Posted by: Food Lover | January 23, 2017

Disfrutando: Cocina Amigable


We recently spent some time in the legendary party town of Montañita, Ecuador. Every evening we wandered into town and roamed about to get a sense of the form Montañita would take that night; we learned it is an ever-changing town.

During each of these evening walks we inevitably passed by a small restaurant called Disfrutando: Cocina Amigable (Enjoying: Friendly Kitchen), run by three young men.  The chef has his cooking station set up outside at the very front of the “patio”,  where we had a clear line of sight on the sizzling meats being grilled, and fresh vegetables behind him. Each time we became more and more intrigued, memories surfaced of a once much-loved restaurant that is now gone.

The sights and smells of rustic grilled food took our minds back to another groovy coastal town in Mexico, called Sayulita. Delicious food was prepared by a young Mexican chef and served at a small, street side restaurant called Mexotica. We have reminisced about that meal occasionally (particularly the sinfully delicious chocolate avocado mousse!) and have often wondered if we would ever encounter a similar experience anywhere else.


Disfrutando gave us this wonderful experience once more, but with the chef’s own personality injected into the cooking style.  Disfrutando is the child of a young Ecuadoran chef, using fresh ingredients and a remarkably small range of spices.  He has no formal training, learning everything he knows through observation.  What he does have is a love of food and good friends to help him run the place – his handsome smile and gentle demeanor certainly help as well. Dishes cooked on a single iron grill and two side gas burners presented what were easily the two best meals we had while in Ecuador. In fact, the first meal – consisting of a shared appetizer and two small plate dishes, served “on trend” using simple wooden platters – was so good that we returned two nights later determined to share all four small plates (at all of $5.00 US per plate!) to enjoy as much of Felipe’s cooking as we could. Bringing along our own bottle of inexpensive Chilean Sauvignon Blanc we settled in to enjoy a delicious meal.


First up, house baked, country-style bread rubbed with freshly cut garlic and grilled with olive oil, then topped with barely frizzled spinach and caramelized shallots. This take on bruschetta was simple and delicious – a great start to the dinner.  It was interesting to experience how much firmness the spinach could retain while slightly charring on the edges, a trick we we’re going to work to replicate. The spinach provided a lovely texture as we bit into the bruschetta, with the garlic as a delicate accent. The sweet mild shallots gave a juicy freshness, they were nice and crunchy with a smokey caramelization.  As lovers of bread, we really appreciated the hot, soft slices of thick bread with a crunchy crust. We are very much looking forward to the nutritional community deciding that bread is not bad for us after all.


The next dish: Cameron A La Cerveza con Calabaza Y Berenjena Asada (Shrimp in Beer with Grilled Pumpkin and Eggplant).  Ecuador’s small but plump, sweet shrimp had become something of an obsession with us during our trip.  Ecuadoran cuisine serves up shrimp many ways: breaded and deep fried (Apanado); served in a rich coconut sauce (Enconcado),  or served as a ceviche being the most popular.  Felipe’s preparation was a unique delight. He gently sautéed the shrimp in beer, with garlic and cilantro. This was also served with his signature spicy blackberry compote and that fascinating aioli that seemed something of a cross between mayo and creme fraiche.  A savoury slice of pumpkin, grilled and hot, was a lovely complement to the sweetness of the shrimp.   Generally not fond of eggplant, we were surprisingly pleased with the melt-in-you-mouth soft texture and delicious caramelized flavour.


Pollo A La Plancha Con Papa Rellena y Ensalada Criolla, Grilled Chicken With Stuffed Potato and Creole Salad.  This is a chicken breast fillet lightly seasoned, then drizzled and rubbed with a fresh lime as the chicken was grilling. The chicken breast was tender and juicy, somewhat surprising in light of the boneless fillet being used. Accompanied by a unique, spicy blackberry compote and a fresh tasting twist on aioli this chicken really sparkled. The addition of a twice baked potato stuffed with bacon and cheese, and a small side salad of finely chopped tomatoes and red onion – called “creole salad” on the menu, but more reminiscent of pico de gallo –  rounded out this delicious first sharing plate.


Our last dish was the Credo Braceado A La Cerveza, Milhoja De Papa Y Ens Tomate Albaca – Pork Braised in Beer with Scalloped Potato,  Tomatoes and Basil.  This dish was so tasty we had it twice during our stay inMontañita.  Pork is very slowly braised in beer, with tomatoes, carrots, and onions.  This was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, the fat was beautifully braised out of the meat making each bite rich tasting, with a wonderful mouth-feel. Never did it feel particularly greasy or fatty.  The scalloped potatoes were able to hold up to the same quality as the pork,  some bites were as crispy as a potato chip, others soft and creamy, with actual cream to make it a touch more decidant.  The tomatoes with basil worked as a nice palate cleanser, refreshing our taste buds so we could fully appreciate the pork and potatoes as we kept eating.   


