Friday, August 8, 2014

#FoodPornFriday Went downtown for a personal favourite: Terra Cotta

Up late for a Twitter Party and just realized that it's turned into #FoodPornFriday!

This past week my wife and I headed downtown to one of our favourite places to eat: Terra Cotta Pizza.  It had been far too long since we've been there. I think it was a bit over a year ago. Which is a shame.

While I was slightly disappointed that they no longer server Okanagan Spring beer on tap (for some reason it went with their pizza so well) the food was as amazing as ever.

If you dig fresh hot wood oven pizza you have got to check this place out. Call for reservations and head down there on a Tuesday and you can even get 2 for 1.

Friday, August 1, 2014

#FoodPornFriday Take-out isn't just for Pizza and Chinese - India Palace

For this week's #FoodPornFriday post I figured I would feature some take-out. Now normally when people think take-out they think Pizza (especially here in Windsor and with good reason) or Chinese food. Actually we do the traditional take-out often enough that every time we go to order I wrack my brain for something different. 

One of my favourite forms of 'something different' is Indian and the best place to get Indian food in Windsor is: India Palace. This rather tiny place is easy to overlook at their location at 1167 Ottawa Street across from Lansbury Park. I have to admit I've never eaten in there but I do like to get take-out from there.

I became interested in Indian food because of the TV show Red Dwarf. One of the characters, Lister, is obsessed with Curries, specifically Vindaloos. One of the episodes even has the crew fight a Vindaloo monster. At some point quite a few years back I went into India Palace and told them: "I want a Lamb Vindaloo and some other stuff. For someone eating Indian for the first time what would you recommend."

While I don't remember exactly what we got back then, I do know that the meal included Butter Chicken and Garlic Naan as those are the two things we enjoyed the most and ended up on the 'order every time' list. Along with those I still get Lamb Vindaloo every time. Other than that we mix it up. 

What you see up there at the top is the Lamb Vindaloo on the left, the Butter Chicken at the bottom and Paneer Masala at the top. This all surrounds a portion of the largest serving of fried rice I've ever seen. Seriously, check it out, it's over there on the right. Added to the insanity of that portion, my wife and I ordered two! Never again.

One heads up about India Palace and Indian food in general, for those who haven't tried it. It's HOT! Hot as in spicy. Every dish we ordered here besides the rice had some serious bite to it. Personally I enjoy this (at least while eating it, not as much the next day). You can let them know how hot you would like it, but even medium is pretty hot. 

So the next time you are sitting at home thinking "I don't feel like cooking, let's get take-out", forget the traditional Pizza and Chinese and try something new. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

#FoodPornFriday I've heard good things about Panera Bread and finally got to try them

I've been hearing good things about Panera Bread for a few years now. For example +Robin Laws has noted that he does most of his writing while sitting in a Panera in Toronto on his Ken & Robin Talk About Stuff podcast. I've been wanting to check them out for a long time but it just never worked out.

The main reason it never worked out is that you won't find a Panera Bread anywhere in Windsor. Actually I would have to drive to Oakville to get to the nearest one in Canada (that's like 3 hours away from here).

So where did I finally find a Panera? On the Ohio Turnpike, on the way to Pittsburgh.

Does it live up to the hype? I would say: "mostly". I will admit I had really high expectations, probably way to high for what is really a fast food chain. It was good, actually it was a bit better than good, it just wasn't great. I enjoyed my Ham & Cheese Sandwich on a Provolone Bagel with a side of French Onion Soup. I loved the fact that I could have gotten it on about 8 other kinds of bread and I could have gotten many other things besides soup (IIRC I had four soup choices as well). I also really loved the brownie that I was too busy eating to take a picture of. It was much better than your average fast food, that's for sure.

If there was a Panera Bread here locally I'm pretty sure I would go their fairly often. Free Wi-Fi and decent food with lots of customization. I dig it.

It's that time of the week again. #FoodPornFriday! Who's going to link up with me?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Burger Battle: Motor Vs. Mamo

There's a battle raging right now in Windsor. A burger battle. On one front you have Motor Burger and onthe other front you have Mamo Burger Bar.

In case you haven't noticed, Windsor has become a battle zone of amazing burger joints. We've had Bubi's and Gilligan's for a while now but now there are tons of amazing burgers around the city at places like Joe Schmoe's and the Bull n Barrel. Two of the newest entries onto the field of battle, and my personal favorites, are Motor Burger and Mamo Burger Bar

Motor Burger

Motor Burger is located in the heart of Via Italia, Windsor's Little Italy, at 888 Erie Street. Awarded the Reader's Digest Canada's "Best Gourmet Burger" medal in 2012 and followed up with their "You Gotta Eat Here" stripes the next year, Motor Burger comes to the field well decorated.

