Staycation: Summer in the City

Olive loves traveling around the GTA west, unearthing fine global flavours, and sharing her finds with you. Being the #snaphappy girl that she is, Olive loves the instantaneous power of instagram. But those of you who aren’t on instagram are missing out, so here’s a snapshot of her finds from this past week.

As much as she cherishes the time she is lucky enough to spend with family in Muskoka and Montreal, a staycation in the city is pretty nice too.  These boots are made for walking, so that’s just what Olive did this week…from one end of the GTA west to the other.

Georgetown Farmers’ Market with one of my besties on Saturday morning. Read why I love Georgetown Farmers’ Market here: http://olivetoeat.com/2014/07/georgetown-farmers-market-olive-it/

Thiessen Farms #georgetownfarmersmarket #olivetoeat #unearthingglobalflavours #gtawest #iloveartichokes

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And then Jerkfest in Etobicoke with our families Saturday night. What a great night that was!

#isthislovethatimfeeling

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And a celebration lunch at Jamie’s Italian at Square One with my husband and son. How do you celebrate summer?

Guess where I am? #Sauga #jamielove

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Sharing the Love: Saucy in Streetsville’s Small Plates

How did date night with hubby turn into such a bountiful feast? #hungerpains #hubbylove #saucylove. Saucy, you make the best appetizers! It’s hard to choose from the many delicious options, so we ordered a few (a lot) to share and called it dinner. Thank goodness I did most of the talking while hubby did most of the eating. Each bite was worth every calorie.

Top left clockwise:

Braised Beef Poutine: chunks of gooey Quebec cheese curds and tender braised beef in a rich jus over Yukon frites

Pernod Prawns: so decadent and my all time fave. I have raved about before here http://olivetoeat.com/2014/10/brilliant-flavour-streetsvilles-saucy/

Caesar Salad: fresh garlic dressing over crisp romaine. Garnished with big chunks of warm bacon, crunchy croutons, and shaved parmesan

Mussels: poached in a garlic, white wine, and tomato broth and served with grilled bread to mop it all up

Spiducci: skewers of tiny cubes of succulent lamb marinated in Indian tandoori spices and grilled to perfection. Served with mint coriander sauce.

Saucy in Streetsville111 Queen St. S
Streetsville, ON
L5M 1K7
905-542-9600

 

 

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Postcard from Montreal: Restaurant Damas

Need ideas for a trip to Montreal this summer? Feasting at Van Horne Avenue’s Damas is like a magical night in a sultan’s tent. You’ll be charmed by this Syrian restaurant’s opulent but modern décor, attentive staff, and lively ambiance but it’s the food that will blow your mind. Damas serves the best middle eastern food that we have ever tasted – and that’s coming from my husband’s family (who have Syrian roots and have eaten middle eastern across the globe).

You come to Damas to eat, so come hungry. Order the tasting menu, a traditional Syrian mezze of small plates; Damas makes it an outstanding gastronomical experience. The chef will surprise you with his choice of course after course of little works of art: refined, traditional recipes with creative touches that will leave you swooning.  Here are a few instagram photos of the tasting menu we enjoyed recently with our brother and sister-in-law. Sorry the photos don’t do the food justice – I was too busy enjoying the food and conversation to focus.

Cold mezzes started with fattouch salad, finely chopped so that every bite was a medley of flavour: romaine lettuce, radish, tomato, cucumber, sweet pepper, and mint, topped with grilled pita and crimson pomegranate seeds, in traditional lemon vinaigrette spiked with Aleppo pepper and sumac. Isn’t beet mutabbal (a puree of roasted beets and nutty tahina paste) so pretty? Mouhammara is seductive dip of roasted sweet red peppers, nuts, tomato, lemon, pomegranate molasses, and Aleppo pepper. I have a recipe for mouhammara on my blog but I wish I knew how Damas makes theirs divine. The hummus is silky smooth and dead-on delicious, the best hummus I have ever tasted. With house-baked pita, served warm and puffy. I should note that this photo shows the portions I put on my plate and not how the chef plated them.

Oh my god…the best hummus, fattouche, and muhamarra I have ever tasted. And the kibbeh nayeh phenomenal.

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The Arabs have an even better version of steak tartar, called kibbé nayyé: finely minced, top-quality raw beef with bulgur and seven spices. Damas stuffs theirs with mouhammara, mint, and pine nuts, and garnishes with shaved onions and house-made chili puree. A real delicacy.

