Burrito Boyz

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march break

Right, so to start off, here’s a summary of how my March Break went [if you are just here for the review, you can skip this paragraph, it won't do you or I any harm].  It started off with me being only one of two people at tae kwon do on Monday, with feelings of disappointment and loneliness, which was cured with a Tuesday mall trip and a meeting with a friend on literally the only day there was a huge blizzard*.  I lazed around on my back for such a large amount of my time and reaffirmed my beliefs that in the distant future humanity will evolve into fat slug-like things that do nothing but live on the internet 24/7 with an inexhaustible supply of food.
wall e fat people
 A part of the Ukraine was crazy enough to join Russia, and a huge plane was hijacked and disappeared in a maddening mystery, but my life was decidedly more normal when I went to Burrito Boyz (their College St location)  [my god was that a forced connection].
*to answer your question, yes I have friends, some my age, others not, some male, some female, some relatively normal and others complete wackos like me.

burrito boyz college st

Wow, I actually did something on the internet self-obsessed enough to go on Facebook  (except of course in regards to Callumeatstoronto), which is an odyssey because I run from normal teenage usage of internet socialization the same way a creationist runs from dinosaurs [yes I know that's offensive and I'll burn in hell for it, but you know it's true!].  This post is part of a new series where I will be reviewing BlogTO’s article: Toronto’s Top Ten Famous Restaurants  and Burrito Boyz is the start.  Interestingly, Burrito Bandidos is an offshoot  of this chain, because its owners had a disagreement  for some unknown reason, and there is some delicious irony to be had here.
food irony
Impressions were low, with the place not looking too fancy [which I would be totally fine with if the food was good, as I have been countless times], but the ride on the streetcar back home had better heating than this place!  I’m pretty sure the only things aside from the food-cooking stove and the warm human bodies of the employees and customers, the only thing that generated heat was the hand dryer in the bathroom which I used with extreme relish.  To throw gasoline on the fire, or more appropriately in light of recent events, to put Vladimir Putin on [pick one] /gay rights issue/Ukranian riots/allegations of Syrian chemical weapons*, the furniture was all metal and seemed only to conduct the temperature into our bodies, much as metal does in when exposed to hot or cold air.
burrito boyz
 Not even the bathroom’s tap ran hot water, and the food was cooked enough to not be room temperature but not hot enough to heat up customer’s mouths, making me feel the cold is intentional [in a way eerily close to how Scrooge stole coal from Crachit], and the hand dryer was an overlooked factor, no doubt being replaced by paper towels right now as the Boyz read this.
*this was an elaborate satire my twisted psyche came up with to say that I don’t agree with Vladimir Putin’s latest policies, for those who couldn’t get past the obscurity and randomness of the comment.
Again, the food better be pretty damn good [I made fun of Christianity and made jokes about Russia being bad and went to far as to make a brief jab at chemical warfare, do you really think I'm going to censor the word damn?] to save this joint.  Well… let’s just start.
My chicken and sweet potato burrito

My chicken and sweet potato burrito

 The large-sized burrito was big, but didn’t live up to the standards of the ridiculously big Chipotle burrito, which is a big thing since people like me are partially in it for far-bigger-than-is-healthy proportions.
My mom was still hungry after this

My mom was still hungry after this

 And the gluten-free sizes are smaller than a regular small, which supports my previous theories that the Boyz are either Mr. Krabs-like cheapskates or hate the customers for some reason: what better way to punish customers than to pick on a minority who already can’t eat much?
 toppings available  to choose from

toppings available to choose from

As for the contents of the whole wheat burrito, I had the sweet-potato chicken large with refried beans, black beans, cheese salsa and burrito sauce as topping.  I know I ordered sweet potato, but I couldn’t help but feel there was little too much of it, at least when compared to the chicken, of which there was still a lot of.  While tender and in good sizes and proportion [not comparing to the sweet potato, but by itself], it is just cooked chicken, no grilling or marinating.
conquistador conquer aztec
 It’s kind of like the Conquistadors realizing that the Aztecs they just finished wiping out and converting to The Empire [I can't say Christianity again... I'll get in trouble] had far better cooking methods than they did, and started to cook in a more bland way hoping people wouldn’t figure out that other Mexicans still knew the secrets of doing remotely something to the chicken to add a modicum of unique flavour [good god that was a contrived way to bring in more history, violence and controversy for entertainment, ugh].
 No, I’m not too pleased, and here’s where the irony comes in, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you got it already: Burrito Bandido is better than Burrito Boyz.  That’s right, I didn’t have to say Chipotle Mexican Grill is even  better, although that is equally true, Burrito Boyz’ own creation is better than it!  That’s kind of like the end of Empire Strikes Back but in reverse [picture that scene where Mark Hamil says 'No Darth, I am your son' and James Earl Jones screams 'Noooooooooo!  That's impossible!'].

