Sunday, May 31, 2015

Block's Pizza Deli

Thin crust, thick crust, Chicago style, or pan, pizzas come in many styles, shapes and flavours.  Traditional tomato or piled high with toppings, many of us love and eat way too much of this heavenly treat.  Now I have a few favourite spots in Montreal for great pizza, but one place in South Beach does it so right its a sin.  Blocks Pizza Deli on Washington between 14th and 15th street knows what good pizza is and they serve it up right each and every day.



A three hundred year old starter for the dough is probably what makes this place stand out from other pizza joints but it also doesn't hurt that they only use fresh ingredients and never ever freeze anything. The diversity of their pizzas and pizza-like food is also very creative and totally delicious.  Blocks (square slices) of pizzas, perfectly executed calzones and delicious pockets (sandwiches) are what keeps me coming back to Blocks Pizza Deli year after year.  



A dash of tomato sauce, shavings of parmesan, prosciutto di parma and arugula are all the ingredients that make up my favourite Blocks pizza.  The crispy crust is not thin but not a thick crust either.  It's crispy and dry yet fluffy all at the same time.  The flavour is unlike any pizza dough I have ever had.  It has a deep rich dough flavour and perfectly compliments the delicious sauce and all their various toppings.



The Italian meatballs at Block's are home-made, spiced right and totally scrumptious. In a calzone or on a block of pizza, these meatballs are the perfect topping.


Prosciutto POcket and Meatball pizza


Sun-dried tomato hippie pocket

Pockets are Blocks Pizza deli's answer to a sandwich or a panini.  Every visit I order the sun-dried tomato hippie pocket (olives, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach and basil pesto), but on my last visit, they added a new prosciutto pocket so obviously I had to order it.  The crispy, crunchy pocket dough filled with prosciutto di parma, feta and mozzarella cheeses, tomatoes and of course loads of arugula was so good.  So good, I felt as though I was in Italy. 


Capri Calzone

The capri calzone is filled with silky fresh mozzarella, Block's fresh made tomato sauce and just the right amount of fresh basil.  The calzone is so big, so hot and so delicious.  Each bite screams freshness and begs to be eaten over and over again. 

Eating at Blocks' so many times, I've become friendly  with the owners and have begged them to open a franchise here in Montreal.  Originating from Verona Italy, this husband and wife couple are planning to expand and I for one cannot wait till it happens.  If you ever find yourself in the area, I highly recommend stopping in for a quick bite.      

La Sandwicherie

There is a clear and definite art to making a good sandwich.  Our society has become ignorant to this fact because of places like Subway, whose so called sandwiches are filled with chemicals and pure garbage ingredients.  A good sandwich is probably one of my most favourite things to eat, and that's why when I'm in South Beach, La Sandwicherie is always a must.  



Tucked away on Collins Cres. and 14th, this little takeout window is where all locals and people who know good sandwiches eat.  Lineup or grab a seat, depending on the time of day, order up any of their many sandwich combinations and watch the artists at work.   There is no joking here, this is no American sandwich, the owner knows the trick to making delicious sandwiches.  Growing up in Lyon France, he learnt a thing or two about good food and brought that back with him to South Beach.  My first time trying this place was a few years back and ever since that first bite, I haven't been able to get this place out of my mind.



Fresh French baguettes, buttery croissants, and delicious wheat breads are your options to start your sandwich.  Pile on the various gourmet cheeses, specialty meats or vegetarian options and boom, you got yourself a Sandwicherie sandwich.  My two favourtie sandwiches are the roast beef and the prosciutto.  I dress them up differently every time, but I always stick to those two popular treats.  


The roast beef lays a top delicious fresh baguette with a double cream brie, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, hot peppers and French cornichons (little pickles).  There is only one little problem I have with this sandwich, it is way too big to fit in my mouth!  The tender thin but not too thin slices of roast beef and creaminess of the brie cheese are just a perfect combination.  The rest of the toppings takes this simple sandwich to a whole new level.  Then, drizzled all over this goodness is a French vinaigrette.  A little dijon twist to a regular vinaigrette, this sauce brings the whole sandwich together.  



