Burrito Brothers!

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This place has been wildly popular since it opened a few weeks ago in downtown Brantford. I drove all the way to 38 Dalhousie because I cannot turn down a burrito. Downtown Toronto, you can get a good burrito at almost any corner, but they’ve been sparse since I moved further out west to Hamilton. I was ready for my fix. This place isn’t a chain, which is awesome, and every single ingredient is made fresh at the store, especially their amazing sauces.

This is is huge and thick and amazing. I, of course, piled on as many toppings and sauces as possible. This wrap is filled with so much yumminess and definitely fills you up. And, they do the thing that separates a great burrito from a wrap stuffed with edible things, they grill the outside of the burrito. That is the one thing that will determine if I like a burrito or not. The grill slightly crisps the outside and makes sure the whole thing doesn’t it fall apart. It is a necessity!!

They have so many fillings to choose from. Pork, pulled beef, chicken, and sweet potato. Wait, what? Sweet potato? YES, SWEET POTATO. And the sweet potato is SO good. I am a bonafide meat eater, and even I would get a sweet potato burrito. It’s hearty, the flavour is not too sweet, and has just the right amount of spice. The sweet potato is a must try. They also have a bunch of different salsas to choose from: pico de gallo, roasted tomato homestyle salsa, coleslaw, corn and bean. They even make their own queso fresca.

They make their own cheese.

I had to highlight that because that fact in itself is amazing. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of their sauces but they have crazy things like lime sour cream, special “burrito sauce,” and a range of hot sauces, one of them is actually CRAZY hot, and I am good at eating spicy food.

They also do tacos. They also do fish tacos. This one I made for myself, topping it with the things that I wanted (aka everything). The fish is soft, but the batter is right crispy. They make the fish to order so it is never soggy!

These are the fish tacos proper, which is topped with all the things that they recommend on a fish taco. These ones have coleslaw, onions, cilantro, lime sour cream, and queso fresca. One of them has the suicide hot sauce. Bullets were sweat that day.

They also do bomb nachos! Topped with meat and any other topping you could put on the burritos and tacos. The best part, after they put the cheese on it, they bake it in the oven to get all that wonderful melty cheese.

Melty cheese makes the world go round.

It’s statements like these that make me think I should write a book. I could be the new Deepak Chopra. “Look inside yourself, for you cannot change the world without faith in you. Inside of you, before anything, you should find the melty cheese, and with this power, the world is yours.” I’m a damn natural.

I didn’t get a chance to try their new burrito because it just came out today and only available for the month of October, but it’s a turkey burrito, with cranberry sauce and other things. I really need to go back this month to try it out because it looks so good. For all those who don’t want to cook, you can just bring your family into Burrito Brothers, and they can be your family too. HA.

I filmed my last visit to BB, and it’s part of my new vlog series on youtube! Unfortunately, my channel isn’t under the username Judskii but I’m looking for a way to right that wrong! My BB visit starts at 7:44.

Good night, and sweet burritos to all!

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Grand Electric

There’s something I need to admit to all of you out there.

I love tacos. I really do. It all started way back when I didn’t know any better and I would beg to go to Taco Bell at any time of the day. Mind you, this was back when I didn’t know how to drive, didn’t know how to get anywhere, and relied on older family members to cater to my intense pregnant-like cravings. What do you want to eat? Insta-answer: Tacos. Nothing but.

Getting a little older, I learned of the magic of Old El Paso taco seasoning and ground beef. So there I was, high school student and little brother, mixing up beef and powder, white flour tortillas, poorly cut lettuce and pre-shredded cheese. I was more than satisfied. I was happy.

Then comes college, the first time I was ever really constantly out of my house. I spent my days and most of my nights downtown Montreal going to school, doing homework, and eating and drinking with friends. The first time I hit up bars and restaurants, for no special reason other than we were tired and hungry and too far from home. Places like Mesa 14 opened up a whole new world of Mexican cuisine. The Three Amigos were my three amigos. Tacos that were prepared fresh and hot to my liking, with no pre-shredded cheese or canned salsa. Surely, this cannot get better. And then we went on vacation.

We actually went to Mexico. The land of chili, lime, and cilantro. Sure we were on a resort with the standard buffet fare, but then we ventured to the village markets, off resort property. I’ve been to Mexico twice now, and both times, the best food is off the resort. Sure, you’re risking food poisoning and germs that your body isn’t used to. But, let me tell you, it is all worth it.

And now where do we stand? My love affair with this wonderful beacon of hand-sized heaven. We stand, my friends, with the gourmet. The daring. The trendy. We stand among great chefs that do more than ground beef and seasonings. More than just your plain and packaged flour tortillas. We stand with pork belly, jalapenos, fancy things like “aioli”, with individual tacos that cost more than a meal at McDonalds.

On a chilly Friday night, we stand in front of Grand Electric Bar.

