Sunday, 26 October 2014

Chef in a Box

181 Brant Road
Saint George, ON 

519-414-2433

In her opinion:
We recently drove by Chef in a Box on our way home from Brantford and I noticed a lot of people standing around what use to be an old gas station. This made me think that something was up...but I just filed the information away. Then friends of ours asked us if we had tried Chef in a Box. Of course the gas station turned "food truck" of sorts. So this last Friday we took the 12 minute drive to Chef in a Box and let me say...it is awesome.



We opted for a few things to try...we ordered the "lobster mac and cheese", "pork belly double cheese burger" and the "baked meatball sandwich". We also added a "maple creme brulee" to our order.

Let me start with the lobster mac and cheese...in a word...awesome. Big chunks of lobster in a three-cheese alfredo sauce with a panko crust. It as creamy, delicious and well seasoned. Most importantly this was a bargin at $10.

The pork belly double cheese burger was juicy and delectable. This was a really good burger. I really enjoyed it.

The baked meatball sandwich was also quite good. This was my least favourite of the three things I tried but when you are comparing it to the deliciousness of lobster mac and cheese and the scrumptiousness of the burger it is easy to see why. Having said that...it was still a really good meatball sandwich.

I am really glad that Edgar talked me into the maple creme brulee.  This was dessert heaven. Incredible smooth and tasty. An excellent creme brulee.

I had an opportunity to speak to the owner/chef, Jason Gibson about his culinary experience and how Chef in a Box is his "retirement plan". What a nice guy. I would say that Chef in a Box is a gourmet food truck with really amazing food. Go give it a try...believe me, you'll thank us for this tip.



In his opinion:
One look at the online menu for Chef In a Box is enough to get anyone that genuinely loves food pretty excited. Then you find out that it's a food truck of sorts, sits on an abandoned gas station and a local chef is the brains behind it and not only the curiosity peaks but your mouth will also water.

Arriving at Chef in a Box you get the idea that this isn't your average food truck and definitely not your average setting for a food truck or establishment. Taking advantage of the old gas stations location is a genius move and maybe one of the reasons why there is always a line up when I drive by it.

The menu boasts some pretty impressive food choices that range from "Lobster Mac and Cheese" for $10, 4 choices of Poutine, Pork Belly and Tur-Duck-Hen burgers and Maple Creme Brulee for dessert. Lots of options that would easily make a "foodies" top choice dishes list.


On a breezy Friday evening, just before their closing time, we decided to get a few dishes to share and a dessert to top things off. Packed in to-go containers, the food was as appealing as if it was served on fine china. The location does have a few picnic tables for those wanting to eat "on the premises".

Starting with the Lobster Mac and Cheese I would say that it was top notch. Generous pieces of poached Lobster laid among the macaroni noodles and the three cheese alfredo sauce. The dish feels light but filling at the same time and it is plenty for a one person serving. The texture that comes from the panko bread crumbs on top put this dish to another level. I would probably find it hard to locate another lobster dish that rivals this one, coming from a food truck.

The next dish was the Pork Belly Double Cheese Burger and overall it is a filling, tasty and well thought off burger. The pork belly comes in the form of a topping to the two flame broiled burger patties. Served on a kaiser bun and topped with onions, pickles and tomatoes, this burger is a joy to eat.

Lastly we had the Baked Meatball Sandwich. This sandwich was my least favourite of the day but was still good. The marinara sauce was actually very good and not overpowering as I usually find. The meatballs made of beef, veal and pork are baked and served on an Italian roll with melted Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses on top. Tasty but missing something to elevate it to the quality of the other 2 dishes.



For dessert we had the Maple Creme Brulee. I really should just leave it at that as the name itself says it all...heaven...but I will point out that it was even better than I expected.