In our travels, we are always thrilled to find eager, talented people striking out and trying to make a go of things.  This enterprising spirit is particularly what impresses us about Latin American culture.  Disfrutando has a special place in our hearts for this reason, and we hope more travelers will delight in the work of these three gentlemen.  Felipe’s food was a brilliant reminder of how spectacular simple cooking can be when the ingredients used are fresh and the execution is precise.

Posted by: Food Lover | May 31, 2016

Rosemary Tuna Loin Sandwich With Lemon Pepper Mayo


We came up with this recipe after a long day at work. We wanted something simple and tasty. It so happened we had a beautiful tuna loin from Skipper Otto ( and a baguette on hand.  The rest just came together.





• 1/2 cup butter or ghee
• 1 spring rosemary, stemmed
• 1 large garlic clove thinly sliced

• 3 tablespoons mayonaise
• 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp lemon zest (optional)
• 1/4 pepper

• 1 tuna loin
• Salt
• Pepper
• Onion Powder

• 1 baguette


  1. Start by melting the butter or ghee over a very low gentle heat.  Add the rosemary and the garlic clove and let sit for about 10 minutes, until flavours are blended.  The butter should not be hot enough to sizzle, you just want to infuse the flavours into the oil.
  2. In a small bowl mix together mayo, lemon, pepper and if you wish lemon zest.
  3. Dry loin with paper towel. Sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder all over the tuna loin. Brush tuna loin with the flavoured butter.
  4. Over a high heat, sear the tuna loin evenly on each side, either on a well oiled pan or grill.  Brush each side of the tuna loin with more butter as you cook it. About 2 minutes per side.
  5. Cut the baguette in half, turn the broiler on in your oven until the bread is golden brown.  Make sure you check on it frequently as it will burn quickly.  Remove baguette and brush with flavoured butter.  Scoop out the rosemary leaves and garlic and spread them over the baguette.
  6. Slice loin crosswise into ¼- to ½-inch thick pieces. Arrange tuna on the baguette and drizzle with any remaining butter.  Place a small dollop of mayo on each tuna piece.
Posted by: Food Lover | November 22, 2015

Omakase Throw Down

In our constant pursuit of insanely good food we often turn to word of mouth, asking fellow travelers, friendly strangers and comrades for suggestions. When the question posed is “Where’s the best Japanese cuisine in Canada?” Tojo would come up with surprising frequency. Indeed, over the many years we have heard about it, it has become the Camelot of sushi in our minds, a mythical wonderful place worthy of a quest. Their omakase has been a particular focus of attention, absolutely raved about by all who have experienced it. Omakase is a Japanese style tasting menu where the diner entrusts the chef to choose each dish. Often off-menu items are presented, using the finest ingredients available that day and allowing the chef to showcase his artistic skills.

As inveterate fans of Japanese cuisine, it was our duty to venture forth in search of this (perhaps) Holy Grail of Canadian omakase.  A birthday proved to be the inspiration to finally visit Vancouver, and helped to justify reserving a seat at the sushi bar.  Reserving at the sushi bar at Tojo’s comes at an additional cost, for this is as sacred a place as the round table, where the legend himself (Tojo) and his excellent staff of sushi samurai can be observed executing their finely honed craft.

We arrived at the beautiful and surprisingly spacious restaurant, a touch starving and most eager for the 6+ course feast that awaited us.  Upon entering through the front door we were greeted by a soft-spoken Japanese man who considerately took our jackets and as he carefully hung them promised to get a good price on E-Bay, an impish smile heightening the charm of his little jest.

We were led to our seats at the table by another employee who exuded charm and warmth. A Sri Lankan man who spoke fluent Japanese and interacted seamlessly with Tojo and his team, Chris was the epitome of chivalry in the care he took to ensure we were well cared for all evening. He placed us comfortably away from others nestled at the sushi bar, providing everyone with warm sense of privacy and intimacy.   Tojo greeted us and came over to have a quick chat.  He let us know that he works with local, seasonal ingredients using Japanese techniques to come up while wholly new dishes.  With a sheet of paper and pencil in hand he asked if we have food allergies (no), any particular likes (everything) and dislikes (of which we have none); a lovely touch. “You are open-minded then,” he concluded with a pleased nod.
We started with cocktails, and it’s safe to say that the Tojo-tini (sake and shochu vodka) was one of the best martinis we’ve ever tasted – and we are very particular about our martinis.

The first course of our omakase adventure was Tojo’s sashimi plate.  This generous plating consisted of east coast blue fin tuna, sockeye salmon, albacore tuna, red snapper, and geoduck (giant clam).  The most notable thing about this dish was the firmness of all the fish served. While we expect this of good sashimi this was at a level we have rarely encountered. The flavours were really brought to life by a unique and delicious spicy, citric sesame sauce lightly drizzled over the dish.


