Mitzi's (Sorauren & Queen): My favorite brunch in Toronto. Large, fresh, tasy glasses of juice and a lovely menu of six staples presented in news ways every week. My favorite is the oatmeal pancake, crisp on the outside and tender within, which last week was topped with cranberry-orange sauce, maple syrup, and whipped cream. My hosts from last week, J. and G., came along.
Phil's Barbecue (College & Ossington): Slow-roasted barbecue, meaty ribs, and tender pulled pork. I've never found the side dishes too exciting, although I like the baked beans. Really, it's just all about the meat. B.P. joined us there.
Simone Marie Belgian Chocolate (Bloor & Avenue, on Cumberland): The best all-around truffles from the Toronto chocolate tour chamaeleoncat and I self-organized the other year. I still hope to make it to J.S. Bonbons and/or Soma for the hot chocolate before I leave.
Insomnia (Bloor and Bathurst): Competent brunch, with quite nice potatoes. C.V. was impressed with their hollandaise sauce - she's had a run of mediocre ones around town lately. Plus, we somehow managed to spend five hours there, and they didn't mind at all. theengineer and C.V. came along; plus, we ran into acrabtree and L. there!
The New Yorker Deli (Bay and St. Charles): Tender, tasty cabbage borscht comfort food. We brought their soup to visit forthright and curtana for lunch.
Ginger (Bloor and Yonge): A full cooked meal, with drink and appetizer, for C$7.30 - their pork vermicelli comes with a deep-friend spring roll and a pleasant light vinegary sauce which contrasts with the pork's sweet caramelized crunch. I went with snowdrifted, but C. wanted to go too, so we went again after he arrived.
Splendido (Harbourd and Spadina): Comfortable, elegant, decadent, superb - this was the restaurant which first serious sparked my occasional international search for truly fabulous places to eat. The evening flew by in the company of double0hilly.
Glass of gazpacho topped with foam, mini-basil - there was some vegetable center to this taste of soup, something tender and munchy at the center, and I've already forgotten what. Another lesson in the importance of writing down meals while flavor-memory is fresh.
Moet-et-Chandon Nectar Champagne (ordered separately, in celebration) - sweet-fruity, rich with berry notes, especially raspberry and blackberry, this is a fun and friendly champagne.
Amuse-bouche - I'm deeply certain there was one.
Chilled Sweet English Pea Soup, Nova Scotia Lobster, Niagara Pancetta - light and satisfying balance of flavors, fresh pea flavor made richer and more complex by the meaty accompaniaments. (Viognier, 2004, Jean Luc Colombo, Vin de Pays d'Oc, Franc)
Tian of Dungeness Crab, Lobster Gelée, Spring Fava Beans, Lobster Emulsion - the fava beans were a highlight, yielding, but crisp. (Riesling, 2004, "Carly' Block", Tawse Winery, Niagara Peninsula)
Raw marinated diced tuna, with piquant black olive dust, argan oil emulsion, basil, poached quail's egg with white truffle slice, and an extraordinary slow-roasted baby tomato (bonus course!) - the tuna wasn't overwhelmed by its marinade, a well-balanced dish surrounded by more intense flavors. (Blend of Grenache Blanc, Mansanne, Rousanne, and Viognier. Lirac '04, Domaine la Fond Roc Epiné)
Poached Queen Charlotte Island Halibut Filet, Wild Asparagus, Smoked Bacon, Hollandaise Sauce - the second fish/bacon-like dish of the meal, and it's a successful contrast between a sliver of salty robustness and the lighter smoothness of the fish. The wild asparagus was the youngest I've met, all gawky stem. (Chardonnay, 2004, Domaine Thibert, Macon-Fuissé, France.)
Beet sorbet, crowned with a mini-tarragon leaf
Seared Artisanal Foie Gras, Suckling Pig, Crackling, Dried Raisins, Niagara Riesling Sauce - the most decadent and memorable course of the meal, rich, tender foie gras, compelling wine-plumped raisins. (Gewurtztraminer Malivoire, Estate Bottled 2004. The usual match is a Pinot Noir 2004, Norman Hardie, Niagara.)
Richview Farm Squab Breast, Crisp Squab Leg, Wild Mushrooms, Thyme Jus - Rich and tasty, but it was the accompanying thirty-year-old-sherry which blew me away - a smooth, sweet, confident alcohol. I don't drink red wines, so I'm always a challenge to the sommelier in finding replacements which will match a dish. The sherry wasn't a perfect match, but it went decently well with the gamey squab and anyways, it was so good, I was glad I had it regardless. (Oloroso Sherry "Muy Viejo" "Matusalem" Emilio Lustau, Spain. The usual match is a Syrah 2002, "Bien Nacido Vineyard", Jassurs, Santa Barbara County, CA.)
Chocolate Bergamot Almond Layer Cake, Chocolate Malt Ice Cream - the cake was topped with crispy almond pieces with nearly the crunch of popped rice, a fun bit of crunch. The accompanying vin santo was a revelation - I've only ever had cheaper ones, it seems. I hadn't realized they could be so smooth. (Malvasia/Trebbiano 1999, Vino Santo, Falchini, Tuscany.)
Mignardises and herbal teas
Still to come: The Red Tea Box, Mildred Pierce (for brunch), Mt. Everest lunch buffet (with all-you-can-eat rice pudding)
If only there were more time: Gallery Grill (for brunch), croissantwiches at The Croissant Tree, samosas from The Butler's Pantry, fig croissants and sandwiches at Clafouti, burger at the Drake café.