Friday, January 5, 2018

#FoodPornFriday - The Leaf is back, sort of, and better than ever.

Back in August, I posted a sad #FoodPornFriday post about one of my favourite local restaurants closing: The Leaf Grill. Well, it ends up that that was rather fortuitous as The Leaf is back, in a new form and better than ever.

At 5240 Tecumseh Rd East, the previous location of the Leaf Grill (previously the Maple Leaf Tavern) you can now find Factory House. This is a much more modern looking and feeling remake of The Leaf. It's the same owners and same head cook but the place itself is improved in many ways. Much of this is the look and feel of the place. The atmosphere is much better. the place no longer feels like a dive bar turned restaurant. It feels like it's own place with a mechanical, factory theme.

The menu also went through a big revamp. At least most of it did. Our first trip there I was very pleased to see that they still had Butter Chicken on the menu. Like the restaurant itself, it's an improved version of the old dish. The chicken now comes in a great looking copper bowl. The naan now comes on the plate and the spices in the dish have been kicked up a notch while not becoming too spicy. 

The Butter Checking form The Leaf
Really this new Butter Chicken matches the evolution of the restaurant well. Back with The Maple Leaf Tavern, this dish didn't even exist. You didn't go to The Maple Leaf to get fancy foreign food, you went for one of the best Clubhouses in the city and maybe some Molson Canadian.  With The Leaf, you suddenly had this amazing dish. Something new that proved that you weren't at the old Maple Leaf. Now with the Factory House, you still have Butter Chicken, the same dish, almost. It looks better, it's presented better and it tastes just a bit better. That's what Factory House is to me. It's just a better version of The Leaf. That's a very good thing.

Friday, December 29, 2017

#FoodPornFriday - Amazing Tokyo Style Ramen right here in Windsor

Tan Tan Men

I'm not sure how many people realize this is a thing; down by the University on Wyandotte (2270 Wyandotte West to be exact) is a small Asian diner called Eros Asian Eatery. They feature Southeast Asian Cuisine most days of the week. What people may not know is that every Saturday the shop transforms like Ultraman into the Kagerou Ramen House where you can find some of the best Ramen I've ever had.

Kagerou serves four different varieties of ramen:
Tokyo Style Shoyo Ramen (Soy Sauce Flavour)
Shio Ramen (Salt Flavour)
Miso Ramen
Tan Tan Men (Japan's interpretation of a classic Szechuan noodle dish).

Tokyo Style Shoyu Ramen
I've personally tried the Tan Tan Men (pictured up top) and the Shoyo (pictured to the right) and both were amazing. No, seriously, amazing. This is some of the best ramen I've had. This is some of the best Asian food I've had. Heck, this is some of the best food I've had in Windsor. Okay, fine, I'll say it: this is some of the best food I've ever had. 

The first time I went I noted to one of the owners that I needed to bring my wife. Well, I brought her yesterday and she tried the Miso Ramen (last pic on the page), and enjoyed it so much that she's "forcing" me to bring her back today. Yes, that's correct, we are going to eat Ramen two days in a row because it's so damn good.

But wait, didn't I say this transformation only happens on Saturday and isn't it Friday? Yes, normally that is the case, but in celebration of the Holidays, Eros/Kagerou is doing a special 3 Days of Ramen Holiday Event! It started Yesterday and runs until Saturday. So you can head down there today and try some of this amazing ramen yourself. They are open today until 7pm today and tomorrow from noon until 3pm.

Miso Ramen
If you can't make it out over the next couple days, that's cool. Just stop by any Saturday between noon and 3pm. You may want to go early though, as they only prepare so much and service goes until 3pm or they run out.

