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Archive for January, 2012

Click here to link back to the very easy giveaway. It’s a shame not to enter!

Would you like a pinch?

Do you need a pinch?

Also wanted to mention that my photographer friend Edward Pond is down in Nicaragua teaching underprivileged kids camera skills; he took over 20 donated cameras with him. Check out his story, it’s pretty cool, and there’s drama too!

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We were finally able to get into Ici Restaurant in Toronto; I say finally because, believe it or not, we made reservations between Christmas and New Years! It was on our list of places to try, but alas we had not been able to get in until now! Ici opened in November 2010 on Manning Avenue in Toronto after two years of fighting ridiculous issues with a City Councillor; not sure what the hoopla was over since it’s a very small French restaurant and not a after hours club! They serve “modern French food” with classics such as Lobster Bisque, Steak Tartar and Chicken Suprême.
I have to say, having to wait three weeks to dine with a reservation, I had expectations. It was a blistery cold day in Toronto and this place is in a residential area (the Annex), with street parking only. We had our first snowfall the day before and not everyone shovels their sidewalk as they should; we had to park about a hundred metres from the restaurant and I wore satin sling backs (OK, I’m well-known for inappropriate footwear so this should be of no surprise!) We arrive and the place is T I N Y – seating for maybe 25, half if which is along the bar and kitchen counters. We were sat at the bar. I said, “but we had reservations” this is all we have, was the response. Hmmmm. It’s REALLY S M A L L. No where to hang your coat — they could have used hooks under the bar. The door is covered with heavy velvet drapery, but it’s still not enough to stop the blustery cold from interrupting our comfort. People are turned away at the door, you really do need a reservation. The décor is quaint but nothing special. The napkins are linen tea towels, I like them. There are place-mats at each place on the bar, and we are not overly crowded (I can’t even reach over to touch the next two diners, not that I would want to). The kitchen has a window so you can see the action, and it’s pretty obvious that they are not overly taxed.

The staff is attentive; we are immediately welcomed with a small but very tasty goats cheese tart amuse bouche; it had caramelized onion baked with the tart, creamy goats cheese — it was delicious, which makes us both excited about our meals. The menu is short, only about ten things and they come in two sizes, appetizer portion of meal portion, which works out well for me. We order six oysters as our starter, they are small PEI oysters for $3. each; they are served with grated fresh horse radish, lemon wedges and a classic Mignonette garnish. They are quite lovely with a hint of brininess (I actually like my oysters a bit brinier!) and they are a lite great starter without taking up tummy-space. Because the restaurant space is small and there are not many people, it’s a little quieter than most hot spot eateries, which is nice because I have a difficult time competing with noise, my voice tends to be the same level and I can’t even hear myself talk! I ordered the steak tartar; the server said it was delicately seasoned with shallots, cognac, mustard and cornichons (not capers). I ordered the appetizer portion and it is served as two good sized quenelle shapes with similarly shaped deep-fried mashed potatoes. Although I am not a huge potato eater, my preference would have been the beautiful match-stick fries traditionally served with this dish. I ate half of one of the potatoes and gave the other half to JT. The tartar was tasty, not the best I’ve ever had, but certainly up there. JT had the Seared Braised Beef, Artichoke & Black Trumpet Ravioli, even the appetizer portion was a healthy serving. The meat was so tender and tasty, it was right up there for taste and quality. He said it was good but not the best he’s ever had. We finished with a couple of very delicious espressos. The dinner was nicely spaced out, with reservations at 7:30 we left around 9:30.

Overall rating of Ici (in my opinion): Decor 2.5/5, service 3.5/5, food 3.5/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

The first give-away on Kitcheninspirations:

Would you like a pinch?

Would you like a pinch?

I picked up these wonderful little Just a Pinch sample packets of flavoured gourmet salts during the Christmas Holidays at Longo‘s new store at the Air Canada Centre. I was so intrigued by them, the possibilities are endless. To enter is easy:

  • Answer the following four questions correctly (all of the answers are found in my blog) in a comment on this post will get you one entry.
  • For additional entries, leave one comment on the correct post in which you found the answers; each comment (limit one per post, per person) on the correct post will gain you one additional entry.
  • Bring a new person to comment on my blog (and they actually leave a meaningful comment), please tell me the person’s name in a comment and you will get an additional entry AND the new person will get one entry.