At this point we ordered our first bottle of Tojo’s Choice sake. After all this was a special night so why not order sake specially distilled for this restaurant. Crisp and delicious sake was served in frozen glasses; we savoured every sip, though truth be told sips quickly became longer and deeper with each passing mouthful. Indeed, we nearly refilled our own glasses to the playful horror of Chris, who literally came running from the kitchen to intervene.

IMG_3439-EDITED.jpgNext up a delicious lightly coated, super crunchy tempura medley was set before us, with the gentle reminder that the tomato was very hot and caution was necessary.  Once cooled biting into that tomato created a gushing volcano of rich tomato juice. Absolutely delicious!  Next, the barely cooked wonderfully crunchy okra. Not only was this tasty, it was probably the most unique serving of okra we’ve ever had. Fresh, full of flavour, amazing crisp texture and not a hint of the gooeyness you can sometimes encounter with cooked okra. But as good as the tomato and okra were, the unchallenged star was the mini zucchini stuffed with creamy ling cod and scallop.  We love ling cod but have never encountered it cooked with this amazing creamy, yet firm texture.  Biting into this was one of those moments when you realize that the people creating this food had mastered their craft and don’t even get us started on the flavour pairing with the scallop – off the hook!


IMG_3441-INPROCESS-EDITED.jpgThe next dish took us back to a sashimi theme. While we were in the same theme, the storyline was different this time.  A variety of tastes from the sea filled our plate: extraordinarily tender octopus and squid, sweet crab and rich, house-made smoked salmon.  The accompaniments allowed for an exploration of flavour combinations with matchstick thin daikon, asian pear, vibrant shiso leaf,  edamame, and a citric wasabi sauce. This medley of flavours delighted the palate in any combination we tried.  The hardest thing about eating this dish knowing that it would come to an end and we couldn’t decide which delightful mouthful should be savoured last.

Our “Christmas Present” from the kitchen arrived in the form of a bowl wrapped beautifully in parchment paper, a bow tie of wicker, and a decoration of pine needles (the lime placed delicately on top of the parchment was more than just visual appeal).  When we unwrapped our gift, the delightful aroma of the broth wafted up and set our saliva glands into overdrive.   Sable fish (also known as black cod) is one of our favourite fish, and this was gently smoked to perfection.  The combination of the firm yet silky, delicately flavoured fish with the rich aromatic broth was magical.  Nestled inside the fish was an asparagus spear, and a bit of   burdock root – another favourite ingredient. It’s earthy flavours and crispy chewy texture gave this an autumn warmth that was most appropriate.  Best part of all, we were encouraged to pick up the bowl and slurp every last drop of broth, which we wanted to do and were willing to risk being seen as gauche.  In hindsight this was the best dish of the entire meal –  primus inter pares (first among equals).


Next came a dish that looked so unique and inviting that before we realized what had happened we had eaten the whole thing without taking a photo. An impossibly thin egg crepe embraced a filling of dungeness crab, spot prawns, salmon, topped with a gorgeous deep burgundy, very small roe (we honestly don’t know of what, but it was delicious).  We have long heard the west coast raving of spot prawn, and this was our first encounter – and it lived up to its billing.  Sweet, firm, silky texture, with a natural sweetness. The texture was a great contrast to the somewhat firmer moist crab, while the sweetness of both combined melodiously with the earthy and oily salmon. This dish was magical, hence its disappearing act!

No omakase would be complete without a nigiri plate, and when this one arrived we knew we were in for a treat.  The beautiful layout of Japanese scallop, silvery sardine, blue fin tuna, ocean pike, and ocean unagi deserved a moment of admiration before we could dig in. Beneath each piece was a splendid lightly packed silky rice, and a freshly grated pat of wasabi (except under the ocean unagi).  All of the portions were tasty, but at least for one of us, the most surprising was how delicious the sardine was.  Not normally a favourite we could have eaten a plate of them. Similarly the blue fin was exquisite compared to all others we have had.  The fat was so finely marbled through, it didn’t give the sense of eating a very fatty piece of fish, rather it exploded with juicy, mouth-filling richness that invited us to eat slowly and savour.


IMG_3445-EDITED.jpgWho hasn’t seen a rainbow roll dish at their neighbourhood sushi joint?  We were most excited to be presented with the haute cuisine version of this everyday favourite.  Thinly sliced and delicately placed salmon, snapper and tuna accented with another version of impossibly thin egg crepe, cast its rainbow colours over a warm filling of bbq eel.  The whole thing was enlivened with the addition of the complex tasting cinnamon-basil-spearmint flavour combination that is shiso leaf. No need for soy on this flavourful dish. To be honest we were feeling quite stuffed by the time this arrived, but we soldiered through and ate the whole thing!