Another of my go to sandwiches is the prosciutto with fresh mozzarella.  The prosciutto cut thin and piled high and the soft buttery cheese is complimented beautifully by the fresh toppings and killer vinaigrette.  Something about the dijon bite from the vinaigrette and the delicious prosciutto makes this sandwich a killer.  I can eat this all day every day and never get sick of it.  Change up the cheese and its a whole new sandwich every time.   



A good sandwich is one of the best comfort food ever invented.  Nothing can cheer me up from a bad mood quite like a sandwich can, especially one from La Sandwicherie.  I can`t wait till my next trip to fill up on more sandwicherie goodness.  


La Sandwicherie on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 24, 2015

SUWU again, Oh Yesss!!!!

Food is the love of my life.  Eating it, talking about it and making it all brings me so much joy.  Some people think I am insane, while others totally understand my obsession.  One person I know who completely understands my love for food happens to be, in my opinion, one of the most talented chefs I have ever come across.  Antony Nassif, chef at SUWU, has the ability to create the most creative and flavourful dishes from the simplest and of course freshest ingredients.  The way his mind works to create dishes and flavours is mind boggling. I don't know where his ideas come from but boy oh boy are they tasty.  Over the past few weeks, I have frequented SUWU quite a few times as I cannot get enough of their delicious food.  


I don't really know where to begin as I feel that my words will not do SUWU's food justice, you just have to try it for yourself.  There are no words to describe the flavours that I have consumed over the past few weeks, but I am going to try.  It all started a few weeks back, I had a rough day at the office and needed to decompress.  My co-worker, who happens to be a really good friend of mine, and I decided we needed good drinks and good food to make up for the awful day we just endured.  I suggested SUWU and off we went.  Besides the food, the best part of SUWU is that they do 5 @ 7 properly, drinks are half off!  Now for me that can be very dangerous, but I knew my friend would drive us home if I had one too many - LOL!  

It was quite busy when we arrived so we opted to sit at the bar, which happens to be my favourite place to sit.  As we sat down, we were greeted immediately and ordered up some drinks.  As always, I ordered the East side, a gin cocktail with mint and cucumbers, while my friend opted for a bourbon cocktail.  We sipped our drinks and decided on what to order; tuna tartar, fried chicken steamed buns and some pogos - we needed the junkie food!  





The tuna tartar arrived and as I took my first bite, I kind of melted.  I had never had such a deliciously balanced tartar.  The flavours on the plate were absolutely perfect and complimented the delicate flavour of the tuna beautifully.  My friend and I both agreed that this tartar was definitely the best we both had ever eaten - seriously!








My friend did not love the fried chicken steamed buns as much as I did.  She does not like hoisin sauce, I know I didn't understand that either, but I thought this dish was awesome.  The chicken was perfectly cooked and spiced, crispy, not greasy and perfectly moist.  The soft pillowy buns were just right and I ate up every last bite.  I have to say that the service has greatly improved from my last visit.   The waiters, waitresses and bar tenders seemed to be on point and enjoying themselves.  I was quite pleased.  





We were sitting and drinking our second round of drinks when the chef himself decided to bring us out a special dish that wasn't even on the menu yet.  This was a really special treat and I must admit, I loved the special treatment.   The dish, as I describe it, is a bacon lovers dream.  A large beautifully cut and crispy piece of pork belly surrounded by delicious English peas and a tasty aioli was my undoing.  I don't know what he did to this dish but it made me weak at the knees - spectacular!  The bacon was perfectly crispy and fatty, the peas were scrumptious and the aioli was just right.  I loved this dish and wished it would never end.






I was full by the time the pogos arrived, but I had to at least try one right?  Crispy, greasy and oh so yummy.  The perfect bites to go along with a delicious beer, or to devour after a long night of drinking.  I managed to stuff one more down the hatch before succumbing to a deep food coma.    


