Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Nina’s Gelateria and Pastry Shop, Niagara on the lake

If you are ever spending the day in Niagara Falls the Clifton Hill area is not the only place you can go for great desserts.
Niagara on the lake also has many restaurants to choose from as well as shops, parks and picnic areas.
On my last visit to Niagara on the lake I stopped in at Nina’s Gelataria and Pastry shop. At Nina’s not only is all the gelato made in house but it also contains no artificial colors, flavours or preservatives. The gelato is sweet, creamy and the flavours are very bold and fresh. I had the amanrena cherry gelato and the rum raisin.

Scone (frm my camera)
 I also had a deliciously soft blueberry white chocolate scone which was the best scone I have had to date. The scone was moist and cake like with large chucks of blueberry and chocolate.

Nina’s also serves sandwiches, cookies, pastries including cookies and fresh espresso and coffee.
So the next time you visit The Niagara Falls area venture down to Niagara on the lake and stop in at Nina’s.

The Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe, College Street

Taste of Little Italy Festival June 18th 2011

This year I attended the Taste of Little Italy festival that was held on College Street in Toronto. The weather was perfect. There was music, entertainment, games for the kids, and lots of food. I love Italian food and after much debate about which patio to have lunch at we finally decided on The Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe. Although most of the menu is geared towards rich mouth watering desserts, they also have a few other items on the menu to choose from and the patio offers a nice view of the streets activities.

I ordered the grilled chicken panini with mayo, lettuce, roasted peppers and provolone cheese for $6.50. The sandwich was large, filling and very good, although I would have preferred a  bit more flavour on the chicken breast itself.

I also had some Sicilian ice cream and gelato which comes in a variety of delectable flavours. This is a great place to go to for dessert, to have a beer, and spend an afternoon on the patio!
from my camera

Restaurant Blog: Raddica's Hot and Spicy Doubles

The Flavour of Trinidad
By: Erica Davis
June 8th, 2011

Toronto is a bustling metropolis that is infused with multiculturalism and diversified traditions and with this comes an abundance of flavours. Toronto has a substantial population from the West Indies, and West Indian culture is incorporated into our cities lively summer festivals with such events as the annual jerk fest and the colourfully popular Caribana festival now known as The Scotia Bank Caribbean Festival.

Trinidad is an island that gives us calypso music, carnival and a wide variety of tasty foods that are infused with African, Indian, Chinese, Spanish and Amerindian influences. If you haven’t tried a doubles, aloo pie or curry chicken roti then you are missing out on an array of spicy bold flavours that dance on the taste buds and will have you going back for seconds.

While sampling from many different Trinidadian restaurants I look for key ingredients to satisfy my experienced taste buds and bring out the authenticity of Trinidadian food. When I bite into a delectable roti I want images of my grandmother standing over the stove kneading dough and mixing spices to resurface to my mind in a nostalgic yet tempting memory causing my mouth to water. For Trinidadian families food is an important factor that nourishes family bonds and is central to any major event. Although I was born and raised in Canada the Trinidadian culture and strong roots were passed down to me through traditions and food. I would often hear of the large gatherings that are custom in Trinidad where families and friends gather at a river or park and have a huge feast of a variety of homemade Trinidadian food. In Toronto many Trinidadian families still carry on these traditions passing on recipes for generations.

A great place to get authentic tasting Trinidadian cuisine at an affordable price is a small restaurant located in Brampton called Raddica’s  Hot and Spicy Doubles. This small gem is tucked away at the corner of Torbram and Steeles and has a loyal following of regular customers that can no doubt attest to the restaurants smooth, simplistic Caribbean vibe and chutney music; which is music that is infused with Indian and calypso rhythm and lyrics.

Doubles (frm my camera)
On my visit to Raddica’s I decided to purchase one of Trinidad’s most popular foods, doubles. A doubles resembles the Trinidadian version of a sandwich, it consists of two pieces of bara (a fried bread made from flour and peppered with turmeric). In between these golden pieces of bara is a nice helping of chana (curried chick peas in a curry sauce with some spicy chutney).
Admittedly I am a huge fan of a good doubles and have consumed a hearty amount of doubles in my days, but Raddica’s doubles are scrumptiously soft, the chick peas are perfectly curried and complimented with the spicy chutney and they only cost $1.50 each . There is no meat in this dish but with such titillating scrumptious flavours you don’t miss it. Vegetarians will find it to be a meal that surpasses the blandness of less creative veggie dishes, entering the realm of great tasting cuisine. To be on the safe side I’d suggest ordering your doubles with either no pepper or slight pepper because when you ask for hot you may be biting off more than you can chew, Raddica’s homemade Trinidadian style pepper sauce is extremely hot and has the ability to set your mouth on fire. Doubles also comes with a variety of other fillings including curry shrimp and goat.

