There's something inherently awesome about customization, especially when it comes to dessert. I mean, there is just something so sinfully appealing about the idea of choosing as many frozen yogurt flavours, toppings and sauces as I'd like, and arranging them in whatever fashion I feel like.
That's one of the reasons I love Menchies. We attended the store opening in The Annex at 511 Bloor St. W. (just west of Brunswick Ave.) and were not disappointed. The chain, which is popular in the U.S. (especially among celebrities) only has a few Canadian stores, but I'm glad to see one downtown.
The possibilities seriously are endless - they rotate different types of frozen yogurt (they have over 100 different flavours in rotation, and if I remember correctly, something like 10-12 at a time are available) and you can also mix and match flavours as you please. Each set of two machines also has a lever in the middle so you can swirl those two flavours together if you wish.
In fact, when we competed in their blogger competition to make the most inventive froyo concoction, we smushed cheesecakes pieces into the bottom of the cup as a bit of a "crust" - seriously, you could, like, make a moat of sauce. Or swirl froyo only around the outside of the cup to make a trench down the middle and drop all your toppings in along with sauce - A FROYO VOLCANO OF SORTS! Maybe I'm weird but, again, I think that's awesome!
You pay by weight, so it's up to you how little or how much you want to have.
Try it for yourself - we would love to know what you created!
P.S. Mark and I fell in love with the mochi, give it a try - glutinous Japanese rice pounded into little cubes - you can add them to your concoction, they are delicious!
Chef Chris Mills of Joey Restaurants (Joey Don Mills to be more Toronto-specific, but he's based in British Columbia) was in town at The Burroughes this past Wednesday. He tested out his Pacific Rim-inspired menu on diners in Toronto before he takes it to the James Beard House later this month. The James Beard Foundation, a not-for-profit organization in New York City with a mission to celebrate, nurture and preserve America's diverse culinary heritage and future, has invited him back to cook at the House. Chef Mills was there in 2006 and, to paraphrase him, his second invitation means either he was phenomenal and they want an encore, or he screwed up and they are giving him another chance. My guess is it's the former, judging by the quality of the food - some of which Chef Mills actually foraged for himself. In my experience, he's one of the best chefs we know when it comes to fish and seafood. Living in British Columbia, he knows quite a bit about both.
We got to be his guinea pigs for that final test run before he and his team head off to NYC. We should also note this is the first time a chef has been able to bring servers with him (usually the servers are staffed by the House). So as much as the evening was about the food, the servers were also getting prepped for their big day.
Unfortunately we missed being served some of the appetizers (Peaches & Cream Chicken 'Corndog', Japanese Hummus, Chicken Tacos) but we did have the Pacific Tuna Chopsticks, which I loved the presentation of and told Chef Mills exactly that when he came around to say hi. The hors d'oeuvres were served with Joie Rose from British Columbia.
Dinner was a multi-course experience, each paired quite nicely with an appropriate wine, followed by a delicious dessert - here's what we had (in addition to a Waldorf Salad as a palate cleanser and some Blackberry/Lavender Financiers to finish off the meal):
Citrus-cured Haida Gwaii Salmon with Dungeness Crab Flan and Cornbread - The crab flan was delightfully rich, I think some thought it was *too* rich but I personally loved it. I'm a salmon freak (raw, cured and smoked being more my favourites than cooked) and curing it with light and tangy citrus was just heavenly. This was probably my favourite dish if I had to choose one. Wine pairing: L'école 41 "Walla Voila" Chenin Blanc, Washington
Atlantic Black Cod, BBQ Pork Belly and Squash Dumpling in a Matsutake Mushroom Broth - Never have I tasted such richly-prepared fish - I thought it would fade next to the rich pork belly, but it really stood up to it. Punched it in the snout, even. Loved it. The mushroom broth was poured over top of the dish by the servers and you could smell it wafting up from the bowl. A well-executed job at mixing fish and meat in one dish. It was topped with a ginger shoot (essentially that's what starts growing off ginger after a while, sort of like potatoes grow those "eyes" - it was a milder ginger taste, and was absolutely delicious) Wine pairing:Sandhill "Small Lots" Viognier, British Columbia (not widely available since it's part of the small lots program - this was the first time I've had a Viognier and I loved how viscous it was, plus the fruitiness and sweetness of it)
Licorice-lacquered Duck Breast, Summer Cherry Conserve, with a Hazelnut-Crusted Korean Duck Roll - The anise lacquer on the duck breast was delicious, and cherries with duck = match made in heaven. The duck roll was good also but the real star was the duck breast, cooked just to the right doneness. Wine pairing: Sonoma Cutrer "Russian River Valley" Pinot Noir, California
45-Day-Aged Beef Rib Eye with Yukon Gold Potato, Braised Oxtail and Black Trumpet Mushroom Lasagna and Bellmann Farm Carrots - Delicious all around. Loved the idea of doing the "lasagna" with layers of potato rather than noodles - it was quite delicious. Wine Pairing: Efeste "Ceidleigh" Syrah, Washington (I think this was Mark's favourite wine, he was talking about it the rest of the night!)
