Ladies & Gentleman, presenting Miss Korea!…not just another beauty queen

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Miss Korea Bar & Eatery

Post our Captain Phillips screening at Varsity Theater (which was a nail-biter I might add), my lady and I headed over to Yonge & Charles for some after-hour Korean cuisine at Miss Korea. The blue and red icon is quite bright, ornate with a white sash and tiara…the beauty queen of Korean cuisine in Toronto?

Miss Korea Bar Fooze Johannkd

The walls are wrapped in high gloss crate wallpaper suitable for shipping and various liquor bottles are painted to look like a bar-rail on their massive blackboard. The back bar is covered in galvanize metal and chalkboards are utilized for comic handwritten menus. The interior of the restaurant is stellar, a style that I appreciate. One odd thing about this place is that ALL the tables are round and quite close together. The other oddly amazing thing is the stool you sit on, which doubles as a “coat bin”, this is pretty clever but makes for an awkward escape (especially in an inebriated state). Luck for you, the blaring electronic dancehall music will smother the sound of your clumsy lid drop.

The menu is quite unique with some dishes that I struggle to pronounce but try to nonetheless. The options range from salads and shrimp tempura to dup-bap, bibimbap, bulgogi and Sam-Gyup Ddeok-Bbo-Ki of course! (i.e. “Spicy Rice Cake”). The drinks menu also offered Soju, which we will definitely indulge next time.

Miss Korea TOronto Fooze Menu johannkd cuisine food bibimpap dup bap

We decided to share the Pork Belly Salad ($8). This is a traditional mixed greens with sliced cucumber, doused in a sweet & spicy vinaigrette dressing and topped with 4 to 5 slices of yummy grilled pork belly.

Pork Belly Salad Fooze johannkd korean miss korea

Pork Belly Salad

As our main’s we decided to try Dup-Bap ($9), both the Spicy Pork and Bulgogi Beef. These dishes were pretty good, with an authentic Korean spice in the marinade. They were substantial portions, add a side of sauteed Kimchi (+0.99) and this delicious Dup-Bap takes on a whole new flavor!

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Spicy Pork, Bulgogi Beef & Pork Belly Salad.

The service was good, attentive and not too intrusive. Thumbs Up to Miss Korea, you’ve made a fine delegate for The Great East. Oh and one more thing…Miss Korea also offers an upstairs Karaoke bar, next time you feel the urge to let out your inner Korea-Pop star!

Fooze Rating: 8 out of 10

Want to try some new Korean?

Check out Miss Korea at 687 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M4Y. (647) 748-9100

https://www.facebook.com/MISSKOREATORONTO Continue reading

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Fill your beak at The County General!

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What’s Cooking?

Friday night, the sky has opened up and Toronto is soaked to the skin,  My party and I face the rain in search of some good comfort food. At the west end of Toronto, over at Queen and Ossington, a rooster crows aloud calling us to it’s nest at The County General, here’s the story of the evening…

 The County General has a great style and fun atmosphere, and has definitely established itself as one of the more popular joints in the west end. The County General is quite small, guestimating 50 seats in the dining area, plus a bar rail. The art on the walls are pop culture icons e.g. Jimi Hendrix printed in a stencil art style and the soundtrack for dinner is a mainstream rock playlist. I do believe the owner is a huge Linkin Park fan.

jimi hendrix wall art county general fooze toronto johannkd chicken

Our party of four decided it was a night for communal eating, that being said we ordered the “KFC” Chicken (Korean Fried Chicken) $40. I was fairly amused by the presentation of this dish, a sheet of wax paper is laid over your table and like a fantasy made reality…fried chicken rains down on your table followed soon after by a shower of Korean BBQ sauce, Hoisin, pickled red onions, cilantro and a drizzling with a guacamole aioli…I think I died and just went to heaven! This southern american-korean fusion comes with a side of steam bao, ready for stuffing! Recommended for sharing, this mammoth meal is  incredibly scrumptious and definitely worth the price!

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KFC “Korean” Fried Chicken, straight on the table!

