Tag Archives: tacos

Cricket Hot Dog CNE

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bug bistro

A new eatery opened at The Ex this year, the aptly named Bug Bistro, showcasing various types of arthropod-based dishes. Don’t bother using Google Maps to locate it, which will just point you towards the center of the CNE, instead scour the food building for a smaller stand with a white cricket-adorned sign. Most menu items consist of typical American-style concession foods, with either crickets or mealworms mixed in with more western protein sources.

cricket dog

I personally enjoy trying out various types of “bug food” whenever I can, as it is different and the concept doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Insect-based food is also an extremely efficient and cheap protein source for a growing human population, and also helps bypass the global warming and animal cruelty-related problems of the agriculture industry. So why don’t we eat more crickets? “Because they’re gross, ew!”, as some people may say, despite the fact that insects are a traditional food source in parts of East Asia, certain fast food hamburgers are more disgusting than anything given to us by nature, and there’s a small portion of beetle parts in your peanut butter (look it up). And that is why I chose to eat the Bug Dog (hot dog with mustard-roasted crickets) and a smoothie (forget the name, its the only one they have) made out of mango, beetle larva and with spices sprinkled on top.

smoothie

So, how’s it taste? Crickets, I find, often taste very dry and earthy, with a powerful aftertaste. It made sense to use them as garnish on a milder and more familiar hot dog, as the flavours balanced out. The smoothie had a strong secondary taste of mango, and a huge blast of that earthiness I mentioned earlier, along with a second taste intrinsic to meal worms and larva that I can’t easily describe. I could best describe it as an alien sweetness that tastes nice, but is rather exotic and can fill my stomach up very quickly. While the cinnamon/nutmeg helps cut this, I’d recommend getting the smoothie by itself due to its richness. One major complaint I have about Bug Bistro is a rather strange one: they have no lids for their drinks.

mealworm smoothie

When I was first told by the clerk that there were no lids for my full and bendy plastic cup, I wondered how I was supposed to navigate a crowded building to my seat without bumping into someone and spilling all over. While I made it to my seat without having to explain to an angry person that their shirt is now covered in mango pulp and grounded beetle larva, I only had a few bites of my food before the LIDLESS drink spilled into my hot dog. The bun turned an ill, pale orange colour only seen in Donald Trump’s bathroom during a sick day, and the resulting unholy combination of sweet, salty and buggy was something that should probably be copyrighted by McDonald’s. Fortunately, the bun took the bullet and my wiener and crickets were saved, as well as some of the b@st@rd drink that I threw in the garbage out of spite and consoled myself with Korean Tacos from Far East Grill. Seriously, try that place, it’s delicious and better than the deep-fried gym membership-enders that are sold every year.

far east taco

image courtesy on urbancraze.com

To recap, definitely try Bug Bistro if you like feel adventurous or like eating bugs, get the Beetle Juice drink by itself and beware of the sinful lack of coverage, or get one of the savouries for a lunch. Bug Bistro does a good job making insects both tasty and friendly towards those unfamiliar, and I would have had a better experience had the manager not thought they could save a few bucks skimping out on lids. Also, the world would be a better place if I were its leader.

 

Post apocalypse

No new taxes!

Lids and Crickets everywhere!

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Food Trucks

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food trucks woodbine park

Long gone since the time anyone will be reading this [indeed far past the time of writing], during the primordial age of the Internet of over two seconds ago when there were less sad attempts at humour awaiting the future archeologists, a park south of my home had a festival.  The day I went, there were trucks stationed on the grass selling food to the festival goers.  I realize that this post is also after Taste of the Danforth, but I won’t be going for these very reasons, as I’ve promised myself I wouldn’t go unless a friend wanted to go, which they didn’t. It’s for the better though, if I was to be in a place that crowded for that long, the voices would’ve come back.

how is litter decorative or festive?

how is litter decorative or festive?

By the way, Danforth’s sidewalks and street were about as clean as a back alley of a slum after the festival, so it’s nice to see that they clean up after themselves [sarcasm]. I will be doing the South East Asian festival though, and the Exhibition, so I’ll review those instead.

 

For those who would have no reason to be aware of this, Toronto’s policy regarding food trucks is rather akin to how the combined efforts of Canadian and American governments separately find innocent minorities [gays, Native Americans, handicapped etc.] and abuse the living **** out of them for no particular reason other than some old rich men in a fancy house said so.
image courtesy of themarketingbit.com

image courtesy of themarketingbit.com

 You should trust me because I’m a cynical person who’s been handed a keyboard and told ‘have at it’.  Acknowledging awareness of that fact makes me seem to be more clever when in fact it is another cliche trope used by countless other mostly-hairless apes with keyboards in an attempt to stand out in a vast internet sea. [period because the sentence was getting too long, as amatuer bloggers often forget to keep their sentences from going the length of an entire paragraph] This web serves only to show how shallow and idiotic the human race really gets when allowed to show its true colours anonymously.

angry blogger

That went to the dark side, I think going from the government abusing innocents to an existential self-hating rant is probably not the best way to start a food post.

