HillyBilly Heaven

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Smoky. Sweet. Salivating. Seductive. SCRUMPTIOUS SOUTHERN… sfood. This place is located at Upper James and Fennell in Hamilton, where I’ve recently moved. I’d been hearing a lot about Hillbilly Heaven BBQ joint for a while. They’ve been showcased on the Food Network, and the amount of word-of-mouth buzz has been insane. I hear it from everyone that it’s so amazing, so naturally, I had to go give it a shot. Oh lordy lord did I not know what I was getting myself into.

brisket

I ordered the BBQ beef brisket with a side of baked beans, because I am a sucker for baked beans. However, these beans aren’t like those sweet molasses beans you get with breakfast. No, no. These were smoky, filling, slightly spicy, and a hint of tart sweetness from the apples. And then there’s the sandwich. A bread that’s soft and yet doesn’t fall apart. It soaks up the meaty juices without getting soggy. That is a bread deserving of a place called Heaven. The meat is piled high on the bun. It’s soft, juicy, and peppery. Wonderful on it’s own, but they offer 3 kinds of BBQ sauce that to top your sandwich with: mild, medium, and hot. I don’t know how else to describe how amazing this plate was, except for the fact that the plate you see there cost me $8.95. Now do a double take. You saw that right. Under $10 for a sandwich the size of your head and a hog sized bowl of baked beans. Ooooooh mama.
chillay

 

You can expect the same with the pulled pork platter. The sandwich just as big and juicy and comes with a side of thick cut crinkle fries that are wonderfully seasoned and crisp. My cousin upped the ante by turning his side of fries into chili cheese fries for an extra $3.50 and making it into a monster meal.

Hillbilly Heaven is amazing and everyone should eat there. The staff are really friendly, the decor homely, and the food is just to die for.

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Hank Daddy’s

Hank Daddy’s is a bbq food truck here in Hamilton that does the standard barbecue fare: ribs, brisket, chicken, and pulled pork, among other things. Although I’ve been trying to lose weight, I couldn’t help but to venture off to this truck because it was parked down the street from me, and y’all know my addiction to food trucks. See here and here.

Hank Daddy’s is known for their unique pulled pork parfait, so of course I had to have it. It looks so cute, and because I was taking it home, they had the ingenious way of cutting out the bottom of a takeout container to protect the mound! Presentation really is everything because that’s what you’re really paying for. It was 10$ for two scoops of mashed potatoes, pulled pork, and some beans. The barbecue sauce alone was strange and I didn’t quite like it, but when mixed with the pulled pork and potatoes, they meshed surprisingly well.

I may be biased because I just love pulled pork, but I really enjoyed this dish, despite thinking that it’s not quite worth 10$. It was a nice small lunch, and yummy, which I think is the most important part. Next time, I’ll have to try the ribs.

 

 

Toronto Food Trucks II

My food truck journey never stops. It’s just such a unique feeling walking up to a food truck, and it’s kind of a treasure hunt when you get the tweet telling you the location, finding it, and then munching. I love how these gourmet food trucks are so well intertwined and interactive with online social media. This definitely caters and aligns to my modern urban lifestyle and attitudes.

Gorilla Cheese // Twitter // Facebook

So I was in Hamilton visiting family when I remembered that the famous Gorilla Cheese is stationed here all the time. So we went on a mission. On this day, they were parked at Mohawk College, Stoney Creek Campus. Lucky students.

The Lumberjack // $7.50 : Bacon, Cheddar, Apple, Maple Syrup

I dare you to read that description and not drool uncontrollably over your keyboard. Bacon? C’mon. Bacon. The apple is a surprise, but apparently a not-so-secret secret amongst grilled cheese connoisseurs. The bread was crispy, the apple — crunchy. The bacon was salty, the syrup – sweet. The sandwich of beautiful opposites attracting. And each sandwich comes with a nice tart pickle!

The Sarducci // $7.50Mozzarella, Basil, Tomato, Red Onion, Balsamic

A classic combination of ingredients, one that I absolutely adore, and molded to work in the beautiful mechanics of a grilled cheese sandwich. Like all their other sandwiches it’s an integration of the classic comfort and the exclusive gourmet. I approve. The balsamic was sweet and not overly tart. The multigrain bread had wonderful sunflower seeds and oats, which made me feel healthy.  Although the elegantly browned exterior screams oil and grease, the sandwich itself tasted wholly fresh, with the tomatos and red onions. Eating the sandwich was definitely greasy though, but that satisfying, “damn-that-was-so-worth-it” kind of greasy.

Cupcake Diner // Twitter 

The Cupcake Diner has access to my work schedule. Or so it would seem because they like to taunt me by parking a block away from my apartment, but only on days that I’m away at work. Luckily, they have a permanent store that sits on the lower floor of the Hamilton Farmer’s Market. Or as my parents call it, “Ba-nam-bay” or “3-5-7” because it’s only open on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays. Or that’s how it was way back when I was growing up in Hamilton. And it had been at least a decade since I’d been back to the Farmer’s Market and oh my, either I never really noticed what it looked like as a kid, or it has really undergone a totally modern renovation.

