Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Buca Yorkville, Toronto

Buca Yorkville shows the range of expertise of chef Rob Gentile and his senior chef associates. This restaurant experience is one of the best one can enjoy in Canada.

It is my opinion that Buca King Street makes the most enjoyable pizza in Toronto. Buca Yorkville is a close 2nd. Here a funghi pizza, nicely think and crunchy crust with seasonal mushrooms (mostly chanterelles), mascarpone cheese, gorgonzola and marjoram.

Immaculate, freshly shucked Pacific sea urchin with warm garlic and Calabrian olive oil.

Lightly smoked, with a perfect texture.

Capesante...live, freshly shucked Gaspe scallops topped with senape yogurt, lump fish caviar and smoked ginger.

Simple spaghetti pomodoro, bronze die cut pasta di gragnano, seaside tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.

Anolini, roasted squash and fonduta di parmigiano stuffed pasta, fermented butter, tre anni cheese all topped with shaved white truffles from Molise. Amazing!

Peperonata, baked eggplant, peppers and zucchini topped with parmesan cheese. 

Cicoria, braised Italian dandelion, pickled garlic and wine vinegar.

Tiramisu di Buca, espresso soaked house made tapioca biscuit, layered with mascarpone and chocolate mousse.

Baked Roman donut, cinnamon pistachio cream and amarena cherry.

Torta caprese, gianduia chocolate tart, butternut squash gelato and orange crema. This was a good dessert, the flavours were very complementary but the tart was a chocolate lover's dream!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Four Sunday Lunches at Edulis: A wonderful Series of Gustatory Experiences.

Here I go again about Edulis, but, this restaurant and what it serves is unique in the Pan-Canadian field of restaurants.

Sunday lunches at Edulis are for me, one of the great ways to while away an afternoon with friends. There is no menu, only what chef Cabbalo has just locally discovered and been inspired by. Four to 5 courses, another trust the chef menu and chef Cabbalo is one of the most trustworthy chefs in North America. Chef Cabbalo expresses his rustic sensibilities in a remarkably creative, down to earth sophisticated manner. What may not be well known is that co-owner chef Nemeth, Cabbalo's wife, it an erudite source of inspiration on this team. For me, this Edulis experience, as well said by chef Tobey Nemeth, is a celebration of the craft and tradition of cooking.

Sunday lunches are an exceptionally reasonable $40.00 and all wines are available at half price ("just for fun"), a remarkably whimsical turn of events for a restauranteur and a truly generous gift by co-owner chefs Cabbalo and Nemeth, to their patrons.

In this review, I will present what I was served at more than one lunch to give you all an opportunity to see the range of dishes and flavours that Cabbalo and Nemeth create so admirably, just for lunch.

Sunday Lunch #1

Squash soup with fresh porcini and bacon.

Last of the season heirloom tomatoes, frisee and Monforte feta.

Fennel salad with fresh albacore tuna, coriander seed and fried bread (no photo).

Cucumber salad with smoked beef schnitzel.

Pickerel baked with peppers, onions and potatoes, served family style.

Chocolate cake with hazelnut toffee and chantilly creme, the perfect finish.

Sunday Lunch #2

Tuna conserva with peeled tomatoes and new onion. 

Schiacchiata a l'uva (bread with grapes) with thyme,  taleggio cheese and torpedo onion.

 Frisee gently warmed with Cantabrian anchovy and fried bread.

 Wood roasted romanesco broccoli with raisin vinaigrette.

 Green beans with cucumber, bacon and celery leaf.

Wild arctic char with fennel and artichoke salad.

Smoked pork shoulder and spiced meatballs with radicchio, fresh shelling beans and tomatillo, served family style. This was a terrific stick to your ribs dish. 

Blackberry cake with vanilla ice cream.

Sunday Lunch #4

A Special version of the featured lunch was prepared for me as i was going for some routine tests the next day. My version had no salt, no milk products and little oil.

 The squash presentation for my squash soup.

 My squash soup with kale florets, pumpkin seeds and wild sumac.

 Everyone else's version of squash soup with the addition of buffala yogourt.

Mussels 2 ways, escabeche (sauteed in a vinegar sauce) and tigres (stuffed with chopped mussels, onion and tomato sauce).

Chard with raisin and pine nut gremolata.

Crispy squid and pig's foot sausage with ajo blanco (puree of bread, olive oil, garlic and almonds) and frisee. This was a terrific dish.

Welks and pine mushrooms, a remarkable combination of harmonious flavours and textures.

Soft scrambled duck egg with white truffles....eaten before the photo! Delicious!

Chum salmon with radish, black garlic sauce, apple and green chick peas

Blanquette de veau, the version for my guests, served family style, with chanterelle mushrooms, carrots, shallots and turnips.

 Blanquette de veau, my version.

The wonderful veggies that accompanied my veal dish, carrots shallots and turnips.

The rice for my dish.

Mixed green salad.

A fabulous apple cake with chestnut mousse.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

New York, Spring, 2015: Cosme, The Leopard at Des Artistes, Xi-An's Famous Food, All'Onda, Marta (Martha Washington), Au Za'Atar.


Cosme, the much anticipated Mexican influenced restaurant was opened in New York by Enrique Olvera, an accomplished chef who owns a number of restaurants in Mexico, including the internationally acclaimed Pujol.

Guacamole (promise....I did not order this...but, someone with us), with terrific house made tortilla chips.