I honestly can't recommend this enough. Checking out Kagerou Ramen House at Eros Asian Eatery has been one of my favorite culinary experiences of 2017.  My only regret is that it took me so long to finally give their ramen a chance. Just think of all those Saturday ramen lunches I missed out on. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

#SadNewsSaturday - Sad news about Capri Pizza

Yes it's Saturday morning. No this isn't a #FoodPornFriday post. I'm a bad blogger. I spent the last few Friday's at work on afternoons. Last night I had a Friday night off. I probably should have used that to blog. Instead, I got a take-out Panzerotti from Windsor Pizza, tried out some of my Motor Craft Ales Members Club beers and played a ton of Destiny 2. So sorry, I didn't write about food last night.

To make up with it, I'm here with #SadNewsSaturday. I don't expect this to actually be a thing. Actually, I really hope it doesn't become a thing. I don't want to have enough sad news to be able to post every Saturday. Hopefully, this will be the one and only #SadNewsSaturday. 

Last week I learned the very sad news that the original Capri Pizza location on Dougal has closed the restaurant side. You can no longer head there to eat in and drink a pitcher of MacLean's Amber Ale. You can't go there for Panzerotti Wednesday where you could get buy one and get one free. Now the only way to get Carpi in Windsor is to either pick it up or get it delivered. 

This bums me out as I really enjoyed eating in at Capri. Besides the obvious advantage of fresh hot Windsor Style Pizza (and draft beer), the atmosphere in there was great. One wall was covered with classic Windsor Pictures. There were articles on the wall going back to when Capri first opened. The place had history. 

I was really hoping to make it there one more time before they closed but it just wasn't meant to be. Goodbye, eat in at Capri. I will miss you.

Friday, November 10, 2017

#FoodPornFriday - Wizards of Walkerville Boardgame Bistro and Bar

The reason you didn't see a #FoodPornFriday post last weekend was the fact that it was the annual Extra Life weekend. This is a charity gaming event that I help run and organize every year as part of the Windsor Gaming Resource. It was a very successful weekend. The awesome gamers of Windsor Ontario raised $3390 U.S. for the Children's Miracle Network of Hospitals.

This week I feature one of the amazing local businesses that were part of our Extra Life event this year: The newly opened Wizards of Walkerville Boardgame Bistro and Bar. Over the course of the Extra Life weekend, my wife and I stopped in many times to see how things were going and ate there for both breakfast and lunch. 

Wizards of Walkerville (Wizards from now on) is located at the corner of Hall and Ottawa.  Currently, it's more of a restaurant/cafe that happens to have an amazing selection of board games to play. That will be changing when they get the basement gaming area open. As it stands it's still awesome mainly due to how damn good the food is. This is seriously good food. This includes the coffee which is some kind of special blend (sorry not a coffee snob, so I don't remember what's special about it, I just know it's good). The fact that they also have games to play is just a very cool added bonus.

As far as the games go they have a fantastic range of games. There's all of the classics: Clue, Monopoly, Connect Four etc. Along with those they have a really good selection of party and family games. For the hardcore gamers, you can even find amazing hobby strategy games like Scyth and Terraforming Mars. I challenge any tabletop gamer to go in there and not find something that fits their taste.

Back to the food. For breakfast Saturday morning I tried the Ol' Fashion French Toast. That's the main pic up there. This is pumpkin spice blend french toast, with toasty pecan coating. It came with a cardamon maple "Ol' Fashion inspired" maple syrup blend. It was some of the best French Toast I've had. There was the option to get bacon but I somehow missed that on the menu. 

The other item I tried, for lunch on Sunday, just before the Extra Life event ended at 3pm, was the Par-Cheesy with a side of Italian Wedding Soup. The Par-Cheesy is their grilled cheese. The thing with this is that the cheese blend changes each week. Mine was a mix of mozzarella, provolone, and asiago (If I remember correctly). This was really good, but not quite as good as that french toast. That's it over there on the left.

