Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekly Roundup - Summerlicious

Summerlicious At Azure - Date nights can be oh so fun, but they can also be oh so scary for your wallet, so you can imagine my delight at being invited to Azure Restaurant at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre for a complimentary dining experience for two, to check out their new look, sound, and Summerlicious menu by new Chef de Cuisine Grace DiFede. The bustling space had a very downtown vibe, located and sectioned off in the Intercontinental lobby, with beautiful bright glass ceilings allowing natural light to shine down on diners (ahem, perfect for date night complexion). We were greeted by one of the chefs who explained the menu to us, telling us how Chef Grace wanted their Summerlicious menu to reflect their regular menu, just in a smaller scale. Their menu features international flavours using local ingredients, with a rooftop garden where chefs can source fresh herbs. The mouth-watering menu was as follows:
Sweet Corn + Saffron Bisque + Goat Cheese Crouton + Tarragon Oil
Market Greens + Benedictine Cheese + Pickled Shallots + Bartlett Pear + Candied Walnuts Sherry Vinaigrette
East Coast Crab Cake + Lemon Dill Remoulade + Summer Fruit Salsa
Canadian Farmed Beef Strip Loin + Rosemary Garlic Potato Puree + Baby Vegetables + Chard + Port Jus
Pacific Organic Salmon + Orange Shaved Fennel Slaw + Raisins + Pistachio + Asparagus + Pernod Tomato Puree
Eggplant Ricotta Gratin + Basil + Grilled Peppers + Summer Squash
Ice-Wine Strawberry Panna Cotta + Fig Compote + Caramel Tuille
Baileys Chocolate Torte + Vanilla Mousse + Summer Berry Compote
Sorbet Creation - Chef's daily selection of sorbets
Summerlicious At Azure - To start our meal, both my date Chris and I ordered a round of caesars to toast to our date night. We followed that with Chris ordering the Sweet Corn and Saffron Bisque and myself ordering the East Coast Crab Cake. My crab cake was very tasty, the highlight being the summer fruit salsa, which brightened up the dish, but I couldn't help but want to sneak another bite of Chris' bisque, which was absolutely delicious! The massive bowl of soup tasted like summer in a bowl, both comforting and refreshing on an uncomfortably humid day. That creamy and complex creation turned out to be my favourite part of the meal! For our second course I ordered the Pacific Organic Salmon (top photo), with Chris ordering the Canadian Farmed Beef Strip Loin. We were both surprised to see the large portions of beef and salmon arrive to our table, not normally typical of Summerlicious menus. Both dishes were very good, but I particularly liked the bright fresh flavours in my salmon. For dessert, we decided to share both the Ice-Wine Strawberry Panna Cotta and the Baileys Chocolate Torte. Both so incredibly full from our first two courses, I was pretty impressed by just how much dessert we were able to tuck away. Our favourite of the two was the very light tasting panna cotta, a refreshing finish to the meal. A great big THANK YOU to Azure for inviting me to be their guest for the evening and making me feel like a princess. Their tasty menu and incredibly lovely staff made our evening extra special!

Five Guys Burgers & Fries - Although I say I have found my perfect burger from Holy Chuck Burger, I can't help but want to continue the search for perfection, searching for that burger that will make me go weak at the knees, foodgasming with abandon. This week my search took me to Five Guys Burgers & Fries, the much-hyped American chain restaurant known for their messy burgers, massive portions of seasoned fries, and complimentary shelled peanuts. I ordered their Bacon Cheeseburger with a selection of their many complimentary toppings (many of which go further than the standard raw toppings, including grilled onions and mushrooms) and a large order of fries for myself and my friends to share. Right off the bat I couldn't resist going in to try a fry, appreciating their heavy seasoning. Although I loved the first few fries, I got a little sick of the seasoning after a while, especially when they dump another half portion of fries into your takeout bag. I love bag fries (those few fries that end up on the bottom of the bag, giving you a few extra nibbles), but this seemed a little excessive. I hate waste, so when I order a particular portion of fries, I'm ordering it for a reason. By the time we were stuffed to the brim and done with our meal, we still had a full portion of fries in front of us once we topped up our fry container with the remaining bag fries. The burger certainly helped with my burger craving with nice flavour, but I just can't compare it to my good ol' Holy Chuck. It was much drier than the current toronto favorite that people are familiar with from both Holy Chuck and Burgers Priest. Five Guys is certainly much better than your average fast food burger, but for me, it ranks low in compared to the many other craft burgers in the city.

Momofuku Milk Bar - Despite denying that they were going to ever open their famous Milk Bar in Toronto, this week Momofuku made Torontonians dreams come true by opening their sweet shop, sectioned off on the second floor of their glitzy three-story space. Sure that the first few days after opening would be sheer hipster madness, I decided to wait it out before I attempted to brave the space to gorge on their sweet delights. I walked into one of the happiest of surprises on Saturday, just one day after opening, when I was invited to my friends Victoria and Kyle's for snacks and drinks in their lovely condo, and upon entering noticed a big ol' stack of Momofuku cookies on the serving table. I wanted to tackle their friends Ian and Jennie with hugs for supplying us with every flavour of Momofuku's sinfully delicious and unique cookies. I had first tried Momofuku's Compost Cookie (featuring everything from pretzels, potato chips, coffee grinds, and more) when I checked out one of their locations in New York this past fall and fell in love with the wildly delicious cookie, so I was super excited to get to try it again, along with a few of their other flavours. Each and every cookie was so incredibly delicious, I was in my absolute glory! I think I may just have to elbow a few hipsters this week to grab a slice of their infamous Crack Pie for myself. (Regram from @FreshFromAlex)

National Ice Cream Day - After all those Momofuku cookies, you would think we would have had enough of sweets by the time we were heading home from Victoria and Kyle's on Saturday night, but with a Baskin Robbins still open at 12:30 AM on the way home, we couldn't possibly resist a few scoops of Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream in a sugar cone for our walk home. Little did we know that we were only a half-hour into National Ice Cream Day, arguably one of the best days of the year! Because I didn't know it was National Ice Cream Day at the time, that just meant I had to indulge in another scoop and cone the following evening, an hour before National Ice Cream Day would come to an end.

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Listening To:
Timber Timbre - Black Water

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