I live in the far reaches of Toronto's east end so to get me to make my way to the far reaches of the west end requires something special to tempt me out of my lair. The Workshop By Latitude was just that kind of place. A restaurant that is focused on cheese, beer and wine with a resident cheese master on site? Rumours of cheese soaked in beer for months?
Oh yes, that will get me out to the west end.
Okay, I hope you had a good sleep and are raring to go for your second day in this beautiful city. Did you know that Lisbon is the second oldest capital city in Europe, second only to Athens? There is so much to see that trying to decide which places to choose can be daunting and I am sure other people might not agree with all of my choices, but I have edited your itinerary to include the spots that I think are the most amazing.
Get up nice and early and go get your coffee and breakfast treat (see day 1) . Today will be a day full of great architecture, history, churching up and eating and you will need something in your belly. The fact that will also feel like you walked an uphill marathon by bedtime should just be a given by now.
Book this trip
I am off to Savour Stratford this weekend so, for now, here is my week in photos:
|Seb's on the Danforth - a man's coffee joint|
Because salt cod and I have a bit of a contentious relationship, I kind of assumed that I would have a hard time eating in Portugal because bacalhau (the portuguese word for salt cod) seems to be in every dish they make. It is said that there are over 1000 traditional Portuguese bacalhau recipes and I believe that might be an understatement. You can have it in stews, in fritters, in cakes, deep fried, grilled or braised. It's almost always cooked or served with potatoes, as is everything else there to be honest, and despite my initial feelings of distaste for this noble beast , I was certainly willing to try it before announcing that I still hated it. I am nothing if not opened minded.
Bacalhau is to Portuguese cuisine what tomatoes are to Italian, despite the fact that they have to import it from Newfoundland, Norway or Iceland because cod is not native to their waters. Oddly enough, it's also the one fish that they never eat in it's fresh state. Once an inexpensive kitchen staple, cod is no longer cheap due to the collapse of the cod stocks due to massive over fishing and the dismantling of the Portuguese bacalhoeiro fleet and I was told the prices really get jacked up during the Christmas and Easter since most of the traditional dishes during those holidays depend on bacalhau.
|one of the zillion pasteis de bacalhau we ate in Portugal|
The Kid nodded yes, held up two fingers and the man slid two of them onto a plate for him. I don't speak Portuguese but I know what bacalhau means. He took a big bite, his face lit up and he popped the rest right into his mouth so I grabbed the second one to try to taste while I could. Expecting to want to spit my little bite out, I was shocked to discover that it was really good.
Maybe it's just that my palate has matured, maybe it's the way it's prepared but this salt cod cake was delicious. Pasteis de Bacalhau immediately became our go to snack food to keep us going throughout the day. We generally skipped any sort of big lunch when we were out and about but would pop into any sort of cafe or restaurant that looked lively for an espresso and a cod cake, and move along. In ten days we only had one that tasted oily and kind of terrible but it was also at the only restaurant where all of the food was oily and terrible, so I am not going to blame the poor cod that died for nothing.
Of course, because I am me, I did make some changes, which I think are welcome changes. Sweet potatoes give it a richer flavour and the lemon zest brightens up what can be a bit of a heavy snack. The port just made me happy because port always makes me happy.
Pasteis de Bacalhau Yum Style
Ingredients:approx 1 lb dried salt cod (you can get this at any asian, jamaican or portuguese market)
2 cups milk
1 bay leaf
2 medium potatoes
1 large sweet potato
1 sweet onion (I used a vidalia)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 big handful cilantro, finely chopped
3 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbls port
freshly ground black pepper
veg oil for frying
|grinding, mixing, forming and frying|
Directions:to soak the salt cod, try to choose thick pieces. Put them in a vessel, cover them with cold water and soak them from 12 to 24 hrs. I put them in the fridge around 6pm, changed the water before bed and returned them to the fridge for overnight. In the morning, changed the water again and let them sit for another hour and kept changing the water every hour a few more times. When you can remove a piece and press your finger into it and taste and the salt is now at a reasonable level, it is ready to use.
Drain the cod and put it in a deep pan or pot, pour in the milk and add enough water to cover by about an inch, add a bay leaf and simmer for about 20 minutes.
While the fish is cooking, steam the potatoes and sweet potatoes until soft, peel and set aside.
Drain, rinse it well and then to dry it, press the fish between some paper towel or in a clean kitchen towel. Remove the skin and bones and remove all the flesh into a big bowl. You can either flake it up by hand or put it in a food processor and give it a couple of pulses to grind it up well - don't puree to a paste, just a couple pulses to grind.
Return the cod to the bowl, put the potatoes through a ricer or mash them well and add those as well. Grate the onion in there, add the minced garlic, cilantro and the lemon zest and mix well. Now, start beating the egg in, one at a time, with a wooden spoon. Add a tbls of port and a few grinds of black pepper with the final egg and give it a final good beating with your wooden spoon, taste and make sure it's well seasoned. It should be salty enough from the cod but you should check to make sure.