Contest open until January 22, 2012 at which time I will tabulate the entries and all correct entries will go into a draw. JT will officiate the draw. All five little packets will be won by one lucky individual, anywhere in the world. I will release the winner’s name during the week of January 23. Good luck to you all.

  1. What inspired me to create this blog?
  2. What month is my birthday?
  3. How did we travel to Montreal in the fall of 2011?
  4. How many pictures did I upload in 2010?

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My friend, Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) went to Australia several years ago and shortly after we visited her in Vancouver; for our premier dinner she made us the Thai Coconut Soup that is so famous in restaurants and it was delicious! I had no experience cooking Thai food at home and as a gift she bought me a Thai cookbook called Australian Woman’s Weekly, Easy Thai-Style Cookery. It is really my ‘go to’ cookbook for Thai food, my favourite being Lemongrass Soup. It has great step-by-step instructions on how to with very clear photos. You really can’t go wrong. I have made this soup so often I don’t even look at the recipe anymore and basically just eyeball and taste it, so you’ll have to excuse my loosey-goosey measurements! I have served this soup at several dinner parties and I am told by some of my Thai food-lover friends that it is very delicious!

Thai cooking is about balancing salty, sweet, spicy and sour so you really have to taste, taste, taste and adjust as you go along. My Lemongrass soup is my favourite to the restaurant variety as I find some too salty and too sweet. Most restaurant versions also don’t include fettuccine-sized rice noodles (half centimetre wide) in the soup, but there was one place across from the Eaton Centre on Yonge Street that always had the noodles in the soup and I really enjoyed it, so I usually include them!

This soup comes together very quickly, the hard part is waiting for the rice noodles to soften up. You can also substitute shrimp for the chicken.

Comforting lemongrass chicken soup

I always make an extra huge batch so I can take some to work for my lunch the next day.

A mouthwatering delicious balance of salty, sweet, sour and spicy; can I get you a bowl?

Thai Inspired Lemongrass Chicken Soup

Serves 3 in large bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 3oog boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups thinly sliced plain white mushrooms (I like a lot of mushrooms in my soup)
  • 1/2 cup finely sliced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger (ground is fine, fresh is better)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped lemon grass
  • 4 kafir lime leaves
  • 2 small bits of dry galangal (Thai ginger)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2-4 tbsp sugar (or I used agave nectar)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
  • 4-6 cup water or low sodium chicken stock (I did a mix of the two to mitigate calories)
  • a good handful of fettuccine-sized rice noodles

Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onion (forgot to add for the photo)
  • 2-4 Thai basil leaves, chiffonade (did not have this, nor did I miss it)
  • handful of chopped cilantro (did not have this, but I surely missed it)

Directions:

  1. Heat the water in your kettle until boiling. Pour over the rice noodles and allow to sit until they are totally reconstituted, 10-15 minutes. Do not over soak, you want a bit of a bite to it.
  2. In a large soup pan, heat the two oils until hot but not smoky (the sesame oil has a very low smoke point). Add the onions and stir until slightly translucent. Add the chicken and brown a bit. Turn the heat down to a simmer.
  3. Mix the cumin, coriandre, ginger and lemon grass together, sprinkle on the chicken and stir until you can really smell it. Add the garlic and stir once. Add all of the chicken stock, kafir leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and chili flakes. Stir well. Heat so that the chicken cooks through. Once the chicken is cooked, taste for salty, sweet, spicy and sour balance and adjust accordingly. Remove the galangal and kafir lime leaves, discard.
  4. Put one third of the cold noodles into a large decorative white bowl. Add ladle-fulls of the chicken soup with bits of chicken, onion and mushrooms. Garnish with the green onion, chopped basil leaves and cilantro leaves. Enjoy.

Cooks tips:

  • Store your fresh ginger knobs in the freezer in a resealable container; grate on a fine micro-plane grater when required, you need not peel it! Keeps indefinitely.
  • I usually buy a large quantity of lemongrass and chop them finely in my food processor, and then I freeze them in a reusable container. I can usually break off what I need.
  • If you are taking the left overs to work, I recommend storing the cooked noodles in a separate container to the soup so that they don’t absorb any more liquid. When you reheat the soup, do so to just before boiling (so the chicken doesn’t cook further) and that way when you put the chilled noodles in, they will cool it down to a palatable level.
  • Fish sauce is used in thai cooking instead of salt.
  • To save time, I have sometimes used Rosa’s Lime Cordial instead of lime juice, but you have to remember NOT to add the sugar.

