November 25, 2015

First Impression: Golden Brown

 A few weeks ago I discovered the most adorable Korean takeout joint. I literally barfed in my mouth a bit from how absolutely adorbs this place was. I practically squealed my pants off when I walked into the place.  Every inch of this tiny shop was covered in reclaimed wood and decorated in sweet little doodles done by hand.  
Ran by an incredibly humble and sweet son & mom duo, this is definitely a hidden gem on Barton street. And I mean it when I say hidden. The windows are all covered up and there is no sign at the door. How do you find it? It's right beside the HAVN art gallery. Got it?  
First off, they make their own kimchi. I'm not just talking cabbage but the works - mustard greens, two types of radishes, pear, parsnip, cucumber - so many to choose from! The one that stood out the most was the pear kimchi. It was so good it blew my socks off! The rest of the kimchi had lots of flavour and packed really good heat too. 

My buddies Jeannie & Salar (from Meat Ventures) recently discovered them and are now using Golden Brown's homemade kimchi at their poke bar (which if you haven't tried yet - you should! These guys hit it out of the park with their poke. Check out Pokeh Bar at the Hamilton market #notsponsored) 
The menu is very small and humble. Everything under ten dollars and most items served with white rice and pickled vegetables. The left column is for a small size and the right is large. The food is very much home cooked. Even though I'm not Korean, I feel like I just picked up some grub from mom's house. There is nothing fussy or pretentious about it. Just simple food done well, they clearly take pride in it.
This is the view from the door. Yes it's very small. And yeah, it's cute AF.

First thing we ordered was the Korean Fried Chicken, usually served on a skewer but we asked for it on its own. You also have the option of having it with rice. Jake also said you can order a dinner style KFC combo for two people for $20 

The sauce on the chicken was tangy, spicy, and included all the delicious flavours I love about Korean food. It was incredibly crispy on the outside and the meat (I think it was thigh) was juicy. This is the kind of dish you could keep eating & not realize you're full till about 6 pounds in. I loved the KFC and I'm hoping they'll consider doing bone in fried chicken. I would probably foam at the mouth with excitement if this happened. Or at least have bigger chunks of chicken.
 The Ju Meok Bob were $4 for 3 (top right corner),  we ordered one seaweed and two anchovy. These were nothing to write home about. It wasn't mind blowing - but I wouldn't kick it out of bed or anything. It does make a great snack if you're itching for white rice. They're essentially balls of rice with stuff inside.

The bottom middle was a small Jeyuk ($5) - spicy marinated slices of pork.  I hate to say it, but I can never differentiate the types of spices in Korean food. All I know is that it is either sweet, spicy, or both, but delicious every time. The meat was caramelized nicely and not over done at all. 
Pictured below is the large Jeyuk for $7. There is a bed of rice with pickled cabbage, pork & kimchi radish on the side. For $7 you get two types of veg, a starch and protein?! Are you fricken kidding me? FANTASTIC bang for your buck.
Loved the fact that they gave us different side dishes when I ordered the large Jeyuk and the large KFC meal. This place has some crazy potential and I'm looking forward to seeing them grow. From what I can tell from their instagram, they do a few daily specials and are vegetarian friendly. 
Tell all your foodie friends about this place. It'll be a bitch to find but totes worth it. I hope they put a sign out front very soon. For what I can remember, they are open till 9pm everyday but closed on Mondays. 

Happy Eating! 

Golden Brown 
28 Barton Street East 
Hamilton, On 
Golden Brown Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

November 21, 2015

Baking Workshop with Canola Oil

Watch out EVOO, Canola Oil is back with a vengeance. Canola oil was always something I grew up cooking with, until Rachel Ray came into the scene & she was all "throw a dash of evoo in there" "add a little drizzle of evoo here" And all of a sudden, EVOO was everywhere. But how about we all go back to our roots & love canola oil the way we love Drake.
This past weekend I was invited to a canola oil-inspired farm to food experience. What the heck does that mean? It means the awesome peeps from Canola Eat Well thought I was awesome enough to be invited to this awesome home and eat awesome baked goods all made with awesome oil.  

I mean, check out this gorgeous home. This B&B called Olde Bridge Place is just a few clicks away from St Jacobs Farmers' Market and Elora. The workshop was actually held in the owners personal home.  I can easily imagine myself frolicking through the grass all day long and drinking tea with my pinky up here. It's exactly what I would like The Avocado Farm to be when it grows up. 
Our host for the afternoon was Dee Brun (the owner of Olde Bride Place) and cookbook author of "The Messy Baker" Charmian Christine. We had the opportunity to cook six different recipes; Chocolate Chip & Walnut cookies, Cranberry Pistachio Baklava Pockets, Poppy Seed Bars with Citrus Icing, Crostoli fried in canola oil, Dark Cherry Brownies, and Mini Rum Cakes with Pristine Gourmet Canola (pictured below). 
I grew up in Alberta where you could drive for hours and only see fields and fields of yellow. So canola oil is definitely my jam. 

