May 10th was the official end-date of my first attempt at a meat and dairy/egg free existence. This was strategic because I had planned a trip to Toronto and home to the Soo that evening and did not want to skip out on culinary delights of traveling (aka airport food…). It turned out that I wasn’t as ready to jump back into an omnivorous lifestyle as I thought. At the airport I couldn’t bring myself to meat-it-up but did end up with cheese on a panini. Despite 2 instances of meat consumption I more or less stuck to vegetarianism but veganism mostly went out the window for week.
With a few days in Toronto and my brother’s culinary expertise here are my top food moments:
1. Stella’s (Traverse City, Michigan): The whole fan-squad minus the paternal unit drove 3 hours south into Michigan to do some shopping, eating and sight-seeing in Traverse City. The Cherry Capital of…well…at least the mitten state. Our ever-generous mummers treated us to a fancy-schmancy dinner at a local restaurant. It gets much of its charm from the location: the root cellar of an old mental (health) institution. Despite how dank it must sound the place had lovely natural light and comfortable cool air. The menu is printed new daily because the chef makes it from whatever he sources locally that day. We started the meal with house-made fresh mozza. For a main I ordered a ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and amaretti. It was a little on the sweet side from the gourd and cookie filling but was filled out by the tomato sauce and lardo (it makes me feel less badly to use the Italian word). Dessert was two-scoops of gelato in blueberry-basil and salted caramel. Absolutely no regrets and very happy taste buds.
2. Zocalo (Toronto, Ontario): after hearing ShanWow rave about this place (and being unable to get a reservation at Libretto) a mini SLP reunion was held at Zocalo restaurant in the junction area of Toronto. A solid decision on my part. The atmosphere was relaxed and intimate enough to catch up with old friends without feeling rushed. While the food tended to be meat and dairy friendly I found a lovely falafel plate with a sweet-pea hummus that I should have ordered in quadruple portions. The whole idea of the restaurant is to order platters of “deconstructed sandwiches” and then mix and match to construct your own. Win!
3. Bakerbots (Toronto, Ontario): Remember those cupcake shops that popped up about 8 years ago selling cutting edge bacon or cherry buttercream creations for $3.75 apiece? Those are out. I *thought* that fancy donuts were in. Since Edmonton doesn’t have an official fancy-donut seller I was determined to sample one while in Toronto. In a last minute move we raced west on Queen to catch a GloryHole but missed the shop before it closed. My dream would not be realized. Not to fear – JSLPA took that moment to inform me that donuts were, in fact, so last year and the new thing is ICE CREAM SANDWICHES. Here is how it works: select a cookie from 6-8 scrumptious homemade flavours like ginger, birthday cake, chocolate chip, you get the idea. Select one (or two!) ice cream(s) from a list of about 15 made-in-bakery selections. Smoosh together. I went for a ginger cookie with london fog and burnt toffee ice creams.
4. Our House (in the middle of the street): my pop slaved all week to keep us in the health. Minus the night we all indulged in Mrs. B’s pizza because you can’t get pizza like that outside of the Soo. For the final night he fit some tofu into his grilled meat fest but the highlight was the spicy corn. There must be more to the recipe but he basically marinated corn-on-the-cob in sriracha sauce and then BBQ’d it. You must eat this.
5. Our House (in the middle of the street): Even though my little brother has an excellent live-in chef (aka, dad) he hasn’t completely foregone the college student food experience (even if his whiskey selection is top shelf). Small brother treated me to multiple taste-sensations over the week. The most interesting and likely most surprising was the grilled PB&J with banana peppers. I was skeptical enough to request back up in advance but ended up eating the entire sandwich. It shouldn’t work – but it does! To add to the list he whipped up a few ramlettes (ROM-lets) which consist of an omelette with ramen noodles cooked inside. Again, you just need to try it. Lastly (but not leastly) he introduced me to cold brew coffee.
Any favourite college student foods I should try?