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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: 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: The Sultan’s Tent (Morocco)

This past Saturday I celebrated my birthday for the third time!

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And that was probably the most obnoxious thing I’ve ever written. To be fair, the first time was a total surprise to me, and the second time was just Evan being wonderful and making dinner which he does all the time… Still, I felt kind of ridiculous having a second birthday dinner with my friends when I already had a birthday dinner with my friends. But this was was already planned, and any excuse for a party!

I have been wanting to check out The Sultan’s Tent on Front Street for years, the self-proclaimed best Moroccan restaurant in the city. Not only is it authentic Moroccan food (or the most authentic Moroccan food we have in Toronto, anyway), which helps my eat the world cause, but there’s a belly dancing show! Each dining group is seated in their own tent-like situation, and once dinner starts belly dancers saunter by your area. Pretty groovy.

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I actually really liked the way the seating was set up in our tent. There were four tables of four, and it made it easy to talk to everyone because you could get up and walk around between the tables, or switch tables for a bit if you wanted to talk to a new group. This worked out well for me because I wanted to talk to everyone.

I was so excited my blog friends Casey, Shanondoah and Michelle came!

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And my longtime lovers Joanna, Dawn and Emily.

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Corey, Lisa, Brad…

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Corey, Lisa, Brad

(Every time I look at Brad now I think Otto Von Pinkelwurst from our murder mystery dinner — and funny because I think that was the last time we were all together and we were also eating Moroccan!)

Will, Sherrie, Evan.

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(Well, Will is fairly new but I feel like he’s been around for a while.)

And our new friend, our fantastic server.

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Pretty good turnout.

Okay, now for the eating. I was excited to colour Morocco in on my map.cuba

Drink-wise I ordered the Moroccan mimosa…

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And a Moroccan-style beer.

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I could not tell you what made either of those more Moroccan than regular mimosas or beer, but I enjoyed both of them.

There was definitely some delicious wine in there too. What, it was my birthday.

On Friday and Saturday nights you have to order from the three course prix fixe menu for $55, but there were a ton of options to choose from so no complaints here. Well, except that some of the options cost $5-$10 more. That was annoying and not really the point of a prix fixe menu, but what can ya do.

For my appetizer I went with the couscous since it is Morocco’s most well-known dish (actually their national dish).

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Delicious!

And I got a pic of Sherrie’s hummus, also very popular in Morocco.

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And also very good.

For my main I ordered the chicken tagine, Morocco’s other national dish.

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Tagine is a slow-cooked savoury stew typically made with sliced meat, fish or vegetables (Evan ordered the chickpea tagine) with various spices, nuts and dried fruits. It is apparently very popular in Morocco and named for the tagine pot it is cooked in. I enjoyed it, however the spices weren’t a combination that I would usually eat together so that was a bit weird. Definitely some ginger, cumin, cinnamon, tumeric and saffron going on in there, which tasted like an odd combo, though I didn’t dislike it. I also don’t think an authentic tagine is usually served over rice, but the alcohol had been steady over on my side of the tent by that point so it was probably good that rice was included.

For dessert I had the creme brulee with crushed pistachio, which was amazing. And then they brought me a little slice of couscous cake for my birthday, which was super interesting.

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It is called a sweet keskesu and it is a traditional dish with couscous, cinnamon, powdered sugar, roasted almonds, raisons, orange blossom water and creme anglaise. Different, but not too shabby at all.

Sometime during dinner the belly dancers started coming by. Since I was the birthday girl they were all about getting me up dancing with them. I didn’t mind.

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Of course I didn’t, I’m a jambon!

I essentially just mimicked what they were doing.

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And probably looked ridiculous doing it.

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But that’s alright, I’m sure it was entertaining to watch (judging by the amount of intrigued people in the background). Good times. We even got Otto von Pinkelwurst up there.

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And Evan made an appearance as well.

Oh man, last night was a TIME!

A post shared by Lindsey Evanoff (@happyorhungry) on

Just click on that to play the video. It’s pretty dark, but hopefully you can make out Evan’s sweet dancing skills. The belly dancing definitely added to the hilarity of the evening.

Part of Dawn’s gift (which was a bunch of things that started with the letter B, for, as Dawn wrote in my card, my bra size — I wish) included a banana.

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Not weird at all. It all came in a Disney Princess gift bag, which Evan carried the rest of the night and I didn’t even have to ask him.

Afterwards some of us headed over to The Reservoir Lounge, a jazz bar basically across the street. It has a $10 cover so at first I wasn’t sure if it was going to be worth it but ohhhhh it was. It was. It was awesome.

The highlight of my night was watching Sherrie do the air saxophone on the dance floor, specifically getting a row of strangers to do this with her. She was SO INTO IT, it was hilarious and I was dying. It was killing me softly. When we woke up on Sunday morning the first thing that Evan said was “My cheeks still hurt from laughing at Sherrie doing the air saxophone last night.” Yep. I feel that.

Anyway, it was a really fun time and I’d recommend hitting up The Sultan’s Tent! But I think it’s better in a group setting than say, a date.

