East Thirty Six breathes new life into St Lawrence Market area

YuliScheidt-East36-Drinksphotos by yuli scheidt

Originally posted to Ama’s weekly column on Toronto Is Awesome.

A new restaurant has opened up in the St Lawrence Market area taking over the former Lucien spot on Wellington. Opened by restauranteurs Julien and Devon Salomone (the same owners who brought us Boutique Bar) bring us the newly revitalized cocktail and food restaurant, East Thirty Six.

As you walk through the doors of East Thirty Six, you are greeted with opulent wood finishes (retrofitted), beautiful overhead blue-purple art-deco lighting fixture and lovely pops of silver and purple everywhere. The room is cozy but gives off a certain richness and warmth, no matter where you are seated in the room.

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The cocktails here are stellar and not to be missed. Co-owner / mixologist Julien Salomone runs the beverage program and has paid great details to the making of such cocktails as the Rum Row (House-made spiced rum, apricot liquor, lemon juice, ginger syrup, tonic float) or French Connection (Muddled cucumber, gin, chartreuse, lillet blanc, coriander syrup, peychaud bitters, coriander tincture). Each of the cocktails range in price between $12-14 a drink but every sip is totally worth it. At the end of the evening, we were even treated to one of Julien’s barrel aged cocktails (off-menu) and this man knows what he is doing.

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So how the food from East Thirty Six measure up? On the evening in question, we were treated to a lovely selection of their offerings from their new upcoming menu. Some of the standouts from the evening were our Winter Salad (castelfranco, kale, endive, ricotta salata aioli, focaccia) which was full of flavour and rich. So many times you encounter a salad with hard, tough croutons and this was just perfect. Next up, Scallop Crudo (lardo, celery, tequila, lime) was one of the dishes with wow factor. It had a freshness that you look for in a crudo with the lardo adding that extra bit of kick.

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Next up, we were treated to a big trend I have been seeing on menus across Toronto (and something I’m not angry about because I love) cauliflower. This dish was served up with capers, preserved lemon, brown butter, hazelnut, parsley and was stunning. The hazelnuts added the nice crunch to it and the lemon gave good acidity. I could ate a whole other plate of this. Next, probably my favourite dish of the evening: Bone Marrow with Chicken liver mousse and toast. Beautifully prepared and absolutely a pleasure. I did not want to share this and reluctantly had to. The marrow was buttery and delicious. A must have.

 

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Rounding in to some of the final courses, we were treated to a flakey and beautifully plated Halibut (with artichoke, carrot, fennel, white wine and lemon). Each piece I put into my mouth was melt in my mouth goodness and the veg in the broth was just an added bonus to the dish. As our final treat, we were shown a dessert course and brought out a lovely Lemon Custard. As I’m not much of a sweets person, I was unsure how I would feel but this tangy sweetness was just right in my books.

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East Thirty Six is open daily for dinner at 4pm and is perfect for an afterwork cocktail. To learn more about the restaurant, visit their website.

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Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews.

1. How To – Pearls

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2. Sweets – Rock Candy Cupcakes

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3. Little Bites – Adult Lunchables

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4. Elsewhere – Holybelly, Paris

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5. Sweets – Green Bark

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Pukka spices up St. Clair West

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Originally posted to Ama’s weekly column on Toronto is Awesome.

For many of us in Toronto, good Indian food is a hard thing to come by. We’re accustomed to buffet style or muddled flavours. Thankfully, Derek Valleau and Harsh Chawla (both formerly of Amaya The Indian Room) have taken on what they believe has not been filled in Toronto yet: a fine-dining Indian food spot that leaves you comforting for more. That spot is Pukka (778 St Clair Avenue West).

The space is fresh and modern with reclaimed wood table and pops of green, purple and orange throughout. You’ll find lots of funky paintings and soft lighting, which gives it a bit of a romantic touch. I had mentioned to Derek & Harsh when I first arrived that when I lived in the St Clair area some year back, restaurants like this were missing. Derek told me candidly that the area and its residents have been quite kind in their support, especially over the winter months. When Yuli and I attended on a Tuesday evening, the restaurant had ever seat full. This was even on one of the coldest winter nights we were having.

Pukka sticks to classical Indian cuisine. The kitchen is equipped with a clay tandoor oven and the menu is chalked full of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients while using rich spices and creams to take on their house-made curries and rubs.

