Tag Archives: CHEESE + CARBS

Three spots to support in Toronto now! (Or, lessons I learned from #TOGrilledCheeseFest)

1 Mar

How you experience an event depends on so many variables, some of which can not be controlled by event organizers: the weather, who you are with, how you’re feeling that day. My experience of last night’s Grilled Cheese Fest by Joylister was great : they provided me with a media pass so I was granted early entry and the ability to meet with other food writers and bloggers, have more in depth talks with the vendors and see the space before the crowds arrived. I left before 7pm and stood with friends in the long line outside until they got in – at this point it was still moving quickly! – and gave them tips about how to best take advantage of the set up (my recommendation was two people in two separate grilled cheese lines, and have the others in the group bring them soup and beer as those lines were still short). Lines are a part of food events, right? We’ve all been to TUM and Food Truck events, we know how that works… So I was surprised when I woke up this morning to read about how the event quickly went south after I left. I’m not going to comment everything as I wasn’t there and didn’t see it happen. Instead I wish to share the best of what I had and which places deserve your visit to try their grilled cheese (and soups!), even if it might be out of your way!

Cherry’s top pick :Cut the Cheese and go to the Junction! 

No photo of the grilled cheese as I kept forgetting to take photos before eating it! THAT good.

No photo of the grilled cheese as I kept forgetting to take photos before eating it! THAT good.

The General Kim was the food item that I was most excited about. I wrote about that in my pre-event post. As a huge fan of everything kimchi, it did not disappoint. I  I might have be more of glutton than a gourmande when I went back for … 3rds! (it was all quarter sandwiches,  I swear). I had the pleasure of meeting the Cut the Cheese team back in September at the Foodival before they opened their doors, and I’m ashamed that I haven’t been to visit them in the Junction since they opened. You should go! Great team who is dedicated to what they do. While their Junction location might seem out of the way if you don’t live in the hood they are open till 2am on the weekends, so make a night of it and have grilled cheese for dinner pre-going to the bar and then as a midnight snack! And tell them Cherry from YYZGourmand says hi.

Best surprise soup: The Beaver Beets all!  

Confession: I love Parkdale as much as the next Torontonian but too much of my time spent in the neighbourhood after dark. I have had the pleasure of spending time at the Parkdale spot The Beaver, but only so late that I had no idea that they also did food and cool events like NetFlix Pub Quiz nights!

They might have had the coolest table at the Grilled Cheese Fest as they brought along a little friend.

Ohhai there.

Ohhai there.

Their offering was likely the most nutritious of the whole evening. After so much cheese, I was in need of some vegetables. The soup was very light, which I appreciated after all the cheese, and even if it wasn’t a perfect compliment to flavours which were being presented in the grilled cheeses, it acted as a smooth palate cleanser.

A wonderfully light soup for beet lovers!

A wonderfully light soup for beet lovers!

Good Will Grilled Cheese: CHEESEWERKS

My second favourite grilled cheese of the night goes to a new creation by CHEESEWERKS, titled the ZURICH. Apples and Cheese are always an excellent combination, and this one had the lovely little kick of *figs*! Just the perfect amount of sweetness. I hope it will become a standard on their menu.

They also win the best PR and communication move of the whole event. Not wanting to be taken down with the ship, they are offering a FREE grilled cheese sandwich to everyone with a ticket to last night’s event. Class act, non? Even if you didn’t go last night, or had to wait in long lines, go support them. Or, meet me and the rest of the YYZGourmand team at one of their upcoming Food Fight Trivia nights? Those seem to be well attended and very well organised events.

Were you left empty handed at Grilled Cheese Fest TO? Go take advantage of CHEESEWERK's offer and try the ZURICH.

Were you left empty handed at Grilled Cheese Fest TO? Go take advantage of CHEESEWERK’s offer and try the ZURICH.

My biggest takeaway from #TOgrilledcheesefest? Don’t let a mismanaged event taint your tastebuds for the food and the vendors. Remember that Toronto has some truly inventive chefs who are doing cool things with bread and cheese. Support them by going to their restaurants, eating at their food trucks and telling them if you like what they do.  

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Experiencing deliciousness: Dak Galbi (basically, KOREAN POUTINE!) at Joon’s

22 Apr

If you’ve ever moved far far away from home, you’ll understand the importance of finding culinary comforts while abroad. A few years ago I spent a summer in South Korea. I worked as an English teacher at a camp in Seoul. I had the best time, and if it weren’t for grad school beckoning me home, I would have stayed much longer than just that summer. Eating out was cheaper than buying food and cooking it at home (which I did maybe once in a 6 week period). I consumed more kimchi and bbq pork than I ever expected too (and then downed it all with soju), but I didn’t quite realise how much I missed straight up Western-style carb loading until my friends brought me to eat Dak Galbi. My friend Mike (who somehow ended up with the nickname Peter) ordered for us in Korean so I had no idea what was going on. First, a hot pan on the table was filled with chicken, cabbage and hot sauce and then covered. Not long afterwards the waiter/cook came over and added rice cakes and noddles and mixed that in. A few minutes later he came by and covered this all with… CHEESE!!!!!!!

Seeing this, I was in heaven. My French Canadian brain understood this as “carbs + sauce + chesse = poutine!”. This understanding of the dish was pretty spot on, it was as satisfying as poutine has ever been. Except with poutine, you just use the extra gravy on another dish…If there is leftover hot sauce/curry paste, they fry rice in it. Which just brings the dish over the top (in both flavour explosion and calories consumed). I have never forgotten that meal.

Coming back to Canada, I started my masters in YUL (Montreal) and not YYZ. Montreal has great food, but not a great selection of Korean food. NO ONE offered Dak Galbi. How do I know this? I called every Korean restaurant in downtown Montreal. They said they didn’t have the market for it. I still think they are crazy.

Back in YYZ, I told my friend E about my craving for Dak Galbi. E was the friend who invited me to go to work in Korea with her for the summer, so I was certain that she would know where to go. And indeed she did! Soon after we went to Joon’s (Bloor location) and it’s been our go-to place since. When she asks me if I want to go for Korean, I know she actually means Joon’s. We also like to bring friends who have never been just to see their reactions. Most are skeptical at first, but all are converts to the wonders of Dak Galbi.

And last week we bought a convert (aliceyyz) and another friend (ClemtineDipple!) with us. We ordered the Original Spicy Chicken Dak Galbi with extra rice cakes, noodles, vegetables and cheese. Knowing it would take a while to come, we got an order of vegetable “Joen” (Korean pancake). Joen is a typical appetizer, which you can also get with seafood or kimchi. I wasn’t impressed by the joen – it wasn’t fried enough, was too small and didn’t come with the usual dipping sauce. But that wasn’t what we came for!

The Dak Galbi was, as always, extremely satisfying. Joon’s, as always, was remarkably busy. No one goes for the service or the decor. Everyone is there for the food. It’s a delicious spicy cheesy invasion of your mouth. And who doesn’t want that?!

Joons Korean Cuisine on Urbanspoon