So why so popular?  One answer: hype.  When something gets popular, while it can be good, it leads to some horrors, fan theories about The Shining being about Stanley Kubrick having to fake the Apollo Moon Landings are a good example {link to 11  ludicrous fan theories that actually make sense}, but things that get acclaim even though they’re crappy are a more fitting example.  Subscribers no doubt know how I feel about The Burger’s Priest, and my feelings for The Great Gatsby and Inception are being saved for a future non-food related post.  The food was good at Burrito Boyz, no denying that, but competition on the same level as this chain is far better, and if you’re gluten-free than you’re overcharged for a skimpy portion and sent to cold metal chair;  Oliver Twist style.  It’s not good if I can make connections to Dickensian themes in a way someone who is far more sane than I am, could.
image courtesy of moonconspiracy.wordpress.com

image courtesy of moonconspiracy.wordpress.com

In short, Burrito Boyz does not live up to hype in any stretch of the imagination, and the only thing that stands out in a positive way are how the Koodo advertisements in the bathroom are actually toilet jokes when you think about them.
koodo
 Fine, the service was speedy and actually very polite considering I was acting weird and taking ordering oddly, so props to them, it’s the owners I have a beef with. I would do my typical go-here-if-you’re-in-the-neighborhood-but-seek-out-better-competition-if-not thing, but even if you have a really heavy Mexican craving, shrug it off to go for Italian instead, and if your friend/family has the craving, tell them to shut up about it [just don't say you'll buy it, they'll probably order wine or something expensive if they think like me but are evil enough to do it].   An over-hyped disappointment is decidedly a bad way to start this adventure off, but it’s a fun excuse to rant.  Cynically, I could say this is a forewarning of more overrated places on the Top Ten List, but I’d like to think this is a fluke.  The optimist and pessimist inside me are fighting again.  Until we meet again.
Burrito Boyz 575 College Street

Burrito Boyz on Urbanspoon

Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant

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Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant
So after Dukem closed to be relocated, in a manner I perceive to be like The Real Jerk: regular news updates, some chance, desperation after the time passes on, sparse contact at all after some months, every single shred of hope depleted and then bam, a new place.  Hopefully it won’t be that close, but it could go that way.  Anyways, Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant  is on Danforth in a budding Ethiopian neighborhood [it isn't called Little Ethiopia or anything, but demographically and culturally it's starting to get that way], and it’s gluten free too.
injera
 The waitress explained that the injera is originally gluten free anyways, but wheat is added because it gets a little flat on the long trip from its home country.  I personally found it interesting that the injera is easier to make overseas and have it shipped than simply cooking it here, must be the climate.
Wazema interior
The pleasantly dark decor was reminiscent of the past, rather like watching someone do something that ended in disaster the first time because they think it’ll be different [like WWII or any American foreign policy decision from the last 30 years or so], but that’s a good thing unlike my politically-based examples.  Staff was polite and the food came relatively quick, but there is a problem.
I’ll get on with the good stuff first.  We got the Wazema Platter for two, which came with Tibs [spicy cubes of marinated meat], Kitfo [rare, tender ground beef] a load of lentils, with some cheese, cabbage and regular salad.  And injera, of course.
The Tibs is in the middle of the platter, the Kitfo just above and the various lentils are surrounding

The Tibs is in the middle of the platter, the Kitfo just above and the various lentils are surrounding

 Again, I like the method of eating with bread, which is much more efficient than using a knife made of expensive metal just to spread butter on a piece of other-wise unused toast.  I realize that a lot more metal is used in things like iPhones, space stations and intercontinental rocket-propelled nuclear warheads*, but I’m talking about when injera was invented thousands of years ago and steel was scarce/being invented.  Also, it’s fun.
*It may seem like the nuclear example was the only evil example on that list, but look up PRISM and kinetic bombardment and you’ll see that’s not true.
prism surveillance
After giving away three good tricks to conquering the Earth [at least I didn't mention the sun gun, dammit too late], here’s how the food was.  Everything was delicious, with just enough spice to add flavour but not too much as to mask it.  The meat took up a large ratio of the food, the kitfo being fluffy bits of elegantly spiced protein, and the tibs were toothier with some more kick to them.  Even though there were a lot of lentils, the varying degrees of seasoning and ingredients made sure there was a lot more difference than just colour.  There was also some high-grade, cottage cheese like stuff with it, and the cabbage/potato mix added some good, full bodied savoury tastes to the mix.  And there’s a salad too, like anyone cares.

Right, the problem: the portions are small!  Compared to Dukem’s, and Rendezvous which is still in business, Wazema’s portions pale in comparison.  The amount of food is even more maddening because the food is delicious, making this a bigger deal.  It also forces me to give a mixed review, on the one hand I can say, “The food is wonderful, so I can’t say this place is bad!”  or I can say, “The twenty dollar meant-for-two people dish that looked like enough for one person wasn’t anywhere near a good price, but it was one quarter filling.”  So yeah, mixed review.
the danforth map
But there is a solution.  I have this thing were, in the event of an inconclusive result, I compare the restaurant to neighboring places.  If the competition is better, then I trash the place, but if it’s farther away than I give it an ‘if you’re in the area’ approval.  So I do the same again, while it is possible for someone to get a craving for Ethiopian food while in the neighborhood of Wazema, it’s more of a place people travel to, which makes it not as recommendable as Rendezvous [or Dukem's when they reopen].
dinosaur meteor
 That’s my final word, just one fatal flaw, everyone has one.  Dinosaurs with the fact that they were too big to survive a meteorite, Canada and Russia with the fact that we’re both too cold to be hospitable in 99% of both countries, Hollywood with the fact that they haven’t come up with an original story in years and Wazema with the fact that they’re portions are too stingy.  Well, that’s my review, bye bye.
Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant 1360 Danforth Avenue

