Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cafe Plenty

Cafe Plenty make a coy debut a few months ago. It's winning over a steady clientele with novel and fresh food, a gorgeous interior, and very friendly ownership (greeting many people by name when they entered!).

Carargue Red Rice, Wild Rice and Quinoa with Cranberry, Orange and Pistachio
My personal favourite. I'm actually crazy about red rice. This wasn't very sweet, just enough of a blend.

Heirloom Beet, Watercress, Aged Cheddar and Pear
A fresher version of the classic 'goat cheese and beet' salad, the cheddar adding way more kick. Loved the pickled pears! Everything is made in house, yummy.

Mushroom and Herb Soup
Salty and fresh, the herbs (mostly thyme? And others?) make this less cloying than a lot of mushroom soups I've tasted in the past, with a little onion for balance.

A special salad they had that day, with Israeli Couscous. Big, fat grains!

Ham, Egg and Sweet Pepper Galette and daily special with Sweet Potato, Herbs and Cheese
I didn't get around to trying these, but am meaning to go back! They were the most beautiful things on display. The ham looked like a silk ribbon.

House-made Chocolate chip Cookie
Alas, my sweet tooth. Crunchy cookies with lots of butter. I like the added texture of oat flakes. 

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Reel Eats

I have been yearning to go to one of the monthly food and film events since they began this January. hosted and organized by Mary Luz and Sang Kim (and many others!)

This week has a chocolate theme, and the chef was Bruno Elsier, an unsung hero of the Toronto food scene. So many chefs get their glowing reputations at the helm of this or that hot spot. His history is long and reputable, but not very public -at least not in Toronto. He was referred to more than once as a 'triple threat' for being a master chocolatier as well as heavy hitting savoury chef. The food was excellent! And he did a great job capturing nuances of the story of that evenings film, "Chocolat", staring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp.
Things start to get warmed up. Wines are poured and introductions are made. I get a bit nervous in an unfamiliar crowd, but our server, the lovely Anubha, was very hospitable! Mary Luz also made the rounds, saying hello to everyone, and was extremely kind to seat me at the table with the storytellers - one of the draws of Reel Eats (for me especially) is that the film is played silently on the wall, and curated storytellers get up and share an experience with the diners. So unique!

Remember, everything is inspired by the film 'Chocolat'
'Crazy' Salad with Bacon Bits and Pine Nuts Sauteed in Cacao Butter with Balsamic Honey Vinaigrette and Cacao Nibs.

For each speaker, Sang made a little introduction. He was also offering wines by the glass (and bottle?), though we are allowed to bring out own! As I did.

'Serious Mayors' French Shallot and Lentil Cream Soup with Cacao Butter
I am such a practical person, I loved this soup. A note on all the dishes: very low salt. A shocking and still tasty change! These crusty, airy baguettes were revolutionary.

Mardi of shared my table , as well as our two other storytellers, Dwayne Morgan and Patricia Bradbury (I didn't like the likenesses I got of either of them, so there's no drawings, sadly). She was nervous about her segment, but there was no need to worry- she told a lovely story about becoming Parisian. There was also a super-cute photographer girl who I had so much fun drawing! I loved sitting at a table with such characters and strong personalities. So much to listen to, so much laughter!

Roux's 'Handsome' Bean Cassoulet and Toulouse Sausage with a soupcon of Milk Chocolate.

I was next to Chef Scott of and his partner Tania. So wonderful to be at the same table as her! She was truly graceful about keeping conversation flowing (as I buried my nose deeper in my sketchbook). We shared a moment over having our first real cassoulet. I always imagined them to be thick, but it's actually very light!
Palate cleanser. Incredible.
Armand's Yellow Wine and Goat's Cheese Sorbet with Flaming Armanac.

What a long table! I wasn't in a great place to watch the film, but I was in a good position to watch PEOPLE. And the table....which came in handy when someones menu slipped into a candle, and was halfway up in flames before I got it! I didn't really know how to put the damn thing out, but all was well in the end.
You CAN see Dwayne and Patricia here! Third and Fourth on the left.

Boeuf Bourguinon prepared with Dark Chocolate...

...and Frites with Spicy Chili Chocolate Mayo.

It happened to be Mary Luz's birthday around the event, so we all celebrated with a toast.
Chef Elsier (also hard to draw!) made a crazy, exotic and stunning dessert, but I have not been able to capture it's magnificence by ink.
Vianne's Shades and Heat of Chocolate:
White Chocolate Mousse with Lime
Creme Brulee of Milk Chocolate and Dark
Hot and Spiced Chocolate Drink (more pudding like in texture, though!)

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