Thursday, July 27, 2006

Touring Toronto: crepes, mayo and more

Newly back from Toronto, I’m anxious to share a few new epicurean discoveries. And while we didn’t head North to eat ourselves silly, that’s pretty much what happened.

Upon our arrival, our lovely hosts Paul and Tiffany whisked us off to a spectacular restaurant, Amuse Bouche. And indeed we were amused when the promised pre-meal nibbles arrived not once, but twice. Our absent-minded waiter appeared with a second round of tuna ceviche and proudly proclaimed its arrival as though we hadn’t just enjoyed the same artfully stacked spoonfuls only moments before. Of course, far be it from us to complain. Edible encore notwithstanding, we enjoyed everything and we’d gladly recommend this neighborhood spot for menu and ambiance.

Sunday night, we grilled steaks at home, content to relax on the deck with tumblers of rye and ginger after a stormy Niagara Falls adventure. We’d stopped at farm stalls along the way to buy fresh corn, tomatoes and raspberries, so scaring up the rest of the meal was an easy proposition at the corner grocery.
While I was slicing tomatoes, I noticed Paul slathering the raw strip steaks with mayonnaise, and by “slathering” I mean slapping a four-fingered scoop of mayo onto the meat and massaging it lovingly into the flesh. He must have noticed my puzzled expression in his periphery because just then he explained that the thick mayo creates a seal around the meat and effectively traps the juices inside. Wow, was he right. With no discernable mayo taste, the finished steaks were dripping with flavorful juices and tender as all get out.

We’ll definitely be using this tip at home.

Sunday morning, we got up early and headed to Pusateri's for pastries and coffee. Croissants were passed up for light, moist cakes fragrant with orange essence. I also had to buy a few vials of candied rose petals because you never know when you'll need them. $60 later we were en route to Muskoka, where Tiffany’s parents have a cozy lakeside cottage. The next few days were rightly spent swimming, fishing, napping, eating, drinking and then eating some more. The high point of this eating came when Tiffany made us her grandmother Mamine’s crepes. She recommended serving them with butter and real maple syrup and warned against drowning them in Aunt Jemima. Done properly, they’ll be crispy around the edges and golden in the center. We can’t wait to make them with lemon and orange butter sauces and eat them all summer long.

Crepes de Mamine

1.5 c. milk
1 c. white flour
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
dash vanilla
1 tsp melted butter
1/4 tsp baking soda

Blend all ingredients except baking soda in blender and let rest for at least 1/2 hour. When you're ready to fry, use a dash of corn or veggie oil along with a pat of butter in the pan. Right before you pour the batter, add 1/4 tsp baking soda to the mixer and blend quickly. Now pour a bit of batter in the pan and tilt the pan quick;y to evenly spread the batter around. When the edges begin to crisp, flip your crepe and serve when golden brown throughout and crispy on the edges. Keep the pan at medium, never letting it get too hot and continually adding more butter. Bon appetit!


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