Classic Chocolate Cupcakes

Cupcake $2.75 // Cookie $1.50

So I went and had the cookie dough cupcake. It originally had a wedge of cookie on top but I was too quick to dig in and forgot to take a photo. The icing was extremely dense and almost like biting into butter. Really sweet and almost a dessert in and of itself. The cake part was equally as decadent, and I had to share some of it with my brother. Not even expensive for a cupcake, and it really goes the mile. The Rocky Road cookie was bought by my brother and it was huge! The size of my whole hand. It was thick and soft. Made of oats and raisins, I was eating so healthy today! Man, my waist is feeling smaller already! The cookie was sweet and very cinnamon-y. Nom nom nom. I only had a few bites in the car before I had to run for my bus back to Toronto.

Toasted Tangerine // Facebook // Twitter

As fate would have it, Toasted Tangerine was at Yonge-Dundas square for “One Day Without Shoes” event that was going on there. Couldn’t pass that up!

Went twice; ever-changing menu.

Toasted Ravioli $6

The filling for this was SO good. Bolded, capitalized, and italicized. That’s how you know I’m serious. It was creamy, filling, delicious, not too cheesy, light, melty-on-your-tongue. I could go on. The marinara dipping sauce was quite good as well. I loved how the container was big enough so that the ravioli can be dipped it without crushing it or turning all kinds of awkward angles. The only thing I can complain about is that it was deep-fried a little too dark for my liking so the outside was really hard and crunchy, which cut up the roof of my mouth. I’d eat it again though, which is telling of good that filling is!

Toasted Sweethearts $6

Another deep-fried ravioli, but dessert style! This suffered from the super-hard outside as well, but it took me a little while to get to them, so they did soften after a little while with that strawberry glaze. Mmm, strawberry glaze. These were so cute with their heart shape and powdered sugar. Inside was so thick with bananas, mascarpone, dulce de leche, and probably cocaine. This was so yummy!!

Sweet Rider Sliders $7

So after the one day at Toasted Tangerine, I knew I just had to go back for some more. This was at one of their regular appearances at Queen and Jarvis. The buns were nice and soft for a ciabatta, and the pulled pork bbq sauce was nice, sweet and sticky. The stand out piece of this was the pineapple mint salsa. I’m not a big fan of mint but this was absolutely wonderful. The pineapple giving a sweet & juicy tang and just a hint of mint to highlight the sweetness of the pork and bbq sauce. I ate these while walking, and it wasn’t too messy. Everything stayed rather well in the bun, nothing wasted!! Uguughghgh I want pulled pork.

This will not be the last food truck post. I think I’m obsessed. I’ve got tickets to the “Next Food Truck Event” presented by Food Truck Eats that takes place tomorrow. So prepare yourself for that as I prepare my belly for it. I’m really looking forward to trying Ninja Piggies, Rock Lobster Company, and Fidel Gastro! I want to try all the food trucks. I don’t need to worry about my belly, I just need to worry about whether I’ll have enough time to eat everything! I know I will barely be able to sleep tonight knowing that tomorrow I’ll get to stuff my face with delicious things. This truly is the life.

Oh. Hey. Hi. PHOTODUMP. :)

Delicious, delicious photodump.

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1. Hello. Bacon, onion, and spinach quiche. I know, so fancy. I made these because my eggs were going to expire and these quiches were supposed to last me a few days. However, after they came out of the oven, they smelled too good. So I ate one. And then another.

And then I ate all of them.

No regrets.

2. My vegetarian friend made too much spaghetti sauce so she gave me a bag of frozen sauce and I finally got a chance to use it. It was so hearty with some things that I’ve never put in pasta sauce before, like zucchini. Hahah. I had gotten home from one of my ridiculous days and was just starving. All I needed to do was boil pasta, brown some ground beef, and then dump in some sauce. Thanks Zizi!

3. I had some leftover pulled pork that I had made from the day before and a nice organic brie loaf and some cheese. What else to make but an inside out grilled cheese filled with pulled pork? I made one sandwich and left the ingredients on the counter because I knew I was going to make another one. And then I did.

And then every once in a while my mom comes over and cooks me food. Which is amazing. I mean, some of this Vietnamese fare, you just can’t get at a restaurant.

4. Bun thit nuong. She made me all the things and I just assembled it. The grilled beef though, I think I used this recipe off the internet. It turned out really nice, especially with a bit of lemon tang. Other than that, we’ve got nem nuong, carrots (no daikon -sadface-), cucumbers, and green stuff and vermicelli noodles.