If that wasn’t enough we also ordered the following items:

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KFC (foreground) and the Pork Plate (background)

Pork Plate ($11) – We we’re slightly disappointed with this particular dish. the waitress warned that a very large plate was coming and made a great effort to create room at the table. However, when the 5x11inch board arrived, it was litterally more ‘plank’ than ‘pork’. The selection comes with Pigs Head Panchetta, Rillete, Crackling Pickled Mustard, Sourdough. Although a tasty treat, not worth the price tag.

Boudin Noir ($10) – Blood Sausage, Black Pudding…call it what you will, this lush, creamy and dense treat was a great, unique addition to our meal. I haven’t had this in quite sometime and was happy to enjoy it once more. The Boudin Noir is served with Grilled Cheese and Maple Mustard.

Heirloom Radish & Beet Salad ($5)  – You can’t beet this salad, at $5 it is a great bite and was a great contrast to the warm, salty and heavy flavour profile of the other dishes. Served with Namprik and Ricotta, the beet salad is a refreshing salad that complimented the meal quite well.

Frites ($4) – Served with a Garlic Aoili…need I say more?

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Boudin Noir

The Country General has quite an extensive bar menu, with a great selection of aged rums. I kept it simple and ordered the Gosling “Black Seal” Rum (Bermuda) with coke. Other drinks that graced our table included the Muskoka Mad Tom and Mill St. Organic. A good hoppy IPA always pairs great with heavy deep-fried food!

Our server was friendly, patient and attentive, she shared good product knowledge and especially served up the KFC Chicken in superb fashion.

All in All a great experience here at The County General No regrets with our decision on a restaurant tonight, it was well worth the 40 minute wait and our party left with their belts undone. I’ll definitely be returning….perhaps with a bigger appetite.

Great Job County General, I salute you!

http://thecountygeneral.ca/

The County General is located at 936 Queen St. W, Toronto.

Fooze Rating: 9 out of 10

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Goslings “Black Seal” Rum & Coke

Tyler @ County

Itadakimasu Etsu!

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Last night, My girlfriend and I were in the mood for our favorite…Sushi. Don’t ask twice, don’t say another word, the call was made. Having never been to Baldwin for dinner, we decided to give it to try, knowing that the critically-acclaimed ‘Etsu’ lay waiting.

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Front Steps to Etsu off Baldwin St. Toronto

Etsu is definitely a smaller scale restaurant, with an approx. 50 seats and a sushi bar at the far wall. As we walk in, smooth jazz ride the airwaves and the light glows purple. The matte black walls are decorated with Japanese artwork and the two shukunin (sushi chefs) are standing almost at attention with crisp white jackets. I actually found they looked like doctors, clean and professional.

The restaurant was quiet, four other diners shared the space, that being said, we were served rather quickly. Our server was polite, friendly and gave us great recommendations, which we took. My girlfriend did well to realize that the tables came standard with “Low Sodium” Soy Sauce, which we were happy about. Her other observation was quite interesting, regarding heated toilet seats and ‘Listerine’ in the bathrooms. I was impressed by the former, more so than the latter.

For dinner, we shared four “unique” house rolls. The ‘Snow’ roll ($11), which was essentially a dynamite roll with a delicious cut of lightly seared butter fish draped over the top and brushed with garlic oil. This was one of my favorites, full of flavor and well presented.

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Our Medley of Snow, Caterpillar, Rock Shrimp and Three Musketeer Rolls

The ” Caterpillar” roll ($12) was pretty standard, and consisted of BBQ eel & crab meat accompanied by the generic cucumber and avocado. The roll was wrapped with avocado and dusted with tobiko. Although a tasty bite, not worth the price.

Caterpillar & Snow Roll

In View from back: Three Musketeer, Snow, Caterpillar Roll

The “Three Musketeer” roll ($8)…a nobly suited name for this three-way treat and my second favorite of the medley. This is a sword-fight between the three major sushi grade fish. Get this…Salmon, Tuna and Butter fish wrapped in Salmon, Tuna and Butter fish. I could barely get this mammoth roll down, but was extremely pleased with the assortment of flavor in each bite! This was by far, the best value for the quality and portion size.

