Spring Flowers and Bees

Saturday, February 04, 2006

LiveReport - Winterlicious in Toronto (part 1)

"Ding!" Fresh from the oven! =)

Welcome back to my LiveReport. This post is titled so because I have just arrived from my 2nd Winterlicious adventure and still a bit soaked with rain. But I'm so eager to share with you guys how my dining (well it was only lunch) experience was.

Our (or, should I say "my") choice for this year's Winterlicious is Cafe Boulevard. I know, from the name only, it doesn't really depict anything about the type of cusine they are serving. But during my search for Winterlicious restaurant I happened to browse through their menu offering. And I was surprised that it was a Peruvian Restaurant! At the same time I thought, wow it's great, I never tried Peruvian food ever in my live! Intrigued by uncommon food names, I called them up to book a reservation. (by now you should be able to tell that I'm an adventurous person, with food only!)

Unfortunately, the weather wasn't so agreeable today, Toronto was drenched in flurries then rain. Hwever, the atmosphere of the restaurant really helped overcome the winter blues. At a first glance, the restaurant seemed tiny, then we were escorted to upstairs and were seated on the couch. Yes, it's tiny and cozy! I like it!

Since I've read the menu days ahead, I knew what I wanted and went for it. I took a bunch of pictures for each dish, from the appetizer straight up to the dessert. If you don't mind, I'd like to share them one by one. Take is a tour to increase your culinary knowledge =)

To begin my late lunch, I ordered Choros al Limon (Steamed Mussels in Spicy Lemon and Dill Sauce), so did Mr. W. Then my sister ordered Soup of the Day, which was Pureed Sweet Potato. I wasn't that impressed by the appetizers because it doesn't really tell much about what to come (i.e. the main dish). It was generally good, the lemon sauce was spicy from blackpepper and I can barely taste the dill (which I guess was a good thing because I don't like the smell of dill). As they mentioned in their website, the main color in the appetizers is yellow. And the soup was obviously yellowish orange.

Main Course
I knew right from the start that I wanted to have fish. After the waitress informed us that the Pescado del Dia (Catch of the Day) was tilapia, my heart gave a happy leap. The rest of us ordered Lomo Saltado, which was
strips of flank steak sautéed with onions, tomatoes, aji, peppers and wine served with yukon gold fries and vegetables.

I was amazed! The fish marinated with wine and spices then grilled then topped with tangy mango salsa brought back a lot of memories. This dish tasted almost like traditional Indonesian fried fish, Pesmol. It also reminds of Thai food with sweet and sour mango topping. Hmm, interesting! On the side there were a sidedish of fried potatoes, grilled tomatoes, and salad. I quite like the salad, especially the dressing, which I can't really describe except that it's mayonnaise-like with more kick. I was contented with my choice althought the piece of tilapia was quite small. I liked the mango salsa a lot, with chopped peppers and cilantro, it was pleasant.

I also sampled the other dish, Lomo Saltado, served with rice. The strips of steak was pretty juicy but not well-marinated. The sauce was alright, but (again) I can't tell what it was. I guess it was partly the juice from the steak as it was sauteed. One comment from Mr. W to keep: "The rice reminds of the coconut milk rice back home (a.k.a nasi uduk)." Woa, it appears that Peruvian cuisine has a lot of similarity with Indonesian and Thai cookings. Interesting...

Here comes my most favorite part! The menu in the Winterlicious site said that it's going to be a daily selection from the chef, I like suprises (but not any other kind of surprises)! The choice were, Leche Casada (Creme Caramel) and Key Lime Pie. I choice fell on Key Lime Pie and I got Mr. W trying the Creme Caramel. The presenation was lovely, so was every bite of my Key Lime Pie ^_^ I've never had key lime pie before in my life and I feel like describing it to myself. So, it was crust-based with custard-like filling and a dollop of whipped cream on the side. Simple as that, but so YuMMy!

