Sipping & Supping

Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill
33 Yonge Street & Front Street,
Toronto, ON
Ph: (647) 260-2070 or Reserve Online

Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill  on Urbanspoon

It is ages since I enjoyed an incredible dinner at Canoe Restaurant and had wanted to try other restaurants in this group. On this visit I planned to meet a friend to discuss next year's upcoming high school reunion back in Cape Town and a quiet relaxed lunch at this downtown restaurant seemed just the place.

Pour Girl,
191 College Street,
Toronto, ON
Ph: (416) 916-6448

Three of us were meeting for a farewell brunch near the university. We dropped in at Pour Girl on College Street. A sister cafe to Pour Boy, it has an eclectic and really inexpensive menu, and the food is very good.

Having missed breakfast I opted for an omelette. The platter was quite substantial with generous helpings of salad, fries, toast and a hot and tasty ham and cheese omelette. All this for 5.75 - excellent value.

One guest ordered the penne with vegetables and shrimp served in a white wine and cream sauce.

Hair of the Dog
425 Church Street,
Toronto, ON.
Ph: (416) 964-2708

Hair of the Dog on Urbanspoon

It was girls' night out and another farewell event. So four of us crowded around a table at the lively Hair of the Dog for imbibing,  ingesting and intellectual conversation. Well sort of intellectual. The conversation ranged from belly-dancing to feminist film theory with stops on many other topics in beween!

Loire Restaurant
19 Harbord Street,
Toronto. Ontario
Ph: (416) 830-8330  or Reserve Online

Loire on Urbanspoon

Three of us met for a celebratory and farewell dinner at Loire Restaurant. We were seated on the outdoor patio where a light breeze kept us comfortably cool despite the 20° temperature.

After some discussion we decided on a bottle of the 2010 Chinon Rosé from Domaine Bernard Baudry in the Chinon region of the Loire Valley. Derived from Cabernet Franc it was a light refreshing sipping wine and a good accompaniment to the variety of dishes we chose.

We all chose different starters. My pick was the Lobster Bisque. The  other two guests chose an Arugula and Endive Salad served with feta and an Ice Wine dressing;  and the Maple Cider Glazed Pork Belly on flat bread.

The Pork Belly was served on a crispy flat bread with caramelized apple, sweet onion puree and shaved parmesan.  We each had a taste and it was deliciously rich and flavourful. 

I liked the lobster flavour which came through strongly but to me a bisque should be richer and creamier than this soup was. The arugula and fennel salad was substantial and tasty.

After two days exploring the city of Dubai with its towering skyscrapers and golden sand beaches, I checked out of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and my friend Laila came to fetch me for the drive to Abu Dhabi. Depending on where you are going the distance is about 120 km and the road is straight and in excellent condition so the driving time at a reasonable speed is about an hour and a half. For long stretches of road, all you see is sand and scrub, and it is incredible to think how these cities have risen out of the desert.

Several people have commented  after reading my earlier posts, that they had only a vague concept of where Dubai and Abu Dhabi are so I thought I would post a couple of maps to set the stage. Here are the outlines of the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

After tasting Lebanese, Chinese, Indian, and various other Middle eastern foods in Dubai, it was time for a different range of culinary experiences in Abu Dhabi and I had only two days to try them out.

On my first morning we decided to take it easy and have a leisurely start to the day, so our first stop at the Emirates Palace Hotel was close to lunch time. We wandered through the luxurious interior of the hotel and then went out to wander through the grounds.

By lunch time we decided to sample some of the high tea items on the menu at Le Cafe, one of the coffee shops in the lobby of the hotel.

An early High Tea at the Le Cafe in the Emirates Palace Hotel

I have been writing a bit lately about my personal enjoyment of various coffees and my experiments with making my perfect early morning cup. (J is for Java;  and X is for X-ploring the X-Factor in Java). So having not had time on my first visit to Eat! Vancouver 2012,  there  was one thing I specially wanted to check out on my second visit. The coffee-chocolate connection.

On entering  BC Place i headed straight to  the Van Houtte Coffee booth where I thought I might get  some more enlightenment about different blends of coffee. There I wanted to explore what my Coffee Profile was. Did I like my coffee Bold, Velvety or Mellow, and Fruity or Woodsy?  Hmmm. I love my coffee, but I suspect my taste might vary according to mood and time of day.

One of the joys of downtown living is that I can walk easily to events held anywhere from Coal Harbour to English Bay and at our civic theatre complex or sports stadia. This weekend I moseyed down to B.C. Place where the 2012 Eat! Vancouver is on. With my recently acquired K-cup coffee machine and my $12 hand-held milk frother I have elevated my coffee preparation to new levels (J is for Java- and Coffee Addiction) so I was particularly interested to check out the rounds of the Western Canadian Regional Barista Championship that is being featured at Eat! Vancouver this year for the first time.

Because I wanted to leave time to check in at the cooking shows and the Barista contest, I decided to start with a systematic approach to the exhibitor section and do a quick check of what new products were out there and come back later for a more detailed look but somehow I ended up acquiring some stuff, and my bag got really heavy.

Rangoli
1488 West 11th Avenue,
Vancouver
Ph: (604) 736-5711

With an out-of-town visitor who loves Indian cuisine and with tickets to see High Society at the Stanley Theatre, my obvious choice of restaurant was Vijs. But they don't take reservations and there was no way we could get there early enough to get a table, so instead we dropped in next door  to Rangoli, the baby sibling restaurant that also sells packaged and refrigerated ready-to-eat Indian food, from recipes initially developed in Vijs kitchen.

We decided to share an appetizer, a curry and a vegetarian dish to get an overall perspective on the food. Our appetizer choice was  the cauliflower, spinach,onion and potato pakoras with daal. Spicy but not excessively so - I enjoyed them.

As we toured around the city of Dubai, my friend told me that there were excellent examples of cuisine, both Middle Eastern and International, to be found here. We were determined to sample as many as possible different cuisines in the limited time we had. The three restaurants  I visited in Dubai were Wafi Gourmet (featuring Lebanese cuisine) in Dubai Mall,  Zheng He's Restaurant  featuring Chinese fusion cuisine in Madinat Jumeirah  and Khan al Murjan restaurant (featuring Egyptian, Lebanese, Moroccan and Turkish cuisine) at Wafi mall. 

grilled hamour - the local fishWafi Gourmet at Dubai Mall

grape leavesThis meal was with our group of 7 DancersAtSea cruisers who took an afternoon tour with a guide from Arabian Adventures. We had dinner at Wafi Gourmet at the Dubai Mall opposite the spectacular Dubai Fountain.

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