Sunday, December 29, 2013

Turducken Feast!

Despite an ice storm causing power outages leading up to and on the day of the Turducken, nothing could stop the feast!

The Turducken was cooked breast down for the first few hours in an attempt to infuse the white meat with flavour and lock in moistness. 

In addition to the rub that was frozen with the bird, a rosemary, butter and oil mixture was used to coat the outside.  During the roasting process, broth and the bird's natural drippings were used to baste it. 

In the meantime, guests enjoyed the always phenomenal 7 layer dip with nacho chips as well as a salumi and Brie platter (pictures below):

The Turducken had a nice golden brown coating when cooked.  The internal temperature of the bird reached the required 170 degree Fahrenheit mark after 7 hours of roasting despite 2 power outages!  Miracles do come true!

In a cross sectional slice, you can see the spicy Italian sausage and chicken: 

Drippings from the bird were also mixed in with store bought gravy powder to yield an amazing gravy to go with the Turducken. 

So... Turkey? Check. Duck? Check. Chcken?  Check. 

But what about the beef?  

Being the foodies that we all are, we also prepared tender, melt in your mouth prime rib for our feast!

Many classic turkey sides were served up such as sweet corn, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and brussels sprouts with bacon. 

The hearty stuffing had pork, mushrooms, leek, celery, sage, rosemary, and carrots to accompany the bread. 

So the question on everyone's mind:  How did the Turducken stack up?

The turkey was moist and the pieces of duck found within were a great compliment to the white meat of the turkey and the chicken due to the high fat content in the skin. 

The disappointment was actually in the  Italian sausage stuffing. There was too much of it and it was too salty. It also was artificial tasting and overpowered the flavour of all the other ingredients. 

It didn't live up to the hype. But, it was excellent excuse to meet up with great company and so the feast was a success! 

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Turducken Arrival

To celebrate the holiday this year, the Urban Foodie has decided to host a Turducken feast on Boxing Day!

To get everyone up to speed, a Turducken is a deboned turkey (except for the legs and wings) stuffed with duck, chicken, and stuffing.  This particular Turducken, ordered from the website and sourced from Canadian company Echelon Foods, also has spicy Italian sausage in the mix!  When cut correctly, a serving yields a cross section of all the delicious components.

The ordering of this $124.99 behemoth was easy and pain free.  The order was placed on the 17th of December and a UPS shipping confirmation was received the same night for overnight delivery from Vancouver to Toronto. It was sitting on the front porch the evening of the 18th. Fantastic for an estimated delivery window of 3-7 days especially over the holidays!

Inside the cardboard box was a styrofoam container containing dry ice and the beloved Turducken. 

First impression?  

Honestly, it looked pretty dinky.  

The first inclination was to check to see how heavy this bird was but it was surprising that it didn't have any indication of how much it weighed - crucial prep info!  A huge miss on the company's part...

Regardless, figured out the Turducken weighs 10 pounds. It's heavier than the minimum advertised size of 8.8 pounds but this is supposed to feed up to 15 hungry people???  I hope so... I mean it is deboned right?

Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Eat some Half-priced Festive Froyo at Menchie's with your Magical Colour-changing Spoon!

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It's a great time to visit Menchie's this autumn season!

Here's why:
  1. Color-changing spoons! (Colour in Canada)
    • A good mood indicator ;)
  2. A festive pumpkin flavour to try!
  3. Enjoy half-price froyo with this Groupon ($10 value for $5!).  Hurry!  As of October 5th, you have 5 days to purchase this Groupon before it expires.  Groupon once purchased is valid until November 30/13.

Breakfast at Subway? The return of (*jingle*) $5, $5 footlongs!

Subway, Park Hyatt
170 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1T9

Drudging another breakfast at Tim's, I decided to check out the Subway location at the Park Hyatt.  It was early, before 8 a.m. on a Sunday, so I was expecting the store to be closed.  But it turns out that this Subway is a 24 hour location - the first I've heard!

Breakfast here is also my first.  I ordered an Egg & Cheese footlong which is a new entrant in the reincarnated $5 footlong promotion.  As you may know, $5 footlongs are back while the $6 Sub of the Day promotion has been eliminated.  From a marketing perspective, $5 footlongs must have been much more of a success.. I mean, more inexpensive and a better jingle? It's a no brainer.

I am still not happy with Subway though.  The shuffling of promotions created a casualty a of war - the meatball sub!  While most of the original subs on the $5 lineup return (Cold Cut Combo, Egg Salad, Ham, Pizza with Cheese, Veggie Delite) the meatball sub does not!  In my opinion, it was the best sub in taste and value at the time...hats off to you meatball sub.  Instead, a footlong meatball sub is now at $5.75 in Canada.  Is it too late to boycott?

