Tag Archives: toronto

Dumple Dumple! … Toronto’s Best Dumpling House

Yesterday, I ate at The Dumpling House in Toronto…still the best dumpling house around in my opinion…with the best Hot and Sour Soup EVER! It has been over a year since I posted my review…but since the food was SO good yesterday, yet again, I thought I would repost for those who may not be aware of this lil dumpling jewel on Spadina Avenue.

At the same time that I was introduced to sushi, I also met gyoza.  Awesome little beef dumplings that are usually on the menu at the sushi restaurants I tend to frequent.  One can’t help but love a dumpling…a little folded piece of dough, filled with yummy goodness!

Gyoza ordered somewhere on Queen St W, Toronto

Gyoza on Queen St, Toronto

I was recently reading some food articles online, and I came across a dumpling article on Saveur.com.  This article looks at dumplings from various cultures, as well as offers recipes for all of them.  Many sound utterly delicious…well, except the liver dumplings…sorry, but no thanks. 😉  Some don’t really look like the dumplings I’m used to and others lean toward a ravioli type pasta, although ravioli IS a pocket with goodness inside so, hey, I can accept that they are cousins of the dumpling family.

I hope to spend an afternoon some day soon creating dumplings…but for now, I thought I would share the article with you, as well as pics of my favourite dumpling restaurant in Toronto!

You can find Saveur.com’s article here ——-> Dumpling Recipes from Around the World Continue reading

Memories…Not meant to be chewed

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to try a new food.  The food in question is something that I, having grown up on the coast, should have eaten long ago, but somehow I never had the opportunity or the motivation (or the cash) to do so.

On Friday evening last week, a friend and myself visited Rodney’s Oyster House where we ate, you guessed it, a crapload of oysters!

I unfortunately don’t have many pictures of the evening.  It was one of those moments where you just want to enjoy everything and not bother with a camera.  But my friend did snap a shot of one of our oyster trays:

I *believe* the oysters closest are from PEI, on the left w the wavy shells are from BC and the back are from NB.

In hindsight, a quick shot of our menu would have been a good idea as I can’t recall the details of the various oysters we consumed.  Luckily though, I do recall the geographic locations.  We tried oysters from 2 New Brunswick locations, 2 PEI locations, British Columbia, Massachusetts, and Japan.

I was quite excited about trying the New Brunswick oysters, memories of home and all that.  The server described the various tastes for us before we went ahead and she said that our initial NB choice was going to be somewhat salty.   That just made me even more anxious to taste them as anyone who knows me has heard me go on about missing the coast…the salty breezes, the salt water…there’s nothing like it.

Anyway, it did most definitely taste of the sea…but unfortunately it was too exact.  The moment I tasted that oyster, I flashed to Parlee Beach in Shediac, NB, the coastline in PEI, the river near my parents home in NB….

I have beautiful memories of just hanging out on beaches out east, getting sand in everything (and everywhere!), walking in the shallows while avoiding jellyfish and razorfish, giggling as tiny krill (at least we always thought they were krill) tickled our toes, feeling the dryness of your skin after a full day of sun and salt, and heading home with hair in ringlets, its reaction to a day of sea salt.

This one oyster contained the years I spent wandering beaches within its little shell.

By eating it…I smelled the coast, I felt the sand beneath my feet, I tasted the sea salt on my tongue which was lovely…but odd.  The first thought I had after the initial *sigh* was…”Wait a minute…my memories aren’t meant to be chewed.”  There was something very odd about having all those lovely visuals attached to a morsel of food between my teeth.  So, although that oyster was amazing in its own right, one was enough.

Overall, I have to say that I am now an oyster fan.  Prior to trying them, I had heard all sorts of unflattering descriptions.  I expected some slimyness due to the fact that they would be served raw, but I didn’t find that at all.  To me, they had a great consistency and, if I hadn’t known better, without looking I might have thought they were cooked.

My friend and I agreed that our PEI choices were our favourite, one selection being from Rodney’s own oyster beds.  The oysters from British Columbia had this amazing creaminess to them, that the server told us about as she brought them to the table.  It was quite good, yet strange on the palate.  The two we tried from New Brunswick were amazingly different in taste and sadly all I can remember of their location details is that one was from Baie des Chaleurs in northern NB.  The Massachusetts oysters were lovely, and huge…the largest we tried.  The Japanese oysters were the smallest and had a unique taste…which I find hard to describe.

Rodney’s serves their oysters with a round tray of sauces that get progressively hotter as you move around it, ending in tabasco and some type of hot pepper vodka sauce, the specific name of which I can’t recall.  I tried the first few, adding a tiny bit of heat to my oysters and it was a delicious mix of flavours.

We also tried mussels, shrimp, smoked salmon and fried clams…but eating oysters was the theme of the evening.

Overall, I have to say I would go again in a heartbeat.  The food was delicious and the oysters were an amazing and delicious surprise! I can’t believe it has taken me 32 years to try them! 😉

I found it amazing to taste the differences in the various bodies of water where these oysters grew.

I felt an appreciation for our oceans and of course, a longing for home.

Life Lessons at Girl’s Night

For over a year, a couple of my friends, Kate & Jen and I have been trying to get together for a Girl’s Night.  We have met downtown for a drink or a quick bite, but we wanted to spend an evening at one of our homes and make our own dinner. Last week, we finally made it happen!

Girl’s Nights are worth it.  You learn much and you laugh.  A lot.