Kibbeh nayeh… phenomenal

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But we are just getting started. Next in line are succulent proteins grilled over an open charcoal fire.

#youcametodamasyouareheretoeat #syriancuisine #montreal #chargrilled #tastingmenu

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I’ve never been a fan of octopus but Damas chargrills it and serves it with a chickpea salad. My son will be happy to know I now love octopus.

Grilled octopus salad with cilantro puree

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Chargrilled sea bass on a pool of tarator (a sauce made from ground sesame paste, garlic, lemon, and cumin) is already my favourite fish meal but Damas blows it out of the water. Tarator sauce is easy to make at home and pairs especially well with grilled fish but also chicken or beef. I have a recipe for it on my blog (my husband’s family calls it tahina).

The totally unexpected fillet mignon of veal was fabulous: deglazed with lemon, garlic, and Aleppo pepper. Served with confit tomatoes and tiny cubes of crisp potatoes.

Filet mignon of veal. Fabulous

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Lamb chops were dusted with seven spices and chargrilled to sheer perfection, as soft as butter. Served on a drizzle of baba ghannouj (smoky, grilled eggplant mashed with ground sesame paste, lemon, and garlic).

Dessert is not included in the tasting menu but don’t miss the orange blossom baklava ice cream: rich vanilla ice cream perfumed with orange blossom water and spiked with chunks of sticky sweet baklava….heavenly.  And the fresh mint tea is so fresh and minty.

Mint tea how it is mint to be

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Gorgeous glass lanterns are strung across the ceilings. Click the link to the Damas website to see photos of their beautiful interior.

Beautiful ambiance

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There is an outdoor terrace, two rooms, and a bar beside the charcoal grill (which is entertaining in cooler weather but a bit too toasty in the summer). Make reservations well in advance; this place has earned its popularity. The tasting menu is available for entire table only. It’s expensive but so worth it. Make Damas your special night out.

Restaurant Damas
1201 Ave. Van Horne
Montreal, QC   H2V 1K4

Telephone: 514-439-5435
http://www.restaurant-damas.com/

 

 

 

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The 2nd Most Wonderful Time of the Year: Bread & Honey Festival

Just thought I’d share a few pics while I am waiting to take my crew of sleepy teenagers to the Rotary Pancake Breakfast. Our clan has made the Streetsville Founder’s Bread & Honey Festival a tradition since year one – that’s a lot of Hazel-led parades and pancake breakfasts. The Bread & Honey started when I was a kid; all of our Chatham cousins would come down for the weekend for one giant sleepover. We’ve carried on the tradition with my siblings’ children. We spend the whole weekend at the festival or wandering the streets of our happy village and we love it! It’s like a huge Streetsville reunion.

My brother used to start our B&H weekend with the phrase “Lock your windows, the carnies are in town!” and the kids love it when I continue his tradition (all in jest of course because the ‘carnies’ are kind and decent people). Missing a few faces and pay no mind to the lad on the right – he hates it when mom takes his photo…suck it up buttercup.

#menofsteel2016 #breadnhoney #breadandhoneyfestival2016

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The kids enjoy the carnival and every once in a while, Uncle Nagui tries to put on a brave face to join them on the rides. They would like to see the return of the Zipper, the Boat, and the Fireball….especially the Fireball, right Uncle Nagui?

Oh so pretty! #breadnhoney #iloveaparade #streetsvilleliving

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I thought the kids weren’t into the parade this year so we ate our breakfast in the garden, listening to the music from band after band marching along the street. It sounded like the best parade ever; we ran out and caught the tail end and vowed to never miss it again (sorry Hazel, it was a late night).

There are some great food trucks at the festival this year. These tacos were fantastic.

Saturday’s weather was perfect! Hopefully today will clear up but we are going down anyways. Happy Bread & Honey Festival Streetsville! Hope to see you down there today.

 

 

 

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Spirit Tree: Exquisite Wood Fired Pizza

Sneaking in a little instapost about a lovely evening I had last night with a friend at Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, in Caledon. I didn’t plan on doing a post and only took two instagram photos but the food was so good, I have to share.

Friday and Saturday nights (between 4pm and 8pm) are pizza nights at Spirit Tree. Laura and I made plans late last fall to go to Spirit Tree on the first warm Friday evening in spring for their hand-tossed, wood-fired pizza. A drive out in the country and exquisite pizza shared with a friend was the perfect way to celebrate warm spring weather.

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