Sunday, June 26, 2011

Brunch at Le Papillon

I took my friend Shawn out for his belated birthday brunch. We decided to take advantage of Toronto in the summer by exploring the Sunday Antique Market at St. Lawrence Market. Wanting to eat nearby, we picked the French restaurant "Le Papillon". I had never eaten there before, but it was supposed to be one of Toronto's better French restaurants. That being said, I've found from personal experience that there isn't really a mind blowing French restaurant in Toronto, and this has been echoed by other food lover friends/online reviewers... so I suppose Le Papillon's description of "better" should have been taken with a grain of salt.

(I do, however, love the brunch at the French restaurant La Palette. I've still yet to try their dinner, though!)

The prices seemed alright, roughly $10 for most courses, so we stepped in.

I ordered a black coffee-- it was a bit weak but the flavor was alright. I guess I'm used to dark roast coffee from a French press.

Shawn ordered the Croque Monsieur (well, since he got a fried egg on top, I suppose it's a Croque Madame) and I ordered the Pain Dorin (French Toast with fruit compote). Shawn didnt rave about his dish, and said it was alright.

He was also missing the bechamel sauce that some croque monsieurs feature. I sampled a few of his frites and they were pretty standard - they didn't get much of a reaction out of me.

My French toast was nice because it wasn't too sweet, and the bread was hearty without feeling like a brick in my stomach. It wasn't overtly eggy or buttery, which suits my palate. The fruit compote was too syrupy in my opinion... perhaps a bit of lemon zest would have perked it up a bit. I'm in no hurry to return to Le Papillon, sadly... But Shawn and I had a lovely day, all the same. :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I really can't do diets. It's not that I don't think they work (though sometimes I feel that the risk of yoyo-ing is likely), it's just that it doesn't align with my philosophy about food. I am passionate about the joy and pleasure we find in food, and cannot restrict food to its strictest nutritional elements. I personally do not view it as a mere source of fuel. However, considering my feelings, it is strange to note that I am usually eating in front of a computer or television.

I am an avid multi-tasker, and will unintentionally take every opportunity I can to do so. As we all know, though, eating should not be one of those moments. We should sit and savour each bite, have those Pixar Ratatouille-esque moments where we marvel at the symphony of flavors.

But I get bored, you know?

How does this make sense, you might be asking, if I enjoy food? Well, maybe that explains why I enjoy eating out so much. In such a setting, I'm forced to savour my food and become inclined to appreciate and discuss it with my friends. Alone, at home, I inhale my food like a wolf.

Oh yeah, I'm also a very fast eater. Except in a good restaurant.

So I've decided to dabble in slow eating. I don't know if it's realistic to say that I'll only eat my meals in my dining room, but... I started with breakfast today.

A heavenly slice of that Ace Bakery sun dried tomato bread I mentioned in my first post and some plain Balkan style yogurt with Bonne Maman raspberry jam and a squirt of lemon juice. Since the raspberry is in jam form, it's not that tart and quite sugary, so I added the lemon to "lift" the flavor. I also added it to compliment the zesty sun dried tomato in the bread.

The bread itself is a defender of carbs. With a taste, it explains why we should eat carbs. Chewing it feels good for the soul - it is dense and elastic, a slice of warmth bending scrapes of melting butter to its will. It toasts wonderfully because it doesn't turn into a giant dry slab/cracker like many loaves are prone to do. Is it the amount of gluten in the bread that allows it to remain so heavenly? Regardless, I really love a bread that really gives you something to bite into.

So that was a good start to enjoying my day to day meals more! I wonder how lunch will go.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First Time

For the past three days, I've been drowning myself in carbs. White carbs, to be specific, in the form of pizza, pasta and a delightful little loaf of sun dried tomato bread from Ace Bakery (a bit of butter and salt, to die for). I was a little concerned about this pattern though, considering I had just skimmed that popular book "The 4 Hour Body" that basically says "if you want to get fat, eat carbs." Yikes.

Determined not to feel bad about it (though I have a very complicated relationship with food, I try my best not to have that kind of complicated relationship), I decided to google some articles that would assure me that carbs aren't so bad. I actually googled "defense of carbs", a la "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan.

Where I ended up was at The Foodie Diaries, a blog run by a Chinese Jewish girl named Sarah. Because of her, I suddenly have the urge to go to the supermarket and buy Laughing Cow Cheese. More importantly, however, she made me happy because she seems to have the same insane zest for food that I do, as well as an appreciation for whole foods. I only tend to feel bad about food when it's been overly processed or fried.

As a young woman trying who needs to manage a financially sound lifestyle, it can be hard finding the balance between the economical and the enjoyable. I can usually curb the shopping and the drinking-- it's the eating out that I can never control. It's not just about the food though. Breaking bread, or bonding over food is just an experience that I can't replicate over a coffee/tea. Sigh, first world problems, am I right?

I've tried blogging a few times before and have never been able to commit to it. I have no high hopes now, but this endeavor shall be for my own amusement.

Let's start with something visceral:

A pork chop spaghetti casserole from a Hong Kong style cafe in Toronto. There's just something so comforting about that ketchupy goodness/abomination (at least to the Italians). I love authentic Italian pasta (my mother once dated a European man who was obsessed with Italy, and one of my good friends is Sicilian), but there's something alluring about Asian interpretations of pasta. They all tend to have a bit of sweetness to them. When I'm at T&T or J-Town I'm always tempted to buy a package of Japanese pasta sauce-- but become deterred by the presence of MSG, etc. Still, one of my favorite nostalgic dishes is curly pasta with MUJI (for those who don't know, imagine if IKEA and Club Monaco had a baby) tomato cream crab pasta sauce.

Next! I work part time at Starbucks (I make deliciously dense foam) and after helping a customer toast a Santa Fe panini, one of my co-workers asked "Did you save that as a snack?" I look up and see two innocent strips of chicken breast sitting awkwardly on the edge of the oven door.

My bad. It would be something I'd do though, haha. Not actually.

Last: My boyfriend's currently in Romania, but it was his birthday today so I stopped by his house so that his family and I could wish him happy birthday as a collective on Skype. Afterwards, his mom and dad showed me all the strawberries they had growing in the backyard. They had small Ontario strawberries, but also the most adorable, tiny little wild strawberries as well.

His surly older brother wasn't as enthusiastic as I was about them. But I think they're irresistible with the tiny white flowers growing nearby.

Well, that's all for now.