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My blogger friend Sharyn of Kale Chronicles recently bestowed the Food Bloggers Unplugged award to me; I am quite flattered and very touched that she has now given me two awards! Thank you, Sharyn. The Food Bloggers Unplugged is designed to allow the blogger to divulge a few personal details about their blogging motivation.

Awarded by Sharyn at Kale Chronicles

What or who inspired you to start your blog?

I started blogging in early 2007 as a chronicle of our renovation. It ended up being a bit of a venting place for me; we had issues with our renovator. But I enjoyed blogging so much that when the reno was complete and the party was had I decided to continue with Kitcheninspirations and document cooking in my new kitchen. I enjoyed blogging but I never really understood the value of commenting until I started to gain a bit of a following and in turn, get to know a lot of great people.

Who is your foodie inspiration?

I would have to say that my foodie inspiration were my parents. My Father had a very refined palate and my mother was a home cook, undaunted and unafraid of any recipe or ingredient. My father used to say, “why should I go out and pay for a restaurant meal when your mother can make it so much better.”

Your greasiest most batter splattered cook book is?

Five Roses Flour Cookbook. For $1 I sent away for this basic cookbook in the late 1970′s and it’s been my Go To cookbook for basics. That and the Fanny Farmer Cookbook which I was given as a wedding present 25 years ago!

The best thing you have ever eaten in another country, where was it and what was it?

Bouillabaisse in Marseille, France. I had never had the real bouillabaisse before but had read that it was invented in Marseille so I had to give it a try. I have never really been fond of fish soup, but I can tell you, that soup with the rouille and the crostini, sitting on a patio on a gorgeous fall day overlooking the harbour was breathtaking and unbelievably delicious. JT ordered the steak frites but had wished almost instantaneously that he had ordered the bouillabaisse instead. Fading into to dreamy land….

Another Food Blogger’s table you would like to eat at?

So many and so little time; but to name a few: Sawsan at Chef in Disguise, Ann at Cooking Healthy for Me, Kristy and Mike at Eat, Play, Love, John at from the Bartolini kitchens, Charles at Five Euro Food and Lorraine’s at Not quite Nigella (I would add Barb’s at Profiterols and Ponytails, but I have actually eaten at her table and enjoyed it immensely!) and many more.

What one kitchen gadget would you like Santa to bring you? (money no object)

A warming drawer; I wish I had worked it into my kitchen reno but alas it was not so.

Who taught you how to cook?

My dear mother taught me the basics of cooking. She also taught me not to be afraid of trying something new, if it doesn’t work out, start again. Years of watching Food Network and early TV cooks, I have honed my skills.

I’m coming to you for dinner, what is your signature dish?

Barley Risotto. I always have dried woodland mushrooms on hand, barley, stock and parmesan cheese. Flourless Molten chocolate cake for dessert.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Escargot in garlic butter with lots of crusty bread. Or steak tartar.

Reveal something about yourself that others would be surprised to learn?

My favourite pet in the whole world was my gorgeous little brown bunny rabbit named Dustie. She passed away almost six years ago and I have been able to bring myself to get another.

Tag five other Food Bloggers to answer these questions:

  1. Hotly Spiced, Charlie Louie is a beautiful Mom with some very sophisticated recipes and a lovely way she weaves a story about her family into her posts.
  2. GenYFoodie, Dara puts together healthy, local ingredients into comforting meals. And she wrote a cookbook.
  3. Ichigo Shortcake, interesting food and travel adventures.
  4. Tracey’s Culinary Adventures, good down to earth recipes.
  5. The Big Fat Noodle, recipes and anecdotes.

Thanks again, Sharyn, I really appreciate the award. Now, I must contemplate some requirements for an upcoming giveaway! Very exciting…indeed.

