Two years already??? Absolut(ely)!

2nd AnniversaryHard to believe that it’s been 2 years since superfoodies said: “Let’s Eat!” I mean: “I do”… but there it is… I started plotting our celebration awhile back, and when L mentioned a vague question about what were we going to do, I said I was already on the case! (And that he could have next year exclusively). A good plan, we decided, so that our general nature to surprise each other didn’t result in a clash of events.

Last year was a super fun time at Pravda in Toronto, and I thought it would be easy, fun, to keep up the theme. My plan was to stay home this year, and have a vodka tasting party. And then the choices began… there are so very many vodkas and it was hard to narrow it down to 4, but I managed to choose brands that I thought we would appreciate most, and hadn’t tried before.

Right in the middle of my purchases (which happened over several weeks), L developed a taste for gin… right about the same time that the liquor stores started highlighting the stuff, with big displays!… and interesting, new varieties! Maybe next year… we were committed to our vodka past at this point.

After much research and shopping, I settled on: Pravda (no mistake, a nostalgic nod to year one fun), Chopin, Absolut Elyx, and Russian Standard Platinum. The next step was to make up score cards, since you can’t do a legit tasting without some scoring! After picking up and numbering 4 small carafes and 8 small glasses, my next dilemma was how to get the vodkas into the carafes without me knowing what they were. Kid L to the rescue. She came over and poured, and then wrote up the “vodka key” and stuck it on the basement fridge for us to open when we were finished.

In the meantime, I had shopped for, and then arranged, an awesome charcuterie plate! Meats, cheeses, pickled onions, rye bread, crackers, spicy pickled green beans, olives, asian pear… all of our favourites… which were eagerly consumed during the tasting. I made sure not to look at L’s scorecard and he did the same, so we could have a fair assessment. So how did they all stack up??

1st Place: Pravda, 2nd: Russian Standard Platinum, 3rd: Absolut Elyx and 4th: Chopin. Pravda really was the stand out for sure.

What to do next?? Well, the night was young, many drinks were already consumed, and L was now on clean up crew for all the carafes of poured vodka. Sensing this might be the logical flow after the tasting, I planned for us to make perogies from scratch! A needed and forced break in the imbibing, if you will…

Again I researched, and actually found a vareniki recipe (click here) that sounded very delicious and interesting (note: I did change the filling to potato/cheddar). I sprung the plan on L, and I’m sure that he did NOT see THAT as the next activity, but he sure was happy about it. (we have always said we’d make perogies from scratch) As I started the set up, L continued to scarf the entire rest of the charcuterie platter… and vodka… then he was up, stuffing the dough as I cooked. L is a champion vareniki stuffer, gets waaaay more in than I do! We boiled them and then fried in a whack of butter and onions… yes we did.

They turned out fantastic! Puffier than regular perogies, and as tasty as any I’ve had in a long time. We ate as many as we could, which was considerably less than our usual intake of course, after the giant meat/cheese fest.

It was nice to be home this year, and be able to waddle over to the couch after the remaining vareniki were safely tucked in the refrigerator. What on earth will next year hold??? L… anniversary #3 is in your court 😀

K&L 😀

 

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The place so nice they named it twice! twice!

Burgers & Burgers ArubaHave to get a new post up now to push the previous post out of the top spot, since it has some negativity in it… and it’s been up long enough…be gone! (one post below lol)

Onto one of my favourite things to write about (mostly… I’m looking at you vanishing Snacky’s): Aruba food times!!! On one more sad note, our beloved Rembrandt Dutch restaurant, discovered the previous year, was now under “new management” which definitely did NOT mean “better” management.  So off we harrumphed, into the night, hungry and looking for somewhere to land. We wandered a bit, out of good ideas, new ideas etc… and eventually wound up at a place that we had checked out many times, and always bypassed for some reason. Not because there was anything really wrong with it, it just seemed to be very standard and unexciting.  It sure looked a lot better to us after a couple of growling trips up and down the main strip. What place is this you ask, that finally earned our resigned stamp of: oh I can’t walk another step, let’s just eat here! approval…? As I said, it’s named twice, and even named so in two ways… first way: Dushi Bagel and Burgers & Burgers, and therefore you guessed the second way: Burgers & Burgers.  Hmmm, not sure Burgers & Burgers is the most scintillating name, but dammit, you know what you’re getting… unless you’re there for the bagels, then you know they will be Dushi bagels.  (Dushi is a word in the Papiamento language of Aruba)

Anyway, in we went, and it was clean and elevated from the street a bit, and for some reason they had an Oktoberfest thing going on (guess because it was October, I’m smart like that). Not terribly busy, and luckily that was reflected in the attentive service we received.