Chicken roti (frm my camera)
Another popular dish that Raddica’s prepares to perfection is the curry chicken boneless roti, which is also the national dish of Trinidad. The roti is called dhalpuri roti which is flour dough that is stuffed with ground yellow split peas, cumin, garlic and pepper and then the dough is rolled flat and cooked on a flat iron cooking surface called a tava. The roti is stuffed with curried chicken, potatoes and chana and folded so it is easier to eat. The rotis at Raddica’s are flavourful and large. The chicken is tender and seasoned well; the chunks of potato are also blended into the curry making the meal quite filling. The roti is moist and becomes saturated with the spicy curry sauce which is delectable. If you aren’t in the mood for chicken you can always try your roti stuffed with shrimp or curry goat. The roti cost $8.99 and will have you leaving satisfied.

Although Raddica’s sells soft drinks and familiar beverages, if you want to experience something a bit different I’d recommend the peanut punch. Peanut punch is a creamy, sweet, peanut flavoured drink that is popular in Trinidadian cuisine. Raddica’s sells this delicious drink in juice box size. Sipping on cool peanut punch during you meal is like not having to wait for desert.

Kurma (frm my camera)
If you want to finish off your meal with something sweet to balance out all the spicy flavours try the kurma. Kurma is a sweet that was derived from East India and made its way over into the Trinidadian culture. It is made with dough that is cut into rectangular pieces, deep fried and coated in sugary syrup. Biting into the crisp sweet kurma sticks reminded me of a harder version of funnel cake pastry. The kurma is sold per bag for $2.00 and is a wonderful finale to a savoury meal.

Based on my positive experience at Raddica’s I give this restaurant a rating of 4/5 based on overall taste and price. The only downfall I found was in relation to the decor; although the restaurant has a very casual dine-in experience in a very small area, newer tables, chairs and decor modernization would be a nice adjustment.

If you are looking for a tasty meal then try Raddica’s Hot and Spicy Doubles, for an authentic Trinidadian experience.

**Please note Raddica's will be relocating to Queen and Rutherford in Brampton please call to inquire at: (905) 487-0888***

Restaurant Blog: Lahore Tikka House

Tented patio (frm my camera)
Looking for some great restaurants in Toronto this summer? Try Lahore Tikka House on 1365 Gerrard Street East Toronto. You won’t find anything fancy at Lahore as you dine on plastic chairs, tables and picnic benches but what you will find is tasty authentic Indian cuisine. If you like Indian food then you should definitely try Lahore; the prices are reasonable and the tented patio decorated with colourful sari fabrics only adds to the overall experience. Not only are the waiters friendly and hospitable but the food arrives incredibly fast and always simmering hot.
This is by far the best Indian restaurant I have ever been to in the GTA  even though I have to drive into the  busy downtown area to get there. The food is always well worth the trip and the restaurant is always teeming with people as Lahore's fan base continues to grow.

The ordering process is a bit strange, you have to mark down what dish you want directly on the menu and then head over to the cashier to place your order. You are then given a number which you must place on your table before your food is brought to you. At the end of your meal you must again make your way to the cahier to pay for your meal. Although it seems a bit redundant somehow the waiters manage to keep track with impeccably prompt service, and the food is well worth the hassle!

Thus far I have been satisfied with everything I have ordered which includes the biryani vegetable rice, the chicken biryani and the chicken tikka biryani. I have also tried the butter chicken, the mango lassi and the tea. My favourite by far are the chicken or beef kebabs with the regular or garlic butter nan bread.

Chicken and beef Kebabs (frm my camera)

garlic nan bread (frm my camera)

Tea (from my camera)

Biryani veggie rice (frm my camera)

If you love Indian food and haven’t been to Lahore you don’t know what you are missing!!

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