You will find fifteen different burgers on the menu. These are all gourmet burgers made with a huge variety of fresh ingredients and toppings. My favourite is the Autostrada (Chipotle rubbed northern Italian sausage, gorgonzola cheese, sliced apple slaw), the wife loves the Twin Barracudas (2 panko encrusted haddock sliders, creamy cajun slaw, cheddar cheese, pickle). All of these are available single or supercharged. Supercharged means a scary amount of burger as they toss a second patty on there.

Supporting these fifteen lieutenants are the best damn sides in the city. Truly amazing onion rings. Sweet potato fries. Poutine and some of the greatest Mac & Cheese in the city. There are also some salads for those of you who forgot you went to a burger joint. Oh, and some great starters too, not that you really need them, a bowl of rings and a burger fills this Big Dude right up, but if you are a glutton for punishment grab the Chili Spring Rolls (chorizo chile & black bean, lime, smoked cheese, sour cream).

Added to all this great food Motor Burger has one more thing going for it. It's also an Ontario Craft Brewer. Yep you read that right. Motor Craft Ales is brewed specifically for Motor Burger. I could so use a pint of Dragula right now.

Mamo Burger Bar

Mamo Burger Bar can be found at 1515 Ottawa Street. The previous location of Sweet T's Southern Cooking and before that Smoke n' Spice. Actually Mamo was opened by the same owners and they have a real hit here.

Mamo has only ten lieutenants in their army but they back it up with a lot more support troops. The ten signature burgers are all tradition beef burgers. Well somewhat traditional. They get the meat from Shawn Morris Farms (better known as The Butcher of Kingsville), ground fresh that day. While it's not the variety you get at some other places in the city, this is the most tasty beef burger patty I've ever had. Added to those patties are some of the greatest topping combos ever. Personally I can never decide between the Wakin' & Bacon (cheddar, house bacon, fried egg & bacon jam) or The Daddy Mac (House made mac & cheese, smoked pull pork & caramelized onions).

Alongside those burgers are a couple of different sets of sides. Standard ones and deluxe specialist troops that cost a bit more to muster. These include fries, garlic fries, tater tots, Caesar salad on the low end and poutine, chili cheese fries and fried pickles for the elite troops.

There are also quite a few non-burger items on Mamo's menu. There are those same confusing salads (seriously, who goes to a burger joint to get a salad?), turkey sandwiches, pulled pork, chicken tenders, soup and chili and more. It's definitely a much more diverse set of troops.

The beer selection at Mamo isn't so bad either. Sure it's not brewed right there but they do have an Ontario Craft Beer menu and they mix up the taps pretty good.

My thoughts on the war

Both of these competitors have something amazing to bring to the battle. I think the sides at Motor Burger are some of the best in the city, if not the best. My kids love it as well, they can't get enough of the mac & cheese. I love the burgers too but I have to give an edge to Mamo Burger there. Given the choice I would choose a Daddy Mac over an Autostrada more often then not. But then Motor Burger brews their own beer, I really like beer. It's crowded though and Mamo feels more relaxed. Wait I know what will decide this battle: price! No wait that doesn't work, a burger and side at Motor Burger will cost you about $12-15. A burger at Mamo costs about the same and comes with side.

You know who really wins this battle? All of us, the people of Windsor, by having such amazing burgers made right here in our backyard.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

#FoodPornFriday The best Crêpes I've ever had came from Pittsburgh

Today's #FoodPornFriday pic comes from Pittsburgh.

Before our tip to Pittsburgh a few weeks back I posted on Google+ asking people from the area what we should try to make sure we did on our trip. The first thing that came up was Primanti Bros. I already wrote about that amazing place. The second thing that was mentioned was Pamela's Diner for breakfast. 

I was warned to expect a long wait and that when I got there I had to try the hot cakes. Quite a few more people jumped into the thread and said the same. Everyone kept going on about the hot cakes with many people noting how unique they are.

Well when I got there I found that people in Pittsburgh haven't really heard of crêpes. That's what these hot cakes were, crêpes. Crêpes are pretty common here in Canada, more so the further north you go. So at first I was a bit disappointed. Then I tried them.

OMG they were so good! I have no idea what they do different down there but these were the best damn crêpes I've ever had. Actually they were the best grilled breakfast item I've ever had. Better then all pancakes and even waffles (I really love waffles. Not the Belgian kind, the kind with the small holes). 

I have to agree with my followers on G+, if you are ever in Pittsburgh you owe it to yourself do at least two things. Get a sandwich from Primanti Bros and try some hot cakes cêpes from Pamela's.

