Category Archives: Happy or Hungry Eats the World

Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Scotland

I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.

OH Ye’ll take the high road and I’ll take the low road,
And I’ll be in Scotland afooooooore ye!
But me and my true love will never meet again,
On the bonny, bonny banks o’ Loch Looooooomond

For some reason I’ve had that song in my head for like a month. I’ve been singing it to Evan and Tilly in my best Scottish accent (which is awful). They like it.

Anyway, last week the bloggers and lagers ate Scotland! Aye, we ate it good. I looked up the best place to eat Scottish food in Toronto and the overwhelming Google search result was the Caledonian, a pub on College Street, so that’s where we headed.

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It’s all cute and Scottish in there.

Not only are they known for their authentic Scottish food, but also their whisky — they have over 200 different kinds! Their whisky menu was like a novel, it was crazy.

Now, obviously we could not drink all the whisky or we’d be right blootered, but we wanted to do a flight and the Whisky tour of Scotland seemed like a good place to start. It came with six different kinds, each a half ounce: Auchentoshan (12 year Lowland), Glenmorangie (1o year Highland), Glenfiddich (15 year Speyside), Highland Park (12 year Island), Longrow (10 year Campbeltown) and Ardbeg (10 year Islay). Perhaps those mean something to those of you who are whisky savvy, but they didn’t mean much to us.

I like a good whisky with coke or in a cocktail, but I’ve never ordered just whisky on its own. I’m not sure if its something I would make a habit of doing but I enjoyed our tasting. I could taste differences between the whiskies but I dinnae if I could elaborate on the flavour notes or anything. Some of them were definitely more strong than others, and one of them, I think the glenfiddich, was really smoky. This is a very helpful review, I know. I should have taken notes.

I also ordered a Tennents lager, I was excited it was on tap!

Onto the food. If you read my English food post you know I was a little iffy on haggis, Scotland’s national dish.

Traditionally it’s a savoury pudding with lamb heart, liver and lungs, minced with animal fat (suet), onion, oatmeal, stock, spices, etc. and boiled in the lamb’s stomach (though now apparently they use artificial casing), usually served with mashed turnips and potatoes (or neeps and tatties) and whisky. I cannae say it sounds the most appetizing (minus the neeps and tatties).

But, when in Scotland. We’d be a bunch of dunderheads if we didn’t try it.

We started with the Taste of Scotland appetizer with a Scotch egg, sausage rolls and haggis fritters.

It was pure dead barry (fantastic). I loved it all, especially that Scotch egg! If you want to try haggis but are a little weird about it, I feel like a haggis fritter is a good way to get your feet wet. I don’t think I’ve ever met a fritter I didn’t like. The haggis fritter was no exception.

Since I had warmed up to the haggis, for my main dish I just went for it. I ordered the Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, Scotland’s national dish of lamb, oats and spices served on a bed of turnip (neeps) and potato (tatties) mash.

Michelle ordered the same and Casey got the vegetarian haggis. I have to say that I really enjoyed that the haggis did not appear to have a casing. I was not creeped out by it at all and actually thoroughly enjoyed my dish. I ate every bite. It just tasted like a mellow lamb dish, but there’s also a warm and earthy dimension in there. Almost like a meatloaf I guess. My only wish was that there was a wee bit more gravy, but that’s a common wish for me.

I noticed that deep fried Mars bars was on the menu for dessert and I was sad because I wanted to order it, but I also wanted to eat an authentic Scottish dessert. GUESS WHAT. A quick Google search confirmed that deep fried Mars bars are in fact a Scottish dessert! (of course they are!) They originated as a novelty item at Scottish chip shops. So, I had an excuse to order it.

Anything in the name of research! Shovelled that right into the ol’ gob. I love a deep fried Mars bar and it’s been so long since my last one! Almost had to unbutton my breeks after that but it was so worth it.

And that’s Scotland!

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: England (and Wales)

I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.

Today we’re talking about England (and Wales), pip pip!

I know that England and Wales are actually part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain along with Northern Ireland and Scotland, but I really want to save those two to eat separately. The more comfort food I can eat from across the pond the happier I will be (although I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to eat haggis, but we’ll see).