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Snow Roll

The last and probably most scrumptious of the lot, has got to be the “Rock Shrimp” roll ($15). This rock star of a roll is composed of spicy tuna, creamy avocado and mango. As the name implies, it is donned with a saucy, spicy panko-crusted rock shrimp…I wish I had ordered two of these rolls, they were easy on the sauce, which had a bold flavor but did not suppress the taste of the other ingredients. I especially liked how the crunch of the panko crust was contrasted by the smooth texture of the salmon, and the natural saltiness of the shrimp. All in all, it made for a rollercoaster of taste and is highly recommended!

…a bottle of Japanese ‘Asahi’ beer was my co-pilot. Fresh, Super “dry”….aaah!

This is a fine Japanese restaurant, and like most sushi restaurants in Toronto, has a western fusion. Clean, Professional and Polite, they executed in good form. I would definitely suggest this restaurant to my friends.

Etsu, doesn’t have a strong presence on-line at the moment but you can view their entire menu on Just-Eat.ca:

http://www.just-eat.ca/restaurants-etsu-japanese/menu#702

Etsu is located at 45 Baldwin Street, Toronto.

Fooze Rating: 8 out of 10.

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Two shukunin waste no time. moving at a quick, yet careful pace, they are efficient in their artform.

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A painting hangs on the wall. A face-painted kabuki performer

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O&B Wine Wednesday: A Taste of the Promised Land – Catena Vineyards

Catena Malbec Fooze johannkd Johann Keens-DouglasPerched high under the looming fog of the mountains in Mendoza, Argentina, sits the Catena Zapata Vineyards. Harnessing the raw power of nature, they utilize superior wine-making knowledge and employ it with the unique conditions of their high-altitude location, to craft some of the world’s finest malbec.

At Oliver & Bonacini we exude excellence and celebrate the best in both food and wine. It’s no wonder that the Catena selection has found it’s way onto the wine walls of their top-flight restaurants.

During the seminar, we learnt about Catena as pioneers for high-altitude wine-making. This elevation allows for maximum exposure to intense sunlight and a cool resting climate for the vines at night. This transitional climate allows the grapes to maintain a high acidity, and makes for a more complex wine. As we will later learn during our tasting of the Catena Alta Malbec, the higher the altitude the more complex and superior the grape.

Our district GM, Cyrus Cooper even had the opportunity to visit the Catena vineyard, commenting on the surreal beauty of the mountaintop vineyard  and saw first-hand the passion and meticulous care that is put into their wine. …..next time I’m in Argentina i guess 🙂

Anthony Demas,  (Director of Beverage Mgmt) conducted the seminar, and poured us a few glasses from the Catena Family, sharing his knowledge on the grape varietal and the unique process and composition of Catena wines. Here are a few of the tasting notes:

Catena Alta Chardonnay 2011 

This elegant chardonnay has an interesting profile with it’s warm, buttery and even toasty scent on the nose. It also boasts fragrances of tropical fruit, pineapple and red apple. The Alta Chardonnay has a creamy, yet spicy texture (from oak-aging) and will leave your mouth watering due to it’s slightly higher acidity. The wine stays refreshing, taking on new flavors with every sip, developing in the glass with a nice long finish.

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Anthony Demas pours up some delicious Catena Malbec for the eager, thirsty staff at OBCG 33Y

Catena Malbec 2011

Having a casual day, sitting with a friend on a patio or curling up your couch, this malbec is quite versatile. Available by glass/bottle at Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill, this malbec is very fruit-forward on the nose, emanating plum, dark fruit and blackberries. This particular grape is harvested from younger vines, that beingsaid, it does not have a lot of tannin, but enough texture that it wont dry out your mouth. The Catena Malbec pairs well with pasta dishes, chili and BBQ.