I went home that evening dreaming and planning my next return.  I knew that SUWU would be launching a new menu soon and couldn't wait to taste it.  Like clockwork, the following week I was back to try dishes from then new menu.  


My friend and I arrived around 8ish and grabbed two seats at the bar.  The chef came to say hi and asked that I not order anything as he wanted to send dishes out for us to try - So exciting!!!  We ordered up some drinks and watched the chef at work in the kitchen.  





The first dish to arrive were mini falafels.  I love falafel but I had never had ones as delicious as these.  Crispy mini falafel balls dressed with dice cucumbers, tomatoes, a deliciously tangy sauce and fresh herbs.  These three bites were heavenly, we both really enjoyed them. 





I was so excited for the next dish as I watched it coming closer and closer to me.  The Angry Lobster sub looked anything but angry to me.  There is no way to pick this up and eat it, so I grabbed my fork and knife and dug right in.  The lobster was buttery and perfectly cooked, each bite reminded me of my first lobster experience in Maine.  The garlicy buttery "sub" roll was the perfect vessel for the spicy peppers, eggplant and of course the large buttery chunks of lobster.  I loved this dish!





Next a plate of salmon crudo quickly arrived.  The salmon was dressed with a surprising twist, a tahini dressing.  I loved it.  I never would have thought to add a middle eastern influence to a crudo, but wow did it work.  The beet salad, crisp radishes and ramps worked perfectly together to compliment the delicate salmon and tahini.  It was at this point in the meal that my friend truly understood why I am slightly obsessed with SUWU's food.  He could not get over how delicious and creative each dish was.  He agreed with me that this was probably the best meal he had ever consumed.



The place was really busy again that night, but I noticed how attentive the staff were and they seemed to have it all under control.  The bartenders were so busy, that I even felt bad ordering another drink, but before I could, the lovely bartender placed another East side in front of me - what service!





After my third East side, I was so stuffed that I thought I could not possibly eat another bite.  All of a sudden I had two delectable soft shell crab tacos in front of me.  I had no choice but to take a bite as soft shell crab is one of my favourite seafoods.  The crab was flawlessly prepared; tender and crispy.  I could not finish both tacos, so I opted to just eat the crab as it was way too good to waste.  





My friend and I sat there digesting and drinking a bit more.  I was slowly surrendering to a massive food coma when we were offered a small bite of desert - ok, why not!  A small (thank goodness) piece of Guiness chocolate cake materialized and at first bite I was not sure if I liked it.  It wasn't sweet, it definitely had a strong hint of beer and I could not tell what the light mousse was on the side of the plate.  We both decided to try another bite and we were sure glad we did.  The cake was super moist and at second bite, we decided we actually liked the cake.  


We polished off the cake and then it was really time to go.   I have to say, the kitchen is definitely on point.  They know what they are doing and boy do they do it well.  The food they produce is creative, delicious and definitely leaves you wanting more.  The chill vibe at SUWU also plays an important role in making it a such an enjoyable and comfortable place to kick back with a fun drink and delicious food.       
SuWu on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Celebration at Kyozon: Happy 3rd Blogaversary A Famished Foodie™

Every year on April 14th, my friends and I celebrate another year of A Famished Foodie™.  It's really an excuse to get together with great friends, drink ourselves into oblivion while stuffing our faces with scrumptious food.  The past two years we've chosen to have fun at pizzeria's, this year we decide to go with a little Asian persuasion.  Eight of us met up at Kyozon around 8pm for dinner and drinks to celebrate the 3 year milestone.  




I had been to the Kyozon opening and had wanted to return so I thought why not return for my Blogaversary.  We arrived and had a round of drinks at the bar before heading over to our table.  As we sat and glanced over the menu, I couldn't help but notice how awfully expensive the menu was.  I did not expect this at all.  $14 for a roll of sushi, it better be good.  We ordered up a bunch of dishes and continued drinking and chatting waiting for our food to arrive.  