And in spite of being stuffed, we couldn’t resist saying “Yes!” when asked: “Would you like a sweet?”  After enjoying such delightful creations for almost two hours we were most curious to see what the kitchen would come up with for dessert. We weren’t disappointed when a small ramekin arrived bearing a light and exquisite flavour and texture combination.  Tojo’s take on creme brûlée involved the obligatory custard, but rather than topping that with a hard sugar glaze this was bathed in a light syrup and topped with a fresh strawberry and finely chopped mango. A delicious, crispy, toasted sesame cookie, broken up and sprinkled over the creamy custard, provided the crunchy texture normally associated with creme brûlée. It was a simple but delicious end to a decadent meal.

And now, for those who have stuck with us ’til the end, it’s time for the big reveal! One of the main reasons we’ve long wanted to go to Tojo’s was to see if it is as good as our long time favourite sushi resto – Sushi Kaji in Toronto. The verdict? A dead heat. Tojo and Kaji are two masters with different styles at the top of their game. We highly recommend both and dare anyone to declare an outright winner.

Next step: back to Sushi Kaji to refresh our memory and share our adventure with you!

Tojo’s Restaurant


Trip Advisor

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Posted by: Food Lover | November 30, 2014

Unleashing the Primal Carnivore

Zakopane, a mountain town in southern Poland, is an easy place to work up a prodigious appetite. After a long day of hiking the ancient mountains one wanders into the quaint touristy mountain town absolutely ravenous.  Conveniently our walk into town took us by a traditional fire grill – Owczarnia – the smell of which wafted up the road leading us inevitably to an outside table. Of course before sitting down we had to ogle the vast array of grilled meats, all the while taking in the smell of fire smoke and the sounds of a busy kitchen.

cooking meats

We started the meal with an order of wild mushrooms in mushroom gravy and a “side” of bacon. The mushroom dish was the first to arrive, and on first glance it was not at all appetizing. However, once we dug in it was absolutely delicious. The umami of the dish punched right through flooding our senses with the wonderful earthiness of the freshly foraged mushrooms.

brown mushrooms

On the menu the description read as “a large chunk of bacon”.  Fire cooked bacon?? How could we say no??!! HOW??!! Two thick slabs of bacon arrived at the table, their fire licked scent dancing around everyone at the table. It was beautiful, smokey, lightly charred, juicy. Just look at it! God we miss this dish. It’s one of those rare moments when a food implants itself into your memory, flashbacks of its awesomeness becoming a source of foodie daydreams.

bacon slab

Little did we know, we had not yet met our match. Next to arrive were our mains. First – the golonka. Golonka is a traditional food in both Poland and Germany. It is made from either pig knuckle or pig hock, in this case it was a massive pig knuckle. We’d never even heard of it cooked over a fire, and the way it looked at the grill made our mouths explode in salivating desire. This thing was Jurassic, indeed it called out our inner neanderthal, we could only grunt with delight while eating what we could… which was much less than half! Everyone at the table ended up picking at this massive chunk of meat. The crackling was the most memorable of all, an intense crunch hit our bliss point with every bite. Simply put, this joint could have fed all four people at the table. Even shared there was still another meat feast left over – just ridiculous (in the best way possible).


Then the ribs arrived, to delighted laughs of disbelief.  WILLLLLLMMAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!! Yes, it was like living a real life Bedrock. Only Fred Flinstone could actually FINISH a rack of ribs this big! Just perfectly grilled, tender, juicy and accompanied by local potatoes roasted then finished in a deep fry. Yes, a deep fry. Glorious!


This was the most memorable feast of meat we’ve ever had in our lives.  The taste of meat lovingly grilled over fire brought back a distant pleasure – perhaps it resonated because of our childhood camping adventures, perhaps it reached into something even deeper, something primal.   If you find yourself hiking near Zakopane, don’t let yourself miss this treasure.










Posted by: Food Lover | November 10, 2014

Aletier Amaro: The Art Of Food

We were in Warsaw in July for a few nights at the end of a 2 1/2 week vacation in Poland. Having experienced many incredible meals during the trip we wanted to end with a BANG with something truly gob-smacking. It just so happened a magazine in our hotel room mentioned that Warsaw had gotten its first Michelin star restaurant. We asked the concierge if it were possible to get in on short notice; she laughed and said, “They’re booking into November. I can call and ask, and they’ll laugh, and I’ll laugh with them.” This was of course said in good humour and we asked her to indulge us anyway. That evening we got the incredible news that a reservation had cancelled at Aletier Amaro and we had a reservation for the next night.

The restaurant is situated in a beautiful park in the heart of Warsaw near the historic royal family’s palace grounds. We were greeted by the maitre d’ and shown to our table. We knew we were in for a special evening when we asked our host if it was alright to take pictures for our food blog – we’re always careful never to take pictures at a finer establishment without permission. Not only was he happy to grant permission he invited us to tour the kitchen and meet the chef when we were finished our meal. More on that later!