You can either use slightly damp hands or two spoons to shape the cod batter into quenelle shapes (like little footballs). You can cover them and refrigerate them up in a covered container to 24 hours before cooking them if you want or even freeze them and deep fry from frozen)
Heat a couple of inches of veg oil to 375F and start to fry them, a few at a time, turning a few times, until they are nicely browned. Try to keep the oil between 350 and 375F so that the cakes get nice and crispy. Remove the cooked pieces to paper towel to drain and continue until they are all cooked.
They can be served hot, room temp or reheated for ten minutes in a 375F oven.
|reheated, a great side for breakfast|
Three days is actually a really great amount of time when it comes to discovering Lisbon. I imagine if I lived in Europe, I would treat Lisbon much like we treat NYC and I would visit for a long weekend jaunt once or twice a year. Fly in, explore an undiscovered neighbourhood, revisit a couple of my favourite restaurants, shop a bit, eat a lot and fly back home on Sunday night, relaxed with a belly full of port and bacalhau. I love spending time in a great city without the added pressure of feeling like we have to see EVERY SINGLE AWESOME THING THERE IS TO SEE IN THREE DAYS.
It feels like I have missed a year in yum when, in reality, it has only been a couple of weeks. I mean, I had plenty of yum going on but I just wasn't sharing it here, on the blog. If you follow me on instagram, facebook or twitter, I was certainly sharing...
HEY, I GAVE FAIR WARNING TO EVERYONE THAT I WAS GOING TO BE POSTING A SHIT TON OF PHOTOS FROM MY TRIP SO YOU CAN JUST SHUT IT.
Anyhoo, our trip to Portugal was absolutely amazing and we certainly ate lots of delicious things that I will be sharing over the coming weeks but for now, we will just start with the homecoming.
Our good friends, The Hoffelby's, are a mixed couple. Yes, the husband is Canadian and the wife is American. Since we came home on July 4th and we a trio of zombies all day, we went over to their house for a July 5th belated fourth of July dinner. I made these clams to go with their feast of smoked and bbq'd things, beautiful salads, an amazing ice cream cake and lots and lots of vihno verde and french rose. It all ended with a rousing game of beer pong so I think you can probably gauge the climate of the festivities from that alone.
One of my favourite PR companies, The Siren Group, sent me a nice gift package with chips from Neal Brothers and a beer from Great Lakes Brewery so you could say that the beer pong tournament was catered by Vikram Vij, Chuck Hughes and that chilled Winston guy down there. The chips are my kind of chip - both of them have a nice, spicy bite to them although I think Chuck Hugh's sriracha ketchup are the spicier of the two. I will definitely be buying both of these again - I love a good, spicy, savoury, super crunchy chip and the Neal Brothers have managed to hit all of my sweet spots.
|I am going to make these every day for the rest of my life|
The lovely Mary Luz Mejia had extended an invitation to taste the offerings at a new South American restaurant out at Queen and Roncesvalles before I left for my trip, so I was excited to get right back in the swing of things on Monday. Mata is a petisqueria (shared plate dining) and is helmed by a culinary gang of five, heavy on the Brazilions and the fine dining experience.
I was still a bit jet lagged, running late (well, I wasn't supposed to be running late but I took the route that the TTC advised me to take and it took over 1.5 hrs instead of 51 minutes. Clearly the TTC is unaware of what is going on in the city right now and someone might want to clue them in that there is a road or two being dug up out there).
|crispy smoked chicken hearts of a cauliflower puree with ancho chili oil|
A cold caipirinha was waiting to greet me the moment I sat down and that was quickly followed by a little bowl with some cheese bread and a lobster pastel. What followed was an array of South American classics fused with more Canadian treats like a beef cheek poutine with cassava frites, a slider with cachaca caramelized onion, a catupiry cheese made in house and malagueta pepper aioli and a ceviche with maple candied sweet potato. Little smoked, crispy chicken hearts were nice and tender and the cauliflower puree that they sat on was really delicious.
Probably attempting to cater to a more Canadian palate, all of the food was surprisingly mild so we all made good use of the trio of pickled hot peppers that we grabbed from the bar. I would like to see them kick up the heat a notch but everything was really fresh and tasty and a nice addition to the west end eateries, especially for the summer.
My personal favourites were the ceviche, the the Picanha slider, the delicious little lobster pastel and the pisco sour, one of my favourite cocktails which really deserves to become the next "thing".
I am going to be super upfront right now and tell you that Patois is not only a new, hot restaurant in the city's west end, but the first restaurant owned and operated by a very good friend, Craig Wong. I know that will make you think that I am just blowing smoke up his ass because I adore him but you would be wrong. If I didn't love his food, I would just give a few tweets in support, give it a polite nod here and move along. When I tell you that he is cranking out one the THE best plates of fried chicken in the city, I mean it.
You might wonder why a Bocuse trained, Frenchly fluent, Heston Blumenthal working, fine dining chef would want to make his very first place a plate sharing, Jamaican Chinese joint that slings his spin on a double down, jerk, akee and saltfish, dirty fried rice and sided with a plate of wakame waldorf salad, right?
