Winterlicious 2015 – MoRoCo Chocolat

This is my second Winterlicious dinner for 2015. I had invited several of BP’s friends to go for dinner and MoRoCo’s menu appealed to most of us. I’ve been there several times when I used to work on Bay and Bloor, and many times after for afternoon tea or high tea. (Not interchangeable) I’ve always had a pretty good experience… I’ve never found the hostess to be friendly like other places but I just chalked it up to the fact that we’re in Yorkville. (Ok, that’s really unfair to generalize like that but I’m being honest in what I was thinking)

So, before I get onto the food, I want to discuss my unpleasant experience before dinner even started. We were on our way there and I get a phone call from two other friends who were early that MoRoCo did not have reservations under my name. For the record, I called ahead earlier in the week because I was unable to make reservations on their Bookenda app on their website. (As an aside, I’m very disappointed they switched over to Bookenda from OpenTable because I’m a few hundred points from getting a certificate) I had spoken to the hostess that day who said that while they cannot accommodate my 7PM request for a table of 8 people for Friday, February 6, she would be able to accommodate 7:30PM. She confirmed and took down my information but I guess she never wrote it down. Or lost it. I don’t really care because at the end of the day, 8 people didn’t have a table for 7:30PM.

Prior to that unpleasant experience, I had in fact, called in earlier that afternoon to speak to a supervisor about a certain request but was put on hold for 20 minutes. I called in again after I hung up with my friend and asked about our 7:30 reservation. I apologize as I may have taken a tone with the hostess. I knew she had her hands tied in trying to accommodate for my group. However, I felt that the entire time she spoke to me, she wanted to make sure that I knew she wasn’t the one culpable for losing my reservation to the point that she asked the time and date that I had phoned in to place blame on someone else. But, I guess she was just covering her ass. The best she could do was push our reservation time. Eventually, I relented and said we would take a 9PM reservation. We came all the way here for dinner, and everywhere else was booked on a Friday night.

I went in to speak to her that a friend of mine has work after dinner and if there was any way they could pre-order her food in the kitchen. She has given us the paper menu for Winterlicious and said we were free to keep it. Things were looking up.

Upon our return for the 9PM reservation, we had taken the liberty of grabbing the same paper menus that were free for us to keep and read it. The hostess returned and yanked it out of my friend’s hand and said that the menus were already on our table. I think that’s a little confusing because she was telling us to keep it earlier. And from what I could tell, we were her last table before it was time for her to leave so she was free to look cross, and treat us as if we had inconvenienced her evening. We were placed in the back with two tables put together. Two oblong tables that were meant for 2 people… for 8.

That aside, the experience after that was OK. Although the fact that we had to wait and the hostess’ attitude did sour the mood.

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A few of the group had the pumpkin soup. This is the soup that first arrived at the table for my friend with the rush request. Notice that there is no bread when the rest of the pumpkin soups came with rock solid french bread afterwards.

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This is the Tuna Tartare. The bread on the left is the same one missing from the soup above. The tartare was good. It wasn’t the best I’ve had.

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For your main, there were three choices. The Artisan Burger, which everyone loved. The sweet potato fries went really well with the chipotle mayo sauce. It was like having all dressed chips! I personally did not try the burger myself but from what I heard, it was delicious.

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I’ve been to MoRoCo before for the High Tea and the Truffle Macaroni and Cheese was part of it. It was exactly as I remembered. Delicious. BP said you couldn’t taste the cheese but I would have to disagree.

No one ordered the salmon.

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Finally for dessert, I had the Adam & Eve which is an apple galette. This is not a galette. It’s apple pie filling in a tart shell with whipped cream. It was OK.

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This is the one dessert I didn’t try. This is the Funfetti cake which is a red velvet cake with a macaron. They are known for their macarons so you can’t go wrong with that. It was the one with the best reviews among the table.

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Finally, the get cherried away. I didn’t order this as 1) I don’t like cherries 2) I am kinda over cheesecake. But I have to say, it was pretty good. It was rich but not overly rich.

Would I recommend MoRoCo?

Yes, with a caveat.

Either make your reservation online or call and double check. That’s just ridiculous. I still think they are pretty good in terms of afternoon tea/high tea offerings. The servers are troopers while the hostesses (not just the one mentioned above) could use some attitude check.

But their store front alone is worth a visit 🙂 See my other review here.

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MoRoCo Chocolat
Website: MoRoCoChocolat.com
99 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5R 3K3
416.961.2202

Winterlicious 2015 – America at Trump Hotel

So Winterlicious and Summerlicious started back in the day when the SARS outbreak scared everyone from leaving their homes – basically. So, this program was to help restaurants provide a prix-fixe sample of their menu to help boost their business. It was such a hit that bot Winter and Summerlicious still exists!

We have people on the “I’m a foodie and I’m too good for their prix-fixe menu” camp and the “This is a great opportunity to try out food at this restaurant”. I have been on both sides of the camp and I know the arguments for both. So my message to foodies – get over it. It’s a fun event and gives people an excuse to hang out with each other. Calm down.

Anyway, my friends and I decided to hit up America at the Trump Hotel. You can find their Winterlicious menu here.

So yesterday, I actually forgot my camera and only had my iPhone 5S with me. And you know how restaurants get really dark. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to take good photos of the food so I called ahead and the manager said she would try and accommodate me. The pictures below are taken by the manager at America, Serena, who took photos of the food in the kitchen with my phone. (you know, I don’t want to be that obnoxious blogger with flash at a restaurant)

As I type this, I’m trying to call MoRoCo to help a sister out but I’ve been on hold for 17 minutes now so they must be insanely busy at 4:30PM….

