Friday, July 27, 2012

P.F. Chang's opens its first Canadian location at Shops at Don Mills

Friday, July 27, 2012
Ahead of today's public opening we were able to check out P.F. Chang's first Canadian location at Shops at Don Mills, Toronto's first open-air mall. In terms of food / drink recommendations, my favourite dish (and we tried many) was Chang's Spare Ribs, which were fall-off-the-bone tender with just the right amount of deep, rich sauce and a sprinkle of white and black sesame seeds.

Chang's Chicken Lettuce Wraps were a close second - they were so fresh-tasting and I loved the rice noodles which added some crunch.

At our table, our server made the restaurant's special sauce (perfect for dipping the lettuce wraps) by combining some Chinese mustard (it has a bit of a spicy wasabi kick) with a soy potsticker sauce and chili oil - it is customizable for how hot or mild you'd like it.


You can also add vinegar to it if you wish, but we left ours the way the server made it and it was a delicious accom-
paniment. Another unique, and apparently very popular, dish was the Shrimp with Candied Walnuts - it also had melon balls in it which I found added a softer texture and flavour aside the crunchy lightly-battered shrimp and the walnuts.


One thing I must praise P.F. Chang's for is their lighter batter - they use a starch (I think in some cases I heard potato starch, in others corn starch) to make a light coating rather than a really heavy thick batter.

As for their signature cocktails (they have quite a few) we really liked the Organic Agave Margarita (Mark and I aren't generally big tequila fans, but this drink was incredibly smooth). A couple other good cocktail choices: the incredibly fruity Jade Martini (coconut rum, pineapple juice, melon liquer) and the Asian Pear Mojito (Bacardi limon, fresh mint, slight hint of pear). The one pictured below wasn't one of our favourites, it was a bit too sweet, but the colour was phenomenally photo-worthy!


If you're over at  Shops at Don Mills it's worth popping in, even if just for a taste of those ribs (they are actually listed as an appetizer) and a signature cocktail.


Yours in food,

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria

Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Enjoy an authentic Neapolitan pizza at Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria. Located in the Annex, on bustling Bloor West, Famoso democratizes high calibre pizzas and gelato, serving quick and consistent fare at a reasonable price, in a warm and casual environment.


For an authentic Neapolitan Pizza you need to start with the best ingredients. Famoso uses only '00' Caputo flour to make its dough. This low gluten flour is hand stretched and tossed to create a soft and crispy thin crust.


The tomatoes used in the red sauce are imported from Southern Italy's Campania region. Their low acidity and natural sweetness make a rich and satisfying base to highlight the flavours of all the other delicious toppings. The pizzas are fired for 90 seconds at 900 degrees Fahrenheit in a special oven imported from Italy, giving that blistered and supple texture that screams Neapolitan. Some purists may take issue that it's a gas and not a wood-fied oven. Though there still is something magical about burning wood, this commercial oven ensures consistency and volume, key factors in scaling up to many locations, making really good pizza within reach of more people who might not otherwise pencil in a special Neapolitan meal.

Quattro Formaggi Pizzetta with added Soppressata 

A great lunch option is the Pizzetta. Half the size of the normal pizza, it leaves room for a soup, a salad, or in our case, more pizza. We started with the Margherita, the archetype of Neapolitan pizza, and enjoyed its fresh aromatic basil and creamy fior-di-latte cheese. Next up was the Quattro Formaggi Pizzetta with added Soppressata. We loved all the cheesy goodness cut by the squeeze of lemon. The addition of the crispy and flavourful slices of Soppressata is highly recommended.


Incase we were missing out on the whole pizza experience, and with some room to spare, we ordered a full-sized Funghi Tartufo pizza (roasted white mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, white truffle oil, reggiano parmesan), and paired it with an Italian red wine. Mmmmmm...mushrooms!


Dessert was light caffeinated Italian, a slice of Tiramisu and some affogatos (a shot of espresso on top of a scoop of gelato). We highly recommend the Salted Caramel Affogato. It certainly gives a Frappuccino a run for its money.


Posted by: Mark Rodas