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We awoke this morning to a light dusting of snow, not enough to shovel (yay!) but very pretty with the sun shining on it and making it sparkle like diamond dust!
We’ve been good. No Really, we have been. We’ve been eating healthily, not imbibing and some of us have been exercising (well, I have an excuse, my darn gym was closed this week! :( ) But the first week back is always a little tricky, it could be crazy busy or dead. Guess what it was for me? Yup, on Tuesday I landed with both feet running! I even had to call in our trusty freelancer (Jay). So as a ‘reward’ we decided to continue our new restaurant exploration series and try La Forchetta in Little Italy. Little Italy on College (we have Little Italy’s and this one is more or less the one people think of) is not too far from our home but decidedly not a good public transit local from our home, so we drove.
Because I am trying to detach some of the ‘goodness’ that I acquired during the holidays, I decided to have only one appetizer (generally, I’ll have two, or JT and I will share one and I’ll have another as my main; it’s easier to keep things in check and there is usually no risk of over eating!)
If only they didn’t bring the home-made bread drenched in a wonderfully robust (peppery) EVOO, rosemary and sea salt! That’s where ‘the plan’ fell through! (Not to be confused with “the plane, the plane“). I had three delicious slices (I chose the smallest ones :-)!)
La Forchetta (pronounced La Fork-etta in Italian, meaning the fork!) is right in the middle of Little Italy; and the hood has gone wild with their Christmas lights! Usually they have ‘the boot’ in lights on every light standard along college, but the also tightly wrapped each tree along the main street with blue lights and there are three gorgeous angels made of lights along side of Scotia Bank! It really is a sight! The beauty of this Little Italy is that every second store front is a restaurant!

La Forchetta is a relatively small (maybe seats 40-50?), family owned authentic Italian restaurant (great shot, click here). Our very nice waitress said it’s been open for 15 years and everything they serve is house made; that bread was seriously delicious! It is dimly lit with very nice contemporary chandeliers and there is a real candle on every table. It has windows across the front, a mirrored side wall (it may have been a smoked mirror) and a small bar at the back. The kitchen is not quite an open kitchen at the back, it has a medium sized opening so you can see the action should you choose (even the kitchen’s lighting is subdued so that there isn’t a rush of fluorescent streaming in). There are two Green P public parking lots near by and there is street parking if you’re lucky enough!)

When we got there at 7:30 and it wasn’t full but as the evening progressed it got a great vibe with more people. The young one’s started coming in around 9ish! We reserved through Open Table and they actually had a table “reserved” for us! Even though we only had ‘two’ courses our waitress timed our food perfectly, we didn’t finish until after 9:30. We tried walking around a bit, but the wind had picked up and a cold front was definitely on the horizon.

JT ordered the Caesar salad; it was chopped Romain lettuce, with a small bit of crispy fried prosciutto and lots of finely grated Parmesan and a few house made croutons. The dressing was perfect, just the right creaminess with a hint of the anchovy and a nice splash of lemon juice. It was really delicious (although, if I had to complain about something it would have been that the romain was cut into too small bits). I ordered the grilled calamari with caper berries and grilled lemon and green zucchini with a chipotle mango coulis (very delicious) and it was a decent portion for my dinner. JT ordered the slightly unorthodox sweet potato gnocchi with Gorgonzola sauce; it was the perfect combination of Gorgonzola and cream, it had just the right amount of bite! JT said it was one of the best he’s ever had. I think this restaurant is a keeper! There were several things on the appetizer menu that I could and would order for example the goats cheese filled portobello cap, or the Caprese (but not in the winter!). They also had several wines for less than $50 a bottle and their half litre was reasonably priced too!

Overall rating La Forchetta (in my opinion): Decor 4/5 (great lighting), service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 4/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

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Many of you have been doing a year in review with the most popular posts and I was thinking all week about doing the same. In reflecting on this data and going back through my blog, I again realize how much your visits/comments mean to me. Thank you everyone for your kind words and your encouragement, you have certainly enriched my blog experience more than you can know. I did do a review post last year, but showed only b-o-r-i-n-g stats, so this year, I am going to learn a lesson from my fellow bloggers and review my fourth year of blogging with more interesting things, like photos; I may have to interject some stats too…:-)

This blog received an ‘amazing’ 20,000 hits in 2011 (WordPress said it was ‘amazing’!) which apparently is 7 sold-out performances in the Sydney Opera House! I did a total of 141 posts with 423 photos! The busiest day of the year on this blog was September 17th with 301 views; the most popular post that day was TIFF and a test Moroccan Dessert Sellou (Sfouf). I think it was because George Clooney was in Toronto and everyone was searching TIFF!

