I can't eat gluten. It's a bummer, but honestly, I'm over it. I rarely miss it, or think about it these days. I'm really happy with what I eat, though it is sometimes hard to pick a restaurant, but in Toronto, not really. The major bummer for me is beer, because there are countless amazing kraft breweries around Toronto, whose beer I would love to be enjoying. The other major downside, is I feel like there's a big lack of bread diversity on this blog now! I used to love featuring different types of bread. My dad's poppyseed and onion sourdough, a nice rye bun, an eggy challah, fucking BAGELS. I never really got around to croissants while I had the chance.
Anyway, I find I'm at my most creative when I'm just working out of necessity. I'm out of bread, and I want to make a post, so I decided to just get resourceful. Here's my take on something that still totally counts as a "sandwich". But the name is a reference to how to me, these ingredients suggest more a deconstructed soup than anything.
Can I take a minute to further praise Toronto food? It's so fucking inspiring here. I never plug shit on this blog that honestly, not that many people know about, but I went on a beautiful dinner date with my Mumsie last night, after she took me for a gripping afternoon at the AGO, to see The Great Upheaval exhibit. We went to this place Me&Mine that's actually directly across from my building. And it while it wasn't the MOST earthshatteringly progressive food I've ever eaten, or seen on Anthony Bourdain shows, yes, I would actually, describe it as progressive. And it was the best meal I've had in half a year.
As I've said before, Toronto food is undefinable. It's an industry of hundreds of restaurants pursuing their own ideas, and inspiring eachother. There's no particular style, every restaurant's menu is informed by at least half a dozen cultures, and/or predicated on local harvest. Everyone's creative in the sense that here, we're not big on emphasizing classic dishes. Obviously, you can go to an Indian/Thai/Ethiopian restaurant, and get "the best ___ in the city," but the non ethnic-specific restaurants all have completely unique menus born out of just whatever the creative minds behind the food dream up. And it doesn't have to be particularly out there. It just about good ideas, executed well. And always with a spark of something you would have never thought of.
We shared two mains, as we like to do in our family. Why miss out on sampling all the food? We had an apple cider braised pork chop (best pork chop of my life btw, and I don't give two fucks about pork), with buttermilk potatoes, collard greens, and EARL GREY steeped prunes (wtf, amazing). The other main was a venison sausage (again, not really huge on this kind of meat, but it was equally foodgasmic), with a mushroom and leek bake (think meatloaf made of mushroom and leek), topped with blueberry and sumac relish, with the most delicious braised cabbage that ever was. Very unexpected food, but fundamentally simple. We shared these over two glasses of Bordeaux, and were just somewhere between heaven, and disbelief with every bite, under an ambiance of dim candlelight, natural wood, and an excellent youngish independent music playlist. It's totally the best of what I consider to be a restaurant representative of what Toronto does. Freeform, effortless ideas, executed like nobody's business.
The dessert surpassed my expectations, but without getting way out of hand on a sandwich blog post, I guess what I'm trying to say is two things. GO TO THAT RESTAURANT. You'll be so happy you did. And also that my idea of food, and I think influenced, and encouraged by what I experience here in Toronto, is that it's not about making the best of something. It's about having an idea, and rolling with it. Because there are an infinity of great ideas, and if you start somewhere, and improve on it, and follow through on your vision, that's food. That's all it's ever really about.
So I actually hide my appalling food execution skills behind the veil of making super amateur grade cooking-involved sandwiches, this was a testament to who the fuck cares what you make, just work through an idea, with the effort to make it good. This isn't like, a culinary masterpiece by any means, but it's like, "Hey, I have no idea how I'm going to put together a sandwich post today with no sandwich fixings," and then put this together, and it worked just fine. And it's always fun to feel like you can make something that for yourself, is unexpected.
I try. And I think I'm no food genius, but I'm always improving.
What's in this:
purple heirloom potatoes
slab bacon (Thanks Hogtown Cure)
First off, you're going to thinly slice the potatoes, oil them up (I usually cook with coconut oil), and throw them in the oven for 10-15 mins on a fairly high ~400F.
You can salt them while you're at it, before they go in. When they come out, they should be crispy, and flatish.
While the potatoes are in the over, fry the bacon. I love bacon the way some people would consider it undercooked. You're all wrong by the way. Regardless, you want to underdo it a tad, because you're going to be baking these for a few more minutes later.
Fry the leeks in the bacon fat. Just enough to soften, and lose their bite.
Enter Manchego. This isn't actually Manchego, but I forget what it is. Something Nero? Anyway, it's a hard, sharp cheese, and you only need a thin slice on each round.
Salt and pepper.
The fun part: I previously paired lemon and bacon, and loved it, so I went in for take two, with lemon zest. I put it on raw, but you can always glaze it a little with some oil so that it softens more when you throw these in to bake.
Yea, put them on that pan you had going, put 'em in the oven, mainly to melt the cheese.
Take them out when the zested lemon starts to brown, and the bacon crisps up a bit.
So cute, right? Like little hors d'œuvres I would never want to attempt to eat in a fancy dress. Hahahaha. When would I ever be in a fancy dress, being served hors d'œuvres?
Top them with parsley.
Then transform them from "what are you on about Emily?" to "Ok, I kind of see how these can be considered sandwiches."
Pretty cool looking. Which to me, is half the fun.
But they weren't like Me&Mine food good. I have mad respect for everyone involved with that little restaurant. And no, they don't know I'm raving about them. The meal was just so good, I want to spread the gospel.
Thanks for looking.