Daily Archives: September 15, 2015

Sweetery Toronto Food Festival

While Matchachoco was restaurant hopping in Vancouver, I was out in Toronto on a sweet escape (that was just a euphemism for “I had too much sweets!”).

Last August, I went with a friend to Sweetery, Toronto’s inaugural sweets food festival. It was a two-day event featuring various sweets from local food vendors and George Brown culinary students, as well as several fun activities involving sweet treats. Although Sweetery was a small food festival compared to other food festivals in Toronto, it didn’t stop us from getting our sweet tooth fix.

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Featured here are pastries made by George Brown students enrolled in the Advanced French Patisserie Program:

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I had one of the éclairs made by one of the George Brown students. It was an éclair cassis filled with a lemon mascarpone cream, topped with a black currant glaze and a lemon almond streusel. It had the perfect balance of sweetness, tanginess, and creaminess (though I might be a bit biased because I love lemon and mascarpone cheese!). I also loved finishing glitter touch to it. Having a personal preference for desserts with a bit of sourness, this was one of the sweets I really enjoyed that day.

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My friend and I shared the mille feuille with poached rhubarb, also made by one of the George Brown students. The presentation of this dessert stood out to me because I rarely see a mille feuille presented this way. It was a refreshing twist from the typical mille feuille.

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Going through the food truck selections at Sweetery, we decided to try The Original Chimney’s food
truck. We got the Holy Chimnnoli, which was their own spin of a cannoli. The Holy Chimnolis were filled with the typical ricotta cheese filling you’ll find in a cannoli, but instead of a cannoli shell, the Holy Chimnnolis were made with their signature Chimney cake

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The Chimney cakes were soft and tender on the inside with a very slight crisp on the outside. My friend and I both enjoyed them; however, midway through eating them, the sweetness suddenly caught on to us. We suddenly felt that it was too sweet, especially with the generous sprinkling of powdered sugar on the Chimney cakes.

Another dessert we had that day was the Vietnamese coffee mille crepe from Catering Diva, one of the vendors at Sweetery. It was made with 20 layers of crepe filled with layers of cream in-between. Although it was a bit smaller and limp compared to other mille crepes I’ve had before, this was one of the best desserts we had that day. The mille crepe was creamy and each bite melts in your mouth. It had a strong coffee flavour, but it wasn’t too overpowering, which I really liked. My friend particularly liked this one the most because it wasn’t overly sweet.

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We also had a lychee snow cone from Sweet Snow Shave Ice (I forgot to take a photo unfortunately). I was a bit impressed with their snow cones because they were flavourful, in contrast to the bland snow cones that I’ve been too familiar with. The ice was also light and finely crushed. Flavour-wise, however, I strangely found the lychee flavor almost had a cotton candy taste. I thought it was the right amount of sweetness, but my friend found it too sweet for his liking.

Overall, we had a good run of trying different desserts at Sweetery. I’m hoping next year’s will not only be sweeter, but bigger with more variety.

– Ricelessasian

Torafuku & AnnaLenna

Happy September! During our hiatus, I went back to Vancouver and tried two new hot spots in the city.

Torafuku
After seeing all the drool-worthy photos on Instagram, my foodie friend and I ventured to the new Asian fusion restaurant, Torafuku (Japanese for “Lucky Tiger”) on Main Street near Vancouver’s Chinatown. It’s been one of the latest hot spots to go to and we had been waiting for weeks to try their food. Their packed establishment, while new, may be attributed to the fandom of Le Tigre, the popular food truck company run by Torafuku’s co-owner.IMG_2685Since they don’t take reservations, which is becoming more common in downtown hotspots, we arrived at the restaurant closer to 6:30 pm and took our chances. Luckily, we were greeted immediately upon entering and escorted to the last table for two in the back corner. Seating is rather limited with larger, sharing-type tables, a few tables for two and four. I would suggest going there even before 6:30 pm to secure a spot for you and your dining guests.

Once you enter the restaurant, you’ll notice the simple, yet tidy decor speaks to the more relaxed dining environment. The open-kitchen attached to the bar made the environment lively, where patrons could easily interact with the chefs busy at work. I also noticed a popular Vancouver food blogger was also seated close by 🙂

The service was very attentive and one of the better ones that I’ve received in Vancouver. Our waitress came to check on us at least three times during our meal. She gave us some good recommendations, even though we sort of had an idea about which dishes we would order already from previous patrons. Most importantly, we didn’t feel rushed at all, despite there being a line-up on our way out.