I had the Egg & Cheese footlong on an Italian Herb and Cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers and ranch sauce.  The sub tasted very much like a Western sandwich you would get at Harvey's except on different bread.  It was great to have egg on both sides of the bread.  They basically took a round egg omelette and cut in half for each 6 inch length of sub.  The egg was less artificial tasting than I expected - much less than you would get at McDonald's but more than at Harvey's (where eggs are cooked at the time of order).  The egg could have benefited from some salt and pepper though which I forgot to add.  I got my sub toasted so that the cheese would deliciously melt over the eggs.  I would get the sub again for breakfast but instead on flat bread for a better crunch.

The music in the store was too loud - perhaps it's to ensure that the sandwich artist stays awake for the night shift?  Fortunately, my sandwich artist was very friendly especially for such an early morning.  She also did a good job upselling me a coffee after seeing how tired I was.  My Seattle's Best coffee was more watered down than it should have been though. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Pitiful Pork Chop "Meal" at T & T Supermarket

Prepared foods at a supermarket can be hit or miss. In the case of the Japanese Curry Pork Chop "Meal" at T & T Supermarket (7070 Warden Avenue @ Steeles), you want to avoid it at all costs. 

If you want to get full off white rice, this is the "meal" for you!  The bowl is 90% rice!  I'd be more forgiving if the rice was soaked with delicious curry sauce...but there was barely any at all. 

The initial instinct is to microwave the whole thing but you lose the benefit of the crunchy fried batter of the pork chop. The quality of the meat looks like it's been processed the "pink slime" way!

The amount of canned or previously frozen carrots and peas as a side is pitiful. 

No one should be eating this even for a $3.99 price tag. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Le Parc Dining & Banquet Hall

Le Parc Dining & Banquet Hall
8432 Leslie Street
Thornhill, ON
L3T 7M6

I went to Le Parc for a private function. The room was spacious and accommodated the near 400 of us for presentations and for lunch. 

The food was pretty decent for a buffet for 400 people.  There was a selection of rolls, deviled eggs, mixed greens, cold cuts, cheeses, penne pasta in tomato sauce, chicken breasts and steamed vegetables. 

All the cooked dishes were served hot.  No real complaints - the chicken breast was a bit dry but it's understandable considering the numbers. 

The pleasant servers cleared our plates promptly and also replenished buffet selections before they were fully depleted!

The venue got the job done!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Satisfying a Shrimp Wonton Fix!

Jim Chai Kee Noodle
270 W Beaver Creek Road
Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3Z1

Visited: September 16, 2013

I was craving shrimp wonton soup and so I stumbled upon this joint after doing a quick Yelp search for the best wontons in Richmond Hill. 

The place is pretty no frills such as with many Chinese establishments. Basic tables and chairs and no decor. But who goes to Chinese places for the ambiance anyways?

The basic wonton noodle soup ($4.50) comes with one topping (choice of shrimp wontons, fish balls, or beef). Although I was craving just shrimp wontons, the temptation of variety took over, and I added a second topping (fish balls) for an additional 50 cents. 

In my bowl came two shrimp wontons and three fish balls. Had I ordered one topping, I would have had four shrimp wontons, regret immediately set in. The feeling of regret was more immense after I tasted the fish balls. They were large, seasoned well and looked like they were made from scratch but they were way too fishy for my liking!  I thought non-fresh fish scraps. I shuddered. Aargh, gross. Fortunately, the shrimp wontons were tasty especially with a splash of red vinegar. The wonton noodles were pretty standard along with the MSG soup. 

It's self serve tea here but can you complain with bowls starting at $4.50?  I will be back the next time I have a shrimp wonton fix. 

Jim Chai Kee Noodle on Urbanspoon

Real Sports Bar & Grill

Real Sports Bar & Grill
15 York Street
Toronto, ON M5J 0A3

Date Visited: September 24, 2013

I was at Real Sports Bar & Grill last Tuesday for a preseason Sens @ Leafs game. I was surprised how packed this place was at 5:30pm!  It's the love of the Leafs!  Good thing we made reservations. 

This place is the ultimate sports bar for real - how can you go wrong with a 2-storey high television and a massive sports ticker propped above the bar?  

Service was slow given the crowd, but the servers gave periodic updates to let you know you weren't forgotten about. 

When you see a menu state, "We believe that a great sports bar is synonymous with great wings," how are you not compelled to order wings?  Further, you are reminded that Real Sport's own Chef Tony was voted the Wing King of Toronto for the Best Chicken Wings. 

With so much hype, I ordered the Thai Sweet Chili wings - the receipe that got Chef Tony the job, literally!

Impressions?  Large wings with a great crispy batter and a tangy sweet chili sauce. The kicker? They are so moist and juicy on the inside!  These are definitely some of the best wings in Toronto!  

The only thing is that the wings only come with celery and carrots. I ordered a side of fries to accompany my meal. The fries were soft and fleshy - very reminiscent of Swiss Chalet fries. 

I left happy with time to spare for the pick drop at 7pm.  A solid dinner right before the Leafs game!
Real Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Not Lovin' It!