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The menu itself is divided into snacks & eats. The snack portion has you covered with some intoxicating dishes such as: Baby Kale Salad ($8.90), which seems simple enough but with dates, cashew nut dressing and lotus chips – it brings it to a whole other level. The Vegetable String Chaat ($8.40) is serving up ripe mango and granny smith apple with a little bit of pomegranate seed just for flavour. Mix that in with some delicious yogurt and chutney and you’ve got yourself a winning dish. Another killer starter was the Chicken 65 ($9.60) which had all the feels of good fried chicken. But should you be in the South of India. This dish was spiced with curry leaf, red chili, tamarind, cumin, garlic and other spices and was pretty much, this was off the chain. I could really seem them developing this into a main. But that’s just my personal opinion.

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After inhaling all of these delicious snacks, we thought it would be wise to test some drinks off of the cocktail menu. You know to – ahem – cleanse the palette. First up was the Snapdragon ($9.20) which consisted of vodka, pear nectar, ginger beer & lime. It was sweet and fun, not too over-powering and reminded me of summer. Thankfully, it went so well with everything we were eating. Yuli decided to test out the Chai Town ($8.40) which had bourbon, chai tea, pomegranate liquors and bitters. From my sip, it was pretty delicious.

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Our servers (who were incredibly lovely and so helpful) brought out our dazzling course of mains, who informed us that most of the dishes were gluten-free. So fear not gluten-free fans, you are in luck! First up, we were brought out one of my favourite dishes of the night: Mushroom & Spinach Stuffed Paneer ($17.30). This dish was rich and bold and filling. Plus: paneer cheese is heavenly. Next up, the Pan Seared Sea Bass ($22.40) which consisted of coconut milk, curry leaves and roasted spices. The fish was beautifully cooked and the aromas of the curry was hypnotizing. You know you cannot visit an Indian food restaurant without having Butter Chicken ($17.90) and while it was good, it was not Pukka’s best dish of the evening. Oddly enough, I enjoyed everything else so much more than the Butter Chicken. The tomato infused butter sauce was rich and delicious but the chicken was a bit dry. Nothing terrible but again, not my favourite out of everything that came out. Next up, we had the Madras Pepper Steak ($19.70) which was tender, juicy and served up with caramelized onion and coconut. It was beautifully rich and delicious. This was probably my second favourite main of the evening.

Don’t forget, you have your options of sides too. We opted for the Green Beans ($8.70) with caramelized onions, coconut and turmeric and Rice ($4.60) served up in a lovely little jar (resealable) with so many aromatics. These pair deliciously with all the mains.

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If you’ve left room for dessert, there is that. We opted for the Eton Mess ($7.60), which was a mess of all things delicious: rosewater-soaked meringues in pomegranate syrup and sweet lassi cream. Um, so into it.

So if you’re craving authentic Indian and feel like making the trek to St. Clair West, make a date for Pukka. You will not be disappointed. Reservations can be made daily.

Friday Foodie Five

Normally here on Friday Foodie Five I try to bring you some of the best stuff I’ve seen and heard online during the week. But I have to tell you, we here on the Toronto Squad have been working hard for a long time on something and we need to share.

For what feels like months, but has really only been a few weeks, Ama, Megan and I have been busy planning and co-curating an open call group art show called Fat In Public and the show’s opening was last night!

I would love nothing more than to share a few images with those of you who could not make it out to the opening and will not be in Toronto for the show’s week-long run at 2186 Dundas Gallery.

1.

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From Hamilton Squad Leader Carly’s Instagram, the hand-drawn window detail done by me.

2.

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Amarina Norris of Ursa Major+ made this one-of-a-kind piece that we featured in the front window, entitled ‘Sorry, Not Sorry.’ Look how PACKED 2186dundas was! Photo cred: Andrew Williamson.

3.

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Here’s me being forced to melt my robot heart by Ama. Photo cred: Andrew Williamson

4.

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This was the beautiful wooden chalkboard signage that Megan drew to drawn people in. Thanks to Food 416 for the rad photo that we found on Instagram!

5.

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Ren Bostelaar told me Drake was really into Melody Krauze’s Soft Core pillows featuring some ladies having a good time.

6.

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Set up was an absolute blast and all of us loved Sookie Bardwell’s plush piece, “Lady Bear”. Photo cred: Andrew Williamson

7.

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The crowd was bumping all night long with people showing up at 6:45PM! We couldn’t have done this without the love and support of all of YOU, our readers! So thank you for all your support. ❤

– – –

For those wondering about our gallery hours (who live in Toronto), please refer to our Facebook event page! Come and visit Fat in Public while it is happening Thursday Jan 30 – Wednesday Feb 5, 2014.