My favourite dishes among the four that we ordered were the Kickass Rice 2.0 and the Rye So Messy – partly because of their awesome names but they were two solid dishes. The portions of both dishes were adequate as sharing plates for two.IMG_2686My friend and I were very excited to try the popular Kickass Rice 2.0 dish and to say the least, it did not disappoint! Each bite of the pork belly aburi had a burst of spicy, savoury, and sour flavours, but was not too overpowering.

I’m a huge fan of Southern-style Fried Chicken…it really is my ULTIMATE comfort food! Unfortunately the fried chicken skin served here wasn’t crispy enough, which would have made the dish a 9 out of 10. The sesame seeds and ramen crumbs however gave it some crunch and was a nice twist on the classic fried chicken dish.IMG_2690I love the name of this dish too, “This is not Tortellini”, which consists of pork dumplings with shiso, ginger, garlic and scallion. I would have to say this tasted like the typical potsticker, but I really enjoyed the sweetened beet puree and steamed vegetables.IMG_2692The last dish we ordered was the calamari salad. The calamari was deep-fried well – chewy on the inside and a little bit crispy on the outside. Topped with a sweet chilli dressing, the calamari was also balanced well with onions, tomatoes, and fresh arugula. Though I enjoyed the calamari texture, I thought it was underseasoned and the sweetness of the lychee did not match well with the savoury and tangy flavours of the calamari and squid. Perhaps this one was my least favourite dish; I would have liked it more if the lychees were replaced with another fruit that was mildly sweet, such as sliced apples.IMG_2699On average, the prices were roughly $10-12 per dish. For the portion size of these sharing plates, those with bigger appetites may leave craving for more. We actually headed to Rain or Shine Ice Cream afterwards! Though it wasn’t exactly bang for your buck, the friendly service and creatively executed dishes might entice you to come back. I’m excited to see what they will be adding to their menu in the near future!

AnnaLennaIMG_2712My family and I went to the upscale AnnaLenna Restaurant in Kitsilano for a special occasion. We were very excited to try this restaurant since it’s been voted #1 in Vancouver! The decor was a little bit mismatched yet quirky, with pieces of lego and vintage gameboys on the shelf as you enter the doorway. The black booths where we were seated provided a more classic and contemporary feel and were very comfortable. I loved the natural lighting from the open patio and the nice summer breeze.IMG_2708Serving primarily Canadian West Coast cuisine, AnnaLenna offers a very limited selection of 15 dishes on their menu. The waitress explained to us that all of the menu items were intended to be sharing-type dishes, recommending 2 dishes per person; however, we thought 8 dishes in total would be a little much for the four of us.  One of my favourite dishes was the heirloom tomato salad. I’m not a big fan of cheese, however, the soft burrata cheese complemented the texture of the tomato and the crispiness of the house cured bacon. This is the perfect summer dish that I will be definitely ordering again in the future! IMG_2720There were not many vegetable options, so we ordered the kale salad. After discussing with my guests, we felt that the ginger tahini dressing was a bit too creamy and the salad was overseasoned with salt, making it a heartier appetizer. I really enjoyed the fried cauliflower because it provided a sweet caramelized flavour to balance off the saltiness. I appreciated the different elements that were involved in creating this dish, for example, the potato chips topping the salad were a nice surprise providing desirable crunch and texture.IMG_2721Since I’m allergic to a lot of different types of shellfish, fish is one of the staples I can eat safely without getting a bad reaction. One of my favourite types of seafood is salmon, which the wild trout that we ordered tasted very similar to. The crust on the trout was perfectly seared (not one bit burnt) for that extra crunch. We also ordered another seafood dish which was the scallops. The puffed rice cereal was an interesting accompaniment on the dish and provided some nice texture overall. However, the seared scallops, though cooked well, missed its mark with its seasoning and was underwhelming in flavour. While both dishes were beautifully presented, our expectations were not met with the smaller portion sizes and value of the dishes.IMG_2724 IMG_2727Two other honourable mentions belong to the tamari-marinated grilled pork belly and the wagyu beef short ribs – the highlights of the night! Pork belly is usually a fattier and heavier Chinese dish but the pairing of oat porridge and cooked beets made the dish less decadent and rich. The caramelized flavours of the pork belly provided a sweet flavour that matched well with the umami flavours of the meat. Similarly, the wagyu short rib was another stand-out dish which was extremely tender and cooked perfectly medium rare. The peppercorn jus also didn’t overwhelm the natural flavour of the beef and its melt-in-your-mouth texture will leave you wanting more!IMG_2730IMG_2736Unfortunately, we passed on the dessert of either grapefruit semifreddo or chocolate custard because we already bought a cake to eat at home. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this special dining experience at AnnaLenna, especially the choice of dishes offered. Despite having a more limited menu, most of the dishes were high-quality and signature dishes. I really look forward to trying their brunch menu and desserts one day.

-Matchachoco