The Good: Great food selection from the most unlikely sources, friendly staff and a great location with amazing visibility.
The Bad: That great location happens to be a drawback as well as many people don't venture towards those parts unless they need to. They need to now...
The Verdict: Truly a "foodies" dream for a quick bite or take-out. A gourmet version of a food truck without the Bistro location that you would expect this food to come from. A must try in my opinion and only less than 10 min south of Cambridge.

I give it 3 1/2 out of 5 Olives as rating

Chef in a Box on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Mother's Pizza

4391 King Street East
Kitchener, ON

519-219-4999



In her opinion:
We finally tried the new Mother's Pizza! I think that for most of us having dinner,  it was an attempt to return to our youth. You see Mother's Pizza once existed in Cambridge before it closed in 1989 and went away for good leaving a lot of people with only memories. 

We were some of those people...when I had heard that Mother's Pizza was reopening and that they had picked the old Kelsey's location as one of their new restaurants, I was thrilled. 

This new restaurant opened in April, 2014 to huge line ups going out the door. That was the same situation six months later. We arrived with some friends for an early dinner and were lucky enough to get a table.



Our server took our drink orders right away...I was glad that they had Coke products, so I ordered my usual Diet Coke. After studying the menu, I decided to order from the Mother's Classics Menu. This meant that along with my entree, I could also have a choice of soup or salad (house, Caesar, or Greek), fresh baked garlic bread and a scoop of spumoni ice cream.

I decided on the Lasagna (described on the menu as onions, mixed peppers, mushrooms, meat sauce, fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese) with a Caesar salad.

The Caesar salad arrived...it came in a small side salad bowl. The salad was actually quite good. The croutons were huge and it was covered in bacon.



The lasagna was nothing like it was described on the menu...I didn't see a single mushroom or pepper or piece of meat for that matter. It was okay...not great...just okay. My homemade lasagna is so much better to be honest. In fact, the frozen lasagna I buy for a quick dinner is even better. Okay, I think you get it...not great lasagna...disappointing is actually what I should describe it as. I just expected better. The piece of fresh garlic bread that came with the lasagna was tasteless...worse garlic bread ever.



The spumoni ice cream was actually quite good. I don't think you can go wrong with spumoni ice cream.



I don't get it. As I was leaving, I looked around. The place was packed. There was a crowd of people waiting to get in. WHY? Was it nostalgia that was bringing these folks in? I can honestly say...it's not the food and I will definitely not be back.

In his opinion:
I will start off by saying that the nostalgia piece was practically nonexistent with me, as I grew up in Europe and only know Mother's Pizza from trying it once in one of the 5 times I visited Canada as a tourist. I recall liking it but then again I practically loved everything about this country growing up, so not a very good gauge.

The structural place is still the old Kelsey's for all intents and purposes, just revamped and with a more inviting feel to it. Lineups and waiting times are still predominant in this establishment as the public seems to still be flocking to it 6 months after it opened.



I was very glad they had Mill St. products and started off with my more than usual Organic pint. As I browsed the Menu I hesitated between choosing between items from the classic menu or just having Mothers traditional pizza. In the end I decided to stick to the classics and ordered the Veal Parmigiana. 


With the classics you get a choice of soup or house salad, Greek salad, or Caesar salad, fresh baked garlic bread and a scoop of spumoni ice cream.
My Caesar salad was very tasty, fresh and topped with big tasty croutons and lots of bacon bits so a great start to the meal.



As my entree arrived, a different waitress yells out Chicken Parmigiana to which no one responded as there was no such order. I proceeded to tell her that a Veal Parmigiana was ordered and she tell me, yes that's what I have in hand. I didn't actually really need to cut into the meat to know that it wasn't veal but I did anyway just to ensure it. They promptly took my plate back and by the time I got my food back from the managers hand, most people at the table were practically done and it's never a good thing to eat your meal alone in a full table.

The Veal Parmigiana was hand breaded fresh veal, fried golden brown, served with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh tomato and fettuccine noodles. I found the veal a bit dry and the cheese melted over it was what was giving it most of its taste. The noodles were well cooked but the marinara sauce was very bland. The garlic bread was not any better, lacking flavour and probably why they push for you to upgrade melted cheese garlic bread.