 

image courtesy of sabinabecker.com

image courtesy of sabinabecker.com

The food trucks were allowed to operate on a reservation in the form of a festival, far from the restaurants that view food trucks as a threat to their business [which is why the Toronto government hadn’t allowed the trucks in the first place, as Rob Ford does more Cocaine* than Tony Montana].
*Crack cocaine is still cocaine, random internet fact-communist who’s trying to make their parent’s basement less depressing, and I didn’t say Nazi because Goodwin’s law {link to Wikipedia article on Goodwin’s law] is making me tired.

swat food truck

There were plenty of trucks to choose from, including one that was rather convincingly costumed as a SWAT truck, which had me worried in the back of my head that something was going to go down.  I didn’t truly believe that crazy thought because I’m not insane, at least that’s what the voices told me.  There was also a German place that had display food just waiting for someone with long, fast legs to snatch and run away with [that’s basically me], and some of the typical Greek/sandwich establishments.

bacon nation

I picked this place that specialized in bacon, because I felt like something meaty and filling.  Bacon can often be overdone in that hipster thinking-you’re-cool-when-you’re-actually-just-annoying kind of way.    But it can taste good when done properly, and not just crammed into a dish as much as possible with a plunger and a vacuum seal.  And done properly is was, in the form of a bacon-wrapped hot dog covered with pulled pork [probably not the best place for Muslims to order from, if you couldn’t tell].

 

Pulled Pork Hot Dog

Pulled Pork Hot Dog

The sausage was well cooked in terms of juiciness, flavour and overall thickness for a regular hot dog, and was a good vehicle for the pork and bacon.  I found the bacon wasn’t as crazy heart-attack-causing plentiful as it could’ve been, but that’s actually really okay, it’s better that the dog wasn’t too salty and meaty just to make it more unhealthy.  The amount that was there was crispy and tasty enough to hold its own, and contrasted the sweetness of the pulled pork quite well.

Buster's Sea Cove

I had fare from a second truck that was decidedly weirder [maximum bacon is one of many of those ‘hipster’ things that became popular and lead to the whole movement becoming oxymoronic, oh look here comes the flame war in the comments section].  Buster’s Sea Cove had seafood, including octopus tacos.  That is to say, tacos with huge, meaty chunks of tentacle in them.  How could I not try that?

octopus taco

The tacos may have seemed small, but they were so overstuffed with rich, filling cephalopod appendage that it was actually a very good portion.  The octopus was clearly quite fresh, as it was juicy, and had a briny after taste that matched its seafood taste ever so perfectly.  The onions and tomato added a spicier taste to the dish, bringing variety along with it.  The mayonnaise was a good edition, and went with it all well even though it was a bit odd to have in a taco [octopus].

Penny Lou Lou truck

So I’d already eaten WeightWatcher’s worse nightmare and the star of an R-rated Japanese film, what was next on the menu?  Desert, Penny-Lou-Lou to be exact.  It’s a place named after a Hong Kong street food of the same name, which is made of a light sweet dough that is baked.  It’s a lot like a funnel cake, especially if ordered with ice cream and strawberries on the side.

penny lou lou sweet treat

The penny-lou-lou was divided into bite-sized sections, which made it easier to eat for both people who are messy eaters or have crippling hereditary OCD*.  As you might tell I already loved it.  The heaviness of the desert was a solid medium, light enough to not be ridiculously filling and rich enough to have some weight to it as opposed to leaving one hungry for more.  The ice cream went perfectly along with it, as did the strawberries, to mix up the flavours a bit.  It was sugary enough to satisfy a sweet tooth, but not so sweet so as to caused one’s blood pressure rise to the point of making Dracula really, really excited.  On reflection [after two weeks because I clearly suck at regular updates], balance was the key to Penny-Lou-Lou, excluding portion size which was huge and perfect to just go crazy and dig in into. 

Beaches Jazz Festival

I found the food truck festival to be quite fun, nice park, good music, great food and a day is made.  I don’t see why the Toronto politicians are so stuffy about the concept of food trucks, maybe it’s just to deter from the fact that the city’s runner is a real-life cartoon that’s been overused far past his funny primetime [much like every cartoon].  Could be that minority thing I got so insane about earlier.  Either way, food trucks, recommended, the festival, recommended, and I’ll do something about the Southeast Asian Festival, the Ex and the Poutine blog [I haven’t forgotten].  Ciao.
 food truck festival
Editor’s Note:  There is a Food Truck Festival on Sunday September 21, 2014 at Ontario Place.  These trucks plus many more will be in attendance

Tacos El Asador

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Even though this place may seem like a small, little joint – there’s nothing small about the food Tacos El Asador serves.  Seven picnic style tables with benches are almost always full with customers.  So come here at an odd time, like 2 o’clock, and you’ll have a better chance of getting a seat.


You order your meal “fast-food” style at the counter but a waiter will bring it to your table and you pay for your dinner as you’re leaving.

Mexican soda pop

Jarritos is my favorite brand of soda and it is a real treat for me when we can go to a Mexican restaurant or store to get some.

