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Eat All the Food and Drink All the Wine

On Monday evening I was invited to Milestones Empress Walk in Toronto for “an exclusive evening of culinary creations prepared by Milestones’ Executive Chef Jason Rosso.” According to the email I received, Milestones would be serving a six-course tasting menu inspired by their upcoming Summer Chef Menu, and each course was going to be accompanied by a selection of Constellation Brands’ finest wines.

I’m sure you can guess what I said to that invitation. Food + wine? Yes and yes, count me in. I roped my beautiful friend Dawn into joining me for the evening (she didn’t need a lot of convincing).

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I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a Milestones. It’s been years for sure. And I didn’t even know what was on their menu, to be honest, so I was excited for some exclusive tasting action.

I was immediately impressed with how professional this event was. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by the Chief Operating Officer of Milestones, Montana’s, and Kelsey’s, Mark Findlay, and also Dave Grant, Strategic Account Manager at Constellation Brands (producers of wine. Wiiiine). Usually when I am invited to events like this it is run by a PR company, so I mainly interact with them. There may be a representative from the actual company in attendance, but the COO? Well now, that is just impressive. Everyone was very nice, and they seemed to enjoy talking with us and asked us lots of questions.

All was going well until one of them asked me what my favourite restaurant was.

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I just didn’t know what to say. As I love food so much (I don’t want to call myself a “foodie”), I wanted to seem worldly and cultured and say a trendy place that was well-known without being too popular, you know? But all I could think was chain restaurants, and I didn’t want to name one.

And this was interesting, because one of the reasons for this evening of food was to change our opinion of chain restaurants. There is definitely a bit of a stigma surrounding them, that they may not be as good as independent restaurants. I have been noticing this a lot more lately. When I lived in the suburbs I used to eat at chains all the time, and all my friends did also. But now that I am in the city I am starting to become a little bit of a restaurant snob, and I am not sure why this is happening. Maybe because there are many independent restaurants located close to me? I don’t know.

Anyway, upon our arrival we were immediately set up with two  of Milestones’ new cocktails.

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I can’t remember either of their names, but that raspberry one on the left was amazing. Definitely my favourite. The cucumber martini on the right was good also, but Dawnald and I agreed that it was just a little too sweet.

There were also some pretty great appetizers floating around.

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Mozzarella Cheese Balls

There are few things in life I enjoy more than a good cheese ball, and those did not disappoint. Dawn and I both ate four of them.

And then we were all ushered upstairs for dinner.

I originally expected to be sitting with only Dawn and enjoying a romantic dinner for two, but this was not the case. There were about 20 people in attendance, and we all sat together at one long table. Just an intimate dinner with people who are way more important than me. No big deal. I am really not sure how I got invited to this event (wait, yes I am, ahem Stephanie Fusco, you cheeky minx), because I certainly am not that important.

Dawn and I were sitting with a handful of chefs. Real chefs, who actually cook for a living. I am in serious awe of them. Like Rossy Earle, who coincidentally is the chef at Mysteriously Yours Dinner Theatre, which I visited in January. We talked about how hilarious Prince Charmin is. And Joshna Maharaj, who is probably the biggest celebrity chef I’ve ever met.

Someone asked me if I was a chef.

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No no friends. I just like to eat. I could never be a chef, because you’re never home for dinner! That is very important to me.

So let’s talk about the Milestones Summer Chef’s Menu samples.

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Extensive, and amazing sounding. But the funniest thing about this photo is my place card, Lindsey Evanhoff. That is not my name. It’s just Evanoff. No H. But this was exceptionally funny to me because at my previous job one of my coworkers thought my last name was spelled “Evanhoff” for four months. When she called me that in emails I thought she was joking, until she wrote “Evanhoff” on my birthday card and I realized she really thought that was my last name.

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Just Evanoff. But I do understand how it could be confused, so no worries.

Anyway, moving along. Check out this food. It was AMAZING.

