, paired with a side order of mushrooms with chorizo and then some rosemary french fries.

Now, this might not have been the most meat I’ve ever shoved down my piehole in one sitting (a full order of skirt steak is 8 oz while a rack of short ribs is 20…but I only had half), but it might be right up there in the top five steaks I’ve had this year. And this temple is body by steak, so that’s really saying something!!!