The first dish to arrive were the edamames we ordered to snack on while we were still looking over the menu.  The two dishes were placed in front of us and as we all dug in, we seemed to all have the same unpleasant reaction - Salty!  The edamames were so over salted, it burned each of our throats as we ate them.  We quickly called over the waiter and asked that new edmames be brought as the ones we were served were inedible.  He returned with two new dishes and set them down on the table.  This time the edamames were completely salt free, not exactly what we asked for but much better than the first batch.  



The drinks kept coming and finally the food began to arrive too.  I started my meal with some Dim Sum, Siu Mai's to be exact, filled with the promise of pork, shitake mushrooms and water chestnuts.  As I bit into the dumpling, I found it to be tasty, but no sight of the mushrooms or their flavour.  Their was something lacking in this dish, it wasn't awful but I definitely will not be running back for these.  



The next bite I took continued the Dim Sum theme,  Gyoza's filled with black cod and shrimps.  I was excited for these dumplings.  I thought the combination was brilliant and couldn't wait to see how Kyozon's chef executed this dish.  The dumpling were mediocre at best.  The wrapper was chewy and a tad hard, the filling was mediocre at best.  There was no flavour and I could hardly tell what the filling was.  


After the first two dishes, I couldn't help but worry about the next dishes to come especially since my guests were also not impressed with their dishes. The "Prawn" toast was next on my radar and this dish definitely disappointed.  The toasts were basically burnt and tasteless - shame!



The peking duck Bao's arrived and even though I though they were way too large, they weren't half bad.  The flavour was there, but slightly too sweet.  Out of all the dishes I sampled that evening, this probably was the best one.  The duck was covered in so much sauce though, that I could hardly tell what it was.  Charging $12.50 for this dish was a little insane, it would have been better to serve two smaller version for the same price!



After we finished the duck bao, it was time to sample the sashimi.  I don't even remember what we ordered, but I do remember they had no toro, no uni and so we were left with the basic options (salmon, ikura and I think octopus).  Nothing really to write home about, totally basic and nothing special at all.



The sashimi was disappointing and I knew at first glance the sushi would be too.  A few of us ordered the spicy tuna roll and none of us enjoyed it.  I found the spicy sauce too overwhelming, not because it was too spicy, but because it completely masked the flavour of the tuna (and whatever else was in the roll) and left you guessing what was really in the sushi.  A good spicy tuna roll has a sauce that compliments the delicate yet delicious fish, not hide the fish - truly a disappointment.  





The manager sent over some desserts for the table and they all looked delicious.  This was the highlight of the meal, besides the drinks!  The frozen berries with hot white chocolate were simple and delicious.





The chocolate lava cake was fluffy and not overly sweet, I like it and so did most people at the table.  The green tea ice cream was a nice touch to compliment the rich dark chocolate.



Then came disaster, for me at least.  I happened to be quite tipsy at the point and didn't even think to examine the white chocolate cheesecake for the one thing I don't eat, Bananas - Yuck!  Who puts bananas on a dessert anyways unless its banana flambé?  Well as I bit into this cake I thought I was going to be sick!  Now, I have no idea if the cheesecake itself was good or not as I was preoccupied with trying not to gag at the table, so gross,  but my friends seemed to like the cake a lot and finished it quite quickly.  Guess that means it was actually good!



Even though dinner was quite disappointing, we had a wonderful time at Kyozon.  The drinks were great and the staff is awesome too! 

KYOZON on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Katsuya @ The SLS South Beach

Dining in any restaurant is always a fun experience, but dining at a high end restaurant is always my favourite.  When in South Beach, I always go a little insane and spend way too much money eating in deliciously expensive places and loving every minute of it.  This last trip down to the sunny beaches of Miami, I joined my friend at one of his favourite South Beach spots, Katsuya in the SLS hotel.  