An awesome vodka and soda for L and a wine for me were quickly shuttled to the table.  We looked around and got an idea of how this food show was going to go, so L ordered a big double burger with cheese, and some gorgeous (don’t care if they come from a freezer) steak cut fries, and I got an Argentinean burger that came with a side of chimichurri and coleslaw.  The atmosphere slightly removed from the street, but with a full entertaining view, was quite perfect and relaxing as we waited for food to arrive. And it did 🙂 with the fun metal martini (or sundae perhaps?) shaped fry presenter, and big cutting boards with our lovely burgers perched on top. Did they look like prefab patties? Yep! Did we really care? Uh… no.  Did we remember to ask for a big squirt bottle of mayo like we had spotted at another table for our fries ? YES!

(Pictures first of course, now….) Dig in! It was exactly what we needed and expected. Standard goodness, nothing fancy, just good, reasonably priced food, and a really comfortable atmosphere that we would recommend if you just want a decent place to get some good food, hang out, and take in the street traffic… and also consume an entire bottle of mayo on your fries with no side eyes from your server 😀

K&L 😀

The Cheese Stands Alone!

Smoke's PoutinerieWhile in Montreal recently, as per the last post, we were on a bit of a food odyssey, determined to fulfill some of our outstanding hunts for certain dishes/flavours. After having stuffed ourselves on some delicious pizzas at Il Focolaio (recommended!) we headed back to the hotel and started to watch the Leafs (presented without further comment) and after putting on comfortable pants, decided that it was the time to stalk some poutine. Coats back on, out of the hotel we walked… and walked… and walked… who on earth knew it would be so damn hard to find obvious poutine in downtown Montreal????

I’m not sure if I am exaggerating, but I believe we had gone up and down each street over the course of half an hour with no luck.  Ready to give up, I said let’s go down this last street and if nothing, we go back empty handed.  Lo and behold, turned the corner and there was one of the new-ish Smoke’s Poutineries, a recognizable beacon that was also on our list to try (after first seeing it on Eat St.)  Our intention was to have a more local experience, but we had lost the will to continue searching, and here was a chance to cross another place off the list.  In we went.

The long list of choices on the menu was mesmerizing and tough to narrow down, but we settled on the double pulled pork (that’s pork and smoked bacon) and a traditional.  The service was very friendly and fast, the portions were big, no skimping and the prices were reasonable.  Off we set, back to the hotel, with our heavy and aromatic cargo.

We opened the containers, looked delicious! Took requisite pictures of course, then proceeded to dig in, sampling bits of both flavours.  Annnnd, welllll, it was okay… after all it is fries, gravy, cheese, pork! But it wasn’t wow.  We agreed the fries maybe had too much skin still on them, a little too hard, and that’s what we ultimately pegged as the problem. Thumbs up though for the squeeky curds! We polished off the toppings and left the rest, then fell into an immediate food coma.  Couldn’t even finish the little glasses of wine we had poured, but the $3.50 hotel fridge Perriers were very welcome before the blackness set in. 

Now cut to the next day, where after some shawarma and garlic potatoes, we made a very long trek to Moe’s Diner on Lambert for a different kind of poutine experience, as recommended by resident Montreal kiddo. Moe’s is the ultimate hole in the wall and not for the clean obsessed or germaphobes. We ordered one poutine and after a brief wait, we received a paper bag with the old school metal takeout container with the cardboard lid. Perfect!

It was time to set off for home.  The poutine beckoning from the back seat.  At the first stop for gas etc. about 45 mins or so into the trip, the pull to devour was too strong to resist.  Container ripped open and forks in hand, we ate the soft, squishy, gooey contents and felt the satisfaction of the craving that had not been squelched the night before. What Moe’s lacked in appearance in every way (except the container of course) it made up for in the taste that we were looking for in a poutine.  Moe’s was the clear winner! Even the kiddo was scarfing at an unusual rate of speed.  Now you know: the cheese stands alone at Smokes, so you’re gonna want some Moe!

K&L 😀
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