 

Catena Alta Malbec 2010

A high-end wine of superior quality. The magic within this bottle was born at 1,450m above sea level and the vines were rigorously selected for their smaller grapes, giving less juice with a rich currant color and elegant taste. On the nose, the Alta Malbec is fruity, spicy and smokey with a hint of tobacco. This wine has a higher tannin than it’s previously mentioned counterpart, and gives a smooth, silk-like texture due to better oak usage and complexity. This wonderful wine was built for aging, I recommend uncorking this sweet puppy on a special occasion, and decanting for a while before enjoying. It’s ill-advised to pair this wine with spicy food, due to spicy flavor already present in the wine. Try it with fatty meats like veal, ribs, steak or perhaps a lamb shank…remember, a rich and expensive wine such as this, has rich and expensive taste!

Having tasted and learnt the history, profiles and process for making these wines, I am encouraged to inspire my guests with the Catena story,  having them truly appreciate and enjoy the bottle.

To learn more about the inspirational story of the Bodega Catena Zapata family and their wine craft, visit http://www.catenawines.com/index.html

Going Loco for Tacos at La Carnita!

Hola Amigos,

Last night, I had a real craving for tacos, thus invited myself to La Carnita with two of my nieghbourhood compadres. The time was 9:30pm when we waltzed in, and place was buzzing like a beehive. The bar rail was at capacity and the front section was jam-packed. We were lucky to get a table in the back section near the grand neon “La Carnita” sign.

This taco bar has a hip jive about it, the design to me seems almost industrial (no chrome finishes here!), the walls are brick and stone, plastered in graffiti from local street artists and diners can expect to hear some grungy, funky breakbeats with enough bass to crack a hard shell taco, good thing these are soft 🙂

The menu is a short quick read, which is a nice comfort considering I’m 3 glasses deep in wine and my decision making skills have somewhat diminished. There are five (5) starters including Mexican Street Corn & Mexican Meatballs and three (3) dessert which I couldn’t help but indulge in, once I found out about the Peanut Butter Popsicle.

Now for the reason we all came….Tacos! Tacos! Tacos! and being the greedy troll that I am, I decided to try 5 out of the 6 tacos available that night, including the Tuesday night special Squid the Kid LCXO

Here’s what I ordered:

La Carnita Tacos Fooze

Voltron sauce, lime crema, pickled red cabbage, green apple & cilantro

La Carnita Pollo Frito Fooze johannkd

Peanut mole sauce, pickled green cabbage & salsa fresca

I enjoyed everyone of these tacos, some more than others. My absolute favorite was the daily special “Squid the Kid” taco…which are lightly battered, fried with not too much salt. These were fantastic, I wish they offered them everyday!

Amongst the four posted above, I have a special place in my heart for the “Pollo Frito” which I understand is a signature item and came highly recommended by my friends. Pollo Frito had a great flavor once again, and was drizzled with a homemade peanut-mole sauce, which is to die for.

My second favorite has got to be”In Cod We Trust”. Fish tacos are becoming more and more popular, and I’ve had my share, be it Ahi Tuna, Ceviche, Shark or Mahi Mahi. I was impressed by the subtle yet flavorful  home-made Voltron sauce, which incorporates “tamari” a premium style soy sauce. This sauce was also partnered quite well with the rich, mellow “Mexican” crema fresca, which pacified the spicy zest of the dish.

Beef Cheek Taco La Carnita Fooze johannkd

Ancho braised cheek, lime avocado, green cabbage, pickled jalapeño & crispy shallots

Chorizo Taco La Carnita Fooze Johannkd

Chorizo, mango salsa, pickled onion, queso cotija & cilantro

 

 

 

Forgive me for not snapping a photo of the “Squid the Kid LCXO” taco, my mouth works faster than my memory it seems and It slipped my mind, so instead I’ll share with you a photo that I “borrowed” from the @la_carnita Instagram page, here it is:

Calamari Squid La Carnita Fooze johannkd

“Squid the Kid LCXO” Crispy Calamari Taco, with crema fresca, lime and Voltron Sauce

That brings us to dessert, as you will soon find out I have a wicked sweet tooth and am a slave to all things chocolate! I ordered the Peanut Butter Popsicle; this tasty treat was rich, smooth and surprisingly not too sweet. After the full Taco-Tasting seminar I underwent, I was forced to share my dessert with my girlfriend, who played modest, until she took a bite….after that we were fighting over who gets to lick the Popsicle stick!