As usual, I sampled the other dessert. I thought it was just usual creme caramel pudding, but this one's different. It was not too sweet and I can really taste the burnt sugar (a.k.a caramel). I was also accompanied by hot milk tea (sugarless, as it goes better with sweet desserts). All in all, it was good and I'm happy with my choice =)

By the end of our lunch, I've come to realize a few things.
First of all, I gave myself a conclusion that cumin was used a lot in Peruvian cooking because it was in the air from Appetizers to Main Course. By all means, correct me if I'm wrong.

I also flipped through their usual menu and found an interesting yet unfamiliar sauce name, "aji mirasol" (pronounced a-hi mirasol) . Then I got out of my comfort zone and asked the waitress if she could describe that particular sauce. She said it's a sauce made from a kind of pepper. Then I researched on Google and found a short explanation here. Too bad, I can't describe in detail how they differ from other kind of chilies although the aji itself existed in Lomo Saltado. Sorry guys! Any help would be welcomed though =)

I was curious with the bread, why aren't they serving us bread like any other restaurant would? (i.e. Mr. Greek and Old Spaghetti Factory) So I asked if I could have some, and I got charged for it -.-" I wasn't very informed, wasn't I? I just assumed that it was complimentary. I didn't even know it was a cornbread, it was just its rustic look that appealed to me. The crust was think and crispy (real exercise for your jaws) and the centre was kinda dense and a bit creamy. Hm.. sounds nice, doesn't it?

Finally, I'm no restaurant expert AT ALL! I rarely eat out and when I eat out like this, I couldn't explain why on my bill I was charged for gratuities while our party was less than 6? Is it the same as "tips"? I didn't dare ask because then I would look and feel bad. Well, I sound really unknowledgable right now! But hey, I learned a lot of new language and culinary knowledge today!

I hope you all enjoyed the pictures, I was trying my best to take as much as possible. Have a pleasant stay!


Anonymous esther said...

oh God.. I am drooling now just by looking at those pictures! *wipe keyboard* but I am surprised you guys actually ate a lot, considering how skinny you guys are :D.. If you really like mussels, I can recommend you an italian restaurant (but the chefs are chinese and they use wok to cook the pasta) on queen street.. it's called "one of a kind" and I really like the pasta because some of the pasta have chinese taste, which is really interesting.. you can google the location.. or just ask me abt it, if you're interested :)

10:36 PM  
Blogger strawberry said...

Hey Esther,
The pasta place sounds interesting. I've been to Qeen St. W a lot but never seen that one. Perhaps it's on the other side of Queen St.
Btw, I hope other than the pictures the posting itself is interesting =p

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Ivonne said...

Hi Ceendy!

First of all, great photos!

Secondly, I've eaten at The Boulevard Cafe (in the summer), and I think it's a great place. They make excellent mojitos so I recommend you go back in the summer.

Your review was incredibly detailed and thorough. Excellent job! I look forward to reading more reviews on your site ...

11:39 PM  
Blogger mg said...

Hi Strawberry,

Wow, you had all that delicious food and still had room for dessert - fantastic. Especially how you can keep yourself well slim! I love the look of those desserts especially the last one. MMMMMMM.

And the tilapia! i'm drooling over the photos... i wish i was there lunching with you. Great review. Keep it up!

5:58 PM  
Blogger strawberry said...

Thank you all for liking my review ^^
I have a lot of other (cheaper) restaurants I've visited. Maybe they're coming soon!

Ivonne - thank you for your advice. Fortunately I'll be here for the first half of the summer. So I can possibly go have lunch at Cafe Boulevard again ^^

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Tania said...

Hi, Ceendy ... Thanks for dropping by my blog!

I've eaten at The Boulevard Cafe a number of times, and each time has been a delight. They had a delicious appetizer of fresh corn and basil steamed in a banana leaf that I simply HAVE to order every time I'm there. I'm surprised they charged you for the cornbread -- perhaps that is a Winterlicious thing? Anyway, you must go back in the summer and dine on their gorgeous, flower-lined patio open; you'll find it hard to believe you're in Toronto!

4:09 PM  
Blogger strawberry said...

Tania - Woa, steamed in banana leaf? Seriously?! That's so like Indonesian food! I'll surely come back to Cafe Boulevard in the summer and try what you and Ivonne recommended me!
This year's Winterlicious turned out to be so exciting ^^

8:29 PM  

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