Wazema Ethiopian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Chinese Cuisine

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map of china
China: a country with thousands of years of human history that includes the days when ancient kingdoms fought for dominance, the rise and fall of the Silk Road which had secretive magic materials sold to Romans, and is now possibly one of the world’s strongest country with well over a billion people living in a gigantic communist regime.
american chinese food
 Writing a post on that should be easy, right?  Just to start off the bat there’s inherently a problem: ‘Chinese Cuisine’ is a loose term.  There’s food eaten in modern-day China, which is more traditional, and then there’s North American Chinese food, which can range from relatively authentic cuisine that is toned down for American* palates, since a lot of people on this continent get squeamish about pretty much everything that other countries eat and feel safer eating preservative-pumped McDonald’s because that’s clearly healthy for you.
chinatown toronto
 As I am Canadian, even the most Chinese destinations in Toronto [which are in no way hard to find, as there are literally five whole China Towns, and Chinese people make up 1.5% the population] will be missing: such as bird’s nest soup and fried honeybees [although I did glimpse a large bucket of chicken feet in a market once].  I’ll try and compare to make sure I know which type of Chinese I’m talking about, but I won’t bring any takeout crap into the equation. An interesting thing to add is that the West isn’t the only part of the world to drastically change Chinese cooking, it’s also been done in many other parts of Asia as well as the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and Peru.
chinese chicken feet

*by American, I meant Anglo-American, which basically means Canada/USA, and not just the states.  I didn’t say that because anglo means Caucasian, and there are tons of non-whites living in so-called Anglo-America I didn’t want to leave out.

To start, Chinese fortune cookies are not actually Chinese.  Either you’re in total disbelief or you’re glad someone else knows this too.  A study was done where people in China were shown fortune cookies and none of them knew what they were.  It turns out they evolved from a dish made in Japan [I wonder who failed first-grade geography to get those two countries mixed up].