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Had a great time here, I’ve been before and would definitely return again. If your looking for a good taco in the College West area, La Carnita comes highly recommended!

Fooze Rating: 8 out of 10

La Carnita is located at 501 College St. W   (416-964-1555)

Websitehttp://lacarnita.com/ Instagram: @la_carnita Twitter: @la_carnita

Muchas Gracias por leer!

Off to Cave Springs on the Niagara peninsula with O&B

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Myself and a group of fellow team members from Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants visited the Cave Spring vineyard and winery for a lesson on their brand, culture, wine-making style and of course, a delicious sample of the fruit of the vine.

Cave Springs Vinyard, Niagara Peninsula

Cave Springs Estate has a certain beauty in landscape that is uncontested, with it’s variety of topographical wonder, wildlife and a magnificent view of lake Ontario. We were greeted by Tom Pennachetti, an enthusiastic, humorous and well-learned winemaker, he schooled us on the geography and geology of the land we stood on. We learnt about the importance of the local environment such as the forested limestone escarpment, which gives moisture and minerality to the vines, and acts as a buffer for the wind, causing a constant breeze as well as turbulence helping to toughen the vines for harsh seasons ahead.

Overhead, the sky was crystal clear with only a puff of cloud cover and we noticed something pretty cool, Hawks!

A Hawk soars over head protecting the land from pests and small birds

The cave spring emblem is a mighty hawk, which can be seen regularly soaring in the airspace above the vineyard. These beautiful birds, serve a greater purpose, in frightening away other small birds and large pests who may otherwise damage the crop. It was truly a sight to see the hawks hover gracefully, observing all the activity in the fields below.

Vertical Shoot PositioningWe moved onto touring the actual crop, learning the difference between vitis vinifera, hybrid and vitis labrusca (native grapes known for their ‘foxy’ flavour, which we later learned was not such a good thing). We were taught how vertical shoot positioning impacted the light exposure and vine density, and the importance of proximity used to employ a struggle for the vine.

Later on, we headed over to one of the wine-tasting houses and began sampling some of the blends exclusive to Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants, here are a few of the tasting notes:

  • Cave Springs ‘Jump’ Chardonnay 

Production for this white began in 1998 exclusively for Jump restaurant in Toronto. This wine has a spicyness on the nose, with a hint of pear. With only 15-20% barrel contact it is light, fresh and soft with a stony minerality in texture. This wine was an easy drink stand alone and quite pedestrian.

  • Cave Springs ‘ Canoe’ Reisling

Oliver & Bonacini ExclusivesThe first of the OB Branded bottles, this wine was started in 1996 for Canoe restaurant in Toronto. It is very fruit forward, with plenty citrus notes, lemon-lime and even white grapefruit. This a great medium-dry wine that can be drank on it’s own but is meant to pair with food, due to it’s low PH intensity I would recommend it with a ‘Lemon Riccota Ravioli’ or perhaps a tender white fish like Cherry Snapper. I thoroughly enjoyed this bottle, for it’s ideal balance of acidity with a kiss of sweetness that round off the flavour.

  • Biff’s Juicy Red

Named for it’s aromatic, crunchy and ‘JUICY’ characteristics, this wine is produce for Biff’s Bistro, but can also be found in a couple other O&B restaurants e.g. O&B Café Grill 33 Yonge. (Which happens to be right next door). Biff’s Juicy Red is a blend of Cabaranet Franc, Merlot and a dash of Pinot Noir and has a few plum notes. A versatile wine that leaves a pucker on the palette, this wine was made to pair! I would recommend it with a tomato sauce pasta e.g. OB Café Grill Spicy Sausage Penne.

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Lola, the resident wine-making poodle plays in the vineyard.

Lola, the resident wine-making poodle plays in the vineyard.