What I didn't know, was if you replace canola oil with any solid fat that needs to be melted in a baking recipe it becomes healthier (without affecting flavour). You're essentially substituting high saturated fats with canola oil.  

So, you can basically eat as much a you want and still live it up. Just kidding. But it's still much healthier than the alternative - and still keeps your cookies, cakes, and baked goods moist. This was something Charmian taught me, cause I was all "Dude, where's the butter?".  I guess I'm choosing canola oil from now on because it’s local, healthy, & versatile. Did that sound cheesy? I just get excited when I learn new ways to eat more & stay healthy. 
Lets get down to the fun part - the eating! I don't show up to a party unless I know I am going to be fed, and Dee + Charmian definitely delivered! I love a good smorgasbord of sweet & salty.
I'm all about that quality control. No seriously, I was learning tips and tricks left and right I had to make sure the end result reflected what I learned. Clearly Sid (Did I mention they let me bring twinsie along? We were a Belly Monster baking machine!) and me were incredibly focused students all afternoon. 
I've been a long time sweets eater but never a sweets maker, so thank goodness they partnered us with a professional like Charmian whose philosophy is "approachable, inspiring, from-scratch cooking" Key word approachable - she managed to get us making baklava and rolling dough! 

After all the eating, and baking, and more eating we got a chance to see canola oil in its truest form. These little seeds make canola oil! Everyone got a chance to crush these little bad boys too check out the golden goodness inside. Out came this yellow oil, obvi not the stuff you cook with but it was pretty damn cool.

I spent a lovely afternoon learning how to use canola oil to deep dry, brush phyllo dough, use it to make brownies & cookies & bars. AND the whole time knowing I was making a "healthier choice" which, I hate to admit, needs to happen way more often in my life. If you're looking to pick up a copy of The Messy Baker - you can do so here. Three words of encouragement: Piglet Muffins with Caramelized Bacon. Okay maybe that was more than three. 

I ate, baked, laughed. I even got a chance ogle someone else's beautiful home. All in a typical Sunday for the Hungry Gnome! 

This was a sponsored post. All pictures provided by Jeffrey Chan Photography. Opinions, sass, witty one liners provided by me. 

November 9, 2015

Novemburger 2015

All together now, "It's the most wonderful time of the year..." It's Urbanicity's 2nd annual Novemburger.

For the month of November, participating restaurants offer up their most creative burger creations. Part of the proceeds from every burger are donated to the United Way. What's not to love about  stuffing your face and supporting a good cause? Last year 7000 Novemburgers were sold, lets kick butt this year and go for 10, 000. YAS?!   
So, what do you get when you put four foodies & 30 days dedicated to burgers together?! A foodie tour (PART ONE) !! C'mon you saw that one coming right? 

Jen, Ball & Chain, Andrea and myself did a bikes & burgers tour this past weekend.  I know what you're thinking, how am I not dead of a heart attack yet? Well, I'm pretty sure that's in my near future and, we all shared one burger + rode sobi bikes all day, so that's practically a diet compared to my usual dining festivities. 

Here's the run down of what we devoured. 

Jack & Lois Jack & Lois Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato |  7oz lean ground chicken & lean ground turkey patty, house-blend of secret spices, double cream brie, house made apple-bacon chutney, glazed kaiser bun ($16) 

Kudos for straying from the typical beef option. The patty was seared absolutely beautifully and had good flavour. Diggin' the slaw too but what lost me was the bun. I hated it. Completely fell apart and didn't do the rest of the crew justice. #NoCrewLove

The Mule  The Mule Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato4 oz beef patty stacked, fried and grilled tortillas, queso fundido, spicy mayo, mule special sauce, pickles, lettuce, onion, and sesame seeds ($12) 

The Mule's ode to the Big Mac. The picture online looked like there was two patties but what we got was just one patty and one layer of fried & grilled tortilla. It was still a pretty decent portion. They nailed the mac sauce right on the nose. The sauce, sesame seeds and iceberg lettuce were all very nostalgic to the golden arches. Loved the thin crispy patty as well.  That queso fundido cheese sauce is my jam.  I could probably carry it in my pocket and dip just about everything in it. It's definitely not a typical eat with your hands type 'burger' - but it's still a pretty fun dish. If you're a fan of the Big Mac flavours without the Big Mac guilt - this is your jam! 

HAMBrgr | Double patty (4 oz. each), grilled onions, ‘merican cheese, mustard glazed bacon, brgr sauce, iceberg lettuce, classic grill bun ($13) 

If you haven't read my recent review of them. Get Out. Just kidding, not really.

