Posts Tagged ‘The Hoof Cafe’

One Upping Rusty And Jerome…

The R&J

As I’ve surely mentioned here many times before, I’m a huge fan of breakfast.

Unfortunately, the Everyman is not, and mostly prefers to eat his first meal of the day around noon-ish on the weekend, which typically leaves us at a frustratingly inedible impasse.  Due to our differing opinions on the matter we don’t go out for brunch all that often, either.  Our first few visits to The Hoof Cafe when it opened were a noticeable exception, but that was mainly because the Everyman trusts Grant and also knew he could get un-breakfasty items if it came down to it (and it often does).  After we went to Cowbell brunch for my birthday, the Everyman was visibly smitten with the Rusty and Jerome I ‘d ordered (pictured above in its combo plate of apple pear compote-topped waffle, meatloaf, beans and sausage, bacon, toast and eggy glory) and beermosas too, but the simple fact is no matter how good the food is (and it IS fan-freakin-tastic) some days you just don’t want to travel across town to eat.  We’ve returned for brunch several times since then, but I still occasionally get intolerable cravings for breakfast that won’t quit in the interim.

One such yen hit me with full force just the other day.  Being that it was the middle of the week, it was unlikely that I would have the chance to go out for brunch the following day, so I contemplated the next best option; breakfast for dinner!  Growing up, I had a friend whose dad would make breakfast for dinner one day a week, and whether it was pancakes, waffles or eggs I always loved eating dinner at their house on that day.  We never really did anything like that in my home, so dinnerfast felt a little bit foreign and strangely like luxury.

After rummaging around in the fridge and finding the remnants of a carton of buttermilk, I began searching the internest for a decent buttermilk pancake recipe.  My gaze immediately gravitated towards this, but was also enticed by this, too.  Knowing the Everyman as well as I do, I was certain that if he chose the buttermilk pear option I’d have to find a suitable side dish to go with it to counter the sweetness, since he’s not a great lover of sweet breakfasts especially.  As I wracked my brain over possible complements, out of nowhere an idea came to me.  Why not make a salty hash with his favourite meat (prosciutto)?

Once I ran the options by him, he immediately began salivating over the potential of what we began referring to as who hash (a la The Grinch).  When we arrived home from work I mixed up the pear pancake batter so that it could rest, and began grating potatoes and onions and dicing prosciutto.  The whole meal came together quickly, and before I knew it I was serving up a beautiful puffy pancake that resembled an upside down cake with a side of crispy, crusty prosciutto speckled hash.

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Whoopsie Daisy

The Finished Whoopie

Last weekend I visited Fiesta Farms to do a little shopping for that aforementioned rabbit, among other things.

While I wandered the aisles, one of the other treats I came across was a lovely 2 pound clamshell of those alluring Meyer lemons.  Surprising even myself, I resisted the urge to buy up the whole stand on sight.

You see, I’ve been enjoying the taste of Meyer lemons in restaurants for ages, but until now had never seen them at the grocery store.  Of course, since I use an organic delivery service I rarely go to a grocery store to begin with, so I should hardly be surprised.  I’ve been pondering where to find Meyers (as well as the more ornate Buddha’s hand) for quite some time, so when I spotted these I immediately had to snap some up.

Coincidentally, days later I happened on a fellow Torontonian’s entry in Tigress’ Can Jam who had managed to find Buddha’s hand lemons (Whole Foods apparently carries them – go figure!) in Toronto, so I imagine I will be visiting them soon, too.  I’m not entirely certain what I intend to do with a Buddha’s hand lemon yet, but I’ve been rolling a concept similar to limoncello around in my mind along with the possibility of infusing it into some rye.  But that is a different tale for another day.  Back to those Meyer lemons…

Gorgeous Meyer Lemons

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Frigid Fare

Sabodet

Gratefully lucky to have the last week of the year off, I spent the morning running around town exchanging other peoples’ presents for them.

A gift for the Everyman was exchanged for several others in a more suitable size, while a duplicate Avedon book for his brother in-law was returned until something better arises.

After braving the calmer-than-expected Eaton Centre, I intended to head over to the AGO to wander around a few exhibits and then have lunch at Frank, but the blisteringly cold weather had other plans for me.  Losing the feeling in my fingertips, I opted to hop a streetcar and head to The Hoof Cafe for lunch instead.

Once I arrived, I noticed that one of Toronto’s favourite food writers (Corey Mintz) was having lunch in the window, and as much as I might’ve wanted to introduce myself, I’m no groupie, so I kept to myself and hunkered down at the bar.

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Unintentional Blasphemy

Wee Loaves

A little over a week ago, Larbo over at This Little Piggy posted about his discovery of Fergus Henderson’s trotter gear (a gelatinous porky broth made with (what else?) braised trotters.

Until I read Larbo’s post, I’d never heard of this magical liquid before, but had often contemplated the versatility of a pork-based stock.

There are plenty of recipes out there for beef, chicken, veal and vegetable variations, so why not a similar frenzy for pork, I wondered.

After ruminating on Larbo’s post for a little bit, I started to consider the possible uses for trotter gear.