After sampling a couple other varietals such as the Gerwutraminer and Cabaranet Franc, we were treated to a tasty lunch box, consisting of a pulled pork sandwich, pasta salad (with capers and pearl onions), wax bean salad and a peach crumble. The Cave Spring hospitality was unmatched, they made us very welcome and took the opportunity to get to know the people who sell their product. At lunch, we were joined by two magnificent standard poodles ‘Lola’ and ‘Bruno’, who made friends rather quickly once the food arrived. After a quick nap on the back lawn, we were back on our feet and headed over to the winery for a Sparkling Seminar.

On the lawn

some of the O&B Crew eating lunch and have a siesta on the back lawn

We rode the bus into Vineland, town of Lincoln to visit the cellar itself and had a seminar on Sparkling Wine. Grapes for sparkling wine must be harvested way in advance to ensure a high sugar content (avg 18%), it is fermented once and then re-fermented in bottles to create a more complex, more bubbly wine. We had an opportunity to see and taste the evolution of sparkling wine from a faint lemony BASE WINE to a bready, toasted GORGED SAMPLES straight up to the fine 2004 BRUT. Sparkling wine must be disgorged, a process of eliminating dead yeast from fermenting base wine. Rather intriguing.

Cave Springs Wine Cellar

Cave Springs Wine Cellar

During the seminar we were offered hors d’oeuvres and sampled the O&B Sparkle and Buzz Brut. This particular bottle pairs well with raw oysters, sushi/sashimi, lightly battered seafood, omlettes, quiche and grilled seafood.

Upon concluding our tasting in the cellars, we ascended the stairs into the Cave Springs gift shop, and picked a related nic-nacs and treats for the road. They presented us with a gift bag of chocolates, wine openers and a complimentary bottle of Riesling. The folks over here took great care of us and were very knowledgeable. Truly inspirational is their passion for viticulture!

I have nothing but exceptionally great things to say about this trip. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a great glass of wine. Only once you see it can you truly grasp the time, effort, tender love and care that go into making the bottles you love so much!

Emma samples the chardonnay at it's freshest!

Emma samples the chardonnay at it’s freshest!

Maya, extremely excited to sample some wine.

Maya, extremely excited to sample some wine.

Special Thanks to our host and tour guide, Thomas Pennachetti (VP, Sales & Marketing of Cave Spring Cellars)

Special Thanks to our host and tour guide, Thomas Pennachetti (VP, Sales & Marketing of Cave Spring Cellars)

The Blake House Brunch

ImageThis Saturday, my girlfriend and I intended to visit Ganzi for brunch, but found it ‘closed’ and decided to venture southbound instead to the The Blake House for brunch on 449 Jarvis St. (Jarvis & Maitland). We found the restaurant fairly easily due to it’s great curb appeal and massive patio, which was half full, around 2pm.

We checked in, and were sat at our table of preference and greeted shortly after by our server. We ordered two bloody caesar’s which was up to standard, but lacking in garnish. For $6 though, I’ll let it slide.

For our appetizer we shared the Crispy Fried Calamari, which was served with a Citrus Aioli. The dish was tasty, and not too salty, which is a common issue I have with fried calamari. The squid was cooked perfectly and the sauce was a great accompaniment.

I dared to indulge in the Blake’s Monte Cristo ($11) which was built between two slices of french bread, dipped in egg with shaved back bacon, smoked cheddar and grilled tomato, It

Imagewas partnered with a potato hash and a small fruit salad. The meal was quite tasty, I requested maple syrup (Cause that’s how I like it!)  and was content with my decision.

My girlfriend tried “Wakey-Wakey Eggs & Bakey”, a shaved back bacon sandwich topped with an egg and cheddar cheese in between a kaiser bun. I rolled the dice, taking a taste of her sandwich and was satisfied with the taste, especially the addition of the warm egg yolk permeating through the bun.

Post-meal, the patio was very quiet. Our server, was decent and polite, but never really tried to make a connection, only returning once to check with us during the course of our meal. I may return to The Blake House, but wasn’t blown out of the water by the overall experience.

Fooze Rating: 7 out of 10

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