Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Valentine's at Sorrel

Tuesday, February 21, 2012
A Valentine's Day prix fixe dinner is kind of a tradition for Stacey and me. For some reason there didn't seem to be too many establishments with a Valentine's Day menu this year. It must be the economy. Even more difficult to find is a place that offers a high calibre meal at a decent price. Luckily we stumbled upon a 4 course $65 prix fixe at Sorrel.

Well I didn't exactly stumble upon Sorrel. I had occasioned to go there on an office Winterlicious lunch and was surprised at how far they stretched $20. At the time I was impressed with the quality and artfulness of their cornish hen wrapped in prosciutto, when many a Winterlicious restaurant would've peddled you some form of protein-free pasta.

When we arrived for Valentine's dinner, we were mightily impressed with the effort they took to celebrate the evening with candles visible from outside and rose petals all over the sidewalk and on every table inside.



Prosciutto, warm figs & goat cheese, balsamic glaze

Grilled calamari, tomato black olive relish, grilled treviso

Warm figs and goat cheese have a similar consistency, and almost coat your tongue in a complimentary blanket of sweet and salty goodness. The grilled calamari was surprisingly tender with accents of crunchy char, and bathed in a fresh tomato relish with the perfect level of acidity to balance out the calamari. I was doubly surprised since although I knew it was going to be grilled, I had this image of deep fried and battered calamari rings in my head when I was ordering, as I had often been disappointed with most forms of calamari in a tomato base in the past. Ah, signs of the long work day were showing.


Sweet pea & bufala ricotta ravioli, prosecco sage butter

Tagliatelle, black truffle mushroom pesto, basil, parmigiano

The ravioli was some of the best pasta we've ever had, ranking up there with Massimo Capra's wild boar and cherry ravioli and Matt Kantor's hazelnut ravioli. The richness of the sage butter opened up against the light creamy sweet peas and moist bufala ricotta. Sadly the tagliatelle was not so impressive. It tasted too healthy for me. More like some dry whole wheat thing Stacey would sneak onto my plate if I wasn't looking. Maybe morels would've added more punch to it rather than the sparse amount of black truffle flecks.


Prosciutto wrapped cornish hen, sweet pea mash, natural reduction

Beef tenderloin, stilton, thyme jus, sautéed chanterelles, tomato confit

Chicken wrapped in bacon à la Bourgeoisie! The cornish hen was an outstanding haute extension of a culinary classic, richly flavoured with its natural juices and sitting on a fluffy bed of delicious sweet pea mash. I usually have a more flavourful cut than tenderloin since it's usually a choice between taste or tenderness. However this time, the supple specimen of meat was infused with the earthyness of thyme and chanterelles and lightened with the fresh acidity of tomato confit. Rounding the high and low notes was the rich creamy saltiness of stilton.


Chocolate mousse, vanilla bean crème brûlée, fresh local berries

To finish off the evening we totally polished off a dessert trio, leading the waiter to exclaim "You did very good!... You did very good."

84 Yorkville Avenue Toronto, Ontario Canada M5R 1B9. Ph. 416.926.1010

Posted by: Mark Rodas

Friday, February 17, 2012

Prairie Girl Bakery, our local cupcakery!

Friday, February 17, 2012
You know a place is bound to be good when the lineup is out the door. It was also Valentine's Day so of course that had something to do with it. :)


My top two "beefs" with cupcakes in general are A) there is often not enough icing to go with the cake - I like the icing thick & B) that the cake can sometimes be a little dry - a moist cupcake with the right icing-to-cake ratio is crucial!

And I'm happy to report I think I've found cupcake ecstasy - where all my cupcake conditions are not just met, but exceeded - over at King / Victoria, just a short jaunt from our home. That's where you'll find our local cupcakery Prairie Girl Bakery (I believe there is also one in the First Canadian Place concourse BUT I heard a lady in line at our shop say the lineup there was three times longer since it was drawing in the work crowd, so keep in mind it'd be busier).

The chocolate cupcakes are made with dark cocoa - they were so rich and delicious. Mark especially loved them. We didn't get to try the chocolate cupcake with strawberry icing [they were out of all cupcakes with strawberry icing in fact - think it was due to Valentine's Day volume but I got there at about 11am and waited for 20-25 minutes in line, so I think the people ahead might have gotten their hands on some - CUPCAKE FIGHT TO THE DEATH! No. Well, I had to talk myself down LOL :)]

You can also select large or mini cupcakes, so if you only want a taste, try the minis. I'm sort of an "all or nothing" cupcake girl - I had to go big or go home!

Some are made with a butter icing, others with cream cheese icing - the most unique cupcake we had was peanut butter icing on a banana cupcake. I think it'd be better on a chocolate cupcake (the banana cupcake was a little drier than the vanilla and chocolate) but the peanut butter icing was TO DIE FOR!

If you've already tried each of their offerings, they also do a "treat of the week" - for Valentine's it was a cinnamon icing with cinnamon hearts on top on a golden vanilla cupcake.

Cupcake ecstasy will cost you $16.95 for half a dozen large cupcakes - but oh what a wonderful indulgence! It took Mark and I three glorious days to eat them.

Yours in food (and cupcakes, more specifically),