5. Bun reu cua. She taught me how to make this and this pleases me. :D It’s an egg, tomato, and shrimp-based soup with vermicelli noodles and served with mixed greens with chili pepper and salt on the side.

Not going to lie, it’s been rough. Working too much, not sleeping enough, and not enough time to eat! That being said, it’s rare that I’ll fully get to go out and eat at delicious restaurants, and I can barely afford to either. The first three photos are from Utopia Cafe on College, west of Bathurst.

6. Utopia Nachos With tons of awesome melted cheese, chicken, beef and other nacho staples. They also serve with a side of salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. But, as always, there’s never enough salsa or guacamole, and they do charge if you ask for more (which we found out on the bill). Though the middle of the nachos are great, the edges were sadly neglected crispy chips. The nachos are piled on top of this crispy baked pita which was really nice as well. $15

7. Steak & Cheddar Burrito The burrito was a bit on the smaller size (this coming from eating Burrito Boyz burritos, those things are MASSIVE), and was served with a side of spinach salad (even though I’m pretty sure I ordered coleslaw.. but didn’t realize this till right now), and black bean rice. The burrito, though, was really good. The mayo was excellent and tangy, the meat juicy. The burrito just seemed a bit sparse and empty, like there wasn’t a lot of filling inside. The salad was great and featured a nice balsamic dressing on top. I was sharing the plate and did not try the rice. Overall, this was an okay dish, I probably wouldn’t order it again, but I hear the burgers are amazing.  $12.50

8. Flourless Chocolate Cake The waitress had told us that they were newly just trying out desserts at Utopia but they got this cake bang-on. Definitely couldn’t have eaten this by myself (oh who am I kidding, yes I could have.) Flourless means gluten-free, which is great for the new gluten-free diet trend* and for those who are sensitive to gluten or have gluten allergies. However, being flourless means they replace the flour with… more sugar. So diabetics, hyperglycemics, and people with generally high blood sugar should beware. Other than that, it was really good, it was a flourless batter thing on the bottom (I’m guessing made out of butter and sugar primarily), nice and crumbly, topped with thick chocolate fudge. Served with a side of whipped cream and berries. Very delicious. $5

9. This is the Riverside burger from BQM Burgershoppe. They have 3 different locations in Toronto, and the one I’ve been to several times is the one on Queen, east of Spadina, right near my school. The burgers are great, nice and juicy patties that aren’t too small. I was craving burgers and onion rings so decided to kill two birds with one stone. It was great, with lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheese, and garlic aioli, but while being great at the time, it did create some painful carnage on the roof of my mouth. BQM onion rings are really really crispy, which are great if you’re biting into them individually. Overall though, always a great experience here. Tiny seating areas though! Riverside Chuck Burger $9

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Deliciously G-Free by Elisabeth Hasselback. ISBN 9780345529381

I’ve been seeing a lot of gluten-free diet books coming out at the bookstore lately, the most popular one being Deliciously G-Free by Elisabeth Hasselback, who everyone has been telling me was on that Survivor show that I never watched.

Okay, so what is gluten? It’s a protein found in a lot of wheat, rye, barley and other things. So, obviously, people with Celiac’s disease can’t actually eat gluten products because it causes their intestines to go all kinds of painful crazy. But what people don’t know, is that there’s a lot of people who are also gluten-sensitive. Humans ourselves can’t actually process gluten and wheat that well. It has less nutritional value and is a pro-inflammatory. So basically, giving up gluten is a really healthy choice and great for people who don’t have Celiac’s disease or a gluten allergy. It’s just one of those trends that I’ve been seeing popping up lately.

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In other news, I saw this new beautiful book on display yesterday:

Meat Free Monday Cookbook ISBN: 978-1906868697

It’s this huge campaign going on in the UK started by Paul McCartney and his family, showing us that just by eliminating meat from our diet once a week has great environmental and personal benefits and effects. I’m a meat person, I really am, but this cookbook is actually amazing. And really beautiful.

What they do is they create a whole meal-plan for you, for each Monday in a year. If I recall correctly, they provide Breakfast, 2 snacks, a lunch, and dinner recipe for each day, which makes it incredibly easy to switch over to a meatless day. I mean, I know one of the major excuses for not participating is, “I wouldn’t know how to cook meatless” and now you do.

They also sort the recipes by season much like one of my other favourite cookbooks, Martha Stewart’s everyday Food Light, which makes it great when you’re shopping for your ingredients because all of them are in season, which means they’re cheaper and they taste better too!

Everyday Food: Light ISBN: 978-0307718099

Other than that, my favourite food blogger is coming out with a new cookbook on March 13, called Food From My Frontier, which is chock full of simple recipes, and knowing Ree (not personally), everything is going to be delicious!!!! :)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Simple, Scrumptious, Satisfying ISBN: 9780061997181

Cheerio and happy eating! :)