So when our friends at Made In Brazil recently posted this awesome collaboration between the venerable Brazilian Classic Havaianas and Italian luxe brand Missoni,how could our collective jaws NOT drop.
Our preference will be for the "espadrilles"
...the only question now is when and where these beauties will be available.
Here's another of our favourite places in Kensington. We're not exactly sure of the correct full name, or in fact the relationship between these two places, but on the corner of Augusta and Baldwin sits Casa Acoreana/ Nuts Make the World Go Round/ Louie's Kaffee. One look at the gentlemen who run these places and we have to assume they are brothers- close relatives, at least. And there's a family- style relationship between the physical premises themselves.
Louie's occupies the corner; a funky little shack appended to the original building. They serve excellent espresso beverages from either a tiny walk-up window on the street or from a counter inside the painfully small interior. The little "room" has a few stools & benches, a tin roof, and walls adorned with autographed photo's of celebrity patrons. Overflow seating flanks the front windows of Nuts Make the World Go Round on Baldwin, and space there is always at a premium.
"Nuts" is where we go to get our home coffee. It's a bulk store that specializes in teas and coffees, spices, nuts (we assume), and particularly candy. We are hooked on their Kensington Blend espresso, a secret in-house mix of select beans. To us it strikes just the right balance of roast (fairly dark), ample body, and a hint of fruitiness. The wacky decor seems rather out of character for the guys that man this place, but who knows what secrets they harbour? Maybe they're just big gruff candy loving kids at heart!
We spent a Friday evening in Hipsterville recently, stopping first to catch a friend's art opening at the Gladstone, then scurrying the seven cold and windy blocks along Queen St W to Ossington Av, where we popped up the block to the lovely Delux for dinner. We had been once before and enjoyed it immensely, but because we were there with a group we were relegated to the back room. This time, when we made our reservations (yes, they ACTUALLY take reservations!) we asked to sit in the front room. We were told that they don't guarantee seating but that we were quite likely to get our wish. And in fact, they were right- we got our front room table, wedged snugly between a yuppy power couple's pre-Valentine date night and a quiet granola-crunchy pair who departed not long after our arrival. With a little adjusting of tables, we ended up being a respectable distance from our neighbours and able to speak to each other in more than hushed tones. The room is small with a large and handsome bar at the back end, decorated in the au courant arty meets industrial style.
The Executive Chef is Corinna Mozo. Born in Montréal, according to the bio of her on the restaurant's website she cut her chops in some of Boston's finest kitchens. Toronto Life labels her a Cuban- Québecoise; this heritage is perhaps reflected in the Cuban Lunch and Cuban Brunch offerings which we've yet to sample. From our perspective, her Cuban roots were reflected in one of the most delicious (if unusual) appetizers we've ever tasted: We started by sharing the "pressed cubano sandwich", a delectable assembly of cider-cured pork shoulder, ham, Gruyere cheese, grainy mustard, cornichons, and red onions, all squeezed between two slices of toasty fresh bread. The panino grille had left narrow ridges on the bread which accentuated the crispy outer surface. The cornichons were very thinly sliced and they injected just the right note of sweet and sour into the savoury goodness of the pork. The sandwich was served with a few fries, a delicious lightly-spiced dipping mayonnaise and some baby arugula leaves tossed ever so slightly in a refreshing vinaigrette. It's actually hard to believe that someone could take on one of these babies by themselves then continue to a main course like steak frites or roasted chicken. We were so glad that we had opted to share it!
image courtesy ugonnaeatthat.com
With well-paced service we moved on to our mains: Achiote and Lime Roasted Chicken, potato purée, and salad of jicama and haricots vert for one; house-made lamb sausage on Du Puy lentils with a little dollop of garlicky spinach for the other. (Out of consideration to our fellow diners, we didn't photograph our dinners)
We firmly believe that roast chicken is one of the best ways to judge a restaurant's abilities. A properly cooked bird, all crispy skin on the outside and juicy-fleshed on the inside is a sure sign of kitchen competence. This rendition did not disappoint. Creamy mashed potatoes were the obvious starchy accompaniment and the jicama and bean slaw provided the requisite crunch (although there could have been more of it)
The pair of lamb sausages were flavourful and tender, lightly infused with cumin. The lentils were cooked in a rich broth and served in its reduction. This dish seemed to be the perfect embodiment of a French and Cuban fusion, and really hit the mark on this winter evening. We washed it all down with a lovely Tempranillo/ Cabernet/ Merlot blend from Pagos de Aria in the Spanish Navarra region.