Arriving on time for our reservations, even though we got a little confused on the way, the over friendly staff at Katsuya greeted us with the traditional Japanese greeting, "Irasshaimase," and seated us at our table.  I was surprised by the greeting as I am used to the welcoming screams at more casual Izakaya's but not at such an upscale place.  I enjoyed it though as it made the staff and restaurant seem more down to earth rather than stuck up and pretentious.  

As soon as we sat down, our waiter and busboy arrived to offer us water and one of their specialty cocktails.  We ordered up a few to start, I had the Kiwi Envy while my friend who had dined here before (a few times to say the least), had the Burning Mandarin.  Our other dining guest enjoyed a glass of white wine.  After ordering our drinks, it was time to conquer the menu and decide what we were going to order.


The kiwi Envy made up of St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, gin, fresh pressed kiwis, lime juice and a splash of sparkling water, was sweet refreshing and perfectly delicious.  I truly enjoyed this cocktail all evening, I think I had four in total.  
The Burning Mandarin was spicy, sweet and also a delicious treat.  You can tell the pride that Katsuya's bartenders take in concocting their signature cocktails.  



After careful consideration, we opted not to order the tasting menu and just order dishes a la carte.  We started with the crispy rice with spicy tuna, one of Katsuyta's signature appetizers.  The grilled rice was very flavourful and topped with fresh delicious tuna and spicy jalapeños.  This dish was three bites of pure perfection, we all really enjoyed it.






As we finished our first bites, another Katsuya signature appetizer arrived, the baked crab hand rolls.  I for one was very excited for these and well, they really did not disappoint.  The hand rolls were over stuffed with big chunks of deliciously fresh and tasty crab meat.  The special dynamite sauce was not spicy but perfectly flavoured and complimented the sweet crab beautifully.  This dish was also truly delicious and enjoyed by all at our table.




Next came the Special Katsuya roll.  As a signature and special roll named after the restaurant, we all had high hopes but were quickly disappointed.  The roll was beautifully presented but tasteless and plain old boring.  We all agreed that this roll was not what we expected and the weak point of the dinner.


It was around this time that the table next to us caused a minor disturbance.  We were enjoying our meal, but a hooligan at the next table started to go ballistic on his date.  We were amused by this disturbance but truly it was uncalled for and embarrassing at such an upscale restaurant.  We laughed it off and joked about it for the rest of the night.  Never a dull moment!





The next dish was yet another sushi roll but this one was really something amazing.  A deliciously fresh spicy tuna roll topped with crispy rock shrimp tossed in a spicy creamy sauce - Ah-mazing!  The shrimps were really the star of this dish and could have been served alone, but on top of the spicy tuna roll, perfection!




As we munched on all the appetizers, we ordered another round of drinks.  As we sat sipping our delicious cocktails, our mains started to arrive.  First came a life changing dish, the Wagyu beef with seared foie gras drizzled with a plum wine reduction.  Three perfectly plated delicious bites of Wagyu were placed in front of us and we immediately dug right in.  My first bite can only be described in one word; Orgasmic.  I can truly say that this dish blew my mind.  



The tender butter-like rare cooked beef was complimented perfectly by the subtle sweetness of the reduction and earthy depth of the foie - perfection!  I really wished that this dish wouldn't end, I would have gladly ate bite after bite all night.  Sadly, all good things do come to an end.





As we sat recuperating from the tremendous food orgasm we just consumed, a delicately plated Miso marinated black cod was set in front of us.  It was the perfect dish to follow the Wagyu.  The cod was delicate and light with the perfect balance of flavours. 









After the black cod, the pièce de résistance arrived, a very large wood cutting board carefully decorated with a delicious and fresh assortment of sashimi.  Delectable bites of Toro, sweet shrimp, fried shrimp heads, yellowtail tuna, sea urchin and more entered our bellies quite quickly.  Every bite was well enjoyed except for one bite of toro, there was some chewiness issue but that was quickly forgotten as we bit into the sea urchin - Uni!