The exceptional house made tortillas (made from strains of Mexican blue, yellow and purple corn), when arrived, accompanied by their fresh smelling, wholesome aroma. The tortilla was accompanied by pumpkin seed, garlic and habanero flavoured butter.

Uni tostada, avocado, bone marrow salsa and cucumber. Quite sensational for uni lovers.

Arctic char tostada, salmon roe and avocado.

Scallop aguachile, scallop sashimi, poached jicama and fresh wasabi-cucumber-lime. A dish well worth ordering.

Mushroom and squash barbacoa, chilpachole (stew), hoja santa (an aromatic sassafras like herb native to Mexico).

Burrata with salsa verde and "weeds".

Cod, cauliflower, olives, onion rings and chilhuacle (a Mexican chile).

I would have loved to have tried the duck carnitas for 2, which so many in the resto had ordered and enjoyed, including my neighbours to both my right and my left, but, i had been mostly on my own with all of these dishes and my eating partner could not handle that dish at all. If you go to Cosme, plan on ordering that dish.

Cracked meringue made with burned and pulverized corn husks and filled with a corn/mascarpone mousse. Very tasty!

Nixtamalized carrot ( a process normally reserved for hominy), highly caramelized, with cinnamon cake and cream cheese ice cream.

The terrific parsnip flan with thyme. Ate the whole thing virtually by myself!

Lemon cake with grapefruit sorbet and hibiscus jam.


Years ago, I used to enjoy coming to this restaurant when it was known as Cafe des Artistes and the renown restauranteur Georges Laing was the proprietor. i decided to return as it was well located to Lincoln Centre and I was off to the opera. What a delight to return and see the wonderful paintings from the 30's that made this restaurant such a delight for so many over the years.

Rosemary with chick peas with lentils, cannellini beans, tuscan kale, shallots and muscat vinegar dressing.

Roasted red and yellow beats with watercress salad, gorganzola and almonds. 

Bucatini with sardines, onions, wild fennel, pine nuts and raisins. 

Vegetarian platter of Sicilian chick pea fritters, "panella", with baked fennel, roasted carrots, sauteed brocolli rabe and spinach.

Warm apple "pizzetta" with caramel sauce and sambucca gelato (no photo).

Xi'An's Famous Foods

I saw a program on the food network that enticed me to try Xi'An's. The pics, below show the attention this resto has received. And it is true, every day at noon, a 30-minute line winds outside and down into this small store.

Anthony Bourdain. 

 Bobby Flay on the left and Andrew Zimmern on the right.

The line, from outside the store right down into the back of the store. There are just a few seats in the back.

Making the noodles fresh, on the spot, below:

A portion of the "menu", how one chooses what to order. Every dish is well described and the descriptives very enticing.

Tripe noodles soup

Pork noodles soup.

Cold skin noodles.

Was it up to all the hype? NO, the dishes had a rather similar taste. But it was an interesting experience. 


Remarkably, this restaurant was referred to as Venetian-Japanese, by NY Times food critic Pete Wells. Not sure I saw it the same way. Frankly, I expected more of the cooking by this highly regarded chef.

 Carrots with ricotta, ginger vinaigrette and cumin.

 Kabocha squash agridolce with pine nuts and raisins.

 Lumache with aged duck ragu, treviso and chocolate.

 Eggplant, miso, parmesan and tomato.

Black bass with smoked mussel broth, fregola and oyster mushrooms. This was a worthy dish of very tender, perfectly texture fish, nicely, slightly underdone with a very complementary stock.

Olive oil cake with ricotta gelato, lemon and basil.


This restaurant serves Roman style Italian food. I highly recommend the food in this resto.

Green risotto croquettes with mozzarella and fresh herbs are crunchy on the outside and very tasty.

 Roasted beets, watermelon radish, kale sprouts and crispy qinoa.

A single rib of the rack of herb rubbed pork spare ribs that are cooked in the wood burning oven. I was quite impressed with the ribs. They had a very pleasant smoky flavour, a nice exterior bark and the texture was very pleasing and peeled off the bone with a bight (and thank goodness they did not "fall off the bone").

Funghi pizza with fontina, hen of the woods and hedgehog mushrooms, red onion and thyme. A very good thin crunchy crust.

Patate alla carbonara, potatoes, guanciale, pecorino, black pepper and egg. A very good thin crunchy crust.

Roasted, smashed fingerling potatoes, cooked in the wood burning oven. Very enjoyable somewhat crispy exterior texture with a soft interior.

 Collard greens, tomatoes and chick peas.

Torta di Zuccha, kabocha squash and olive oil cake with cashews and whipped cream

Au Za'Atar

Named after Lebanon's signature spice mixture, Au Za'atar's cuisine is inspired by the golden age of Beirut when Lebanon was a french colony. The restaurant styles itself as an "Arabian French bistro". This is a very small and very very noisy restaurant.

Complimentary labne, lebanese yogurt with garlic and olive oil, served with crisped flatbread covered in za'atar.

Cauliflower marinated in Lebanese herbs and spices then fried. A very good dish.

 Hummous with tahini and lemon juice.

Spicey hummus with garlic, lemon juice and red pepper.

Baba ghanoush, charred grilled eggplant puree with tahini and lemon juice, had a very good charred flavour.

Saltet al raheb, chopped char grilled eggplant with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.

Mujadara, rice lentils and caramelized onions.

Moussaka with chick peas, cherry tomatoes, green peppers and sauteed egplant. 

 Felafel made with chick peas, fava beans, onions, cumin and parsley

Phoenician fries with sumac, parsley and garlic thyme aioli. Terrific well flavoured crunchy fries.