For England I met up with my mates Casey, Michelle and Shanondoah (the bloggers and lagers aka the bloggers formerly known as the bloggers and joggers) at the Queen and Beaver Public House downtown Toronto.

I’ve been here a few times and every time I’ve loved it. My first time was with Harry Potter several years ago — wait, I should explain this. Not actually Harry Potter as in Daniel Radcliffe, but Harry Potter from Potted Potter. We became friends when he was performing Potted Potter here in 2012, because I wrote in my blog after I saw his show that I thought he looked stoned in the promo picture, which he then found while looking up reviews. He tweeted me and it went from there (he wasn’t stoned for the record, Potted Potter’s not about that, it’s all seven Harry Potter books in 70 hilarious minutes). Anyway, Harry Potter lives in London and said this was the most British place he could find in Toronto SO, I trust his judgment. I’ve never been to Britain (one day!) but to me it looks pretty British in there.

I suspect very much like a British grandmother’s house.

Actually, I had a British grandmother (my mother’s mother) but I can’t remember what her house looked like so I’m just guessing. The downstairs of the Queen and Beaver is more restaurant-y and the upstairs is more of a pub, which is where my friends and I sat.

These pictures are all from their website – that was not happening while we were there. Looks like a time, though.

My pictures are all super dark so bear with me. I was in the mood for a British cocktail so I ordered the Fitzgerald with Beefeater gin (authentic!), lemon juice, bitters and simple syrup.

I don’t know if you can tell from that picture but that drink was tinier than Trump’s hands. It packed a punch though, I really enjoyed it.

Casey and Michelle both started their British adventure with Scotch eggs.

A hard-boiled egg wrapped in sausage and coated with bread crumbs and then baked or deep-fried. According to Wikipedia, the London department store Fortnum & Mason claims they invented Scotch eggs in 1738, but they may have been inspired from a different recipe. The only time I’ve had Scotch eggs before has been at the Queen & Beaver before and they’re seriously delicious.

Since I have tried Scotch eggs, I started with the Welsh rabbit.

Also called Welsh rarebit because there is no actual rabbit in the Welsh rabbit. I’m glad someone told me that because I totally thought I was about to eat rabbit. Nope! Just toast covered with melted cheese and some other spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard, Worcestershire. It had a little kick to it for sure. Melted cheese on toast is pretty much my favourite snack of all time so naturally I loved it.

For my main dish I tried to order the steak and kidney suet pudding, but unfortunately they were all out. Bugger. Instead I went with bangers and mash, because I figure you can’t go wrong with bangers and mash. With stout-onion gravy!

I posted this on my Instagram yesterday and Evan saw it and was all “that looks so gross I can’t believe you would post that,” welp I’m sorry but it’s sausages and they’re not photogenic. The sausages are house made and the entire dish was SO SO delicious. No meal regrets here, I ate every bite.

I was wondering where the term “bangers” came from so I looked it up — during World War I when there was a meat shortage, sausages were made with such a high water content that they were likely to pop under high heat, hence a banger. The more you know!

Casey ordered the cider corned duck and potato pie

She said it was the dog’s bollocks (ie – really fantastic).

Michelle got the shepherd’s pie with English peas.

Super British. The shepherd’s pie was traditional lamb — we tend to eat shepherd’s pie with beef in Canada, but that is actually called cottage pie. I can’t remember what Doah ordered but it was less photogenic than my bangers and mash, but loved it, too. We all raved about our meals.

I was pretty full but I needed a real English dessert. I saw the British classic sticky toffee pudding on the menu and knew that was it for me.

Moist sponge cake with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream. Blimey it was SO. GOOD. I was absolutely stuffed after that, like so much that I felt ill for a bit afterwards but I don’t even care because it was all so good.

So that’s England, and bob’s your uncle.

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Tibet

Time for another instalment of…

I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.

Today we’re talking about Tibet.

Now yes, technically Tibet is a region of China and not a country, but it is home to the Tibetan people and it does have its own cuisine so, that counts. And any excuse I have to eat any sort of Chinese food I will take. It’s one country that I will definitely be breaking up into regions.