As our plates were cleared and as our forth round of drinks vanished, it was time to consider ordering a sweet treat to end the meal.  I for one am not a sweets lover, but the mention of a doughnut, I cannot resist.  Fresh and hot little doughnuts drizzled with a passion fruit caramel glaze and salted with flakes of sea salt was the perfect way to end a wonderful meal.  I truly enjoyed every bite of our meal at Katsuya, not to mention the attentive and friendly service.  I cannot wait till next year when I can return and enjoy yet another scrumptious feast!
Katsuya on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Ceviche - My Happy Place

South Beach is not only known for hot weather and bikinis, the food scene is quite spectacular as well. There is a very diverse food culture in Miami, especially when it comes to Latin food. From Venezuelan empanadas to Columbian patacones and the delicious flavours of Cuba, Spain and Mexico, South Beach has it all.   That being said, My Ceviche has got to be the best restaurant in town!  Not only is the food consistently fresh, the flavours are what Miami Beach is all about!



For this trip to Miami, I was so excited to land, drop my bags off at the condo and run the 3 blocks to My Ceviche's South Beach location.  I wasn't able to do that as my flight landed pretty late, but the next day like clockwork I was at the counter picking up dinner.  

We ordered a few of our favourites, ok half the menu, and ran back to our place to devour our delicious feast.  Raw tuna tacos, mixed fish ceviche and of course my all-time favourite, charred octopus tacos.  We literally ran home with a delicious bottle of wine and sat and feasted for a good hour - we really took our time!



I am not sure if this is possible as I loved My Ceviche so much last year, but this time I swear the food was ten times better.  It is so refreshing to return to a restaurant and not only consistently enjoy delicious food, but to like the food so much more than you originally remembered.  With each bite, my sister and I felt more and more like we died and went to food heaven - no joke!



Every dish we ordered was fresh, delicious and oh so flavourful, but there is something so special about their charred octopus tacos.  Not only is the octopus always cooked to perfection, the charred flavour is so good I cannot even begin to describe it.  This is a must try dish and hands down the best taco I have ever tasted!  They offer different sauces to accompany your tacos, I always stick to my two faves; salsa roja and their perfectly spicy lime roasted jalapeño mayo - literally to die for!  The charred smokey flavour of the tender octopus harmonized with the pickled onions, radishes and queso fresco, makes for one perfect taco!  



I love raw tuna, it is one of my favourite sashimis and tartar, so I always order some raw tuna tacos at My Ceviche.  The fresh fish is always so perfectly sliced and so delicious.  The mild fresh fish flavour is never overpowered by the delicate toppings; they compliment each other perfectly creating the ultimate tasty treat.  



Ceviche is hands down my favourite way to enjoy fish.  I mean what is not to love?  Citrus, spicy peppers and tasty fish, what more can one ask for?  Aji Amarillo is a spicy pepper used mainly in Peruvian cuisine, but more recently, this pepper started to appear in more and more types of cuisines.  At My Cevishe, Aji Amarillo is the name of my go to ceviche; a mix of citrus juices (lime, lemon and orange), ginger and of course, Aji Amarillo peppers.  




I have trouble describing the flavour that this delicate combination of ingredients creates.  The citrus is not over powering, nor is the spice from the peppers; the balance makes for a perfect and oh-so-tasty dish.  I have eaten ceviches in many restaurants and I keep comparing them to that of My Ceviche's.  For some reason, My Ceviche always wins.  The freshness, flavour combinations and little extras, all work together beautifully creating a superb ceviche treat.





After we devoured each and every bite, it was time to relax.  We sat comfortably satiated from the meal we had just devoured and began planning our next evening's dinner.  Yes, we ate at My Ceviche for four nights in a row.  Must be some kind of record, no?  By my last evening before my departure back to the cold, I had officially become My Ceviche South Beach's favourite and most loyal customer - YAY!  Now if they would only allow me to open one here in Montreal ... 

My Ceviche on Urbanspoon