The food had a consistent theme of fresh seasonal ingredients and edible flowers, which was quite special. In addition we chose the menu with spirit pairings for each dish. Thank goodness we cabbed it! The meal began with three amuse bouche each one bold and beautiful. Of particular note was a potato “chip” so thin it seemed to split the atom. Served with fermented garlic paste and potato vodka gel. An amazing act of food chemistry, this “chip” was like nothing we’ve ever had before. It was exquisite!

potato chip

The next two were just as fascinating:


slated cucumber

Salted cucumber with watercress and flowers. The fresh tastes of spring!



chocolate dirt
Nasturtium flowers with marinated cherry, in chocolate “dirt” – the best part about the chocolate is that it was just barely sweetened, letting the cacao really come through.

Before the first course arrived they brought a fascinating selection of breads: the black one is made using hay ash, which you could taste distinctly in a surprisingly pleasant way; caraway seed croissant; sour dough, and white bread. Pretty impressive was the hot pebbles at the bottom of the burlap bag, which kept our bread warm for quite some time!


The first course gave us another insight into how amazing this dinner was going to be. It was a buttery piece of foie gras served with tomato, verbena flower all in an extraordinarily delicate flavourful apple and rosemary consomme. This came with liqueur made from miniature plum brought from Kazakhstan, unadulterated before fermentation.

rosemarry consume

Next came a beautiful plate of broad kidney bean and the leaf of a flower, with rabbit skin beneath that was hard to see because it is coated in a broad bean sauce. This was complimented by a lavender and chèvre powder. The spirit served with this dish was a sea buckthorn, which is a berry that favours post glacial sandy conditions. It comes from the Baltic region near the German border. The sea buckthorn is harvested during the first frost. First the sea buckthorn is macerated for 4 years, then fermented in glass containers so the flavour is untouched by other elements. In the summer it is placed in the sun to allow it to slowly and gently caramelize.

rabbit skin

Next came a dish that can only be described as sashimi/not-sashimi. It was trout marinated in salt and sugar and cooked at 36 degrees for 20min. The texture of the trout is hard to describe. While it looked raw – like sashimi – the texture leaned away from an uncooked fish. Add to that the penetration of the marinade flavours and you had a truly special dish. The trout was paired with a green pea flower, green pea leaves and puree as well as a sorbet of elderflower and beet root to complement. The dish was served with Golden Rose Liquor, made of macerated golden roses in alcohol.


Next up a salted cucumber consomme with cucumber flower, and a bit of cucumber as well as a raw egg yolk. What made this dish particularly fascinating was what happened when you broke the yolk and mixed it into the consomme. The consistency changed completely and became more like a silky, soft, thin pudding. This was served with a late harvest wheat spirit.

cucumber consume

To break up the meal we were treated to a truly unique palate cleanser. It was a green tea sorbet served with “dirt” – the same bitter chocolate cocao powder that we had as part of an amuse bouche earlier. The presentation was like a little sculpture, making the food into two mushrooms. Really beautiful – was almost a shame to eat it, but we did anyway!


The next dish was the highlight of the meal – up to this point. We were both surprised how delicious zucchini and zucchini flower could be! The tart frozen raspberry caviar was a splendid flavour and texture, smoothed out nicely by goat cheese with some rosemary to add a savoury flavour. Truly marvelous and eye-opening. This was served with our favourite liqueur of the evening, Staripolska. It has strong notes of plum, honey, hazelnut and spices. We loved it so much we hunted down a few bottles and took them back home with us.

zucchini flower salad

When the baked turbot arrived served with young sunflower seeds, we admit to being a bit skeptical. Then we tasted it and our jaws dropped! The match of sunflower seeds with the turbot, complimented by roasted pepper, edible flowers and dill was an exquisite harmony of flavour. Served with a new potato vodka, where each vintage comes from a single farmer’s field, harvested in June. Each batch provides a very unique flavour.


Here’s a revelation we’ll never forget: freeze dried strawberries (with intense flavour and crunchy) covered in mustard powder. That right there is what makes a great chef, and humbles us every time. Oh yeah, and there was also a delicious perfectly spiced piece of venison on the plate as well, laying on top of buckwheat in caramelized buttermilk. Did you know you can caramelize buttermilk? We didn’t! Finished with delicious freshly foraged chanterelle mushrooms and a sunflower seed purée (these guys love their sunflower seeds) this dish displaced the zucchini dish as the highlight of the meal. It was served with Krzeska herbal vodka, but to be truthful this was one course that was so good we hardly paid heed to the spirit.



