Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Word on Toronto: Cava

This past weekend my wife and I travelled to the Great White North. Toronto, to be exact. I have honestly never given much thought to Toronto, and while I know it's not full of Bob and Doug Mckenzie clones, I was surprised to learn that it is the most ethnically diverse city in the world. And what that translates into for me is: a lot of ethnic food.



And that there is. To highlight the diversity there, take a place we visited for a coffee one morning: John’s Italian Café. It had Sanskrit lettering all over the front, advertised Thai food, the specialties for the day were Cuban, the inside looked like a gritty, old Italian bar, the music was salsa and the wait staff looked Middle Eastern. The bad part was that the coffee was horrendous. I mean, like bitter-Sanka-tar bad. In fact, for the first day or so of our 3-day stay we had some pretty bad food. Ethinically diverse, but uniformly bad. We had pretty bad shwarma (which is saying something, because that is meat on a spit), soggy falafel, and below average Thai food that included a peanut sauce that I affectionately referred to as the “spicy diarrhea sauce” (and no, it didn’t taste good).

When you're sliding into home...
 
By the second day we sort of figured it out and we ended up having some amazing food. My favorite was an upscale restaurant north of downtown called Cava. It served an eclectic blend of Spanish and Latino influenced tapas, and also is a charcutería (Spanish for making all kinds of dried and cured meats).  Home-made meat products of any kind are a weakness of mine. When I walked in my knees almost buckled to lay eyes on whole legs of Jamón Serrano and Iberico on the salumi bar. Everything we had there was amazing. From the oysters with roasted tomatillo salsa, to the grilled octopus, Kingfish ceviche, and beef tripe in a roasted tomato and ancho sauce. Incredible. The homemade dried and cured meats were tops too. But the best thing by far was the chicken liver and foie gras mousse. This stuff was beyond good. In fact it is the reason I have bothered to write about Toronto at all in my Denver blog. I miss it already. If this place was in Denver I would move in next door so as to be closer. I would be like Cliff or Norm at the end of bar, except I would be drinking foie gras mousse. When they got sick of me and kicked me out, I would send my wife down to order huge amounts and then I would spread it on my toast every morning. For lunch I would have a mousse and mustard sandwich. After I ate it for dinner, I would have it for dessert as well. Before going to bed I would brush my teeth with it. You don’t think I would, but I would.


Mousse on the left, I miss you...

Anyway. Moving on. Our last day we made it over to Chinatown and had amazing hand-made-from-scratch dumplings. Home made, hand-rolled dough makes a huge difference and these were some of the best dumplings I’ve ever had. A few hours later I ate the best Vietnamese sandwich I’ve had (though Denver has some good ones too—coming soon on this blog). And the highlight of Chinatown: fresh coconut on the street chopped open with a machete. Delicious. With garbage cans on every corner lettered, “Coconuts only”. Damn Canadians. They have the most diverse city in the world and have to rub it in by also being clean, orderly and efficient. 

So in conclusion, Toronto (Cava) is pretty great. We plan on going back (to Cava--over and over) when we can and finish exploring the diverse neighborhoods and eateries (or eat every meal at Cava).

Cava on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Wow...you had a lot better luck than we did. Every restaurant we tried there (even the well reviewed ones) was mediocre at best. Some of the service was downright horrendous!

    ReplyDelete

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