It seems that these photos were the most popular in 2011 (even though they were from past posts), I’ll bore you with only four of them (note that some of the photos were taken with a Nikon Cool Pix, not an SLR)!:

The Best Flourless Chocolate Cake

#1 Molten Chocolate Cake by Michael Smith

Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Salad

#2 Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Hungarian Cheese Sticks (Sajtos Rúd)

#3 Hungarian Cheese Sticks (Sajos Rud)

Old Fashioned Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies

#4 Old Fashioned Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies

My favourite photos from 2011 are :
Anzac Biscuits

Chewy and not as sweet as you would think

The Moroccan Dessert Trio

From left to right: Coconut Lemon Cake, Fig Tart and Sellou

Cheddar, Green Onion and Prosciutto Scones

Cheddar, Green Onion and Prosciutto Scones

Cauliflower and Celeriac Mashed “potatoes”

Celeriac Cauliflower Mash

I usually don’t make resolutions, but this year I decided I would use fewer plastic zip lock bags. We’ve gone almost bagless, using reusable bags for everything else, even when I buy shoes, so why not ziplocks too? Wish me luck!

And with that, I bid you good day. I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane as much as I did.

PS, I only really learned how to use my SLR this year; my previous photos really sucked!

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My niece who is doing her post graduate degree in Law at the University of Western Ontario was visiting family up in Peterborough over the holidays. She had given her boyfriend tickets to the latest Cirque de Soliel in Toronto so they were coming to the city on Thursday night. We met up with them for drinks as they had to have an early dinner (we’re not seniors, yet), but then they came back to our house for the night so they wouldn’t have to drive home in the middle of the night! I made Cheddar, Green Onion and Prosciutto Scones for breakfast and they turned out extremely well so I thought I would share the recipe. We may have stayed up late chatting and drinking wine…or not. I mixed all the dry ingredients together and the wet separately, leaving the cheese, prosciutto and onion separate. In the morning I just mixed it all up, rolled it out and baked it. I had to make sure it was really easy since I wasn’t sure how hungry (ya, that’s it ;-)), we would be!

Particularly good if eaten hot out of the oven

The recipe is originally from Company’s Coming Muffins and More by Jean Paré, but of course, I changed it up a bit by adding the green onion and prosciutto.

Flaky scones with bits of prosciutto and green onion, the cheddar gets all melty inside (I should'ave photoshoped the prosciutto in this front one, it was there, really!)

Cheddar, Green Onion and Prosciutto Scones

Makes about 15 to 18 Scones, depending on the size you make them.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (you can use frozen butter grated on the largest grater)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup milk plus 2 tbsp
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
  • 2 slices Prosciutto, cooked until crisp, blotted for oil and then broken up into little bits

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder together with the salt.
  3. Cut in the butter until crumbly.
  4. Fold in the green onion, cheese and Prosciutto
  5. Mix together the egg and milk and beat until slightly frothy.
  6. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet. Mix well.
  7. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, and knead a few time (we don’t want the butter to melt, so careful if you have hot hands).
  8. Roll out to about 1 cm or 1/2 inch thick and cut with your favourite round, square or traingular cookie cutter.
  9. Brush the tops with the 2 tbsp milk.
  10. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the tops are golden.
  11. Enjoy with unsalted butter.

I had rounds, squares and triangles! They all taste the same, silly!

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A quick note that you may have noticed that I am now following you; I have been following you for quite some time, but had not figured out how to do it in WordPress! Well, I’ve finally figured it out and it’s done!

We weren’t going to go out for dinner last night but at the last minute decided to try out Bannock, the new Oliver and Bonacini restaurant at the corner of Queen and Bay Streets downtown. We made reservations on Open Table and got our preferred time. We took the subway to be on the safe side. The restaurant is decidedly contemporary, but the walls are lined with rough cut lumber darkly stained — the National Post called it “woodsy faux voyageur”, I didn’t mind it. It is has several lighting styles throughout. It’s not a huge place, maybe seating a hundred people. The cuisine is said to be Canadian Comfort Food and we are excited about the menu which boasts things such as the Prairie Grain Salad, Shaved Button Mushroom Salad, Mac and Cheese (with a granola topping) and Biff’s fried bologna and eggs! Decisions, decisions!

