Shopping Spree at Rube’s Rice

If you ever go to Toronto the main Farmer’s Market in the city is held Thu, Fri and Sat at the St Lawrence Market. Plan to give yourself a lot of time to explore the market if you are a foodie, it is huge. I first visited this market about 7 years ago and I fell in love with one particular shop specialized in rice.

correction: South Market open Tue to Sat (food shops) and the Farmer’s Market is on Sat only

© City of Toronto

Lost on an island stand in the middle of a corridor of the basement floor is Rube’s Rice. Rube is the owner and one of the first tenants of the present day market. He specializes in rice, beans, lentils, couscous and anything dried. I was so amazed back then by the exotic selection of rice I bought about 5 different kinds. I always dreamed of coming back one day to this shop.

Alas it took 7 years until I made it back. Not because I has not returned to Toronto since then, I have many times, but because we always ran out of time on the agenda. A couple of weeks back I was again in the Ontario capital city visiting a dear friend. We finally made it back to the market and to Rube’s Rice shop….10 minutes before the closing of the market! It was a mad dash. Kind of funny when you think about it: I am not a huge fan of rice…not the plain white kind.

Well I may have been short on exploration time but I did not waste a minute in grabbing another selection of rices to take home. Next trip -which may very well be in a month or two – I demanded that a real trip to the market with plenty of leisurely time be on top of the outings list. But in the mean time I will share with you my rice finds!

Wehani rice

2 parts water for 1 part rice, bring to a boil and simmer 45 min

Wehani is an aromatic red whole-grain rice from northern California. It was developed from basmati rice seeds from India. Its grains are reddish-brown in color and slightly resemble wild rice. When cooked, the rice produces an aroma similar to that of hot buttered peanuts, and is slightly chewy.

Jade Rice

1 1/2 parts water for 1 part rice, bring to a boil and simmer 20 min

Now this one I was already familiar with and just adore this unique rice. Bamboo rice is short grain white rice infused with pure fresh bamboo juice. When cooked, it is pale green and tends to be quite moist and viscous, causing the grains to stick together. This rice is high in vitamin B, and gives it a flavor and aroma much like that of a green tea.

Madagascar rice

1 3/4 parts water for 1 part rice, bring to a boil and simmer 20 min

The Madagascar Pink Rice, a unique Malagasy rice variety grown from a single seed, has an elusively aromatic taste of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, and is also nutritionally dense.

Volcanic rice

1 3/4 parts water for 1 part rice, bring to a boil and simmer 30 min

Volcano Rice is a mineral and an antioxidant packed blend of traditional aromatic West Java rices grown on volcanic soils rich in magnesium, manganese and zinc. It is grown by family farmers in the Tasikmalaya region of Indonesia.

Israeli Couscous

1 1/4 parts water for 1 part rice, bring to a boil and simmer 9 min

Not a rice but it seems like this couscous is everywhere all of a sudden, especially in the foodie blogosphere. Ptitim is an Israeli toasted pasta shaped like rice or little balls. Outside of Israel it is known as Israeli couscous or Jerusalem couscous. Ptitim were invented during the rationing period in Israel, from 1949 to 1959, when rice was scarce.

Dangerous Dan’s Diner (Toronto)

In my past two posts of my New Year’s trip I only showed you brief glimpses of all the vineyards and various culinary delight and tourist traps we enjoyed. Today I am devoting a whole post to one restaurant, one you would not expect to see reviewed here on Cheap Ethnic Eatz.

It is our last hours in Toronto before we hit the road and head back home. We did our last stop at the LCBO (liquor commission) and are on our way to Little India, considering a spot for a late lunch. After 5 days on the road I am wanting a light vegetable oriented meal but Stef suddenly says to me: ” You know we have been eating bad but man I could go for a hamburger”. Of course I protested but suddenly I see a sign across the street….

Yeah you want a hamburger? Well let’s go to this very rudimentary looking dinner that claims their Burgers are Bigger. I denote a hint of hesitation and fear in his voice but he agrees to go. OK I am a little hesitant too when we walk into Dangerous Dan’s Diner and look at the, a-hum for a lack of a better word, retro decor.

This place is either a dump or an expert at the über cool rundown look: all the chairs are old car seats or banquettes, there are cows everywhere, the grill runs the length of the restaurant where the chef makes his meaty creations, there are cows like EVERYWHERE, we are handed a fold out menu and asked to place our order at the cash first.