Just note: For those who are wondering, Stock was renamed to America. And Suit was renamed to Calvin Bar.

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My company has done several events at the Trump Hotel before and I didn’t really love their Art deco furnishing outside but it’s slowly growing on me. But inside America was much more hip.

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For my app, I decided to go with Pressed BBQ Pork, apple mustard, chow chow pickles, tasso ham crackling. It was pretty good. It’s like a cold pulled pork sandwich without the bread. There was also this questionable white powder which I found out was bacon powder.

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My main was Wellington County Steak & Cheek (local), heirloom grits, collard green choucroute, smoked bourbon butter. This was my first steak in over 2 years. The last steak I had was in May 2012 in a restaurant called Cau in Amsterdam. The steak was OK – nothing special. The cheek was too … meaty for me so I apologize about that. (I’m still not 100% on the YAY MEAT IS GREAT train) However, it seems my friends reallly enjoyed the tenderness of the cheek. However, her only comment was that she did not like having to go through the corn nuts to get to her meat. Lol.

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Finally for dessert, I had Granny Apple Sticky Pudding (vegetarian/local), sourdough & maker’s mark bourbon pudding, pecan toffee sauce, pretzel ice cream which is NOT the image above. It was so flippin’ delicious. It wasn’t too sweet nor was it sour at all!! The dessert pictured above is the Peanut Butter Panna Cotta, toasted marshmallow, allspice peanut brittle which my friend got. As much as I dislike peanut butter…I have to admit, this was pretty amazing too!! It was like a PB flavoured whipped cream?!

I would definitely go there again outside of the Winterlicious promo because not only was the food good, America turns into a lounge afterwards with dancers and a DJ.

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America Restaurant
Website: americarestaurant.ca
325 Bay St. 31st floor, Toronto, ON M5H 3C2
416.637.5550

Shiso Tree Cafe

BP and I were due to make cat food on Tuesday so we decided to stop by Japan Town (J-Town) for dinner before heading over to T&T. We obviously bought some buns home and headed to Shiso Tree Cafe. I was not in the mood for ramen and he didn’t want to go to an Izakaya so…

You can find their menu on Urbanspoon here. Pretty simple menu with apps, bread, salads, fries, and pasta. Not only do they serve regular pasta you’ll find at a pasta place (notice how I didn’t say Italian) but they also serve Wafuu(和風) pasta. Basically it’s Japanese style pasta or rather, pasta with Japanese ingredients.

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The meal came with a salad that…neither of us touched.

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First, we tried their Okonomiyaki fries that were raved about on BlogTO. Although, I don’t particularly agree with their blog reviews most of the time, I would have to say that I second their opinion on these fries. They are delicious. It’s basically Okonomiyaki but on fries instead of cabbage.

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BP said this shot looked better so…. here you go.

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This is a half portion of the Shrimp Okonomiyaki Pasta. Well, it also tasted like Okonomiyaki but with more garlic (more punch), shrimp, and well… of course, pasta! It was pretty good! Very different.
We were originally planning on having the fries and pasta as a snack so they were nice enough to divide it into two portions. We were both full by the time we were done.

If you’re around the area, I would definitely recommend that you try it but if you live downtown or somewhere even further away….well…if you want to. There are Japanese style poutines much closer to you. If anything, J-Town is definitely worth a visit. Sure, you can find a lot of the items there at other Asian supermarkets at a cheaper price but there are some Japanese items you can only buy at J-Town. They also have a lot of buns, and delicious bread to choose from. And the cakes!!!!

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Shiso Tree Cafe
Menu
3160 Steeles Ave. East – Unit 1 Markham, ON, L3R 4G9
(905) 479-9319

DIY Cat Treats

As some of you may know, BP and I feed Basil and Princess Caroline home made raw cat food following this recipe. However, our cat treats are still store bought. We try to purchase the freeze dried variety with only one ingredient – chicken or liver but cats get sick of food just like humans so we try to give them variety of other “healthy” cat treats.

BP forgot to take another jar out of our freezer to thaw for tonight so he joked that we should just feed them treats for dinner or even tuna, which gave me a great idea to make my own cat treats. NOTE: We are not actually going to feed our cat purely cat treats today!!

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DIY Cat Treats

Ingredients
1 can of tuna
1 cup of binding agent* (see below)
1 tablespoon of catnip
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 egg

Binding agent – I used half tapioca starch and half potato starch. Okay, maybe a teensy more tapioca starch. I would advise more potato than tapioca.
You could also use other flours but keep in mind that cats can’t really digest them as well. But for treats, I don’t think we can find another solution.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees celsius
2. Throw all ingredients in a bowl and mix well or you could also use your food processor for an even better blend.
3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and place cat treat batter. Feel free to shape it however you like.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes (could be sooner if you use a different binding agent and also depends on your oven)
5. Let cool. Make sure they are properly cooled before serving it to your cats.
6. Keep the rest in a container. Keeps for 7 days.

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While I was making the treats, Basil would keep standing on his hind legs to peek at what I was doing. I guess the smell of tuna is so strong and smells so delicious to cats.

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This is the catnip I used. It came in the Nala themed Meowbox? I think. I just had to take a photo because I love the packaging so much!

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Final product. It was a little too big so I broke it into little pieces and placed it in jars.

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These jars used to hold their raw cat food BUT we’ve recently switched to bigger jars.

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Princess Caroline is so high….

I would definitely try this recipe again and change up the binding agent. I wouldn’t use other canned foods because there’s usually gravy or other additives in there that cats shouldn’t really be having. Perhaps I’ll shred some boiled chicken for them and bake them into treats. Alternatively, you could break apart the tuna flakes and just bake them (without the rest of the ingredients) and serve it as a treat.