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Crispy quinoa shrimp with chimmi churri aioli and vegetable slaw

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Panko blue crab cakes with fennel and arugula salad

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Spicy Thai basil stir fry

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Grilled Japanese tuna Tutaki with asparagus and fennel slaw

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“Surf and turf” – grilled flat iron and lobster fricassee

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Avocado and lime tart

Six courses in total. I really need to say that everything was fantastic. Everything. Honestly. Best meal I have had in a long time. I cleaned every single plate and it was so good I probably could have eaten more, even though I was dying of fullness. I truly would order any one of those dishes, and they were all even better than I was expecting. Chef Rosso and friends do not mess around.

My favourites were probably the stir fry, because it tasted like curry, and the tuna Tutaki. Sweet baby cheeses and all things holy and delicious, that tuna… Dawn was studying the menu before everything came out and she mentioned to me she probably wasn’t going to be a fan of the tuna, and then it ended up being her favourite. It was so good.

Also surprisingly good was the avocado and lime tart. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that but I loved it. It tasted like a lime meringue pie to me.

Dawn and I were so impressed with everything that obviously we had to pay our compliments to the chef.

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Excellent job Chef Rosso. If you would like to move in with me and be my personal chef I would be very okay with that. I think I could eat that stir fry every day of my life. But I’ll allow you to cook me new things also. I’m not picky.

Oh, and the wine! I can’t forget to mention the wine. There was so much of it!

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I can’t remember all the selections, but each dish was perfectly paired with a glass of wine ranging from pinot grigio, to pinot noir, to sparkling wine, to ice wine. I am not a huge wine connoisseur, but I do love it. They all tasted great to me, though red is always my favourite.

I eventually arrived home after our night of gourmet eating and face-planted onto my bed, unbelievably full and a little bit drunk. Milestones, I don’t know what I thought of you before, but I’ll tell you what I think of you now. You are delicious. I like you, and I like you a lot. I am coming back and I am eating all the things and I am telling all my friends. Thank you so much for having me! You have definitely changed my opinion of chains in general.

In other news, though kind of related, the subway stop where this Milestones is located is THE subway stop where Dawn and I had our unfortunate accident 15 years ago. Perhaps you will recognize these doors. They are the ones we got stuck in.

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I drew them, though my memory was off slightly.

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Ah, memories. If you don’t know that story you can read it here.

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30th Eats

My 30th on Friday got off to a good start when I arrived at work in the morning and my fellow communications girls had left this for me:

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They know that food is the way to my heart. I think TimBits are pretty much the greatest things ever invented, and in that little box was the most delicious chocolate mousse tart. I like my coworkers a lot.

I like them so much that I let them take me to lunch that afternoon.

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Those cheeky minxes are Melissa and Emily.

We went to Terroni, a cute little Italian restaurant not far from our work.

We started with bread, which came with olive oil, and we also requested hot peppers on the side.

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What is it that is so insanely delicious about white bread? I can never say no to it. I think it might be my favourite food.

For my lunch I ordered the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese.

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And I LOVED it. Did not regret my decision at all. I ate the entire thing. Not one noodle left behind.

I was incredibly full afterwards, and as we were walking back to work I was telling the girls that I had a dinner date with Evan after work and I didn’t know how I was going to manage that because I felt like I might not ever be able to eat again.

I don’t know why I was concerned about this though, because eating is never a problem for me. I can eat at any time. And by the time 5:30 rolled around I was more than ready to go again.

Evan had planned a surprise birthday dinner for me and wouldn’t tell me where we were going until it was time for me to meet him. He just told me to dress nice but not too fancy, and comfortably because I may not be sitting down the entire time. I was intrigued by his random requirements, but I tried my best to meet them. I thought about Googling places in the area we were going, but I do genuinely like surprises so I was able to refrain.

He ended up taking me to Copacabana, a Brazilian steakhouse around Yonge and Eglinton that I had never been to before.

Copacabana is not just any old steakhouse though, it’s all you can eat meat!

And salad bar also, which Evan and I started with.

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They had some pretty good selections and I filled my plate up.

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Times two. I loved the quinoa salad, the mussels, and that bread with the cheese INSIDE in particular. Could not get enough of those. The bread especially was ridiculous and was actually about 10 times better than I expected it to be.

We also ordered traditional caipirinhas, Brazil’s national cocktail.

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Which I have never had before, and I really liked.

But what I was really excited for, was the meat.

