May 25, 2013
11:30 am and there’s already a queue for chef April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig in the West Village. There’s hip hop playing the background, the space is kitschy, fuchsia walls, ceramic pigs and plates hanging on the walls, potted plants by the windows, and the staff are in jeans and baseball caps. Our table, away from the traffic and overlooking someone’s manicured backyard, is perfect.
Chicken Liver Toast. There is so much seasoning (port-madeira reduction, parsley, shallots) that you barely discern any of the liver. That’s a good thing.
Roasted Heirloom Beets. Charred and caramelized to bits. Tasty. Health-feeling if not necessarily healthy.
Seared Mackerel with Crème Fraîche and Mint Vinaigrette. A special of the day. The fish isn’t much, but it all comes together with the mint and crème fraîche.
The Roquefort Burger and Shoestring Fries. It turns out that Roquefort is not only a blue cheese, but blue cheese made from sheep’s milk, thus combing two of my least favourite tastes in the world into one: products from members of the bovidae family and strong cheese. I take one bite and set the monster aside. Leo’s palette enjoys it far better than I do, but we both agree that the cheese is overwhelming and inhibits the natural flavours of the beef far too much. An American burger it isn’t.
The Spotted Pig
314 W. 11th Street, Manhattan | Website
February 7, 2013
A part of me felt irrationally sad when Hoof Café closed two years ago. With it went the bone marrow doughnuts, foie gras brioche French toasts, beef tongue grilled cheese, pig tails and grits, and all the dishes that made weekend brunch in Toronto exciting and different. It had the charm of robust Quebec, think Martin Picard’s Pied De Cochon and Sugar Shack, combined with a definite Anglo coolness of Queen West hipsters. Needless to say, the lines were long, space tight, and the service harried.
When Jen Agg announced that Hoof Café was back with a new menu, I made it a point to go the next weekend.
We ordered the Fried sweetbreads and waffles (savoury and sweet combo with a green onion waffle and a maple sriracha sauce), Breakfast cassoulet (a heifer of a dish: breakfast sausage, pork belly, duck egg, crispy kale, beans), and a side of Hash browns (crisp exterior with chewy interior, the flavours akin to salt and vinegar chips). It was belly-filling. It was rich. It was good.
I already have plans to go back again to try the Bombay hash. (We don’t know what the Bombay hash is either, perhaps a colonial breakfast variation on Mumbai hash? Didn’t mean to inject politics into this as Bombay/Mumbai is a bit of loaded topic, isn’t it? Yikes. But hey, politics make for exciting conversation over brunch though.)
926 Dundas Street West | Website
December 14, 2012
Canon AE-1 | Kodak Portra 400……Keriwa Cafe from way back.
What are you looking forward to this weekend? Leo is heading off to Los Angeles and Las Vegas on Saturday morning – *womp* *womp*. It won’t be too lonely of a week for me though. Baking sessions have been planned as well as a much needed scheduled brunch with new friends! I might even squeeze in some exercise. Who knows.
Have a happy Friday and stay warm!
August 14, 2012
Robert P. Tristram Coffin waxes great poetics on the virtues and beauty of a good, old British Breakfast. After finishing the last paragraph, it’s impossible not to want to go eat everything he describes. My particular favourite is his talk of tomatoes-and-bacon. It got me salivating for over a month, and I finally decided to make it on Saturday morning.
Your bacon should be cut fairly thick, and it should have a nice balance of lean and fat, such as British bacon has naturally. You fry it, and then when it is all of a sizzle and half done, put into its seething juice small, half-ripe tomatoes, halved, and fry them along with the meat. Stir the bacon and the tomato halves often and baste the skins of the tomatoes with the hot fat. The flavors of smoked pig and tomatoes marry. They become a new flavor under the sun. You turn the rich united sauce upon slices of toast and serve piping hot. The man who gets up from this transplanted British breakfast of mine is a man who could never maltreat his aunts or do any other mean-spirited act.
The sauce is exactly as he describes. It’s definitely a heavy thing and settles right down into your stomach. It gets even more filling when you put it into your baked eggs. The result is just exceptional. Topped with a bit of Harvarti cheese and seasoned with basil, it’s like eating a lasagne without any of the noodles.
Baked eggs, also shirred eggs, are similar to oeuf cocottes; they might be one of the same, except that oeuf cocottes can sometimes be baked in a bain de marie to produce a silkier texture. You fill a ramekins or a shallow dish with whatever you like, it can be the tomatoes-and-bacon sauce or some slivers of ham or prosciutto with cooked spinach maybe, and then pour in a couple of tablespoons of crème fraiche followed by your eggs. Pop them in a preheated oven at 350F for 10 to 15 minutes and eat while still warm! Obviously, depending on how runny or firm you like your eggs, the time will vary and as will the temperature.
April 28, 2012
I met Amy last Sunday for one the most sophisticated brunches I’ve had in a long time. If the food eaten can serve as a harbinger of what to expect for their dinner service, complex flavours alongside an earthy play on textures, I would not mind visiting Keriwa Café again. Though I can’t speak about the Indigenous/Aboriginal influences in the dishes, it definitely tasted different from the usual brunch fare. I really liked it!
Confit Pork Belly, $15 – A hearty little portion of cubed pork belly slathered in a mouth-watering mustard sauce and topped with a sprig of watercress. It sat on a bed of wild mushrooms and caramelized leeks and shallot with red fife toast. Between the mustard and the sweetness of the shallots and the tender pork belly, my mouth was very happy. I would order it again in a heartbeat.
Picnicham Hash, $14 – Two eggs and slices of ham with a side of bright greens, roasted carrots, and elderberries. Amy says it was quite good! It definitely looked tasty.
Hashbrowns, $5 – A bit plain, but a nice addition to the meal. I shamelessly used them to scrape up as much leftovers as I could off my plate.
Americano, $4 – I added cream because of doctor’s order to get as much calcium as I could….aahh…
1690 Queen Street West | Website | Yelp