1330 Queen Street West, Toronto

 

I don’t know how to describe this place with any words other than super hip. The first time we tried to go, we made the mistake of getting hungry before deciding on the restaurant. The wait was to be 1.5 hours. This time, even though we arrived about 15 minutes after opening, the wait time was the same. I hear you have to line up before they open to actually sit at 6pm. The restaurant is decorated in vintage wood with the menus and specials written up on chalkboard. The whole place had a rustic western feel to it, like I was in a smoky saloon that had Jay Z performing all night. In addiction to the lovely warm feeling of the place, loud rap and hip hop was playing all night. The ambiance was amazing.

We sat at the bar, which was great because there was a lot of room for our dishes.

Tip: There are hooks underneath where you can put your coats/purses.

We ordered some drinks, bourbon and tequila and they were mighty strong. So, a warning, if you aren’t used to not-girly drinks that don’t taste like sugar.

Guacamole and chips with a large slice of pig fat in the middle. The guac and salsa were pretty standard, nothing crazy, but delicious all the same. They had sprinkled some sort of salty cayenne seasoning on the chips which really enhanced the flavours of the dish together. I took a bite of the pig fat because I had never tasted it before, and well, it was pig fat. Really delicious but too rich and oily for me to be eating the whole thing.

Tuna ceviche on a fried tortilla covered in cilantro, radish, onions, and jalapeno aioli. This is raw tuna so don’t order if you’re squeamish about raw fish. This dish was nice and Saney went crazy all over it.

“The tuna ceviche is booooommmbbbb. It’s sooooo good.” – Verbatim

The tacos!!! They were a little small but it was to be expected. However, their size is not at all proportionate to the flavour they pack. Each one was super decadent and flavourful. You can’t help but savour every bite. From the top going clockwise, we’ve got: Fish taco, pig tail, beef cheek, and pork belly. The fish tacos were topped with some slaw, chives, onions, radish, and if I recall correctly, mayo. The beef cheek had a guacamole and fresh jalapeno (not pickled!) topping and the pork belly had a cilantro and steamed pineapple topping. Everything was tender to a fault. Juicy. Extravagant. A delight. And definitely gone too fast. I was very excited to try to pig tail and it was unlike anything I’d ever had before. Almost a cross between foie gras for texture and crispy BBQ pork. The beef cheek was almost like pulled pork, but a great deal more delicate. Extremely juicy. The pineapple on the pork belly gave this taco a whole other dimension. It enhanced the smoky flavour and gave it a nice tang.

Oh what I would do to eat here again. I definitely need to eat here again.

Next up was the fried chicken that had a fancy name. It was probably Pollo Frito. Let me begin by saying that this photo does not at all do this dish justice. The chicken wings were piled high, topped with a mixture cilantro, chili peppers, jalapeno, and cooked lime, and then drenched in this sweet, sticky, spicy, garlicky sauce. It was heaven. There was no effort to share, it was eat as much as you can before it’s all gone. The chicken was crispy and tender. Drenched, but maintained it’s exterior texture. It was like magic. The spice was subtle but definitely there. It wasn’t overpowering to the point where you want to stick a fire extinguisher in your mouth, but it was enough to satisfy. Everything tasted fresh and the flavours married each other so well. Best chicken wings ever.

I want this in my mouth right now please okay thanks.

If I could, I would eat here all the time. I would brave the mildly cold Toronto winters, the stinky summers, the terrifying nights. I would do it all for Grand Electric. (It’s legal to marry a restaurant, right?)

Astoria

The Astoria, located at number 390 on the Danforth, was where I travelled to satiate my craving for some good ol’ Greek food. Now, I’m more of a newbie than a connoisseur when it comes to Greek food, considering it all mostly good. Pita? Awesome. Tzatziki, gyro, souvlaki? Yum. Throw some o’ dat on my plate. Remember Sofia’s with the open-faced chicken souvlaki with spinach and feta? One of my favourite restaurants in Montreal would be Marvin’s up by l’Acadie, a little tavern-looking Greek restaurant with the greatest calamari and lamb chops.

Anyway, the Astoria Shish Kabob House, its full name, is rated on BlogTO as the best restaurant for Greek food in Toronto. Now, I was madly craving some of that souvlaki and was willing to walk the hour from my place to the Danforth to have some, seeing as most of the restaurants on the list were, with reason, located in Toronto’s Greek town.

The restaurant itself was surprisingly large, but this is coming from eating exclusively in downtown Toronto for the last 4 months or so where restaurants try to maximize their space by cramming as many tables as possible inside. Whenever I try to squeeze into my seat, I inevitably send other people’s meals crashing to the ground with my ass.

I ordered myself the lamb souvlaki on a pita, as I am very very partial to lamb. The waiter asked how I wanted my lamb (medium rare) and this was the exact reason I was willing to walk all the way up here instead of just the 10 minutes to a random food court for some random food court meat on a stick. Granted, I didn’t actually have to walk because my brother (pictured below) had to come drop off some laundry for me and run some errands, so we went for dinner.

The brother and his sweaty back.

