All posts filed under “Food

Canadian Food

It’s been 8 years since my last trip to Toronto and when the opportunity presented itself to visit, I asked my wife to tag along with me. Coming from New York City, it’s a short 90-minute flight via Porter where you can walk to your hotel (which we did). It was a short trip and we managed to do a lot of things including a token trip to Niagara.

Niagara Falls

While we didn’t go there to eat, we still had a chance to try some Canadian food. I was having a conversation with a local on where to eat and they can’t help but snicker at the thought of “Canadian” food. “Oh, you mean Poutine? Peameal Bacon? Beaver tails?”. Yep.


Poutine is Canada. No doubt. While it’s on its way to become hipster fare (it probably is), there’s something about french fries doused in gravy topped with some cheese curds. I first tried it in Montreal then on my last trip, we had it every day. Just because. Then there’s Banh Mi Boys with their Kimchi poutine, where you get fries mixed with Kimchi and some pulled pork.

Peameal Bacon

Peameal Bacon, also known as Canadian Bacon is a briny, hammy piece of processed meat enjoyed over breakfast. It’s served on a bun, although I’ve had it with poached eggs. How does it taste? It’s ham pickled in brine, with a little bit of fat covered in cornmeal. Instead of using pork belly, you get a leaner meat with pork loin. I haven’t had a chance to try it with maple syrup but it goes pretty well with Ketchup. If you’re dying to try it in the US, you can order it online.

This might be blasphemous but you can more or less replicate the peameal experience (with 65% accuracy) by brining lean cut pork chops and uhm, using shake and bake.

Then there’s Hakka Cuisine. Like Chinese American takeout restaurants in New York, Hakka provides you with a full menu of Chinese food with Indian influences. Associated with nomadic Chinese, this particular kind of “Chinese Calcutta” cuisine might be a true Toronto specialty. I had Chicken Pakora, spicy deep fried chicken with hints of cumin, turmeric and chili powder. The food is hot and has pretty amazing flavor profiles.

Towards the end of our trip, we made a last minute grocery run just to try other “native” delicacies. After visiting 4 groceries downtown, we got two tubs of Maclaren’s Imperial Sharp Cheddar Cheese. Manufactured by Kraft, this has a cult following in the Philippines, pairing the crumbly, tart cheese with pan de sal. It has a pretty distinct taste and goes well with any kind of bread – even bagels. We’re just puzzled on why it’s so hard to find, are people hoarding this? Then there’s OMG’s, clusters of dark chocolate, almonds and toffee that we discovered through Bio’s “Food Factory”show (also Canadian). The segment we saw on TV featured migrant Filipiinos working in the factory, sharing their favorite flavors with a demo of their special OMG’s dance. Made by the hardworking hands of our people, we grabbed a couple of bags as well. 3 months after our trip, we’re down to our last bag.

Due to unexplained reasons, you can’t find any Jalapeno Cheddar Cheetos in New York City. Guess what? They have in Toronto. We got 3 bags and couldn’t be any happier.

Platter Porn

I have a strange obsession with platters. The premise is simple, just combine a complete meal (greens, starch and meat) and stuff them all in one plate. While any buffet plate can qualify as a platter, it all boils down to how thoughtful the combination is.

It all starts with breakfast. The Full English is a combination of bacon, sausage, baked beans, toast, a fried egg, half a tomato, mushrooms and a hash browns.

I first encountered Full English via a Flickr group created in 2005 (via lomokev). It’s still active, with a modest community of 346 members.

Full English.

Photo via John Logan/Flickr

Here’s a sad interpretation of Full English, Pinoy style.

Faux Full English - Pinoy Style

Office workers, in the Flatiron area help themselves with lunch platters sold in food trucks. You can get an inexpensive meal of side salad, protein and rice all cramped in a styrofoam container. The vendor finishes the dish with a generous drizzling of garlic sauce. All for five dollars.

They more or less taste the same (except for the 53rd and 6th Halal guys, The Trini Paki Boys Cart in Midtown West). Due to its proximity to where I work, I go to Rafiqi’s with its toppings and their Italian Sausage/Chicken combo.

Halal Guys

Photo via Lulun & Kame/Flickr

To complete our platter day, allow me to introduce you to Colombia’s Bandeja Paisa.

Colombia’s national dish combines white rice, pork and beans, ground meat, deep fried pork belly, fried eggs, plantains, chorizo, arepa, hogao sauce, black pudding, avocado and a lemon. Oh and let’s throw some steak in there while we’re at it.


Photo via Columbia Travel/Flickr

While good for hangovers, I wouldn’t mind having this for dinner. There are a couple of Colombia restaurants in Queens that serve pretty authentic versions of this. As soon as I get clearance from doctor, I’m there.

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I’ve been mulling around the idea of aggregating (even mapping) different variants of Philippine Adobo. While the general concept is in place, I have yet to find time to get things rolling. Maybe with the right people.

Adobo, February 2012

Adobo needs no introduction. While its distinction as a national dish is subject to much debate, these chunks of meat braised in vinegar, garlic and the occasional soy sauce will always be the best introduction to Filipino cuisine.

I got myself a copy of “The Adobo Book” via Amazon. Originally published in 2004, it contains hundreds of Adobo recipes. While I haven’t tried them all, it’s just testament to “hackable” this dish is. This excited me.

There’s way too many stories to share about Adobo. How I once had an Adobo delivery service in Manhattan, or how I still yearn for our cholesterol-laden version at home and how I found the right ingredients in Chinatown.

In the meantime, I’m posting our family’s recipe here.

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Tsos Before Bros

Browsing through Reddit led me to this recipe and somehow linked to this TED Talk.

[ted id=424]

Ever since I moved to the city, I’ve been enamored with “American” Chinese food. It’s cheap (five dollars for General Tso’s with Pork Fried Rice) and ready in minutes. I’ve never been a purist with these things — as long as it’s good then it’s alright.

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