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So much meat excitement. If my reaction to the meat selections was a gif I’m pretty sure it would look like this:

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Because the meat selection was ridiculous and I could not get over it.

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I’m pretty sure the only meat on that coaster we didn’t try was suckling pig, salmon, and chimichurri steak.

And you don’t even have to get up to get the meat. Very convenient. Servers come to your table with perfectly tender seasoned meat on rods and they shave it off for you with basically a machete.

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You just grab it with your tongs and throw it onto a side plate.

For an hour and a half they kept coming by our table and when that succulent meat showed up I couldn’t say no. I tried everything that came our way and I loved it all.

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That is lamb chops, beef rib, and some other kind of delicious steak.

They also switched it up sometimes with grilled pineapple with a brown sugar glaze that is apparently supposed to help with your digestion so you can eat more meat. I loved that also.

I was so insanely full afterwards that I could barely move. Luckily we were able to walk back to my apartment, which took about 25 minutes. It was nice to kinda walk it off. I felt less like a whale when we got home than I did when we left, so that’s a win.

We were still so full though that we passed out by 9pm and slept until the next morning. Party time! I guess I was practicing being 30.

Not to worry though, I made up for that on Saturday night.

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But that is a story for another post.

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The Best Indian Food in Toronto?

Now that I have a partner in crime who happens to enjoy eating just as much as I do (I know, score), I have been hitting up a lot of different restaurants in my ‘hood and eating out a bit more often than usual. I’ve definitely enjoyed some really, really great meals that I want to talk about, so in keeping the true spirit of Happy or Hungry alive, this post just might kick-off food week.

About the best Indian food in the city, I think I have found it. Last Sunday Evan and I went to Marigold, an Indian restaurant on Mt. Pleasant near Eglinton. It was Super Bowl Sunday, so we were the only ones in the place and the atmosphere was fantastic.

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Such a cute little restaurant. Tres romantique.

We chose to eat from the prix fixe menu, which was something ridiculously cheap like $35 for two people and got you two appetizers, three entrees, and two desserts. Sounded good to me. While we were perusing the menu, our server (who was awesome, I really liked her) brought over two little samples from the chef.

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That would be some sort of deep fried tofu. Normally I am not the biggest fan of tofu, but I guess all it takes is some deep-frying and green chutney sauce and I can hop on board because OH MAN it was good.

And what followed was hands down the BEST beef samosa I have EVER had. Ever. EVER!

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It was so good! I was dying over it. We raaaaved on and on to our server about how amazing the samosa was. I wish I was eating it right now. I could not get enough of that thing and I savoured every last bite.  Though I do love Indian cuisine, I am probably not the most Indian food savvy (though I think I know a good samosa when I taste one), but Evan’s grandparents are from British India and he has grown up with Indian food, so I feel like he would be a good judge. And he agreed, best samosas ever.

But our entrees were pretty good as well. We got the butter chicken, lamb vindaloo (I think?!),  and beef manchurian.

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And they were all exceptionally good. I don’t even think I could pick a favourite. Well, maybe the chicken. But I loved it all.

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Evan would like me to tell you he took that photo.

Also, the naan bread was AMAZING! It was all warm and garlicky and naan-y and it smelled like buttered popcorn! I could eat that stuff for days. I just loved it.

India does it right, I’m telling you. I have been living vicariously through Cely from Running off the Reeses lately (as she is touring around India), and I have been drooling over all the delicious Indian food she has been posting, so this definitely satisfied a huge craving of mine.

Although one thing I am not sure they do right is dessert… I asked our server what the dessert special was, and she told me the name (cannot remember) and I asked what it was, and she said “Basically just milk with…powdered milk.”

I looked at Evan after she left our table and said “Milk with powdered milk?” and he said “Maybe it’s not like how it sounds…”

But it was.

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Pretty much just milk with powdered milk. But I will forgive the dessert for not being amazing, because everything else sure was, and my sweet tea was pretty awesome as well.

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I will definitely be going back here. I love Indian food and this place did NOT disappoint. I feel so lucky that Toronto has so many culturally diverse restaurants. I have every kind of food imaginable within walking distance from me and I am so excited to explore it all!

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