1168 St. Clair West
Toronto, ON

I have been to this McDonald's in the heart of Corso Italia (@ Dufferin and St. Clair) a few times... And boy, let me tell you, it's the worst McDonald's I have ever experienced. 


The service is so ghastly sloooow!  There is always a long line of irritated customers. The best analogy I have for how slow this line moves is the attitude that Patty and Selma from The Simpsons have with their jobs at the DMV, "Some days, we don't let the line move at all. We call those weekdays."  The army of staff behind the counter does not translate into fast service.  The staff aren't motivated and they seem to always to be set on "chill" mode. I have even seen them argue with each other in front of customers. 

What's even worse is that this location doesn't even serve the Fillet-o-Fish!  

Instead, I got a Big Mac this visit which I suspect has gotten smaller in size than years past. 

Nothing could salvage my experience today... Not even the fact that Monopoly is back!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Starbucks Celebrates National Coffee Day with Canada's Largest Coffee Tasting!

In anticipation of National Coffee Day on September 29th, Starbucks is hosting a coffee tasting for 3 days in their stores across Canada!

The tasting will take place between the hours of 2-3 p.m. on the following dates:

September 25:  Starbucks True North Blend
September 26:  Ethiopia
September 27:  Starbucks Thanksgiving Blend

Today, you can experience a familiar blend with the Starbucks True North coffee.  Over the next two days, the Ethiopia and Thanksgiving coffees will be available to taste for the first time in Canada!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Origin North

Origin North
2901 Bayview Avenue
Toronto, ON M2N 5Z7

Date Visited: September 16, 2013

Last night, I dined out with my fellow foodies at the newly opened Origin North at Bayview Village. 

We started the night by ordering some drinks:

We ordered a few Somersby Ciders ($8) - a great, smooth drinking cider with low acid.  First time I saw them served in custom glasses. I love the thumb hold on the glass!

The Scotsman ($11) (left) - Hendricks Gin, St. Germain, ginger, cucumber, lemon.  French 107 ($13) (right) - St. Germain, prosecco, lemon. 

Our first tapas course was Devilled Eggs ($7) - smoked bacon, herbs, souffletine. I loved the whipped consistency of the egg yolks - rich, smooth, and airy. The bacon was crispy and the souffletine (crunchy, tiny cereal balls) was a nice touch. 

Next up was the Spicy Spanish Fries ($12) - chorizo, manchego. This was a great tasting appetizer.  You can never go wrong with aioli and fries. Add Spanish influences - chorizo (pork sausage) and manchego (a cheese produced from sheep milk) and you're got yourself a decadent hodgepodge of flavours. 

The next dish was Smoked Pork Lettuce Wraps ($12 for 2 wraps) - daikon, carrot, crispy noodle, peanut. The wraps were too sour for my liking. I imagine the sourness present in the wrap was to cut the fattiness of the pork but it didn't balance well. 

Next up was the Thai Curried Shrimp ($17) - with Naan bread. The curry was rich and full-bodied. The hot and soft  naan bread was perfect in sopping up all the flavour. The shrimp had a great firm texture - cooked perfectly. 

Next up was the Bangkok Beef Salad ($16) - Peanut, mint, mango, glass noodles, nam jim dressing. This salad had a light and refreshing taste to it. The beef was cooked medium rare. A feast for the eyes as well as the palate. 

The waitress told us that the Chinois Duck ($17) - Flour tortilla, cucumber, hoisin, sriracha, & sour cream was a play on a Peking duck. I wish she didn't. The wrap offered many of the right elements - hoisin and cucumber for example but I was expecting crispy skin and I was disappointed. The wrap was still solid, offering delicious duck confit. It was just not meeting my expectations. Also, the wraps that traditionally accompany a Peking duck are also usually very thin to showcase the duck, unlike the flour tortillas offered here.

Miso Black Cod ($33) - bok choy & ginger sauce. I've had many miso black cod in my lifetime and so I was hesitant to get all gung ho about this one but I had to try it. I thought the fish was very succulent and cooked well but I would have enjoyed it more if it was seared more. The fish also came on a very watery plate and it was diluting the flavours of the fish. The "sauce" was also very sour making the bok choy unpleasant to eat. Thumbs down. 

Dessert was Walnut Doughnut ($9) - caramel & soft serve. When it came to our table, the server poured heavy cream on the doughnut... Intriguing. First impressions: delicious!  The outer crust was full of cinnamon flavour and crunchy. The inside?  Warm and fluffy!  It was amazing!!!  Couldn't stop eating this one!

Chocolate Crunch Bar ($10) - Huckleberry sorbet. Every bite of this bar was decadent. The sorbet was light and refreshing. 

Thoughts on Origin?  Many Asian influences on the menu. Some hits and misses. I would dine again... But nothing really stood out on the menu for me to recommend it a "must dine" destination. Perhaps I should try the nitro ice cream next time?

Origin North on Urbanspoon