 General Tso chicken originated from 70′s New York, which I don’t find surprising given the cheesy name which sounds like it was cooked up by an executive to sound ultra-foreign.  Kung-Pao and sweet and sour* whatever’s are also not Chinese, for the record. There are even more foods that are based on Chinese foods but gone awry, such as soy sauce [made with water, salt, caramel colouring, corn syrup and hydrolyzed vegetable oil]. The traditional recipe uses wheat and rice flour. Egg rolls are eaten in China, but they are a completely different food: the one in China is far lighter and is a dessert, so they have the same name, but different origins. Spring rolls are authentic, put they’re smaller, and not the giant behemoths associated with the name Egg Roll.
general tso chicken
*I admit to eating and being ignorant about sweet and sour chicken.  I’ve never had General Tso or Kung-Pao to the best of my knowledge, good to know I wasn’t missing out on actual Chinese food!
This has nothing to do with food, but it is a misconception in CanadAmerica.  To all those who think that Buddha is a fat, laughing Chinese man than you’re wrong.  The actual Buddha has many different depictions depending on which country he’s worshipped in [he's not just worshipped by Chinese people either], but appears closer to the more classically divine-looking Krishna than an Asian Santa Claus.  That actual jolly man is named Budhai, who appeared in many Chinese adventure tales and probably got his named confused with the other guy.
buddha vs budhai
Here we go into the history of actual Chinese food, oh god the thousands of years of history.  Well, Gastronomy–the art of good eats–was around since the ancient days of China, when new emperors would be swift to appoint head chefs who desperately fought to be top dog.  Sometime after 2000 BCE, when rice was introduced from Western Asia, Confucianism started and developed along side even stricter Gastronomy.
rice in china history
 Later on, the Han Chinese [who now make up 92% of all China and 20% the Earth's entire population] spread south and met other peoples who had been cultivating rice. The Han cultures, as you could probably tell by today’s demographics, had taken over China and unified its vast kingdoms through a network of canals. The food was closely linked with medicine, with beliefs around The Five Senses of Pungent, Sweet, Sour, Savoury and Salty as well as The Four Natures [temperatures] of hot, warm, cool and cold. Confucianism, which decided that people shouldn’t ‘eat with weapons at the table’ [I'm paraphrasing that a bit]–basically that included things you could use to kill someone like a knife or fork–made way for chopsticks and spoons and chefs had to make foods that were either bite-sized or easy to break up. This made the way for dim-sum.
confucius chopstick
Fast forward to the Song Dynasty, roughly between 960 and 1279 CE [yeah, the century-by-dynasty thing is a bit complicated, but that's how history was recorded that long ago], and foods start to look even more modern. Wars [I won't bother researching which war, that's probably a really complicated back-story no one needs to know] had made staple foods such as rice increase demand, and Muslim cultures had started moving into China which lead to other cultural ethnicities being developed, such as the Xinjiang and the Uyghur. Later on, just before they were preparing to kill out the Aztecs and destroy Incan culture for the good of a Christian colony, the Spanish had been trading with the Chinese and introduced to them chili peppers and corn. Chinese food today, which is now influenced by a communist regime [I'm not making assumptions here, the Chinese government fully admits to being a bit regime-ish the past couple centuries], and that makes the food heavily industrialized, which I can understand given the ridiculously large population.
types-of-chinese-food-regional-styles
One thing that’s interesting is how much rice Chinese people eat. I know that may sounds stupid, but it’s more the creativity that shocks me. Rice is eaten just plain and steamed, in something, as a porridge, or as wine [Japanese call it Sake]. One of my sources described it as bread is to Westerners, which is a good way to put it [except I actually eat more rice and tortillas than I do bread].
chinese rice
As for the other staple foods, most of them are actually Chinese as opposed to something cooked up in The Americas or from Japan that was idiotically mistaken for China again[seriously, see that giant mass of a country roughly in the middle of Asia that you can see from the moon? That's China!] So it seems like you can get legitimate Asian food in
The West, except they do purposefully leave out some stuff like still-moving octopus tentacles*.
*no, I didn’t make that up, google it, yes, that is an extreme example.
China has a population of 1,360,720,000 people [for those of you wondering, only 3,000 are nationalized citizens that were born in another country], only a billion of which are Han Chinese, which means that there are 360 million other indigenous ethnic Chinese groups there, each with their own history, culture and food. So to all those who belong to those groups that are reading this [possibly none if this is banned in China, no joke], I’m sorry, but I have to stick to the what the majority of Chinese are eating. Fun fact, even if the People’s Republic had one billion less people, they’d still have 50 million more citizens than the USA.
To narrow things down painfully further, I do believe the only Chinese food I’ve actually had are the staples.
staple chinese food
Fortunately, that includes noodle soup, dumplings, rice dishes and the like, and the basics are more or less the core of any cuisine, but if I actually were to go onto Chinese food for a long time [or any Asian cuisine really], I would probably discover new things even within my own city. I quite enjoy these staple foods, the quality of ingredients, the variety and the unique flavours make it one of my favourite cuisines.
chinese noodles
Now let’s compare with North American ‘Chinese’ foods, of which there are two: American and Canadian. The northern version evolved from abused slaves–er, I mean, immigrants who in no way were harmed in the making of the railroad–[I say 'no way were harmed' with maximum sarcasm active] who started to cook altered versions of their indigenous foods, so the same result happened in two different countries for different reasons.
canadian chinese
CanadAmerica [I'll say AmeriCanadian when the States win a war against Canada and don't go all 1812 on us again] has an emphasis on making things ten times unhealthier, turning central vegetable dishes into sides and generally getting rid of innovative, balanced flavours in exchange for crap loads of salt, sugar and fat. They also add MSG, which I don’t think was used in ancient China unless those damn aliens were mucking about with history again. Personally, I find that the take-out variety of Chinese, and by some extent other Asian foods, is greasier, fattier and just sloppier, the philosopher/chefs of the Dynasty days would probably be appalled.
gordon ramsay you used so much oil
The traditional cuisine focuses on perfect harmony between flavours and states, as I noted earlier, and has a better ratio of ingredients [as opposed to the disproportionate takeaway version]. It is also, in my book, far more complex, even excluding all the other ethnic Chinese cuisines/cultures, there is a lot in the main, Han version that has been around for thousands of years. I enjoy how it can be healthy but delicious at the same time, and the variety is quite impressive, but we get so little of the full picture here in Canada. Modern Chinese food is industrialized, starting with the in-no-way-like-out-of-the-novel-1984 start of the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s, which ended in starvation and famine [it's evened out more now], and this modern version of the cuisine is another blind spot to me.
chinese food buffet
The only traditional version of this cuisine that I’ve had are basic, staple recipes, or completely bastardized greasy insults that they call Chinese, and I haven’t even had one single Chinese dessert. But, I guess I have to rate this stuff anyway.
Taste: The flavours have been worked on for thousands of years, and it shows. The meats, vegetables, and grains are prepared in perfect ratios and several tastes are unique to this cuisine, even including some other Asian styles of cooking as well. Plus, there are several different regional variations that offer their own ingredients.
chinese food ingredients
Health: While it unfortunately isn’t the healthiest thing to eat in CanadAmerica, the old Chinese cuisine actually has many vegetables and rices in it, with more meat and salt being added to the Westernized versions. As for the modernized foods that are actually being eaten in China in the 21st century [I could have said 'right now' but things never disappear from the web, they just disappear into the Deep Web after decades], I could easily imagine it’s nutritional value is somewhere around the same industrialized foods we eat here: with artificial chemicals added, meats raised in factories and not farms, that sort of deal. Chinese cuisine could be selectively eaten to get the healthiest or unhealthiest foods into your diet.
china regions
Variety: Well, China, and I’m talking about the country here, is kind of funny in a certain way. It has incredible diversity in terms of different cultures, sub-cultures, and ethnicities, but that’s all self-contained, and doesn’t really mix often with foreign cultures. I don’t know if that’s because of the Orwellian government [not that I'm saying NSA, Homeland Security and the Canadian government aren't spying on people like they're trying to take over the world] or the proud society, maybe both, but if offers enough by itself to not need much outside influence. The country is huge but in a habitable region to allow changes across the area [you know why Russia and Canada are the two largest countries? Because we're both too bloody cold for anyone to want to steal our territory that's why!], so I would say the variety is quite high.
Chinese-New-Year-2014
Will this cuisine reign supreme? I haven’t decided, but I believe it’s far better than what we see in the West, as Chinese food here has been put through a filter of sorts. The next one I’m doing is Mediterranean, which for reasons I’ll explain later, is divided into two categories: Persian and Greek.