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Pupuseria Delicias (El Salvador)

If you missed it, I am on a mission to eat authentic food from every country in the world, right here in Toronto! You can find all past recaps here.

Today I am talking about El Salvador, the 17th country I’ve eaten!

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You can barely see it on my map, but El Salvador is a small country in central America. Here’s a better map if you are unfamiliar with the area.

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Bordered by Guatemala and Honduras. Evan and I happened to be at the Downsview Market on Saturday looking for last minute costume items for our big murder mystery party, and you can’t go to the Downsview Market without checking out the international food court. You may remember this is where I ate Colombia (Las Calenas). This time the El Salvador stall caught my eye.

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Pupuseria Delicias!

Eating at the Downsview Market is not really like a regular restaurant. I think it is more like being in someone’s grandmother’s house.

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^ This was the Ecuador “food booth

In every booth there is a lady with a stove (and a fridge and a sink) cooking up traditional dishes from her country. The only way I can see it being more authentic is if you were having dinner with her family in their home. I have tried food from various places at the market (Mexico, Philippines, Colombia, Jamaica) and everything I have eaten has been very good, fresh, and authentic (as far as I can tell). If you are in the area I highly recommend dropping by. I’ll probably be back to eat the Dominican Republic.

Anyway, El Salvador. The food stall was called Pupuseria Delicias for a reason, it specialized in pupusas.

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Pupusas are a a traditional Salvadoran dish with thick, handmade corn tortilla (made from cornmeal dough) and filled with either cheese, pork, or refried beans. I went for the pupusa revuelta, which included all three, cheese, pork, AND refried beans. Pupusas are typically served with curtido, lightly fermented cabbage slaw with red chilies and vinegar. Check and check!

My pupusa was delicious. I have never had it before and I loved it. The corn tortilla was thick and soft and definitely had a strong corn tortilla taste (which I liked), and the filling was almost like a nice extra. It’s similar to a Mexican gordita, but with less filling. I really enjoyed it and definitely will be eating it again!

I also got a tamale de pollo (chicken).

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Tamales originated in Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 BC and are popular in Mexico, pretty much all central and south American countries, and many islands in the Caribbean. Tamales are made of masa (a starchy corn-based dough), steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. Tamales can be filled with meats, cheese, fruits, vegetables, chilies, or basically whatever.

In Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama, tamales are wrapped in plantain leaves, as my one above is.

I’m not sure how I have gone through life without trying an authentic tamale, but I am happy to have finally gotten on that train. It was amazing!

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Will be eating again. Hopefully soon.

So that’s El Salvador. Quick and easy and SO GOOD!

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Georgia Restaurant (Georgia)

If you missed it, I am on a mission to eat authentic dishes from every country in the world, here in my own city of Toronto.

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You can find all recaps here. Today I am talking about Georgia!

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I’ll be honest. Until I started looking into eating Georgian cuisine I didn’t really know where Georgia was. I don’t even know the area I thought it was. But this is Georgia!

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Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is to east of the Black Sea and bordered by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.

I had no idea what kind of cuisine I could expect from Georgia, but we kept driving by Georgia Restaurant (also a small banquet hall) at Finch and Dufferin and each time I would be more intrigued. Evan and I looked into it and it promised an authentic Georgian eating experience, so earlier this week we decided to hit it up.

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We brought Ian (Evan’s good friend and also our roommate) along for the ride. As many of the restaurants I have visited so far on this mission have been (Max’s, Anna Maria Trattoria, Pho Com Vietnam) Georgia Restaurant is very nondescript from the outside, but the inside is quite beautiful.

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More pictures on their website gallery. When we were there it was set up for a big Georgia church group and all the cold food was already out on the table waiting for them. Apparently a big meal like this is called a keipi or supra. It looked delicious and I was ready to just pretend I was a part of it so I could eat everything. We refrained and got our own table though. I noticed that every few places there was a plate of vegetables, typical salad vegetables, only not in salad form. So whole tomatoes, stalks of green onions, full peppers and radishes. I am not sure why they weren’t sliced, and after researching it a bit I am still not sure why. Like do they just eat the tomatoes whole like an apple? I wish I asked our server, who was fantastic and very knowledgeable about Georgian food (though he was Ukrainian!).

It was also quite interesting there when they started playing traditional Georgian music. I liked.

Anyway, the Georgian cuisine is specific to Georgia, but also contains influences from Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia. Each province of Georgia has its own culinary tradition, so the food can vary from province to province. I did some research beforehand so I already had an idea of what we should order, but with the help of our server we selected the most authentic Georgian dishes on the menu.

We started with fresh bread.

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Which was delicious, as fresh bread always is. Can’t go wrong there.

Most of the authentic Georgian supra-type items were in the appetizers section, so we just ordered a bunch of appetizers. Starting with Badrijani, eggplants and garlic with a walnut paste, topped with pomegranate seeds, and served cold. This was recommended to us by our server if we really wanted a traditional experience (and we did).

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Not my favourite, but not bad. The walnut paste had an almost hummus-like taste. It was definitely different though. I don’t think I have eaten anything similar to that before.