We arrived a little late but were seated within a couple of minutes. I mentioned lighting styles above and for the most part they are warm, contemporary soft subtle lights which will do a lovely job on various skin shades and textures; we were seated at the “wall of light” that had a 1000 watt LED cool bulb every 2 feet shining down right onto the unsuspecting patrons — yes, you know what I mean, just slightly better than fluorescent bulbs! Our waitress came over and asked if we needed a few minutes (we just got there) and if we wanted water; she sent over the water guy. I had to shield my eyes from the light to read the menu (did I bring my sun glasses?) We did not see our waitress for 10 minutes, no, I lied, she came by several times, looked directly at me and walked on by. We wanted to change our table but by the time she would have come over, the tables had been filled, the place was really busy. We got up and left. We’ll get back there again one day, likely for lunch when I have my sunglasses!

We ended up at Mercatto on Bay Street. We were immediately drawn to the beautiful modern but comfortable Italian décor with lovely crystal chandeliers (dimmed to the perfect level). There are several black-boards throughout with menu items, nice sayings and such. It’s very friendly and fortunately for us, not busy at all. Our waitress was chatty and available. We shared the Crostini which was generously spread with ricotta and topped with prosciutto, arugula and grana padano. It was fantastic, the ricotta might have been a bit thick, but I wasn’t about to complain. We agreed we would both order it again. I had the Polipo which was grilled octopus with spicy ‘nduga sausage (they weren’t kidding about the spicy), fingerlings and swiss chard; another total winner. The sausage did overwhelm the delicate octopus, but again, I loved it. JT had the Chitarra “carbonara” with guianciale (unsmoked Italian bacon), brussels spouts and pecorino — very delicious. I really loved this place and would go back in a second. They have a great pizza oven too!

Overall rating Mercatto (in my opinion): Decor 3.5/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). The restaurant was pretty quiet, I would imagine it gets pretty loud at night if it’s busy. Our waitress mentioned that they were full booked for New Years Eve.

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

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We had a very good friend and her hubby over for brunch during the holidays; she is gluten intolerant so I like to make things she can easily enjoy, AND I don’t like to make two of everything so whatever I cook/bake has to be delicious enough that her husband can’t tell the difference ;-)! My good blogger friends Kristy and Mike at Our Family Food Adventures made a raspberry tart the other day, and it looked absolutely wonderful, so I went about the internet to find a gluten free pie pastry. I made a few alterations in the filling recipe to make it gluten free and a smaller tart size. Sadly the GF crust recipe I used was not the best so I won’t list the recipe, but I used this one, cutting it in half for the smaller tart pan!

The pastry in our little tester up front turned out a very hard and leathery, I would probably suggest a bit more butter in the pastry or a different recipe!

Do you like my tart server? Why yes, it is a shoe, thank you for noticing!

The raspberries were a little tart, so adjust your sugar accordingly

Raspberry Filling Ingredients:

  • 3 c raspberries (I used frozen)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/3 c tapioca starch
  • 2 tbsp non-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Raspberry Filling Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Defrost the raspberries.
  3. Sprinkle with the 1/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup tapioca starch, mix well.
  4. Add the Greek yogurt and mix. Set aside.
  5. Combine the 1 tbsp sugar with the cinnamon.
  6. Rub the butter on the bottom of the tart pastry until it is completely used up. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
  7. Pour the raspberry filling into the tart pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the crust is lightly golden and the filling has set.
  8. Allow to cool. Serve cold or at room temperature.

I added a heap of fresh raspberries on the day I served it

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I wasn’t going to review La Societé again as we have been there before and the food and service is always consistently good, but we had such an amazing experience on New Years Eve, I just had to blog about it.

Would you like to place your order all at once, or as the evening goes on?

We made our reservations for 9 so that we’d have half a chance of ringing in the new year at the restaurant; we didn’t make it, the food was so delicious we had a really hard time eating s l o w l y (and anyone who knows JT will attest that it is no easy feat!). We both got dolled up to celebrate the new year of 2012. We did the responsible thing by subwaying downtown so that we could imbibe. The subways were running well which really surprised me*.