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Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

The Leg On The Bar

The Everyman and I had this past Friday off, and we both kind of decided that there was nowhere we’d rather be on such a cold, blustery day than The Hoof Cafe.

In fact, we have this coming Friday off too, and after a visit to the AGO, that’s probably where we’ll end up again.  Lucky me, I have Fridays off until the end of the year, plus the last week of December off too (due to an abundance of leftover vacation days I had to use up).  I’m sure you can imagine what I’ll be doing for lunch on most of those days…

One week in, the staff is still wowing us.

Visiting on a Friday afternoon is a much different experience than visiting for brunch.  For one, it’s quieter, (which I like) and there’s more one on one interaction (which is entertaining because they have amazing floor staff).  When we arrived there was only one other pair eating, and by the time we left, there were an additional 2 tables chowing down.

Having been only 5 days prior, the menu had not had a chance to change yet, but we didn’t mind.  The chef was testing a few specials, so we opted to sample what he had to offer, in addition to the Everyman’s standard ploughman’s lunch.  A new addition since our last visit was the giant leg of ham screwed down to the bar, just waiting to be sliced.

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Gloating About Our Bloating

Suckling Pig Benny

First off, a disclaimer of sorts.

This is not a review.  No, no, nothing of the sort.  As Sheryl pointed out to me long ago, I am much too familiar and vested in the goings’ on at The Black Hoof to be objective about anything they might be doing on any given day.

No, this is more like a retelling of what I had for brunch yesterday in a ‘na na na na na, look what I had that you didn’t‘ kind of way.

Obnoxious?  Perhaps.  But who would’ve thought that reverting to 5 year old-like boasting would be so wickedly delicious?

We entered the former Chelsea Room space shortly before noon on Sunday.  Tipped off to the opening by Corey Mintz’ Porkosity, after I mentioned it to the Everyman on Saturday night, he suggested that we visit immediately upon waking Sunday morning.

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La Dolce Vita

The Everyman and I are always on the lookout for new and delicious places to clink a fork and knife in our neck of the woods.  In some ways the search becomes so serious that one might almost consider it a sport.  But don’t worry, no foodies were harmed in the writing of this post!

Recently I noticed a little spot called Negroni going in downwind from Gamelle, but hadn’t any indication of what type of fare would be served, other than my assumptions based on their name.  Since I’m usually pretty open to foodie experimentation, I filed it away in the to-inquire-about later section of my brain and went on with my day.

Over the course of the last few days I found out that Negroni happens to be a casual little panini bar/cafe, operated by the owners of another College St. resto, Sidecar.  This would be right up the Everyman’s alley.  Having spent several of his formative years living in Italy, he’s rather fond of most Italian dishes, prosciutto-laced ones especially.  I’d initially planned to mention it to him as a weekend lunch spot, but while driving home from work on Friday night and discussing what to have for dinner, it just sort of fit.  Knowing that they were only open until 9, we dropped our gear at home, quickly changed and headed down the street for a little pressed bread action.

Negroni is a beautifully small space.  It’s bright, airy and hums with it’s cheerful café-ish, open-door persona.  At 7 pm on a Friday night the room was less than half full but an inviting and comfortable atmosphere still prevailed.  The staff are friendly and overly attentive, though not annoyingly so.  The gentleman serving us noticed I had their card (which I’d grabbed on my way in the door) and asked whether we’d come over from their sister spot.  I just like to collect business cards, but he promised to take good care of us anyways.

After ordering a beer and a glass of wine, we set to work perusing the food carte.  The menu’s not large, but includes a handful of temptation-inducing appetizers, as well as a dozen paninos (which based on their contents I’m hazarding a guess and saying are seasonal).  Being meatavores, we ordered a cured platter to split between us, and were not disappointed.  The quantity was spot on, with only a few delicate slivers of each meat dispensed, plus a small dish of house-cured sweet pickles and onion slices.  The trio of meats included a silky prosciutto, a tangy bresaola, and a sumptuous wild boar cacciatore (reminiscent of the Pingue Abbruzese, actually).  All served with a small stack of their achingly crisp and aromatic ciabatta.  The bread alone is worth coming for, with it’s yeasty, malty, savoury smell emanating from the many irregular crevices.  Eating that appetizer makes me think that the people behind Negroni really get what they’re doing, because it did everything an appetizer should.  By the time we were done we were yearning for more, sated but still possessing a discernable appetite.

When our paninos arrived several moments later, we knew we’d made an excellent decision.  The Everyman’s was a lesson in simplicity, melding prosciutto, bufala mozzarella and oven-dried tomatoes.  My own was a delectable spring-like combination of prosciutto, asparagus spears and taleggio (one of my favorite Italian cheeses ever).  If there’s any problem with their menu, it’s that too many of the options sound amazingly palatable, which is why it took me almost 10 minutes to order.  When I lamented that sentiment to our server, he suggested that we should try them in order, that way when we come back we always know where we are and where we want to be.  This is not a bad idea, and when we go back that’s exactly what I’m going to do, because I just mentally threw a dart at the menu to make my selection this time.  The sammies were served with a superfluous salad of parmagiano, fennel and arugula that was tasty, but I was more interested in concentrating on my sandwich.

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