The spumoni ice cream ended up being the highlight of the meal and was received by everyone in the table with glowing remarks. It was light, fresh, layered properly and very tasty.



Overall the restaurant itself looks nice and given that this was a lot of people's favourite restaurant in the 80's, it will continue to bring massive amounts of patrons, looking to relive those moments of their childhood.

The Good: Our waitress was very attentive and pleasant, the restaurant boasts an inviting and warm atmosphere and the menu is extensive. 
The Bad: Food was not great by any means, mistakes happen in orders but own up to the mistakes instead of trying to make customer eat the wrong food. Every one in our table of 7 was disappointed with the food.
The Verdict: I sat there baffled at why this restaurant was so full and that is all the time. Are we hurting that much for restaurant choices that this is the only thing that comes to mind? Is it still the novelty after only 6 months? Is it the nostalgia of what it represented to people in the 80's? I still would like to try the pizza as it may give me a different outlook on the food served but on this day I didn't so I can only blog about my experience and not what could have been. As I write this blog post the approval rating of this restaurant is down to 26% on Urbanspoon, so I feel like I'm not alone in the disappointment that came from this experience. Maybe what was good in the 80's was just good for the 80's or maybe we just remember things from our childhood differently now that we are "grown ups".

I give it 2 out of 5 Olives as rating

Mother's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Wacky Wings - Brantford

141 King George Road
Brantford, ON

519-750-0555





In her opinion:
I have loved wings since I was a kid and my parents would drive to Niagara Falls, New York to do some shopping. This would inevitably end with the family having lunch at the food court at the Rainbow Mall and an order of the best wings ever. As I grew up, friends introduced me to another Niagara Falls institution - Honey's! Good wings became something that I quickly associated with our friends south of the border...after all, they were called Buffalo style wings! Manny's Wings and Juniors soon showed up. Then our area got Wild Wings and Wings Up! There was no longer the need to drive south of the border to enjoy really really good wings. 

Recently, someone mentioned that Wacky Wings had opened in Brantford...we were in the area and decided to give them a try. Wacky Wings is a family fun zone...there's wings and a video arcade in a huge complex on King George Road. Its clean and new and rather nice.

We were shown to our seats right away and I noticed that it was filled with families celebrating birthdays and other special occasions. We were met by our server who quickly took our drink orders. They serve Coke products so I was a happy girl and ordered my usual diet coke.



After studying the menu, we decided on 3 pounds of bone in wings...that way we could get 3 different flavours to try out and still have wings to bring home. We opted for Medium (the sauce of my youth and my personal favourite), Honey Garlic with Southwest Ranch and finally Smoked Tequila Lime. We also opted on a Taco Supreme Poutine (topped with seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, gravy, drizzled with sour cream and green onions).

The wings are crispy and nicely seasoned. The medium are the orange colour of my youth. With just the right amount of zing. The honey garlic with southwest ranch have a nice sweet and smokey favour to them with the cooling affect of the ranch. The smoked tequila lime surprised me a lot...these were really nice. You could get hints of tequila and lime with every bite. Very very good.

The poutine was really good. The fries were fresh and crisp. The seasoned beef was delicious and combined with the cheese, gravy, sour cream and green onion it was perfection. 

We ended up packing up about a pound of wings to take home but we still managed to find room for dessert. You see, I had noticed that they had something called Sweet Campfire Sticks on the dessert menu. Who can go wrong with funnel cake rolled into "campfire sticks" and fried golden brown, tossed in cinnamon sugar and drizzled in caramel sauce and served with whipped cream. In a word...heaven! Warm, delectable bites of sweet dough. Incredible.

Overall, Wacky Wings is a great place for a family occasion or just getting together with friends. The food is great and the atmosphere is fun.