Last week I met up with my blogger friends Casey, Michelle and Shanondoah at Shangrila Tibetan and Asian Cuisine on Queen West (like way west, like Parkdale area) and we ate Tibet. I made reservations online but the restaurant was totally empty when we arrived so apparently that wasn’t necessary.

I enjoyed the floor seating.

Cute, right?

Traffic was absolutely nuts for me so I was a bit late. The girls ordered some appys while they waited for me, the crispy cauliflower was definitely the standout.

Po cha, Tibetan butter tea, was up first for me.

I had done some research beforehand so I knew that this was not your regular tea, it is made by churning tea, salt and yak butter. I can’t say for sure if they used yak butter but it was definitely buttery and salty, and though my brain knew what to expect my tastebuds were pretty surprised. Salty tea tastes as weird as it sounds. Probably an acquired tasted. I could not finish it but I felt like I needed to try it.

We ordered a round of tingmo, Tibetan steamed bread.

Pretty great, but ya can’t go wrong with bread.

Next up in Tibetan dishes we ordered the beef momo.

Most countries tend to have their own dumplings, and this is Tibet’s. Momo is also popular in Nepal and other neighbouring countries, but it’s thought to have originated in Tibet. The dough is made with flour and water and filled with various meat. Yak is a popular filling in Tibet but it wasn’t on the menu here (which I was thankful for because I would have felt obligated to try it but I think I prefer beef). They were delicious, but I love a good dumpling so I may be biased.

I did feel obligated to try the thenthuk.

Similar to a pho, thenthuk has thin pieces of pasta simmered into a broth with various meats, mutton and yak being the common ones in Tibet. Apparently it’s very common in Tibetan cuisine, especially in Amdo. I got the chicken and it was delicious, but soup is weird to share and we had so much other food that I ended up bringing most of it home.

Since we were at an Asian restaurant we branched out from just Tibetan food and into the fried rice and chicken manchurian territory.

I didn’t love the chicken manchurian, I gotta say. It was okay but I felt like the sauce was missing something. It tasted kinda bland and needed some sort of spice. The fried rice was good though, and we also ordered the crispy beef which was great.

And the Shangri-La noodle with chicken.

Both good but not specifically Tibetan.

This is definitely not Tibetan but for dessert we ordered the deep fried banana with ice cream to share.

One of the best deep fried bananas I have had!

And that’s Tibet!

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: America!

As you may know, I have been on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. I knocked off 30 countries and then took about a six month break. I want to get into it again…I’ve missed eating with a purpose! So I’m back with country number 31 – America!

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You can find all past recaps here. Eating the US colours in a significant portion of my map, so I’m pretty excited about that.

I’m aware that in America, like many other large countries (Canada, India, China, etc.), food tends to vary by region. I can’t hit all staple American foods with one restaurant, so just keep that in mind. For my American mission I got my friends Emily and Hannah to join me at Home of the Brave, an open-kitchen on King West with creative interpretations of American dishes. I apologize in advance for my pictures being dark and crappy.

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We chose to go last Wednesday, the day the election results were announced. We planned this in advance thinking eating American would be fitting, and we hoped to be celebrating the first female president. Unfortunately that’s not what happened, so our celebratory eating sort of turned into stress-eating. Good thing carbs were plentiful.

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If I have one negative review about Home of the Brave it’s that they were reluctant to accommodate three people. I guess we were an awkward party number. They didn’t want to give us prime booth real estate since we were a smaller group, so they first started us out at a bar table seated in a row on stools, facing the street. This didn’t work out well as we were having a hard time chatting while sitting side-by-side, and also the stools were hard and uncomfortable with no backs (you know you’re getting old when you start to complain about the comfort level of your seating). We didn’t like. Next we squeezed onto a table for two, which was okay until our abundance of food started arriving and didn’t fit on our tiny table. It took some convincing (and ordering many, many dishes off the menu) but eventually they moved us to a coveted booth and it was much better. So if you happen to go there DEMAND a booth. Don’t take no for an answer! It’s times like these that I want to be like “I have a blog and I am going to write about you on the internet” but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’ll just quietly judge and take note to later write about on the internet.