See the flying cow hanging over our heads and the hamburger add posters. My two favorites are “22% of Ontarians are Obese. We can do better” and ” While we still have health care”. Did I mention there are cows everywhere? The lady at the cash is very friendly, the chef fits the decor and there is one young but burly man sitting at the back reading a paper. I still am not sure what to make of this place yet. Well turns out that burly man is James McKinnom, the owner, who opened this place in 1999 in honor of his wrestling loving grandfather.

We take a table and start glancing at the menu. Besides burgers you will find all the usual diner fixings such as steak, sandwiches, chicken wings and shakes. But of course burgers are the specialty. The normal burger section (yep there is a not normal section) has 3 categories: the 8 oz fullburger (the SMALLEST one), the Big Section and the Tree Hugger Section (veggie). We both went for the bacon and cheddar fullburger.

Would you look at the height on that thing? It was about 8 inches high! How on earth does one take a bite out of that burger?

Well try squishing it down first as best you can. OK we got it down to about 4 inches. Hmm, open real wide.

This is a (so non) sexy pic of me taking my first bite and the mess on my mouth. But man was it good. I do believe I am declaring it the best burger I have ever had. Best is the meat nicely cooked but still very juicy. Now let’s take a peak at the rest of the menu. I notice with laughter some dishes have a cannabis leaf next to them. The bottom of the menu explains this legend: Recommended for Medicinal Cannabis Users (intended as humor only).

At this point we started a great little chat with James, the owner, during our meal. This is not just a burly man, he is a cool burly dude and this restaurant fits him like a glove (and so does the cannabis mention I’ll bet). The normal burger section does not include anything so we took a peak at the side orders. Poutine Perogies ??? I am sorry I cannot have read that right.

I am from the Poutine world capital (not necessarily a proud achievement) and I get slightly offended for a moment that this Ontarian has spun his twist on MY specialty. But I could not help ordering it. Apparently it was added to the menu after several customer requested this custom order (for sure the cannabis customers again). Well it was a damn good combo I have to admit.

Now about that normal burger section. I recommend you sit down before reading these dish tittles.

24oz Bulls Balls Burger

The Coronary Burger Special: 2 8oz Patties, 4 Slices of Bacon, 2 Slices of Cheddar and a Fried Egg on top.

Collosal Colon Clogger Combo: 24oz burger served with a quarter pound of cheese, a quarter pound of bacon, and 2 fried eggs.

The “McEwan”: 10 oz NY steak freshly ground into a hamburger patty, mixed with beer, shitake and oyster mushrooms, camembert and brie cheese and 4oz pan fried Lobster Tail drizzled with clarified butter.

Yeah I am not going down alone with an embarrassing pic, here is Stef biting into his burger too, HA! This place is definitely a delicious rough jewel in the rough. My only regret is that I no longer had the room to try the dessert I have been dying to try for some time that was on the menu: Deep Fried Mars Bar served with ice cream and whipped cream. Oh well next trip!

Dangerous Dan’s Diner
714 Queen East, corner Broadview
Tel: 416-463-7310

Toronto with friends & dodging Niagara’s tourist traps

Here is one of 2 food posts dedicated to the food we enjoyed on our New Year’s escapade. This one will cover most of what we ate but the second post will be a restaurant review….and just you wait and see this place ha!

Now if you expected a gourmet blog post on Niagara here, well sorry to say you will be sorely disappointed. As I have mentioned before Niagara Falls has the Falls and then a fake tourist trap town filled with cheesy attractions. Now don’t get me wrong….go with the right attitude and you will have a blast. We played a round of glow in the dark mini golf, did a haunted house, went on a moving theater ride, played amusement park type games to win tickets in exchange for trinkets.

Food was tricky though: either you get fast food or you pay an arm an a leg. The middle ground is almost non existent and forget finding a quaint little family run restaurant, it is mostly chains. But we managed pretty well and ate well enough with a few awesome surprises. From the falling apart decor and rickety tables to the nice sophisticated places with modern dining room furniture here is my photo essay on some of what we ate.

First place I MUST mention is Tim Hortons. It is in fact the quintessential road trip food. In Canada this is where you get your coffee and sugar rush. They also serve the cheapest lunch I can think of if you take the chicken salad sandwich combo with coffee and a doughnut…like $5.02 tax in. BUT they are everywhere. They plague the scenery I could not handle seeing one more Tim Horton sign. OK its a chip on my shoulder lol.

Our first dinner was at Tony Romas. Nice place, super friendly staff, house wine is from the Niagara region. We had the all you can eat Beef short ribs for $15.99, a rather unbeatable price in Niagara for the meal we had. I did find the short ribs dry but they are short ribs so hard to keep moist.