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

FOOD ART EDITION!

1. Pink Donut Brooch 

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by Candy Board Cities on etsy

2. Candy Kaboo

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3. Without Ice Cream…

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by Old English Co. on etsy

4. Elemental Illustration

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5. Melon Pop Art

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Eyal Liebman delivers Chocolate for dinner

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Who doesn’t love chocolate? Chocolate is one of the world’s most luxurious food items. So when I was invited to this Chocolate inspired dinner by Abbey Sharp (of Abbey’s Kitchen), I could not resist the chance to say no. The other selling point? Chef Eyal Liebman (Boehmer) & Sommelier Rebecca Meïr (Luma) would be curating the event and taking us on a culinary journey like no other.

For those that know, Eyal is no stranger to the delicate art of chocolate, and is on a mission to prove to Toronto foodies that it’s not just for dessert. He is a successfully trained pastry chef and promised guests that evening a sophisticated tasting menu that will seamlessly blend the worlds of sweet and savory.

This ambitious and delightful 7-course meal started off on the fresh side with an amuse bouche of Oysters with an infused cocoa nibs mignonette. Perfect start with subtle hints of chocolate. Next up, we were treated to probably one of my favourite dishes of the evening: shrimp with a Madagascar chocolate molé sauce. The presentation was well done and the mole sauce was rich and just the right amounts of spice. Mole is a laborious thing to make; fortunately, it paid off here.

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Skillfully matching the different chocolates to the varied flavors and textures. we were treated next to an ambitious but incredible Rabbit terrine paired with a Chocolate Brioche crisp. Terrines can be a difficult thing to perfect, but Eyal did a great job keeping all the flavours staying together and being cohesive. One diner at the table proclaimed this was one of the best terrines they had have.

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Our fish dish was a Mediterranean style white fish cake, parsnip & pure Venezuelan chocolate purée, which was perfectly cooked, soft and lovely. The remarkable thing about this fish dish was the chocolate purée almost added an enhancement to the flavour profiles of the dish. It was present but did not overpower. Eyal is so aware
of the balance in his dishes and this showed in the fish course.

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Our next course was the visually stunning Beef & Valrhona Caraïbe with pure Caribbean chocolate, maple glazed baby carrots & asparagus. The medium-cooked beef was juicy and had loads of juicy flavour. The cocoa flavours of the Caribbean chocolate enhanced the meat’s natural sweetness.

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I finished off the evening on a high-note which left me wanting more, an avant-garde approach to dessert: tomato gelée, olive oil & white chocolate mousse, strawberry & lemon confit salade. Everything about this dish was delicate and soft and drool worthy. You might not think that tomato and white chocolate go well together, but trust me: they do! Plus, this dish looked like a piece of art.

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Chef Eyal Liebman set out to showcase chocolate in all its forms and he did just that. I left the dinner on such a chocolate high that I was clearly feeling inspired by Eyal’s chocolate dreams. Each dish was successfully pulled off and I can’t wait for another Chocolate Dinner in the future.

Cheers: The Gourmet Food and Wine Show Wraps Up For Another Year

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Originally posted to Ama’s twice-weekly column on Toronto is Awesome.

On the weekend of November 15, Toronto wine and food nerds converged on the Metro Toronto Convention for the annual Gourmet Food and Wine Show. For three days, visitors were able to sample all sorts of wines and sprits from around Canada and the world.

Upon entry, we were greeted with 15,000 wines and spirits to choose from and didn’t know where to start. So we started where any respectable person would: with Beam’s Whisky Chef Matt Jones who wet our whistles with the Dark Horse Old Fashioned. How can you go wrong with that?

Next up, we made our way over to the BartenderOne station, home to many of the mixologists and flare bartenders at College Street Bar. BartenderOne’s master mixologist Gavin MacMillan talked to me a bit about their new fall/winter line-up of classes (I had previously taken their Vodka MasterClass) and passed me one of their drinks, not before being treated to a bit of a show.

YuliScheidt-GFWE_2Photo: Gourmet Food and Wine Show

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After much zigging and zagging down the aisles and taking in everything from Sake to Beer, we stopped off at Cupcake Vineyards for a nice glass of chardonnay. What I can report back is that, yes: the wine does have some cupcake flavours to it like citrus and vanilla. Plus, the price point of the bottle: $15.45 in all LCBOs.