Celeriac chip
Celeriac chip with chanterelle purée and bone marrow was served as a last savoury flavour before moving on to dessert. We love all things celeriac, mostly because it’s amazing what real chefs can do with anything celery – which in the hands of us mortals is otherwise a pretty uninteresting food.

poppy seed sorbet
Our palate cleanser: Poppy Flower Sorbet with Apple and Pine Jelly

And now on to what was, and remains, the most daring and unusual dessert we’ve ever encountered. In fact, the chef described it as “controversial”, inspiring either love or hate upon first taste. It’s one of those dishes that you really have to taste – it’s almost impossible to describe the flavour experiment that’s going on. We did love this dish, but even as we ate it we really had to ponder and process what was happening on our taste buds. How can we like something that’s confusing us this much? It’s important to mention that one of us normally HATES eggplant and yet, here was an eggplant dessert that was pleasant. The eggplant was served in the bitter-sweet cacao powder, sitting amongst plain yoghurt, with freeze dried wild strawberries and marjoram. We had to applaud the chef – inventive? yes! bold? yes! ballsy? absolutely! This will be one dish we’ll likely remember for the rest of our lives.

eggplant dessert

It was a meal very much worthy of a Michelin Star restaurant, at the end of which the maitre d’ made good his promise and took us downstairs to meet the head chef and the sous chef. We chatted about the meal and they were genuinely interested in hearing our opinion, especially about dessert! LOL We weren’t surprised to hear it was controversial, and they were both very pleased that we enjoyed it so much.

An amazing evening, after which we were most grateful that Warsaw’s taxis are prompt and inexpensive!


ul. Agrykola 1
Warsaw, Poland
Posted by: Food Lover | November 3, 2014

Truth in False Advertising

sandwich board

Posted by: Food Lover | August 5, 2014

Savannah: From Regal Decadence to Country BBQ

Anyone who has been to Savannah GA will know that the trip is worthwhile for the food experiences alone. We’ve been twice in the past three years and while the great B&Bs, southern charm, and beautiful architecture are allure enough, what really keeps us going back is the food. This city is, quite simply, a foodie paradise! It’s impossible for us to capture all of our food experiences in a single blog without turning it into a novel. Rather, we’re going to offer a glimpse of Savannah’s food culture by highlighting two ends of the spectrum: from almost regal decadence to good-old-fashioned, down home country BBQ.


First, the decadence, which we’re so very good at. We happened across an online event guide to Savannah which highlighted the Jazz brunch at the Westin Hotel and Resort just across the river from downtown. Now, to be clear, the idea of a brunch in a hotel is not normally something we would consider. However, being familiar with the Gospel brunches of New Orleans, this did spark some curiosity. When we asked our gracious hosts at the Kehoe House B&B, they insisted that this brunch was spectacular and worth the $45/person cost.

Come Sunday morning, we donned our Sunday best and bundled ourselves into a cab (Full disclosure: this was a mistake. Taxis are notoriously late – as our was – and to make matters worse we found out later that there’s a free water taxi, that’s very charming, which will take you straight to the hotel from downtown. Next time.) Once we finally arrived at the Westin, there was quite the journey to the Aqua Star dining room. As we neared, the sound of soft jazz from the very talented live band lured us toward the feast that awaited us.

And what a feast it was! We were gob-smacked as we walked past sprawling tables laden with all manner of delicious foods. Tables were set up with beautiful displays, some things you would expect at brunch and some delightful surprises. Indeed, there was too much to take in at first glance, the selection was so grand.

There was a marvelous plate – nay, vast marble slab – of cold cuts, delicious pates and decadent smoked duck breast with a side of lovely mustard sauce and horseradish to accompany your selections.

deli plate

Next our eyes fell upon the selection of fresh raw oysters, cooked shrimp, smoked scallops and shrimp, baked salmon and lox that had our mouths watering before we even reached our table – a table perfectly situated close to the band and with a fantastic view of the river. Once we sat down and ordered our champagne (which was included in the price – and friends, unlimited quantities thereof!), we went on an expedition to explore the cornucopia of choice we were about to discover. So here we are: live jazz band, grand room with a great view, unlimited champagne and delicious food as far as the eye could see – we were in culinary slut heaven.


It’s important to note there were some typical breakfast offerings, like omelettes, pancakes and what-not, but we hardly spared a glance with all the decadent foods laid out about us. Indeed, we decided immediately to pace ourselves so we could enjoy as many offerings as possible. We started with the rack of lamb station, yes friends, freshly prepared perfectly cooked medium-rare rack of lamb! And this gem was situated immediately beside the beef tenderloin with blue cheese and blackberry sauce – OMG this is brunch! We indulged in the oyster rockerfeller, seafood potpie, roasted veggies, cold cuts and many cheese selections. We never even made it to the fresh pasta station, salad bars or some of the other foods available – we needed to save room for dessert.

rack of lamb

We think you’re getting the picture, we could go on and on. There was a lot of food – so much so that the desserts alone took three camera frames… so from here on out we’ll let the pictures do the talking.


baked salmon




<a href=””><img alt=”Aqua Star Seafood Kitchen on Urbanspoon” src=”; style=”border:none;width:200px;height:146px” /></a>


In order for us to get to the Sandfly BBQ we had to take a taxi from downtown Savannah to the outlying community of Sandfly. Was it worth the $50 return (tip included) fare? On so many levels, Ab – So – Lutley!!!!

Let’s be clear. There is nothing fancy or pretentious about this place. Tucked away in a small commercial strip this place is all about the exceptional home cooked BBQ deliciousness; it’s not about ambiance.