Vietnamese Banana Cake with Tropical Fruit Salad and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream - This was incredible, the cake was INSANELY moist, the coconut ice cream was better than any coconut ice cream I've had as it had another dimension of flavour with the toasted taste coming through nicely. The tropical fruit salad starred kiwi and banana - what a great combination that I've just never thought to put together... This item will soon be hitting the dessert menu at Joey Don Mills so if you're there, I beg you to give this a try - It's incredible. Wine pairing: Inniskillin "Okanagan" Riesling Ice Wine, British Columbia
The fine folks at Baker Street recently invited us to taste some of their pies, tortes and cakes, many of them geared toward holiday entertaining. Now although Baker Street might not sound familiar to you because they do not have a retail storefront, nor are most of their products branded as Baker Street, it's highly probable you've enjoyed some of their treats - the 30-year-old company bakes for grocery store private labels. While some items are branded as Baker Street, namely their apple pies which you've probably seen in the grocery store, most of them are not.
Of everything we tasted, I think my favourite dessert was the pralines and cream cheesecake (pictured below) - the crunchy sweet pralines made a delicious contrast to the smooth, creamy cheesecake. And while I could envision in my mind's eye some of my friends crying "It's too sweet!" I was in heaven - I have a sweet tooth like no one I've ever met! But I could see how someone with less of a sweet tooth might go into sugar shock just looking at it. But whatever. I like sugar shock, thank you very much ;)
The most unique dessert, which was probably my runner-up to the pralines and cream cheesecake, was the gingerbread torte with cream cheese icing. Now I usually don't jump at the chance to have cream cheese icing, I like buttercreams, ganaches and other frostings much better typically, but it was so well-suited to the gingerbread torte that I couldn't imagine it being iced with anything else. You also don't see a lot of desserts using gingerbread, so this was a welcome change from the typical desserts we get offered at grocery stores.
The apple pie was the closest thing to homemade I've had (nothing will ever top my Mom's, but this was pretty close). In addition to a typical full-size pie, you can get individual mini ones at Loblaws ($4.99 for two). Baker Street has a big emphasis on natural ingredients, which I noticed when reading the pie ingredients. You could tell the apples were nice and fresh, as in most pies they use bleached apples which tend, on my palate anyway, to taste more bland. I know, I know, some may argue it's like a very cool oldschool thing to try to bleach your own apples, but the truth is fresh granny smiths make for a better pie.
We also tried a few chocolate cakes which were also all moist and delicious. And although I usually run for the chocolate desserts first, I was impressed enough by all the others that the chocolate desserts were almost just an afterthought. Weird, I know - I'm sorry, chocolate - I still love you!
Want to go to the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo on Saturday, November 20th for free? Of course you do - let us help you with that!
You and a guest could win tickets if you tell us what the word "gourmet" means to you before Friday, November 12th!
Good luck, everyone! Yours in food, -Stacey
Contest closes November 12, 2010. Open to residents of Ontario 18 years or older. Entry: Either comment on this post or tweet to us @TastingToronto telling us what the word ‘gourmet’ means to you. Prizes to win: One (1) of five (5) pairs of tickets to the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo on Saturday, November 20, 2010 valued at approximately $32.00 per pair. One entry per person. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Mathematical skill-testing question to be correctly answered to win. No purchase necessary. Full rules below.
Tasting Toronto “What does ‘Gourmet’ mean to you?” Contest
The Tasting Toronto “What does ‘Gourmet’ mean to you?” Contest (the “Contest”) is open to residents of Ontario who are 18 years or older. The Contest Period starts on November 4, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. and ends November 12, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. No purchase necessary. All times are Eastern Times.
HOW TO ENTER – Either comment on this post or tweet to us @TastingToronto telling us what the word ‘gourmet’ means to you.