Remember how gaudy I said Niagara Falls can be on my vineyard touring post? We here is quite the ultimate expression of it. Next to Burger King is the Frankenstein Haunted house….and the birth of a perfect marketing ploy. I LOVE it!

At the Fudge Factory you can watch the guy prepare the fudge before it is packed into molds. Yes (sorry for this bad joke a head of time) he is a fudge packer! We tried a piece of the Bailey’s fudge, yumm!

And now for the breakfast of champions! I insisted kindly not to be dragged to a chain place for breakfast. We eventually stopped at the Continental Pancake House. This is an unpretentious family style restaurant where everything is made from scratch. The pancakes are HUGE and fluffy, Stef loved the sausages. We we very pleased and the service was so friendly. Though there is a limited all you can eat breakfast for like 7$ since we ordered à la carte it somehow ended up costing about $40 for breakfast. A bit steep!

Our second night here was our fancy dinner. I was not told where we were going as it was a surprise. Where did we go? Red Lobster. Wait I know what you are thinking, but remember this is a tourist town and this is a middle ground price restaurant. I mean our main plates were still like $25 each. We are traveling on a budget here. Red Lobsters left Quebec a while back so for us this is a treat. We each had a triple seafood combo plate, coconut shrimp appetizer, and a MASSIVE pina colada for 2. The shrimps were all excellent but my lobster tale, meh, OK.

Our last morning in Niagara was a late departure and we decided on coffee and a doughnut and just have lunch later. Today we would drive to Toronto for New Year’s Eve to my friend’s place. Of wineries were part of the expedition. But back to breakfast. So we ended up stopping at a place called Country Fresh Donuts on the outskirts of town. A really odd ball place apparently specialized in donuts and Asian sop bowls…and popular and run by Asians. Apparently this is a real local gem. And the doughnuts…the BEST EVER. This was a cinnamon twist I shot in the car. So light and so good. I wish we had bought like a dozen.

Ah, finally made it to my friend Susan’s place were we would welcome the New Year over a home meal. She and her roomie prepared a great cheese themed dinner with homemade macaroni and cheese, a lovely phyllo cup filled with goat cheese, garlic shrimps and a cheese cake. Let me tell you around 3 or 4 am the macaroni and cheese came were back out for second helpings!

And we had lots to drink! Some bubbly with the meal, some bubbly at midnight, a bit of wine and a few cocktails. The last shot on the right is bubbly with a strawberry and a Lindt Chocolate. Sounds weird but is was good. Want to try a new cocktail? This is my new fave:

RedHeaded Slut (I swear it’s the official name)

Mix in a glass 1 ounce of Peach Schnapps, 1 ounce of Jagermeister and top off with cranberry juice.

On our final night we all went for a last dinner before our return home the next day. Toronto’s Chinatown was our destination. Our host would not stop talking about Kom Jug Yuen on Spadina as the best place for Chinese with incredible BBQ pork. Very low key decor and simple place. You MUST have the BBQ Pork. This was the best Chinese food I have ever eaten and it cost 60$ with the tip and tax for 5 people.

I hope you enjoyed the little tour of some of the food I enjoyed over the holiday trip. I will have one more Toronto food post coming, a restaurant review, that you will not want to miss so come back soon. A hint: this place has been called Toronto’s least healthy restaurant.

Banu Iranian Kabob Vodka Bar in Toronto

A little while back I was in Toronto for the weekend. Coincidently a friend from Montreal was also in Toronto. On the Sunday we met up to explore Kensington Market and Chinatown. By the end of our snacking day we were starving!

I had planned ahead. I am not an organizer for nothing. I had searched for ideal places to have dinner just in case! So off we went on a search for a place wayyyyyy to the west of Queen St. We could barely walk anymore when we saw the sign. We made! And they were exceptionally closed that day! Urghh. We decided to backtrack our steps until we found something else. Nothing appealed to us. We almost settled for a shady joint: we were sitting with menu in hand. I got creeped out and we left asap! We were hungry, tired, discouraged…

And then we came in front of this place. Nice looking, sophisticated, Iranian food, fair enough ish prices. We went in and we never looked back. Our savior restaurant was the Banu Kabob Vodka Bar and it was a fabulous meal.

The chic yet modern minimalistic decor was unlike any Iranian restaurant I had ever been too. I loved the place and felt very comfortable.  The colors where white, cream and blue. Behind the bar was an old pic of a young woman obviously having fun at a party 1960s style. It set the tone. From beginning to end the service, done by one young lady, was impeccable.