The restaurant was not as crowded as I had thought it would be. This was their first year and to our surprise they did not take a deposit for our reservation (La Select took one last year and the year before; apparently Torontonians are famous for not showing up for a reservation!). We were seated quickly at a centre table for two — I hated it immediately and asked to be moved, the hostess said she didn’t have another table. Grumble, grumble, grumble. As we were settling in, and our waitress was pouring the water and I happened to say “wow, is it ever noisy” and it was. She immediately picked up on it and asked if we’d like a lovely little table tucked into the corner by the window. We jumped on it. She moved us and we settled in. Coincidentally, the following patrons at that same table requested a change of scenery as well! Note to restaurant: that little table in the middle is in the way, no one likes it, not even the wait staff — they keep bumping into the diners sitting there. It’s best to remove the offending table than risk your patron having only a so-so time.

The meal began with a little amuse bouche of toasted brioche with lemon scented goats cheese and tomato confit, it was lovely. Our lovely waitress paced us well, we just couldn’t pace ourselves! I ordered Spicy Tuna Tartar which was diced tuna, apple, ginger, pine nuts and fresh coriander — so delicious. The little bites of crunchy apple and pine nuts really complimented the smooth texture of the tuna, and the ginger was quite refreshing and added a bit of heat to the dish. I couldn’t stop eating, the portion was huge 150-200 grams of the tuna — they really could have cut it in half. JT had the Braised Bison Short Rib with smoked bone marrow and cauliflower purée. The short rib was braised to perfection, simply melting off the bone. The flavour was rich and satisfying. I didn’t try the cauliflower purée but it looked wonderful. Now I’m absolutely full, and I still have my steak to contend with.

Next we ordered our mains; I had the Grilled AAA 10 oz Striploin Steak, rare (they didn’t have my steak tartar on the menu so I had to go with this instead. Plus I NEVER order cooked steak so it was a lovely change. They served the steak with Delmonico potatoes with woodland mushrooms (an incredibly decadent dish of potatoes, a cheesy white sauce and buttered mushrooms) and a brandy peppercorn sauce. Let me start by saying the portions were incredible. I barely got through 1/4 of the 300-400 gram steak and barely touched the potatoes. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying. It was wonderful. The steak was cooked rare, melted in your mouth and the peppercorn sauce added that little bite. The potatoes were incredibly creamy and the mushrooms sooo delicious, I picked through and ate them before I gave JT a chance to try it. Fortunately I was able to bring my leftovers home! JT had the Pan-seared Pheasant Breast with roast chestnuts, apple foie gras butter and a celery root purée and brussels sprout leaves. The pheasant breast was cooked perfectly and paired well with the sides. It was a more manageable portion.

I didn’t have much room for dessert so I didn’t order one, but instead had a spoon of JTs Hazelnut Chocolate Bar with salted praline and caramel ice cream. WOW! Although I was glad I didn’t order one, I would have truly regretted finishing it off! ;-)

The restaurant noise level was a bit louder than usual, people reveling and enjoying their dinners, and around 10pm they brought in a DJ who slowly raised the volume of the 1980′s music higher and higher. By 11pm we were no longer able to converse, so we decided to head home and bring in the new year by the fireplace and a glass of wine. I was a little disappointed in the music as I would have expected more Jazz instead of 1980s pop from a French restaurant.

The subway ride home was entertaining thanks to the inebriated passengers and fortunately, on time without issues. Had we stayed until mid-night, the TTC would have been free.

I have to say something about the service: exceptional. Our waitress was attentive but subtle and always around when we needed something. Our wine glasses were never empty, nor were our water glasses. My regret is that I wish I had gotten her name so I can pass along my great experience to the restaurant.

Overall rating (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 3.5/5, food 4/5, Value 3.5/5, Noise: 1/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet). This restaurant is never quiet.

Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.

In case you needed some more reading:

*On Friday night we also took the subway down, and just as we were coming home around 10:30, they announced that there was an issue which caused the subway to be shut down. The terminal was crowding quickly as passengers were accumulating, so we decided to surface and take a cab before they became extinct. Traffic was also brutal; as it turns out, there was a fire at St. George station which caused backups along Bloor Street – our route home! The 10 minute cab ride ended up setting us back $30, including tip! Yikes! To recap, we spend $4 for the car park at the subway station (ya, we live close enough to walk but it was raining!), $10 for the subway ($2.50 each way per person) and then $30 for the ride home! That’s $44 and we haven’t even had a bite!

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