It's #FoodPornFriday and I'm looking for other blogs to join in the fun an link up with me. I'm going to be posting one of these every week and you should stop by and link up. I want to see your awesome pictures! For the faint of heart feel free to use #FoodPicFriday 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fries, slaw, cheese and tomato on every sandwich at Primanti Bros #FoodPornFriday

This fine # FoodPornFridayI find myself in Pittsburgh PA on a family vacation/media trip. We're down here for three days and being shown the sights. Today was our first day and the first place they took us is a world famous restaurant called Primanti Bros. They are a chain now with multiple locations, but we hit up the original in a neighbourhood called The Strip.

Primanti Bros. makes sandwiches. Big damn sandwiches. Big damn sandwiches with fries, cheese, coleslaw and tomato on them. I think the menu had some other stuff, chilli and a few different ways to order just fries but the reason you go to Primanti is for sandwiches.

What you see here is their current featured sandwich: When Pigs Fly which had turkey, ham and bacon piled high and topped with fried egg. Of course it also had tomato, cheese, fries and slaw. It was fantastic and I totally get why everyone told me I had to try this place when I told them I would be here.

Do you have a blog with a drool worthy food post? Why not join in the #FoodPornFriday fun and link up with us?

Friday, June 20, 2014

#FoodPornFriday and Barley's Brewing Company review

There was a reason I didn't post a #FoodPornFriday post last week. That reason was the Origins Game Fare. Origins is the second largest gaming convention in North America and last weekend was my first time attending. It was awesome.

I knew there would be lots of cool games to play but I didn't realize that there would also be some amazing food to eat and great beer to drink. One of the best places we found while we were down there was Barley's Brewing Company. This brew pub was literally right across the street from the Greater Columbus Convention Center where Origins was being held.

We initially hit Barley's on Thursday night. The place was recommended to me from some friends on Google Plus and there was also a deal where we could get a free pint glass with a coupon we received at registration. Now I had heard good things but I had no idea what kind of treat we were in for.

The place was very large relaxed and casual. The front half was taken up by a bar area you actually have to walk past to be seated. There's lots of stool seating up front with lots of window seats overlooking downtown. The back half is a very comfy dining area. Lots of tall wooden booths and wide tables down the middle. The place just looked like a brew pub, and that's not just because the actual brewing equipment could be seen to the left of the bar when you walk in.

Let's talk about the beer first. Barley's offered eight different draft beers all brewed right there on site. In addition they had two cask ales available when we were there. These are limited and when they run out they are gone until the next batch. They had actually run out of one of them by the time we left Sunday. Along with their own beers Barley's also has four guest taps. All of these were Ohio local craft beers.

During our trip we managed to try five of Barley's great beers. By far our favourite was Alexander's Russian Imperial Stout. That beer just blew me away.

There was even a special beer brewed just for the Origins Game Fare: Point of Origin. This was a good Belgian style golden ale but just wasn't nearly as good as the Stout.

The food menu was a mix of local favorites and traditional pub food. You could get fried pickles and scotch eggs or Bavarian Pretzels and Chili to start. There were some gourmet hot dogs listed followed by some wraps. I was tempted by the Deep South Dog (Beef dog, applewood smoked bacon, fried pickle, shredded lettuce, cusabi slaw, diced tomatoes and remoulade sauce on a soft roll) the two times we were there.  There are lots of different sandwiches and then a selection of gourmet burgers that reminded me of Motoburger. The entree list is where I stopped each time we went though. So many amazing sounding things.

Based on the menu here and at other local places we stopped I have to assume that there is a large eastern European population in Columbus. There were Bavarian pretzels, schnitzel, pierogi and sauages to be had eveywhere. One of the burgers here was served with pierogi on it! As I mentioned in the post about Matryoshka, I'm Ukranian and grew up on food like this and I love it.

The first trip I tried the Pierogi and Sausage. That's what you can see in the big pic at the top of the post. Cheddar potato pierogi, sauteed onions, brown butter, bratwurst, kielbasa and chorizo sausage. The pierogi were obviously made right there and they were also boiled and not just fried. It was fantastic. My wife tried the Ale House Crab Cakes and enjoyed them. 

Based on how good our first meal was we also choose to hit Barley's as our last stop before leaving town. We tried a couple more beers (If you like wit beers I highly recommend the Blood Thirst Wheat) and we tried a couple different entrees. Based on  how good my initial meal was my wife went with the Polski Feast (grilled sausage trio, sauerkraut balls, pierogies, sauerkraut, garlic toast and pale ale mustard) and I went with the Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf (beef and pork, wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, with garlick mashed potatoes, veg, onion strings and tomato gravy).

Last weekend rocked! One of the best vacations I've ever taken. Lots of awesome gaming and some unexpectedly awesome food that included Barley's Brewing Company.

Have some #FoodPorn of your own? Why not link up with us!