We rarely opt for dessert but tonight we found the "cuban coffee crème brûlée" too alluring to pass up. And it was superb! Once again, a winning marriage of Montréal and Havana!
We've just recently hit the one year milestone here at Bobo Feed and to help celebrate we're launching a new feature that we plan to make a regular one: "Postcard from..."
Our first dispatch comes to us courtesy of Diane Curry, a vivacious lady who became an instant friend after we met her and husband Michael in Vieques, Puerto Rico a few years back. Since those days the adventurous pair have completed a sojourn in Singapore and have now moved on to the Czech Republic, where their dog can finally run free and Diane can once more indulge her mustard fetish!
Postcard from Prague
Cool Air. Bodacious beers. Dogs and their lovers everywhere – on trams, trains, in restaurants – running loose, playing freely, scary to no one. Bread so varied and abundant it inspires poetry, whole aisles of yogurt, cream and lactose loveliness, wines from the countryside that conquer their critics and a smothering of sausages – cooked, smoked, curled, grilled, baked, aged, but mostly just speared and carried as street food. What did we feel so soon and so clearly? Relief. A Homecoming. Soothed and Enticed. Europe, bless your historic, cultured, civilized soul...
...Strange as it seems after all these years on multiple continents, this is the longest time either of us has lived in a proper big city – Singapore was a big fabricated city – good in a zillion ways, but just not real in a dozen other ways. It hit me right away – cities are teeming with activity and all space is shared space. Life is being lived pretty much on the move and Prague is a sensory playground for the newcomer. There’s so much classical music being played here that on my daily commute I see more people carrying musical instruments than I’ve seen anywhere, in my life. And everyone is eating – usually chocolate or poppy seed croissants (my day to indulge in this breakfast is still ahead of me … the anticipation being part of the pleasure) or sausages in wardrobes of great variety. As a lifetime mustard lover, I am thrilled to be back in a place where I can slather and dredge this condiment with abandon. Contrarily, I’ve learned the hard way that “Americka style” is code-speak for mayonnaise, and sushi is one place wherein this detestable-to-me but loved-by-many foodstuff just doesn’t belong. Prague is the land of potato soup and borscht, a veritable menagerie of roasted meats and doughy dumplings. Gone are the tropical scented meals laced with lemongrass and coconut and chilies. Czechs don’t like hot and spicy. A chef of a new Indian restaurant here confessed to racial profiling: he turns down the heat when Czechs are eating and cranks it back up for everyone else. Thankfully, the Italians are here in large numbers and so is ALL of their good food. Asia forced me to fantasize about good cheese, here it’s part of my everyday joy. I just realized how much I’ve written here about food, and that’s because when you are new to a country, and your shelter is decided, food is often a thrice-daily adventure full of lots of wrong turns and delectable discoveries. Michael noticed recently that this is the first country we’ve lived in where there are four languages written on most products, none English. We guess a lot, we’re usually lucky and I’m glad we’re good a winging it. You may not realize how it feels to stand in the meat section and try to decipher chicken from duck, cow from deer. Graphic icons are lifesavers. Last week I guessed that a word with a “z” in it might be my best bet for finding sour cream – got it right. But there was that pastry that I swore was a cheesy strudel and it turned out to be a too-salty-too-take-home-to-the-dog egg pie. When in doubt, stick to fruits and nuts. Still ahead, and full of mystery of varying importance, are doctor and dentist visits, train travel and more trips to government offices...
...Keep in touch and I will try to Blog Prague again in a few months.
photo above courtesy Michael Franco
top photo courtesy EuropeUpClose.com
This piece has been excerpted from Diane's blog Passages In Time. You can read the full account here.