The lamb was succulent, impeccably seasoned. So juicy, and cooked perfectly medium rare, just how I like it. The problem with lamb is that if the meat is too old or not from a less gamey breed of lamb, the taste can be off-putting for some people. Me, I like it just fine, but this lamb was great, not too gamey, perfectly tender. There were a few spots where the fat was too chewy for me but that was just for a few cuts and I chewed through it like a caveman. No one to impress, y’know how it is. The pita seemed a little dry and they forgot to put onions on my order, but that’s only because they got confused, since my brother ordered no onions on his.

The tzatziki was very strong. A great fresh flavour, but tasted a bit too strongly of yogourt for my preferences. I’m sure it’s a fantastic sauce, but I’m not really a big fan of dairy products. You know, except for ice cream.

Predictably, my brother, the chicken-addict, ordered the chicken souvlaki. He’s still chasing after that wonderful chicken gyro that we had in New York. I like chicken and all but I don’t really like to order it at a restaurant, unless it’s in some sort of pasta.

I had a piece of his chicken, and it was nicely seasoned, but it was just so dry. I’m the kind of person that likes my food a bit bloody, but for obvious reasons, you can’t really do that with chicken. My brother likes his steaks well done (really, wtf), so I can see why he would put up with the dryness of chicken. I guess the texture doesn’t really bother him, but I’ll admit that the seasons on the chicken were quite pleasant. Slightly tangy, yet very savoury.

I ordered a side of garlic bread for only $0.78! I think. It was definitely under a dollar though. And this is a lot of garlic bread for a side order. Very garlic-y, and it satisfied my cravings well. The top bread was soft and buttery, while the bottom sides were a bit crunchy. Best of both worlds!

When it came time for the bill, I was expecting a 35-40 dollar bill, but it surprisingly only came up to $24 for the both of us to dine there. A steal for the restaurant setting. The only thing I’m going to complain about is the after-dinner mints, which really isn’t that big a deal. I mean, they did give us 3 pieces of candy for two people, but really, cinnamon flavour and black licorice flavour. Why would someone even buy that?

Luckily I headed next-door to Dolce Gelato, which apparently just opened up, and had myself some gelato. The thing about this dessert is that what looks like a tiny cup is actually a lot of gelato! I bought a small cup for $3.75 and they allowed me to put two flavours into it, and man did they have a lot of flavours to choose from. I went with my favourite gelato, lemon flavour, and then my crack from Vietnam, passion fruit. :)

Ahh, walking through slash driving through the Danforth and seeing all the great houses with great lawns just steps from the main street made me fall in love with it. The Danforth just has a great feeling to it, great boutiques and lots of different restaurants. The place is a little like quaint suburbia mixed with a slight hustle-bustle of city life, and it’s right on the subway line so getting downtown is a breeze. I think this is where I want to raise my family. Haha! Dreams and wishes.

 

 

 

Some pictures and captions and talking too

1. Mado’s Pepper Sauce

Found this bottle of hot sauce on sale in one of the antique shops that Claire, Adrienne, and I visited in Parkdale, on Roncevalles. When the woman at the counter let me open one and smell it, I had to have it.It had strong pepper scent, and me, I love my pepper, with what seemed to be a bit of mustard, some dill, maybe some horse radish, and a hint of citrus.I don’t think any of those are actually in the ingredients though, but it seems to emulate all those flavours in one simple sniff. I’ll have to check the ingredients label when I get home.

Anyway, one of my bad habits is my tendency to buy things on a whim. So I bought it. Boy was I not disappointed. We went to a pub to grab a bite to eat after an afternoon of antique shopping and I opened up the pepper sauce to taste with my chicken.

It was like heaven exploding in my mouth.

It has this intense flavour and the spiciness is like a subtle kick in the taste buds. It’s like  a tiger creeping up in the tall jungle grass. Slowly… slowly… BAM. THERE IT IS. AND IT IS MAJESTIC. We had a barbecue a couple of days later and I mixed it up with some mayonnaise and slathered in on my burger with some relish. One of the best burgers I have ever had. The sauce makes it and it is beautiful.

2. Wonder Girls’ Wonder Coincidence

Ahh, the Wonder Girls. Kpop sensation full of little cute fucking asian girls.

I got dropped off in downtown Hamilton to hang out with some cousins at the local bubble tea house and the instant I walked in, they were talking about how I was the second coincidence of one sort or another. Not five minutes later, one of my uncle’s friends, whom I had only met a couple of days earlier, walked in and we had an awkward exchange of greetings.

Moving on, my cousins and I sit, talk, make fun of each other, you know the things we do best. Then a couple of people that David vaguely knew walked in and sat behind our table, but kept to their own. Ding ding, my phone announces a message from Adri.

“Hahaha I just read that the Wondergirls are in Mississauga RIGHT NOW for a concert.”

Note: I just moved from Montreal to Mississauga. So I read this message out loud because I know a couple of my cousins are into the whole kpop scene. Then, David’s acquaintances turned around and said, “Are you talking about the Wonder Girls??? We just came from their concert!!!”

This was funny because I associate kpop with girls and girly boys. So we all got excited and I got a picture of their pass, and a picture of their picture with the girls. A night of coincidence.