Things I learned at Girl’s Night

1) A new No Frills?  Worth checking out.  Rush hour in Toronto?  Unless you enjoy driving 3km/hr, avoid it. And free parking?  *cue the heavenly choir* Woo hoo!

I arrived in Toronto around 4:30 and Jen picked me up at the bus station.  It was rush hour and traffic made the getting to a grocery store and then to Kate’s a loooooong proces; we arrived around 6pm.  I actually mapped it and the distance to the grocery store and then to Kate’s was about 3km.  Our visit to No Frills was pretty much in/out as we knew what we wanted…so let’s do the math.  1.5 hours – 30 minutes in the grocery store (I’m being generous here) = about 3km/hr.  Let’s hear it for Toronto rush hour traffic!

No Frills, almost ready for business!

Jen was making the salad and my responsibility was the creation of a potato/veggie side-dish.  We decided to visit the new No Frills on King St near Sherbourne for ingredients.

I have to mention the store specifically because I was suitably impressed by:

1) how clean it was (compared to other scary No Frills I’ve visited over the years)
2) how friendly and helpful the staff were and
3) .. most important impressive quality…*free* parking!

For anyone who lives, or spends time in Toronto, and needs to put their vehicle somewhere for any length of time, you *know* how rare free parking is.  Whether we’re talking street parking or parking at a large box store, finding an empty spot that actually fits your car and doesn’t cost a week’s paycheque results in joy and merriment, akin to winning the lottery.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration…but you know what I mean.

Ingredients in hand, we headed to Kate’s, where more life lessons were waiting.

2) When a bottle of wine will not open, you use *anything* handy to force it.  It will taste THAT much better after all the effort!

Kate had bought a bottle of amazing Argentinian Malbec that she had seen a good review somewhere, labeling it as a lovely addition to a Girls Night.  (So, it didn’t say that *exactly* but that’s how it tasted!)

It was a twist-off cap, which you would assume is the most straightforward of all wine bottles to open.  Nope.  There was no perforated seam between the cap and the neck-band, so it all spun together when we tried to open it.

Trying to open the wine bottle from hell! Eventually we used the bottle opener which you can see in the bottom left corner.

10 minutes later....the bottle opener did it's job...albeit slowly.

I should mention at this point that the neck-band was made of thin metal, rather than the foil we expected.  It was sharp and made for delicate bottle-cap manoeuvering.

Almost there...going on half an hour now...that wine is going to taste so freakin good!


Look how happy we all look!  That wine was damn good!

Cheers! (Jen & I) ...This is the best shot I have so far...waiting on Kate's pics 🙂

Our lovely Kate! Cheers!

3) When you drop large tubers and veggies into boiling water, you’re bound to get burned.  Use the lid.

My side-dish involved boiling brussel sprouts, potatoes and pearl onions.  Busy with the wine bottle from hell (see above) kept my attention from the water until it was at a fast boil.  How to add vegetables without splashing myself?

Well, first, you drop in a few vegetables to ensure that splashing will take place.  It did.  It hurt.

Then, Jen came to the rescue and taught me an extremely helpful kitchen tactic to avoid such pain and stupidity. *grin*

Ta da! Use the lid!

She used the lid to dump in the veg and to protect her hand from the steam and splashing water.  So simple.

Theses are the things you don’t usually learn from any cookbook.  (B has suggested that The Joy of Cooking does offer such tips…I may have to check that out.)

4) Potatoes, brussel sprouts and onions are yummy together!

I like brussel sprouts.  When I eat them, I think of my dad who has prepared them for me many times over the years.  Unfortunately, I don’t know many other people who enjoy them as much so I tend to avoid cooking them when a group is involved.  Recently though, on a trip to Montreal, my friend Michael created an awesome dish that included potatoes, brussel sprouts and shallots.  It was delicious and I attempted to recreate it. You’ll find the recipe at the bottom of this post.

5) The sneezing panda video will be funny forever!

Our girl’s night ended with the three of us crowded around Kate’s laptop, showing each other hilarious online videos.  The sneezing panda is well-known at this point.  I have watched it a dozen times or more.  Kate on the other hand, had never seen it so, of course, I had to share.

Three replays later, we were in tears laughing.  That video just doesn’t get old!

Potato & Brussel Sprout Side-dish

  • small potatoes, how many depends on how many you’re feeding 😉
  • brussel sprouts, same as above
  • pearl onions or shallots, same as above
  • fresh parsley
  • paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
  • butter, 2 tbsp minimum
  • 3 garlic cloves
  1. Bring water to a boil and add potatoes and onions.  Boil 10 minutes.
  2. Cut off ends of brussel sprouts and remove any ratty leaves.  Add to boiling potatoes and onions.  Allow all to boil another 5 minutes or more, until tender.
  3. Drain and let sit.
  4. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a fry pan over med-heat.
  5. Dice three cloves of garlic (or more depending how much you like garlic). and add to hot pan.
  6. Add a dash of salt and pepper.  Cook until tender and browned slightly.
  7. Add cooked veg and a handful of fresh, roughly chopped parsley.
  8. Sprinkle with generous amount of paprika, and more pepper/salt if you wish.
  9. Stir all well together and add butter.
  10. Cover and allow to cook for another 10 minutes or so.
  11. The onions will have all but fallen apart when finished and the brussel sprouts should be on the extreme side of tender.
  12. Enjoy!

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