A sharp knife will cut, one that is not is more likely to slip and cause an unnecessary accident. Once you experience using sharp knives, you will never go back.There are people we know who bring their own knives to dinner parties since they know they will eventually be asked to cook. It's just alot easier.
It's a passion.
We recently were in dire need of getting our knives sharpened; but where?? A local shop, though handy, didn't really provide the quality nor the longevity in sharpness that we felt our investment was worth. So we ended up using our steel more and more. The more we used our steel the more frustrated we became in trying to find someone to do justice to our precious tools. On a lark one Sunday night, we just typed in "Knife Sharpening, Toronto" and BOOM!! Major score! Ivan Fonseca's site is dedicated to the fine art of sharpening the knife. Ivan is a true master who over night took good care of our "babies", returning them as promised to better than factory sharpness.
Along the way he told me of his passions for knives and their care as well as informing me that this interest originally started with his grandfather, a woodworker, who preferred Japanese tools. Obviously the knives he works with and has a preference for are of Japanese origin. Ivan, an accomplished cook, began studying the art of sharpening during his stay in Vancouver where he was first introduced to Japanese knives, and how to sharpen them using traditional methods. He now relies and gets inspiration from Katana Togoshi, or Japanese sword polishing/sharpening techniques. Respect for the knife is paramount for him.
We like this. His skill has returned hugely neglected knives, like the one above, back to better than superior condition. Ivan tells us this one was brought to him with a broken tip and much rusting. As you can see from the picture this beautiful instrument, after a custom polishing, was returned to the owner, who must have been hugely grateful, and for which Ivan is equally proud.
Along with colleague Olivia Go, also an acclaimed chef, they are part of Tosho Knife Arts , a new web store offering the best in hand-crafted Japanese knives right here in Toronto.
We very much look forward to contacting Ivan again and seeing what is on offer there. He has promised us that once one uses one of his Japanese knives (which are not as expensive as one might think), we will have a hard time going back. Like we said....it's a passion.
It is no secret of our love of food. We love shopping for it. We love preparing it, and most of all we love eating it. The love of preparing a meal combines many different elements. First and foremost are your ingredients, then the tools one uses to accomplish your delectable task. As a renowned domestic goddess often says, you should always have the right tool for the right job, and to us there is no substitute for a good SHARP knife.
Once you start using a sharp knife there is no going back. We are lucky in having a few good knives. We do not have many, nor does one need to have many. It is widely accepted that one needs no more than three good knives that can do a variety jobs when called upon.
#1 is a good Chef knife.
They can go as long as 14", but for the home cook 8"to 10" is more than adequate. This is your go-to knife. If you can only have one knife, this is the one. The knife you smash garlic with, the one you will use for cutting that gorgeous piece of perfectly cooked meat that you just dfropped a bomb on. This, if you can, is where you should invest; it will become your best friend in the kitchen.
#2 is a good paring knife.
At 2 to 4 inches, this knife you will use for those more intricate jobs, like paring fruit or vegetables, where a chef's knife would/could be too unwieldy.
#3 is a serrated knife.
Many people use this knife not just for cutting bread but also to cut tomatoes(!) If your chef's or paring knife is sharp enough, why would you use a serrated knife? Having said this, there is a shorter version of the traditional serrated knife that it's primary use is to cut hard skinned vegetables and is also used to cut tomatoes but...we are trying to limit our choices here, so for this purpose we'll stay with the traditional bread cutting variety.
These three choices should and will get you through most of your day to day cooking.
You should also take good care of your investment. Never store your knives in a drawer where they could bang and clang with other utensils. Obviously, beside the safety issue, this will also dull and damage your investment. Store either in a block or, our preferred, a wall mounted magnetic strip.
Your knives should also never be put in the dishwasher, just a quick wipe with a warm soapy sponge, then wiped dry. A knife should also never be used on anything cutting surface other than wood or polyethylene. Glass, marble, stone or ceramic will damage your knife.
Our next post? Finally finding someone who can take care of our investment.