In His Opinion:
This large complex's front door is oddly on the side of the building but you still can't miss it when driving by as the building is quite large. Wacky Wings reminds me a lot of another local institution - Moose Winooskies. Take away the Moose (and Moose related items) and centre your menu around mostly chicken wings and there you have it, a wing fun complex geared for families.

As I stated, this is a large complex and it's separated into 2 main areas, the Playdium Arcade in the back and the eating area in the front. We will centre this post on the very large eating area that spans 2 floors. Below there are a few separate areas, all with accessible large screens in which you can follow any sporting event going on at that moment. There are tables, booths and an area surrounding the bar for a more pub-ish experience if desired.

We sat in one of the booths and were promptly greeted by an attentive waitress. After putting in our drink orders we went on to browse through the wing extensive menu. There are 100 different flavours for the wings and they are separated by their "hotness", starting with the no heat, then up the ladder with mild, medium, hot and you must be crazy (hot)!

The menu is mostly wings but not just wings. There are also burgers, wraps, ribs, salads and a good selection of each of those. On the drink front, there are over 10 beers on draft and the option of having an 80oz team pitcher, complete with pouring spout and all. I ordered a pint of Mill St. Organic to go with my meal.



To start, we ordered a large Taco Supreme Poutine. This plate of poutine comes topped with seasoned ground beef, green onions, gravy, shredded cheddar cheese and topped with drizzled sour cream. The large version is big, feeds easily two and it was delicious at every bite. Highlights are the fresh ground beef and the sour cream that tops it.

For the wings we selected; 1 pound of "Medium" wings, 1 pound of "Honey Garlic with Southwest Ranch" and finally 1 pound of "Smoked Tequila Lime". The Medium were quite good, with a slight bit of hotness but barely detectable. My favourites hands down was the Smoked Tequila Lime wings. They were crisp, well seasoned and left you with that great tequila flavour after taking a bite out of them. I was not a huge fan of the Honey Garlic with Southwest Ranch, something about that flavour that didn't agree with me, maybe because they are so different than the honey garlic that I'm use to.

The wings were quite filling and we ended up having to bring some home for a snack later on. I should add that the wings were served with carrot sticks and blue cheese.



The Good: Great atmosphere and a huge selection of wing flavours, menu selections and beers on tap.
The Bad: A family outing will not come cheap with burgers starting at $11.99, pizzas at $19.99 ($15.99 for the basic) and wings at basically $1 each.
The Verdict: It's a great place for birthday parties, team gatherings or just a good meeting place for wing aficionados. The capacity is almost infinite given the amount of space and the menu caters to practically anyone.

I give it 3 out of 5 Olives as rating

Wacky Wings on Urbanspoon

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Organic Advocates - Feast of Fields 2014

25th Anniversary
Cold Creek Conservation Area  
Sunday, September 7, 2014


 

In her opinion:
This was our third year attending Organic Advocates Feast of Fields. It also marked the 25th anniversary of this organic food event. As we drove into King on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, we knew exactly what to expect - excellent organic food and drinks and that's what was delivered! Organic Advocates - Feast of Fields event was held at Cold Creek Conservation Area in the Township of King, a beautiful area north of Toronto. We were blessed with gorgeous weather by the weather gods for another straight year.














As we walked onto the field, I spotted some familiar favourites right away like; Steam Whistle Brewery, Mill Street Organic, Bernardin, Wanda's Pie in the Sky, Lailey Vineyard Winery and Forage Restaurant. I was quite excited about what lay ahead. So with my trusty linen napkin and wine glass in hand...we ventured forward.













Everything tasted great; however, as always there was a few favourites that stood out...Ana Olsen who had paired up with Bernardin had lovely white chocolate and black pepper scones with a gorgeous blackberry preserve. Vertical Restaurant's Giocomo Pasquini's grilled albacore tuna crostini with a wonderful tomato, caper and bbq corn salsa was exquisite. The orange and saffron madeleines from Madeleines - Madeleines, Cherry Pie and Ice cream...in a word...heaven. Wanda's Pie in the Sky's Wanda Beaver had delicious Italian Plum bars (OMG). The jerk rabbit sliders from Wild Burger Inc. were also delicious. But I would say that Bruce Wine Bar's potato rosti with smoked trout was superb and probably the show favourite for me.