Anyway, Miller Lite was on special for $5 a tall can so we all started with a round.

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It felt very American but I would just like to point out that if we were actually in America it probably would have been cheaper.

The first dish to arrive was the buffalo cauliflower.

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Beer battered cauliflower with Buffalo hot sauce and ranch dressing. It was AMAZING. The stand out dish of the night. I was expecting it to be soggy and sort of ho-hum but it was crispy and crunchy and perfectly flavoured. So, so good. I would have been happy just eating that. But you know we didn’t stop there…

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That would be the cornbread, a staple of the American south. Of course, this is a creative interpretation and it was basically cornbread extreme. It had roasted garlic and shallots, smoked cheddar sauce (that white sauce on the bottom), double smoked bacon, green onion and herbs. It was as delicious as it looked, though it was heavy, very heavy. Luckily I was sharing it.

We also ordered the tater tots, because when in America…

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These were fancy ones with cheese, gravy and herbs. Didn’t compare to that cauliflower but those were some good tots!

And we ordered the freedom fries, which came with Heinz Ketchup, malt vinegar and manchego cheese. Pretty good, but not very exciting compared to everything else. Hannah and Emily both ordered cheeseburgers for their main dish.

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They said that their burgers were good but they were like small fast food burgers, like Checkers burgers or something. So I guess accurate as far as American fast food burgers go.

For my main I ordered the chicken and waffles.

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Fried chicken with sour cream, spicy maple syrup, green onions, and sourdough waffles. I didn’t ever think I’d like chicken and waffles so I did not have high expectations, but I was really surprised at how good this was. The maple syrup was perfect, it was almost a savoury maple syrup, like a barbecue maple syrup, as weird as that sounds. I absolutely loved it, I ate every last bite, and I would definitely order it again.

We obviously couldn’t leave without getting dessert, so we ordered the funnel cake. The staple of American carnivals!

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Not just any old funnel cake, red velvet funnel cake! Delicious, but by this point we were getting pretty full so I don’t feel like I could fully appreciate it.

And we got a giant ice cream cone. Home of the Brave is featuring a Sweet Jesus (a Toronto ice creamery) pop-up menu with six of Sweet Jesus’ signature cones. We got the chocolate peanut butter EpiPen (actual name).

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Soft serve coated in peanut crumbs with peanut butter chunks and a melty peanut butter core. Just in case we hadn’t already eaten enough calories, you know.

I’m happy to be Canadian but eating America sure was a good time! I do think I’m going to have to hit up a traditional southern barbecue joint though at some point…

Evan and I are going to Florida next week and we will absolutely be eating all the things, so this was just practice.

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Drupati’s (Trinidad and Tobago)

I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.

A couple weeks ago I had a lunch date with my coworkers at Drupati’s Doubles & Roti Shop, a Toronto restaurant chain that serves Trinidad and Tobago cuisine.

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Trinidad and Tobago are two islands in the West Indies.

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I know a bit about the country through Evan, as his uncle Stevie lives in Tobago (we have wanted to visit for a while now but hear it is getting increasingly unsafe for tourists so we’ve been putting it off — his uncle is actually moving back to Canada in a month mainly due to this), and Evan himself lived in Trinidad for about two years. He worked in graphic design at an ad agency and, side note story, he did not have a proper bank account while in Trinidad (something to do with his visa, he told me he kept receiving empty promises from his employer about getting the necessary documentation to get this done and it just never happened), so his work gave him a cheque once a month with his wages. He could not deposit this in a bank account so he would have to go to the bank and cash his monthly wages, hide the money all over his person, then nonchalantly walk home through the streets of Tobago. And then he hid the money literally under his mattress. I can’t imagine how stressful that would be. I’m still not sure how he wasn’t robbed. He looks tough I guess.

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I dunno, pretty sure I’d rob him.

Anyway, one thing that Evan raves about all the time to me are DOUBLES!

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Doubles are a popular street food in Trinidad and Tobago. Evan ate them all the time when he lived there and LOVES them. They are curried chickpeas in two bara (fried flat bread), and sometime topped with mango, cucumber, coconut, extra pepper sauce or other vegetables and herbs. Doubles are a fast food eaten any time — for breakfast, lunch, or a late night snack.