Overall I think Wizards is awesome. I'm looking forward to when the gaming area opens up and when the Bar part of their name becomes a reality. In addition to being a cool place to play and learn new games, they have really good food. I strongly suggest checking them out. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

#FoodPornFriday - sometimes there's nothing better than traditional bacon and eggs

I post a wide variety of #foodporn on here. Quite a bit of it people would consider fancy. It's not the stuff mom used to cook. I've noticed a big trend here in Windsor of more gourmet foods showing up everywhere. Words like Aoili, Bechamel, Carcuterie, and Quenelle show up on more menus every day. This isn't a bad thing, in no way. But sometimes you just want something "normal".

To me, there's nothing more simple and basic and normal, than Bacon and Eggs. This is comfort food at it's finest as long as it's cooked right. That's the kicker though. Pretty much any place that opens before 10am serves meat, eggs, and potato, but so few actually get it right.

For those few weeks, I was living back at my parent's place taking care of my dad we made a new daily habit. That was going to Pete's Place. Personally, I like my eggs "over medium" which to me means flipped over, yolks still liquid and all whites cooked through without being overcooked and having crispy bits. I like my bacon a bit under crisp, you can bend it but eventually, it will break. I like my potatoes with a bit a seasoning salt. Pete (yes the owner and cook of Pete's place is named Pete) nails this every time. 

As an added bonus, it's cheap. Really cheap if you get there before 11am. A plate of bacon and eggs before 11am is under $5. That's unheard of nowadays. I will fully admit it's not the fanciest place. It's pretty much the Wikipedia page image for a greasy spoon and they don't even take debit. It's exactly the kind of place you expect to find a great plate of eggs.

You can check out Pete's for yourself at 381 Wyandotte St. East. Right across from the big park in front of Water World near The Barn. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

#FoodPornFriday - Etta's isn't just for breakfast.

I've mentioned Etta's Greeklish Eatery on #FoodPornFriday before. More than once I think. There's a good reason for it. It's one of my favourite places to eat, for breakfast. Their Meatlove Casserole is one of my favourite things to eat in this city. Well, last night we did something crazy. We went to Etta's for dinner.

The dinner menu is very different from the lunch and breakfast menu. I was actually quite surprised. I assume it's probably a different cool in the afternoon. Actually, hold up a second. A correction: the adult dinner menu is different. The kid's menu is identical. Not that my kids really cared, but it's worth noting.

The night menu was much more Greek than the menu we had seen before. Greek enough that I couldn't pronounce most of the stuff on it. There was your usual gyros, souvlaki, opa, grape leaves, greek salad, lemon rice soup, etc.  Then there's a bunch of stuff I've never heard of like Pastitsio, Moussaka (actually this one sounded familiar, but I didn't recognize it by description) and Kokkinisto.

I went with the Kokkinisto which is what you can see in the #foodporn picture above. It was some amazingly tender beef in a tomato sauce over rice served with roasted potatoes and green beans (seasonal veg). The beef part was amazing, the red sauce was good. I found the rice a bit plump, but okay. The potatoes were good, but not Thansi's good.

To go with it I passed on the Lemon Rice soup and got a bowl of some amazing ham, bacon, cheddar and potato soup. You know me well enough that should have been the obvious choice between the two. It was amazing. The soup was even better than the Kokkinisto.

Between the soup and the beef dish, I was very happy and very full. The kids tried Orzo, my wife got a Gyro and my mom tried the Pastitsio (a meat sauce and ziti baked dish). Everyone left full and we even had some leftovers. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

#FoodPornFriday - Just what is Windsor Style Pizza?

A Large Meatlovers from Capri Pizza

Today I have a practical #FoodPornFriday post all about Windsor Style Pizza.

A Queen take out Pizza
from Windsor Pizza
Nine times out of ten when I post a picture of Windsor Style Pizza and mention that I'm having/enjoying Windsor Style Pizza I will get at least one comment asking what exactly Windsor Style Pizza means. I've answered that quest now at least 20 times, maybe as many as 50 times. It doesn't matter how often I answer it, I'm certain that the next time I post a picture of Windsor Pizza on some social media site someone is going to ask me: What's Windsor Style Pizza.