The Real Jerk at Their New Location

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New location @ Pape & Gerrard

New location @ Pape & Gerrard

First off, I think my subscribers and anyone reading this post recently would like me to mention something about the fact that it is 2014, the year when no doubt some science fiction book or movie takes place and has us living on Mars with flying cars and no war or famine.  It was nice to be able to have a new year without people blaring about
four horsemen
The Mayan calendar, or Book of Revelations, or the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, not to mention the Aliens that would be coming back after having built the pyramids thousands of years ago, which made the holidays a little less doomsday than last year’s last year’s December [or the last holiday season before the one we just had... I think we're all still stuck in 2013 even though it isn't].
dennis rodman and kim jong un
 Hopefully this year will be better than last year and all that, but seriously, what could get weirder than finding out the world has been spied on, having Rob Ford openly admit to smoking crack, ex-basketball star Dennis Rodman become best friends with murderous dictator Kim Jong Un, and all the good stuff with Chris Hadfield [I actually can't remember anything else that was good, but maybe that is just because I'm really into space stuff].
Another new thing is the Real Jerk, which I had frankly given up all hope on after a year or so.  It had to move because someone apparently thought ‘why eat delicious foreign food when you can get drunk and perpetuate offensive Irish stereotypes?’ and put down an Irish pub in place of the island restaurant [don't think Irish pubs are offensive?
drunk st patricks day
 See them on Saint Patty's day, the completely false usage of green [four-leaved clovers were traditionally blue [ooooh, brackets within brackets within brackets, bracket-ception]] and the horrible fake Irish accents…ugh].  Yes, we’re out of all the brackets now].  That last one was just to mess with you.
New Real Jerk Interior
The new location is closer to home, and is a bit of a smaller space but still pretty big for a restaurant, don’t forget the old place had the second floor.  The old staff is back, the old food is back, everything is back.
As for the food, it is still delicious.
Always have to start with a spicy beef patty

Always have to start with a spicy beef patty

I had a beef patty as an appetizer, and if you’re thinking its just like the ones sold at coffee shops or fast food restaurants, you’re wrong, dead wrong.  Even the pastry was better than that crap, as it was flaky and had flavour that complimented the filling.  As for the meat, it is excellent, with a creamy texture and spice to boot.  It is great as a big-but-not-too-filling appetizer.
I started on this before the pic was taken...

I started on this before the pic was taken…

For the entree, I had the roti, which despite its gargantuan size, I finished.  The meat is tender with a little firmness to chew, and in good, medium chunks: not too big to swallow but enough to fill your mouth.  There were potatoes as well, which added variety and also carried the sauce well.  Which brings me to a point, the curry was delicious, it was spicy, bursting with flavour and covered the inside of the roti.  Just like the patty, even the pastry was above average.
These are on my grandmother's "Last Meal" list

These are on my grandmother’s “Last Meal” list

My grandmother had the cod fritters, which are deep-fried dough balls with fish inside.  They are greasy in a tasty way: not disgusting or anything, and I think the fish is mixed in with the batter.  Regardless, they go perfectly with the tomato dipping sauce and are a great fried item on the menu, but for some reason I find them very filling, in that I can only eat a few of them but can eat large proportions of other foods.  This isn’t the chef’s fault, I’m like that with all battered fish and it’s probably because I don’t eat much in the way of breaded or deep-fried stuff, [or it's my stomach singling out one type of food to remind me that it does have a bottom] but I still enjoy eating them.
... and cause ox-tail gravy is just always a good idea

… and cause ox-tail gravy is just always a good idea

Both her and my mom had chicken curry rice, and it is just as good as the roti.  A little bit similar, but presented differently and probably less filling then the pastry version, so there are options for gluttons and weight-watchers alike [ha, ha, you're watching your weight while eating at The Real Jerk!  pro tip: you're gonna lose].  Also, you can get ox-tail gravy with anything, and the staff won’t think you’re weird, [well, they will but they won't say anything].  That also brings me to another point.
The staff is very friendly with a good dose of sarcastic humour, which makes them feel more warm and genuine.  They check up often enough but not so frequently they’re invasive, and help make customers feel relaxed.  They did a good job bringing in eaters I find.  As for the decor, is similar to the old place, with reggae and rab [oh, it's called R and B and not rab?  that makes more sense], and the windows with that heavy yellow tint on the them.
their well stocked bar

their well stocked bar

For entertainment seekers, there is the bar, which does have a liquor license, and televisions showcase buff men in their underwear hugging and rolling on the floor violently [at least when they have MMA on*, but they have sports TV, and when we were there it was skiing].
isn't it romantic?

isn’t it romantic?