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Evan is always on a hunt to find authentic tasting doubles around here, so I have tried them several times with him — at Friday Night live at the ROM

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And at the flea market

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They’re not very photogenic but they sure are delicious. I too am starting to love them. That soft, warm and stretchy bara is everything. I brought home Drupati’s doubles for Evan to try and he said the taste was spot on, just like the doubles he knew and loved.

Drupati’s is also known for having delicious Caribbean roti, another staple street food in Trinidad and Tobago — as well as the Indian Subcontinent. You may know that roti includes both Indian and Caribbean varieties. For example, a butter chicken roti would be an Indian roti, while a jerk chicken would be Caribbean. Roti specifically refers to the type of bread, made from stoneground wholemeal flour, and the traditional way of eating roti is to rip it by hand and use it to sop up the curry sauce and meat. But roti is also synonymous with a wrap filled with rich curries and stews, which originated in Southern Trinidad.

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I ordered the boneless chicken curry roti and it was soo incredibly delicious.

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This was weeks ago and I have been thinking about it every day since. I want to go back there and get it again. So good. This is one type of food that I do not eat enough and that needs to change! Highly recommend both doubles and roti.

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Little Sister (Indonesia)

I am on a mission to eat an authentic dish from every country in the world, right here in Toronto. You can find all past recaps here.

Last week I finally made it to Little Sister food bar to eat Indonesian.

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I mentioned Little Sister briefly a while ago because I tried to get in a couple months ago but couldn’t. We had to make reservations two weeks in advance and even then the only time we could get was 6:30 or like 9. It is super trendy right now. I was worried it wasn’t going to live up to the hype but do you know what, it was delicious! I went on St. Paddy’s Day with my friends Liz (from the way more popular blog than mine will ever be One Twenty Five), Amy and Amanda (also who I was with the last time we tried to get in here and we ended up going to Tabule instead).

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It was actually our one year anniversary! Well, Liz and I brunched before so we already knew each other…but last year Liz and I were out for St. Paddy’s drinks and Amy came up to us and was all “I’m sorry to interrupt you but I’m pretty sure I read both of your blogs…” Liz and I were super excited about this so we invited them to sit with us and we basically became friends on the spot. The rest is history, as they say. We try to get together every few months now, and Amy even roped me into trying crossfit with her. I think it is a romantic story of our first meeting.

Okay, onto the food. Little Sister is a tapas restaurant, so a lot of small plates for sharing. We ordered most of the menu, including two of Indonesia’s national dishes — satay and nasi goreng (fried rice). Tumpeng is actually their official national dish but that was unfortunately not on the menu. We did the best we could. We ordered all three kinds of satay — satay sapi with beef, kecap, lime leaf and lemongrass…

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satay lilet, Balinese spiced chicken…

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and an unpictured satay ayam, chicken in peanut sauce. The chicken peanut sauce satay was probably my favourite. It was so good.

We ordered babi guling, a Balinese roast pork with slaw and served with iceberg lettuce that you can make wraps with…

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Not bad, but for four I thought we could have gone for a bigger portion of pork.

The semur java is a Javanese dark spiced braised beef with crispy potato and green onion (from the Java island in Indonesia, where Jakarta is).

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Next up is the ayam panggang, sweet chili grilled chicken with bean sprouts. green onion and cilantro. This one had a bit of a spice to it.

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Panggant literally means grilled or roasted.

My favourite was the Balinese shredded chicken taco.

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I would have been happy with several rounds of just that.

We also ordered croquettes that did not photograph well at all so I will save you, and finally we have the nasi goreng!

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Just fried rice, but really good fried rice. I love that it was made with a sweet soy sauce, or kecap manis. It definitely gave it a different flavour than regular fried rice.

So we had quite a delicious time. Indonesian food was awesome and it made me want to go to Indonesia for real. I should mention that Little Sister was surprisingly reasonable also. I ordered two drinks and we ordered basically the entire menu and it was only like $50 each with tip. I had a good night with those girls and I had tears in my eyes from laughter, always a good sign. I hope we can make it out to celebrate out anniversary every year!

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