This is the food he loves. It's the food he grew up with in his Jamaican Chinese family married with the food he ate growing up in Scarborough, coloured by his travels, filtered through the lens of his culinary training and then spit out onto a plate for us all to enjoy. A full review will soon come but, for now, just go there, order the O.G. Fried Chicken with addictive watermelon pickle with some of that waldorf salad, a cool rum drink and tell Craig I am hungry.
794 Dundas St W
5pm til late every day but Tuesday
On Wednesday, a little tweet arrived asking if I wanted to come and have a little tour of the Fairmount Farmer's Market on Upper Gerrard St East, just a block from Coxwell. I am ashamed to admit that I happen to live a 15 minute walk away from this market and have not yet stopped by so there was no way I could refuse such an offer. From the street, it's easy to miss. It's down at the bottom of a long hill that leads to a public school, a wading pool and a community centre and it's possible to drive right by it a hundred times without seeing that something is going on down there but, now that you know, make the effort to look down there.
The onigiri at Abokichi were fresh and tasty and a unique market offering, to me anyway, and I took a trio of them home for The Kid to snack on. I fried up the last one on Friday for his lunch and it was still fresh and tasty and although I do make my own onigiri, these were much nicer than mine and will become a regular purchase to go into his lunch box once he starts summer camp in August. You can find their products all over the place so check out their website for a list.
It's not a big market, but it's a lovely market, with a small group of really great vendors offering their wares, kids splashing around in the wading pool and lots of green space where kids and dogs can play while you shop. You can get some produce, a bit of meat, a coffee, a snack, some ice cream and then a bottle of wine to take home to go with dinner and really, that's all you need. There is also an awesome book swap where you can bring in the stuff you have already read and trade it for something you haven't and they also offer a bike delivery service if your eyes get bigger than your arms and you buy more than you can carry home yourself.
This week, there was a lovely young lady singing and playing her guitar while I strolled around, chatting with some of the vendors like the gentleman from Cedar Hedge Farm who makes the trek in from Cambellcroft Ontario with his fabulous produce. Cedar Hedge has a really interesting approach the CSA that I am going to look into - instead of paying x amount of money for a weekly produce box that comes on a regular basis, you pay a flat rate into your account and then you work down from there. This way, if you don't want a delivery this week, you don't have to get one. If you go on holiday for three weeks, you don't take delivery for that time but if you are having a big week of entertaining, you can get a double order this week. I love that!
The one treat that surprised me the most was the Mnandi pie stand, fronted by the lovely and talented Evis Chirowamhangu. She was inspired by the memory of a monthly treat of a flaky, tender meat pie that her mother would bring home in Zimbabwe on pay day and has finally perfected the treat here in Canada. I will admit, it didn't look like much and I almost passed on it until I was encouraged to get one by a devoted fan. Promising to take it home and heat it up as it was cold, straight from the cooler and their little oven contraption wasn't hot yet, I put it in the fridge and promptly forgot about it until Friday. Along with the onigiri, I popped this in the oven, expecting the worst since puff pastry doesn't always hold up all that well and I was sure it was going to be all soggy but at least I would get the idea.
It was so buttery and flaky and insanely delicious and now I have to get one just so I can eat it fresh because if it was that good two days later, I can't imagine how great it's going to be.
|Mnandi means delicious in Ndebele, the language spoken in southern Zimbabwe|
You can subscribe to a newsletter called This Week At The Market which will let you know who will be there each week. I now have this market on Wednesday, the East Lynn market on Thursday and the Lesliville market on Sunday, all three within a comfortable walking distance. Hurray!
|Dino's Pizza in Etobicoke for the drive out to Beamsville to get some gin always hit's the spot|
|Popped into the distiller for a booze tasting|
|Two of the last bottles of Cherry Gin from a small batch they made and a bottle of the unfiltered Gin 22 found it's way into the car|
|I held out til Friday when I had to hop on my bike and pedal out to Caldense Bakery for some Pasteis de Bacalhau and Rissois. Be on the lookout for my first batch of Pasteis coming this week.|
|the week ended like it started. Sharing a big bowl of buttery garlic clams with friends.|
Pin of the week: I don't even know if i want to drink it as much as gaze upon it
Facebook share of the week:
Tweet of the week:
If there were presses, I'd stop them.. http://t.co/33BKBhrB7w #gimme via @iamafoodblog pic.twitter.com/ctcfhXnEjY
— HonestlyYUM (@HonestlyYUM) July 9, 2014
We have returned from a fabulous 10 day trip to Portugal and, to be honest, I have just started to come back to reality and still feel like I am still processing the experience. I am pretty sure I could write a bazillion word essay on the wonders of Portugal at this point but who really wants me to do that? Until I can access my internal editor, I am holding off on even touching the actual events of the trip so that I don't bore you all to tears and scare you away because I really do want to share the wonders of this little gem of a country.
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