Corn Tamale

Tamales, in case you didn’t know, are any ingredient (in this case corn) mixed into masa and then wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf and steamed.  Masa is a type of dough made from corn meal.

Inside of the corn tamale

For some reason, I do not like the chicken tamales at all.  I cannot describe the taste, so I won’t bother trying.  But I do like the corn tamales, maybe because as my mother suggested, the added corn gives this tamale a sweet flavour.  To cut the sweetness, we add their salsa verde and a little sour cream.

Chorizo Quesadilla

These are so good that I always eat two of them.  Unlike what some places might do, Tacos El Asador takes off the chorizo sausage casing and then browns the meat.  This is then generously spread throughout the quesadilla.  Guacamole and the salsa verde also go really good with this.

Crispy Chicken Taco

My mom describes this as a cross between a taquito and an enchilada.  And she usually orders two as well.  At $3.20 each, this is a remarkably good deal that satisfies my mother’s cheap streak.  I really like the crunchy outer shell and the soft (meaty) shredded chicken in the center.  For that reason next time we come here (and we will!!) I’m ordering one chorizo quesadilla and one crispy chicken taco.  And don’t forget the guacamole!!!

Tacos El Asador 690 Bloor St W
Tacos El Asador on Urbanspoon

El Trompo

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Mexican Pineapple Soda

Pico de Gallo with homemade Tortilla Chips
Condiments for the soup. Shredded lettuce is in the bowl under the tortillas
Pozole Rojo
Chorizo Tacos
Cheleta con Queso
Nana’s Quezadillas
Churros WITHOUT Chocolate Sauce

One of the best of the few real Mexican restaurants in Toronto, is El Trompo.  There are plenty of Tex-Mex eateries in this city but they don’t sell REAL Mexican food.  The entrance of Kensignton Market (the location for El Trompo) offers different versions of this cuisine. One is El Trompo, obviously, and the other is a restaurant called Big Fat Burrito which sells an Americanized type of Mexican food.  This is a good example of how in the culinary world, Mexican food has taken two separate roads. Two likely reasons for this are for one; the Big Fat Burrito is considerably bigger than El Trompo and has to find quicker ways to serve more customers (ie Tex-Mex over Real-Mex).  Another reason is that Big Fat Burrito has three locations in Toronto and again needs more effecient ways to ship, prepare and serve food.

The interior of El Trompo includes a small open kitchen at the enterance, a warm and comfortable Mexican dining area and a closed prep area at the back.  In the dining area there are pretty paintings on the walls, colourful painted wooden chairs and tables and a giant 3-D beer bottle (What the ….?!)at the back. Next to the open kitchen there are decorative objects from mixed cultures on a table, as an example, a Chinese money-cat, a statue of Buddha and a small painting of Jesus.

Because my Nana came with my mother and me, we were able to order a large variety of foods. I ordered Pico de Gallo and corn soup as appetizers, Chorizo tacos as the main course, Mexican pinapple sodapop as my beverage and a Churro for dessert. We went on Sunday, so we were able to order the corn soup and churros as they are Week-End Specials only. The Pico de Gallo has fresh tomatoes and refreshing spicy flavour that’s not overwhelming, which is why I always order it when we go there.  The Pozole Rojo (Red Pork and Corn Soup) was very hearty with a homey mexican soup flavour. I also liked how they brought a bowl of condiments including diced radishes, shredded lettuce, deep fried corn tortillas, red chili flakes and dried oregano. When eating the Chorizo tacos, I could tell that the meat was a spicy sausage and also it went really well with the cheese (we don’t know what kind it is, but we REALLY want to know). The chopped cilantro adds a fresh herbiness, while the lime juice and a little bit of acidity. Cheleta con Queso (Pork with Cheese Taco) has a unique savoury flavour created by the marinated meat and secret cheese, that is hard to associate with any other flavour or dish.  One of the things Nana ordered was the Spicy Tinga de Pollo (Chicken Quezadilla) which is one of her favourite items on the menu. She said “Oh God” when she bit into it, saying that it was the perfect spice level for her, while my mother and I couldn’t taste any heat at all.  The huitlacoche (Corn Truffle Quezadilla) is made from a fungus (not a truffle) that grows on corn.  Eeewww, but good.  This is something new we tried and each of had different ideas on what it tasted like. I found it to be sweet and not unlike the cheese they use while my mother and Nana said they also tasted some earthy qualities.  For dessert we ordered Churros, which are stick-shaped Mexican Cinnamon donuts. The waitresses also offer chocolate sauce on them but we always say NO! The Churros have a crunchy exterior with a soft chewy hollow interior and a generous dusting of cinnamon on the outside, which would be ruined by the chocolate sauce.

Along with the great food the staff are also very friendly.  One of the waitresses recognized us from our last visit and also made good suggestions,  such as,  not ordering two soups as they are filling and also trying a Mexican soda pop. I actually really liked that Pineapple drink.

El Trompo 277 Augusta Avenue
El Trompo on Urbanspoon