First thing we did was order a cocktail. We both had the same one as it sounded so unusual. Called Safka, it was made with house infused saffron vodka, sour cherry juice and pomegranate seeds. It was served with a small bowl of pistachios. The cocktail was just perfect, nothing was overpowering.

For our main meal I ordered the Murgh (chicken breast in a saffron citrus glaze) and my friend ordered the  Torsh (beef tenderloin in a pomegranate walnut marinade). Both our meats arrived on the same platter with the traditional broiled tomatoes, a yogurt cucumber sauce sprinkled with ground rose petals, a bowl of sumac to sprinkle on out meats, mint and basil leaves and a flat bread. Both meats were melt in your mouth tender.

And of course we were tempted by dessert. My friend had the almond Baklava Cake which was served warm and was just delicious. I had the Soma Chocolate plate: dark chocolate with nougat, sumac and barberry. It was a huge portion and really different and tasty. I had to doggy bag the rest.

We were more then happily satiated and we both adored the place and our meal. We then slpit up and I headed back to the condo of the friend I was staying with. We had spent the evening apart as she was watching the last episode of LOST with roomate and friends. I regaled my tale of the meal between commercial and they gladly scarfed down each a piece of my chocolate promising to go check this place out. Its really worth the visit.

Banu Kabob Vodka Bar
777 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M6J 1G1
(416) 777-2268

White Trash Poutine Style???

I am back from a weekend in Toronto and in the next days (as soon as A sends me the pics) I’ll have a little post up about my eating adventures. I only have one fancier meal in a restaurant to review but I had tones of interesting little snacks and some exotic fruit tastings! TBC…..

Funny enough Monday I had lunch in a restaurant/bar known for its Drag Queen shows. Although it was lunch an dno show the staff matched the kitsh decor! Our waiter asked if we wanted the home fries, the sweet potato fries….or the white trash poutine style fries. WHAT? That was too funny. Poutine i a famous dish in Quebec and it certainly is not fancy…but white trash? I’ll leave for you to decide.

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →

Toronto Poutine?

I was just forwarded a link to an article about a restaurant chain in Toronto that serves exclusively poutine. Funny enough the person who sent it to me is a co-worker who lives in Toronto but spends every other month up in Montreal (lucky him!)

This place is called Smoke’s Poutinerie.

Poutine from La Banquise

Poutine from La Banquise

Anne Marie Males’ Review says: What you get here is a choice of 16 poutine flavours, ranging from the traditional (gravy and cheese curds only — $5.45 for the small which is plenty big enough and $6.95 for the large) to the exotic like prime beef with sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions or the triple pork, with chipotle pulled pork, double-smoked bacon and Italian sausage.

Now I am not a big fan of this traditionally associated Quebecois dish…but I do get a severe craving maybe twice a year. So I am not the leading authority to give an opinion. You won’t find a food critique here because I just am not right now in the same town nor have I ever visited this restaurant.

BUT…I am miffed on 2 points.

  1. They claim to be ‘the first of it’s kind in the World to quick-serve such a broad choice of poutines.’ Ah Hello, ever been to Montreal. Ever been to Chez Claudette that has about 20 types of poutines. How about Maamm Bolduc and Patati Patata? And lest we forget La Banquise, the quintessential poutine quick-serve restaurant in Montreal with 25 different types on the online menu?
  2. Please take this with humor :-D. One more time boring Toronto has to steal a Quebec idea to help restore its social and food scene to make it more…palatable!

Please, no, don’t throw the rotten tomato at me!

ha ha ha…you missed!

(I have freinds in Toronto who read my blog, the joke is aimed at them…do not take offence lol)

Two Exciting Nights

I am such a tease! Did you know that? Well if you know me in real life you are probably nodding your head right now and laughing.

What does it have to do with this post. Well I am only going to tell you half a story…the rest will be revealed in 2 separate blogs. Tonight and tomorrow night are both going to be really fun foodie nights for me.

Nov 12th: I was invited by a PR firm to attend a food book launch tonight that will take place in a high end cooking supplies store. I am not telling you what the book is about hi hi. I’ll do a blog on that.

Nov 13th: I am going to meet and have drinks with a quite popular Toronto food blogger. She is here for a work convention and we have a narrow 2hour window to spend together. I am taking her for drinks and maybe a bite at L’Appartement. This place right now is the swanky place to hang out at. I’ll do a blog about hat meeting and reveal this mysterious blogger then!

I am such a tease, do you not agree?