After the consumption of many drinks, we decided it was time for food and Fancy Franks was calling our name. Their delicious gourmet dogs are fast and filling. But across from them was the Buick Tasting Taste, which gave those in attendance a chance to gather at a communal table and eat smoked oysters and guacamole with pomegranate and chips. The Buick Tasting Table was a nice touch for the event. Plus, we grabbed one of the holiday inspired macaroons from Le Dolici (Candy Cane) which was simply irresistible.

BuickPhoto: Gourmet Food & Wine Show

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Next up, it was time to head over to Bite Bar who were serving up Martinis with a Cupcake garnish. The drink wasn’t the best that I had the entire show, but the thought process behind the drink was incredibly genius! Nobody offered up a food/drink combo, so this was brilliant marketing on their end.

We were treated to some delicious suds from Niagara Oast House Brewers, whose Barn Raiser, which was a perfect country ale. This craft beer company definitely has a delicious product on their hands and I’ve been seeing them out more and more throughout the months. Good job, boys! We also treated ourselves to a Samuel Adams Winter Lager, which had wicked citrus notes and delicious taste.

All in all, the Gourmet Food & Wine Show has everything you could want (and more) under one roof. Don’t miss it next year!

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Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews. 

The internet sometimes take you to weird and wonderful places. Does anyone read French? Can someone explain to me what exactly is going on over at Fat & Furious Burger? Is it an arts collective? A dinner? Is it real? — Wait! I don’t want to know! I’ll just leave it a mystery and enjoy the view in my confusion. (Okay, so it’s a designer duo — who French!)

Here are my five favourite images (moving or otherwise) from the site:

1. The End Burger.

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Bœuf. Sauce aux trompettes de la mort. Bacon fumé. Scarmoza. Éclats de choux rouge. Cristaux de sel. Liquid smoke. Chez Blend du 12 décembre jusqu’à l’impact. Et si tout finissait par un burger ?

2. Clap Your Buns

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3. Burger pour tous.

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Pièce bien montée de mini-buns. Sauce homo-rilles. Tranches de goudou. Fif-steack de bœuf. Sel de gayrande. Purée de pédales douces.

4. Burger d’amour

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Bun au caramel rouge. Oignon rouge caramélisé. Pomme Pink lady. Côte de porc. Girolles de fromage de brebis. Gelée de cerise noire. Groseilles. Moi les mots tendres enrobés de douceur se posent sur mon corps mais jamais sur mon burger.

5.  Too Fast Too Furious Burger

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Steak 420 chevaux. Salade. Tomates. Cheddar. Pickels. Oignons grillés. Ketchup. Pas la peine d’en faire des caisses.

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews.

1. Kitchen Envy – Modern Wood Peg Board

quiten-down-its-time-for-ssrAs ever, really wishing I wasn’t in a rental so I could tare some things apart and set something similar to this us.

2. Food Art – Pomeranates by Marina Molares

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Love the line work from Spanish artist Marina Moralres.

3. Breakfast – Egg, Bacon, Cheese-Stuffed Donuts

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I really can’t ask for more in a breakfast food. It’s compact and portable.

4. Sweets – Grapefruit Donuts

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I know, I know, another donut right after another. But, it’s GRAPEFRUIT!

 

5. Small Bites – Mushrooms and Brussels Sprout Hash

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I bet this tastes as good as it looks!

Friday Foodie Five

Every Friday we bring you our favourite foodie sights and sounds. Everything from food packaging and food inspired art, to recipes and reviews.

1. Pretty Packaging – Kitten & The Bear labels by Chad Roberts

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Toronto-based graphic artist Chad Roberts seems to be at the top of his game, and he’s doing a lot of food related work. If you don’t know him or his work, he’s the guy behind Balzac Coffee’s hot look and packaging. As well as FGFS favourite Kitten & The Bear‘s jam jar labels.

2. Elsewhere – Himschoot, Ghent

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I just want to skip off the Belgium to visit Bakkerij Himschoot.

3. Food Art – The Banana Cheesecake

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Love Jenis Splendid Ice Creams for their stellar flavours, but I love their weekly blog feature where a sundae is deconstructed and  “poster-ized”.

4. Kitchen Envy – Late 19th Century Copper Crepe Pan

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Oh, you know. Just a copper pan for my crepes.

5. Food Words – In Defense of Food

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Always. This. Planning to give this a re-read soon.