*I know what you were thinking, kind of changes your perspective on wrestling now, doesn’t it.  You can blame the dirty thinking on my mother, she’s the one who planted that thought in my head.
real jerk sunshine sign
To sum up, The new Real Jerk is just as good as the old place, with great food, great staff, great location and great everything in general [MacArthur].  There is even an add-on bar, which is ironic because the Real Jerk was forced to close down because of a bar, but oh well, but what is more ironic than NASA not being able to build a Apollo rocket because nobody kept any of the plans.
apollo rocket
 Bye bye for now.
The Real Jerk 842 Gerrard Street East

The Real Jerk on Urbanspoon

Richtree Eaton Centre / Pizzeria Bosco

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New food court at the Queen end of the Eaton Centre

New food court at the Queen end of the Eaton Centre

First off I’ll just say I was taken completely by surprise.  Literally, I walked into the mall and the first thing I saw was a new food court that I thought was still behind the construction walls.  It was impressive, seemingly the Eaton Centre had done it again.  This one is different, as it’s a lot more technologically advanced with its own website [or app, or something like that], WiFi that actually works, computerized ordering [you can order at the counter if you want, so don't worry] and interactive holographic mini-games on the tables, wall and floor.

There are burritos, market places, bars, deli sandwiches, asian hot bowls, sweets, burgers and pizza.  Wait a minute, aren’t most of those things in the other food court as well?  Well, I’m afraid they are, and this is where things get sticky.
happy bowl eaton centre
To be clear, I will be going back to try the Happy Bowl, as I can’t really find a counterpart of it downstairs.  The cafe was a regular cafe, just like the Second Cup and Starbucks, but in a better location.
The coffee shop - Starbucks lite

The coffee shop – Starbucks lite

 The sandwiches were big, but I didn’t consider them because I wanted something a little more filling, and burgers were very common–there’s even a burger place in the Eaton Centre, and it’s one of the best too!
I'm doubtful this will be as good Big Smoke Burger at the Dundas end of the Eaton Centre

I’m doubtful this will be as good Big Smoke Burger at the Dundas end of the Eaton Centre

 I would’ve tried the bowl or the burritos, but then I smelled the pizza.
pizza bosco
I had the one with chicken, pears, caramelized onions and pesto, while my mom had the gluten-free margarita.
my pizza

my pizza

mom's pizza

mom’s pizza

 Sounds good right?  Well, let’s do this in a way I haven’t done in a while: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  Yep, it’s one of those, and I’ll try to review both the new court and the pizzeria while keeping them separate.
the good
The Good: I like the technology: I’ve always been a bit of a techie, and have always had a soft spot for advanced countries like Japan [sadly I'm probably too claustrophobic to fit in the small, crowded environment though], but the abundance of screens and such wasn’t over whelming or confusing.
new food court eaton centre
 As I’ve said, I will be trying the bowl restaurant, and I think that’ll be the make or break for the food court.  This food court is just as green and clean as the other one, which is extremely important, and it also doesn’t waste anything dealing with any scum like McDonald’s or KFC [admittedly unlike the other food court].
mcdondals vs kfc
I was a bit disappointed about how there is the market and the sweet shop that don’t serve food you can eat in the mall, but it’s really a plus since it adds variety for grocery shoppers.  As for the pizzeria, its ingredients were fresh and it was a very good thing about how they separated the tools to avoid cross contamination.  Gluten is like an allergy to people: one little bit is enough to ruin you day [except it has to be ingested, but touching it is okay].
the bad
The Bad: Not nearly as many choices.  This food court is smaller and doesn’t have as much room to fit restaurants.  I’m mostly bringing this up because it relates to a more serious complaint.  One thing that could make this a problem if it gets too crowded but that didn’t happen at all when I was there.  No notes for the Pizzeria Bosco  just yet.
the ugly
The Ugly: The only thing that really bugs me about the food court is how a lot of the restaurants serve food that is downstairs in the old court.  Burgers, burritos, sandwiches [albeit the ones downstairs aren't deli ones] and pizzas.  Not to mention the Big Smoke’s is so good, opening up another burger joint in the same building is like corporate suicide.  The pizza, while it was good at first, quickly became disappointing.  That might sound like it’s a little harsh calling that ugly, but it isn’t: I go to the Eaton Centre with high expectations.  I expect stuff like Villa Madina, Big Smoke’s, Amaya Express and anything else that is delicious that fills me up.  Anything average or mediocre simply won’t hold up to that, maybe by itself but not in the same mall.  And I’m frankly getting sick of things that are okay but disappointing, let me explain.
the avengers
Every summer Hollywood cranks out blockbusters, most of them are pretty bland, but suck up millions [if not billions, in the case of The Avengers, and yes, I know I'm going to Marvel Hell for saying that] of dollars that could’ve been spent so much better it makes me depressed.
world war z
 World War Z [yeah, just take down all the movies, to hell with copyrights!] came out, and fans of the book were really happy that a movie was based their favourite title–literally, the title was great but even I know it was nothing like the novel and I didn’t even read it.  It had Brad Pitt, zombies and apocalypse.  What we got was tame [not because it was PG-13, but because it tried so hard to stay that way], poorly acted–even with the brilliant actor from 12 Monkeys–CGI mess that makes re-watching Night of the Living Dead ten times more intense.