PRIZE – Entrants are eligible to win one (1) of five (5) pairs of tickets to the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo on Saturday, November 20, 2010 valued at approximately $32.00 per pair.
FINAL DRAW – The names of all eligible entrants will be entered into a random draw. The random draw by a representative of Tasting Toronto will be made November 12, 2010. The names of the five winners will be posted November 12, 2010 via a Tasting Toronto blog post and via @TastingToronto on Twitter. The winning entrant is responsible to verify if he/she has been selected. Selected entrants must make themselves known by 9:00 p.m. on November 15, 2010 by either tweeting to us or contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
If a selected entrant fails to make him/herself known by 9:00 p.m. on November 15, 2010 or to claim the prize as instructed, incorrectly answers the skill-testing question, declines the prize, fails to sign a Release of Liability as may be specified by Tasting Toronto or fails to present valid ID, entrant will have forfeited the opportunity to claim the prize and Tasting Toronto reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to select another entrant or to cancel the prize.
Prize must be accepted as awarded and are not transferable, redeemable, refundable or exchangeable for cash. Tasting Toronto reserves the right to substitute a prize of at least equal value in the event of the unavailability, for whatever reason, of the advertised prize.
To be declared a winner, selected entrants must first correctly answer, unaided, a time-limited, mathematical skill-testing question at the time of claiming the prize and may need to sign a Release. Contest judges' rulings are final and without appeal in all matters related to the promotion and the awarding of prizes.
By entering this Contest and/or accepting a prize, entrants consent to the use of their entry and name for publicity, advertising or informational purposes carried out by Tasting Toronto in any medium or format without further notice or compensation.
The Contest is subject to all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations.
Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries. All entries that are incomplete, illegible, damaged, irregular, do contain offensive material or inappropriate content, have been submitted through illicit means, using any robotic, automatic programmed method that artificially increases the odds of winning or do not conform to or satisfy any condition of the rules may be disqualified by Tasting Toronto. Tasting Toronto takes no responsibility for lost, stolen, delayed, damaged, misdirected, late or destroyed entries, or for typographical or other production errors. Tasting Toronto is not responsible for any errors or omissions in printing or advertising this Contest. All entries become the property of Tasting Toronto.
Tasting Toronto is collecting personal data about entrants for the purpose of administering this Contest. No further informational or marketing communications will be received by entrants.
By entering this Contest, entrants release and hold harmless the Contest Sponsor (the “Releasee”) from any liability in connection with this Contest or, if declared a finalist or a winner, the prize.
This Contest will be run in accordance with these rules, subject to amendment by Tasting Toronto. Entrants must comply with these rules, and will be deemed to have received and understood the rules by participating in the Contest.
Mark is more of a coffee lover than I, but I fell in love with the aesthetics of the machine itself when I checked it out at L'Oreal Fashion Week.
The stylish Krups Nescafe Dolce Gusto Circolo comes in a number of different colours (red looked sleekest in my opinion). It retails for about $179.99 in Canada (plus the coffee and milk steamer capsules need to be bought but it appears on the Sears website that you get a starter pack of capsules when you purchase it, and the machine is currently $40 off). I figure if you're looking to take your home coffee experience to the next level, this is a good way to do it.
You can buy a variety of different cartridges, everything from macchiato to chococino to cappuccino - I tried the cappuccino and found it really delicious, it tasted like something you'd get at a more upscale coffee shop.
I was also told it's pretty easy to clean (that was one of my first concerns). Might be a good gift for the coffee-lover in your life :)
On an imported slab of heat-retention stone from Australia, you cook your own meal. Looks like fun! However it might be more about the experience than anything else - we heard some not-so-good reviews from a friend recently. We'll try anything once though!
¤Kultura (King East - Furniture District) Heard a lot about Roger Mooking's restaurants - think we're more obsessed with going there because of the fact that he used to be in Bass is Base!
¤ Cafe Gilead (King East - Furniture District) Jamie Kennedy's stuff is usually pretty good so we want to try it. ¤ Guu (Church St - The Gaybourhood) This place is trendy, so some people go there for that reason alone, but we'd be heading there to see what "Japanese tapas" is all about.
Follow a couple of foodies around the city as they discover the best (and worst) of what Toronto's culinary scene has to offer.
You can visit this site for some more info on the bloggers: http://www.tastingtoronto.ca/2009/06/so-who-is-behind-tasting-toronto.html