This year the organizers also put together a silent auction that you could bid on during your tasting rounds. Live music kept playing in the background and it was a great overall experience.











Ana Olsen was this year's celebrity chef and although the website mentioned that Ted Reader was due to be there...I missed the boisterous BBQ king. I can honestly say that I missed the lovely Carl Heinrich or the super cool Albert Ponzo the most...these two added a lovely quiet star appeal and those in the know truly appreciate their talents. I hope they return to Feast of Fields soon.








Overall, the 25th Anniversary of Organic Advocates Feast of Fields was a success. I truly appreciated the opportunity to once again cover this event and experience an afternoon of wonderful food and drink. Here`s to 25 more fabulous years.

In his opinion:
This has grown to be one of our favourite events to cover for all the apparently obvious reasons. When you put together an event that includes some of Ontario's finest organic growers and purveyors, microbreweries, caterers and bakeries, topped off with celebrity guest appearances and cooking demonstrations, the outcome can only be a roaring success.


This year was no exception and Cold Creek Conservation Area was bustling with people ready and excited to be part of this annual celebration. The layout of the event was a familiar one and the main difference this year was the addition of a state of the art outdoor kitchen where some terrific cooking demonstrations were going on. These were being facilitated by some of the attending chefs including Food Network's very own Anna Olson in a kitchen supplied by Appliance Canada.

 



 

As we made our way through the many displays, we were once again reminded of how lucky we truly are in this Province of Ontario to have such abundance and availability of top quality products and passionate organic enthusiasts that continue to enrich our tables, our markets and restaurants daily. 


Some of the usual suspects and favourites were at hand, displaying their products in a very attractive and pleasant way, always ready to explain their products and services. Part of the appeal to this event is exactly that, the interaction with the actual people behind some of the products that you consume daily and the opportunity to experience and engage those behind it. 

 



I will start with the drink suppliers which are a big attraction at this event and I will highlight the return of some of our favourite breweries like Steam Whistle, Flying Monkey and Mill St. Organic Brewery. Mill St. was showcasing their 100 Meredian brew that was a hit with the patrons. The Tom Green Beer displayed by Beaus Natural Brewing Company was also generating quite the buzz and lastly, Spearhead Brewing Company was also a popular stop, especially for their Inida Pale Ale and Sam Roberts picked namesake beer. Henry of Pelham Wineries seemed to generate the most interest in the wine section of things and specialty drinks like Bao Smoothies, Pommies Dry Cider were the talk of the specialty drink town. 





Some outstanding restaurant displays were also at hand, giving us a short but tasty preview of the magic that goes on in their establishments. Special mentions go to Bruce's Wine Bar's Trout Gravelox Potato Rosti, Giacomo Pasquini of Vertical's Albacore Tuna Crostino, Forage's delicious crab cakes, Wild Burgers amazing Jerk Rabbit burger and Maple Cured Pastrami sandwiches by Tundra Restaurants.









A celebrated fixture at this event is Wanda's Pie in the Sky. Not only for the amazing pies created and served but also by the presence of Wanda herself. There was no shortage of public interest for wanting to taste her delicious desserts but also to be able to "talk shop" with Wanda and her crew. 






The event this year was bigger and more varied than ever before. The amount and variety of vendors at this event seems to increase yearly and only get better. This year felt a little less "star studded" as far as celebrity chefs is concerned (even though there were some) but was surprising given that it was the 25th anniversary of the event. In the end, this event is all about the product and the people behind it and less about the flashy celebrity chefs, even if they do play a part in the event's success.





Forage Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Wanda's Pie in the Sky on UrbanspoonBruce Wine Bar on UrbanspoonVertical Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon  Wild Burger Inc. on Urbanspoon