The menu is displayed on a large chalk board behind the order counter. There are 5 meat choices: pulled pork; beef brisket; smoked sausage, BBQ side ribs and chicken. Then there is a wide array of sides, ranging from the famous baked beans, the equally famous fried okra, to mac & cheese and the ubiquitous sweet potato fries.


We ordered a sampler platter (sausage, ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket and Texas toast), then threw in a 1/4 chicken, fried okra, baked beans and mac & cheese for good measure. Gluttonous much 🙂

 meat sampler
chicken and ribs

So, to the food. Tied for best of the bunch: the melt in your mouth beef brisket and the smoky, deliciously fatty sausage. Both were absolutely heavenly. If we ever get back here we’ve already determined that we’ll order sandwiches made with each of these yummy meats .

Tied for second place: BBQ pork side ribs and the pulled pork. The side ribs had a wonderful sauce cooked into the ribs – not sloppy at all, this sauce was essentially caramelized into the meat. The pulled pork was tender and delicious, and we had fun experimenting with the bottled sauces to enhance the flavour.

As for the sides, the baked beans with delicious bits of bacon and pulled pork were to die for. These sweet molasses beans cried out to be scooped from their cup by chunks of Texas toast, and who were we to argue!?

The fried okra also lived up to its reputation, and we were just happy to have at least one vegetable – even if it was a battered and deep fried one – at the table!

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the visit was sitting outside and watching the steady flow of people in and out of the restaurant (this place does a booming take-out business). Families in mini-vans were followed by a patrician gentleman driving a C-series Mercedes, a high-brow couple in a brand new F-Type Jaguar, and then by another couple in a 5-series BMW. An eclectic crowd all attracted by some truly outstanding food worthy of a 96% “Like” rating.

And as fascinating was the parade of local stray, and we think feral, cats that peeked their heads shyly from the building’s corner, watching those dining outside longingly.  One very pretty ginger tabby was particularly brave, staying longer than others and endearing himself to us.  We tore off bits of chicken and ribs and tossed them his way, but he shyly retreated around the corner without so much as a nibble.  As cat lovers we were disappointed but soon discovered why he turned his nose up at our offerings.  Just before the 8pm closing time one of the employees came out of the restaurant with a tub of pulled pork for the cat.  As soon as she set it down the cat reappeared and tucked into the pork ravenously. Clearly this cat had much more refined tastes than scraps of chicken and ribs.  Turns out that this 8 o’clock feeding is a daily routine – just another thing that endeared this place to our hearts.



<a href=””><img alt=”Sandfly Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon” src=”; style=”border:none;width:200px;height:146px” /></a>

Posted by: Food Lover | May 18, 2014

Dark and Stormy goes Super Stormy

One of our favourite summer cocktails is the famous Dark and Stormy, a mix of Goslings and non-alcoholic ginger beer; and yes, it does have to be Grosling’s rum, it was MADE for this. While other rum will do in a pinch, the flavor profile of Groslings and the spiciness of a good ginger beer is unmatched.

We’ve come up with a lovely twist on the Dark and Stormy that we’re eager to share with all the lushes of the world.  The weekend had arrived after a long hard week of work and we had decided it would be a weekend of boozing. While in the liquor store we spotted a bottle of Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, a product we hadn’t seen since our travels in England.  It’s as good as Jamaican ginger beer,  which is nice and spicy, with the bonus of alcohol!

So, feeling eager to dip our toes into debauchery, we decided to replace our usual Jamaican non-alcoholic ginger beer with the alcoholic  British version – Crabbie’s (4% alcohol).  Not only was it delicious, it was also dangerous.  It didn’t taste any stronger than a typical Dark and Stormy, so one can easily get carried away.

Bellow you’ll find the recipe, and do use a lot of lime, it’s essential to the end flavour! The chunks of lime contrast and balance nicely against the picante ginger beer giving it a smoothness.


SUPER STORMY – one serving

1.5 oz Groslings Rum
6 oz Crabbie’s Ginger Beer (or alcoholic ginger beer of your choosing)
Half large lime cut into chunks
3 Ice cubes


dark & stormy


Posted by: Food Lover | May 8, 2014

Wall of Shame: Trailer Trash Dog

We had been driving across Bloor St. W in Toronto when we caught sight of a diner named “Disgraceland”.  The name alone caught our interest and we went online to check out their menu offerings.  When we noticed the menu heading “Doggiestyle” had a Trailer Trash hot dog and the desserts included deep fried mars bars… we had to go.  The Wall of Shame demanded it! Indeed, we owed it to all those who actually find love in their hearts for the infamous Taco-In-A-Bag to break new ground in disparaging dining.

