This A.M. before I chronicle my favorite dishes of my trip spent in Toronto, let me just say how much I miss Amy. She was such an awesome tour guide, taking me to diverse local haunts. Amy showed me the city through her perspective and while doing so I could see how much passion she has for her hometown. And it didn't take me long to see why.
My first morning in Toronto we got up and headed to Queen Street, a shopping mecca, Downtown. For lunch Amy beelined us to Bahn Mi Boys where we waited in a line that was coming out the door for incredible fresh Asian fast food. We shared a chicken bahn mi (Vietnamese sub) and a bbq pork sandwich on a Bao roll (Chinese steamed bun) and although we were both full we were tempted to wait in line again to order more, just because it tasted that good. After lunch we walked in and out of boutiques until Amy and I needed an afternoon fix, which landed us at Little Nicky's. We ordered coffees and donuts, which are made to order. The barista was incredibly rude but after I took my first bite of the hot homemade doughnut I had already forgotten I had even met her. After our pit-stop we were appropriately refueled for hours more of shopping. I have no idea how many miles we walked that afternoon but we were at it from Noon until just after 6, when we had no choice but to leave because our parking voucher was expiring.
Day one was pretty much a Grand Slam of culinary delights, topped off by dinner at the Drake Hotel, which in my opinion is one of the most happening spots in Toronto. The Drake has a Dining Room that turns into a Lounge, the Sky Yard (rooftop bar), an Underground club and the Cafe that has patio seating at street level. The best part is, it is located on Queen Street where Amy and I spent our whole day! I must be a Queen Street kind of girl.
We sat in the dining room, which was in the process of turning over to a lounge when we arrived. As we ordered some food and drinks (Mill Street Organic for me), a band named The Digs was setting up. I was really digging the vibe. The menu was very eclectic with choices ranging from sushi to fried chicken. We got popcorn shrimp, a salmon hand roll and the marinated butter fish. All delicious, but I have to say the butter fish was probably the best sashimi I have ever had.
Our trip to The Distillery was somewhat 'dampened' by the non-stop rain that day. At times it was coming down in a Florida style/cats and dogs manner. That didn't stop Amy and I from having a mouth-watering meal and beer flight at the Mill Street Brew Pub.
Because I feel so hard in love with Mill Street Organic Beer, I am going to devote a whole post to the brew and The distillery. In the mean time I do need to touch on the burger we had for lunch there because this post, chronicling my favorite fair of my trip, would not be complete if I didn't.
For starters, this bad-ass angus burger was a half pound. Second, it was topped with Tankhouse Ale braised beef short rib and blue cheese crumbles. As if that wasn't enough gluttony, Amy and I got the fries upgraded to poutine*. Then a beer flight to wash the whole deal down. Nuff said.
*Poutine has been popping up on some menus in the U.S. but is a common dish across Canada. Originating in Quebec the dish is made up of fries, brown gravy and cheese curds. (Yes, I know, what's not to like?) Although typical at diners and pubs, Poutine is even found on inventive chef-inspired menus, getting creative with additions such as truffle oil, fancier cheeses and even meats to the dish. Check out Amy's recipe here.
My final day in Toronto, Amy took me for lunch in the bohemian Kensington Market area. Sprinkled with hippie incense shops, old record stores, places to by bongs and one of a kind restaurants, Kensington Market is the most colorful part of town (besides Church Street... but that is a whole other story). Pizzeria Via Mercanti was recommended to us by a friend and as we settled in at the pizzeria for the first time on my trip I ordered a beer other than Mill St. Organic. I got an Italian birra named La Birra Artigianale to complement the pizza. Everyone was shocked. "What! No, Mill St.?" I responded "When in Rome...."
Forget New York pizza, Via Mercanti is where it is at! Everything we ordered was absolutely awesome. Pizza balls, Caprese salad, vegetarian pizza and the Via Mercanti signature two-layer pizza (margarita pizza on the top and mushroom and prosutto pizza on the bottom). Added bonus- our waitress was very sweet and efficient. Definitely the best service I experienced on my trip.
Although delicious, lunch was a bittersweet for me. I knew the next morning I would be getting on a plane for Tampa, unsure of when I would get to see my best friend again.
P.S. Amy's son Javion made the most amazing banana bread! How I missed getting a picture of that is beyond me. So moist. So delicious. Thanks Jay.