Over the recent winter holidays, we headed to Thailand for a bit of sunshine and a lot of good food (note emphasis on a lot). After our excellent experience with Culinary Backstreets in Istanbul, we had to see if we could replicate a similar Bangkok Food Tour. Lucky for us, we found Chili Paste Tours managed, owned and operated by the one and only Chin. Hi Chin!
Months ago in the summer, we spent a couple weeks abroad in Turkey. Istanbul was one of our most anticipated spots to check out – the things we’d heard from friends about the food, the culture and the weather were beyond excellent. While we don’t typically engage in food tours for fear of them being cheesy, too touristy or inauthentic, the hype around the formerly called Istanbul Eats Istanbul Food Tour, now Culinary Backstreets, was real. Listed as one of the top ‘things to do’ and Istanbul Food Tour on TripAdvisor, raved about by bloggers and publications alike, including NYT, CN Traveller and HuffPost, we were convinced we had to try it.
We recently headed to SF for a short getaway from the city. Not only was the weather perfect in SF, but as you can imagine, so was the food. After days of gorging ourselves silly on as many crab legs, oysters and sashimi we could get our hands on, we stopped by La Torta Gorda one early afternoon in the hopes of curing an exceptionally nasty hangover from a particularly intense evening of mini putt (s/o Urban Putt!).
Dead and gone to seafood heaven. That’s what happened to us when we visited Swan Oyster Depot in SF a couple weeks ago. The 100 year old SF institution is known for its insanely fresh raw bar offerings, the casual and informal dining style and the long lines of locals and tourists eagerly waiting to get a taste. Named by the James Beard Foundation as an American Classic in 2000 and featured by Anthony Bourdain on The Layover, the restaurant receives hundreds of visitors a day that come from far and wide.
Vin Papillon is the third restaurant from the venerable Montreal chef duo Dave McMillan and Fred Morin. Sitting just a few doors down from Liverpool House on Notre Dame, Vin Papillon is a cozy restaurant with a decent sized patio and a distinctive menu.
This summer, we were lucky enough to have spent a bit of time travelling Turkey. Dream destination. Some of the most memorable moments we experienced were in Cappadocia – from the unique, insanely shaped landscapes we saw to the hearty, local foods we ate – not to mention the impossibly beautiful hotel we stayed at (Argos), we could not have asked for a more perfect vacation.
After announcing that we were heading to Rome for a short stay, both friends in Montreal and Italian natives jumped at the opportunity to recommend Dar Poeta. After a day of wandering the city, we stopped in at the Trastevere hot spot – even in the heavy rain, a line started to edge outside the front door with eager couples and groups of friends settling in to wait for a table.
Cafe Parvis is the newest addition to the Furco – Buvette Chez Simone family. In the same way its’ siblings have brought a nonchalant cool and trended towards a casually fashionable following, Parvis exudes the same vibe, promising equal parts good food and good company.
It’s not often you arrive at a restaurant and find out your server has been with the group for over 6 years. This was the case at Sushi Taxi, a restaurant group that has been around since the dawn of Quebec sushi
You’ve already heard the hype. You don’t need me to tell you that Jeffrey Finkelstein has an impressive resumé of work experience at world famous restaurants Noma, El Bulli and French Laundry and that he’s set up shop here in Montreal. You know that the bread from his Hof Kelsten has fed diners at likes of Le Filet, Club Chasse et Peche, Toqué, Dominion Square Tavern, Nora Gray, Joe Beef, Toqué and Les 400 Coups because you’ve already tasted it. Yes, you can breath a sigh of relief. We’re finally in on secret source of good bread in this city.
Frequently referred to as “that other pho spot on Ossington” by Torontonians, Pho Tien Thanh holds its own in a city where pho shops are a hot commodity. As most pho places are wont to operate, the food arrives quickly and piping hot, all to the ambient background sounds of slurping and sipping with minimal chatter to be heard. As per norm, cash only.
Toronto’s got a thing for elevated comfort food. Rose & Sons is at risk of being missed among the likes of Bestellen and Farmhouse Tavern. Everything about it feels overwhelmingly akin to Montreal’s Nouveau Palais. From the vintage diner style booths to the smart, focused cocktail menu. Walking into Rose & Sons felt right at home for two Montrealers.
As one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is home to a large population of new immigrants, most notably from East and South East Asia. Communities have settled across the GTA, setting up restaurants and businesses that fuse old culture with new culture, bringing elements of “back home” to Toronto life in surprising and delicious ways – cue the multitude of Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican restaurants (the list goes on) that define the city. It’s no surprise then that a wealth of top notch Japanese restaurants can be found in Toronto.
Le Serpent is Montreal’s newest restaurant from owners Hubert Marsolais and Claude Pelletier of Club Chasse et Pêche and Le Filet. Given the management’s pedigree – Le Serpent has a considerable amount of hype and expectation behind it already.
Another successful restaurant import from Vancouver, Kingyo has made it to the Toronto food scene, following in the footsteps of Guu Isakaya and Sakabar, Kinton Ramen, Ramen Raijin and others. Located in the East end of Toronto, Kingyo Isakaya has got a distinct vibe that differentiates itself from its competitors. Instead of the typically cramped quarters and loud, boisterous atmosphere found in many isakayas, Kingyo gives its customers breathing room and a little more leeway for a normal noise level of conversation.
Lil’ Baci Taverna is that sweet neighbourhood spot you wish you had. It’s got this comfortable low key, local vibe that makes you feel right at home. With the smell of freshly baked bread and eggs in the air, friendly servers that seem impossibly perky on Sunday mornings, it’s hard not to smile and feel at ease.
We first discovered Brasero Hardi during a winter Dishcrawl and the six hour marinated spare ribs on top of pork lardon mashed potatoes and house smoked salmon on top of horseradish panna cotta was definitely a highlight of the evening.
So, when you think of Liberty Village, what comes to mind? For me, the words “yuppie” and “bougie” take the forefront. You’ve got pricy home decor shops (fun to browse, I won’t lie), fitness gyms, smoothie bars and brunch restaurants all within a stone’s throw from one another. New residential condo projects surround the insular village and as a visitor, there isn’t much of a draw to the gentrified neighbourhood. One place that does make this place worth coming to is Mildred’s Temple Kitchen.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure everyone loves a good bowl of pho. It’s got this warm, comforting flavour that makes you feel right again, or at least helps you along the way to getting there (esp key in winter). The broth is usually made from simmered beef bones, oxtails and onions but unsurprisingly, every pho establishment ends up with a different final product, some preferring to use more onion for flavour, while others rely more heavily on spices like ginger and cinnamon. In terms of toppings and add-ins, the offerings are typically bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves, red chili and a selection of various sauces. I like mine with extra lime, extra bean sprouts and a touch of sriracha.