The Trailer Trash Dog was an all beef dog drowned in melted cheez whiz and topped with crushed potato chips!  Oh the disgrace!  A dish so shameful, the Disgraceland diner couldn’t even keep it on the menu.

trailer trash hot dog

The sad truth is, growing up poor, one of us loved melted cheez whiz on their dogs as a kid. Then again, we couldn’t afford much.  Nor were we old enough to understand it was spelled “cheez” because it’s actually an edible petroleum bi-product – it’s not cheese at all, it’s post-apocalypse survival food.  Go ahead, show us cheez whiz that’s ever gone moldy, despite it’s ancient expiry date – it doesn’t.  That jar will outlive your great-grand children.

We’re happy to say, this proved every bit as Wall of Shame praise-worthy as we hoped it would be.  You didn’t even get the satisfying crunch of the potato chips because the cheez whiz made them all soggy…. mmmmmm.  We will say the dog itself was actually pretty damn good, and we’re pleased to see they’ve got a great menu with much better suited toppings for the good all-beef mouthfuls.

So there you have it Taco-In-A-Bag lovers, another delicacy for you to indulge in.

trailer trash hot dog2

Posted by: Food Lover | April 28, 2014

Saskatoon’s Dim Sum Gods

We have finally gotten around to posting about our favorite dim sum restaurant in Saskatoon, no wait, maybe our favorite dim sum restaurant in Canada. Yes, there, we said it. Yip Hong’s may very well be the best dim sum in the country.  Now before a flood of derisive emails arrives, let’s be clear. The food here is excellent, but what makes it really special is the atmosphere.  This place is simply THE go to Chinese restaurant in the city. There’s a reason that no matter what time you arrive for Sunday Dim Sum, you will assuredly stand in line for anywhere from 20 – 40 minutes, often times with mostly Chinese and other Asian families waiting for their traditional dim sum meal.   Don’t let the long wait stop you, it’s well worth it. For us it’s always been a pleasurable torture watching the carts go buy, deciding what we’ll order and invariably, once we’re seated, trying not to just raid the first cart that comes by us until we can eat no more.

The long established Chinese community, as well as the influx of new immigrants, allows the food to be uncompromising in it’s authenticity.  Be prepared for a taste of China’s culture as well, service can sometimes be curt and staff can be hard to understand, but that’s just part of the charm.  It’s always lively on a Sunday, keeping the food pouring out of the kitchen, fresh and hot. And because of this, the staff just don’t have time for idle chit chat.  They have to move quickly – and they do! You’ll find they clear and set tables like a well trained army, often before you’ve finished putting your jacket on or while you’re standing at the table waiting to be seated.

Some people are, apparently, put off by the high energy and no-nonsense approach. Perhaps our “favourite” Urbanspoon quote – and our vote for the most ridiculous – was the infamous “it’s too much like being in China” comment from a “don’t like” post  now buried amongst a slew of positive reviews from those who love the dim sum here.

You’ll find the selection is varied and exciting; old classics, some real traditional delicacies and the occasional new dish keep you coming back for more.  We think our photo essay will give you a good tour of some of our favorite offerings.




Shrimp Wraps: Firm  and meaty shrimp, with green onion and a touch of carrot. We love it with a little chili sauce.

Shrimp Wraps: Firm and meaty shrimp, with green onion and a touch of carrot. We love it with a little chili sauce.

The delicious ground pork with shiitake and green onion, is surrounded in a taro root exterior, with a light crunchy skin.

The delicious ground pork with shiitake and green onion, is surrounded in a taro root exterior, with a light crunchy skin.

This sticky rice was cooked in a lovely fatty broth, with delicious chunks of pork.

This sticky rice was cooked in a lovely fatty broth, with delicious chunks of pork.

This pork wrapped in noodle is one of our favourite dishes, the silky outer texture perfectly compliments the meaty filly and delicious delicate sauce.

This pork wrapped in noodle is one of our favourite dishes, the silky outer texture perfectly compliments the meaty filly and delicious delicate sauce.

Though this is not a personal favourite, we notice oriental families love this dish. it's quite fatty and there's a lot of cartilage, but what meat that can be found is tender, juicy and flavour packed. We do love the broth that this dish comes with and pour it over our sticky rice.

Though this is not a personal favourite, we notice oriental families love this dish. it’s quite fatty and there’s a lot of cartilage, but what meat that can be found is tender, juicy and flavour packed. We do love the broth that this dish comes with and pour it over our sticky rice.

Admittedly a classic at any dim sum restaurant, Yip Hong's bbq pork buns are so good that we always fight this temptation in order to leave room for something new.

Admittedly a classic at any dim sum restaurant, Yip Hong’s bbq pork buns are so good that we always fight this temptation in order to leave room for something new.

shrimp and green onion dumpling

This lovely dessert treat is filled with a coconut egg custard so thick it's closer to a paste.

This lovely dessert treat is filled with a coconut egg custard so thick it’s closer to a paste.

Official Website:

On Facebook:

17B 1501 8th Street East
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Phone (306) 956-3375

Yip Hong's Dim Sum Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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