So that's why today's #FoodPornFriday post exists. So that the next time someone asks me this question I can just provide them with a link to this blog post. Instead of typing out the same answer over and over I will just have to share this link. So let's get to it:

What is Windsor Style Pizza?

Small 2x Cheese Peperoni Sausage
from Armando's
Though it seems many people don't believe it, Pizza in Windsor Ontario is unique. Most people have heard of Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza or New York style pizza. Some people have even heard of Detroit Style Pizza (it's square). But it seems that Windsor Style pizza is something only people from Windsor or people who have been to Windsor know about. 

Now that's starting to change. If you Google Windsor Style pizza you will find quite a few articles. There's a great one titled How Did Pizza Become One of Windsor, Ontario's Hottest Exports? and another great one about Volcano Pizza titled: Volcano Pizzeria: A look into one of Windsor's most famous pizza palaces. Check them out if you have time. 

Volcano is where the whole thing started. It was the first pizza place in Windsor and it set the standard for everything that came afterward. Every single 2nd generation pizza place (many of which are still around to this day) owe their success to Volcano and most of them were opened by previous employees of Windsor's first Pizzeria. 

There are many places in Windsor where you can still get Windsor Style Pizza. Armandos, Franco's, Koolinis, Acrata, Capri, Antoninos, Riverside, Roma's, Rivera, Naples, Sam's, Winsor Pizza and probably 20 more I'm forgetting about. Personally, my favorites are Windsor Pizza, Capri, Antonino's, and Armando's. 

What makes Windsor Pizza Special?

Medium Bacon and Scallop pizza
from Sam's
Windsor Style Pizza has a thicker doughy crust that should be crusty on the bottom but soft in the middle. This is middle thickness, not deep dish at all but not the flat style you see at many wood oven places. The sauce is a spicy sweet arabiata style. Differing levels of sweet and spicy are one of the main things that set various Windsor pizzerias apart. Toppings go on top of the cheese never under (sometimes if you get extra cheese that goes on top, usually part way through cooking). 

There are a few idiosyncrasies in regards to ingredients. Pepperoni (often just called sausage, whereas what most people would call sausage can be found as Italian Sausage on many menus) is sliced, never full circles. Sausage (Italian Sauage) is a local brand that is usually small balls and rather fennely. Mushrooms are canned and are usually Success brand. Vegetables and other meats are usually roughly cubed. Additional fennel and sometimes oregano either in the sauce or sprinkled on top (some places like Antonino's have shakers for you to add your own once you get your pie).

The pies themselves are oven baked. I personally have no idea if there's such a thing as a Windsor Style Pizza oven, or if all pizza places use the same style but I do know that pretty much every place I stop in for pick up has similar looking ovens. The important part though is that they use an oven, the whole wood-fired thing, while good, isn't Windsor Style. 

Random slices from Koolini's
The biggest Windsor Pizza secret for years was the cheese. The mozzarella comes from a local shop called Galati Cheese Company Ltd. This was an industry secret for a long time and was what caused many "Windsor Style Pizza" places that opened out of town in London or Toronto to fail. They had the recipes from the Windsor places but couldn't get exactly the same ingredients. Now the Galati secret is out and you can now see all Windsor Pizza places with signs stating "Proudly serving Galati cheese" prominently displayed.

So yes, Windsor Style Pizza is a thing. A big thing for the people who love it. If you don't belive me just check out this article: Sask. couple orders beloved Windsor pizza for long-distance Super Bowl delivery, where a Sask. couple paid $140 to have an Arcata pizza flown out there for their Super Bowl Party.

Note not every pizza place in Windsor does Windsor Style Pizza. May people consider the Caboto Club to have the best pizza in town and it's a thin crust wood fired style pizza. One of the best pizzas I've had comes from the newly opened Downtown Pizza Co and they also don't serve Windsor Style. I just wrote about their pies last week