Next we ordered the Satsivi, chicken in walnut sauce (a lot of walnuts happening here), also served cold.

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And, interesting that it is served cold. It gave it kind of a chicken leftovers-from-the-fridge taste. I didn’t mind it, but both Evan and Ian vehemently disliked it. And I don’t think I have ever seen Evan eat something he didn’t like, so that is saying something. For Ian I think it was a texture thing, and also because it was served cold, and for Evan he said it gave him a bad aftertaste in his mouth. For me, it was okay. I do think I would have liked it better if it was served hot though.

Our next appetizer totally made up for it though. Khachapuri, which is a golden thin crust filled with a salty cheese. Basically cheese-filled bread.

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I knew I was going to love this and I was not let down, I LOVED this. We all loved it. But I mean, bread filled with cheese… You really can’t go wrong there. I was reading that in Georgia they prefer this to pizza.

Next we tried the Khinkali, Georgian dumplings filled with pork and beef.

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Our server very helpfully told us that these are traditionally served with coarse black pepper in Georgia, so we went to town with that. The dumplings were delicious, as dumplings always area. I’ve never met a dumpling I didn’t like. They were another favourite here.

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I would have been happy with ordering just the khachapuri and the khinkali, honestly. Both were the stand outs, hands down.

Our final dish was the Lobio, Georgian style red beans.

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Very good. They reminded me a little bit of Evan’s beans actually. But beans can’t compare to bread and cheese and dumplings, you know.

We originally planned on ordering an additional main dish, EACH! And then we got midway through all the appetizers and thought maybe we should just get one main dish to share…and then by the end we were all too full to even think about eating anything else, so it didn’t happen. We’d go back though, for sure.

So that is Georgia! Definitely a different and interesting eating experience, but it was a good one!

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Happy or Hungry Eats the World: Anna Maria Trattoria (Italy)

If you missed it, I am on a mission to eat authentic dishes from every country in the world, here in my own city of Toronto.

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You can find all recaps here. Today I am talking about Italy!italy copy

Side note: I got Evan this scratch map for Christmas (as in, you scratch off the countries you’ve visited), and he has donated it to me for this eat the world mission. I gotta bust it out and start scratchin!

There was quite the build up to eating Italy, because I really, really love Italian food. I think pizza and pasta (with red sauce) are both tied for my favourite food. I have mentioned many times that I cannot resist pasta on a menu. I know, I can make it at home, but I love a good tangy tomato sauce on top of carbs so much that I have a hard time saying no to it. I have also mentioned before that I would probably be obese if my family was Italian.

Toronto has so many Italian restaurants (I have been to quite a few – Joe Bidali’s, Terroni, Pizza Libretto, etc. – all very delicious), so deciding where we would go for the official eating the world mission was very difficult. After doing some research we ended up at the family-run Anna Maria Trattoria in Vaughan, which promised a traditional Italian family experience. And it did not disappoint! I am so glad that’s where we ended up, I cannot say enough good things about that place. One of the reviewers on Trip Advisor said that eating there made them feel like they were at a quirky relatives house, and yep. Totally. I don’t have any Italian relatives, but I felt like I was part of their family. Our server Gina was really funny and she did remind me of a quirky aunt, and Anna Maria’s son Frank kept coming over and asking us how we liked everything. And also just talking about life things. He treated us like a friend, and we had just met him. I could truly tell that Anna Maria and her family are invested in every guest that walks in their door. You can check out the story of their restaurant here.

Really cute atmosphere in there also. This picture doesn’t do it justice but I felt like I was in Italy (I’ve never been to Italy but let’s assume).

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It was really busy when we went (packed with big Italian families!), so I would recommend reservations. We didn’t make any and they were quick to seat us (Frank went above and beyond immediately with us), but a big table with a family had just left so I think we got lucky.

We started, as you do in Italy, with fresh bread served with olive oil with hot peppers and garlic.

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They make the spicy olive oil and pepper mix in-house and it was so good we bought two jars of it. I am excited to put that on all various carbs in the future.

Evan is quite a calamari connoisseur, it is his favourite, so we ordered that as our appetizer.

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It was PERFECT calamari. Fresh and crispy and all sorts of delicious.

We also shared the margherita pizza…

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While not the best pizza I’ve ever had, I was absolutely not let down. But the gnocchi…

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Oh the gnocchi… It is homemade by Anna Maria herself and oh man is it ever good. Hands down the best gnocchi I have ever had. And that meat sauce was a really nice addition. I loved it. It was so filling but I just couldn’t stop.

I was too full afterwards for dessert (I am going to have to go back sometime for the tiramisu), so I just went with an espresso. Perked me right up.

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I wish we had gone earlier so we could have had more of an eating marathon because there were so many things on that menu I wanted to try. GIVE ME ALL THE PASTA. Oh well, we will just have to go back!

Overall I feel like we got an authentic Italian experience and it was everything I imagined. Highly recommend checking out Anna Maria Trattoria.

I need to give a quick shout out to Pizza Libretto though, because that is the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life.

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And everyone says it’s just like you’re in Naples so I am going to choose to believe them. One day. One day I will eat all the things in Naples.

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