We all agreed this burger was the most "traditional" burger. Of course I'm using that term very loosely cause it was still pretty "gawdlike" as my friend Justin would say. Everything was just oozing sexy. The bacon, cheese, and yas, yas yas to that big 'ol bun. The bun is SO important when it comes to the perfect burger. It held up beautifully up against the other ingredients. A few of us found the burger a bit too salty though.
Serve Ping Pong Bar & Lounge Serve Ping Pong Bar and Lounge Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato | 6 oz angus ground beef patty, aged white cheddar, whisky candied baton, confit cherry tomatoes and a fried egg, house made dill hollandaise sauce, fried brioche bun, served with fries & creamy slaw ($12)

The confit tomatoes were my favourite part, it just worked so well with the beef patty. They were like beautiful little pops of sugar amongst the other savoury items. The hollandaise was a little lost and so was the bacon. Although the candied bacon here is like sweet, sweet, crack, we couldn't taste much of it on the burger. The slaw was the perfect side dish. We all kept going back for more and more.
Although this one was a lot smaller than we expected, for $12 it came with fries and slaw, so a pretty good bang for your buck.
Mezcal TNT Mezcal TNT Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato | Pork Patty with bacon aioli, smoked cheddar chipotle ketchup, and double smoked bacon ($12)

If you've ever been here before you know this place is big on mood lighting. Which is a foodie's worst nightmare. So excuse the shit-tacular pics. But I guess the mood lighting makes sense cause once you see the food, you're ready to suck face with anything that comes out on a plate. Oh crap, did I go too far?
The burger was juicy and messy and all sorts of dirty - which you know around here is a very good thing. The pork was so incredibly juicy and the side jicama salad ($3) was innovative and impressively refreshing. There was little notes of mint scattered throughout and the pops of pomegranate seeds added a nice sweet touch. Also, did I mention how massive it was? 
Nellie James Too | handmade duck burger over savoury bread “bun” with bacon hollandaise (made with bacon fat) and pickled kale salad. A vegetarian version also available with a veggie burger, cambazola cheese hollandaise sauce with a pickled kale salad over savoury bread “bun”($16) 

This is the only vegetarian burger during Novemburer - so heads up veggies, if you want to play along - this place is it. But since we were all meatatarians, we got the duck burger. No regrets, this was a beast. I had it earlier in the week already to be honest. Yeah, twice in one week! 

It's a giant ground duck patty on top of a savoury bread pudding and hollandaise made with pork fat. If you're into ground meat you'll be into this. Especially if you like the flavour of the little crispy seared bits you get when you fry up ground meat. Yum.
One Duke Restaurant & Oyster Lounge One Duke Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - ZomatoTwo patties, fresh ground sirloin, potato cheese stuffed pierogi, applewood smoked bacon, sautéed onions, sour cream, sharp cheddar cheese, sauerkraut and sliced kielbasa. Garnished with arugula, field fresh tomato and diced green onions on fresh potato scallion bun ($14)

This next burger I'm sure, gives all vegans & vegetarians out there nightmares. It just gives me the meat sweats.  I thought it was going to be more shock value than flavour, but dammit was I wrong. Can you believe all of that actually worked together? The sour cream, pierogi, kielbasa, it all worked beautifully together. Slighly over indulgent, but all worth it. I only wish the patties were made thinner, just so the meat covered the whole entire surface of the bun. 
 Acclamation Bar & Grill Acclamation's Bar & Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato | Juicy AAA ground beef with house seasonings, lobster butter and topped with creamy gouda, arugula on a grilled brioche with a citrus caper aioli ($16)

We were going to call it quits at our 7th stop, but we had about 40 minutes to spare so why not throw in another burger?! This was my first time at Acclamation but after Jen told me they have AYCE mussels on Friday, I foresee myself being here more often... like on Fridays. 

I found the burger had really nice salty, buttery, flavours but the surf part was a little missed. The patty was good but not great. But that bun had to be the best looking of the day.  Juicy and big, like the Kim Kardashian of all buns. Big. Round. Juicy. 

Don't think this is the end of my Novemburger Tour - we're hitting up the mountain locations and Hess Village burgers before the end of the month. Watch my instagram and twitter for more #Novemburger. 

Check out the 30+ participating restaurants on the site. Please do not judge the burgers by the pictures - they're all absolutely horrid! (Sorry

Also, not to get mushy or anything but thank you so much to everyone who's been incredibly supportive of my return to blogging. I forgot how much fun it is to write again. Anyways, love you boo. 

HOOOOLD UP!! --- edit 

I had my ninth Novemburger tonight and I had to include it. Fo reals, this is what foodgasm is all about. My eyes are literally rolling to the back of my head and my toes are ... never mind 
Jonny Blonde Jonny Blonde Food Truck Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato | 100% local hand cut beef blade burger, mountain oak Gouda, caramelized onions, baby spinach, grape tomato, crispy prosciutto, chopped sage, roasted garlic aioli and beef demi glaze topped w/hickory sticks ($12)

All the other basic b's can step aside cause this burger hands down has got me head over heals. Hand ground patty, house made bun - well you read the description, it's all the good stuff. Jonny isn't the kind of guy that takes shorts cuts with his food, and you can truly taste it in every bite. I can't event describe how juicy and flavourful the patty was - and that bun <insert unicorn emoji> . I mean, who the $%#& makes demi glaze and then throws it on a burger? - This  effen guy! The catch is, he's only serving it up Tuesday - Friday from 11-3pm in front of his soon to be brick & mortar joint on concession st. So whatever you have to do - get it. 

Happy Eating!