The point is, that people let it off easy because it wasn’t horrible, it was just okay: like the hundreds of ‘okay’ drivel Hollywood has released, like the thousands of ‘okay’ restaurants that detract from the real good places [and that goes from mom-and-pop places to corporate giants like McDonald's].  Frankly I’m sick of films, eateries, novels, singers and companies that are excused for not being good or worthy of a certain standard, but are ‘okay’.  Maybe I’m just disappointed because I’m thinking of the real great food I could’ve eaten, but that’s the point.  I trashed Five Guys for the same reason, and I’ll do it to this place.  If you find Pizzeria Bosco out in the street, maybe because it’s a chain, I don’t know, than sure, go eat there if there’s nothing better.  But in the Eaton Centre?  Noooooooooooo.  Don’t even think about it.  If it’s the holidays, like it is now, than go put your ten bucks in the Salvation Army bucket, or use it for a nicer gift for a friend, or use it to buy a crap bag of chips.  Pizzeria Bosco  is by far better than a crap bag of chips, with fresh ingredients, healthy numbers and cooked on the spot, but the crap bag of chips doesn’t have higher standards to compete with, and this restaurant, unfortunately for its sorry ‘okay’ self, does.
Richtree Eaton Centre / Pizzeria Bosco 14 Queen Street West

Richtree Eaton Centre on Urbanspoon

Paleo Diet

Standard
paleo-diet
The ‘Paleo Diet’, as it is called, is the latest popular get-slim fast diet going around.  The idea is definitely different from other stuff [and not as obviously stupid as swallowing tapeworms], since it claims that eating the healthy, all-natural diet of a prehistoric human who lived before McDonald’s and Pepsi is the key to a thin body.
caveman eating fast food
 Originally I was very skeptical, and since I’m both interested in paleontology in general as well as human evolution, I started asking questions like ‘what exact era?”, “Which species?  Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens both lived around the same time.” as well as the big one lots of people wondered: “What part of the world are these foods from?  Where was the tribe they studied that got these effects?”
1. Homo Sapiens  2. Neanderthals  3. Early Hominids

1. Homo Sapiens 2. Neanderthals 3. Early Hominids

I checked the site, and it referred to our ancestors, so this wasn’t what our Neanderthal cousins were eating.  It might sound petty to differentiate between the two, but these guys weren’t just another skin colour: Neanderthals were as different as dogs are from wolves: they had denser bones and muscles, a completely different skull [meaning anyone could tell they were different, not just someone with a forensic lab or a PH.D] with a larger brain and jaw, not to mention other things.  Another interesting fact is that the word ‘Paleo’ from ‘Paleo Diet’ doesn’t stand from Paleontology, it actually references the diet’s time zone [Paleolithic era], which goes from 2.6 million years ago to just before the agricultural revolution: about 10,000 years ago.
paleolithic age
 You can check this on the official site yourself, just type in Paleo Diet and it is the first search result, even above Wikipedia.  By the way, there’s another paragraph about my take on how accurate the science behind this is.  If you want to skip the anthropology and get straight to where I talk about how effective the diet is, skip to where you see !!!!!!!!!!!! [well, it'd catch your eye, wouldn't it?]
I have a problem with how broad that time zone is: two million years, when compared to the rest of human history, meaning from Stonehenge to WWII, is just ridiculous!  2.6 million years ago is after the australopithecines evolved into the first upright man.  I could blab about Homo Erectus this and Homo Habilus that but the point is, 2 million years is literally way longer than it took for the Romans to worship the god Apollo and then for NASA to send people to the moon is a capsule of the same name.
prehistoric man
 I understand that technology was vastly more primitive and that there weren’t churches or spaceships being invented then, but there were different species of human evolving and dying out, or changing, not to mention the constant climate/ecological changes [for instance, there were wooly mammoths and sabre-toothed cats that aren't around now].
wooly mammoth and sabre tooth tiger
 And they also didn’t say what part of the world this diet is from.  People in Mexico would’ve eaten Maize, but Europeans wouldn’t.  There were glaciers up north but not down south, and you can only imagine what differences there’d be in vegetation in both sides.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [it's the skipping feature I mentioned earlier, sorry about the eye sore to those of you who actually read the whole paragraph]  But let’s exclude that.  Let’s just say that, hypothetically, it is just pseudo-science used to deceive the public who think ‘cave man’ is an accurate term, [god, that must really make me sound like a college-bred, smarter-than-you @sshole] it wouldn’t matter if this thing worked, right?
Editor's note:  I couldn't find the poster Callum was talking about, but this is close

Editor’s note: I couldn’t find the poster Callum was talking about, but this is close

I read an article about it and it sounded convincing enough.  Frankly, the tone seemed a little biased towards the diet, but maybe that’s just because I’m a skeptic [basically means that I like really good evidence], but I liked how the poster mentioned that not all types of fat are bad, and that how animals who ate more natural vegetation–such the grass they evolved to eat instead of the corn silly humans feed them–yielded less fat, and more of the right kind.  Natural veggies and nuts are excellent as well, it seems like the diet promotes a lot of good things.  But then there’s what it excludes.
The Paleo Diet excludes:
Alcohol [aside from overly ripe berries, booze came around during the Viking Age]
Refined Sugar [I agree it's the devil, but good luck avoiding it]
Grains [most are refined and crap, but some are quite healthy]
Anything processed
Ketchup
Potatoes [wait a minute, won't those around back then?  I'm pretty sure they were]
Anything else starchy or sweet
Legumes
Dairy products [I'm going to have a BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIG rant about this]
no dairy sign
I understand that people weren’t eating milk back in ye olde days, but it’s still very healthy.  I’m sorry, but I’m a 6’5 [roughly 2.35 meters, but I'm pretty off] 14-year-old who exercised four days a week, I need calcium, otherwise I’ll grow up crippled, or break my foot at Tae Kwon Do.  And it’s not just me, people of all ages and heights need calcium, what other natural source is there that has such a ridiculous amount like dairy, PILLS!?  So, they’re going to be all vague about stuff like when and where they found this supposed ‘diet’ [sarcastic quotes, the literary middle finger], but there going to be specific about making sure people don’t eat anarchistic foods that are good for you (not to say that the critics of the diet aren’t also guilty of being maddeningly vague as well)?   Another way to look at it is that this is a great diet for people who are going lactose/gluten-free, or that this part can be edited based on what your personal doctor says.
history of potato
Maybe there should be a list of foods that aren’t from the Paleolithic that are healthy to eat: like potatoes.  Speaking of which, I’m pretty sure some edible form of potato, starch or legume, all of which are banned, would have been eaten somewhere on Earth over the course of two million years, although it could be argued either way whether or not they actually were or if that’s just unproven conjecture.
ancient farmers
You could argue that they did, but were completely different from the modified products of today.  That’s true, but so were so many other vegetables or other plant-based foods that are on the Paleo-diet’s okay list, like greens.  Farmers, for thousands of years, unwittingly genetically engineered foods to be greener, bigger, sweeter, healthier and all that good stuff,( by planting the seeds from crops with more desirable traits) but they certainly aren’t like what people ate 10,000 years ago.  An interesting point would be that the modern vegetables are healthier than the prehistoric ones, and any diet that promotes simple leafy greens is more trustworthy than one that has miracle pills/easy to do tricks.
GMO foods
There are a lot of criticisms about how much meat is in the diet: more so than is necessary.  One source pointed out (I’m not afraid to admit it, the masculine me did check Women’s Health Magazine, it was a good article)

It’s so hard to find all the meat the Paleo Diet demands so it’s users start eatin unhealthy, non-lean crap. While we’re here, the meats that early man ate were lean enough to run away from you, they didn’t sit around a farm house for life waiting to get slaughtered.

caveman hunting vs farming

But it’s a bit of an urban legend that the Paleo Diet is meat heavy: there were some quite reliable sources that warned against too much meat and kept tugging me back and forth between supporting this thing or being against it.  Also, a lot of the diseases that are claimed to not have existed in ye olde age are either impossible to prove (like high blood pressure, although obesity would leave some marks on the fossil bones due to the pressure of weight) or people would have been killed by a predator or an untreatable infection before they would get the disease eg. Alzheimer’s

johnny depp

Johnny Depp would be really old in the Paleolithic, and he’s only 50!
I  believe that the idea of eating more natural food is a noble one, and avoiding all the untested experiments in food is smart, but this is not the way to do it.  I admit I could be over doing it because I just plain don’t trust something that relies on this kind of flimsy, or at least vague, research.  Probably that combined with all the publicity, extra merchandise and the fact that I’m the kind of person who believes the cynical expose filmography of Michael Moore [although I agree it's more hypocritical than the States themselves that he hates the 1% of filthy rich people while he is the 1% of filthy rich people, but I digress].
Michael Moore filmography
I find the diet too restrictive.   Also, while humans have mostly stayed the same for 10,000 years, it’s also quite possible that maybe by now we do need to drink milk, and it is not only possible but proven that the greens the diet supports were entirely different in the way back.

Aside from the vague time-line which I’ve probably talked too much about, my only other criticism of the Paleo Diet isnt’ really even its fault: the controversy.  There are so many arguments for and against this thing, both of which are equally biased and unproven, it looks more like the topic of a flame war in the YouTube comments sections (like the ones about YouTube’s new update – don’t get me started).  I hope I don’t sound like a snoot who thinks he has the answer to the stupid world’s problems, but everyone is taking about this as if it is a one-size-fits-all.  That is too much to ask of any diet, and is probably why the research and experiments are inconclusive.  There are too many variables.
paleo vs other foods
Personally I would recommend to follow the advice of sources that talk a lot about moderation – but not exclusion – of fats, sugars etc.  It’s better than a lot of those other sham diets around, so why not five it a try”  Unlike what some people may want you to believe, it ruin your life; if it doesn’t work…. than just quit.  Good Luck.